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1812 Askin

Charles Askin (1785-1869) served the British army in the War of 1812. He was the son of John Askin, a leading Detroit area business man. John Askin's home was on the Canadian side of the border, but Charles Askin had a sister on the American side in Detroit. After the war Charles Askin returned to his father's estate near Windsor.

Thursday 13 Left Point au Pele before day and arrived at Amherstburgh abt 8 O'clock in the night. We were saluted by a Number of Indians encamped near Capt Elliotts. Heard on our way up at a house we stop'd at to day, that the Americans had left Sandwich and returned to Detroit.

Saturday afternoon 15th Augt, 1812 the American Garrison was summoned to surrender by General Brock but refused. As soon as their answer came down to Gen. B. the artillery Officer went up to the battery opposite Detroit and [we] soon heard the firing commence which continued for a couple of hours. The party of the 41st which came up with us were called out, and 9 more of the Regt joined us we were then I think just 56 men including Mr. Hamilton Mr Wilkinson & Myself. We were in two divisions the first commanded by McLean and the 2d to which we belonged by Sergeant Blaney. Some Militia joined us and Major Chambers form[ed us] into open Column & then into line several times. Every one, and every thing allmost, was at this time in motion, people galloping in every direction. We were ordered to be in readiness at 4 Oclock next morning for marching. As soon as we were dismissed the Officers of Militia and most of us were very bussy in preparing every thing for action, pistols sword &c. Long before day we were up on Sunday 16th then fell in with the York Militia. Major Chambers commanded the 2d Brigade - strong, composed of 150 of the 41st including 3 Vols Mr. Hatt's company Militia the Norfolk & Oxford Militia - Major Tallen commanded the 3d Brigade in which there was nothing, but the 41st & the 1st Brigade commanded by Col. St George consisted of the Essex Militiamen & some Newfoundland Corps The 2d Brigade was halted a short wait at Sandwich then marched down near to Parks Mill, where we embarked. When marching down we saw the 3d Brigade and the General and his staff crossing the River just below the Springwell I think it was the handsomest sight I ever saw. The Indians were allready over they just crossed before us. When we landed we formed in open collumn in the rear of the 3d Brigade. A company of Riflemen fromYork (we all got over without any opposition) went over with us, but did not belong to our Brigade they wer most all painted as Indians. We were some time halted here, then marched up the road. I was much pleased to observe how unconcerned Most of the men were both Militia and Regulars the first house we passed we observed the Indians had broke into and were plundering. We found them also running after horses in every direction we marched Quick time but had frequently to halt. The Can[?] Brigade passed us on the Road I think there was about five or six Guns - and [illegible] I believe in front. I saw a number of inhabitants many of whom knew me and seemed happy to see me. We got at last to Mr. Henry's about a Mile and a half from Detroit and there halted. From this place sent a flag of truce to the Garrison desiring them a 2d time to surrender it was a long time before we had an answer therefore was kept a long time in suspense many were wishing them not to capitulate these were young Officers who were anxious to have an oppy of distinguishing themselves: but most of us wished I believe they should to spare the effusion of blood and for the sake of the poor Women & Children who we knew would not be spared by the Indians should an action once commence. Fortunately for us as it will appear afterwards the Americans after some time capitulated and surrendered themselves prisoners of War. I forgot before to mention that while we were marching up a constant firing was kept up from Our Battery at Mr. Babys and from the American fort. The American guns were 24 pounders. While we staid at Mr. Henry's two prisoners were brought in, one by an Indian and another by one of the Rifle Company. During our stay here a good many of the Canadian Militia belonging to Col. St George's Brigade joined us. Mr. Wm Forsyth was living near Mr. Henry's. I never saw a person more happy than he as to see us he was so overjoyed that he could hardly speak. I have been told since that there were 32 ps of cannon in all and about 2900 Stand of arms. There were a great many Waggons &c. The numbers I do not know. We marched up to the Garrison the gun Brigade in front I believe there was - six pounders & the Ammunition Carts.[?] We marched into the town and from that up into Fort Lernow: but there were so many American Troops in it, that we could not all get in. I believe our marching in was improper, and that it was done by mistake, for we were but a few minutes there before we were ordered to march out. I really think there was while we were in the Garrison two Americans for one of us and they had still their Arms. We formed on the West side of the Fort in line, untill all the Americans had marched out, but I was so situated that I could not see them coming out. They did not march with the honors of War though I am told they were allowed to do it by the Capitulation but the Officers of the Am. Army were so mortified that they had to surrender without fighting that they were indifferent about it or anything else then. The American colours were flying nearly an hour after we first marched into the Garrison. After the Americans had all marched out, the Grenadiers & Light Infantry of the 41st Regt, and the Volunteers in that Regt, that is Mr George Hamilton Wilkinson & myself And Jno Richardson; commanded by Mr. Bullock of the Grendadiers, marched into the Fort, with Drum & fife, to the Tune of the British Grenadiers. I must say that I never felt so proud, as I did just then. As soon as we were in the Fort, the American Colours were taken down and ours hoisted. Three cheers were given as they were hoisted by the Militia and others outside the Fort & the Indians when the Salute with the Cannon was given gave an Indian yell every shot we the Volunteers remained with our Guard until the Colours of the 4th A. Regt were brought by part of our Guard After which we got leave to go where we wished and Mr Hamilton went to see Mr Brush, where we dined Two prisoners were taken in the Woods today while we were at Mr Henry's, one by an Indian and another by a rifleman.

There were abut 2300 prisoners surrendered, besides the Militia of the Michigan Territory, who gave up their arms that day, with the others. These were 3 or 4 hund[red] strong. Most of the American army were composed of Militia from the State of Ohio, who had volunteered their Services for a year, some were cavalry regt One company, great number Riflemen, and some infantry there were of Regular troops, --- of Artillery ----of the lst Regt and about 3 hund of the 4th Regt. This last Regt are highly spoken of by the Americans. Indeed from the manner they speak of them you would suppose them to be Invincibles. The whole of their army were ill dressed, and few of them appeared healthy or well, indeed they seemed to me the poorest looking sett of men I have seen for a long time. Their situation and dress may probably have made them appear so ill to me. Seven hundred Rifles were taken and a great many Muskets nearly 300 stand, & 32 ps Cannon of all descriptions, a great number of Waggons, horses, &c.

Monday 17th Remained at Detroit but did no duty. Saw the American prisoners embarking, many of whom were unwell with fever & some wounded. Poor fellows I fear few of them will ever get home. All the Vessels from Amherstburgh I believe & those taken at Detroit were taking in prisoners; but there were not a sufficient number to take them all, and those who were on board were very much crouded. By the Capitulation, as I understood, the Regular Troops were to be kept as prisoners of War and the Militia Regts were to be sent to Cleveland or Sandusky, from whence they were to return home and no[t] serve against the English ag[ain in] this War. Of the Regulars I supp[ose] there is not more than 400. These I suppose will be sent to Quebec.

Tuesday 18th I crossed the River, we[nt] up to my Father's dined there and then went down to Amherstburgh to see Major Chambers with whom [I] had volunteered to go to River Raizin & Foot of the Rapids. In the Even[ing] I saw General Brock and his Aidecamp Col. McDonnell At Amherstburgh Mr Hamilton was down there also; but as he had embarked and I could not conveniently get on board I did not see him. For want of boats or something else, we could not get off this evening for River Raizin. I saw Major Salmon & young Mr Rolph Mr R. had bought a horse for 5 dolls some were sold for two dolls I understood from the Indians, who took about three hundred on the Day of the Surrender and the day following, on the American Side. They plundered Knagg's house and a few other houses and took a great deal from them.

From: CHARLES ASKIN'S JOURNAL OF THE DETROIT CAMPAIGN JULY 24 - SEPTEMBER 12, 1812. In The John Askin Papers. Detroit: Detroit Library Commission, 1931. Vol. II: 714 - 721.

See Also:

Clarke, John. The Activity of an Early Canadian Land Speculator in Essex County, Ontario: Would the Real John Askin Please Stand Up? Canadian Papers in Rural History 1982 3: 84-109.