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American History Stories, Volume III by  Mara L. Pratt


 

 

HULL'S SURRENDER OF DETROIT

"What!" cried the Federalists; "fight with the English on the sea!  Expect this new weak navy of ours to fight with the great ships of England! It is madness!"

"Just wait," said the Republicans. "Just wait," said the [49] seamen, who were burning to avenge the wrongs of their fellow sailors. They did wait, and they did see.

"We shall soon conquer them this time," said the English. "The Indians will keep up an attack on them on the western border, and we, with our great fleets, will attack them along the Atlantic, along the gulf, and along the lakes on the north. Very likely we shall gain back all that we lost in the Revolution," said they.

And so the fighting began on the Canada border. Gen. Hull was in command of a fort there. And although he had a small garrison, still there is not doubt he might have defended the fort and have saved it from the English.

Brock, the English commander, approached the fort and demanded that it be surrendered at once. "If you don't surrender," said he, "I'll let the Indians loose upon you, and you know what Indian warfare is."

Unfortunately, Hull did  know too well what Indian warfare was, and his fear of the tomahawk evidently overcame his fear of disgrace; for, without consulting his officers, he hung out the white flag of surrender, and the fort with all its provisions fell into the hands of the enemy.

His soldiers and his officers, who were ready and eager to fight, were angry and mortified that they had been sold so meanly. One man, it is said, broke his sword in pieces, and tearing his gilt lace from his coat, trampled them under [50] foot, saying, "We have been made to disgrace our uniform by surrendering in this cowardly fashion, without one blow."

Hull was tried for treason; but no proof could be brought against him, and he was acquitted of that charge. He was, however, sentenced to death for cowardice.

He claimed to have surrendered the fort to save his men from the horrors of Indian slaughter. Perhaps it was so; but most people believed that he could very easily have kept back both Indians and English had he tried. Hull was pardoned by the President, and lived ever after in the quiet of his home.


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