In July, 1812, General Isaac Brock, Commander-in Chief of British Forces in Upper Canada, ordered an assault on the American fort on Mackinac Island. This engagement marked the opening of hostilities between American and British forces. Mackinac Island was of high strategic importance because it dominated the maritime routes in the western Great Lakes.
In August 1812, American General William Hull arrived at Fort Detroit with about 2500 troops intent on the capture of Canada. General Issac Brock assembled a force of 600 Indians under the famous chief Tecumseh, 400 militia, and 300 regular troops. This force included over fifty of The Royal Newfoundland Regiment and they crossed over the river in boats manned by members of The Royal Newfoundland Regiment assigned as marines. In an absolutely unexpected development, after one night of bombardment, General Hull surrendered Fort Detroit to the British.
Four members of The Royal Newfoundland Regiment were later issued General Service Medals for their involvement in this engagement while others were mentioned in a number of dispatches. Members of the Regiment, under the Command of Captain Mockler, served as seamen aboard the Hunter and Queen Charlotte, and were landed ashore to participate in the assault on Fort Detroit. General Brock wrote that The Royal Newfoundland Regiment is “deserving of every praise for their steadiness in the field as well as when embarked in the King’s vessels.”
US General William Hull returned to face a court-martial for his conduct of the campaign. He was sentenced to be shot but was eventually pardoned.
With the fall of Mackinac and Detroit the entire territory north and west of Ohio fell under British control.