Canada Ultra - or yet another Canada Wank
(YACW – yet another ...)
The biggest problem for a Canada-wank, is how does it stay 'Canada'. It is 'easy' to have a 'British North America wank', but in most such scenarios, it wouldn't be or be called 'Canada'. So let's establish some parameters
Any BNA that is united into one country needs a reason - otherwise, the various colonies would just stay single or merge into small 'dominions'. OTL, one of the prime drivers behind the creation of OTL Canada was the US to the south, with a big army that had just won the Civil War and didn't have anything else to do with it.
It would be easy to imagine at least 5 separate colonies/dominions if BNA includes everything west of the Mississippi and north of the Great Lakes - the Maritimes, 'Cascadia', California, Canada, Louisiana. There could easily be more (e.g. Newfoundland as OTL, some Indian state/states, etc., Texas)
So why are they one country - and why are they 'Canada'?
To have the dominions united requires an external threat of a largish/powerful external force (surely the US). To have them survive against such a US, we may need a state that would rival the US in size and power.
Possibly BNA just gets called 'Canada' because it's the biggest. But if we're merging most of the continent, it probably needs to be a bit bigger? Note, too, that it's going to be hard to keep new territories unless they can be filled by 'Canadians' – otherwise, we have a 'Texas' situation.
Discussion thread at http://alternatehistory.com/discussi...d.php?t=130408
We're going to start with a POD in 1793, and have somewhat of a butterfly net. We will assume that Prevost is appointed to Canada – or someone like him. We will assume that most of the same people show up in the same places – (although some people will survive that didn't - Isaac Brock will survive because he's got a larger force), but e.g. Wm. H. Harrison, Dearborn, etc. run the Northwest war on the American side. The only pure butterfly is Andrew Jackson will die either as a result of the brawl with the Bentons (which was almost fatal), or in one of his various duels. (Given his character and lifestyle, his survival OTL may actually have been a low probability)
Let's start with a POD in the the Napoleonic wars. According to Wiki, the Vendée uprising had as a last hurrah an attack on Granville on the Channel in October of 1793. They had an army of 25,000 men + camp followers. They were expecting the RN and an army of Royalists to meet them, but that didn't happen (and there WAS a republican army). POD – communications are better or the republican army isn't there. Anyway they take Granville and hold it for a while. When the situation becomes hopeless, they are evacuated to England, along with their families and some of the townsfolk (who, reasonably, fear retribution from the republicans).
This establishes a precedent, and more royalists and Chouans and so on (priests who refuse to recognize the superiority of the state over the pope, etc. etc.), are picked up in various operations. Sometimes descents (amphibious operations) meant for other purposes pick up a few towns folk, sometimes specific operations are conducted to pick up fighting men.
This adds some 25,000 to army. Also, adds a bunch of non-combatants. Brits don't really want them around in England, so the non-combatants are encouraged to go to Canada. Note especially the numbers of priests picked up. The UK really doesn't want them wandering around England. The Brits want to encourage and support the Royalists, so are prepared to pick up and care for some non-combatants, but are primarily interested in increasing the fighting man-power available. Still, many men will not join the Royal/British cause unless their families are taken care of, so many non-combatants are picked up and have to be cared for.
Thus, during the war, some thousands of royalists sent to Quebec, mostly non-combatants, but with enough men (often older teens or men to old to fight) so that the families can support themselves farming (or whatever occupation they may have).
Then in the peace of 1801, when the (ex-Vendée) soldiers are demobbed, they are mustered out in Canada rather than in England or forced to Republican France. This, of course, also allows them to join their families, the ones that had already gone to Canada. Moreover, we will have some royalists are freed from prison/captivity, etc., and sent across. (The republicans would just as soon be rid of them.)
Quebec's population in 1790 was 161k, in 1806 250k, OTL. The influx of French royalists ups the population by some 25% perhaps? The increased population causes several things. 1) townsfolk (merchants, professionals) add to the population and versatility of the Quebec settlements 2) the farming folk cause massively increased settlement into Upper Canada. (There's not much good, available land left within reach of rivers in Lower Canada/Quebec, so most of the farmers will have to homestead in Upper Canada (what would become Ontario, OTL). With settlements and lots of available priests, some younger sons from established farms go west, too. (This slows the fragmentation of the land in Quebec, and increases settlement in the west.) With increased western settlement, comes increased commerce – ships on Lake Ontario, and more shipbuilding. This will have consequences later.
One of the major reasons that French settlement OTL didn't leave the St. Lawrence valley is that the authorities (in particular the church) wanted to keep control of their people. Having a chunk of extra priests available for establishing new parishes – and having a bolus of new settlers who have to go anyway, means that younger sons are freer to go.
OTL, the population of Upper Canada was some 70k (largely American in origin, some United Empire Loyalists, but some just farmers looking for land). ITTL, the population will be about half again the size – say an additional 35,000 royalists and some 10,000 Quebeckers moving to new land. This means that the population available for militias will be greater – but it also means that there is far more agriculture, more food available to supply troops later.
Campaigns at the start of the war happen as OTL. Madison would prefer a thrust at Montreal, but that requires New England's cooperation, which isn't forthcoming. So three thrusts – via Detroit, to Kingston and to Montreal.
General (and Governor) Hull proceeds to Detroit as OTL. While the Brits have more forces in Upper Canada, OTL Hull thought they had 20k regulars (!!) available, so we just assume his estimates are the same (but less inflated iTTL). He still loses his orders to the British. He still surrenders, Brock still enters Michigan and proclaims it to be part of Britain. Hull is still recalled and charged with treason, cowardice and neglect of duty, all OTL.
Encouraged by British success, the Indians around Chicago become more hostile. In August, Captain Heald with his officers and 54 men and the civilians (12 men, 3 or 4 women, 'several' children) from Chicago leave Ft Dearborn and are attacked by Indians, mostly massacred. As OTL.
At this point, American control has shrunk back to southern Illinois and Indiana and the line of the Maumee in Ohio.
Admiral Sir John Borlase Warren arrives in Halifax to take command of the new North American Station (merged from previous Halifax, Jamaica and Leewards ones) on 3 August. After examining the situation, he decides to build 3 warships on the lakes, provide a captain and some more junior officers for that command. He also recommends Prevost receive 5000 soldiers to retake the Indian lands (Indiana and Illinois) to serve as a protectorate and buffer against the Americans. And proposes a major operation in the US south, to take New Orleans, and thus cut the major line of commerce for much of the American west. Note that the extra resources needed for 'Indiana' and New Orleans aren't available until war with Europe is over. All is as OTL.
Here, however, instead of waiting until the spring to send the captain commanding, he sends him in the winter to oversee the building of the ships and planning for the spring offensive.
In the Northwest theatre, William Henry Harrison and Brigadier General James Winchester were both appointed to the theatre, and argued over who was in command. Winchester had been appointed to the command, but Harrison had been brevetted Major General and thought he should have it. Finally word came from Washington that Harrison was in command. War Department is trying to raise 10,000 militia for the Northwest front, somewhat chaotically (successfully from Kentucky, less so from Pennsylvania and Virginia). All as OTL.
Michigan is now under British rule. Colonel Henry Procter (in charge of that wing) had left administration of Detroit in the hands of the American officials operating under American laws. This kept the American population there more acquiescent of British rule. OTL
Meanwhile, while the US is pulling its forces together, it is Tecumseh and his Indians who take the initiative. Indian attacks in early September on Pigeon Roost (southern Indiana) killing 20 whites and burning their houses. Failed attack on Ft. Madison near St. Louis fails. Failed attack on Ft. Harrison (50 miles up the Wabash from Vincennes), commanded valiantly by Zachary Taylor who is promoted major as a result. All OTL. However the attack on Ft. Wayne goes differently. Tecumseh led 600 warriors against a garrison of only 70 men under Captain James Rhea, who was so scared that he got drunk regularly, and he invited an Indian delegation in to discuss surrender. OTL, the two lieutenants in the fort essentially ousted him and continued the fight until relieved by Wm H. Harrison. However, iTTL they surrender. Either they are more timid because they know there are more British forces available or a different lieutenant isn't quite so prepared to relieve his superior.
This is a major victory for Tecumseh, and the first really visible change in the new Timeline. Tecumseh manages to hold the fort until Major AC Muir arrives with 600 English (OTL) and 600 French (not OTL, from the new French settlements on the Thames, a result of the original POD). Muir moves a bit faster and his first detachments get to the fort before Harrison's 2000 relief force gets there. The fort holds off Harrison until all Muir's force makes it into the fort, at which point, assaulting a fortified position with only a slight numerical superiority, Harrison is unable to take the fort back.
[For an interesting look at the OTL battle for Ft. Wayne, look at http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/V...fortwayne.html]
Indian raiders pick off sentries and raid Harrison's supply lines, making his position untenable without yet more reinforcements, so after a while he retreats.
Prevost is very peeved at Muir, since the official British position is to basically maintain a defensive status until the war in Europe is over, and more troops can be allocated. However, Muir replies that 1) his primary purpose was to make sure the Indians didn't get out of hand and massacre the Americans (actually as OTL), 2) that, since the Indians actually TOOK the fort, it would be foolish not to keep it, and 3) that this is essentially a 'forward defence' – it provides a much better shield for the new British possessions in Michigan, and therefore, really counts as a strategic defence, even if it was a tactical offence.
Brock backs up Muir, and presented with success, there's little that Prevost can do except fume. He does send scathing letters to London, but Brock sends supportive ones, and the end result is that Prevost's position is slightly undermined. And Tecumseh's position is greatly raised.
PS Muir's concern for Indian 'atrocities' happened to be misplaced. Tecumseh himself was at the battle, and he was as much against atrocities as anyone. OTL, once when he arrived after a battle was over he berated the British officer in charge for not restraining (Tecumseh's) Indians! Of course, Tecumseh in person may have been the only one who COULD prevent that. I should perhaps note that 'atrocity' is a very loaded word, although it is how the Europeans viewed such native conduct on the battlefield. Due to differing expectations of what battlefield behaviour and aftermath should be like, there was HUGE grounds for misunderstanding between the two sides. Tecumseh was stuck in between, often, and had to try to maintain a rather precarious position.
PPS. While Tecumseh has now taken Ft. Wayne, the British forces (even with the larger population iTTL) are stretched very thin. It is made very clear to Tecumseh that, while this was a wonderful victory, and a great advanced defensive position, that the British side can't really afford any more victories like that! If he wants to raid, that's great, but if Ft. Harrison down the Wabash HAD been taken, the British would have had to give it back. They'd love to be able to have been able to hold it, but just didn't have the forces, not only to put in the forts, but to run and defend the long supply routes.
PPPS. About this time, it occurs to someone that some of those retired Vendée vets, while too old to march and fight in the wilderness, should be able to sit in a fort and hold a gun. So a special company of older vets is raised to garrison some of the forts.
The Americans, being highly upset at Tecumseh's success, send punitive expeditions to destroy Indian towns – Ottawas on the Auglaize River (south of the Maumee in Ohio), Miamis at the forks of the Wabash, and Potawatamis near Elkhart. The first two were entirely successful (as OTL), the last less so, as Tecumseh's men set upon them on their return and killed many in that raiding party. [Possible, since Ft Wayne is a secure base for Tecumseh now.]
Sidebar on the French settlement in Upper Canada.
First a note on terminology: I will use “French” to describe the recent royalist refugees from the French Revolutionary wars. “Anglo” will refer to English speaking settlers (mostly in Upper Canada), whether of US or British origin. “Canadien” is a French-speaking Canadian (mostly Quebecois from Lower Canada, but also any other pre-PoD French-Canadians). (Well, it doesn't include Acadians, but I don't see them entering the story in a big way.)
Up to the beginning of the war, only 2 battalions have been raised, of about 600 men each. One, raised from people settled up and down the Thames river is La Compagnie Taimsienne, and is stationed in the west. This is the extra group that enabled the taking and holding of Ft. Wayne. The other group is based in the Niagara region and is la Compagnie Vendéienne.
While the Upper Canadian settlers who came from the US doubt that war is coming or that the Brits could win if it did, the French hate republicanism with a passion, love their new country with as great a passion, and know from experience that war can happen in their back yards. While they've only raised 2 battalions from their numbers (that's all the government's prepared to pay for at that point), a goodly number of the older men have started drilling the young men (who were only boys when they left France), so when the need arises, there will be many more who can join the colours. And any that aren't called up will be able to defend their farms and villages if, heaven forfend, the Americans should attack. They have also started figuring out who can afford to leave their farms, who can help out their neighbours if the father is called out to war, and how best to use those resources available (both human and matériel) if the demand on them increases dramatically.
Enough of war for the moment. Lets look at agriculture.
The French farmers in the Niagara region quickly realized that the region was great for growing both grapes and apples, and have started vineyards and orchards as well as the usual grain and livestock.
The French farmers all over have suffered the ravages of war, and know that the lowly potato is saviour of the peasant when armies go marching. When tensions and rumours of war start rising, they plant potatoes. The potato harvest in 1811 was larger than normal, and in 1812 they're planting them all over the place – even in uncleared woodlands. Of course, the OTHER use for potatoes is for what could, in a different place be called vodka. Here, they call it something else – their Scots and English neighbours call it 'whiskey', but it's obviously not real Scotch or Irish whiskey. The French Royalist potato farmers decide to call it, at least the good stuff that gets aged for a year or two, after their beloved royal master: Ladies and Gentleman I present you with this timeliness BOURBON WHISKEY. (NB in this timeline, the name probably predates the name for corn liquor, so the guys in Kentucky are just going to have to call theirs something else.)
back to the war.
Brock and Prevost, looking at the strategic situation, know that the taking of Fort Wayne, while a wonderful opportunity, really stretches the available manpower. It took some 1200 whites and hundreds of Indians to hold the fort in the face of Harrison's counterattack, which was most of Prevost's existing force in the Detroit area. So a call goes out to raise more militia. Now that harvest's in, it's a lot easier to raise militia from among the farmers. They want a couple of categories of militia – they want an immediate body of about 1000 now to free up the regular units at Ft. Wayne (some regulars will stay to provided stiffening), and another 500 or so to supplement forces available at Niagara. They want several battalions worth ready to be called up on a moment's notice, but not yet actually activated, and they want a reserve to be training in case of emergency (such as an invasion), and/or to replace some of the active units when they have completed a term of service. When the recruiters reach the French settled areas, they are VERY pleasantly surprised to find that the locals are ahead of them for once. The 'immediate' forces march out at once and the local units get official blessing. Moreover, when the recruiters visit Anglo and Canadien farms and villages, they can say “When we visited St. Denis, a town half the size of yours, they had XX men who would join the militia, why do you think you can provide only half that number? You can do better!”
Moreover, even in Lower Canada, the leavening of French virulent anti-republicans has made a difference. It has tilted the tone slightly from 'this is a war of our British rulers' toward 'this is our war'. Especially effective are those French priests who fill a few pulpits in Lower Canada. The difference is not huge, but more militia are raised, with rather less fuss than OTL. For the moment, the Lower Canada militia stay there.
Fall 1812 on the Niagara Frontier
In the summer, NY militia Mgen Stephen Van Rensselaer (a prominent Federalist) was appointed in charge of the Niagara frontier. When he got there, he found only 1000 men, shoeless, poorly equipped and unpaid.
General Brock on the Canadian side knew the state of the US forces at that time, and tried to convince Prevost that he could attack with the (OTL 2200 or so) forces he had on hand, and win a major victory. Otherwise, they could wait and have to have a much larger force to defend Canada when the US got its act together. Prevost refused.
Meanwhile, the US was starting to accumulate forces, just as Brock had feared. Dearborn pushed forward the 5th and 13th Infantry regiments of the US Army, and a brigade of new recruits under Bgen Alexander Smyth (regular army). Smyth reached Buffalo on 29 September, and reported to Van Rensselaer by writing (perhaps being offended at being subordinate to a MILITIA officer).
By the 2nd week of October, there were some 6300 men on the US side and 2200 on the Canadian (OTL, 2700 iTTL), about half militia on each side (OTL). Both sides were spread out along the length of the Niagara River and the Brits had to worry where the attack would come from.
Van Rensselaer was under huge pressure to attack (militia want to go home, NY Republicans threatening to accuse him of treason, etc.), and so plans for an attack on 11 October in the morning. Unlike OTL, the first boat with all the oars DOESN'T drift off downstream, so the attack proceeds on the 11th in daylight, in a storm. Van Rensselaer could only find 13 boats, so he fills them with some ~400 men and sends them across. All land on the shore below the bluffs and prepare a beachhead. British troops take a bit to find them, but once they do, they throw the beachhead into disorder and wound the commanding officer. Since Winfield Scott with artillery doesn't arrive until the 12th, there is no artillery fire to force the British up the slopes, and no opportunity for Captain Wool to follow them and seize the initiative. A second wave of boats arrives including Van Rensselaer and another general. Having heard the noise of gunfire, Brock gallops down from Ft. George. When he sees what the situation is, he sends for General Shaeffe to bring more troops. Because he has a 25% more troops than OTL, he has a few more to spare for picket duty, and one of them spies a group of US troops trying to come up a little known path behind Queenston heights, and they are forced back down. Meanwhile, the British battery at the top the heights is having a field day interdicting any further boat trips. Not that it would have mattered, as the rest of the militia on the NY side were asserting their right to refuse to cross into a foreign country.
When Shaeffe arrives with reinforcements, the US troops surrender, almost 1000 men captured or wounded (some boats may have made more trips than thought, as the US leaders thought they had less than 800 men across).
This was the US's second unmitigated failure in invading Canada. While not as disastrous as Hull's, it was still a major failure. Moreover, there weren't even the personnel advantages that the US derived OTL (namely finding the talents of Scott and Wool, and the British losing Brock).
Great rounds of finger-pointing followed on the US side. Smyth claimed Van Rensselaer had refused to let him fight, Van Rensselaer claimed Smyth wouldn't follow orders. Van Rensselaer resigns and Smyth appointed in command on 16 October.
Dearborn insists Smyth have at least 3000 men for an attack. Smyth wants 8000, and in the meantime his men are wracked with measles and dysentery. Finally, in late November a PA brigade of 1500 men arrive, and their leader assures Smyth that they'll all attack. Finally! Over 3000! Smyth sets up boats on night of 27 November, army stands waiting in the cold all night and day, then told to stand down. Their grumbling isn't helped by the lack of explanation. (only ~400 of the 1500 would cross, so he was below the 3000 mark). Smyth ordered another attack on 1 December, but less than 2000 men showed up for that. So that was called off. After 2 false starts, the PA militia go home.
Smyth might possibly have survived the debacle if he hadn't regularly issued annoying, bombastic announcements. As it was, his reputation was destroyed, and the crowd in Buffalo booed and hissed him out of town.
Thus ends the Niagara campaign for 1812.
All of this last is just as OTL.
Winter 1812/3 in the Northwest: Remember the Raisin.
As OTL, Harrison is given the task of assembling 10,000 men to take back Detroit. ITTL, he will have to take Ft Wayne at some point, but since his plan was to assemble 3 columns in three places, then meet at the rapids of the Maumee (modern Perrysburg, OH, near Toledo) for overwhelming force, he will do the same no matter whether he wants to strike north to Detroit or west to Ft Wayne first.
His three columns were: right column - General Simon Perkins, with an Ohio brigade from the Western Reserve Ohio, and Pennsylvania and Virginia militia assembled at Upper Sandusky; centre column 1200 Ohio militia under Tupper at Urbana at the start of Hull's road; and Winchester's men at Ft. Defiance (where the Auglaize flows into the Maumee).
He wanted to assemble 1 million rations for his men, and pre-position some of them. He basically spent the entire fall struggling with horse and wagons and oxen and mud, finally deciding that he needed to wait until winter when the mud was frozen and some of the route could be on the ice of rivers and lakes, or until spring. However, he was under pressure to produce a victory, and the alternative to a winter campaign was waiting until the Navy gained control of the lake so his men could be supplied by water. But that wouldn't happen until at least May, possibly later.
It so happens that there is an enormous swamp, called the Black Swamp, which stretches between the Auglaize and Sandusky rivers, and was right in the path of his intended advance.
It is true that, in the spring, General Hull had cut a road from Urbana to Detroit and taken his forces on it, but a) his force was much smaller, with lighter artillery and supply, and b) he travelled the road in May and June, and the autumn rains had made the land far swampier.
While they were waiting, Perkins men built a series of blockhouses along the Sandusky (Fts Stephenson, Ball and Seneca), and constructed a 15 mile causeway across the Black Swamp.
Tupper's men moved some of the supplies forward.
Some of Winchester's men cut a road from St. Marys to their fort at the mouth of the Auglaize.
All the soldiers in this army suffered, but especially the group under Winchester at Ft. Defiance. On half rations, when they had any, in crude huts, they suffered mightily. It's a wonder they didn't mutiny.
All in all, Harrison probably had ~6500 men in his three columns by mid-December. On 20 December, he ordered Winchester to the rapids, to start the ball rolling. The snow lay up to 2' deep, but they trudged through and started building a fort on 10 January 1813 on the north bank of the Maumee. Soon, however, they heard that Americans wanted “rescuing” at Frenchtown (now Monroe MI), some 36 miles NE on the River Raisin (and 18 SW miles from Malden, the British base) and that there was a significant collection of supplies there. Since the garrison was only 50 Canadian militia and 100 Indians, Winchester and his men decided go to the 'rescue'. (He polled his officers – all the militia ones wanted to go, the single regular army man opposed it.)
January 17 Colonel Wm Lewis starts out with 550 men, followed by Colonel John Allen with 110. The British garrison killed 12 and wounded 55, but the Americans took the town. At this point, Winchester seems to have suddenly realized that half his force (and only half) was merely 18 miles from a major British fort. So he takes 300 more men up to Frenchtown.
Meanwhile, Procter seems to have suddenly realized the same thing, he leaves Malden with 1200-1400 men (about half Indians lead by Roundhead and Walk-in-Water) NB Tecumseh was off recruiting warriors along the Wabash. He stops about 6 miles north of Frenchtown. He sets up his few cannon and his men. Winchester makes the mistake of setting his men up north of the Raisin instead of south. On the left of his forces, there was a heavy picket fence, but on the right only a light rail one. Winchester did not set out pickets or patrols, because he assumed his lower officers had done as 'routine'.
At 4 a.m. on the 21st, Procter attacks and quickly overwhelms the American right, which is totally taken by surprise. [In fact, had he sent the first wave in with bayonets, he might have done even better.] Winchester hurries to his men (he was sleeping on the other side of the river) to rally them, but in the meantime, Indians attacked the rear and scalped over 100 men. The rest, including Winchester were captured.
Meanwhile, on the left, 400 men under Major George Madison were holding out, and actually thought they were winning, when a white flag appears and he is told that Winchester had surrendered his whole force. Madison refused unless he could have guarantees of safe conduct for his troops. Procter initially refused, but after Madison pointed out what it would cost the Brits to take them, he agreed. Taking the prisoners who could march, he retreated to Malden, leaving some wounded prisoners (at least 30 maybe as many as 100) in the town. The Indians discovered booze and, while drunk, attacked the prisoners, even setting one house containing a group of them on fire. There were plenty of eyewitnesses, and the story of the massacre only grew in the telling. Many Americans, and even some Canadians blamed Procter for not providing better protection, but he did have as many prisoners as soldiers, and he didn't want to annoy his Indian allies, and there were more American forces coming up from the south, so it wasn't quite as simple as some make it out.
It was a total disaster for the Americans – some 300 dead, dozens wounded, and a the rest of an entire column captured (save a small handful).
The cry “Remember the Raisin” would be a rallying cry for American soldiers for the rest of the war.
When Harrison heard that Winchester had headed north, he sped up to reach the rapids, where he heard of the disaster on 22 January. Since he didn't have enough men to replace the ones just lost [hunh? He still has ~5000 doesn't he?], and since the term of enlistment for many of his troops was approaching, he called off the winter campaign, and started to build Ft. Meigs (after the Ohio governor) at the rapids on the south bank of the river.
Despite the furore over the 'massacre', Procter is rewarded with promotion to Brigadier General.
NB: all the events above are identical to OTL.
Note that Procter currently has about the same number of troops at Malden available for use because the increased supply is basically offset by the garrison at Ft. Wayne and the men needed to supply it.
What's different from OTL is the aftermath.
Note that, OTL, Prevost kept 5000 militia on the rolls over this winter. Here, he's doing more because he 1) can and 2) has to because his forces are rather overextended.
Brock arrives takes command. In mid-February, while not more than 2000 militia (+500 regulars + 600 Indians) are in place yet, word comes that the new American fort is almost deserted. Indians capture a soldier out cutting wood, and it's confirmed. Harrison had had to let all but 500 of his men go (OTL). Not only that, but he left himself. There are some new men coming in, but not many and all are very green. It's hard to believe, but Brock has some of his men watch the fort, and it seems to be true. Brock attacks with what he has, and takes Ft. Meigs, re-naming it Fort Bathurst.
Harrison was already in trouble with the War Department because of the expensive campaign with only losses to show for it. Now he loses a fort – and he's not even there. He's off relaxing with his family in Cincinnati! Harrison is fired unceremoniously! It is decided not not waste more time and effort on overland assaults when there was every expectation that the US would win control of Lakes Erie and Ontario, and then raids and invasions could happen at the will and direction of the US, anywhere on the lake, where the Brits would have to defend their entire shoreline. Put the shoe on the other foot.
Someone needed to take over, and the current leadership of the army had proved itself all too fallible, in general. James Monroe, currently Secretary of State wanted to be a general, but knew that Armstrong (the recently appointed Secretary of War on 5 February) would never agree as the two men hated each other. So Monroe did not put his name in for one of the 4 Major General positions appointed at that time. However, when the news of the disaster in the Northwest comes, together with the disgrace of Harrison (who had only just been appointed to one of those positions – his previous rank of Major General was only a brevet rank, not permanent), Monroe lobbies for the position of Lieutenant General (the only one in the Army), in charge of the whole northern frontier. Armstrong figures 1) hey, at least it gets him out of DC and 2) considering the mess every other general made there, he could hardly do worse – and if he did, he'd be out of Armstrong's hair permanently!
Monroe is appointed Lieutenant General of the US Army, commanding the entire northern frontier, as of 15 March 1813.
Meanwhile, back on the Maumee, Brock has a tricky problem. He has 2500 troops with him, but most are militia and most of those will have to go back to their farms for planting in a couple of months. He needs to garrison Ft Wayne (although not with a huge force, as the easiest route to it is through one of the other new forts), Ft. Defiance (which definitely needs to be upgraded – and needs to be well manned as it is at risk because the road up from St Marys comes there) and Ft. Bathurst (formerly Ft. Meigs, because that's where Hull's Trace comes).
Still, if he can square the circle and manage to properly man those forts (plus, of course, the existing forts in Upper Canada), he will have a WONDERFUL defensive line that will ensure the British possession of Michigan as long as the line holds.
Tecumseh nags him a bit – as the fighting is supposed to be to recover Indian land, not aggrandize the British Empire. But he does recognize that resources at hand are limited, and they're not 100% sure they can hold what they have, let alone expand south and west.
By dint of a lot of discussion and paperwork, and juggling of men and companies within regiments, Brock finally comes up with a solution that should cover the basic manning of the forts. It would not have been possible at all if the French militia had not made arrangements for many of them to stay past planting. Sure, many of those would have to return for harvest, but they could be replaced some of the men let off for planting in the spring. (Since they had already arranged for the work of the missing men to be covered in turns.)
Another problem is rations, which are going to be a bit short for a while. Fortunately, the Americans had some stored in the fort, and once breakup happens, food and supplies can be shipped in across the water. (Of course, that presupposes that the RN can keep control of the Lakes...)
Meanwhile, Brock doesn't have to let the militia go until April or even May, so he gets the best use out of them that he can, cutting and improving roads, upgrading the portages along the Maumee (especially around the rapids), upgrading the defences of all three forts, enlarging and improving Ft. Defiance. In gratitude to John Chapman, he even orders all his men to save apple seeds for planting in the spring.
Naval action/preparation on the Lakes, 1812
St. Lawrence River, fall 1812
various inconclusive skirmishes, much like OTL. Does make Prevost realize (even more) that the vital lifeline of the St. Lawrence river is vulnerable.
Preparation on the British side.
On August 19 Captain James Richard Dacres on the Guerrière fought the Constellation, and lost. He was returned to the RN and faced a Court Martial on 6 October 1812 which cleared him of all blame for the loss. (as OTL) Admiral Warren, wanting someone to spearhead the RN effort on the lakes thinks: “If he was a bit rash going up against the bigger US frigate, well that's the RN spirit, and it's a lot better than what I'm hearing from the Provincial Marine currently running the ships on the Lakes. Besides, he really wants and needs a chance to redeem himself.” So Captain Dacres and a couple of junior officers are sent post haste to Kingston on Lake Ontario, the main British naval base.
Warren knows that he needs someone more senior, eventually but a captain will do for now, basically to prepare things for the spring.
British status on the Great Lakes
(All of this will be OTL, unless otherwise noted.)
British ships on the great lakes were run by the Provincial Marine in 1812 (not the RN), a mostly transport service under the Quartermasters dept. The commander on Lake Ontario was the elderly Hugh Earle (who replaced the 75 year old commodore John Steel). He had had several fairly inconclusive skirmishes with the Americans, losing some where he had more guns and not winning any.
While Lake Ontario was not, in any way, a US preserve – the Brits were still able to ferry supplies across the lake, etc. - Earle had basically ceded dominance to the US navy.
American status on the lakes
(All of this will be OTL, unless otherwise noted.)
On 3 September, Captain Isaac Chauncey was appointed by the US to command on the Great Lakes (he had served in the Pseudo-War and at Tripoli, named captain in 1806). His position at the time was commandant of the Naval Yards at NYC, so it was very convenient to arrange supplies He ordered 140 carpenters, 700 seamen/marines, 100 cannon, and tons of supplies (especially ammunition) forwarded from NYC, and ordered the yards to step up production of various sorts of naval supplies.
On his way out to the post, he discovered how very bad the roads were, and ordered that supplies be redirected to Oswego, then coasted to Sackett's. [NB:there is a reasonably good water way – Hudson river to Albany, Mohawk river then some lakes, etc. Basically where the Erie canal (in part) would go later.] Note that Sackett's Harbor is really the only good harbour on the US side of Lake Ontario.
When Chauncey arrived, the US had only a single warship on Lake Ontario, the Oneida (18 guns), but he quickly bought and arranged for the gunning of commercial schooners. Moreover, Lieutenant Woolsey (who had been in command before Chauncey arrived, had managed to keep Earle from destroying 6 schooners (that he were planned to be fitted with cannon) at Ogdensburg on the St. Lawrence. While the schooners weren't destroyed, both it and a recently armed schooner (the Julia) were trapped there. There was a brief truce in September, which allowed all 7 schooners to make it to Sackett's Harbor, where Chauncey could turn some of them into warships. Chauncey arrives at Sackett's on 2 October. When conversion is finished, US now has 10 ships with ~60 guns, while the Brits have 6 ships with 88 (OTL, iTTL 8 ships with 94). Chauncey also orders the construction of a new ship, the Madison, a 24 gun corvette. It went from raw timber to finished ship in 45 days, launching on 26 November, just in time to be laid up for the winter(!)
Action on the Niagara
On Lake Erie, at the beginning of the war, the Brits had 5 ships and the US had none. (Queen Charlotte with 20 32# carronades , General Hunter 10 x 12# long guns, (Lady) Prevost 14x9# , Nancy and Caledonia 8x6#, and the Detroit 14 guns (what size??). ITTL, it's 6 with the last being a gun boat armed with 1 long gun and 2 carronades.)
On 9 October, Lieutenant Jesse D. Elliott (the then US commander on Lake Erie), took 100 men (or more) and crossed the river in the middle of the night to Ft. Erie. They boarded Caledonia and Detroit, overpowered the crews and cut the cables, trying to escape with the two ships. British artillery fire disrupts the effort, and the Detroit is grounded. US forces burn her, to deny her to the British, but they do manage make off with the Caledonia, which thus forms the nucleus for the US fleet.
The Brits had not guarded those ships particularly well because there were 40 prisoners of war from Hull's army on board, and the ships were flying a flag to denote that. They believed that that made the ships immune from attack, claimed that the US attack which was therefore a violation of the rules of war. More newspaper headlines in Canada and Britain about the 'dastardly cowardly American treachery'. (all but the newspaper headlines OTL)
Elliott was working on 2 20 gun brigs and 3 'gunboats' at Black Rock (the schooners Somers, Tigress and Ohio and the sloop-rigged Trippe, which had all been purchased by the United States Navy and were being converted into gunboats – possibly that 5th one was being built). Unfortunately for him, the work sites were just within reach of the guns at Ft Erie, and so construction was regularly disrupted. Brock wanted to attack those boats while under construction, but Prevost forbade it. (The 'No attacks onto US soil' policy.) (so far as OTL) Brock might have been willing to push on this, but there were several problems. Firstly, for the weeks immediately following the US attack, vigilance on the US side was heightened as they legitimately expected retaliation. Secondly, Brock was stretched thin enough on this frontier that he really didn't have men to spare for a major attack on a fortified position. Thirdly, by the time the vigilance might have started to die down there was the major attack at the other end of the river against Queenston Heights.
However, when Roulette (Captain of the Caledonia) quietly sounded out Brock, he was given to understand that Brock would turn a blind eye to an unofficial retaliation. [Note: OTL, Roulette was in charge of the watch on the ships. Given his French name and given that the Caledonia was a North West Company ship that had been pressed into service, I am assuming he was her captain. (The North West Company, based out of Montreal, was a competitor to the Hudson Bay Company, and most of her low level employees were Canadien, although the bosses at headquarters were largely Scots, hence “Caledonia”). The ships were also loaded with furs and deer hides. ITTL, the slightly increased manpower means that some of the furs got off-loaded before the attack. Not that that affects the TL one way or another.)] Anyway, Roulette ITTL was sick and off the ship the night of the attack, so is available to lead an attack later. He gathers a group of NWC employees (mostly voyageurs), loads them in canoes, and crosses the river in the middle of the night of December 7 (date chosen relatively at random, but while attention is still focused at the other end of the river). They don't have enough men to actually take back the ships, but they can do damage and try to burn the ships. One ship burns, another is badly damaged, the others suffer only mild damage. Prevost is angry, but there's nothing he can do – the men involved were not formally in the military. And while he has some very strong suspicion about supplies and other help Brock or his men may have provided, he has no evidence.
Back on Lake Ontario
On 10 November, several American ships trapped the Royal George (the largest British ship on Lake Ontario with 22 guns) in Kingston harbour, and the Oneida (the largest US ship on the lake, with 18 guns) pursued her and attacked her mercilessly. The American fleet believed they had severely damaged the Royal George, but as dusk was falling, had to move out to safe anchorage for the night. The next day, the wind was wrong for a renewed attack, and the Americans returned to Sackett's Harbor. As OTL.
As Dacres and his officers travel up the St. Lawrence, they observe the difficulty of shipping matériel up the rapids, and the danger posed by the American shore – the bateaux are quite vulnerable to American attacks. They arrive in Kingston on November 12, and are horrified. They quickly devise a plan. 1) they'll repair the Royal George, 2) they'll concentrate the other ships of the flotilla near Kingston, and 3) they'll let slip to spies where the brig Earl of Moira (the Brits' second biggest ship, and a tempting target) would be a few days later, 4) spend the next days practising gunnery, which the sailors obviously need more skill at.
Dacres also rounds up/convinces some militia to help man the ships as they are somewhat undermanned. When he finds that there are a handful of French settlers who had been sailors and had handled cannon on merchant ships, he was overjoyed.
The trap is set. Chauncey's flotilla sails out to meet the Earl of Moira, and after they're engaged, the Royal George and a couple of schooners appear to upset the fight and are able to approach more closely than expected without being seen due to a snowstorm. After some fighting, Dacres Chauncey breaks off, and is able to get most of his ships away in the snowstorm. The Brits do capture one schooner, and sink another, for the loss of one of theirs. However, for the first time on the lakes, the Brits have taken on a US force and won.
Winter 1812/3 on the Lakes
The lakes close down for the winter, there is no more naval combat until spring.
Prevost orders the building of 3 new ships, one each at Detroit, York and Amherstburg. Unfortunately, Amherstburg is at the western end of Lake Erie, and winter means that naval supplies like cannon and shot can't be sailed down the lake, but rather carted or sledged overland for hundreds of miles. This means that the new ship will not be completed come spring, despite everyone's best efforts, and that there's no point in trying to build anything bigger than a 20 gun schooner.
On the American side, they are building another warship at Sackett's Harbor, and a small fleet of ships/gunboats at Presqu'ile (modern Erie PA). Chauncey, in charge of the whole Ontario/Erie theatre visits the site in January and orders 2 of the 4 ships enlarged (it's too late to do that for the other two). Presqu'ile was chosen because it had decent water connections via the Ohio with Pittsburgh and ultimately Philadelphia, so matériel could be sourced from there and not add to the burden on the NYC yards that were supplying Sackett's Harbor. Oliver Hazard Perry requests a position from Chauncey, and is appointed in charge of the Lake Erie construction, but doesn't arrive until the end of March. Once he inspects the site, he then heads east to discuss manning and resources with Chauncey.
Once the British hear about the building activity, they want to attack it and disrupt it. In many ways the best time to attack would be mid winter. Dacres proposes an 'over the ice' attack on Sackett's Harbor, but Prevost turns him down (OTL it was Andrew Grey of the Provincial Marine who requested the attack). Brock and Procter would dearly love to attack Presqu'ile, but the logistics would be incredibly bad (across the lake, or along half of it). And they are somewhat... occupied along the Maumee for much of the winter, anyway. They will have to wait at least until the ice breaks up in the spring.
British Leadership changes
The British government has been watching events in Canada with great interest, and have read the various dispatches they've received. They decide to make some changes. Prevost has been truly excellent at handling the government affairs, interacting with the local parliaments, but his handling of military matters (admittedly following instructions he had received from London), has not been quite as effective as might have been desired. Therefore, they decide to kick him upstairs. They appoint him “Viceroy of all British lands in North America, Governor General over all the Canadas, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Bermuda, Commander in Chief of all British forces, on land or at sea, ....” etc., and offer him the title “Marquis St. Lawrence” but make it clear that 'commander in chief' means broad suggestions of strategies, not vetoing tactical moves. Brock is appointed Lieutenant General with tactical control of all land forces in the Canadas, and elevated to the baronage as Baron Maumee. Procter receives a knighthood. As a mark of the especial favour, and as a show of the vice-regal powers granted him, Prevost is granted the right and power to preform the ceremonies elevating Brock and Procter (so no one has to travel all the way to London for the King to do it). Prevost is also granted the power to grant simple knighthoods, as seems appropriate, on consultation with the appropriate parliament and military leaders. (This is all very much NOT OTL.) Warren is asked to find someone more senior to run the Great Lakes naval operations. No complaints about Dacres, but he's just not senior enough.
Edit: the above paragraph is the sort of conflation of events you sometimes see in history books. The elevation of Prevost to Viceroy and Marquis and Brock to de facto head of the armed forces happened effective 1 March 1813. The elevation of Brock to baron and Procter to knight happens a bit later.
Prevost is also supposed to work with Procter and locals on setting up a governing body for Canada West (as the British controlled parts of Michigan and northern Ohio and Indiana are now being called).
Miscellaneous, winter 1812/3
After that one brief naval action, Dacres spends the winter overseeing the naval construction and fortifications, mostly on Lake Ontario. He is able to expedite the building process very slightly, and has several ideas for improving the forts' abilities to deal with naval attack. He orders furnaces built for heating shot, for instance, as hot shot is MUCH more efficient against ships.
Lieutenant Colonel George Macdonnell gets grudging permission from Prevost to attack Ogdensburg (late February), which he does, yielding 60 prisoners, 16 cannons, 2 tons of ammunition, 1500 barrels of pork, 800 muskets, 400 rifles, and the burning of 2 American schooners. Ogdensburg was never again garrisoned, nor a threat to the British thereafter. [All OTL.]
Admiral Warren sends Captain Sir James Lucas Yeo, brevetted as Commodore, to take control of the Great Lakes. With him go 3 commanders, 8 lieutenants, 10 midshipmen and 400 sailors (many of whom are sent from England, not from Halifax). [This is the OTL number, and is additional to my ATL Dacres and his 2 lieutenants.]
In agricultural matters, the French farmer militia tell the Indians in 'Canada West' about potatoes. While they aren't terribly interested in a new food, many, especially those within reach of American raids, ARE interested in food the American soldiers can't steal or cut down. Obviously, this won't make any difference until at least the summer, but there will be some long reaching effects.
Spring thaw, 1813
Brock has over 1000 militia that will need to head home by about the first of May. Now, while he has been making good use of them, increasing the garrisons of forts, cutting roads, etc., he'd really like to make proper use of them as a military force before they do go home. He comes up with a plan with Lieutenant John Arbuckle (ATL character, one of 2 lieutenants that came with Dacres), who's in charge of the naval forces, such as they are, on Lake Erie. They arrange that when spring break up comes, Arbuckle will bring his motley flotilla (basically every sailing craft of any size on the lake) to Ft. Bathurst (Ft Meigs as was) and pick up as many men as will fit and ferry them to Point Pelee, on the north side of Lake Erie, straight across from Presqu'ile. Once a suitable concentration is achieved, they will then be ferried across the lake to Presqu'ile. The boats appear on the April 1, starting ferrying. On April 14, it's decided to start the offensive. The first loads are actually a couple of hundred Indians who are landed out of sight to the east. Their job is to sever lines of communications, and prevent small groups from escaping. They are also feign an attack in the morning to distract the defenders away from the lake.
The major attack starts on April 15. The first forces arriving at Presqu'ile dig in until reinforcements arrive, and hold off a first wave of American attackers trying to throw them back into the lake. Still, as the day goes by, more and more forces are ferried across the lake, and by nightfall, they are on the advance.
Fortunately, for the British, Perry was still getting his command organized. When he had arrived on 27 March, the place was almost undefended, and he urgently requested help. 4 cannon and 500 militia were immediately sent from Pittsburgh, but they had only just arrived and were not well organized or dug in. [I don't know when they got there iOTL, I suspect maybe later than that. I'm actually giving the Americans the benefit of the doubt here.] The next day (the 16th, the US forces surrendered. Unfortunately for them, with Perry being away (he was off to meet with Chauncey and beg for more sailors), it didn't occur to anyone to burn the naval stores. Thus the British get a windfall, and over the next several days, load as much as they can on their ships for their own use, and take in tow those boats near enough completion that they can float on their own. Every scrap of usable material and food is loaded on British boats and taken across the lake, and everything left is put to the torch and totally destroyed. The militia (as usual) are released, but they have to march away as there is no food or shelter left, and they're given the warning to pass on that if any building happens here again, there'll be another visit from the RN.
The British forces withdraw, and the militia are home by the end of the month, in time for planting. Note that word of the attack has to travel overland, which takes a while. [NB: this is all ATL, Procter didn't have the men or permission to mount the attack, and Perry was able to finish his fleet, well defend his port, and eventually win the Battle of Lake Erie, seizing control of the lake from the British. This is all changed now.]
Very much as OTL, Chauncey sets out from Sackett's Harbor with 2000 men on a motley collection of ships, barges and anything else that would float. The armed ships include 3 ships and 12 gunboats. [OTL it was 14 gunboats, but they lost 2 last fall, iATL. Also, OTL it was 1700 men, but the US is more desperate for a victory.] They have to turn back due to weather, but set out again and arrive off York (modern day Toronto) on April 27. They land their troops west of York, and the warships head east to pound Fort York and the western battery.
The 18 gun sloop Wolfe and two smaller gunboats were launched on 20 April (OTL, possibly a bit earlier here) at Kingston and readied for service. When word arrives at Kingston, the entire British fleet on the lake loads up with soldiers and militia and heads to York to join the fight. (ATL)
The American forces are all landed by 10a.m., and advance slowly toward the town. General Shaeffe, seeing that the US cannon is barely moving, darts around the side of the US forces with some light cannon and strafes their flanks. About 11:00, US forces come into the open and are attacked by cannon fire from the western battery. So Brigadier General Pike decides to attack the battery and take it out.
Meanwhile, the fort and battery are firing back at the attacking ships. And, with heated shot, this return fire is far more effective than OTL, and the Oneida beaches herself on Toronto island to avoid sinking. 2 gunboats are also destroyed – one sunk, the other's magazine exploding.
Unlike OTL, no one accidentally sets the powder magazine on fire, and the fort keeps firing at ships and men until Pike's men overwhelm the battery, although Pike himself dies in the attack. The army then head toward the town and the fort.
Unlike OTL, we have an energetic naval captain on hand. Dacres organizes his ships crew and locals and some militia and prepares to go to war. The gunboat that was being built is done [ATL, I think], and the warship is almost ready to go, but hasn't had her masts stepped or other last minute work done. When he heard of the arrival of the US fleet last night, he rushed everyone to be able to get the ship out into the water. Yes, it had jury-rigging, but was able to sail and steer (sort of), and more important, had her guns loaded. Also, they build some barricades in front of the harbour and man them.
So when the American ships show up, two British ships limp out the harbour. The Americans mostly ignore them, as the warship is OBVIOUSLY not ready for sea, with a spar for a mast, and crazy sails. Heck, the gun-ports aren't properly installed, they're WEDGED shut. It looks like they're just trying to sail around the US fleet and escape to Kingston or somewhere. They ignore her until she gets past the fleet – and turns in to attack! Gun-ports are pushed into the water and a full broadside lashes into the nearest ships. She inflicts fearsome punishment, but receives even more. She's about to surrender, when through the thick clouds of powder smoke the rest of the British fleet arrives and opens fire. The American fleet is now over powered, even if not out numbered, and the British ships close and pound the American ships, and then the militia boards them. One by one the American fleet surrenders except for two schooner/gunboats that get away to bear the news to Sackett's Harbor.
Meanwhile, the American army, having taken the western battery, moves into the town and loots and burns it. Some say that scalps were found at the city hall, and that enraged the soldiers, others that it was the death of Pike, others the lack of leadership between the time Pike died, and the time General Dearborn was able to land and exert control, but no one quite knows for sure what happened. What is known is that the sack and burning of the city of York happened. This provides the excuse for the British to burn Washington and other cities later, and even provides the [ATL] motto of Upper Canada “Je me souviens” (I remember), the battle cry thereafter of the French militia that came to save the town.
It takes hours for the officers to bring the army under control, and try to get them redirected to assault Ft York, and the embankments/barricades guarding the harbour. And in that time, the (largely French) reserve militia west of town, had assembled at St Jean d'Etobicoque and started marching in from behind. With their fleet gone, and an intact, manned fort in front of them and angry militia coming in behind, the Americans decide to surrender. Sure, they might have been able to win the fight – but once they ran out of ammunition and food, then what? Their transport was gone and they could hardly walk home across Lake Ontario
The few surviving US ships arrive back at Sackett's Harbor to tell of the disaster that just happened. And discover that word of the attack on Presqu'ile had arrived shortly after they had left port. The Brits own the lakes.
Interlude (thanks to foresterab for some of the inspiration)
November 1812, Montreal
Headquarters of the Northwest Company.
Armand St.Jacques (ATL French merchant, worked his way to the top level of the company (1)): I was just going over some of the reports on how the War is affecting our business, and thinking about some of the news from the Lakes region(2)
Others: Yes, yes, we all know it's been a disaster this year, and will probably only get worse.
Armand: Actually, I think we can make this war BENEFIT us.
Others: hunh!? What on earth are you talking about? The government seized our ship, disrupted our trade, raised taxes, roused Indians to thoughts of the war path, not trapping. There's an upside to this!?!?
Armand: Yes, let me explain.
We have a huge network of contacts among Indian tribes from Lower Canada out to the Rocky Mountains. If we can provide the those Indians with the right incentives, we can provide the Government with hundreds or even thousands of warriors. Right now, the Government is only using those Indians who present themselves – mostly those organized by Tecumseh (although Brant is being very helpful, too.)
Others: Ummm.... Yes, we could do that, but what kind of 'incentives' are you talking about, and are you going to provide them out of YOUR pocket?
Armand: No, no, that's the beauty of the thing. If we agree on this plan, we present it to Sir George [Prevost]. We get the GOVERNMENT to pay for the incentives (whether it be muskets, trade goods or whatever), and we will basically provide the message service, the contacts. Then, in return for our services, we can ask for formal recognition, we can demand the use of shipping for those incentives (and possibly some of our own trade goods) – it's only fair, since they seized our ship the Caledonia on Lake Erie. And then, after the war, they can provide us with another such ship as payment for the use of the Caledonia.(3) Moreover, if the Indian protectorate and the Louisiana purchase are opened up to us instead of American merchants, our profits could go sky high.
If we just sit and grumble, we won't get ANY of those benefits, and still have almost all the losses. Yes, gentlemen, this may cost us (some) money in the short term, and we might have to take Government notes at face value until the war is over, but if we win and have contributed to the victory, we may profit immensely. The government may be absolutely overjoyed that we can provide a real benefit for undiscounted notes.
Others: Hmmm... Why don't we ask Sir George for a monopoly on trade on all British land draining south into the Mississippi, like the Bay has on lands draining north – with the understanding that the two companies will allow the other to operate on their own territory. That gets up formal recognition in Rupert's Land, and we can surely out-compete the HBC in our territory. That should sound fair to Sir George, and even if we're turned down, it should make the other requests sound entirely reasonable.
Chair: All in favour?
(vast majority): AYE
1 OTL, because the (protestant) Scots ran the major businesses in Montreal and Quebec, the church discouraged good Canadien lads from going into business – they might get tainted by heresy, you see. ITTL, there is a big enough nucleus of merchants/traders that came over with the royalist community that it is now becoming acceptable to be a businessman – initially small business, but some of these guys have grown in size. Also, as the NWC's lower level employees (voyageurs, etc.) were almost all Canadien (and at least nominally Catholic), it is a company more open to penetration by an ambitious young Frenchman with skills.
2 The government may think of Michigan as 'west'. The fur trade companies laugh at them.
3 They don't know yet that the Caledonia was seized by the Americans. When they do find out, they'll point out that they need a ship (whoseever flag it flies under) NOW to carry those trade goods – and want another ship in payment at the end.
The Partners of the North West Company meet with Prevost to discuss their scheme. He is overjoyed at the offer of help, but slightly dismayed at the price asked. Still, it's a good idea, and with some negotiation on terms, a deal is reached. Prevost immediately sends a message to London, in part suggesting that the Hudson's Bay Company take part, too. The North West Company sends off to its suppliers in England for the extra trade goods that will be necessary, and starts preparing for the effort. There's actually little to do until break-up, as the great majority of goods and news travels on water, not land, but some messengers are sent out on foot across the snow to carry the message.
Then when break-up happens, and the great goods flotillas of canoes head out from Montreal into the Pays d'en haut (the upper country) they carry messages.
Firstly, anyone who wishes to fight for the British for 5 muskets or equivalent in trade goods should present themselves at any of several posts on specific dates e.g. the full moon in September. Mackinac is the major one for the northern tribes. Detroit for the eastern ones, Ft Garry (basically Winnipeg Manitoba) for the north-western ones, and Saukenuk at the mouth of the Rock River (Quad Cities, Davenport, Moline, Rock Island, Bettendorf) or Chicago for the south-western ones (south-west only in fur trade terms, of course!). This last is a bit optimistic, as the British didn't actually have a base there. Of course, they didn't have control over the lakes, and if don't gain it, the whole program's going to go up in flames, whereas if they do have control, seizing Chicago and the length of the Rock River are not going to be a huge problem. (The Brits do not technically have a base at Saukenuk, but it's Black Hawk's birthplace, and probably about the safest place in all Illinois at the moment (for Brits and British allies).
Secondly, word goes out to all Buffalo hunters within reach that the NWC and British governments will buy any and all pemmican they can make and deliver it anywhere on the Red River (of the North) or at Saukenuk.
The rush to get the York-built warship out into the harbour and into battle is such that it was never properly christened. Some wag comes up with a suggestion, that they should call it the “Cornwallis” and the new name is made official. Thus newspapers across the world can shout “This Time Cornwallis WINS at York-town”.
The defence of the York harbour meant that all the supplies (guns, cordage, etc.) that were meant for the flotilla on Lake Erie were saved, and were soon able to be on their way. On the other hand, the battle damage to all the ships involved meant a LOT of repairs had to be done to put everything right. On the third hand, there were enough damaged ships that e.g. rigging could be cannibalized from less vital/more damaged ships to repair more vital/less damaged ships.
General Sheaffe's defence of York, while not inspired, was (ATL) resolute, and he stays in his command. [OTL he was disgraced and retired.]
On the American side, their next plan was to attack Ft. George and start working their way up the Niagara peninsula. However, most of the army they were going to use just surrendered at York, and the fleet they were going to use to transport and supply the army with was just eliminated. General Pike is dead, and General Dearborn and Commander Chauncey are captured. Panic strikes.
Meanwhile, Brock has ordered many of the troops that were stationed as far east as Quebec City to start moving west. Now, he received full command over British troops in the Canadas on 1 March, and wanted to move people closer to the front. However, the situation with Prevost was a bit uncertain, especially just how much who was in charge of what. This meant he needed to move slowly. He wrote to Prevost 2 days after he received word of his new responsibilities, with the suggestion 'that all but a minimal garrison be moved from Quebec City as soon as possible', what did Prevost think, and who should issue the order, if it was issued. Prevost wrote back that while he wasn't entirely sure it was a good idea (i. e. he thought it was a horrible idea, but he wants to be polite about it), that London had made it clear that such movement of men and matériel was quite within Brock purview now, and there was no need for him (Prevost) to either issue the orders or even review them. He would, of course, like to be kept informed. ( i. e. I don't want anything to do with this, when it blows up in your face, it's your problem buddy boy. And I want a paper trail.) So, it is not until the middle of April that Brock can get orders out to move men and equipment from Quebec. [I'm exaggerating Prevost's peeve, but he's perfectly aware that he's been bumped out of the line of command. Moreover, just because Brock's excessive impetuosity has worked a couple of times, doesn't mean his luck will hold. Still. Well. Their Lordships command. And hey he gets a nice shiny title out of it. ... OK, so he'll shut up and try to make everything work and maybe it WILL all work out for the best. At least no one will ever be able to claim George Prevost played petty politics.]
By the time the attack on York happens, the battle at Presqu'ile is already over, although word takes a while to travel the distance. Immediately on hearing of the attack on York, Brock leaves the clean up at Presqu'ile to Procter and heads to York and then Kingston as fast as he can, arriving May 14. When he gets there, he finds Sir James Yeo who had just arrived the week earlier (one week earlier than OTL). Yeo is furious that he just missed the naval battle at York, and the two of them discuss with Dacres (and Prevost) just what needs to be done now. It is decided that as long as Sackett's Harbour exists as a US base on Lake Ontario, that British control will be threatened, and they should see what they can do about it. (OTL, Prevost (of all people) decided to strike at Sackett's while the US forces were attacking Fort George – which doesn't happen ATL).
Now Prevost had had as many as 4000 men at Kingston (OTL numbers), and Brock is moving some west. So by the time that Brock and Yeo have assembled the necessary shipping (including repaired and partly repaired ships from the Battle of York, but also bateaux and some of the salt boats and barges the US moved men TO York on), they have 4000 men they can take, while leaving Kingston defended. They sail for Sackett's on the evening of 27 May. The American forces on the lake being heavily reduced, there is no spy boat waiting to run off to Sackett's to warn them. So when the Brits arrived just after noon on the 28th, it was to almost total surprise. The Brits started to land, creating a beachhead and then moving in toward the harbour. Meanwhile there was great confusion in the town, because the people expected (militia) Brigadier Jacob Brown to lead them, but he wanted to pass it off to a Colonel of the regular army who was present. After some discussion, Brown did take command, but precious time had been lost and what might have been forward defensive lines were never held. Still, Sackett's Harbour held 2000 men who had been gathered for an attack on Fort George (which never happen iTTL), and there was fierce resistance. The initial line of militia broke and ran, and kept running when the British regulars formed line and marched and poured fire into them, but the American regulars formed line, and while they had to retreat under superior numbers, held their line and behaved professionally. When Brown sees his militia fleeing, he comes up with a stratagem – he sends cavalry out around announcing victory and rounding up some of the fleeing soldiers. Of course, some of them run into the British cavalry or advanced scouts or Indian patrols – and when the cavalry officer announcing 'victory' is shot out of the saddle by an unseen gunman, it really doesn't inspire confidence. Still he gathers enough to form a new attack column.
Meanwhile, Brown sees a column of smoke from the centre of town. Fearing an envelopment, he sends to find out what it is and discovers a naval lieutenant has started burning the ship on building stocks and naval stores, having decided the day was lost and that denying the matériel to the Brits was his job. Prevost, who's along for the expedition sees Brown's new column approaching and tries to order a retreat. Brock and Yeo gently point out to him that they are in charge, and his ADVICE, while gratefully received, will not be followed. The fighting is not finished by night fall, so both sides bivouac with strong guards around. However, since the fighting takes up most of the available men on the American side, there aren't enough to control the fire at the navy yard, which rages out of control, and sets the town on fire. In the morning, at first light, the battle resumes, and the British have a much easier time of it because so many Americans were either 1) fighting the fire all night, 2) fighting the fire right now, 3) ran off to retrieve their goods and family to get them out of the way of the fire (and/or fighting), or 4) were just demoralized by the whole chain of events.
The British require the American soldiers to gather in a group under guard, and won't let them go fight the fire (which by now has mostly died down, but there are still smouldering embers that could restart the blaze). Many of the locals are very resentful of the invading British, seeing them as responsible for burning the town (and indeed, that is the version carried by newspapers across the States). As British patrols go through (what remains of) the town and the surrounding country side looking for stores and weapons, they are occasionally fired upon by a gunman in hiding. This, of course, makes the British less friendly, and less willing to follow the rules themselves.
The British demand that all guns in the area be turned in, and start sending out patrols to enforce this. Any male caught with a gun is treated as an enemy combatant, and thrown into the guarded compound. Any one caught actually shooting at the occupation forces (or caught and blamed for such a shot) is summarily executed. They briefly consider shooting hostages for every British soldier shot, but they discard the idea. This time. They also unleash the Indian scouting contingent, telling them that any armed American left in the woods is fair game. They also stop handing out punishment for looting.
It takes a bit of time for the Brits to remove the cannon from the forts and ashes of the storehouses, and blow up the forts into uselessness. The last patrols through the area remove any all the food they can find, bringing it into a central site. They finish burning the town, and trample growing crops (trying to implement a scorched earth policy to prevent the US from successfully using Sackett's Harbor as a base again). Then they prepare to leave.
They assemble all the civilians and give them a handful of choices. 1) stay there, with 7 days rations, 2) be dropped off at Oswego to let the US care for them, or 3) (in the case of young women, mostly, but also mothers with small children) go to Canada with the returning flotilla. The protection of the RN and the army is, of course, only guaranteed in the last case. (The motives in the case of the last group are slightly mixed – especially in the case of the single women. However, the main motivation really was protection of the innocent. The story that circulated in the US didn't mention the mothers with children, and hinted or even stated base motives for the offer.)
Firstly they drop off the civilians at Oswego. In some ways, the British leaders would have liked to attack Oswego about this time (before they have time to bring in any more reinforcements or increase the defences), but with the flotilla ferrying various people in various directions and with a sizeable chunk of the army needed to watch over the prisoners, and prevent the civilians who stayed from trying something rash, their resources available would be rather iffy. Moreover, they'd then have to deal with all the civilians (the ones they promised to transport to Oswego) as just leaving them in ruined Sackett's Harbor would have been to condemn them to abject misery, at best. So, they say to themselves 'Oh well, can't be helped', and just drop off the refugees. Mind you, they do get a chance to spec out the harbour and defences at Oswego, which makes them feel a bit better.
The next task is to take the 'innocents' who wish it off to Kingston.
Then they deal with their prisoners. This is a real problem, because they've already being accumulating prisoners of war faster than they can really cope with them, and now, they have over 2000 in a single group. [While there were only 2000 soldiers at Sackett's Harbor when they arrived, and some were killed or escaped, the numbers are more than made up by the 'armed combatant' civilians.] In a normal war, they could engage in prisoner exchanges, but here there have been so few British prisoners taken that that doesn't relieve the burden much. Note that the naval yard workers, even if not armed or formally part of the army, were rounded up with the military prisoners.
Those prisoners with certain useful skills (especially the boat builders), and who wish to work on parole are permitted. Many of the boat builders absolutely refuse to work on war ships for the British, but some are convinced to work on commercial craft. More are willing to bend a bit and work on those commercial craft after they've been in the PoW camp for a while.
The prisoners are stored for a while in PoW camps, which are crowded and muddy and not as sanitary as it might be, while Prevost and company try to figure out how to handle the mess. Finally, they find an island they can dump the prisoners on. Let them grow some of their own food, isolate them, so if they do escape off the island, they'll never make it back, and guard the shores with light forces. Drop food off about once a month until they can get garden plots growing. Drop off more prisoners as they're accumulated in battle. Of course, a goodly number will escape off the island, but most won't survive in a hostile land, and if a very few make it back to the States, it's not such a big deal.
The Americans call this solution 'Devil's Island' and 'an extermination camp'. In fact, it represents the Brits' best effort at a humane long term solution. While the death rate (from various causes) in the camp is much higher than if they were living at home, it is a lot less than if they were stored on prison hulks where many French PoWs are stored back in England. So, once again, the British are doing their best, and are being vilified for it.
Meanwhile, navy Lieutenant Melancthon Woolsey is feverishly trying to prepare the defences of Oswego. It's not a great port, but now it's all the US has on Lake Ontario. And now he's saddled with hundreds of hungry civilians he has to deal with. Some of them, the more able-bodied, are put to work on building defences, but he sends most of them inland, up the Oswego back to civilization. It's hundreds of miles before they get to any major settlement, and many of the weak, infirm and the smaller children never make it. Once they do get to e.g. Albany, the government doesn't really know just what to do with them and many of those who survived the trek inland don't survive the coming winter.
Woolsey, of course, in addition to trying to build up the defences of Oswego, also wants to reinstate Sackett's Harbor as a port. But the only good way to do that is to send supplies by water in small boats, and the Brits have left a schooner to travel up and down the coast specifically to prevent that. After losing several loads of men and supplies, he gives up. For now.
As for the civilians left at Sackett's Harbour, they suffered various fates. Some few had farms or family outside the radius of British patrols and only suffered poverty and some hunger. Others, with farms within the patrol area were able to stay and survive if they had been cleverer at hiding enough food than the patrols were at finding it. But over half tried straggling through the woods back to 'civilization', and while many managed to do it, they were in such a piteous state that they often died shortly thereafter.
Very many of the civilians this group wished they'd chosen evacuation to Oswego, and the mothers evacuated to Oswego often wished they'd thrown in with the British.
New York state is enraged the disaster, and raises 5000 more militia to retaliate. Of course, there really isn't any way TO retaliate at this point. They end up cutting roads and paving them with logs all the way into Sackett's Harbor, both from the south and from Oswego. However, rough road transport like that makes a VERY long supply line, and while they end up being able to surge some thousands of militia up the road, they really can't supply them for extended periods of time, and getting e.g. cannon up such a road is ... no fun.
The end result is that whatever the US builds up in Sackett's Harbor during the war gets ripped down by the Brits when the protective force has to be withdrawn. While the US never formally abandons Sackett's Harbor, the effort becomes perfunctory after a while. Oswego stays a viable base for now, however.
un Canadien errant
my TL: Canada-wank (99% ASB-free) Turtledove 2010
updated: 1 Sep '12