In the summer of 1796, construction of Fort St. Joseph began.
From a military standpoint, Fort St. Joseph played a defensive role – its primary purpose being
to protect the fur trade from the Americans.
Staff from the British Indian Department were present at the fort to maintain good
relations with the natives.
Fort St. Joseph became a rallying point as soon as the United States declared war on Great
Britain in June 1812.
On July 17, 1812, leading a force of about 40 regular soldiers, 400 Canadians and 800 Native
people, Captain Charles Roberts captured the American fort on Mackinac Island without a
shot fired or bloodshed, thereby serving notice to the American garrison that war had been
officially declared. This was the First Military manoeuvre of the War of 1812
The British garrison and traders abandoned Fort St. Joseph and moved into the American