Spanish command seizes Fort Saint Joseph in Canada
The English attempt to seize Saint Louis in Missouri, ended in a crushing English defeat. To avoid another later attempt, Spain prepared a counterattack. The surprise coup in 1781 dismantled Fort St. Joseph. He avoided the supply of arms, gunpowder and gifts to the Indians so that they would collaborate with the English.
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Commando destroys Michigan fort
The surprise coup indicated to England that Spain controlled the entire Mississippi area from the Gulf of Mexico to Canada.
The surprise attack on Fort Saint Joseph deterred England from re-entering the Mississippi River. Next to Lake Michigan was the English fort that supplied the northern area.
Difficult to access, located on an islet and naturally protected by the lake’s water, it was very difficult to approach it without being seen.
Prestige coup in Europe
The taking of a fort on the Canadian border today indicated to the rest of Europe how far Spain could go in North America
Spanish attack with international repercussions
The coup de mano and the destruction of the main penetration point towards the Mississippi, definitively cut off the English attempt to encircle the 13 colonies. Spain secured Control of the Mississippi from the South, at New Orleans, to the North at Lake Michigan
It happened during the United States War of Independence: The Spanish attack on Fort Saint Joseph and its inauguration changed the way England acted, seeing that it could not control the interior of the country. She began to adopt a defensive strategy in Canada.
The attack puzzled the English
Throughout the war they no longer tried to seize the Mississippi Valley. Thus leaving the free passage to the shipment of arms and supplies to the rebels of the 13 colonies.
The surprise coup was carried out in 1781. In addition to dismantling Fort St. Joseph, it prevented the supply of arms, gunpowder and gifts to the natives of the area, so that they would collaborate with the English attacks.
Saint Louis attacked the previous year
The expedition of English and Indians is rejected
In the year 1780, England decided to send a punitive expedition to the Spanish population of San Luis (Saint Louis, in Missouri), a population of French origin, which controlled the upper channel of the Mississippi River. But the story began much earlier when England warned Spain to be neutral and not get into this war. However, the Spanish had been supplying arms, gunpowder, medicine and even uniforms to the North American rebels for several years.
When declaring the war between both countries, England decides to seize St. Louis in the North of the Mississippi. He did not succeed, the expedition made up of 300 English and 800 Indians was rejected and persecuted by the Spanish.
The English attack on St. Louis failed
Spain wanted to make sure it also controlled the Upper Mississippi
English supported by Indians attack San Luis
The painting shows how the English supported by Indians attacked in Missouri, being repulsed by the Spanish
The English defeat at St. Louis of Missouri, proved once again that Spain controlled the Mississippi area
It describes the construction of the fort of French origin in 1691, to control the indigenous trade routes. Built by French merchants and missionaries. It became a strong Englishman in 1761.
Text reminiscent of the attack and taking of Spain of Fort Saint Joseph in Canada
In the last lines of the text in English, they remember that the Flag of Spain waved in this place in the year 1781
Surprise attack on St. Joseph
Expedition to Fort St. Joseph (1781)
Surprise attack after traveling more than 800 km in the harsh winter
Francisco Cruzart after making the decision to avenge and prevent an English attack like the previous one, ordered the expedition and volunteers were requested. He had his difficulty because previously, an attack by settlers from Illinois (Cahokia) against the English had already failed. About 50 volunteers showed up, including Hispanic and Indian allies.
The number was perfect to carry out a jacket-type attack, since the fort being located on an islet, it could only be attacked by taking advantage of the darkness of the night so as not to alert the lookouts.
Led by Eugenio Poure, captain of the militia, they had to travel a long distance through Illinois, surrounding territories, entering Indiana until they reached their destination, Lake Michigan, on the border with present-day Canada.
They found the upper reaches of the frozen Illinois River. After hiding the canoes, to be able to use them again on the way back and part of the provisions they continued advancing with great difficulties due to the snow, ice, cold. As the river was frozen, it forced them to walk the last 300 km. A very dangerous journey, danger of freezing, exhausting and even getting lost in those large, unpopulated and little explored lands.
In addition, to avoid being seen and that it reached the ears of the English presence in those lands, they had to stay alert and try to go unnoticed. The journey to Fort Saint Joseph had to be done by deviating from the direct route and walking through places where they could easily hide, so as not to arouse suspicion and to be able to get water.
In order not to be discovered, they had to divert to Indiana and Illinois. Despite the cold, hunger and exhaustion, having to travel these enormous distances in frozen territory, they managed to reach the English fort on Lake Michigan.
Upon arriving in the area, they contacted the indigenous people. After negotiating neutrality with the Indians in the area, the expedition members prepared to enter the English Fort.
Night attack in winter
They waited for sunset to approach the area. During the night they crossed the open field, they entered the icy waters until they reached the vicinity of the fort. On a freezing night with cold winds, they were not expected, no one would think of getting there. They surprised the lookouts and were able to take the garrison prisoners, who did not have time to take up arms. Nobody expected a surprise attack in the middle of winter and with the Spanish theoretically so far away.
Held as prisoners to the garrison of the place, they searched the fort. In it, weapons, gunpowder, ammunition were found. But they also found gifts for the indigenous people and more than 300 sacks of corn. With these objects and food, the English habitually bribed the indigenous people to accompany them on their expeditions.
This fort was important, not only because of its position, but also as a base to supply the indigenous people who collaborated with the English as auxiliary troops. A large quantity of material and provisions was stored at Fort St. Joseph for future English expeditions.
With the destruction of the fort, the English would need much more time and new means to rebuild their base and attempt to re-attack Spanish and Anglo-American positions.
The inauguration was carried out with the raising of the Spanish Flag. Later the fort was dismantled, leaving it practically in ruins. It was a clear message for England. Spain controlled the Mississippi River from the Gulf of Mexico to Canada.
Spain controlled the west bank of the Mississippi from New Orleans to Lake Michigan, and the eastern bank of the Ohio also under its control.
The capture and dismantling of Fort Saint Joseph had historical consequences, even if it took only one day. Spain took possession of the area and raised its flag. A warning to England, that she would not make it easy for him.
The facilities were dismantled and supplies from the fort were distributed among the Indians in the area. They were so pleased that when the English reinforcements finally arrived and tried to pursue the Spanish expedition, they indicated that they had gone in the opposite direction. They also refused to help the English and accompany them in the pursuit of the Spanish troops that withdrew to New Spain.
Without major incidents, the Spanish expedition reached San Luis. Without casualties, without setbacks and taking the English flag as a souvenir, which they delivered to the Spanish authorities of the city.
The satisfaction among the Spaniards of San Luis was great, since without losses, they managed to avenge the attack on San Luis of the previous year, and give an image of strength before their natives.