Ohio History Journal

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The Detroit campaign of 1812 lasted, in all, but little over

two months (June 10-August 16); a century and a quarter has

passed since its conclusion, during which General William Hull's

countrymen have continued to load upon him the heavy measure

of condemnation which was meted out to him by his contemporary

associates and critics.     This attitude has been      perpetuated by

three generations of historians most of whom have repeated the

chorus of contemporary condemnation.1 In the writer's opinion

it is quite time to re-examine the verdict which blasted Hull's

reputation and condemned him to a shameful death. The recent

article of Prof. C. H. Cramer2 reflects, in a general way, the

current condemnation of Hull's leadership. This offering is in-

tended as a commentary upon Cramer's presentation, in part, but

in a larger sense upon the entire body of criticism of Hull,

whether voiced by Cramer or not.

That Hull was no military genius is, of course, painfully

obvious; equally obvious is it that there were no leaders of

Napoleonic character in the American army in 1812.           Had there

been, their talent would have been wasted for lack of the public

spirit and governmental organization essential to the successful

waging of military campaigns.        Hull failed, in part because of

his own defective leadership; but in larger part because of con-

ditions over which he had no control, and which his contemporary


1 It is somewhat noteworthy that Michigan historians, who might be presumed

to know the facts as well as any, have been disposed on the whole to extenuate

Hull's failure. Among exemplars of this attitude may be noted Judge Thomas M.

Cooley, Clarence Monroe Burton and George B. Catlin. The Dictionary of American

Biography (New York, 1928-1937) article on Hull, the most recent expression of

American historical scholarship on the subject, after stating that Hull was found

guilty of cowardice and neglect of duty, observes that "these charges would hardly

be sustained today." The author adds that "his surrender without a battle was a

blow to American morale from which it took nearly two years to recover." To the

present writer this statement seems wholly without foundation.

2 C. H. Cramer, "Duncan McArthur: the Military Phase," Ohio State Archaeo-

logical and Historical Society Quarterly (Columbus), XLVI (1937), 128-47.