VICE PRESIDENT GENERAL, GREAT LAKES DISTRICT, VISITS SITE OF ILLINOIS / MICHIGAN PATRIOT JEAN-BAPTISTE HAMELIN
This past December 5th, as Vice President General of the Great Lakes District, my wife Alissa (MI DAR – Lansing Chapter) and I commemorated the sacrifice of Patriot Jean-Baptiste Hamelin at Le Petit Fort in the Indiana Dunes State Park. A resident of both Cahokia, Illinois and Fort Michilimackinac, he served as part of the French and Spanish effort in assisting George Rogers Clark campaign against the British in the Midwest.
In the fall of 1780, as part of a combined attack on British forces in Michigan, Captain Jean-Baptiste Hamelin and American Lieutenant Thomas Brady set out with a raiding party of fourteen and were successful in capturing Fort St. Joseph (Niles, MI) and plundering fifty bales of furs and other miscellaneous supplies. They attempted to return along the Old Sauk Trail but were pursued by British and loyalist Native American forces under Lieutenant Dagreaux De Quindre. Seeking refuge at Le Petit Fort, the patriots refused to surrender. The ensuing fight resulted in the death of four (to include Jean Baptiste Hamelin), the capture of seven (to include Lt. Thomas Brady) and three escaping. The following February another raiding party of Spanish forces from St. Louis again captured Fort St. Joseph, sending the message to British forces in Michigan, they were not out of reach. This resulted in tying-up a regiment of British soldiers at Fort Detroit and Fort Michilimackinac, forces which could have turned the tide for the British at Yorktown.