On July 17, 1812, war descended upon Mackinac Island as a combined force of British, Canadian, and Native American soldiers captured Fort Mackinac from a small, unsuspecting American garrison. The fall of Mackinac, one of the first engagements of the War of 1812, set off over two years of combat between the United State and Great Britain for control of Michigan and the Great Lakes. Both sides knew that Mackinac held the key to the Great Lakes fur trade and the allegiance of Native American tribes across the region. This struggle reached a climax in the summer of 1814, when the United States dispatched seven warships and nearly 1,000 men on a two-month expedition to recapture the island. British and American troops actually met in battle on Mackinac Island on August 4, resulting in American defeat. Only the Treaty of Ghent, which ended the War of 1812, restored peace to Mackinac. American soldiers took possession of Fort Mackinac from the British garrison on July 18, 1815, three years and one day after the post had been captured.
Today, Mackinac State Historic Parks is commemorating the bicentennial of the War of 1812. Special 1812 demonstrations and tours take place every day at Fort Mackinac. New exhibits in the East Blockhouse present the compelling story of the American attempts to recapture the fort in 1814.