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PRINCE OF WALES FORT, Hudson Bay — This stone fortress in the middle of nowhere was surrendered without the firing of a single shot during one of the final engagements of the American Revolution.
Battle - Battle - Prince - Wales - Fort
The battle that wasn’t really a battle at Prince of Wales Fort in Churchill, today a small town on Hudson Bay in the Canadian province of Manitoba, may be entirely forgotten, but was noteworthy because the combatants were neither the British Army nor the Continental Army under the command of George Washington. Rather, France, allied with the American cause since 1778, captured the valuable post belonging to the Hudson’s Bay Company.
HBC, a British commercial enterprise founded around the fur trade with a royal charter from Charles II in 1670, built the fort between 1731 and 1771 to replace an earlier wooden fort by the same name as part of its vast network of trading posts in present-day Canada. However, unlike the East India Company, its colonial-era counterpart on the Indian subcontinent, the company never had an army. Quite surprisingly, no regulars were ever sent to Churchill, though at least one Royal Navy ship with a compliment of sailors and marines spent wintered at the fort a few years after construction started.
Day - August - Year - Washington - Victory
The day was August 8, 1782, nearly a year after Washington’s victory in Yorktown had effectively won American independence and only weeks before John Adams, John Jay and Benjamin Franklin started negotiating a cessation of hostilities in Paris.
It is unclear what the fort’s governor, Samuel Hearne, a 37-year-old Englishman who been in the service of HBC since 1766, knew about the war. Surely, he was aware that British regulars had been sent as far north as the rival fur trading post at Grand Portage on Lake Superior in what is now...
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