Chapter 239
Six Eventful Years, 1809-15

Table of Contents

Title Page
203 The Island Lighthouse.
204 Two Western Piers.
227 The Island in the Forties.
236 Front Street of Old.
237 Canadian Lake Navigation
238 1766 to 1809.
239 Six Eventful Years, 1809-15
240 A New Era, 1816 to 1819
241 A Progressive Enterprise, 1819 to 1837.
242 The Rebellion of 1837-38
243 Complaining Travellers
244 The Trade of the Lake Still Continues to Expand
245 The Royal Mail Line, 1840 TO 57
246 Storms and Shipwrecks -- Great Destruction of Life and Property -- The Commercial Distress in 1857.
247 Gloomy Anticipations for the Spring Trade
248 The Niagara Steamers, 1874-78.
249 Niagara Falls Line - 1883 to 1893.
250 Hamilton Steamboat Co. '87-'93
251 The General History of the Lake Shipping Continued
252 New Steamers
253 Lorne And Victoria Parks.
254 Toronto Ferry Co. 1890-93.
255 Royal Canadian Yacht Club.
256 Canadian Pacific Steamers.
257 The Rochester Route -1889-'93
258 The Ottawa Steamers, 1864-93
259 The R. & O. Company.
260 Tabulated Statements of Various Vessels from 1678 to the Present Time.
Table of Illustrations

The First Steam Vessels -- The War of 1812 and the Battles on the lakes

The six years from the beginning of 1809 to the new year of 1815 form one of the moat interesting periods in Canadian history. They were marked by the first introduction of steamboat navigation on inland waters in Canada, and also by the occurrence of one of the most fiercely waged wars and hotly contested battles both by land and sea that England has ever been engaged in in conjunction with any of her dependencies. The first steamboat that ever floated on any waters or in any country appeared on the great River Hudson, in the United States, in the year 1807. The second sailed on Canadian waters in 1809, from and to Canadian ports. Canniff thus describes both vessels!--

"The River Hudson, named after the navigator of that name, who ascended this splendid stream--called by the native Indian: ' The Great River of Mountains'--in 1609, has the honour of being the place whereon floated the first steamboat that existed in the world. The boat was launched in the year 1807, being named Clermont. It was of 150 tons burden. The engine was procured from Birmingham. Robert Fulton, of New York, though not the originator of steam power, was the first in America who directed it to the propelling of boats. Fulton, the pioneer in boats by steam, lived not long enough to see accomplished the grand end of propelling boats across the Atlantic thus. He died in 1815. The second steamboat built in America was launched in Montreal 3rd November, 1809, built by John Molson. It was called Accommodation, and plied between Montreal and Quebec. At the first trip it carried ten passengers from Montreal to Quebec, taking thirty-six hours. The whole city of Quebec came out to see her enter the harbour. The fare was eight dollars down and nine up."

Of the vessels upon the lakes in 1809 and 1810 there are scarcely any records. There was the Bella Gore, in the latter year under the command of Captain Sanders, running between Niagara, York and Kingston. Another, commanded by Captain Grace, the name of which was not given, ran between the same ports; while yet a third plied between York and Niagara, commanded by Captain Conn, and from some peculiarity in her shape often spoken of as Captain Conn's coffin. The difficulties experienced in travelling from one portion of Canada to another in those days can hardly be even imagined by the younger generation of Canadians. They are accustomed to regard a trip to Montreal in a Pullman car or one of the floating palaces of the lake as a luxury rather than a toil, yet this is a description (contained in "Canniff's Upper Canada") of what travelling was here only three-quarters of a century since. He says: --

"The following is a most interesting instance of batteaux travelling put in our hands by the Rev. Mr. Miles:--' I left Kingston on the 6th of April, 1811, but as the travelling then was not as it is now, I did not arrive in Montreal till the 15th. I will just copy verbatim the journal I kept on my passage. Durham boats were scarce on the Canada tide at that time, but it was thought if I could get to the American shore I would find one on its way to Montreal. Well, I found a man in Kingston just from Grindstone Island, who had brought up some shingles and tar to sell, and he told me if 1 could get toBriton's Point, several miles down the river from Cape Vincent, and to which place he would take me, that he thought I would find a Durham boat there, and the following is my journal on that route;

"'GRINDSTONE ISLAND, April 11, 1811.-- Left Kingston yesterday, April 6th, at 3 p.m., in an open skiff, with R. Watson, a clerk in Dr. Jonas Abbott's store, and two hands belonging to the skiff; headwind; rowed hard till about eight in the evening, when, having blistered both hands and being very much fatigued, we drew our skiff on shore and camped on the shore of Long Island, about five miles above Grindstone Island; wind strong from the north; very cold and without victuals or fire; feet wet; slept some, walked some, and by daybreak was somewhat chilled; strong head wind; stuck close to our dear lodgings until eight, when the wind abated, and we stuck to our oars till about eleven o'clock, when we made Grindstone Island, weary and very hungry; eat a hearty dish of "sapon" and milk; rested about an hour; set off for Briton's tavern on the American shore, where we arrived about 4 p.m., the water being entirely calm; had not been on shore ten minutes, as good luck would have it, before we engaged a passage for Cornwall in a Durham boat, and a breeze coming up directly from the south, our American boats immediately hoisted sail and proceeded about thirty miles,when the wind changed, and we put into a bay on Grenadier Island, about nine in the evening; ate some supper at a house owned by Mr. Baxter; spread a sail upon the floor, and seven boatman and four passengers camped down before the fire; in the morning I felt my bones as though they had been lying on the soft side of a hard, rough floor. April 8--Head wind still; wished myself either at Kingston or Montreal. April 9--Still a head wind; must take it as it comes; reading and writing the order of the day; at 7 p. m. hoisted sail; at 1 a.m. arrived at a house on the Canada shore, and slept on the floor until daylight. April 10--Left for Ogdensburg. where we arrived at 3 p.m.; found an old acquaintance and passed the afternoon quite agreeably, April 11--Had a good night's rest; still a head wind; found the printing office and composed types the greater part of the day. April 12--Still a head wind. April 13-- Left Ogdensburg and arrived at Cornwall. April 14.--Left Cornwall and arrived at McGee's, Lake St. Francis. April 15--Left McGee's and arrived at Montreal about 8 p.m. Travelling expenses from Kingston to Montreal, $9 75.' "


Early in the summer of 1812 the Toronto Yacht ceased to sail upon the lake. She was wrecked off the island opposite Toronto, and for many years a portion of her hull remained upon the beach.

Before proceeding to relate the history of the shipping upon the lakes during the war that broke out in 1812 between Great Britain and the United States, it wilt be necessary to go back for a few years and give particulars relating to an Act of Congress passed by the American Legislature in the year 1807. This was known as the Embargo Act, and is described by an American author as one "laying an embargo on all shipping, foreign or domestic, in the ports of the United States, with specific exceptions." This Act was passed by Congress with closed doors, in a session of four hours, in violation also of the usual modes of legislative procedure. To again quote our previous authority, this Act prohibited " all vessels in the ports of the United States from sailing for any foreign port, except foreign ships in ballast or with cargoes taken on board before notification of the Act, and coastwise vessels were required to give heavy bonds to land their cargoes in the United States." It is added that " the little life left in American commerce under the pressure of the orders and decrees of the belligerents," who were France and England, "was utterly crushed out by this Act." At this time it must be noted there were many points of dispute between the United States, France and Great Britain. By passing this Act the American Government hoped to bring such pressure to bear, on the latter power especially, as would cause her to yield in favor of America some at any rate of the disputed questions. But this is what really happened, and we again quote from a United States writer:--

"The French Government viewed it (the Embargo Act) as far more injurious in its effects upon Great Britain than upon themselves, while England, feeling that her national character and honor were at stake, and believing that she could endure the privations which the measure would inflict in both countries longer than America, proudly refused to yield a single point."

We have described this Act thus fully so as to render more intelligible the references we shall be obliged to make to it in our history of events upon the lakes during the next few years.

On June 5th, 1812, the schooner Lord Nelson, belonging to and owned by James and William Crooks, of Niagara, freighted with flour and a general cargo, sailed from that place for Kingston. Being found in American waters, she was captured by the Oneida under the command of Lieutenant Woolsey and condemned as a prize under the provisions of the Embargo Act. Two other schooners, namely, the Ontario and the Niagara, were in the same month also taken by the Americans. The former was speedily released but the latter was sold by her captors. These acts naturally led to retaliatory tactics being adopted by the Canadians. When the news of the declaration of war reached Ogdensburg on the St. Lawrence there were lying there eight American trading schooners. They naturally endeavored to escape to the open waters of Lake Ontario, but a company of volunteers, about fifty in number, commanded by an enthusiastic Canadian named Jones, chased them in open boats. They succeeded in capturing two of the fugitive vessels, named the Sophia and Island Queen, and after taking possession of their contents burnt them. This took place near Brockville at the foot of the Thousand Isles. On July 29th, an attempt was made by the British fleet on the lakes to re-capture the Lord Nelson, which was lying under charge of the American vessel the Oneida, in Sackett's Harbour. The attacking force sailed from Kingston under command of Commodore Earl, who had formerly commanded Toronto Yacht. It consisted of the following vessels: Royal George, 26 guns; Prince Regent, 22; Earl of Moira, 20; Simcoe, 12, and Seneca 4. The expedition was not successful and was attended by some loss of life and not a little damage to the Canadian ships.


War had been formally declared by the President of the United States against Great Britain on June 19th, 1812. When the intelligence reached General Brock, who, in the absence of Lieutenant-Governor Gore on leave to England, was Administrator or President of the Council, he was at York. His first orders were on June 26th, 1812, sent to Captain Roberts, who was in command of a small detachment of the 41st Regiment, quartered in the Block House on the Island of St. Joseph, in Lake Huron, about forty miles north-east of Mackinaw, or, as it has been called previously in these pages, Michillimackinac. These commands were to capture the fort at this place, it being the headquarters of the Indian fur trade. Captain Roberts set out, accompanied by one hundred and fifty voyageurs, an armed schooner, the Caledonia, and his own company of forty-six men, on his expedition. They sailed on July 16th in batteaux and canoes, and on approaching the fort summoned its occupants to surrender. This they did without firing a shot or a life being lost on either side. General Brock next determined to make an attack upon and capture if possible Fort Detroit and so secure command of the lakes. Brock had crossed from York to Niagara in a canoe, accompanied only by a friend and their boatman, and from the latter place the force intended for the attack upon Detroit set forth. They embarked on August 5th, 1812, and six days later were near Amherstburg, on Lake Erie The Kingston Gazette of September 19, 1812, contains the following general orders issued on that occasion:--


Headquarters, camp, Bank of Lake Erie, 15 miles s.w. Port Talbot, August 11, 1812, six o'clock p.m.

The troops will hold themselves in readiness, and will embark in the boats at twelve o'clock this night. It is Major-General Brock's positive orders that none of the boats go ahead of that in which is the headquarters, where a light will be shewn during the night.

The officers commanding the different boats will immediately inspect the arms and ammunition of the men, and see that they are constantly kept in a state for immediate service. As the troops are now to pass through a part of the country which is known to have been visited by the enemy's patrols, a captain with a subaltern and thirty men will mount as a picket upon the landing of the boats, and a sentry will be furnished for each boat, who must be regularly relieved, to take charge of the boat and baggage. A patrol from the picket will be sent out on landing to a distance of a mile from the encampment.

By order of the Major-General


Major A.D.C.

The next day General Brock issued another order emphasizing the one just quoted, and also drawing the attention of officers commanding boats to the fact that:

"A great part of the bank of the lake where the boats will this day pass is much more dangerous and difficult of access than any we have passed; the boats therefore will not land except in the most extreme necessity, and then great care must be taken to choose the best places for beaching. The troops being in the neighborhood of the enemy, every precaution must be taken to guard against surprise.

By order of the Major-General,


Major A. D. C.

When Brock arrived before Detroit, which he did on August 15th, there were in the river the British gunboats Princess Charlotte and Hunter. They opened fire upon the fort and were aided by a battery of five guns, which had been erected by the British on the side of the river, opposite Detroit. Next day the garrison capitulated to Brock and over two thousand men became prisoners of war. A brig called the Adams was also captured. Many of these were conveyed by the two ships we have just named to Fort Erie, from thence to Quebec via Kingston, but as it was by the flat bottomed boat and canoe that many of the troops had ascended to the head of the lake so by them many of the prisoners taken at Detroit were conveyed to Quebec. On August 18th Brock sailed for Fort Erie in the Charlotte, and on August 22nd arrived in York.

From YorkBrock proceeded to Kingston, where he remained until September 5th, when he left there for Niagara, again making the journey, it is believed, in a canoe. This was the last voyage, excepting one to Detroit, on October 9th, the gallant soldier made. Just after the departure of Brock from Kingston a naval engagement took place near Johnstown. In reference thereto the Kingston Chronicle of September 19th, 1812, contains this paragraph: "On the 16th inst.," three days earlier "A brigade of boats under convoy of two companies of the Newfoundland regiment, and a detachment of the 49th and of the Veterans, were attacked by the Americans about twelve miles below Johnstown." This attack, it seems, did not terminate to the advantage of the assailants, for they lost to the Canadians one of their Durham boats and had more than twenty men killed and wounded. By a later paragraph in the same paper it appears that all the boats above referred to arrived safely at Prescott on the morning of September 17th.


In the early morning of October 9th, in this year, the Americans succeeded in capturing from the Canadians, on Lake Erie, two vessels, namely the Detroit and the Caledonia. The first was the brig that formed part of the spoils taken by Brock when Fort Detroit surrendered and her name was changed from the Adams to Detroit in honor of the victory. She was under the command of Lieutenant Rolette. The second was the property of the North-west Company and carried a valuable cargo in the shape of furs. The Detroit carried six guns and a crew of fifty-six men. She had also thirty American prisoners on board. The Caledonia had two guns, twelve men and also had a few prisoners. The capture was effected at Black Rock on Lake Erie by Lieutenant Jesse D. Elliott, U. S. N. The victors themselves confess that they accomplished it by surprise. Later in the day the Detroit, being within reach of the guns of Fort Erie, was so severely cannonaded that the cable was cut by the Americans and she drifted down the river Detroit [sic: Niagara] to the western side of Squaw Island near the American shore. She was at once boarded by a party of soldiers of the 49th regiment British infantry stationed at Fort Erie. They were compelled to abandon her after a hotly contested fight. Just as night was approaching General Brock arrived from Niagara and, supported by the guns of the armed schooner Lady Prevost, made an attempt to re-capture her. To prevent this happening she was set fire to by the Americans, and was burned to the water's edge. The Canadian loss in this action has never been accurately ascertained. The Americans reported theirs as two killed and five wounded. The loss of the Caledonia was a serious one, the value of her cargo being estimated at no less than $200,000. It need hardly be said the United States Government exulted, while General Brock regarded it very seriously in a letter to Sir George Prevost, dated October llth, written but two days before his death, he says:-- "The event is particularly unfortunate, and may reduce us to incalculable distress. The enemy is making every exertion to gain a naval superiority on both lakes, which, if they accomplish it, I do not see how we can possibly retain the country."


On October 13th following, took place the battle of Queenston Heights, when General Brock and his A.D.C. Colonel McDonell fell, like the gallant soldiers they were, with their faces to the enemy. The Simcoe, under command of Captain James Richardson, took the news to York. The following is the account given of his arrival in the harbor from Dr. Scadding's "Toronto of Old." He says:--

"The Moira was lying off the Garrison at York when the Simcoe transport came in sight filled with prisoners taken on Queenston Heights, and bringing the first intelligence of the death of General Brock. We have heard the Rev. Dr. Richardson, of Toronto, who at the time was sailing master of the Moira under Captain Sampson, describe the scene. The approaching schooner was recognized at a distance as the Simcoe. It was a vessel owned and commanded at the moment, by Dr. Richardson's father, Captain James Richardson. Mr. Richardson accordingly speedily put off in a boat from the Moira to learn the news. He was first startled at the crowded appearance of the Simcoe's deck, and at the unwonted guise of his father, who came to the gangway conspicuously girt with a sword. 'A great battle had been fought,' he was told, 'on Queenston Heights. The enemy had been beaten. The Simcoe was full of prisoners of war, to be transferred instanter to the Moira for conveyance to Kingston. General Brock was killed.'

"Elated with the first portion of the news. Dr. Richardson spoke of the thrill of dismay which followed the closing announcement as something indescribable and never to be forgotten."

At this time the following gunboats were upon Lake Ontario--the Earl of Moira, 20 guns; the Duke of Gloucester, 14 guns; the Prince Regent, 22 guns; the Royal George, 26 guns; the Simcoe, 12 guns; the Seneca 4, the Princess Charlotte and the General Hunter.

On November 9th, 1812, a naval encounter between the American and Canadian Navy took place near Kingston. Commodore Chauncey, of the U. S. Navy, on board the Oneida, with several other vessels, lying off the "Ducks," on the evening of the previous day, hoping to intercept the English fleet, composed of the Royal George, of twenty-six guns, under the command of Captain Popham, the Duke of Gloucester, of fourteen guns, and the Prince Regent, of twenty-two guns, who were returning from Niagara. These vessels reached the Bay of Quinte safely during the night of November 8th and were proceeding on the following morning on their journey to Kingston when Chauncey encountered them. A battle which lasted for more than two hours ensued, and which ended by the Americans retreating to Sackett's Harbor. On their way thitherwards the Oneida fell in with the British vessel, the Earl of Moira, acting as an escort to a sloop which had on board General Brock's plate, books and other private effects. These were all captured, but subsequently, to the honor of Chauncey, restored to the general's representatives. As the American vessels were returning to Sackett's Harbor they discovered the schooner Seneca, under the command of Captain Richardson, trying to make her way into Kingston. They promptly fired into her. Richardson tried first of all to run his vessel on to Amherst Isle; that failed. He then essayed to get into port, but almost as he reached safety a 32-pounder struck the ship and she sank, the crew firing their only musket as she went down. She was afterwards raised, and sailed for some years longer.


This was the final contest on the lakes in 1812. Winter set in and hostilities were for the time suspended. But in the following May, Chauncey, who has just been referred to, appeared before York in command of a hostile fleet of 14 vessels. He was opposed on the lake only by the British vessel the Duke of Gloucester, which was at once captured. A schooner which belonged to Joseph Kendrick, called the Hunter, was also encountered and destroyed by the Americans. The Prince Regent had sailed from York for Kingston on April 24th previously, and so in all human probability escaped capture. The frames of two ships were on the stocks at the time York capitulated. They were destroyed by the order of General Sheaffe, who was in command of the garrison. Captain Sanders, who had previously commanded the schooner Bella Gore, was killed in action at the same time.

Less than a month after the events just chronicled had taken place at York, the naval commander-in-chief upon the lakes, Sir James L. Yeo, having been reinforced by 500 English seamen, acting under instructions from Sir George Prevost, determined to make a descent from Kingston upon Sackett's Harbor and destroy the naval stores there as well as any vessels in course of construction. On May 27th the British fleet of six vessels, mounting altogether more than one hundred guns, together with a number of batteaux, carrying nearly one thousand troops and commanded by Sir George Prevost in person, sailed from Kingston for Sackett's Harbor, where it arrived about mid-day on the 28th. Sir George, after making a reconnaissance, considered the place too strong to be captured by the force under his command and ordered Sir James Yeo to make sail for Kingston. Forty Indian had accompanied the fleet from Kingston, and they, not knowing why the troops had not landed nor why the ships did not open fire upon the harbor, rowed direct for the shore, with the intention of attacking the Americans. Their appearance so terrified a troop of dismounted cavalrymen who were on shore that the latter raised a white flag in token of surrender. They were at once conveyed to the Canadian ships as prisoners of war. Sir George Prevost, as soon as he learned of this incident, concluded that the Americans were less formidable than he supposed, and countermanded the order given for the fleet to return to Kingston. The troops landed and attacked the place, but they were unsupported by the fleet, and the attack failed. The ships engaged in this enterprise were a new one, the Wolfe, of 24 guns, just completed, besides the Royal George and the Earl of Moira, and the schooners Prince Regent, Simcoe and Seneca. The Governor-General Sir George Prevost, was with Yeo on his flagship the Wolfe. The loss of life on both sides was very heavy, the British having no less than 48 killed and more than 200 wounded. A few days later than this, on June 6th, Sir James Yeo succeeded in capturing at Stoney Creek seventeen batteaux loaded with supplies for the Americans. On August 8th, Sir James Yeo with six ships appeared off Niagara in the hope of engaging Chauncey, commanding the American fleet there stationed, consisting of fourteen vessels. One single broadside was fired by Chauncey, and he then retired under cover of the guns on shore. The whole of the following day each commander manoeuvred to gain the advantage, and on the morning of the 10th Yeo, considering the odds were in his favor, bora down upon Chauncey, intending to attack him. But the latter declined the battle and retired to Niagara. Two schooners, though, belonging to the fleet, namely the Julia and the Growler, were captured by the British. During this engagement no lives were lost by the British and it is believed but few if any by the Americans.


On September 10th, 1813, took place the memorable battle on Lake Erie between the American and British squadrons. The former was under the command of Commodore Perry, U.S.N., the latter under that of Commander Barclay, R.N. Barclay's force consisted of the Detroit, flagship, of 19 guns--she was a new vessel and had only just been put upon the lake; the Chippewa, carrying two swivel guns and one long 18-pounder on a pivot; the brig Hunter, of 10 guns; the Queen Charlotte, 17--she was under command of Captain Finnis; the Lady Prevost, 13, and the Little Belt, of three guns. The United States fleet comprised nine vessels, namely Perry's ship, the Lawrence, of 20 guns; the Scorpion, 2; the Caledonian, 3--this vessel had previously been captured from the Canadians; the Niagara, 20; the Ariel, 4; the Trippe, Tigress, Ohio and Porcupine, of one gun each. The Americans had fewer guns than the Canadians, but they were of heavier calibre. Their ships, too, were well manned by nearly six hundred picked men of the American merchant service. The Canadians on the other hand had only fifty experienced seamen among their six ships, while the rest of the crews were made up of two hundred and forty soldiers and eighty wholly untrained volunteer sailors. The ships did not come to close quarters until about eleven o'clock in the morning, then for more than four hours the battle continued. For some little time during the earlier part of the engagement the advantage was wholly with the Canadians. The guns from Barclay's ship had not only silenced those of the Lawrence but also disabled her. Of her crew of one hundred and three men no less than twenty-two had been killed and sixty-one wounded. Perry, perceiving his ship was useless, determined to abandon her. Wrapping his commodore's flag around him, he, in an open boat, made for the Niagara which he reached safely and was received on deck by her astounded commander, Captain Elliott The latter, acting upon orders from Perry, put off from his ship in a small boat to bring the other American vessels into action. About this time the wind changed, then was seen how lamentably deficient Barclay was in efficient seamen. His vessels from that cause soon became unmanageable. The Detroit and Queen Charlotte were entangled and the Lady Prevost was wholly disabled. Barclay commanding the Detroit was seriously wounded. Finnis, the captain of the Charlotte, was killed, and all the other officers and three-fourths of the men were killed or wounded. It was not possible for Barclay to continue the fight with any hope of success, and at three o'clock in the afternoon his flag was lowered on the Detroit and the whole fleet capitulated. In this terrible encounter the Americans lost twenty-seven killed, and ninety-six wounded; the Canadians forty-one killed and ninety-four wounded. The value of the ships taken by the Americans was $225,000, an enormous sum for those days, but a mere trifle as compared with the cost of one single iron clad cruiser in these. Barclay was paroled at first, then exchanged. Immediately this was effected he, by the rules of the service, was tried by court martial for the loss of the ships, the result being that he was fully and honourably acquitted of all blame.


During the later days of September an engagement took place near Burlington Bay between Chauncey and Yeo. The former had five vessels under his command, the latter two, namely the Wolfe and the Royal George. This ended to the entire discomfiture of the Americans and they again retired to Niagara. On October 5th Chauncey, having sailed from Niagara east-ward, succeeded in capturing off the Ducks, the British transports Confiance, Hamilton, Mary and Lady Gore, besides the Drummond cutter, But it must be noted that the Confiance and Hamilton were the Growler and Julia, which had on August 10th, been taken by the British from the Americans, and their names changed by their captors. During the rest of this year Sir James Yeo remained inactive at Kingston.

During the winter of 1813 and early spring of 1814 the British, at Kingston and the Americans at Sackett's Harbor had been unceasing in their preparations to secure the command of the lake. This object was deemed of such paramount importance by both Governments that while the English withdrew both officers and men from service on the ocean for duty on the lakes the Americans not only did likewise but added twenty-five per cent to the pay of those so employed. On May 4th, 1814 Sir James Yeo, with a fleet of eight vessels, sailed from Kingston with the intention of making an attack upon Oswego. Chauncey, the American naval commander, was with his fleet at Sackett's Harbor, but, though he was aware of Yeo's designs upon Oswego, he did not attempt to intercept and attack him. Arrived before Oswego the attacking force landed, and after a gallant resistance on the part of its defenders, succeeded in wholly subduing it. All the stores and munitions of war in the fort were taken, and it and the barracks destroyed. The naval stores had been removed to Onondago Falls, several miles above Oswego, and thus escaped capture, though Yeo, on May 29th, made an attempt to become possessed of them, which was unsuccessful. The British vessels engaged in this enterprise were the Star, Cherwell,Magnet, Charlotte, Prince Regent, Montreal and several gunboats. The loss of life was very severe on both sides. The British had nineteen killed and seventy-five wounded and the Americans had six killed and sixty-three wounded and missing. Among the English officers who were wounded were Captains Mulcaster and Popham of the Charlotte and Montreal respectively.

In June the fort at Sodus Bay was captured by the fleet under command of Sir James Lucas Yeo, and a large quantity of stores of various kinds came into the hands of the captors. The loss of life on both sides on this occasion was very small.


Arising out of the attack upon Oswego, there is reported in the Kingston Gazette, of Nov. 7tb, 1815, the proceedings of a naval court martial, held August 14th, 1815, in Portsmouth, England, for the trial of Captain Popham, of the Montreal, on the following charge:--

"For having, contrary to a verbal order of Commodore Sir James Lucas Yeo, attacked a flotilla of American boats in a creek on the Lake, which were proceeding from Oswego to Sackett's Harbor, with stores of every description for the equipment of a large ship that was building in the latter harbour."

The court decided that as he had been reinforced after the Commodore's order Capt Popham was justified in making the attack he did and acquitted him. They at the same time severely animadverted upon the relations that apparently existed between Sir James Yeo and his subordinate, Captain Popham.

On August 12th, 1814, Captain Dobbs, of the Royal Navy, captured two American gunboats, the Ohio and the Somers, off Fort Erie. There was a third gunboat in company with these two, the Porcupine, but she made her escape. This feat was achieved by Captain Dodds [sic: Dobbs] with but seventy-five men in open boats. The prizes were conveyed to Chippawa.

About the same time as the events above alluded to, the Americans made an unsuccessful attempt to repossess themselves of Michillimackinac. Their fleet consisted of five vessels, namely Niagara, Caledonia, St. Lawrence, Scorpion and Tigress. These ships had returned to Detroit about the end of August. At the close of September Sir James Yeo had completed and launched his famous ship of 100 guns, the St. Lawrence, but there was no real need for her now, as the war was virtually if not actually over. Sir James Yeo was now master of the lake, for in addition to the St. Lawrence he had under his command four ships, two brigs, and a schooner.

In St. Mark's church, Niagara, on its eastern wall is a tablet to the memory of:

who fell whilst gallantly boarding
one of the enemy's schooners at anchor off Fort Erie on the night of
the 12th August, 1814.
He was a native of Devonshire.
This stone is erected at the request
of his brother and sisters by
their nephew,
W. P. Radcliffe, H. M. XX Regiment.

This was one more of the many useful lives lost gallantly in the prosecution of a worse than useless war.

No further encounters took place between the two fleets; peace was shortly afterwards concluded and with peace in the country, this portion of the history of the lake vessels terminates.


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This electronic edition is based on the original in the collection of the Marine Museum of the Great Lakes at Kingston.