The War of 1812 that is often called the Second War of American Independence and is viewed as an American invasion by Canada. Americans recall the “Star Spangled Banner,” and the Battle of Fort McHenry and the Battle of New Orleans. But there were significant naval actions on the Great Lakes. The catastrophic sinking of USS Hamilton and Scourge 200 years ago by a sudden squall turned the advantage to the British for a time. Both ships came to rest intact on their keels in 90 meters below the surface of Lake Ontario. On 7 August 1813 on Lake Ontario, the British and American forces engaged in a deadly maneuvering. Commodore Chauncey commanded the American squadron of at 13 sailing ships – many poorly re-outfitted formed commercial vessels, and Sir James Yeo commanded six British vessels; both maneuvered their ships to gain the weather advantage. While outnumbered by the Americans, Yeo had the advantage of commanding purpose-built naval vessels crewed by seasoned men and commanders. He was however, at the disadvantage of being armed primarily with carronades, leaving him half the firing range of his American opponent. Yeo sought to cut off one or two of Chauncey’s schooners, while his opponent sought to engage him with full force. Neither succeeded, however and only a few shots were actually exchanged. The winds shifted and failed throughout the day; Scourge’s crew employed sweeps to maintain position in the line. At nightfall, Chauncey grouped his fleet, and kept men at quarters in case of attack. With the wind from westward, Chauncey took his ships up wind to avoid falling in with the enemy during the dark. This indicates that both schooners Hamilton and Scourge had some sail employed when the squall came upon them, the just after midnight on August 8 1813, as the sudden squall ensued and hit the squadron it sunk both the USS Hamilton and Scourge and turned the tide of domination to the favor of the British on the lake for several months.
Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices