THIS WEEK in the War of 1812 (October 5-October 11, 1814) [UPDATE]
October 9 [Restores dropped material and fixes typos]
The American sloop-of-war, USS Wasp, is lost at sea. Under Master Commandant Johnston Blakeley, the 22-gun vessel, sank, burned or captured 15 British ships — including three warships — during two raiding cruises in the summer of 1814.
After capturing the British brig Atalanta on September 21, Blakeley sends the prize back to the United States manned by some of his 173-man crew. The Wasp is last seen by a neutral merchant vessel in the mid Atlantic around October 9.
The British launch the HMS St. Lawrence, a three-deck gunship from Kingston Navy Dockyard in what is now Ontario. Bigger than HMS Victory, Admiral Nelson’s flagship at Trafalgar, the St. Lawrence is the biggest wooden ship built for fresh water sailing and upends the naval balance of power on Lake Ontario. The big ship will see no action, however, as the war has largely moved south to the Gulf of Mexico.
The American relief force sent to break the siege of Fort Erie finally arrives on the scene, but the British have already departed. General George Izzard, commander of the U.S. Northern Army, has marched over from Sackets Harbor, New York with more than 4,000 men. Back in August, then-Secretary of War John Armstrong orders Izzard — who was based at Plattsburgh awaiting a British attack on Lake Champlain — to take 4,000 men and march to Sacket’s Harbor, which Armstrong fears is vulnerable to a British amphibious assault. The move leaves Plattsburgh with less than 2,000 troops to defend the vital Lake Champlain Valley. In September he is ordered to relieve Major General Brown and his troops at Fort Erie.
Combined with the Fort Erie defenders, Izard decides he has overwhelming numerical superiority to the retreating British. After two days’ delay, he heads north on the Canadian side of the Niagara River to intercept the retreating British commanded by Lieutenant General Gordon Drummond.
Be sure to click on the map to enlarge the image. Lake Champlain and Plattsburgh are on the far right. You can follow the St. Lawrence River Southwest (to the left) past Sacket’s Harbor and Kingston on Lake Ontario. Then continue West to Fort Erie and the Niagara River (towards the middle of the map). Put in Bay is where the Battle of Lake Erie was fought in 1813, followed by the Battle of Thames (Moraviantown) a few weeks later.
Entry filed under: National Security and Defense, Naval Warfare, THIS WEEK in the War of 1812, Weaponry and Equipment. Tags: Army, Canada, Great Lakes in War of 1812, HMS St. Lawrence, Navy, Siege of Fort Erie 1814, USS Wasp, War of 1812 at Sea, War of 1812 Bicentennial.