The Ships that Battled for Lake Erie: What Happened to Them? Part 1: The Royal Navy

September 17, 2016 Posted by: Katherine Stone

On September 10, 1813, the fate of Lake Erie was decided;British and American naval fleets fought for over two hours in a battle that determined control over the Northwest Territory and western Great Lakes. Most already know the end of this battle –American Commander Oliver Hazard Perry's decisive, but costly, victory over the British Commander Robert Heriot Barclay –but few know about the vessels that carried these men into battle and even fewer know of the ships' fates in the years that followed. This post takes a cursory glance at each ship, how they came to sail on Lake Erie, and their destinies during and after the War of 1812.

To have an understanding of the ships, it is best to first know the basics of each ship;although, to list both the American and British ships' histories would be extensive. Therefore, this post will focus on the British side and another will cover the American. Below is a list of the British sailing vessels, their classification, their armament at the time of the Battle of Lake Erie, and how they met their end:

 

Navy

Name

Classification

Armament

Fate

Royal Navy (UK)

Chippawa (Chippeway)

Schooner

1 Long Gun

1813 - Burned by the British

Detroit

Ship

17 Long Guns
2 Carronades

1825 - Sold

Hunter

Brig

8 Long Guns

2 Carronades

1816 –Beached, salvaged, and later excavated

Queen Charlotte

Ship

3 Long Guns

12 Carronades

1844 - Abandoned

Lady Prevost

Schooner

3 Long Guns

10 Carronades

1815 - Sold

Little Belt

Sloop

2 Long Guns

1813 –Burned by the British

Total

6

34 Long Guns

24 Carronades

("Battle of Lake Erie")

The Royal Navy

HMS CHIPPAWA (A.K.A. Chippeway) (1810-1813)

In 1810, Captain Anderson Martin built the Chippawa (also known as the Chippeway) in Ontario, Canada, and sailed her across the Great Lakes as a merchant vessel that transported supplies and furs. It was A 9-Pound Long Gun on a Naval Carriage (Skaarup).named after the Chippawa Creek (now known as Welland River) which flowed into the Niagara River ("Welland River"). At the start of the War of 1812, the Chippawa was brought into the Provincial Marine, a type of early Great Lakes coast guard for the Canadian colony, and armed with two guns;however, it only had one 9-pounder long gun on September 10th.

During the Battle of Lake Erie, the larger British ships came under focused fire by the Americans. The Chippawa attempted to aide them, but found itself in the crossfire as well. Once the other British vessels began to surrender, both it and HMS Little Beltattempted to flee toward Fort Malden;however, it was overtaken and captured by the USS Trippe.
Due to its relatively good condition, the U.S. Navy immediately commissioned her into their service as the USS Chippewa. They used it a transport vessel for the 27th and 28th Infantry Regiment's baggage as the U.S. Army immediately moved into position for another invasion of Ontario, Canada. Later that year, the Chippewa and several other ships were driven ashore near Buffalo, New York, by a storm and the Americans were unable to refloat and salvage them. In December during the Battle of Buffalo, an invading British force burned it to ensure that it could not be used by the Americans again ("HMS Chippeway (1812)").


HMS DETROIT (1813-1825)

In 1813, the Detroit was constructed in Amherstburg, Ontario, Canada. It was due to have twenty

A Painting of the HMS Detroit by E.A. Hodgkinson

 carronades, however the dockyard the guns were being stored at were captured by American Commodore Isaac Chauncey during the Battle of York. Therefore, it was instead outfitted with a variety of guns, many of  which were missing parts or other necessary mechanisms, taken from Fort Amherstburg.

Immediately after the Battle, the Americans used the HMS Detroit as a hospital ship to transport the wounded from Put-In-Bay to Erie, Pennsylvania. A few days after the battle, strong winds dismasted or broke its masts. After delivering the wounded, it was brought back to Put-In-Bay where it was eventually fitted in May 1814. After this, the Detroit was taken back to Erie, Pennsylvania and sold ("HMS Detroit (1813)").


HMS HUNTER (A.K.A. General Hunter) (1806-1816)

Like the HMS Detroit, the Hunter was also built in Amherstburg, Ontario, Canada. Prior to the War of 1812, it 

A Photograph of the HMS Hunter’s Wreckage Being Unearthed (Excavation).

patrolled the Great Lakes as a Provincial Marine vessel. Once war began, it took an active role in the control 

of the Lakes, even assisting in capturing Detroit. The Hunter, then brought into the Royal Navy, participated in the Battle of Lake Erie.

Once the war had ended, it was sold to a private owner and then sold again to the U.S. Army as a troop transport vessel. It was on its way through northern Lake Huron when a storm beached her on Canadian territory in what is today Southampton, Ontario. The U.S. Army salvaged what it could and left the remains to be buried in the sand. In 2001, part of the hull emerged through the sand, leading to a series of archeological excavations. What artifacts were found and a replica of its deck are now on display at the Bruce County Museum and Cultural Centre in Southampton, Ontario ("HMS Hunter (1805)").

 

 

HMS QUEEN CHARLOTTE (1807-1844)

Constructed in 1807 and named the Adams, it was sold to the Provincial Marine in 1812 at the start of theA Portrait of Queen Charlotte by Johann Georg Ziesenis war. The ship was then commissioned as the HMS Queen Charlotte, participated in the capture of Detroit alongside the HMS Hunter, and patrolled the Great Lakes until the Battle of Lake Erie;it named after the United Kingdom's Queen at the time, Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz ("Charlotte"). During the Battle, its Captain Roger Finnis was killed and it was captured by the Americas. Like the HMS Detroit, it was also used as a hospital ship to transport the wounded and took damage from the gale a few days later. After it was taken to Put-In-Bay to be refitted, it was convoyed to Erie, Pennsylvania where it was sold to George Brown.

Mr. Brown converted it into a merchant ship and sailed the Great Lakes, mostly transporting timber and stave. Unfortunately, dry rot –a type of fungal decay - took hold of its wood;the Queen Charlotte's owners dismasted and abandoned it to the elements ("Queen Charlotte (1812 Ship)".




HMS LADY PREVOST (1810-1815)

Like the HMS Detroit and the HMS Hunter, the HMS Lady Prevost was built at Amherstburg in 1810. It sailed

A Miniature of the HMS Lady Prevost

 as a training vessel for Canadian sailors until its fateful capture during the Battle of Lake Erie. Although it eventually surrendered, the Lady Prevost fought in several gun duels with the American ships Somers, Tigress, Trippe, Porcupine, and even the Niagara. Its masts and structure were too severely damaged, however, and it was forced to quit the fight.

After her capture, the Americans immediately recommissioned it as the USS Lady Prevost and joined the Niagara, Scorpion, and Trippe at Lake Sinclair. The Lady Prevost aided the U.S. Army and patrolled Lakes Erie and Huron until the war ended. After 1815, it was brought to Erie, Pennsylvania, burned, and sunk by the Americans;later in 1815, the Lady Prevost was raised, refitted as a merchant ship, and sold at auction ("USS Lady Prevost (1812)").

 

 

HMS LITTLE BELT (1811-1813)

The HMS Little Belt changed hands frequently over the course of its life. Beginning its journey in 1811, it waschristened the Friends Good Will. In July of 1812, it was captured by the British at Fort Michilimackinac; 

A Painting of the HMS Little Belt beside Fort Malden

on its way from Fort Dearborn –near modern day Chicago –to Detroit, it stopped at the fort. Unfortunately, the Friends Good Will did not know that the British had captured the fort earlier in the day as the British were still flying the American flag. The ship and several other vessels –the Erie, Mary, and Salina, were all captured as prize. The British recommissioned her as the HMS Little Belt and sailed Lake Erie in the British squadron.

The Little Belt would change hands again after the USS Scorpion captured her during the Battle of Lake Erie. It and the HMS Chippawa attempted to escape, but were unsuccessful. After being repaired, it was used totransport the U.S. Army into position for another invasion of Canada. When the British invaded during the Battle of Buffalo, they found the Little Belt and several other vessels beached by a gale earlier in the year and burned it in 1813 ("HMS Little Belt (1812)").

 

Works Cited

"Battle of Lake Erie." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 23 June 2016. Web. 4 Aug. 2016. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Lake_Erie#Battle>.

"Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 29 July 2016. Web. 5 Aug. 2016. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charlotte_of_Mecklenburg-Strelitz>.

Excavating the Hunter. Trent University. N.p., 2 Apr. 2012. Web. 5 Aug. 2016. <http://www.trentu.ca/newsevents/120330_Cassavoy.jpg>.

"HMS Chippeway (1812)." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 25 Mar. 2016. Web. 4 Aug. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Chippeway_(1812)>.

"HMS Detroit (1813)." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 3 Apr. 2016. Web. 4 Aug. 2016. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Detroit_(1813)>.

"HMS Hunter (1805)." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 23 Mar. 2016. Web. 5 Aug. 2016. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Hunter_(1805)>.

"HMS Little Belt (1812)." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 9 June 2016. Web. 5 Aug. 2016. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Little_Belt_(1812)>.

Hodgkinson, E. A. Painting of HMS Detroit. Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundations, 3 Apr. 2016. Web. 5 Aug. 2016. <https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/d/df/HMS_Detroit.jpg/300px-HMS_Detroit.jpg>.

Lady Prevost in Miniature. The Miniature's Page. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Aug. 2016. <http://theminiaturespage.com/boards/msg.mv?id=307237>.

Little Belt off Fort Malden. Windsor Star. Postmedia Network, 16 Jan. 2013. Web. 5 Aug. 2016. <http://windsorstar.com/life/the-war-that-defined-us>.

"Provincial Marine." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 24 Mar. 2016. Web. 4 Aug. 2016. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Provincial_Marine>.

"Queen Charlotte (1812 Ship)." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 24 Mar. 2016. Web. 5 Aug. 2016. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queen_Charlotte_(1812_ship)>.

Skaarup, Harold A. 9-Pound Long Gun. Military History Books. American Author, 2009. Web. 5 Aug. 2016. <http://silverhawkauthor.com/artillery-preserved-in-canada-5g-ontario-fort-george_431.html>.

"USS Lady Prevost (1812)." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 25 Mar. 2016. Web. 5 Aug. 2016. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Lady_Prevost_(1812)>.

"Welland River." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Founation, 19 June 2016. Web. 4 Aug. 2016. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Welland_River>.

Ziesenis, Johann Georg. Queen Charlotte. 31 Dec. 1760. JPG file.

 

war of 1812, PEVI, historic rowing crew, Battle of Lake Erie, British, Royal Navy




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