Y is for York

Y

The Battle of York was fought during the War of 1812, on April 27, 1813, in York (present-day Toronto), the capital of the province of Upper Canada (present-day Ontario), between United States forces and the British defenders of York. U.S. forces under Brigadier General Zebulon Pike were able to defeat the defenders of York, comprising a British-led force under the command of Sir Roger Hale Sheaffe, combined with a small group of Ojibwe allies.

An American force of approximately 1700 men, supported by a naval flotilla of 16 American ships under Commodore Isaac Chauncey, landed on the lake shore to the west, suppressed the small group of warriors defending the shore, while knocking out the town’s meagre batteries. With the fort poorly defended by an undersized garrison of 700 soldiers and backed by an unenthusiastic (indeed, almost wholly absent) militia, the Americans captured the fort, town and dockyard. To circumvent looting, Sheaffe had ordered all valuables to be destroyed before retreating. A ship, then under construction, was burned, the naval stores were destroyed, and the fort’s magazine was set on fire. Two local militia officers were left behind to negotiate the terms of surrender.

The death of American General Pike at the Battle of York, 27 April 1813 (courtesy Canadian Military History Gateway, Government of Canada).

The death of American General Pike at the Battle of York, 27 April 1813 (courtesy Canadian Military History Gateway, Government of Canada).

The Americans themselves suffered heavy casualties, including Zebulon Pike who was leading the troops, when the burning magazine blew up with devastating results. The American forces subsequently carried out several acts of arson and looting in the town themselves, before withdrawing. Over the course of their six-day occupation, American troops sacked any home they found deserted, along with several businesses and public buildings.

Though the Americans won a clear victory, it did not have decisive strategic results as York was a less important objective in military terms than Kingston, where the British armed vessels on Lake Ontario were based. The loss of naval and military stores was crippling, particularly for the British efforts on Lake Erie.

Fort York was sacked twice by the Americans during the War of 1812 (courtesy Library and Archives Canada/C-40091).

Fort York was sacked twice by the Americans during the War of 1812 (courtesy Library and Archives Canada/C-40091).

The capture of the capital was an embarrassment for the British, exposing fatal inadequacies in their defences. Indeed, so poorly defended was the town that Chauncey returned in July, landing unopposed to burn several public buildings and boats, destroy a lumber yard, and make off with their supplies. The British attack on Washington in August 1814 was seen as just retaliation.

Further Information:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_York

http://www.eighteentwelve.ca/?q=eng/Topic/47

PREVIOUS A TO Z POSTS

Details on my 2015 A to Z theme and a linked list of posts can be found on my A to Z Challenge page, which also has a linked list of my 2014 posts.

A2Z-BADGE-000 [2015] - Life is Good

The brainchild of Arlee Bird, at Tossing it Out, the A to Z Challenge is posting every day in April except Sundays (we get those off for good behaviour.) And since there are 26 days, that matches the 26 letters of the alphabet. On April 1, we blog about something that begins with the letter “A.” April 2 is “B,” April 3 is “C,” and so on. Please visit other challenge writers.

My theme is ‘The War of 1812, a military conflict, lasting for two-and-a-half years, fought by the United States of America against the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, its North American colonies, and its American Indian allies. The Memoirs of a British naval officer from the war is central to my novel “Seeking A Knife” – part of the Snowdon Shadows series.

Further reading on The War of 1812:

http://www.eighteentwelve.ca/?q=eng

http://www.history.com/topics/war-of-1812

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-debate/the-war-of-1812-stupid-but-important/article547554/

http://www.shmoop.com/war-1812/

http://www.pbs.org/wned/war-of-1812/essays/

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O is for Ontario

O

Lake Ontario and the area that became Ontario was a key battleground during the War of 1812. Upper Canada, the predecessor of modern Ontario, was created in 1791 by the division of the old colony of Quebec into Lower Canada in the east and Upper Canada in the west. A wilderness society settled largely by Loyalists and land-hungry farmers moving north from the United States, Upper Canada endured war with America, an armed rebellion, and half a century of economic and political growing pains until it was merged again with its French-speaking counterpart into the Province of Canada.

Upper Canada - The Canadian Encyclopedia

Upper Canada – The Canadian Encyclopedia

During the War there were three theatres, but varying in significance as well as the fierceness of the encounters.

The most significant ones on land were: Detroit Frontier – the Battle of Fort Michilimackinac (see A is for Anishinaabe); and on the Niagara Frontier – Queenston Heights fought on October 13, 1812 on the Niagara Escarpment (Q will be for Queenston – but see also B is for Brock), and most notably the Battle of York fought on April 27, 1813, in York (present-day Toronto), the capital of the province of Upper Canada (Y will be for York).

A scene on Lake Ontario - United States sloop of war Gen. Pike, Commodore Chauncey, and the British sloop of war Wolfe, Sir James Yeo, preparing for action, September 28, 1813. Published and sold by Shelton & Kennet, Cheshire, Con. November 1st 1813

A scene on Lake Ontario – United States sloop of war Gen. Pike, Commodore Chauncey, and the British sloop of war Wolfe, Sir James Yeo, preparing for action, September 28, 1813. Published and sold by Shelton & Kennet, Cheshire, Con. November 1st 1813

There were also engagements on Lake Ontario, a prolonged naval contest for control of the lake during the War. Few actions were fought, none of which had decisive results, and the contest essentially became a naval building race, sometimes referred to sarcastically as the “Battle of the Carpenters”. Both sides (especially the British) renamed, re-rigged and re-armed their ships several times during the war. Both sides also possessed several unarmed schooners or other small vessels for use as transports or tenders.

Because neither side had been prepared to risk everything in a decisive attack on the enemy fleet or naval base, the result of all the construction effort on Lake Ontario was an expensive draw. The great demands for men and materials made by both squadrons adversely affected other parts of the war effort in the region.

Blockhouse and Battery in Old Fort, Toronto, 1812, [ca. 1921] C. W. Jefferys Pen and ink drawing on paper 29.2 cm x 36.8 cm (11.5" x 14.5") Government of Ontario Art Collection, 621228

Blockhouse and Battery in Old Fort, Toronto, 1812, [ca. 1921] C. W. Jefferys Pen and ink drawing on paper 29.2 cm x 36.8 cm (11.5″ x 14.5″) Government of Ontario Art Collection, 621228

During the war, Upper Canada, whose inhabitants were predominantly American in origin, was invaded and partly occupied. American forces were repulsed by British regulars assisted by Canadian militia. The war strengthened the British link, rendered loyalism a hallowed creed, fashioned martyr-heroes such as Sir Isaac Brock and Tecumseh, and appeared to legitimize the political status quo.

The war ended Upper Canada’s isolation. American immigration was formally halted, but Upper Canada received an increased number of British newcomers — some with capital to spend.

Further Information

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Upper_Canada

http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/upper-canada/   

http://www.archives.gov.on.ca/en/explore/online/1812/index.aspx

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Engagements_on_Lake_Ontario

PREVIOUS A TO Z POSTS

A is for Anishinaabe ~ B is for Brock ~ C is for Coloured Corps ~ D is for Detroit ~ E is for Erie ~ F is for First Nations ~ G is for Ghent ~ H is for Harrison ~ I is for Impressment ~ J is for Jackson ~ K is for Key ~ L is for Lundy’s ~ M is for for Madison ~ N is for New Orleans

 A2Z-BADGE-000 [2015] - Life is Good

The brainchild of Arlee Bird, at Tossing it Out, the A to Z Challenge is posting every day in April except Sundays (we get those off for good behaviour.) And since there are 26 days, that matches the 26 letters of the alphabet. On April 1, we blog about something that begins with the letter “A.” April 2 is “B,” April 3 is “C,” and so on. Please visit other challenge writers.

My theme is ‘The War of 1812’, a military conflict, lasting for two-and-a-half years, fought by the United States of America against the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, its North American colonies, and its American Indian allies. The Memoirs of a British naval officer from the war is central to my novel “Seeking A Knife” – part of the Snowdon Shadows series.

Further reading on The War of 1812:

http://www.eighteentwelve.ca/?q=eng

http://www.history.com/topics/war-of-1812

 

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-debate/the-war-of-1812-stupid-but-important/article547554/

http://www.shmoop.com/war-1812/

http://www.pbs.org/wned/war-of-1812/essays/