Monday, 4 July 2016

Scenario; The Flight of the Royal George


Text of the Incident From Wikipedia
A fuller account can be seen here;
http://www.warof1812.ca/kingstonharbour1812.pdf

In November 1812, Royal George was the largest warship on the lake, operating under the command of British Commodore Hugh Earl (or "Earle"). On thr 9th of November 1812, an American fleet of seven ships under the command of Commodore Isaac Chauncey surprised Royal George as she passed near the Bay of Quinte on Lake Ontario. Royal George eluded the American vessels by slipping into the North Channel between Amherst Island and the mainland as night fell, making her way into the safety of her home harbour at Kingston by 2 a.m.

The pursuit of the Royal George
The Americans captured then burned the small sloop "The Two Brothers"

The following morning, the 10th of November, the American fleet resumed the pursuit, burning a small commercial vessel near Bath and proceeding along the shore. As they approached Kingston, they came under fire from shore batteries. Chauncey directed his ship, Oneida and the other American vessels to bombard and attempt to seize Royal George within its harbour. Artillery fire from the shore batteries along the shoreline, including two batteries on Point Henry, attempted to prevent them from closing on the British vessel. Round shot from the American vessels penetrated into the town but they were unable to capture Royal George. At the end of the day, they anchored out of sight of Kingston, intending to resume their attack the next day. However, an approaching storm caused Chauncey to withdraw hack to the American base at Sacketts Harbor without seizing their prize.

Above and below; depictions of the American fleet attacking the Royal George at Kingston Harbour



This would be the only American attack on Kingston during the War of 1812 as more personnel were sent to this important military and naval centre and strong fortifications were built on Point Henry to defend the dockyards. It was the only time that shots were fired from Point Henry in its history.




Kingston during the War of 1812

Reflections
Briefly at the beginning of the war the British had dominance on Lake Ontario. Chauncy quickly balanced things out by converting merchant vessels. After this action, more troops and batteries were added to Kingston. The Americans certainly had the upper hand in this incident but were not able to capture Kingston or the Royal George. A similar incident had happened in July but in reverse, when 3 British vessels attacked the Oneida at Sackett's Hatbour. 
In Chauncy's version of events the Royal George was almost sinking but Malcolmson's "The Lords of the Lake" states it had just one 32 pound hole in the hull, but the Ameeicans had several ships with hull and sail damage as well. The Americans had lost two entire armies by this point so we're looking for good news. The British had only one killed in this incident. The Provincial Marine were inexperienced and not up for a war.  They were under Commodore Hugh Earle. Shortly afterwards the British Navy took over under Yeo. 

Order of Battle

British
Commodore Hugh Earle (Poor)
Royal George 20 Guns
20 32 pound carronades

Collin's Bay
Gunboat est. 1 24 pounder

Shore Batteries
Collin's Bay
6 Pounder

Mississauga Point
2 9 Pounders

Point Henry
2 Batteries; 2 9 Pounders each 

Point Frederick
1 Battery; 2 9 Pounders

American
Commodore Isaac Chauncey (Average)

Oneida 18 Guns
16 24 pound carronades, 2 6 pounders

Hamilton 9 Guns 
8 18 pound carronades, 1 12 pounder (pivot)

Governor Tompkins 6 Guns
2 18 pound carronades, 1 32 pounder (pivot), 1 24 pounder (pivot), 2 9 pounders

Growler 5 Guns
1 24 pounder (pivot), 4 4 pounders

Conquest 3 Guns
2 24 pounders (pivots), 1 6 pounder

Pert 3 Guns
1 32 pounder (pivot), 2 4 pounders

Julia 2 Guns 
1 32 pounder (pivot), 1 12 pound (pivot)