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124 MILITARY HISTORY OF CANADA

 

into "service companies," being considered as a reserve only to be called out when absolutely necessary. Brock's system of extracting in this way from the Upper Canada militia a select or active force was early justified by the excellent work of this force at the capture of Detroit and the Battle of Queenston Heights.

Although the "service companies" of militia in Upper Canada did good work whenever called on, the efforts of the army officers during the war were, as regards the militia, largely devoted to perfecting the incorporated militia, or permanently embodied corps; and to attract volunteer recruits to these, bounties were offered.

General Brock, upon assuming command in Upper Canada, at once began to improve the Provincial Marine service on the Great Lakes. There was a dockyard at Kingston, and a few Government vessels on the lakes, commanded and manned by colonial officers and seamen. But, since the Revolutionary War, the Provincial Marine service had been regarded more as a means of military, and even civil, transport, than as a naval fighting force. Brock energetically set to work to bring it up to a standard that would give it control of the lakes. The War of 1812–14 abundantly justified his action and the early successes of the British were due to their having control of the Great Lakes. President Madison formally declared war with Great Britain on June 19th, 1812. But naval operations on the lakes antedated his Proclamation, for on June 5th, 1812, the schooner Lord Nelson was captured on its way from Niagara to Kingston by the United States vessel Oneida and condemned as a prize under the pro-visions of the United States Embargo Act. Two other schooners, the Ontario and the Niagara, were in the same month also taken by United States war vessels.

When the news of the declaration of war reached Ogdensburg, eight United States trading schooners lying there attempted to escape to the waters of Lake Ontario. A company of volunteers chased them in open boats, capturing and burning two. On July 20th, Commodore


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