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134 MILITARY HISTORY OF CANADA

 

ascendancy of his fleet. During the earlier stages of the war the heavily-armed and well-manned frigates of the United States had been successful in single combats with the smaller and more lightly armed frigates of the Royal Navy. The British Admiralty, stung into activity, had despatched to the coast of America vessels that forced the United States ships to take refuge in their harbours. The United States frigates being thus reduced to inactivity, and the mercantile marine practically destroyed, the Government had abundance of excellent material available to equip and man its fleets on the inland waters.

Britain, at war with both America and France, had her hands full on the ocean and could render but little assistance to the Provincial Marine. However, in March, 1813, a small naval detachment was forwarded overland from Halifax to Quebec and thence on to Kingston. It included Captains Barclay, Pring, and Finnis of the Royal Navy, with five lieutenants and a few seamen. Upon arrival in Kingston they energetically set to work fitting and equipping the little fleet there. In May, they were joined by Commodore Sir James L. Yeo—who had come to take over the command on Lake Ontario,—4 captains, 8 lieu-tenants, 24 midshipmen, and 450 British sailors.

Up to this time naval operations on the upper lakes had devolved wholly upon the Canadian Provincial Marine, which, as already pointed out, was really a species of permanently embodied naval militia, equipped and maintained by the army authorities rather for the military transport service than for naval warfare. Its work had perhaps not been very brilliant, but during the critical months of 1812 it had afforded fair security for the army's water transport, and probably saved Upper Canada. But now the Canadian Provincial Marine practically went out of existence. Officers of the Royal Navy assumed command of ships and shipyards, and naval petty-officers and seamen were assigned to most of the non-commissioned ratings and distributed through all the ships. The balance of the crews were made up from the


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