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General Pike

 

Zebulon Montgomery Pike, born in 1779 at Lamberton (now a part of Trenton), N.J., was the son of Zebulon Pike, a captain in the Continental Army. In 1794 young Pike entered his father's company as a cadet to be commissioned Second Lieutenant 3 March 1799. In 1805 President Jefferson chose Pike to command an expedition to the upper Mississippi region of the Louisiana Territory. When he returned to St. Louis in April 1806, he was sent to explore the sources of the Arkansas and Red Rivers. During this expedition he discovered the mountain peak in Colorado which now bears his name. Pike was captured by the Spanish 26 February 1807 but was released a few months later. In the ensuing years he rose through the ranks rapidly, reaching Brigadier General 12 March 1813. He served as Adjutant and Inspector General in the campaign against York (now Toronto), Canada. He commanded American troops sent ashore during a successful assault 27 April 1813 but was killed by the explosion of a British magazine, which was ignited by retreating troops as American forces stormed the garrison.

 

(Ship: t. 875; lbp. 145'; b. 37'; dph. 15'; cpl. 300; a. 26 24-pdrs.)

 

General Pike was laid down by Henry Eckford, a New York City shipbuilder who supervised the construction of warships on Lake Ontario, at Sackett's Harbor 9 April 1813. Set on fire 29 May during a British attack on Sackett's Harbor, the unfinished ship was saved and launched 12 June 1813, Master Commandant Arthur Sinclair in command. She was made ready to sail by July and on 21 July she joined Commodore Isaac Chauncey's squadron. She sailed to the head of Lake Ontario, arriving off Niagara 27 July. While cruising the lake, she engaged British ships under Commodore Yeo in an indecisive battle on 10 and 11 August.

 

General Pike returned to Sackett's Harbor 13 August and provisioned before returning to the head of the lake to search out British ships. After almost a month of maneuvering and stalking to gain an advantage over the British, she joined Chauncey's ships in a brief encounter against the British off the mouth of the Genesee River 11 September. On 28 September the two forces again met at York Bay, Ontario, and engaged in a fierce, but still indecisive, battle. During heated exchanges of gunfire between American and British ships General Pike fought in heavy action against British ship Royal George and rendered gallant service throughout the encounter.

 

After returning to Sackett's Harbor early in October, General Pike supported troop movements against the British at the lower end of Lake Ontario until mid-November when she returned to the Niagara Peninsula to cover the transfer of American troops from Fort Niagara to Sackett's Harbor. She remained at Sackett's Harbor during the winter months.

 

Throughout the remainder of the War of 1812, General Pike continued to operate with Chauncey's squadron. After the British withdrew blockading ships off Sackett's Harbor early in June 1814, she joined other American ships in a blockade of British ships at Kingston, Ontario. The American forces kept Yeo's ships within Kingston harbor, and General Pike cruised Lake Ontario freely from the head of the St. Lawrence to Sackett's Harbor. Following the end of the war, she was laid up at Sacket's Harbor and was sold in 1825.