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Tigress

 

(Sch.: t. 52; Ibp. 50'; b. 17'; dph. 5'; cpl. 27; a. 1 32-pdr.)

 

Amelia—a schooner built at Erie, Pa., by the firm of Adam and Noah Brown—was launched in the spring of 1813, probably in April. Acquired by the Navy for service with Captain Oliver Hazard Perry's forces on Lake Erie, Amelia was renamed Tigress and placed under the command of Lt. Augustus H. M. Conkling.

 

Tigress took part in the spirited engagement at Put-in-Bay on 10 September 1813, the Battle of Lake Erie. Perry's resounding victory over Commodore Robert H. Barclay's squadron in this battle forced the British to abandon their plans for transfrontier raids with their Indian allies into American territory. Instead, since their position in the area around Detroit had been rendered untenable by American control of Lake Erie, the British withdrew.

 

Perry consequently convoyed American troops into the territory formerly held by the British, investing Maiden on 23 September and Detroit on the 27th. On 2 October, a small naval flotilla—Tigress, Scorpion and Porcupine—under the command of Lt. Jesse D. Elliott—ascended the Thames River to support an overland expedition under General William Henry Harrison. In the ensuing Battle of the Thames, Harrison's army routed the mixed British and Indian force. The Indian leader Tecumseh was killed in the battle which forced the British to withdraw from the vicinity, never more to threaten the American northwest territories.

 

Tigress subsequently sailed for Lake Huron, where she took part in blockading operations into the summer of 1814. She and Scorpion drew the task of standing watch on the entrance to the Nautawasaga River, the sole outlet to the lake for the town of Machilimackinaw. By early September, the situation in this town was desperate. If the blockade were not lifted within a fortnight, dwindling food supplies would force the British to surrender.

 

To avert such a development, four boatloads of British and Indians set out from Machilimackinaw on the night of 3 September 1814. They slipped alongside Tigress—which was anchored close inshore—and boarded the schooner. A brief and bloody battle followed; and—although "warmly received" by the vessel's crew—the British captured the ship in five minutes. "The defense of this vessel," wrote Lt. Bulger, in command of the attackers, "did credit to her officers, who were all severely wounded."

 

While the surviving officers and men were sent ashore as prisoners of war, Bulger retained the greater part of the boarding party on board and kept the ship's American flag flying. Scorpion soon arrived on B September and anchored some two miles distant. Bulger, in a daring stroke, ran the captured Tigress alongside Scorpion and captured her, too. Both American vessels and their captured crews were later taken to Machilimackinaw.

 

The British renamed their prizes soon thereafter. Tigress became HMS Surprise—an appropriate name in view of the nature of her capture—and Scorpion became HMS Confiance. Both subsequently served the Royal Navy until laid up at the Colborne Basin, Ontario, Canada, and dismantled.

 

In the spring of 1933, Tigress' remains were raised and placed on the town dock at Penetanguishene, Ontario.