Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Tags
Related Content
Engagements on Lake Ontario

The engagements on Lake Ontario encompass the prolonged naval contest for control of the lake during the War of 1812. Few actions were fought, none of which had decisive results. The contest essentially became a naval building race, sometimes referred to as the "Battle of the Carpenters."

The naval actions were small and frequent. They were not only on the water but also against the numerous fortifications that dotted the coast on either side of the border, with land and naval forces working in tandem. One of these coastal raids in the lead up to the Invasion of Canada led to the burning of York, modern-day Toronto, which in turned inspired the British to later burn Washington, D.C. in revenge.

American commander Commodore Isaac Chauncey and Sir James Lucas Yeo the Commander of the British forces failed to defeat each other in decisive combat, and so resorted to a kind of arms race, using the vast amounts of timber in the area to build larger and grander fleets. The fight over Lake Ontario remained mostly indecisive until September 10th, 1814 when the British launched HMS St. Lawrence, a 112-gun ship of the line - the only ship of its kind in the British Navy to be built for freshwater. After its launch, the United States did not even attempt to take back control.