Capital in Flames: The American Attack on York, 1813

Overview

The city of Toronto was the frontier town of York in 1813 when it suffered its most traumatic day. Though it was the capital of Upper Canada, York had weak defences, and when military leaders made it the central depot and naval dockyard on the Great Lakes early in the War of 1812, they essentially painted a bull's-eye on the town and its 700 residents.

In April 1813 a squadron of warships under U.S. Commodore Isaac Chauncey landed about 1,800 soldiers where today's Canadian ...

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Overview

The city of Toronto was the frontier town of York in 1813 when it suffered its most traumatic day. Though it was the capital of Upper Canada, York had weak defences, and when military leaders made it the central depot and naval dockyard on the Great Lakes early in the War of 1812, they essentially painted a bull's-eye on the town and its 700 residents.

In April 1813 a squadron of warships under U.S. Commodore Isaac Chauncey landed about 1,800 soldiers where today's Canadian National Exhibition grounds are located. Renowned western explorer General -Zebulon Pike led them into battle against -British, Canadian and native defenders commanded by General Sir Roger Hale Sheaffe, victor of the Battle of Queenston Heights. The attackers were pressing forward when a mighty explosion ripped the earth open and rattled windows forty miles away. One general was killed and the other withdrew. Though the Americans had taken the town, the invasion was a disappointment as the vessels they expected to seize were not there and supplies they hoped to capture were destroyed. Discipline broke down and roving gangs of invaders looted and burned public buildings - and the loyalty of some citizens came into question.

The young town suffered a trauma few of its inhabitants would ever forget. And Sheaffe, the much-criticized British general, was sent home and never again saw active service.

Robert Malcomson brings to life the politicians, soldiers and citizens whose destinies clashed at York. He explores the causes of the event and allows the voices of the mighty and the meek to recount their experiences. Not only does he provide fresh insights into the capture of Upper Canada's capital; he relates the various landmarks of the battle to the modern city, so that readers can walk the ground themselves.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781896941707
  • Publisher: Robin Brass Studio, Inc.
  • Publication date: 4/8/2014
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 512
  • Sales rank: 986,503
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

The late Robert Malcomson was a leading expert on the War of 1812 and the Age of Sail on the Great Lakes and the author of several books, including Lords of the Lake: The Naval War on Lake Ontario, 1812-1814 and A Very Brilliant Affair: The Battle of Queenston Heights, 1812.

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Table of Contents


Introduction     ix
Dramatis Personae     xx
The Town and the War
"Reared as if by enchantment.": York, Upper Canada, 1812     2
"Worthy of being at the head of affairs.": The Defence of Upper Canada     25
"We have now the command of the lake.": Chauncey's 1812 Campaign     45
Strategies and Armed Camps
"Totally incompetent for the purpose.": Winter Plans for Upper Canada     64
"A secondary, but still important object.": American Campaign Goals for 1813     83
"Never more secure.": Fortifying York     98
"Be always ready.": The Army Gathers at Sackets Harbor     118
The Battle
"Dashing evolutions.": The Ways of War in 1813     138
"Forebodings of an attack.": The Day Approaches     159
"Disagreeable presages.": The Americans Land     178
"The Stars are going up!": March to the Garrison     201
"Almost as bad as none.": The Capitulation     223
Repercussions
"This disgraced city.": The Occupation of York     242
"Great men in little things and little men in great things.": Campaign Consequences     262
"A true account of our proceedings.": Legacies of the Battle of York     282
"A place equal to this.": York, after the Occupation     305
Appendices
The Fort, the Graves, theMonuments     330
The Explosion of the Grand Magazine     339
British Artillery at York     342
British Order of Battle at York, 27 April 1813     346
Upper Canada Militia at the Battle of York     355
American Order of Battle at York, 27 April 1813     369
United States Navy Squadron, April 1813     385
Casualties and Prisoners of War     393
The Terms of Capitulation     399
Glossary     404
Endnotes     409
Bibliography     469
Index     481
Maps and Aerial Photos
York, 1813: The Town and the Garrison
Bird's-eye View of the Battlefield, 1992     xiv
A View of Toronto, Facing East, 1965     xviii
The Town of York in 1813     7
East End of York, 1810     11
Plan of York Harbour     24
War of 1812 - The Northern Theatre     28
Course of Chauncey's Squadron, Kingston, 9 November 1812     54
Attack on Kingston, 10 November 1812     56
"Seat of War": Lake Ontario and Area     62
The Niagara Peninsula     67
Sackets Harbor, 1813     125
The Battle of York, Tuesday, 27 April 1813, 7:00 A.M.     191
The Battle of York, 7:20 A.M.     193
The Battle of York, 7:40 A.M.     199
The Battle of York, 10:30 A.M.     212
The Battle of York, 1:00 P.M.     217
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