Other Accounts of the Sinking

Account of Sinking in the Buffalo Gazette on August 17, 1813.

"It is with deep regret that we record the following facts: about 2 o'clock on Sunday morning last, a most dreadful accident happened in Commodore Chauncey's squadron off Forty Mile Creek on Lake Ontario; the schooners General Hamilton, Lieut. Winter, and Scourge, Sailing Master Osgood, were upset and lost...

The gale lasted but a few minutes and did not affect the ships but injured some of the schooners' sails. Boats were put out from two of the schooners, which succeeded in rescuing about a dozen of the crews. The Hamilton having nine guns, the Scourge, ten. In a moment 100 of our brave fellows were plunged into the wave, and two of our best schooners lost to the service."

Chauncey's Account of the Sinking (he assumes Capt. Yeo knows of the Loss)

(The morning following the disaster:)

"This accident giving to the enemy decidedly the superiority, I thought he would take the advantage of it, particularly as by a change of wind he was again brought dead to the windward of me ."

Largest Loss of Life in War of 1812

The sinking of the Hamilton and Scourge was the greatest single loss of life on the Great Lakes during the War of 1812, according to Emily Cain in Ghost Ships.

Captain Yeo's Account of the Sinking

The British did not at first seem aware of the capsizing of the Hamilton and Scourge; the log book for the Wolfe the morning after the disaster mentions nothing of it. Even the following morning, there is still no mention of the missing ships in Yeo's reports. On the third day after the accident, the British captured two American schooners (the Julia and the Growler), and it is likely from these captured U.S. seamen that the British were first made aware of the disaster aboard the Hamilton and Scourge.

Yeo finally mentions the accident on the day after the capture of the Julia and Growler, writing that "I am also happy to acquaint you that two of his largest schooners, the Hamilton, of nine guns, and the Scourge, of ten guns, upset the night before last in carrying sail to keep from us, and all on board perished, in number about one hundred. This has reduced his squadron to ten..."

 

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