Attack on Lake Erie

13th August 1814
Part of : The War of 1812 (1812 - 1814)
Previous action : Operations in the Potomac 8.1814
Next action : Action of 1814-08-27 27.8.1814


United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland

Ship NameCommanderNotes
Star (14) Alexander Dobbs

United States of America

Ship NameCommanderNotes
Ohio (3)   Captured
Porcupine (3)  
Somers (2)   Captured

Notes on Action

The three American schooners, Ohio, Somers, and Porcupine, each with thirty men, under Lieutenant Conkling, were anchored at the outlet of the lake to flank the works at Fort Erie. Several British vessels were lying off the fort, in the Ontario waters, and their officers determined to make an effort to carry the American gunboats by surprise. On the night of August 12th Commander Alexander Dobbs and Lieutenant Copleston Radcliffe, with seventy-five seamen and Marines, made the attempt. Aided by some militia, they carried a gig and five bateaux twenty-eight miles overland to Lake Erie, launched them, and rowed toward the gunboats. At about midnight the look-out in the Sowers discovered and hailed them. They answered, "provision boat," which deceived the officer on deck, as such boats were passing and repassing every night. In another moment they drifted across his hawser, cut his cables and ran him on board. The two men on deck were shot down, and, before the others could get up, the schooner was captured. In another moment the British boats were alongside the Ohio, Lieutenant Conkling's own vessel. The sound of the firing had awakened his people, and, disordered though they were, they attempted resistance, and there was a moment's sharp struggle; but Conkling himself, and the only other officer on board, sailing-master Gaily, together with five seamen, were shot or cut down, and Dobbs carried the gunboat sword in hand. Lieutenant Radcliffe was killed, however, and seven British seamen and Marines were killed or wounded. Dobbs then drifted down stream with his two prizes, the Porcupine being too demoralised to interfere. It was a very bold and successful enterprise, reflecting the utmost credit on the victors.

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