HMS Detroit (1813)

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HMS Detroit.jpg
Painting of HMS Detroit by E.A Hodgkinson
Career (UK) RN Ensign
Name: HMS Detroit
Builder: Amherstburg Royal Naval Dockyard, Amherstburg
Launched: August 1813
Fate: Captured on 10 September 1813
General characteristics
Tons burthen: 305 bm

HMS Detroit was a 20-gun sloop of the Royal Navy serving on Lake Erie during the War of 1812.

Detroit was a corvette (a ship-rigged flush decked vessel), of approximately 490 tons (though there is much debate regarding measurement of tonnage, due both to differences in British and American measures and ways in which tonnage is measured, either in tonnes burthen or in displacement), and was built at Amherstburg Royal Naval Dockyard in Amherstburg. Launched in August 1813, she was captured just a month later, 10 September, in the Battle of Lake Erie. The vessel was commissioned into the United States Navy as its first USS Detroit, but was badly damaged, never sailed again, and was sold in 1825.

The Detroit was originally intended to have a main battery of twenty 24-pounder carronades. In late April 1813, these guns were in store at the dockyard in York, the provincial capital of Upper Canada, awaiting shipment to Amherstburg. On 27 April, after the British were forced to retreat at the Battle of York, these weapons were captured by the Americans under the command of Commodore Isaac Chauncey, commanding the United States squadron on Lake Ontario. As a result, the Detroit was fitted out with nineteen assorted guns, some of which were removed from the defences of Fort Amherstburg. Instead of the short-range carronades, many of these were long guns, firing a lighter shot but with longer range. Most of the guns lacked flintlock firing mechanisms, and even linstocks and slow match to fire them, and could be discharged only by flashing pistols at powder piled in the touchholes.

There had been another HMS Detroit on Lake Erie during this time. This had been the United States brig Adams, fitted out to mount six 6-pounders. She was surrendered to the British on 16 August 1812 with the surrender of Detroit and subsequently used to dominate the lake. However, the Americans recaptured Detroit on 9 October but could not get the vessel away from shore guns, and burnt her later that day.


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