USS Julia (1812)

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Career (USA) 100x35px
Name: USS Julia
Acquired: September 1812
Fate: Captured by the British, 10 August 1813
Career (UK) Royal Navy Ensign
Name: HMS Confiance
Acquired: 10 August 1813
Fate: Recaptured by the Americans, 5 October 1813
Career (USA) 100x35px
Name: USS Julia
Acquired: 5 October 1813
Fate: Retired, about 1813
General characteristics
Type: Schooner
Displacement: 53 long tons (54 t)
Propulsion: Sail
Complement: 40 officers and enlisted
Armament: 2 guns

The first USS Julia was a schooner in the United States Navy during the War of 1812.

In September 1812, Lt. Melancthon T. Woolsey purchased Julia for the Navy on Lake Ontario. Julia, Sailing Master James Trant in command, sailed from Sackets Harbor on 8 November 1812 with Commodore Isaac Chauncey's flotilla. That afternoon lookouts on the American ships spotted HMS Royal George, the largest warship yet constructed on the Great Lakes, off False Ducks Island and sent her scurrying into the Bay of Quinte where she escaped in the rapidly falling night. The next morning they again sighted her and resumed the chase. When the British ship reached the shelter of the Canadian batteries at Kingston, Chauncey decided to follow her in to test the strength of the defenses and, if possible, to capture the warship. Led by Conquest and Julia, Chauncey's vessels, defying the fire from ship and shore, stood toward the harbor entrance.

Approaching nightfall and threatening weather interrupted the raid by forcing Chauncey to haul off to deeper water where he anchored hoping to resume the action with the sunrise. However, heavy weather on the morning of the 10th ruled out a renewal of the attack and dictated a return to the American base at Sackett's Harbor. As the little flotilla retired, their lookouts spied the Simcoe and chased her into shoal water. Although fire from Julia, Governor Tompkins, and Hamilton damaged the British ship considerably, Simcoe managed to cross a reef to safety. The attack on Kingston had given Chauncey confidence in the fighting ability of his officers and men and inspired the crews with respect and admiration for their leaders. At this point a bitter winter interrupted operations until spring.

With the return of good weather, Chauncey's ships sortied from Sackets Harbor on 25 April 1813 for a raid on York (now Toronto), Canada. Two days later, after landing some 1,700 men under General Henry Dearborn, Julia and her sister ships supported the American troops with grape at rapid fire, enabling them to beat off counterattacks by Indians and British sharpshooters while taking York. The American loot included large amounts of naval and military stores and the British brig Duke of Gloucester. Moreover, a 24-gun ship nearing completion was burned at York.

On 8 May, bad weather, which had detained Chauncey at York, cleared enabling his ships to get under way beginning a fortnight's duty transporting and convoying troops and supplies for General Dearborn. On the 27th, Julia and Growler led the flotilla into the Niagara River to open an attack on Fort George by shelling a British battery dug in near the lighthouse. The other American ships took preassigned positions where they shelled targets ashore. Meanwhile Captain Oliver Hazard Perry directed the disembarkation of troops. In three hours, the carefully coordinated attack drove the defenders from the field.

With Fort George in American hands, the British gave up their forts on the Niagara frontier leaving Chauncey and Dearborn in control of the entire Niagara River.

On the night of 7-8 August, Julia rescued a number of survivors of Scourge after that schooner had capsized and sunk in a heavy gale. During the next three days, the American flotilla and the British squadron maneuvered seeking to move into an advantageous position for a general engagement. On the 10th Julia and Growler were cut off from their sister ships and captured. The British renamed the schooners Confiance and Hamilton and used them as troop transports until Chauncey recaptured them near False Ducks Islands, on 5 October. However, the schooners, having proven unstable in heavy seas, were soon retired from service.