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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Sailing into history – A Thousand Islands' flotilla

For Immediate Release

A group of volunteers plan to recreate the 1813 pursuit of American invaders down the St. Lawrence River this summer.

Led by Thomas Hurlbut, who re-enacts a Post Captain in the Royal Navy, re-enactors from across Ontario will be bringing the historic flotilla alive, recreating the 1813 pursuit of General James Wilkinson’s American army by Lt Col Morrison’s detachments and the River Flotilla of Captain William Howe Mulcaster, RN.

In the fall of 1813, Americans attempted to take Montreal. As one army marched towards Lower Canada, a larger 7,000-man army moved down the river in a flotilla of boats towards their objective. British land and naval forces harassed the Americans continually.

As commander of the 21-gun sloop Royal George, Commander  William Howe Mulcaster (1783-1837) participated in the naval actions on Lake Ontario during 1813. Beginning on 6 November, Mulcaster’s “mosquito fleet” of two schooners, six gunboats and several bateaux cooperated with Lieutenant-Colonel Joseph Morrison in the pursuit of the American army that was heading for Montreal.

The aggressive Mulcaster used his vessels to transport Morrison’s men and harass American boats, while his gunboats provided fire support during the battle of Crysler’s Farm.

A delaying engagement at Hoople’s Creek on 10 November, allowed the defenders to evacuate supplies, desperately needed by the Americans, from Cornwall.

The next day’s Battle at Crysler’s Farm would impact Canada forever.

On November 11, 1813 the American rear-guard was defeated at Crysler’s Farm, forcing them to abandon their offensive against Montreal. British dominance of the river was complete.

The re-enactment flotilla will consist of 7 boats, a schooner (La Revenante) and a brigantine (Fair Jeanne) with some 55 crewmembers in total.

The Flotilla will depart Bath on July 6, arriving at Crysler’s Farm on July 12:
• Depart Bath the morning of July 7, arrive in Kingston that afternoon.
• Depart Kingston the morning of July 8, arrive in Gananoque in the evening
• Depart Gananoque morning July 9, arrive Rockport in evening.
 Depart Rockport morning July 10, arrive Brockville in evening.
 Depart Brockville morning July11, arrive Prescott in evening. 
 Depart Prescott morning July 12, arrive Upper Canada Village in evening.

Many Flotilla re-enactors will also participate in all three battles at the Crysler’s Farm Re-enactment weekend, portraying Royal Navy gunboats as they harried the American invading fleet of gunboats.

The 200th anniversary of the Battle of Crysler’s Farm will take place at Upper Canada Village on July 13 and 14.

For more information visit www.celebrate1812.ca.

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