Capture of the Somers and Ohio

In one of the last naval actions on the Great Lakes, the British planned to capture three U.S. schooners lying off American held Fort Erie. The three American schooners, "Ohio", "Somers" and "Porcupine" each with 30 men under Lieutenant Conkling, were anchored just at the outlet of the lake to cover the flank of the works at Fort Erie.

This would be no easy task as the British had to bring five boats overland from Frenchman's Creek and one boat overland twenty-five miles from Queenston. In addition to this they had to cut a trail eight miles through forest wilderness to get their boats to Lake Erie.

With this complete, on August 12th 1814, seventy British seaman and marines under the command of Captain Alexander T. Dobbs made their way towards the U.S. ships disguised as supply boats. Between 11 and 12 p.m. the boats were discovered a short distance ahead of the "Somers" and hailed. They answered "provision boats" which deceived the officer on deck. Before he discovered his mistake the boats drifted across his hawse, cut his cables and ran him aboard with a volley of musketry, which wounded two men. Before the others could get on deck the schooner was captured. In another moment the British were along side the "Ohio" Lieutenant Conkling's vessel. Here the people hurried on deck, and there was a short but tough struggle, in which the British lost their second in command Lieutenant Copleston Radcliffe R.N. and one seaman killed and six seamen and marines wounded. On board the "Ohio" Lieutenant Conkling and Sailing-master M. Cally were shot down, one seaman killed and four wounded. The "Porcupine" was untouched and slipped away making no effort to interfere with the British.

The two captured ships entered the Royal Navy under the names "Saulk" and "Huron".

CLICK HERE to see the plaque of this action on the wall of Fort Erie

CLICK HERE to see the plaque of this action in the town of Crystal Beach Ontario, Canada.