The Napoleonic Wars and the War of 1812

The Americans Attack Upper Canada

American Raid on York

The death of U.S. General Pike at the battle of York, 27 April 1813

Caption: The death of U.S. General Pike at the battle of York, 27 April 1813

Since the autumn of 1812, the American navy had been completing considerable work at Sackets Harbor. In the spring of 1813 its squadron, under the command of Commodore Isaac Chauncey, became the most powerful on Lake Ontario. This allowed General Dearborn to order a contingent of 1, 700 regular soldiers of the Chauncey fleet to attack York (Toronto). On April 27, although it had defended itself honourably, the small garrison of approximately 200 soldiers, supported by 500 militiamen and 50 Amerindians, had to withdraw. But the victory was to cost the Americans dearly. Not long after they had entered the city, a powder magazine exploded accidentally, causing the death of Brigadier Zebulon Montgomery Pike, a promising and highly-rated officer, along with 38 soldiers. The explosion also injured 222 men. The American losses totalled approximately 320 dead and wounded. Dearborn, who initially believed that this amounted to a betrayal by the British, turned a blind eye to the pillaging of the city by the soldiers and sailors. They did show respect for the women - there were no rapes reported afterward – and pillaged only houses that had been abandoned by their occupants. Before leaving, the Americans burned down Parliament and all public buildings.