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Subject > Armed Forces > Naval Forces and Merchant Navy

Date > 1800

Organization > National Defence

The Military Art of the American Northwest

Type: Document

War in the Pacific Northwest centred around the canoe, which could be up to 20 metres long. Flotillas of canoes would attack enemy villages, hoping to capture prisoners to keep as slaves. Coastal forts of cedar logs were to be found, used to help control and tax maritime trade.

Site: National Defence

Belmont Battery at Fort Rodd Hill, British Columbia

Type: Image

Built in 1898-1900 to protect the entrance to the Royal Navy (and later the Royal Canadian Navy) base on the Pacific, the battery has been restored to its appearance during the Second World War 1939-45. (Parks Canada)

Site: National Defence

American Withdrawal Leaves Towns Burning

Type: Document

When the British regained control of Lake Ontario in December 1813, the Americans had to move men to hold their shipyards at Sackets Harbor. Unable to hold Fort George, they burnt both it and the surrounding towns in mid-winter. A unit of Canadian traitors helped them in this cruelty.

Site: National Defence

Sailors, Royal Navy, circa 1800-1815

Type: Image

At the time of the War of 1812, sailors of the Royal Navy — like in most navies of the period — had no prescribed uniform. But in 1623, the Royal Navy adopted a system by which sailors could buy ‘Slop Clothing’ at a fixed price. Generally, the seamen's dress consisted of a blue double-breasted jacket, with brass or horn buttons, a short waistcoat — often red but it could be another colour, blue or white trousers, a round hat, a neckerchief — often black, stockings and shoes. Slop clothing was also avaliable in Canada. An advertisement in Halifax’s 'Nova Scotia Royal Gazette' of 24 November 1813 mentioned a ‘Complete assortment of Slop Cloathing, viz, Men and youth's fine Jackets and Trowsers, Scarlet and blue cloth Waistcoats, Woolen and cotton cord ditto [waistcoats], Striped Cotton and red Flannel Shirts, Great Coats, Pea and Flushing Jackets and Trowsers, men’s flannel drawers’, these later items to face the cold North Atlantic weather.

Site: National Defence

The Battle for the Northwest

Type: Document

American plans called for the recapture of Fort Mackinac in 1814. An attack was defeated by a British ambush in August. The Americans were able to destroy the famous British ship Nancy shortly thereafter, but lost two ships of their own on Lake Huron in September.

Site: National Defence

The fight of the USS Monitor and the CSS Virginia, Hampton Roads, Virginia, 9 March 1862

Type: Image

The naval battle between the Confederate States' heavily armed ironclad steamship CSS Virginia (the much altered former USS Merrimack) against the Union navy’s iron ship USS Monitor on 9 March 1862 caused a revolution in naval battle tactics. With its low profile and a rotating turret with only two guns, the Monitor prevailed over her opponent thus establishing the superiority of ships mounted with turrets. Military and political authorities in Canada and Britain followed these developments closely. Contemporary engraving.

Site: National Defence

Wreck of the steamboat Caroline near Niagara Falls, 29 December 1837

Type: Image

The destruction of the American steamboat Caroline in December 1837 caused a diplomatic storm between Britain and the United States. Canadian loyalist volunteers, commanded by a Royal Navy officer, mounted a raid across the border to capture the merchant ship that was supplying William Lyon Mackenzie's Canadian rebels on Navy Island. This 1838 aquatint suggests that the burning ship went over Niagara Falls, but in fact it ran around on a small island before this could happen. (Library and Archives Canada, C-004788)

Site: National Defence

Canadian Timber Now Vital to Britain

Type: Document

In 1806, developments in Europe made access to Canada crucial to Britain's survival. Emperor Napoleon's France blocked access to the Baltic, the traditional source of timber used in building ships for the Royal Navy. Canada was the only alternative source in British control.

Site: National Defence

Justice at the Muzzle of a Cannon

Type: Document

During the mid 19th century, outbreaks of piracy by Amerindians were met with strong responses by the Royal Navy. In one such incident in 1864, pirates murdered the crew of a merchant vessel. When the Navy arrived and met with armed resistance, 8 villages were burned.

Site: National Defence

British Raid on Sackets Harbor Fails

Type: Document

As the summer of 1813 progressed, the British regained control of Lake Ontario, and their fleet covered a landing at Sacket Harbour, the main American shipyard on the Lake. The British were beaten back with heavy losses by the defenders, led by General Jacob Brown.

Site: National Defence