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December 19 1812: Prevost on Naval Superiority

On December 19, 1812, Sir George Prevost from Castle St. Lewis, Quebec writes to Captain Gray.


Sir George Prevost to Captain A. Gray.
Castle St. Lewis, Quebec, 19th Dec, 1812.

Sir,—I have rec'd your letters of the 3d and 11th inst., containing your report upon the state of the marine of the Upper Province, together with your suggestions upon the most effectual mode of obtaining and preserving a naval superiority on the lakes.

I am fully aware both from your representation and from what I have heard from other quarters of the low and inefficient state of our naval establishment in the Upper Province, and of the necessity of the most vigorous exertions to place it upon the footing that shall enable us with any hope or prospect of success to meet the enemy in that quarter.
I have therefore made the strongest representations to His Majesty's Gov't. at home what has been said by Sir John Warren of the necessity of an immediate supply of officers and men for the ships now on the lakes and those to be built. Mr. Plucknett, an experienced officer in the King's naval yards, has been appointed as superintendent of the dockyards, and the work to be carried on for the construction of the new vessels, and has already proceeded, together with 120 shipwrights and carpenters, to Upper Canada. Thirty-four seamen are also on their way to you, and the Asst. Qr.-Master General has been directed to procure as many more as can be obtained, and g. a. for the supply of shipwrights and carpenters will also be sent to you if required.

With these aids you will be enabled to enter upon the execution of the plan you have submitted, and of which I approve, of laying down at York a ship burthen and mounting 30-32 pr. carronades, and two vessels of the class of the Royal George—the one at Kingston and the other at Amherstburg.

For the security of the vessels now on Lake Ontario and to guard ag[ains]t any attempt of the enemy to destroy them when the navigation opens, I have directed a long 18 pr. and 2-12 to be forwarded from Quebec and two twelves from Montreal as soon as it can be done consistent with the other services going on, Mr. Clark having this day commanded the transporting for that port of the ordnance stores necessary for the two 18-gun vessels. [Erased] a company of the 49th, with a proportion of artillery, have been ordered for Kingston and York, and their places will be supplied by a company of the Glengarrys and a detach[men]t of artillery from Montreal.*

These precautionary measures will, I think, be sufficient to ensure the safety of our shipp[in]g on the lake until the expected reinforcements of naval officers and men arrive from England or Halifax.

With regard to your plan for the destruction of the enemy's naval force in Sackett's Harbor, it will require some consideration

*I have also given instructions for the building of blockhouses at Kingston, Prescott, and Chippawa.

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