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Lords of the Lake: The Naval War on Lake Ontario, 1812-1814 1st Edition
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The book is not just a naval history, and does not overly concentrate on details of construction of the ships involved. At most times it would appear that providing crews for the fleets was more of a concern than the construction of ships. The book does a fine job illustrating the interaction of the land and naval arms and also the impact of events elsewhere such as on Lake Erie and Lake Champlain. Detailed accounts of the battles at Sackett's Point, Oswego, Sandy Creek, York and the 1813 campaign to Montreal are provided, as well as the many potential fleet actions on the lake, and more minor fleet activities. The struggles of both sides' commanders with their superiors, and the management challenges some of their underlings provided, are also covered, again, in what I found to be just sufficient detail to help keep the writing entertaining and evocative of the period.
I have read quite a bit on the War of 1812, and I still found much to learn from reading this book. I highly recommend it.
The story of the 'naval war' on Lake Ontario is a strange one. The British commander, Sir James Yeo, built an excellent fleet, and never really sought decisive action against his foe, American Isaac Chauney, who more than obliged him, apparently believing that to save his hard-built fleet was more important than hunting down and destroying his enemy, in the words of the immortal John Paul Jones, seeking a fast ship (or ships) and going 'in harm's way.'
In cold fact, Yeo didn't have to. By denying the Americans the control of Lake Ontario, he accomplished his mission. By not seeking decisive combat, Chauncey denied his country a strategic advantage, at the same time starving his very competent and aggressive subordinate, Oliver Perry on Lake Erie, experienced seamen and assets to build an overwhelming superiority on that other lake, which didn't stop him from winning the decisive victory at Put-in-Bay. It would have been interesting to see Perry command on Ontario against Yeo afterwards.
This book is highly recommended and belongs on every history buff's bookshelf, whether or not he or she is a War of 1812 enthusiast. It is another piece of the puzzle that is American militiary history.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Robert Malcolmson weaves a lifetime of painstaking research into a thrilling nautical narrative.
The naval war on Lake Ontario is one of history's great might-have-beens. Read more