Victory in the War of 1812 depended on which side controlled Lake Ontario
James Yeo joined the Royal Navy when he was 10 and earned a rapid rise in promotions spurred on by a stunning series of military successes.
In 1810, King George III knighted him. Just 31, Yeo assumed command of the Provincial Marine in Upper Canada on May 5, 1813. His daunting task was to wrest control of the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain from American Commodore Isaac Chauncey’s fleet.
Previously under army command, the Provincial Marine had been manned by local sailors. Despite adding 465 Royal Navy officers and ratings, Yeo still considered his force woefully insufficient “to man the squadron” on Lake Ontario. Yet, it was essential that “a general action must take place as every military operation or success...