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Battle of York

History -- Military history -- List of battles

The Battle of York was a battle of the War of 1812 on April 27, 1813, at what is now Toronto, Ontario.

Battle of York
ConflictWar of 1812
DateApril 27, 1813
PlaceToronto, Ontario
ResultAmerican victory
Canadian militia
United States
Roger SheaffeIsaac Chauncey
Henry Dearborn
Zebulon Pike
The Americans planned on sailing from Sackett's Harbor across Lake Ontario to Kingston, but the British learned of the plan and sent reinforcements from New Brunswick. Although Kingston was more important from a military perspective, Commodore Isaac Chauncey and General Henry Dearborn planned instead to sail to York.

British General Roger Sheaffe saw the Americans coming, but was unsure of their landing spot; the fleet landed west of York on April 27. Unfortunately Sheaffe's troops did not arrive at the landing site before the approximately 2000 American troops had already come ashore. Dearborn placed Brigadier-General Zebulon Pike in charge of the landing.

Under fire from the much larger American force, Sheaffe's troops retreated back into Fort York. When Sheaffe realized he couldn't stop the Americans he blew up the hundreds of barrels of gunpowder in the fort and set fire to the HMS Sir Isaac Brock, which was being constructed in the harbour. The explosion mortally wounded General Pike. Sheaffe then retreated, leaving the York militia to surrender.

The Americans pillaged and burned York, and captured supplies meant for use on Lake Erie and the Detroit frontier. Although this allowed for the success at the Battle of Lake Erie later in 1813, the attack also helped provoke the burning of Washington, D.C in 1814. The United States, in failing to attack and take Kingston, never gained full control over Upper Canada; in fact, the Americans only held York for five days before abandoning it.