USS Superior

Superior! The USS Superior and America's First Arms Race, 1814.

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136 pp.
ISBN: 978-0-9882705-0-3

On a moonless night in April 1814, three open boats felt their way across the frigid waters of Black River Bay at the eastern end of Lake Ontario. Furtively they snaked their way past guard boats and small ice floes that still snarled the harbor. They were on a dangerous mission: to bring fire into the belly of the U.S. Navy’s stronghold at Sackets Harbor, New York. British Admiral Sir James Yeo hoped to cripple the American Navy with a single thrust to the heart; to destroy the one ship that could pitch the balance of naval power back to America once more, the USS Superior.

Anyone wagering on the outcome of the war in the spring of 1814 would have thought twice about betting on the Americans. The nation was bankrupt, New England was speaking openly of secession, and Britain—her war against Napoleon won—was about to bring the full weight of her economic and military power to bear on her upstart former colony. One part of her strategy: invade the United States from the north, separate New England from the rest of the country, and demand large chunks of American territory at the peace talks.

Victory—for either side—depended on control of Lake Ontario. Now America’s first arms race came down to one ship. Commodore Isaac Chauncey was determined to finish her at all costs. His British enemy was equally determined to stop him. Chauncey would have to wage a desperate battle—against weather and wilderness, civilian resistance and spies, the bureaucratic incompetence and corruption of his own Navy, and the mightiest navy in the world—to launch the USS Superior!