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Sir Isaac Brock

Sir Isaac Brock

Brock, Sir Isaac, 1769-1812, British general, Canadian hero of the War of 1812. A British army officer, he was sent to Canada in 1802 and was given command (1806) of Upper and Lower Canada. He strengthened defenses and made plans for a navy. In 1811 he was made major general and was appointed administrator of Upper Canada. At the outbreak of war, Brock joined forces with Tecumseh on the Western frontier and moved against Detroit. He captured Gen. William Hull's army (1812) and gained control of the upper lakes. For this he received a knighthood and the title "hero of Upper Canada." After Detroit he successfully defended Queenston Heights on the Niagara frontier, but was killed while leading a charge.

See study by S. H. Adams (1957).

HMS Sir Isaac Brock was a warship which was destroyed before being completed at York, Upper Canada during the War of 1812. The ship was named after the famed hero of the war, Sir Isaac Brock.

At the end of 1812, the British learned that the Americans were building warships at Sackett's Harbor, New York, and laid down two sloops of war in response. Construction of the Sir Isaac Brock began at York.

The new ship was a sister ship to HMS Wolfe, a frigate being built at Kingston. Although construction on both ships began around the same time, as the end of April, 1813 approached, the Wolfe was very nearly ready to be launched while the Sir Isaac Brock was still many weeks away from being complete. The Sir Isaac Brock was partially planked on its starboard side and not even close to that far along on its port side. Most of the responsibility for the delay in readiness could be laid on the shoulders of shipyard Superintendent Thomas Plucknett.

It had a registered weight of 637 tons, and was rated as having 24 guns. In fact, the rating system often omitted carronades, and the Sir Isaac Brock would have had 30 guns or even more in service. (The Wolfe was completed with a medley of whatever guns were available).

Late in the afternoon 26 April, 1813, the American flotilla was sighted off York, with a strong embarked force of infantry and artillerymen. The next day, the Battle of York was fought. The outnumbered British regulars and militia were forced to fall back. The Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada, Major General Roger Hale Sheaffe, ordered his men to retreat to Kingston, but also dispatched officers to set the Isaac Brock on fire to prevent it falling intact into enemy hands.

The Americans were enraged to find that ship had apparently been set ablaze while negotiations for surrender with the local militia were still taking place. When eventually, a surrender was arranged, the Sir Isaac Brock had been reduced to charred timbers.

After the sacking of the town of York in April and the burning of Newark (present-day Niagara on the Lake) in December, the British would respond the next year with the burning of Washington.

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