Friday, April 27, 2012
On April 27, 1813 America scored a major victory in the War of 1812 when it invaded and claimed York, the site of what would become Toronto. The United States launched some 15 ships carrying 1600-1800 troops that landed 3 miles west of the town, beating British-led forces that included Aboriginal allies a company of light infantry who were dispatched to fight off a landing. British forces were delayed, however, and the Americans managed to land and secure high ground, holding off the attack and allowing more American forces to land, overwhelming the defenders. Within hours, American troops were attacking York itself. Though it was then the capital of Upper Canada, the city was poorly defended. With defeat looming, British regular soldiers pulled out leaving the town to be defended by the militia. But on exit, the Brits blew up a gunship under construction and a stone storage building for ammunition. Stone from the building injured and killed several Americans, including General Zebulon Pike, who led the landing. The British lost 82 with 43 wounded and 274 captures. The Americans lost 55 men with 265 wounded.
Today, the U.S. Navy is hoping to make use of the centennial of the War of 1812 to improve its lackluster image. A recent Gallup Poll revealed that less than 9 percent of Americans understand the purpose of the Navy, according to the Washington Post. Since the Navy played such a seminal role during the War of 1812, it is hoping to use the opportunity for some positive PR. Over the next three years, the Navy will hold bicentennial events in 15 other cities including New York, Chicago and Baltimore. The first was already held in New Orleans on April 19. “This is a fantastic opportunity for our Sailors and Marines to tell their story, and the story of the sea services,” said Capt. Gary M. Boardman, commanding officer of the USS Wasp that was in New Orleans. “I would like my Sailors to reflect back on what we as a Navy accomplished back in 1812 and look at how far we have come.”