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The Capture of York

  • Fort York National Historic Site 250 Fort York Boulevard Toronto, ON, M5V 3K9 Canada (map)

On 27 April 1813, the U.S. Army and Navy attacked York with 2700 men on fourteen ships and schooners, armed with eighty-five cannon. The defending force of 750 British, Canadians, Mississaugas, and Ojibways had twelve cannon.

The Americans stormed ashore west of the fort under the cover of their naval guns. The defenders put up a strong fight, but fell back to Fort York from the landing site in the face of overwhelming odds. The British commander, Major-General Sir Roger Sheaffe, then retreated eastward and blew up the fort's gunpowder magazine (located near today's Memorial Area). The explosion was devastating: 250 Americans fell dead or wounded from its blast, including their field commander, Brigadier-General Zebulon Pike. Total losses in the six-hour battle were 157 British and 320 Americans.

The Mississaugas and Ojibways withdrew into the forest, Sheaffe's professional troops retreated to Kingston, and the local militia surrendered the town. The Americans occupied York for six days. They looted homes, took or destroyed supplies, and burned Government House and the Parliament Buildings (near today's Front and Parliament streets).

Earlier Event: March 12
March Break Camp
Later Event: May 5
Battle of Longwoods