Commodore Issac Chauncey behaved at his boldest during the late fall of 1812. With his flagship, the USS Oneida and one other ship, he hovered off Kingston to intercept british vessels.
At dawn, on November ??, he discovered that the HMS Royal George and 2 British schooners were anchored 5 miles away. This was too big of a force for him, and he sailed south hoping but scarcely expecting to escape an attack on him.
Although the British lookouts could hardly have failed to see Chauncey, they did not make a move on them. Such conduct convinced him that the british were not eager to fight. He kept his eyes open for an opportunity.
When word reached Chauncey that the 3 principal British warships had gone westward to reinforce Fort George, he gathered a large detachment and laid in wait off Kingston for the ships to return. Although outgunned and outnumbered, he relied on the dispersion of his guns among several ships and on their longer gun range to win a battle.
On November 8, the Americans sighted the Royal George alone and chased her into Kingston. On November 9, they followed her in at 3:00 P.M. and the USS Conquest, USS Julia, USS Pert, and USS Growler opened fire on the Royal George with their guns, while the Oneida held her fire for 40 minutes. The American ships forced Royal George to cut her cables and tie up to the wharf, where ground troops could assist her.
Chauncey ordered his gunners to direct their fire so as not to destroy Kingston. Whether he was being chivalrous or canny, to avoid later retaliation upon Sackett's harbor, is not known. The wind continued to blow inshore, and as dusk fell, he began to beat out into the lake. He anchored outside the harbor and prepared to renew the attack the next day on what he believed was a badly crippled ship.
On November 10, during the morning the onshore wind was unmanageable, and he beat back toward Sackett's Harbor. The Royal George, in fact, had only suffered injuries to her
rigging and the loss of 1 man killed and 8 men wounded. The Americans had 1 man killed and 3 wounded. A cannon had bursted on the Pert, wounding 4 more men. The sailing master was wounded by this explosion and in the heavy weather, he was washed overboard and drowned.
This battle was the only instance during the war that the American navy entered the harbor at Kingston. The penetration of the harbor demonstrated that the United States had control of Lake Ontario.