Capture of USS Somers and USS Ohio
August 12, 1814, Fort Erie, U.S. side
In one of the last naval actions on the Great Lakes, the British planned to capture 3 U.S. schooners lying off American held Fort Erie. The 3 American schooners, the USS Ohio, USS Somers, and the USS Porcupine, each with 30 men under Lt. Conkling, were anchored just at the outlet of the lake to cover the flank of the works at Fort Erie.
This would be no easy task as the British had to bring 5 boats overland from Frenchman's Creek and one boat overland 25 miles from Queenston. In addition to this, they had to cut a trail 8 miles through forest wilderness to get their boats to Lake Erie.
With this complete, on August 12, 70 British seaman and marines, under the command of Capt. Alexander T. Dobbs, made their way towards the American ships disguised as supply boats. Between 11:00 P.M. and 12:00 P.M., the boats were discovered a short distance ahead of the Somers and hailed. They answered "provision boats", which deceived the officer on deck. Before he discovered his mistake, the boats drifted across his hawse, cut his cables and ran him aboard with a volley of musketry, which wounded 2 men.
Before the others could get on deck, the schooner was captured. In another moment, the British were along side the Ohio, Lt. Conkling's vessel. Here, the people hurried on deck, and there was a short but tough struggle, in which the British lost their second in command, Lt. Copleston Radcliffe R.N. and one seaman killed and 6 seamen and marines wounded. On board the Ohio, Conkling and Sailing-master M. Cally were shot down, 1 seaman killed and 4 wounded.
The Porcupine was untouched and slipped away making no effort to interfere with the British.
The 2 captured ships entered the Royal Navy under the names HMS Saulk and HMS Huron.