In the spring of 1812 there were over 34 schooners in merchant service on Lake Ontario, transporting people and cargo. These small vessels carried 50-100 tons of cargo. Larger vessels were impractical since most lake port entries were shallow.
When war broke out, the only U.S. naval vessel on Lake Ontario was the 18-gun brig Oneida. Commodore Isaac Chauncey purchased 11 schooners and armed them to support the Oneida.
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