The Niagara RiverHistoric Events: War of 1812 Approximately 2000 feet northwest from this spot, in the Niagara River, lies the remains of a (War of 1812) battleship. The vessel was identified as the U.S.S. Adams, also known as the H.M.S. Detroit. The ship, discovered in 1963, lies approximately nineteen feet underwater. The 50-foot long ship had a double planked oak hull, multiple cannons, and 22 musket rifles. The 100-ton American vessel was constructed in 1802 in Detroit, Michigan. The ship was commissioned by the U.S. Government as the U.S.S. Adams and was put under the command of General William Hull. After the war had commenced in June 1812, a battle occurred between American and British forces in Detroit. British troops claimed victory and captured the U.S.S. Adams (1). The vessel was re-commissioned as a British warship, renamed H.M.S. Detroit in commemoration of the British victory at Detroit, and was sailed to Fort Erie, Ontario, Canada (1). On October 8th, 1812, U.S. Navy Lieutenant Jesse D. Elliot commenced an operation to recapture the H.M.S. Detroit stationed at Fort Erie (2). The swift operation was conducted in the dark of night and came as a complete surprise to the British. U.S. Navy Lieutenant Elliot successfully captured the H.M.S. Detroit and the H.M.S. Caledonia (2). The Caledonia
was safely docked in Black Rock Harbor, re-commissioned as U.S.S. Caledonia, and was later utilized by the American naval forces against the British in the Battle of Lake Erie, September 1813 (2). The American's [sic] were unable to hold the H.M.S. Detroit against the strong Niagara River currents. The ship drifted to the western side of Squaw (Unity) Island, leaving the vessel exposed to British cannon fire. In response, the American's [sic] anchored the ship at Squaw (Unity) Island to escape the assault. To prevent the British from retaking the ship, the Americans set fire to the vessel, cut the anchor line, and let the ship flow north on the Niagara River eventually meeting its final resting place (2). Sources: 1. Buffalo Historical Society, Publications of the Buffalo Historical Society, (Buffalo: Frank H. Severance, 1899). 2. John B. Mansfield, History of the Great Lakes, (Chicago: J.H. Beers & Co., 1899). Nautical Information Harbor Channel Niagara River Currents Niagara River Facts Average flow at the southern end - passing under International Peace Bridge - is 5-10 MPH Average flow in the upper rapids before Niagara Falls is 35-45 MPH The Niagara River drains an area of 254,708 square miles. This area includes the upper Great Lakes of Superior, Huron, and Michigan.