Now available in paperback…

Capital in Flames:
The American Attack on York, 1813
Robert Malcomson

Today’s Toronto was the frontier town of York when it suffered its most traumatic day. In April 1813, warships under U.S. Commodore Isaac Chauncey landed 1,700 soldiers near today’s CNE grounds and General Zebulon Pike led them into battle against British, Canadian and native defenders commanded by General Sir Roger Sheaffe.

In mid-battle a mighty explosion ripped the earth open and rattled windows 40 miles away, killing or wounding nearly 300. Though the Americans had taken York, they were disappointed as the vessels they hoped to seize were not there and supplies they hoped to capture were destroyed. Discipline broke down and gangs of invaders looted and burned public buildings – and the loyalty of some citizens came into question. The town suffered a trauma few of its inhabitants would forget, and the much-criticized Sheaffe never again saw active service.

This is the first book devoted to this major event in the history of Toronto. Not only does it recount the events in detail but it also provides a portrait of the young town at the time – its life, its appearance, its citizens, its politics.

Robert Malcomson’s books Lords of the Lake: The Naval War on Lake Ontario, 1812-1814; Warships of the Great Lakes: 1754-1834; and Capital in Flames: The American Attack on York, 1813 all won the John Lyman Book Award for Canadian maritime or naval history. With his brother, he co-wrote HMS Detroit: The Battle for Lake Erie. To the great sorrow of his family, friends and historians of the War of 1812, Robert Malcomson died in 2009.


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