HMS Hunter (1805)

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For other ships with the same name, see HMS Hunter.
United Kingdom
Name: HMS Hunter
Builder: William Bell at Fort Amherstburg Royal Naval Shipyard, Lake Erie
Laid down: 1806
Launched: Late 1806 or early 1807
Captured: By U.S. Navy September 1813
United States
Name: U.S. Army Transport Hunter
Acquired: September 1813
Fate: Forced ashore in a violent gale on 19 August 1816
Notes: Hull still buried under the sand of Southampton beach in Ontario. Fully excavated in 2004 with all artifacts - and ship replica - now on display in the Bruce County Museum and Cultural Centre, Southampton, Ontario
General characteristics
Type: 10-gun brig
Tons burthen: 93 tons
Length: 54 ft (16 m)
Beam: 18 ft (5.5 m)
Depth of hold: 8 ft (2.4 m)
Propulsion: Sail
Sail plan: Brig-Rigged on two masts
Complement: 28
  • Ten guns
    • 4 × 6-pounder long guns
    • 2 × 4-pounder long guns
    • 2 × 2-pounder long guns
    • 2 × 12-pounder carronades

HMS Hunter was a 10-gun brig of the Upper Canada Provincial Marine then, in 1813, the Royal Navy. She was built in 1806[1] at the Fort Amherstburg King's Navy Ship Yard in Amherstburg, Ontario.[2] During her first six years she served on the Upper Great Lakes as a Provincial Marine patrol and transport vessel. After the War of 1812 began, General Hunter took part in a number of successful engagements, including the capture of Detroit in 1812. As part of the British/Canadian Squadron under Commander Robert Heriot Barclay, and captained by Royal Navy Lieutenant George Bignell, General Hunter – now a Royal Navy Vessel – took part in the Battle of Lake Erie in September 1813. She was captured along with the rest of the British/Canadian squadron during the battle.

During her lifetime General Hunter had various armament configurations, but, at the Battle of Lake Erie, she carried two 6-pound, four 4-pound and two 2-pound cannons and two 12-pound carronades, for a total 10 guns.

After the war, General Hunter was sold to a private owner in the U.S., then was soon purchased by the U.S. Army to become a supply vessel serving on the Upper Lakes. In August 1816, returning in ballast from Michilimakinac at the northern end of Lake Huron, she was caught in a violent gale, and the crew was forced to beach her on the Canadian side of the lake at what is now Southampton, Ontario. The ship master, seven crew members and two young passengers were all able to get safely ashore and soon after sailed and rowed the ship's boat safely back to Detroit. The shipwreck site was later quietly salvaged by U.S. Army vessels which had been dispatched to the site. Following the salvaging the hull remains were abandoned and soon were buried under the sand. Several ship frames pushed up through the sand of Southampton Beach in 2001 and a series of archaeological excavations revealed the presence of a large part of the hull of General Hunter buried just a metre or two under the beach sand. A full interior excavation of the hull in 2004 provided hundreds of artifacts – including a one-pound swivel cannon (probably a signal gun) – which have all been conserved and restored by the Canadian Conservation Institute in Ottawa. The artifacts and a 34-size ship deck replica of General Hunter are on display at the Bruce County Museum and Cultural Centre in Southampton, Ontario.


  1. ^ Cassavoy, Kenneth, "Cast Away on the Canadian Shore," in "Coffins of the Brave", Kevin J. Crisman (ed.), Texas A&M University Press, 2014. Page 68, endnote 2.
  2. ^ Malcolmson, Robert, Warships of the Great Lakes: 1754–1834, Chatham Publishing, Rochester, UK 2001. Pages 53-54.