HMS Psyche

“The Royal Navy’s Psyche on Lake Ontario: A British Experiment with Prefabricated Warships in the War of 1812,” The Journal of Military History, Vol. 86, No. 2 (April 2022): 321-343.

During the War of 1812, the British Royal Navy attempted to transport four prefabricated warships in pieces from England to be reassembled for service on Lake Ontario. Of the four, only the 56-gun frigate HMS Psyche completed its journey. This paper explores the historical and technical background of this project and reconstructs how British and Canadian seamen, militia, and private contractors hauled a deconstructed warship up the St. Lawrence River, often within cannon range of the American shore. Once regarded as an example of the imbecility of the British Admiralty, a closer look reveals a clearer picture of the capabilities and institutional limitations of the Royal Navy in the Napoleonic Era.

William Charles, “John Bull Making a New Batch of Ships for the Lakes” 24 October 1814
[LC-DIG-ppmsca-10753, courtesy of the Library of Congress]