In the spring of 1813 a flotilla of Navy ships set sail from Sackets Harbor under the command of Captain Isaac Chauncy, carrying an army of 1,700 troops under the command of General Zebulon Pike. Their mission was to capture Fort York , located at the western end of Lake Ontario (present day Toronto). Fort York was still under construction at that time, being defended by 700 troops, half of them local militia and Indians, under the command of Major General Shaeffe.
The American force advanced along the beach with the support of naval gunfire from Captain Chauncey's ships. General Pike's field guns landed and opened fire on British positions. The local militia began to retreat from the defensive works. General Shaeffe ordered his regulars to withdraw. Leaving the flag flying over the fort, he marched his men away towards Kingston, advising the militia commanders to make contact with the Americans and negotiate best terms for surrender that they could. He then sent men to set fire to a war ship under construction in the harbor and to blow up the stone powder magazine located in the fort. Shaeffe had left the flag flying over the fort in order to fool the Americans into believing that the fort was still garrisoned. As the Americans made there way into the fort, the stone magazine exploded with such a force as to rain stone and timber down upon the Americans who in itsí vicinity. General Pike's back and chest were crushed, twenty-eight of his men were killed outright, and over two hundred were wounded. General Pike was carried out to Chauncey's flagship, the new U.S.S. Madison, where he died. General Henry Dearborn, a Revolutionary War Veteran, landed and took personal command ashore. At the end of the day, Fort York was in American hands. 150 British had been killed and 290 were taken prisoner. The Americans suffered 320 casualties, most of those caused by the exploding magazine. After five days, The Americans departed Fort York, burning it to the ground as well as local parliament buildings.
From this victory, the United States began gaining naval control of the Great Lakes.