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HMS Little Belt (1812)

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Title: HMS Little Belt (1812)  
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Subject: Battle of Lake Erie, Fort Mackinac, Stephen Champlin, Navy Island Royal Naval Shipyard
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HMS Little Belt (1812)

Name: Friends Good Will
Builder: Oliver Williams, River Rouge
Laid down: 1811
Launched: 1811
Captured: 17 July 1812
Fate: captured as prize of war
Career (UK)
Name: HMS Little Belt
Namesake: HMS Little Belt
Acquired: 17 July 1812 (by capture)
Captured: 10 September 1813
Name: USS Little Belt
Acquired: 10 September 1813 (by capture)
Commissioned: 23 October 1813
Fate: Burned by British landing party, 30 December 1813
General characteristics
Class & type: sloop-of-war
Tons burthen: 672594 (bm)(By calc.).[Note 1]
Length: 59 ft 0 in (17.98 m)[2]
Beam: 16 ft 0 in (4.88 m)[2]
Depth of hold: 7 ft 0 in (2.13 m)[2]
Propulsion: Sails
Sail plan: Bermuda sloop
Complement: 18
Armament: 1 x 9 or 12-pounder gun + 2 x 6-pounder guns
For other ships of the same name, see HMS Little Belt.

HMS Little Belt was the mercantile sloop Friends Good Will, launched in 1811, which the British captured shortly after the start of the War of 1812. The British took her into service as Little Belt, armed her with three guns, and incorporated her into the Royal Navy's Lake Erie fleet. The USS Scorpion captured her during the Battle of Lake Erie and the Americans took her into service under her existing name. A storm drove her ashore in October 1813 and a British expeditionary force burnt her in December 1813.


In 1811, Major Oliver Williams built her at River Rouge, near Detroit. She then sailed on the Great Lakes in pursuit of his business. She was sailing from Chicago to Detroit under the command of Master William Lee, with Williams aboard as supercargo, having delivered military supplies to Fort Dearborn from Fort Michilimackinac and bringing back a consignment of furs from the government agent there when Lee put in at the fort on July 17, 1812.[3] Unfortunately, in their absence, the British had captured the fort earlier the same day.[4] Shortly after the British captured the fort several American vessels, including Friends Good Will, sailed up, unaware of the commencement of the war, or the fort's capture. The British hoisted the American flag and when the vessels tied up the pier the British captured them as prizes of war. In addition to Friends Good Will, the British captured Chippewa, which they took into service as HMS Chippeway, and the Mary and the Salina, which they sent to Detroit as cartels with the prisoners they had taken at the fort and from the vessels.

The British took Friends Good Will into service as HMS Little Belt, armed her with three guns, and appointed Lieutenant John F. Breman to command her. She joined Captain James Barclay’s squadron on Lake Erie shortly after her capture.

On 12 September 1813, off Put-in-Bay, Ohio, the schooner Scorpion of Captain Oliver Hazard Perry’s squadron captured Little Belt during the Battle of Lake Erie. Little Belt brought up the rear of the British squadron and did come under fire. When it was clear that the British had lost, she unsuccessfully attempted to escape.[1] Little Belt sustained no casualties during the action.[5]

Following repairs, she was fitted for service in the U.S. Navy and joined Perry’s squadron 23 October to help transport General William Henry Harrison’s army to Buffalo. Little Belt cruised Lake Erie through the latter part of 1813 in support of American troops fighting the British and Indians in western New York.


A storm in October 1813 drove Little Belt ashore at Black Rock, New York, (now a neighborhood of Buffalo, NY). All efforts to refloat her failed. Then on 30 December a British landing party captured the Navy yard at Black Rock during the Battle of Buffalo,[6] and burnt her and several other vessels there.

See also

  • Friends Good Will. This is a working American reproduction that the Michigan Maritime Museum maintains and operates.
  • For a longer article on the history of Friends Good Will see the Michigan Maritime Museum website at:[1]




  • DANFS - Little Belt: This article incorporates text from the here.
  • Ellis, Franklin (1880) History of Shiawassee and Clinton counties, Michigan. (D.W. Ensign).
  • Mansfield, John Brandt (1899) History of the Great lakes .... (J. H. Beers & co.).
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