The brig ONEIDA was launched on lake Ontario in 1809.
These are the men responsible in bringing it forth.
To enforce the trade restrictions, President Jefferson ordered the building of two gunboats on Lake Champlain and a ship of war to be built on Lake Ontario. Secretary of the Navy, Robert Smith, ordered Naval Lieutenant Melancthon Woolsey to supervise the construction. In a letter dated July 19, 1808, Woolsey is working out a contract with Christian Bergh and Henry Eckford. The next letter Woolsey sent to the secretary of the Navy on July 26 1808, included a copy of that contract for the ONEIDA. A short time later, Woolsey writes to Robert Smith informing him that he received $1,900.00 from the Navy for the use of the gunboats on the lakes. Lieutenant Woolsey was now ready to undertake the building of the war ship. In a letter dated August 6,1808 he informed Robert Smith that he will be leaving for Lake Ontario. Henry Eckford and his crew of shipwrights were to follow with materials and supplies. The keel of the ONEIDA was laid down in September of 1808. Materials used for the building of the ship were of the best White Oak. The following three letters to the Secretary of the Navy dated January 22 , 29 and February 26 report on the progress of construction of the ONEIDA. In these Woolsey expressed his concerns for the raised forecastle mounting a 32-pound long gun. The ONEIDA’s hull was finished in January, fitted out in February and launched on March 31, 1809.
When completed the Oneida set sail for the Naval station at Sacketts Harbor. At some point during the year of 1810 Woolsey dismounted the 32-pound long gun from the Oneida and set it on the shore at Sacketts Harbor. His intentions were to mount it on another vessel the Julia. Over time the big black cannon sank into the muddy ooze of the lakeshore until the carriage all but disappeared into the mud. All that could be seen was the black cannon. The people of Sacketts Harbor thought the cannon looked like a big fat pig in the mud so the residents of the town nicked named the cannon "Old Sow".
As the war of 1812 approached, the British blockaded Sacketts Harbor where the ONEIDA lay at anchor. The British sent out a shore party with a note demanding the surrender of the ONEIDA or she would be shot to pieces and the town burned. Woolsey refused to turn over the ONEIDA. He positioned her at the entrance to the harbor with a full broadside of carronades facing the British ships. He then proceeded to remove the other broadside of carronades and placed them in a battery on shore. When these were in place he moved the ONEIDA out of harms way. The shore battery and the British ships exchanged gunfire for hours.The story goes the good people of Sacketts Harbor observing Sunday morning mass prayed for just one shot to end the engagement between the town and the British. Call it divine intervention or just plain luck but the British fired one of their 32-pound cannons. The ball landed within feet of the "Old Sow". One of the men manning the shore battery salvaged the ball and loaded it in the Old Sow. Taking aim he shouted " Lets see now if they can catch back again".In a mighty blast of smoke and fire the Old Sow sent the British ball crashing through the stern of the ROYAL GEORGE raking the deck from stern to stem, killing 14 men and wounding 18. Cheers rang out for the Old Sow as the British squadron turned about and left Sacketts Harbor.