The long looked for naval engagement, a feature of the celebration, out people thought, would be the most startling ever witnessed in this section came off as advertised. The brig Hornet which was to cap the climax by burning and exploding after the engagement concluded, was towed out on the lake before dark and anchored about a half mile from the piers, on a line with the mouth of the harbor.
She presented a warlike appearance as her black hull with white ports rolled lazily in the sea and her top hamper described the arc of a circle. Soon after dark the fleet moved down the river and on to the lake, and headed by the cutter Manhattan, Captain Abbey, circled about the Hornet, passing close under the fore. Captain Scott, the commandant of Fort Ontario, opened the ball by firing three shots at the fleet and from that time to the close kept up a fire on the crafts from guns well manned.
The guns on the cutter were also well served, and spoke like those on the fort in no uncertain sound; but those on the vessels failed to speak as they should, and acted as though they needed the lawyer in Col. Sellers' play to make them "speak up." The sky rockets and Roman candles were good, but the supply seemed to be rather scanty for startling effect.
We have no desire to find fault with the naval engagement, but it was not all our fancy painted it. The Hornet did not burn as she ought to have burned, and the perverse craft refused to explode and disappear in a halo of glory, amid fire, water and smoke. it strikes us that the powder was not up to the standard, excepting that used by the gunners at the fort and on the cutter. The crowd, after watching the Hornet a long time to witness the finale, went home without reward.