Monday, September 1, 2014

Big Month for the Americans

I would kind of consider this a key turning point of the war for the United States, especially after the sacking and burning of Washington, D.C. a short time earlier.

The British were stopped at Baltimore by Fort McHenry and then, of course, Francis Scott Key wrote that poem which became a big song for the country.

The British were also stopped at Mobile, Alabama and the Battle of Plattsburgh/Lake Champlain.

These setbacks were paramount to the British deciding to stop the war at Ghent, Belgium.


USS Wasp vs, HMS Avon

On September 1, 1814, three was a battle off the coast of England between the sloop USS Wasp and sloop HMS Avon.  The Wasp won, but was unable to take the Avon as a prize because of the arrival of other British warships.

However, the badly battered Avon sank before the British could secure it.


200 Years Ago: USS Wasp Captures HMS Avon, British Plattsburg Campaign Begins


The USS Wasp captures the HMS Avon.

The British capture Castine, Maine.

The British Army, with a force of over 10,000 men and led by Governor General Sir George Prevost, begin crossing the border into New York on their way to Plattsburg.


Saturday, August 30, 2014

200 Years Ago: Battle of Caulk's Field, Maryland

AUGUST 30, 1814:  Captain Sir Peter Parker is killed leading a British naval landing party near Chestertown, Maryland.  They are repulsed and the event will become known as "The Battle of Caulk's Field."

I have written a lot about OPeter parker and this battle.  Click on the labels.


200 Years Ago: British Lake Champlain Campaign Begins

AUGUST 30, 1814:  The British Lake Champlain Campaign began.  British forces led by Governor general Sir George Prevost began their campaign to take Lake Champlain from American control.  This was a joint Army-Navy effort and failed at the Battle of Plattsburg on September 11th.


Nantucket Island Declares Its Neutrality

AUGUST 28TH, 1814:  Nantucket declares its neutrality. New England opposed the War of 1812 and there was even talk of secession because of it.  That never happened, but the island of Nantucket off Massachusetts did take the action of signing a peace treaty with the English Navy.

On this date, representatives of the island and British naval officers signed an agreement whereby Nantucket renounced all support for the United States for the duration of the war.

Part of the problem with Nantucket was its complete dependence on the sea and the British blockade which caused a great deal of hunger and bad times for its inhabitants.


Friday, August 29, 2014

British Naval Expedition to Alexandria, Va.

AUGUST 28TH, 1814:  A British naval expedition led by Captain James Alexander Gordon sails up the Potomac River to capture Alexandria, Virginia.  They capture 21 prize ships, and massive quantities of flour, cotton, tobacco, sugar, wine and other commodities.


Fort Washington, Maryland

I mentioned this fort on a previous post this week, and having never heard of it, did a quick search for more information.

From Wikipedia.

Fort Washington borders Washington, D.C. and today has a town by the same name around it.  It was built in 1809 and on completion, was the only defensive fortification protecting the city. The fort is a stone structure and is on the Potomac River.  During the War of 1812, it was captured by the British three days after they burned Washington (they attacked from land).

The British soon left the fort and 12 days later, Major Pierre L'Enfant (the designer of D.C.) was sent to rebuild it, but a short time later was replaced by Lt.Col. Walker K. Armistead and the fort was completed in 1824.  Remodeled in the 1840s and had its first cannons installed in 1846.

Walker Armistead's brother George commanded Fort McHenry during the British attack that led to "The Star-Spangled Banner" and his son, Lewis was a Confederate general killed at the Battle of Gettysburg during Pickett's Charge.

Before the war, it was manned by the 1st, 3rd and 4th U.S. Artillery regiments.

Except for a few cannons at the Washington Armory, Fort Washington was the only defense of the city until the Civil War.


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Edwardsville's Lusk Cemetery-- Part 3

Reuben Hopkins, Benjamin Stephenson and Thomas Tamil have new grave markers.

Hopkins died at age 75 in 1822.  He was a lawyer known as "The General."  Every 4th of July he read the Declaration of Independence at the annual celebration.  He enrolled in the American Army early in the Revolutionary War and was at Bunker Hill at age 28, rising through the ranks eventually to brigadier general.

Benjamin Stephenson signed the Kickapoo Indian Treaty and his home is a historical attraction at 409 South Buchanan.  He was a close personal friend of Ninian Edwards, Territorial Governor and for whom the town is named.

By the 1900s, Lusk Cemetery had fallen into disrepair and the city took it over in 1914.  The headstones were removed in the 1920s.  In the 1930s part of the cemetery was bulldozed for a Works Progress Administration road project.  More headstones were removed.

In 1961, the Lusk Cemetery Association was formed to keep it from becoming a park after the city announced plans to do that.  Their license expired in 1981 and the city took it over and it became a park.


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Edwardsville's Lusk Cemetery-- Part 2

Veterans buried at Lusk Cemetery (now Lusk Park)

REVOLUTIONARY WAR: Reuben Hopkins and John Tindall

WAR OF 1812: John Lusk and Benjamin Stephenson

BLACKHAWK WAR:  John Lusk and Martin Lusk
MEXICAN WAR   John W. Biggerstaff, Geo. C. Lusk, Richard G. Lewis and one unknown

CIVIL WAR: twelve veterans

WORLD WAR I:  two veterans.


Edwardsville's (Ill.) Lusk Cemetery

Last week on August 20th and 24th, I wrote about Colonel Benjamin Stephenson of the War of 1812 being buried at Lusk Cemetery in Edwardsville and how the colonel received a marker.

From the April 20, 2011, Edwardsville (Ill.) Intelligencer "Lush Cemetery among city's oldest" by Ann Niccum.

The cemetery is a 2.8 acre plot located at 536 Randle Street and is where prominent resident, early settlers and veterans of seven wars as well as circuit riders are buried.  It was established in 1818 about the time that Ebenezer Cemetery fell into disuse.  Lusk cemetery was one of the first in the area to use headstones instead of boulders.

It was named for John Thomas Lusk, one of Edwardsville's earliest settlers.  Lusk came to the area in 1805 and built the first hotel.  he and his family are buried at the cemetery.


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

200 Years Ago: August 26-27, 1814

AUGUST 26, 1814:  A British gunboat flotilla captures two American vessels on the St. Lawrence River, near Kingston, Upper Canada.

A joint army-navy expedition departs Halifax, Nova Scotia, for the invasion of the District of Maine.

AUGUST 27TH, 1864:  British occupy Point Lookout, Maryland.

The USS Wasp captures the HMS Avon in the waters south of Ireland.

The retreating garrison destroys Fort Washington, Maryland..


Monday, August 25, 2014

HMS Confiance is Launched at Ile aux Noix, Lower Canada

AUGUST 25TH, 1814:  Because of their ambitious 1813-1814 ship-building program, the Americans regained command of Lake Champlain.  In a bid to wrest back control of this waterway, Britain began laying down a large frigate at Ile aux Noix, Lower Canada.

Construction was delayed by a lack of supplies and the vessel was scarcely equipped in time for the Battle of Plattsburg Bay.

Armed with 37 guns, the Confiance would become Captain George Downie's flagship and, together with a number of smaller vessels also constructed at the naval yard, including gunboats and the brig HMS Linnett, made up the British fleet that fought at Plattsburg in which Downie died and his ship was captured.

The HMS Confiance was the largest ship on either side to sail on Lake Champlain during the war.


Saturday, August 23, 2014

200 Years Ago: The Battle of Bladensburg and Occupation of Washington, D.C.

AUGUST 24TH-25TH:  The British campaign in the Chesapeake Bay began in earnest on August 24th when the British entered Bladensburg, Maryland,  just outside the capital city of Washington.  With the Americans waiting on the other side of the Potomac River, the British crossed the bridge and attacked.

Major General Robert Ross ordered the launching of Congreve rockets, the terrible and unfamiliar noise caused the enemy to run.  It was a humiliating episode in the war for the Americans.

Ross and his men marched on and later that evening scored a major victory by taking Washington and setting most of its public buildings on fire, including the recently-vacated presidential mansion.  One of the few to be spared was the Marine Corps Commandant's house, now the oldest public building in Washington.

I have heard that the Marine commandant's house was spared because the British were impressed with the resistance put up by the Marines at the Battle of Bladensburg.

One of the public buildings burned by the British was the U.S, Capitol.  In 1815, a temporary Capitol was built to house Congress while the original was rebuilt.  During the Civil War, this temporary Capitol became a prison for Confederates called Old Capitol Prison where many Confederate prisoners died.  I have been writing about it in my Saw the Elephant Civil War blog.


Friday, August 22, 2014

200 Years Ago: Barney Destroys His Flotilla to Prevent Capture

AUGUST 22ND, 1814:  American Commodore Joshua Barney deliberately destroys his flotilla near the town of Pig Point, Maryland, preventing its seizure by a British force under Rear Admiral George Cockburn.

Deprived of these prizes, the British nevertheless succeed in capturing several merchant ships as well as the town and a large quantity of tobacco.


Illinois' Colonel Benjamin Stephenson-- Part 2

Benjamin Stephenson was born July 8, 1769, in York, Pennsylvania.  His father James was a private in the Revolutionary War and served as a waggoner at Valley Forge during the horrendous winter of 1777.  His mother Mary was the daughter of Lt. Col. James Reed who also was in the Revolution.

In the 1790s, his parents moved to Martinsburg, Virginia.  In 1799, Benjamin married Lucy Swearingen and moved to Harpers Ferry, Virginia, in 1803.

In 1807, he moved to Logan County, Kentucky and waited for the opening of the Illinois Territory in 1809.

In June 1809, Territorial Governor Ninian Edwards appointed Stephenson sheriff of Randolph County.  he later was appointed adjutant general of Illinois state militia under commander Edwards.  In September 1812, there were eight companies with 570 men at Fort Russell in Edwardsville commanded by Stephenson.

From 1814-1815, he was in the U.S. House of Representatives.

In 1815, he was appointed by President James Madison as Receiver of Moneys in the Edwardsville Land Office, a position he held until his death Oct. 12, 1822.


Illinois' Colonel Benjamin Stephenson-- Part 1

From Illinois Historic Sites.

I'd never heard of this colonel from Illinois, but wrote about the dedication ceremony at his grave in Edwardsville, Illinois back in July.

It turns out that his postwar house is a state museum.  We've been in Edwardsville on several occasions in regards to Route 66, most recently in June to sign up for the 2014 Illinois Route 66 Motor Tour./  I understand there is a good chance the town will be hosting the International Route 66 Festival in 2015.

Anyway, his house was built in the Federal style in 1820 and is classified as a living museum.


Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Mosquito That Saved Canada?-- Part 3: Chauncey's Fleet

I read that Chauncey had nine ships at his disposal during this time and found the names of eight of them:

USS JONES:  brig mounting 16 42-pdr carroades, 4 long 24-pdrs
USS JEFFERSON:  same armament as the Jones
USS SYLPH:  schooner mounting 18 24-pdr. carronades and 2 9-pdrs.

USS ONEIDA:  brig mounting 18 24-pdr. carronades
USS MOHAWK:  frigate mounting 28 long 24-pdrs and 16 32-pdr. carronades
USS SUPERIOR: frigate mounting 30 32-pdr. Columbines, 2 long 24-pdr guns and 26 42-pdr carronades

USS GENERAL PIKE:  corvette mounting 28 24-pdrs.
USS MADISON:  corvette/sloop mounting 14 long 18-pdrs. and 8 32-pdr. carronades


The Mosquito That Saved Canada?-- Part 2: Chauncey's Malaria and Slow Movement

Allen Taylor in his "The Civil War of 1812" said that in July 1814, the newly-built U.S. warships gave Lake Ontario's naval supremacy to Chauncey, who wanted the honor of defeating the British under James Yeo, himself.

As such, he wouldn't let a subordinate take the fleet out until he was well enough to do it himself.

Army officers at Sackets Harbor, the U.S. naval base, denounced Isaac Chauncey saying, "There was a time opportunity of fighting and winning the long wished for battle, but lost because the only man in the fleet who was not ready was its commanding officer."


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Mosquito Who Saved Canada?

From the pastnow site "July 22, 1814: A Mosquito Saves Canada, Sort Of"

On Jukly 22, 1814, American Major general Brown had not received naval support from Commodore Isaac Chauncey which he needed to continue his attack on Upper Canada.

Chauncey, at the time was bed-ridden with a case of malaria, probably caused by a mosquito bite.

Brown was deep in enemy territory and without necessary artillery or supply lines to move froward.

Chauncey's inaction due to the malaria, put Brown in a bad position and doomed his invasion to failure.