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 tp 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.


Ceremony to Honor War of 1812 Veteran in Illinois

From the July 5, 2014, St. Louis Post Dispatch "Ceremony Honoring War of 1812 Veteran Benjamin Stephenson Planned" by Lola DeGroff.

A memorial marker will be placed on the colonel's grave by the Illinois Society of the War of 1812.

He is buried at Lusk Park, Edwardsville, Illinois with the ceremony to be at 1 p.m. on July 13, 2014.  Lusk Park is at 535 Randle Street.

--  Brock-Perry

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

1000th Post!!

This marks the 1000th post on the War of 1812.  I have certainly learned a lot about it.


200 Years Ago: British Force Lands in Maryland and Prepares to Advance on Washington, D.C.

AUGUST 19, 1814:  A British force lands at Benedict, Maryland, en route to Washington D.C..


1814 Battle of Stonington Commemorated-- Part 2

Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malby, U.S. senator Richard Blumenthe and U.S. RepresentativeJoe Courtney will also be in attendance.

The battle itself took over the span of four days in early August 1814.  The Royal Navy ships commanded by Commodore Thomas Masterman Hardy attacked the village of Stonington after it refused to surrender.  Using three cannons, two of which are on display at Cannon Square, residents repelled the attack, but many burrough homes were damaged and some still have cannonballs in their walls.

This was one of Connecticut's biggest military events during the war and came at a time when the U.S. fortunes were going bad.

There will be concerts, walking tours, military encampments at the Old Lighthouse Museum.  There will also be Stonington Harbor cruises aboard the Mystic Whaler and a rare public display of the original flag that flew over the burrough those days 200 years ago.


Monday, August 18, 2014

1814 Battle of Stonington Commemoration-- Part 1

From the August 8, 2014 Connecticut Day "1814 Battle of Sonongton commemoration this weekend" by Joe Wojtas.

A three day bicentennial celebration was held Friday-Sunday, August 9-10th featuring exhibitions and events culminating in a large parade Sunday afternoon.

The Newport Artillery Company will have an 18th century cannon and there will also be a replica of the flag that flew over the burrough (evidently an often-used term in Connecticut) of Stonington during the battle and there will be a representative of the British Navy.

Grand Marshal of the parade is 106-year-old Anna Colt of North Stonington, who attended the centennial celebration as a young girl.  Another parade leader is Rita Babcock Palmer Park, whose grandmother, Rita Babcock Palmer, led the 1914 parade.  She will be wearing an outfit similar to what her grandmother wore back then.


Saturday, August 16, 2014

Destruction of the HMS Magnet

From Wikipedia.

The historic places site had this occurring on August 5th, 1814, but Wikipedia had it one August 15th in its list of battles of the War of 1812.  Not sure about the date.

The Wiki timeline has it as the destruction of the British brig Magnet.  Its commander, Lt. George Hawkesworth deliberately ran the Magnet aground near the mouth of the Niagara River rather than allow it to be captured by the Americans of Isaac Chauncey's squadron.

Evidently, someone must have thought Hawkesworth shouldn't have done this as he was court martialed which caused him to desert to the Americans.

I looked up HMS Magnet again in Wikipedia and found the Magnet listed under Governor Simcoe (its former name) and in this article, it listed the capture as August 5th.

An Interesting Story Here.  --Brock-Perry

Friday, August 15, 2014

British Night Attack on Fort Erie Fails

AUGUST 15TH, 1814:  On the night of 15 August, after an ineffective two-day bombardment, a British force commanded by Lt.-Governor Gordon Drummond stormed American-held Fort Erie.

Drummond sent three separate columns forward in the rain.  The attackers failed to surprise the Americans, and were unable to coordinate their attack properly in the dark.  Two of the columns were driven back with heavy losses.

The third column led by Lt.Colonel William Drummind (relative?) captured the fort's northeast bastion but were unable to advance farther, even though they turned a cannon around to fire on the Americans inside.

William Drummond was killed and the massive powder magazine below the bastion blew up.  The hideous explosion slaughtered the attackers and ended the assault.  The British lost over 900 men.


Thursday, August 14, 2014

200 Years Ago: HMS Nancy Destroyed

AUGUST 14TH, 1814:  The HMS Nancy is destroyed during an attack by the U.S. squadron under Captain Arthur Sinclair at the Nottawasaga River, Upper Canada.

One of the objectives of Sinclair's expedition to the upper Great Lakes was the destruction of British ships.  Unable to locate the British base on the Nottawasaga River, due to weather and unfamiliarity of the area, he burned the abandoned Fort St. Joseph and the fur trade post at St. Mary's River (Sault Ste. Marie).

After the failure to retake Fort Mackinac the expedition located the Nottawasaga bases and the schooner Nancy, the only British vessel on the upper Great Lakes.  An American landing party destroyed a blockhouse but the crew of the Nancy, commanded by Lt. Miller Worsley of the Royal Navy torched the vessel before it could be captured.

The Nancy's crew escaped to Fort Mackinac in open boats after the departure of Sinclair's squadron.


USS Somers-- Part 2

On Augyst 4, 1814, Barclay's fleet withdrew and the Americans were able to get all their ships together and this set the stage for the Battle of Lake Erie.  Perry took his fleet to Put-in-Bay, an island in Lake Erie, where he could threaten Brigadier General Proctor's line of supply and communication and keep an eye on Barclay, who was at Fort Malden, Amherstburg, Upper Canada.

This move forced Barclay to come out and the fight was on.  The HMS Detroit had just joined the British fleet and was Barclay's flagship while Perry's flagship was the USS Lawrence.

The British had the advantage of more long-range cannons.  The Somers fought the smaller British warships Queen Charlotte and Hunter in the first part of the battle, but later switched to engaging the Little Belt and Lady Prevost.

In the end, the whole British squadron surrendered and the U.S. had naval supremacy on Lake Erie until the end of the war.

The Somers, however, was captured by the British off Fort Erie some eleven months later, August 12, 1814 and the Somers became the HMS Somers.  I was unable to find anything about her career as a British ship.I found out elsewhere that the Somers was named for Richar Somers, a U.S. Navy hero of the First Barbary War.


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

USS Somers-- Part 1

From Wikipedia.

This was one of the two American ships captured near Fort Erie by the British on August 12, 1814.  The other was the USS Ohio.

A schooner, formerly the Catherine, purchased by the U.S. Navy in 1812 for $5,500 from Jacob Townsend, a pioneer and one of the first settlers of Lewiston, New York.

When it was purchased, it found itself penned up in the Niagara River by British guns at Fort Erie on the Canadian bank in the spring of 1813 until a joint Army-Navy force captured Fort George and Oliver Hazard Perry was able to get the Somers, Ohio, brig Caledonia and two other schooners out to the open Lake Erie waters.

The American vessels, however, drew too much water to get over the bar into the base at Presque Isle, Erie, Pennsylvania and the place was also blockaded by the British fleet under Commodore Robert Barclay.

More to Come.  --Brock-Perry

Sgt. McKitrick Killed in Action

AUGUST 13TH, 1814:  Sergeabt Joseph McKitrick of Prince Edward Island is killed in action with the Glengarry Light Infantry Fencibles at Fort Erie, Upper Canada.

He is believed to be the only islander killed during the war.


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

USS Ohio (1812) Schooner

From Wikipedia.

The USS Ohio was a merchant schooner acquired by the U.S. Navy and converted into a warship in 1812 and commissioned in 1813.  It served in the Lake Erie squadron commanded by Captain Oliver Hazard Perry.  (82 tons, 35 men, one 24-pdr. cannon)

Once commissioned, it and four other purchased ships were  delayed from entering lake Erie by a British blockade at Black Rock which was finally broken by a joint Army-Navy operation.  They joined the other American ships being built at Presque Isle Bay at Erie, Pennsylvania.on July 8, 1813,

It was off collecting food and did not participate at the famous American victory at the Battle of Lake Erie on September 10, 1813.

In 1814, it was patrolling between Long point and Erie and in May assisted in fitting out captured prizes Detroit and Queen Charlotte at Put-in-Bay before convoying them to Erie.

On August 12, 2014, 200 years ago today, it was captured along with the USS Somers within pistol-shot of American-held Fort Erie.  It became the Huron in British service.


USS Ohio and USS Somers Captured by British

AUGUST 12TH, 1814: 200 years ago.  The USS Ohio and Somers were captured by the British on Lake Erie, near Fort Erie, Upper Canada.

During the British siege of the American-occupied Fort Erie, Royal Navy Captain Alexander Dobbs, commanding seventy sailors and marines, rowed out to three U.S. armed schooners anchored near the fort.

Masquerading as supply boats, the British surprised, boarded and seized the USS Somers and Ohio, but the USS Porcupine escaped.

The vessels were renamed the Huron and Sauk when taken into British service.  Their captures were a welcome addition to the British Lake Erie fleet and it impacted American morale at Fort Erie.
This action was the last one on lake Erie for the war.