Monday, May 29, 2017

Memorial Day 2017: Norman Kirby Hatch

This day to thank our veterans, I will post in every one of my blogs about them.  I will do World War I and World War II veterans.

Norman Kirby Hatch served in the Merchant marine during World War I.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Sea Fencibles-- Part 2: In the War of 1812


In the War of 1812, there were two companies of Sea Fencibles at Baltimore.  They were stationed at Fort McHenry and considered to be part of the garrison.


Boston's Sea Fncibles were formed and comprised of unemployed seamen and wealthier men.  Besides coastal defense they were involved in charitable and community work.

They never saw action, however.

Their headquarters was at the gun house near the Providence Naval Depot where they had 18-pdr. and 24-pdr. cannons for their use.  Target practice was conducted at Boston's City Point.

They disbanded at the war's end.


There were also Sea Fencibles during the Civil War.  The Confederates had one company at Charleston, South Carolina.


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Sea Fencibles-- Part 1: The British Had Them Also At One Time

From Wikipedia.

In yesterday's post, I mentioned that the fortifications on Governors Island in Boston Harbor known as Fort Warren at the time, were manned some of the time by a group called the Sea-Fencibles.  I'd never heard of them before.

The Sea Fencibles were a naval militia established to provide a close-in line of defense and to obstruct the operations of enemy shipping and were used mostly during the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars.

The British had their own Sea Fencibles during this time, but the Admiralty disbanded its Sea Fencibles in 1810.

The United States adopted a similar concept during the War of 1812 and the Civil War.


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Fortifying Governor's Island, Boston-- Part 2: Fort Warren became Fort Winthrop

In the War of 1812, the Sea-Fencibles were stationed at Fort Warren.  Mortars were added to the fort's armament and furnaces built to heat the shot (not a goof thing for a wooden ship).

The last fort to be built on Governors Island was constructed some years before the Civil War, under the direction of General Sylvanus Thayer.

The name Fort Warren was transferred to the modern fort built on George's Island in Boston Harbor and the one on Governors Island became Fort Winthrop, named for a Puritan leader.

By 1861, the new fort had received no armament, but by 1863 mounted 25 large Rodman cannons and 11 other cannons of varying calibers.

Various companies of state militia and volunteers manned the fort during the Civil War.


Fortifying Governors Island, Boston Harbor-- Part 1: Fort Warren

From the Friends of the Boston Harbor Islands.

Fort Warren,  a stone and brick star fort with brick barracks, officers' quarters, magazine and guard house, was built in 1808.  The fort was on the highest part of the island.

During the War of 1812 it was garrisoned and General Dearborn considered it to be the key to Boston's harbor defense.  He invited the men of Boston to come out and help strengthen the fortification.

The low battery on the southern part of the island was built several years before the war.  This battery was brick and stone with a brick guard house and magazine.  It mounted 15 cannons and could sweep the wide flats adjacent to the battery and fire point-blank into enemy ships passing through the channel.


Monday, May 22, 2017

Joseph G. Swift-- Part 7: A Long History of Engineering

Other projects of the USMA's first graduate, Joseph G. Swift included the completion of Fort Clinton in New York City and during the War of 1812, the fortifications on the western part of Long Island.

After 1818, he resigned his commission and served as the Surveyor of the Port of New York until 1826.  He was then chief engineer of several railroads.

In 1829, he directed harbor improvements of towns on the Great Lakes.

Engineering wasn't his only thing.  he also was involved in various business activities and was a friend to younger engineers, including George Washington Whistler and William Gibbs McNeill (both of whom were his brothers-in-law.).


Friday, May 19, 2017

Governors Island, Boston

From Wikipedia

I came across Joseph Swift being superintending engineer at the Governors Island batteries at Boston Harbor.  I had never heard of a Governors Island in Boston, but knew of the one in New York Harbor.  I found out there was a Governors Island in Boston Harbor, but it essentially is no longer there.

According to Wikipedia, Governors Island was subsumed for the construction and extension of Boston's Logan International Airport.  The island was the site of Fort Warren from 1808 to 1834 when the fort was renamed  Fort Winthrop.

The island is buried in the area north and south of the airport's Runway 14/32.


Joseph G. Swift-- Part 6: Find-A-Grave

From Find-A-Grave.

Pictures of him and his marker accompany article.

Born:  December 31, 1783, in Nantucket, Massachusetts
Died:  July 23, 1865, in Geneva, New York

U.S. Army officer, first graduate of the USMA in 1802.  Chief Engineer of U.S. Army 1812-1818.

His father was Dr. Foster Swift, a surgeon in the U.S. Army during the American Revolution.

Joseph Swift is buried at Washington Street Cemetery in Geneva, New York.


Joseph G. Swift-- Part 5: Helped Rebuild Washington, D.C.

He was on the Board to Review Infantry Tactics in 1815 and selected the Northern Naval Depot the same year.

Swift was involved with the rebuilding of the nation's capital city, Washington, D.C. in 1817.

He commanded the Corps of Engineers from July 31, 1812 to November 12, 1818.

Resigned his commission November 12, 1818 and worked as a civil engineer from 1819 to 1845.

He died July 23, 1865, at Geneva, New York, at age 82.

Quite the Career.  --Brock-Perry

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Joseph G. Swift-- Part 4: Took Part in St. Lawrence River Campaign of 1813

He took part in the Campaign of 1813 on the St. Lawrence River and was at the Battle of Chrystler's Field in Upper Canada on November 11, 1813..  Then he involved with the defense of the city and harbor of New York (including Brooklyn and Harlem Heights) 1814-1815.

On February 18, 1814, he was brevetted to brigadier general for Meritorious Service.

From 1814-1815 he was superintending engineer for the fortifications of New York City.


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Joseph G. Swift-- Part 3: Very Active in War of 1812

Joseph Swift was promoted to Lt.-Col. Corps of Engineers July 6, 1812, and then colonel and chief engineer of the U.S. Army July 13, 1812.

From May 25 to September 28, 1812, he was Chief Engineer of the Department of New York and then in command of a brigade garrison on Staten Island from August 6-13, 1813.

He then became chief engineer of the army of Major General Wilkinson.


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Joseph G. Swift-- Part 2: Engineer For Many Coastal Installations

He was the Superintending Engineer for the erection of the Governors Island Batteries in Boston Harbor, Massachusetts.  From 1808-1809 he was general supervisor of the defenses of the New England coast.

Promoted to Major, Corps of Engineers on February 23, 1808.

From 1809 to 1812, he was Superintending Engineer of fortifications in the Carolinas Georgia harbors.

In 1812-1813 he was chief engineer and aide-de-camp to Major General Pinckney.


Joseph G. Swift-- Part 1: First USMA Graduate

From Cullom's Register.

Joseph Gardner Swift was the first graduate of the USMA.

Born December 31, 1783, on Nantucket Island, Massachusetts.  He was one of the original cadets at the USMA in October 12, 1802, when he became second lieutenant in the Corps of Engineers.

From 1802-1804, he was superintending engineer during the construction of  Fort Johnston, North Carolina.  This fort was at the mouth of the Cape Fear River by Wilmington.  Part of it still remains.

Promoted to 1st Lt., Corps of Engineers, Captain October 30, 1806.

he was at West Point 1804-1807.


Monday, May 15, 2017

George Brown, War of 1812 Veteran in Maryland-- Part 2

The bronze War of 1812 marker has "1812" embossed in the center and is encircled by stars.  Perched on the circle of stars are four sculpted American eagles flanked by chevrons, each of them bearing a different embossed symbol" crossed swords, crossed cannon, crossed rifles and an anchor.

Cemetery officials think he might have served in the Navy.

On the back of the War of 1812 marker"  "1812 War Grave Marker Authorized and Registered by TWL General Society of the War of 1812.  Mfg by M.D. Jones & Co. Boston.

Several other Browns are also buried in the cemetery.


George Brown, War of 1812 Veteran

From the January 6, 2016, Cecil (Cecil County, Maryland) Whig "Calvert cemetery digs up War of 1812 history" by Carl Hamilton.

George Brown was buried at Rose Bank Cemetery in Calvert in April 1850.

The engraving on his weathered tombstone says he was born in 1790 and died April 3, 1850 at age 60.

Three weeks ago, an authorized War of 1812 grave marker was found and unearthed during a repair project.  Until that time, it was thought that Civil War veterans were the oldest buried at the cemetery.

More to Come.  --Brock-Perry

Friday, May 12, 2017

Essex's Annual Burning of the Ships Day-- Part 2

The British Raid and the resulting Burning of the Ships is not in most history books.  (I had never heard of it before I began this blog.)

During the War of 1812, private merchant vessels became a part of the Connecticut Privateer Fleet.  This enabled them to capture and auction off British ships and their cargoes and became a highly profitable undertaking for the captains and owners.

Of course, this did not please the British who set out to punish the American privateers..  In April 1814, the British learned that many of the Connecticut Privateer Fleet were operating out of Essex Harbor and a company of Royal Marines on longboats set out from the fleet for a sneak attack on the Americans.

The Essex townspeople put up opposition but were outnumbered and outgunned.  The British burned all the ships they found in the harbor as well as ones being built in the vicinity.  They did take two ships with them, but these grounded and were also burned.  On their way back down the Connecticut River, Americans set up some cannons and there was a brief engagement, costing the British two deaths, but rthey got by and returned to their ships.

There will be a parade which will end at the Connecticut River Museum, where the British landed.  Speeches and re-enacting will follow.


Essex's Annual Burning of the Ships Day-- Part 1

From the May 9, 2017, Zip  "Essex's Annual Burning of the Ships Day Commemorates Historic Event on May 13" by Jenn McCulloch.

The Reenacting group Free Men of the Sea will be on hand to recreate life in Essex during the War of 1812.

Over 200 years ago, the British burned nearly 30 ships in Essex Harbor, Connecticut, and in the surrounding area.  This will be commemorated on May 13 in Essex from 1 to 4 p.m..  The event is cohosted by the Connecticut River Museum and Sailing Masters of 1812.


Thursday, May 11, 2017

Fort Gray

From the New Yok State Military Museum.

Fort Gray, 1812, Niagara County.  Niagara Falls.

Located by the Lewiston Escarpment opposite Queenstown.  named for its builder, Nicholas Gray.

Located on the site of an unnamed French blockhouse/store house and an unnamed British blockhouse/ store house.

Attacked and destroyed December 1813.


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Fort Gray On the Niagara Escarpment-- Part 4: Site Visible for Many Years Afterwards

After the British left in December 1813, this ended almost 65 years of continuous military presence at the very top of the Niagara Escarpment at Lewiston.

Major Mallory later made Lockport his home and died there in 1853 at the age of 94.

The ruins of Fort Gray were visible for many years afterwards.  Actually, the exact location of the fort was known until the mid 1900s.

There was hope that Fort Gray would become part of the Lewiston Historical Park, but the park never came to pass and the Fort Gray site was bulldozed for the Robert Moses Parkway along the Niagara River.  Part of the Lower Landing became a part of the Art Park and many sites are marked there.


Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Fort Gray on the Niagara Escarpment-- Part 3: British Attack in 1813

In 1812, the U.S. Army erected another blockhouse on the site.  Army captain Nicholas Gray arrived and found the remains of the British blockhouse overlooking the Niagara Gorge above Lewiston.

In December 1813, the British attacked Lewiston.  A small detachment from Fort Gray, under Major Benajah Mallory, a Canadian volunteer, was able to hold the British at bay for a short time while they advanced toward Manchester, now Niagara Falls.  This enabled local residents time to flee.

The British marched from Lewiston to Fort Niagara, south of Niagara Falls and east along the Ridge Road, burning everything in its path.