Monday, January 26, 2015

USS Wasp (1807)/HMS Loup Cervier

From Wikipedia.

The USS Wasp was constructed in the Washington Navy Yard and commissioned in 1807.  During the War of 1812, it captured the HMS Frolic, but was immediately afterwards captured and taken into British service as the HMS Loup Cervier and then the HMS Peacock.

It was lost with all hands, presumably foundered, on July 23, 1814, off tge Virginia Capes.


Saturday, January 24, 2015

The USS Sea Horse and Battle of Bay St. Louis Unrecognized for Too Long

The Mystic Krewe of the Seahorse in Bay St. Louis, cites four reasons why this particular battle should be better known:

1.  It was a classic "David vs. Goliath."

2.  The battle saved New Orleans and gave Jackson time to prepare its defenses.

3.  It was a precursor of "The Alamo."

4.  It was the last naval battle of the War of 1812 between U.S. Navy ships and a foreign power in U.S. territorial waters.

Now, You Know.  --Brock-Perry

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Tennessee's Role in the War

From the Jan. 8, 2015, Crossville (Tn) Chronicle "New TSLA exhibit explores Tennessee's role in the War of 1812."

The War of 1812 was a "pivotal period" in Tennessee's history.  Congressional leaders like Felix Grundy made the nation more aware of "western" interests and concerns.

Andrew Jackson won overwhelming victories during the Creek Wars and the Battle of New Orleans which propelled him to national attention and eventually the White House.

Nearly one third of Tennessee counties are named for men connected to the war.

The name "Volunteer State" has its roots in the thousands of Tennesseeans who fought.

Military campaigns ceded Indian lands in Western Tennessee which caused an influx of settlers.

"The war catapulted Tennessee and its lands to a position of unprecedented influence on the national stage."

There is a new free exhibit "Answering the Call: Tennesseeans in the War of 1812 which opened Jan. 5th at the Tennessee State Library and Archives consisting of sixteen panels loaded with information.  It will be open until mid-April at 403 7th Avenue, west of the State Capitol building in Nashville.


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

USS Sea Horse-- Part 3: Victory and Scuttling

The British gunboats landed at Pass Christian and attacked the garrison there in the early morning.  Meanwhile, the Sea Horse dropped anchor and its crew was sent to get some sleep.  The British attacked and got in closer than before this time.  The Sea Horse spotted them and the alarm was raised.  The crew opened fire with muskets and drove the British off.

Captain Lockyer decided to move on to his main objective, Lake Borgne and ceased attacking the Sea Horse.

During the action, several British longboats were damaged and there were an unknown number of casualties.

U.S. losses were two killed, two wounded and damage to the Sea Horse.Sailing Master William Johnson sailed to the Ulman Avenue Pier and set fire and scuttled his ship to prevent capture by expected future attacks.

I wonder if the remains of the Sea Horse are still there?

A Brave Little Ship and Crew  --Brock-Perry

Monday, January 19, 2015

USS Sea Horse-- Part 2: Mission to Destroy Supplies Before Capture

On the night of December 13, 1814, British Admiral Alexander Cochrane ordered Captain Lockyer of the HMS Armide  to proceed to Lake Borgne with 42 armed longboats and 1200 sailors and Marines along with 8 to 24-pdr cannons.

The USS Sea Horse, commanded by Sailing Master William Johnson was on a mission at that very moment to Bay St. Louis with orders to destroy weapons and gun powder before the British captured it (as they would be passing by the bay on their way to Lake Borgne.

The ship one 6-pdr. cannon and 14 men.  The USS Alligator was also in the bay at the time as it was stationed there.

The Sea Horse was spotted by Lockyer and longboats were sent to capture it.  A fight ensued and the Alligator was destroyed and Sea Horse damaged.  The Sea Horse retreated to a dock in the bay and continued the fight.  As the British came into range, a U.S. shore battery opened fire as well, forcing the British to withdraw.


USS Sea Horse-- Part 1

From the History of the Mystic Krewe of the Seahorse site.

The Krewe takes its name from the USS Sea Horse and the Battle of Bay St. Louis on December 13, 1814.  It is also called te Battle of Lake Borgne and Battle of Pass Christian.

The British Navy was advancing on New Orleans after engagements at Pensacola and Mobile.  Their plan was to sail through Rigolets and into Lake Ponchetrain, but the USS Sea Horse and the later Battle of Lake Borgne stopped it.

This battle also has an  "Alamo" connection.  Supposedly at the Alamo, one fighter exclaimed "Remember the Battle of the Bay."  This battle pitted a small group of Americans against a much larger group of British.


Saturday, January 17, 2015

British Rules of Engagement: Frigate vs. Frigate

While researching the USS President's capture, I found some discrepancy in what happened.  Had the President just engaged the Endymion or the whole British fleet?  You'd think one of our "Super Frigates" could take a regular British frigate (unless it was one of their "Super frigates" they started launching later in the war).

Obviously, one American frigate fighting a whole British squadron would not be expected to win.

But, did it fight the whole squadron?

I came across mention of British regulations requiring that equal numbers of ships being involved in battles.  The HMS Endymion was the first to engage the President.  Both ships came out of the fight seriously damaged, but Decatur knew he would then have to engage the rest of the British fleet in succession, a fight he knew he couldn't win which led to the surrender.

I'd never heard of the one vs. one ship engagement rule,. so will keep my eyes open for further mention mention of it.  But, it would seem to me you'd always want to press home an advantage like numbers superiority in battle.

And, the President was one of our capital ships and Decatur a big naval hero.

Oh, Well.  --Brock-Perry

Frigate USS President-- Part 3: Capture and British Service

Back in New York City, the President was placed under the command of Stephan Decatur, who had captured the HMS Macedonian earlier in the war.  The frigate was blockaded in New York Harbor for a year before running the British blockade of that port in January 1815.  It engaged the HMS Endymion and later the rest of the British squadron arrived and the President was forced to surrender.

It was taken into British service as the HMS President (a strange name for a British warship if you ask me)  It served until broken up in 1818.  But its design was used for the new HMS President in 1829.


Frigate USS President-- Part 2" The Little Belt Affair

George Washington picked the name for the ship to reflect a principle of the U.S. Constitution.

In 1811, the President was involved in the Little Belt Affair when the ship mistook the HMS Little Belt for the HMS Guerriere, which had been impressing American seamen.  There was an exchange of gunfire for several minutes, but no serious damage.  Blame for the incident was not placed, but it helped add to tensions between the United States and Britain.

The ship served in the Quasi War with France and First and Second Barbary wars.

During the War of 1812, the USS President made several extended cruises as far away as the English Channel and Norway.  It captured the armed schooner HMS Highflyer and numerous merchant ships.


Friday, January 16, 2015

Frigate USS President-- Part 1: A Super Frigate

From Wikipedia.

I mentioned in yesterday's and today's post, that the frigate USS President was captured this date (or yesterday) by four British frigates off New York City where it had just run the blockade.  Again, like at New Orleans, neither side was aware that the war had ended, pending ratification by the two countries, on Dec. 24, 1814 at the Treaty of Ghent.

I didn't know much about the USS President, so looked it up, of course to good old Wiki, always a fast source of information.

The USS President was a wooden-hulled, three-masted heavy frigate rated to carry four guns.  It was launched in April 1800 in New York City, one of the original six super frigates authorized by the Naval Act of 1794 (the USS Constitution was another of these).

The President was the last one completed and designed by Joshua Humphreys.  These six were to serve as the U.S. Navy's capital ships (whereas the biggest British ships were ships-of-the-line, then came their frigates.  These six frigates were larger, more-heavily armed and built than their British counterparts.  That is one reason why British frigates lost whenever engaged one-on-one with these American ones.


200 Years Ago: Capture of the USS President, Bombardment of Ft. St. Philip Continues

JANUARY 16, 1815:  The HMS Endymion, one of a squadron of four British frigates, captures the USS President.

JANUARY 9-18, 1815:  The Battle of Ft. St. Philip, Louisiana, continues as British fleet continues bombardment.  Eventually they gave up and left on the 18th.


Thursday, January 15, 2015

Fort Fisher 150th Anniversary Commemorated

Even though Fort Fisher did not exist fifty years earlier at the conclusion of the War of 1812, there is a Wilmington connection to the war.

During the War of 1812, Wilmington was never attacked by the British, despite being the biggest city in North Carolina and a major port and being right near such a huge supply of naval stores which would be very important to the Royal Navy.

However, three Jeffersonian Gunboats were built near Wilmington.  One, Gunboat No. 166, was built at Smithville (now Southport), across the Cape Fear River from Fort Fisher and some twenty miles downriver from Wilmington.  It later operated in South Carolina and was named the Alligator.

Fort Johnston, at Smithville existed during the Civil War as well.


200 Years Ago: The British Chase the USS President

JANUARY 15, 1815:  The HMS Majestic and HMS Endymion lead a squadron of British frigates against the USS President, commanded by naval hero Stephen Decatur, after the American ship leaves New York City.


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

200 Years Ago: British Land at St. Marys, Georgia

JANUARY 14TH, 1815--  Admiral Sir George Cockburn lands British force on Cumberland Island, Georgia, and occupies the mansion of Dungeness.  After dispersing the small force of American defenders attack Point Peter and defeat troops at the fort there which was built during the Revolutionary War as Fort Tonyn, now called Fort Peter or Fort Point Peter.

St. Marys was seized and large quantities of military supplies were taken.    Cockburn set up his headquarters at Dungeness and soon a number of ex-slaves sought sanctuary with him.

Fighting at sea for the War of 1812 continued, but St. Marys was the last land engagement.


200 Years Ago: British Ban Americans from Settling in Canada

JANUARY 10TH, 1815--  British government ban Americans from settling in Canada.

JANUARY 12TH, 1815--  British raid on Lakes Cove, Dorchester County, Maryland.


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

200 Years Ago Today: British Capture Fort Peter in Georgia

JANUARY 13, 1815"  A British amphibious force attacks and captures Ft. Peter and the town of St. Marys, Georgia, right on the Florida border.  They occupy the town for a month before withdrawing.

More on this tomorrow.


200 Years Ago, War of 1812: Jan. 8, 1815: The Battle of New Orleans

JANUARY 8TH:  Battle of New Orleans.  Andrew Jackson's army of 4,000 consisted of militia, volunteer citizens, free blacks, , slaves, pirates and regular soldiers.

The British campaign in Louisiana sought control of the mouth of the Mississippi River with the goal of disrupting American economic activity along the river by seizing New Orleans.

However, the slowness of the British advance through difficult bayou country of the river delta gave time for Andrew Jackson to organize the city's defense.

The main attack took place on Jan. 8th, took place over open terrain against American prepared fortifications and it was a disaster for the British.  British casualties exceeded over 2,000 out of 6,000, including the death of their commander, Major General Edward Parkenham.

The Americans lost 71.

With the defeat, the British lifted their siege and retreated downriver in search of easier targets along the Gulf coast.

Jan. 9-12.  Royal Navy warships bombard Ft. St. Philip, Louisiana, situated downriver from New Orleans.  That too fails.


Monday, January 12, 2015

War of 1812, 200 Years Ago: Hartford Convention Ends

JANUARY 5TH, 1815:   Hartford Convention--  A group of 22 delegates from Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island, meeting since December 15, 1814, wind up the convention and issued a report condemning the federal government for failing to defend New England and recommending that states negotiate arrangements with that government for their defense.

They also propose 7 Constitutional amendments to protect the influence of the northeastern states and their increasingly minority status in the United States.  Primary would be it requiring a 2/3 vote by Congress to impose embargoes, admit a western state into the Union, or begin a war (unless in case of an invasion).

It is surprising how much these seems like the situation Southern states found themselves in as the years rolled on toward the Civil War.  At that time, the New England states stood against the things they seemed to want in 1815.

Times and Economic Interests Change, I Guess.  --Brock-Perry

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Battle of New Orleans-- Part 9: Later Years

1832--  British Admiral Cochrane dies.

JAN. 8, 1840--  Jackson revisits New Orleans and the battlefield on the 25th anniversary of it.  He went to the battlefield on Jan. 10th.  He lays the cornerstone in Place d' Armes on Jan. 13th.

1844--  Keane dies

1845--  Jackson dies

1851--  Place d' Armes renamed Jackson Square.  The equestrian statue of Jackson is added in 1856.

1855--  Louisiana acquires the property where the battle was fought and construction begins on the Chalmette Monument which was finished in 1908.

1930--  The U.S. War Department acquires the property.

1959--  Johnny Horton hits #1 with his song "The Battle of New Orleans.

2005--  The visitor center on the battlefield destroyed by Hurricane Katrina flooding. It has since been rebuilt.


Battle of New Orleans Timeline-- Part 8: The Rest of 1815

All Dates 1815.

FEB. 12--  British capture Fort Bowyer at the head of Mobile Bay.  Plans were being made to attack Mobile, which probably would have fallen.  But word of the Treaty of Ghent arrives and plans are dropped.

MARCH 13--  Jackson receives word of the Treaty of Ghent and revokes martial law.

APRIL 6--  Jackson and his family return to Tennessee.