Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Halifax Lighthouse on Sombro Island

The Halifax Lighthouse, also called the Sambro Island Light, is at the entrance to Halifax Harbor, Nova Scotia,  and is the oldest surviving lighthouse in North America.  It was built during the 7 Years War between 1758-1759.

During the War of 1812, the American privateer Young Teazer  captured two vessels at night off the Sambro Island Light and was pursued and trapped by British warships near Chester, Nova Scotia, where the crew blew the American ship up with heavy loss to prevent its capture.

During both world wars, German U-boats torpedoed Allied ships in the area.

In 1920, the Norwegian freighter Romsdals Fjord struck a ledge near and and sank with no loss of life.


Stephen Cassin, USN

From Wikipedia.

Stephen Cassin (1783-1857)

Earlier, I wrote about his father, John Cassin, and was wondering if the destroyed so massively damaged at Pearl Harbor had been named after him.  It wasn't, but it was named for Stephen Cassin.  Stephen Cassin also fought during the War of 1812.

Became a U.S. Navy midshipman in 1800.  Served on the USS Philadelphia in the West Indies and later participated in the Quasi-War with France.

Commanded the USS Ticonderoga at the Battle of Lake Champlain and was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for bravery at it.  Gold medals were also given to Captain Macdonough and Captain Robert Henley.

Served on the USS Peacock and the West Indies Squadron battling pirates.  Between September 28-30, 1822, he captured five pirate vessels.

Buried in Washington, D.C. and later moved to Arlington National Cemetery and buried at Section W. Div. Site Lot 299.  His wife, Margaret Cassin died June 14, 1830 and is buried beside him in lot 298.

Two U.S. Navy destroyers have been named for him and Fort Cassin in Vermont as well.


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Battle of Fayal, Azores: Scuttling of the General Armstrong-- Part 2

After a successful cruise in which many prizes were taken, the General Armstrong returned to its home port in July 1814 and Samuel Reid became its new captain.  It departed Sandy Hook in August 1814.  While at Fayal in the Portuguese Azores, the British ship Carnation and several boats armed with cannons, sailors and Royal Marines attacked the American ship, but were repulsed.

But, Captain Reid felt he had no chance to escape the Azores and had his ship scuttled to prevent capture.  The Americans escaped to shore and were protected by Portuguese authorities.

American losses were 2 killed and 7 wounded.  British losses were 36 killed  and 93 wounded as well as two of the boats sunk and 2 captured.

Claims for the sinking of the General Armstrong went on for 70 years and it became the subject of a popular 1890s play called "The senator."


Monday, September 29, 2014

Battle of Fayal, Azores: Scuttling of U.S. Privateer General Armstrong-- Part 1

SEPTEMBER 26-27, 1814:

From Wikipedia.

The American privateer General Armstrong was a brig of 246 tons, crewed by 90 men and armed with six 9-pdrs and one long 42-pdr. (Long Tom).

Named after Brigadier General John Armstrong, a hero of the American Revolution and father of President Madison's Secretary of War, John Armstrong, Jr., whose decision not to defend Washington, D.C. from the August attack led to his dismissal.

The General Armstrong's home port was Baltimore and it was a very successful privateer, capturing many prizes in 1812 and 1813.  On 11 March 1813, it was involved in the Battle of Surinam River and lost 6 killed and 16 wounded and received much damage in a battle with what was presume to be the British privateer Coquette.

It was scuttled by its crew on September 27, 1814, at the Battle of Fayal in the Azores.


Saturday, September 27, 2014

Col. Eleazor Wood's Death

From Cullom's Register of USMA Graduates.

Col. Wood was killed "while gallantly leading and directing a column on the British batteries and siege works."

Then it mentioned that he was mortally wounded and died the next night.  Most sources I've read said he died September 17th, the day of the sortie.

"Thus ended the brief and brilliant career of this noble soldier, who had few equals and was surpassed by none of his profession and peers."

He must have been a lot like British General Isaac Brock who was killed leading his troops in the war's first year.


Friday, September 26, 2014

Col. Eleazor Wood Killed Sept. 17, 1814, at Fort Erie-- Part 2

Eleazor Wood was appointed adjutant-general to Gen. William Henry Harrison in October 1813 and transferred to the northern army in 1814 where he participated in all its battles including the capture of Fort Erie on July 3rd and the battles of Chippawa and Niagara Falls.  After the last battle, the Americans fell back to Fort Erie where Col. Wood, then commanding the 21st U.S. Infantry Regiment took an active part in the fort's defense on August 15th and its subsequent siege.

He was killed in the September 17th sortie.

Wood was greatly admired by his commander, Gen. Jacob brown who commissioned a monument to be built in his honor at West Point and also had the fortification on Bedloe's Island in New York Harbor named after him.  This is the fort at the base of the Statue of Liberty.

Wood County, Ohio, named for him as well.


Thursday, September 25, 2014

Col. Eleazor Derby Wood Killed at Sept. 17th Sortie-- Part 1

From Wikipedia.

While researching Ezra Dean, I also came across Wood's name and found out that he had been killed at that sortie on September 17, 1814, from Fort Erie.

ELEAZOR DERBY WOOD (Dec, 1783-Sept. 17, 1814)

Born at Lunenburg, Mass.  Admitted to USMA at West Point May 17, 1805 and graduated Oct. 30, 1806.

Served as assistant engineer in the construction of the defenses at Governor's Island, New York Harbor in 1807.  Promoted to 1st lieutenant in 1808, he then assisted in the construction of Castle William in New York Harbor and Fort Norfolk in Virginia.

In the War of 1812, he was promoted to captain and was involved in the defense of Fort Meigs during its siege and also in the May 5, 1813 and in command of American artillery at the Battle of the Thames on October 5th.


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Ezra Dean and the Sept. 17th American Fort Erie Sortie-- Part 2

British reserves rushed up and there was fierce fighting and drove the Americans out of batteries #2 and #3.  After a two hour engagement casualties for the Americans were 79 killed, 216 wounded and 216 missing (170 captured).  Of the missing, 46 others were probably among those massacred at Battery #2.

For the British:  115 killed, 178 wounded and 316 missing, by their reports.  The Americans claimed to have captured 382 (11 officers and 371 enlisted).

Three British siege guns were destroyed at Battery #3, but the Americans were unable to spike the ones at Battery #2.

Looking at the casualties, these were high for the War of 1812.

Plus, the British commander had decided the day before to withdraw, so the battle really wasn't necessary.

As I said before, I was unable to find out exactly what Ezra Dean did in the battle.


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Army Ensigns in the War of 1812

Last week, I mentioned Ezra Dean being appointed an ensign in the 11th U.S. Infantry during the War of 1812.  I always thought an ensign was a Navy rank.

Using Wikipedia, I found that an ensign is a junior officer.  In olden times, this officer carried the flag, hence the name ensign.

The Army replaced ensigns with second lieutenant in the Army Organization Act of 1815.

In the Navy, the rank of ensign replaced Passed Midshipman in 1862.

So, Now I Know.  --Brock-Perry

Monday, September 22, 2014

200 Years Ago: British Establish Customs Office at Castine, District of Maine

SEPTEMBER 21, 1814:  This customs office was designated as the commercial headquarters of the occupied territory.

The announcement that trade with the enemy through Castine was music to the ears of the mercantile communities of Saint John, New Brunswick, and Halifax, Nova Scotia.  And since imports and exports through the Maine port were taxed, customs officials amassed a tidy 10,000 pounds in the eight short months they were there.

After the war, the British government directed that this "Castine Fund" must be used for public improvements in Nova Scotia, and it eventually covered the new library for the British garrison, and of Dalhousie College (now Dalhousie University).

New Brunswickers were consoled in November 1817 when a boundary commission appointed by the Treaty of Ghent awarded them most of the disputed Passamaquoddy islands and Grand Manan Island.

Ezra Dean was involved in making the border between Maine and New Brunswick.


Saturday, September 20, 2014

Ezra Dean and the Sept. 17, 1814, American Sortie at Fort Erie-- Part 3

From Wikipedia.

I was unable to find out exactly what Ezra Dean's brave and gallant service was at the battle, so looked up the battle and sortie to get an idea what Dean might have done.

The Battle of Fort Erie, Upper Canada, was one of the last and largest engagements of the War of 1812.


On September 15, the British completed work on their Battery No. 3 at the western end of their siege line against Fort Erie.  This battery would enable them to enfilade the American defenses of the fort.  They could not be allowed to stay in this new battery, so at noon September 17th, American Brigadier General Porter's force of volunteers from the militia and 23rd U.S. Infantry (Dean was in the 11th U.S. Infantry).

Altogether the force consisted of around 1600 men.  They moved along a trail that led behind the British fortifications under the cover of a heavy rain and surprised them, capturing Battery No. 3

At the same moment, recently promoted Brigadier General James Miller led a detachment from the 9th, 11th (Dean's unit) and 19th U.S. Infantry Regiments along a ravine and attacked the center of the British line.  Attacked from both front and back, the British in the center Battery No. 2 also were captured.

More to Come. --Brock-Perry

Friday, September 19, 2014

Ezra Dean's Brave Conduct At the Sortie-- Part 2

Ezra Dean was appointed an ensign in the Army at age 19.  (I thought ensign was a Navy rank.)    He received honors for his brave and gallant service at the September 17, 1814, sortie by Americans from  Fort Erie, Upper Canada.  He was also at the Battles of Chippawa and Bridgewater and his regiment was in the advance at Queenstown Heights later in September 1814.

All of this came before he was even at the age of 20.

At the close of the war, he was put in command of a revenue cutter in Lake Champlain for two years.

He resigned after that and was assigned to the corps of government engineers and spent several years establishing the boundary lines between Maine and the province of New Brunswick, Canada.


200 Years Ago: Part of British Invasion Force Leaves Maine

SEPTEMBER 18TH, 1814:  Half of the British invasion force departs from the District of Maine for Halifax, Nova Scotia.


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Ezra Dean's Brave Conduct at Yesterday's Sortie-- Part 1

From Find-A-Grave.

I accidentally came upon this name earlier this week while writing about the song "Lorena" in my Saw the Elephant Civil War blog.  "Lorena" was  a poem written by Henry DeLafayette Webster about his broken engagement to the love of his life Ella who later married an Ohio lawyer and Ohio Supreme Court justice.

She is buried at Woodland Cemetery in Ironton, Ohio.  When I went to the cemetery side on Find-A-Grave, I went through the notable burials and came across Ezra Dean's name who received a promotion to lieutenant in the American Army on October 11, 1814,  for his gallant service at the Battle of Fort Erie in Upper Canada (Ontario).

Further research showed his gallantry took place on the September 17th sortie against the British.

He had been appointed an ensign in the 11th U.S. Infantry earlier in the war.

After the war, he was elected a U.S. representative from Ohio's 18th District and served 1841-1845.


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

American Sortie at Fort Erie 200 Years Ago Today.

September 17, 1814:  American attack of the British artillery batteries besieging Fort Erie, Upper Canada.

Heavy autumn rains made life miserable for the poorly sheltered British and Canadians besieging Fort Erie.  Sickness decimated their ranks.  On September 16th, Lt. Governor Gordon Drummond decided to end the siege, but the next day, the Americans attacked the British batteries.

After a fierce two hour battle, the Americans fell back to the fort.

Each side lost about 500 men.


Attack on Fort Bowyer (Mississippi Territory)

SEPTEMBER 15, 1814:  Unsuccessful British on American Fort Bowyer.  Two British sloops and a detachment of Royal Marines from Pensacola attacked the fort at the mouth of Mobile Bay, near where Fort Morgan of Civil War fame stands today.


John Cassin, USN-- Part 3

Near the turn of the century, it became necessary to increase the size of the U.S. Navy because of the Barbary Pirates and other threats to American shipping.  That meant, officers and sailors were needed.

John Cassin enlisted in the Navy as a lieutenant and on April 6, 1806, was promoted to master commandant and became the second to command the Washington Navy Yard.  On July 3, 1812, he became a captain, the then'highest naval rank.

In the War of 1812, he initially led naval forces in Delaware for the protection of Philadelphia and later became commanding officer of the Norfolk Navy Yard from August 10, 1812, to June 1, 1821.  On that date he became the commanding officer of the Southern Naval Station at Charleston, South Carolina.


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

John Cassin, USN-- Part 2

From Find-A-Grave

John Cassin was born July 9, 1760 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and died March 24, 1822 in Charleston, S.C., and is buried at St. Mary of the Annunciation Cemetery in that city.

Cassin was a commodore in the U.S. Navy and fought in the Army during the American the Battle of Trenton.  On June 27, 1782, he became first mate on the Pennsylvania privateer Mayflower.  After the war he became a merchant seaman and was shipwrecked twice.

George Washington was a close personal friend of his and gave him a portrait but unfortunately, it was destroyed in a fire.


Monday, September 15, 2014

A Star-Spangled Celebration-- Part 2

There was a fire works display Saturday and Friiday, President Obama visited Fort McHenry and saw an original manuscript of the poem.

This weekend is the anniversary of the bombardment of Fort McHenry during the War of 1812's Battle of Baltimore on Sept. 13-14, 1814.  At dawn on the 14th, Francis Scott Key was pretty proud to see the U.S. flag flting high and proud over the fort.  Being an amateur poet, he was moved to put his feelings down on paper.

Key was on a British ship at the time, part of an American delegation negotiating for the release of a prisoner.  He and the others were kept aboard a British ship until after the battle as they had learned of British plans.  They were allowed to return to Baltimore on Sept. 14 and he wrote the poem "Defence of Fort McHenry," which he published on Sept. 20, 1814.

And Jose Was Never the Same Afterwards.  --Brock-Perry

A Star-Spangled Celebration-- Part 1

From the September 14, 2014, Chicago Tribune "Unflagging tribute to battle and U.S. anthem" by Michael Muskal.

Americans celebrated this weekend as it was the 200th anniversary of the British attack on Baltimore's Fort McHenry which gave rise to the nation's National Anthem as written by Francis Scott Key and later put to music of a British song praising drinking and sex.

"Oh, say what?"

"Yes, the song that has been the nation's musical glue through war and peace and the song that has been the bane of singers of all ages and creeds and led to performances, both tragic and mesmerizing, yes, that songs is celebrating a milestone birthday."

And, Baltimore, the birthplace of the anthem, is having a celebratory even drawing lots of tourists and is in the middle of its seven-day "Star-Spangled Spectacular," with tall ships, re-enactments and fire works.  Hey, it was the "Rockets' Red Flare" after all.  By the way, back then these were Congreve Rockets, by the way.