Friday, June 29, 2012

The War That Made Maine a State-- Part 2

The U.S. declaration of war appalled New England.  It was going to disrupt the region's lucrative trade with London and the British Caribbean.

The British surge along the eastern Maine Coast angered the citizens there and Massachusetts did absolutely nothing to stop it.  However, British forces did not move on Southern Maine because they had underestimated the strength of the defense of Maine and they were still hoping to win over southern New England.

Some Maine people hated the British occupation while others saw it as a way to make money.

Smuggling was rampant in eastern Maine.  Even the most famous event to take place in Maine, the fight between the USS Enterprise and HMS Boxer, was a result of the smuggling.  A group of New England merchants had essentially hired the HMS Boxer to escort one of their ships down the coast of Maine, protecting it from privateers (American) and other British warships.

A fake battle was held off Popham Beach which drew the attention of the 17-gun brig USS Eneterprise which met the Boxer two days later and defeated the British ship.  However, the captains of both ships were killed and buried next to each other in Portland's Eastern Cemetery.

So, the War of 1812 Essentially Enabled Maine to Break-away from Massachusetts.  --Brock-Perry

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The War That Made Maine a State-- Part 1

From the Portland (Maine) Press Herald "The war that made Maine a state: The British occupation of eastern Maine in the War of 1812 prompted a split from Massachusetts" by Colin Woodard.

I was completely unaware of the Massachusetts "ownership" of Maine before the war.

Before July 18, 1814, the fifty American soldiers at Fort Sullivan, guarding the town of Eastport on the promontory behind what is now Shead High School had little to do except watch the little boats plying across the waters of Passamaquoddy Bay, many carrying contraband.

But then, this day, they spotted a 74-gun British ship of the line bearing doen on them along with three other warships and transports carrying 1000 British troops.  They readied the fort's six cannons, but resistance was really out of the question and the fort's commander Major Perley Putnam surrendered.

This was part of a bigger British operation which, within just a few weeks, put all of eastern Maine under their control.

Maine had been ruled as an internal colony of Massachusetts ever since the 1650s, when their support for the British Crown in the English Civil War versus Parliament allowed the more populous colony to take Maine over.  Bostonians even referred to Maine as the Eastern Territory.

For the past century, there had beed an insurrection against Massachusetts control, led mostly by backcountry towns like Whitefield, Jefferson and Liberty.  Wealthy port towns like Portland, Wiscasset and Castine were against independence for trade reasons.

More to Come.  --Brock-Perry

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

This Is a Good One: 5 Tips for That War of 1812 Party You're Planning

From the June 18th Mental_Floss Blog "5 Tips for That War of 1812 Bicentennial Party You're Probably Planning" by Ethan Trex.

I got a kick out of reading these suggestions.

1.  DO NOT kidnap and sailors. (Especially those from the Sailabration.  This could cause your neighbors to call the cops.)

2.  DO pace yourself.  Not a whole lot really happened.  Most fighting in 1813, treaty ratified 1814, deciding battle 1815. (Well, I'm not sure how it can be a deciding battle if the war is over.  Probably the best-known battle, though.)

3.  DON'T even think about looting the White House.  Besides getting yourself arrested and in big trouble, the ship carrying the captured loot from it sank off Nova Scotia coast on the way back and the British never got any of it. (Crime doesn't pay.)

4.  DO launch bottle rockets to get some of that red glare in your backyard.  These were Congreve rockets, a giant iron bottle rocket mounted on a 15-foot-long bamboo pole that could go a mile and create quite a bit of destruction but were extremely inaccurate.  (You might hit some neighbors mad at you for destroying their house.)

5.  DON'T forget to visit Brookeville, Maryland.  President James Madison hid here August 26, 1814.  It was a little rural settlement 18 miles from Washington, D.C..  Madison ran the country from here for a day.  The town's 140 residents still call their town "U.S. Capital for a Day."  (I didn't know that.  On my travel itinerary now.)

I Wonder If They Drank Beer Back Then?  Gotta Have Beer At a Backyard Cookout.  --Brock-Perry

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Pittsburgh's Role in Perry's Victory

From the June 25th Pittsburgh Tribune-Review "Perry legacy spans centuries" by Craig Smith.

Oliver Hazard Perry was 27 when he was charged with building a fleet on Lake Erie to stop the British Navy.  He turned to Pittsburgh for manpower, suplies and know-how to accomplish the task.  Heavy rope, anchors, iron nails, cannon shot and other materiel were shipped 130 miles from Pittsburgh to Erie, Pennsylvania, on Lake Erie.

Within a year, Perry had built nine ships with lumber from the surrounding area.

Perry was born in 1785 in Rhode Island and his ancestors on both sides of his parents were accomplished Navy men.  By the age 12, he had sailed on his father's ship to the West Indies.  By the age of 14, he was a commissioned midshipman learning to be an officer on his father's ship.  In 1897, he became a lieutenant in the Army.

The ships were built on Presque Island becaus eit was the best-protected natural harbor on the American side of Lake Erie.  His supplies were shipped from Pittsburgh on the Alleghenny River/French Creek system to Waterford and from there on the Waterford and Erie turnpikes.

Once his ships were finished, Perry sailed to Put-in Bay and from there, on September 10, 1813, engaged the overconfideant British fleet.  Although his flagship USS Lawrence was knocked out of action, Perry rowed over to the USS Niagara and continued the fight and winnibng a resounding victory.  The British surrendered and Perry sent the famous message, "W have met the enemy and they are ours."

For the action, he became a hero.  he had significant contributions later in the war at the Battle of Thames and received a Congressional Medal of Honor (or what passed for one back then) and a promotion to captain.

Now, You Know.  --RoadDog

Did T.J. Really Say That?

From the June 17th Globe and Mail "Reliving the War of 1812 to give the dead their due" by Peter Power.

When Thomas Jefferson found out that the U.S. had declared war on Britain, he remarked "The acquisition of Canada this year, as far as the neighbourhood of Quebec, will be a mere matter of marching."

He figured it was ours for the taking.

Definitely one time this great man was more than a little wrong.

Open Mouth, Insert Foot.  --Brock-Perry

Monday, June 25, 2012

A War of Utmost Importance

From the June 19th Chicago Tribune by Dennis Byrne.

describing the war as the "least celebrated war" and "one of the most bungled."

It was "so obscure that many Chicagoans will be surprised to learn that the Fort Dearborn Massacre was one of the earliest battles" where 500 Potawatomi and other Native American tribes allied with the British killed, wounded ot captured 100 soldiers and civilian men, women and children evacuating the fort under promise of safe passage.


Fortunately for the U.S., the British were involved in a life or death struggle with Napoleon in Europe.

Both Fance and Britain ignored American neutrality in their conflict which was part of the reason for the War of 1812.

Britain was pulling US sailors off our ships and also arming Indians against us.

Congressional War Hawks wanted to invade and annex Canada.

Britain had 500 ships and 500,000 soldiers.

The U.S. had 6 warships and 5,000 regular Army soldiers supported by poorly trained and equipped state militias.

Out troops were led by "incompetent, coweardly, prideful or confused generals, mostly old guys left over from the Revolutionary War."

An Interesting Overview of the Situation in 1812.  --Brock-Perry

"Don't Give Up the Ship"

From the June 20th USA Today Letters.

In response to an article in the uSA Today on the declaration of war last Monday back in 1812, George Halo of Forked River, New Jersey, wrote that his ancestor was Captain James Lawrence, commander of the USS Chesapeake who was mortally wounded by small arms fire after his ship was boarded.  His dying words were "Don't give up the ship" which has become a US Navy motto.

He was buried in the United Trinity Church graveyard in New York City and was later covered by dust from the 9/11 World Trade Center Attack.


From the June 17th (Maine) Morning Sentinel.

After war was declared, the U.S. government commissioned 526 merchant vessels to act as privateers to capture British shipping during the course of the war.

About 45 privateers operated out of Casco Bay, the fastest and most successful beig the Dash, a topsail schooner which captued 15 prizes during the war.

It is kind of strange to me that less than 50 years later, the Lincoln government viewed Confederate privateers as pirates.


Saturday, June 23, 2012

A War of 1812 Timeline-- Part 2


April--  Napoleon abdicates.  British blockade extended to New England.
August 24-25--  British burn Washington, DC..
July-September--  British occupy eastern Maine from Eastport to Bangor.
Autumn--  Thousands on Maine militiamen muster to defend Portland.
Dec. 24--  Diplomats sign the Treaty of Ghent, ending the war.


Jan. 8--  Battle of New Orleans
February 17--  President Madison declares the war officially over.


A War of 1812 Timeline-- Part 1

From the  June 17th Maine Morning Sentinel.

OK, let's get some of the key dates sorted out.


June 18th--  U.S. Declaration of War.
July-August--  Fort Mackinac and Detroit fell to British troops.
August 19th--  The USS Constitution defeated the HMS Guerriere.
November--  A British blockade of South Carolina and Georgia established.


March--   British blockade extended from Long Island to the Mississppi River.
April 27--  American forces captured York (Toronto).
September--  Americans defeat the British at the Battle of Lake Erie.
October--  Americans rout Indians allied with the British at the Battle of Thames.

More to Come.  --Brock-Perry

The War Not Popular in Maine

From the June 17th Maine Morning Sentinel "War of 1812 very unpopular war in Maine" by Kelly Bouchard.

John Diguo was a 20-year-old shipwright from Cape Elizabeth and on the brig Spitfire on his way to New York City May 1, 1811, when a British warship captured the American ship and Diguo found himself impressed into service of the Royal Navy.

He became one of the some 10,000 Americans to become impressed, one of the reasons for the war.

The U.S. declaration of war on June 18, 1812, caused Maine to separate from Massachusetts and it went on to become a state in 1820.  The move to statehood was led by William King, a Bath businessman who served in the war and later became the state's first governot.

The whole of New England opposed the war and came close to seceding from the fledgling country.

It's War.  --Brock-Perry

Thursday, June 21, 2012

A Lot About the War On It's Bicentennial

As I expected, there have been a lot of articles in the press about the US declaration of war June 18th.  Most were about how little is known about the war and general apathy among Americans.  Canadians, on the other hand, regard it as a major step in their country's progression to independent country.

I know I didn't know a lot about it, but sure have been learning a lot it by researching for this blog.  If you want to learn it, blog it.

I expect this blog to last until sometime in 2015, Blogspot willing and if the creek don't rise.  A real learning process for me.  I am also planning on getting Walter Lord's excellent book on the war and reading it.  I also get a lot of updates from my Google War of 1812 alert, which is the basis for the blog.

Of course, we will now have to see how the press continues with reporting the war.

Not So Forgotten, You Know.  --Brock-Perry

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Time to Give Canada Some Respect-- Part 3

On the last 197 years.

**  Canada is the largest market for U.S. exports in the world, buying about 20% of our stuff.

**  Our bilateral automobile industry is leading the way.  Some vehicles cross the border seven times while being made.

**  Canada now supplies about 25% of the oil the U.S. imports and nearly 90% of our natural gas. (Judging by what I pay at the pump, I'd have to say they are getting wealthy.)

**  Canadian and U.S. militaries cooperate. A Canadian general directed the air defense of North America on 9/11 and nearly 300 American planes landed in Canada that day when American air space was closed.

**  Canadian troops had one of the toughest missions in Afghanistan.

**  One of the world's largest unmilitarized borders between the two countries.

Our Good Buddies, the Canadians.  --Brock-Perry

Time to Give Canada Some Respect-- Part 2

**  Canada celebrates the war as it is generally seen as a victory over the Americans.  America started the war to absorb Canada and failed to do so.

**  Canada is spending $28 million to commemorate the war despite monetary problems (they've even had to close five consulates in the U.S..

**  The Canadian postal service has issued two stamps commemorating heroes from the British side.

**  U.S. citizens only dimly aware of the war.

**  Bills to create a bicentennial commission in New York, where much of the action took place, have been repeatedly vetoed.

**  The Mexican War, as a result of it ten states owe their creation, registers even lower on nation consciousness.

But, the nearly 200 years since the War of 1812 have brought about friendly relations between the two countries. 

Next Post.  --Brock-Perry

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Time to Give Canada Some Respect-- Part 1

From the June 17th Chicago Tribune editorial by Stephen R. Kelly.

June 18th, the U.S. declared war.

**  "A mere matter of marching"-- Thomas Jefferson's expectations on American victory

**  This to conclude the unfinished business of the American Revolution.

**  Americans thought a few well-times thrusts into Canada would end it.

**  U.S. war declaration reached British troops on the border before Americans opposite them.

**  War very poorly executed on American side.

**  Essentially three undistinguished years of conflict.

**  Two sides decided to call it off with very little to show for it other than looted border settlements and a slightly charred White House.

And More to Come.  --Brock-Perry

Well, I Wasn't Gonna

I am still mad at Blogspot for just putting me out in never-never land with no reason given or explanation as to how I can right it, if indeed I did do anything wrong.  I was actually enjoying the time off and saved by not doing the seven blogs.

I was even considering being done with it all, or at least until the end of the summer and fall seasons when I would move everything over to some other place (I do enjoy the research).

But, I felt I really had to say something about the start of the War of 1812, so there you are.  And, since I did this, I also started up my World War II, History and Me blogs.  Maybe tomorrow I'll do my Roadlog, and two Civil War ones.

Sometimes, the Best Laid Plans.  --Brock-Perry

Monday, June 18, 2012

The War Begins!!

Two hundred years ago today, the War of 1812 began with a declaration of war by the Congress of the United States.  The new country was going to take on its Mother Country, England, then the strongest military in the world when the Navy was included.  Fortunately for us, England was very much involved with Napoleon in France and we were considered a second front at best.

I had begun this back in April with the intention of having 4-5 entries about the war and events planned for the bicentennial until I was stopped by Blogger a little over a month ago.