Thursday, November 29, 2012

Plattsburgh, NY, Planning Bicentennial Events

From the November 18, 2012, Plattsburgh (NY) Press-Republican "Activities to Focus on War of 1812."

For the next 22 months, real time events of 1812 leading to the 1814 Battle of Plattsburgh will be featured in a series of articles by Colin Read culminating in September 2014 on the 200th anniversary of the battle. 

He has extensively researched the Plattsburgh Republican newspapers from 1812 to 1814.  He will be summarizing battles of the war and translating the language of the era into what present-day readers can easily understand.

Read was very surprised by the negative attitudes of townspeople toward Native Americans such as the St. Regis tribe, who lived near the present-day Akwasasne.  Some Americans back then wondered whether the Indians would side with the British or Americans.

Looking Forward to Reading Those Accounts.  --Brock-Perry

War Holds Key to Native American Banishment

From the Nov. 2, 2012, Wilton (Ct) Bulletin by Joan Lowandy.

It may be "The Forgotten War" to most Americans, but it was anything but that to Native Americans.  "It marks an indelible turning point in their history."  They siding with the British which "made clear what every Indian and colonist already knew, that there could be no peace until one side or the other was completely destroyed,"  according to David Koch, associate professor of history at the Housatonic Community College in Bridgeport.

The U.S. victory in the war began the serious expansion westward.  Indians sided with the British because they considered the Americans a greater threat.  They already knew Americans were land-hungry.

No Connecticut tribes were involved in the war, with the last time the Indians in the state fighting whites in the King Philip's War, 1675-1676.

With the Indians siding with the british, this gave Americans the excuse to kill any natives standing in their way.  In addition, against this onslaught, Indians further compounded their problems by often fighting each other instead of uniting.

Bad Times for Indians.  --Brock-Perry

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Naval Pictoral of the War

From the Nov. 5, 2012, Niagara This Week "A Visual History of Naval Engagement"

A pictoral history of War of 1812 naval engagements consisting of more than 40 prints will be on display at the Grimsby Museum.  Most are by renowned marine artist Peter Rindlisbacher.

They cover actions in the Great Lakes Basin: Lake Huron, Lake Erie, Lake Ontario and were on display until November 25th. 

The museum is located at 6 Murray Street in Grimsby, Canada.

Oops, missed It.  Maybe the artist has a website?

Always Very Interested in the Naval Actions of Any War.  --Brock-Perry

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Did the Town Fool the British? Probably Not.

From the Nov. 20, 2012, Star Democrat.

St. Michaels is the town that claims it fooled the British during the War of 1812, but author Christopeher George things probably not.  During the war, the British attacked the town on the Chesapeake and according to legend, the townspeople hung lights from trees to cause them to fire their rockets too high and miss the town.

However, it was the British plan all along to attack at dawn, which would have caused the use of lights in trees to be moot.  During the attack, the British captured a battery, but failed to do the same with the shipyards in the area.

Plus, the story of the lights was first recorded in the 1880s.

Somebody Made Up a Big Story?  --Brock-Perry

$4 Million Spent on Olympics

The Canadian government spent over $4 million of its $28 million budget advertising the War of 1812 during last summer's Olympic games in Britain.


Sunday, November 18, 2012

The War in Indiana Along the Wabash

On my way back from North Carolina in a couple weeks, I plan on taking US-41from Evansville to Terre Haute in the state.

I plan on visiting the locations of both Fort Knoxs in Vincennes and Fort Harrison in Terre Haute.  Also, there was the site of the ambushes at Attack At the Narrows in between the two towns.  At Vincennes, I always knew the story of Fort Sackville and george Rogers Clark, but nothing about Fort Knox and I had no knowledge of Fort harrison at Terre Haute.

That will be of interest since a lot of operations at the three places took place 200 years ago, so it will be my bicentennial thing.


Saturday, November 17, 2012

USS Oneida-- Part 4

On April 25, 1813, the American fleet, led by the Oneida, sailed to York, Upper Canada (now Toronto) and on the 27th, the troops of Gen. Zebulon Pike disembarked and captured the town.  On May 27th, the Americans took Fort George.

On July 27th, the fleet sailed back to York to liberate prisoners and seize provisions.

The following year, July 31, the Oneida went to the Niagara River and with the USS Jefferson and USS Sylph and other ships, blockaded Kingston.

One of the Oneida's cannons is at Clayton, New York, and another is at the French Creek Bay Marina.

And, you never heard of the USS Oneida.  I hadn't either.


Friday, November 16, 2012

The USS Oneida-- Part 3

From Wikipedia.

The Oneida was a brig mounting sixteen 24-pdrs and with a crew of 100.  On June 5, 1812, before the declaration of war, the Oheida captured the British schooner Lord Nelson while enforcing the Embargo Law.  (This ship became the USS Scourge.)

On July 19th, the British squadron sailed into Sacket's Harbor to recapture it.  The Oneida anchored in position to rake the enemy ships and mounted guns from the other side on shore into a battery.  After a two hour battle, the British ships withdrew.

Then, it became a major antagonist of the HMS Royal George, the two most-powerful ships on Lake Ontario.

On November 8, 1812, it sailed out of Sacket's Harbor under the command of Commodore Isaac Chauncey, to intercept a British ship carrying supplies to Kingston.  It, and the American fleet, chased the Royal George into the Bay of Quinte where they lost sight of the British ship.  The Americans found the Royal George the next day and cannon fire was exchanged, but a gale ended the battle and the Royal George escaped again.

More to Come.  --Brock-Perry

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Drummer Boy of Fort McHenry-- Part 2

Elaine Sauer found that John Michael Lightner, Henry's father, was a drummer boy in the American Revolution and had bequeathed the weathered drum he had played at Valley Forge under General Washington to Henry who carried it with him when he joined Captain John Berry's Washington Artillery of the First Regiment.

The wooden drum stayed with the family until 1961, when Henry Lightner McCulloh, namesake and grandson, donated it to the Star-Spangled Banner Flag House in Baltimore where it is on permanent display.  He figured it was safer there as family children went up into the attic for generations and played with it.

The ropes and leather have been replaced on the drum, but the wooden cylinder and drumhead are original.

Sauer used old records to locate the grave site.

October 13th was designated Henry Lightner Day.

I am so glad that the family has done right by their ancestor.  I had never heard of the Drummer Boy of Fort McHenry before this.

Now, That Is One Drum With a Lot of History.  --

The Drummer Boy of Fort McHenry-- Part 1

From the Nov. 11, 2012, Baltimore Sun "Family honors War of 1812 hero with headstone" by Mary Gail Hare.

Henry Lightner's unmarked grave was found and after 130 years, got a proper monument.  Called "The Drummer Boy of Fort McHenry" at 16 years of age, he joined a militia unit and drummed along the march to defend Fort McHenry.  On September 11, 1814, he helped sound the alarm that the British were coming and continued his drumming throughout the night of the "Rocket's Red Glare, Bombs Bursting in Air."

He died in 1883 at the age of 84 and was buried without a marker in a Baltimore cemetery.

That has now been corrected as he now has a new headstone from the Veterans Administration with hjis name, rank, service in the Maryland militia, birth and death.  The family added the words "Drummer Boy of Fort McHenry" a flag and a drum.

After the war, he had worked as a roofer, fathered 12 children and was always called by that name.

His story was passed down through the generations until Elaine Sauer, 5 generations removed, started doing some online research about him and found many distant relatives along with where he was buried.

A Pounding On That Drum.  More to Come.  --Brock=Perry

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Privateering and Boatbuilding in Talbot County

From the April 29, 2012, Easton (Md) Star Democrat by Jean Griffith.

The British Navy far outnumbered that of the United States.  The Congress Act of 1812 provided "letters of marque" for those interesting in using a private ship to attack British shipping.  They would be known as privateers.  This set off a frenzy of activity in Talbot County building privateers.

Pilot Schooners were very useful and would be armed with a long gun called a "Long Tom" and had large crews for boarding with muskets, cutlasses and boarding pikes.

There were 25 shipbuilders in Talbot County at Harris Creek, Easton, St. Michaels, Hopkins Neck, Broad Creek, San Domingo Creek and Third Haven Creek.  None of them were naval architects, but all had practical knowledge of the craft.

Congress required each captain to keep a journal and turn it over to the collector of customs when arriving at a U.S. port.  The journals would include the value of prizes taken, their disposition and any useful information on the enemy.

Of interest, US Navy purser Samuel Hambleton of Martingham, Talbot County, achieved renown for designing the battle flag with the slogan "Don't Give Up the Ship" flown during the Battle of Lake Erie, September 1813.  He was on Perry's flagship and operated two guns.

Aye, It's a Privateer's Life for Me.  --Brock-Perry

It Was a Mudball Attack!!

From the April 29, 2012, Buffalo (NY) "Lewiston boys' attack on warship with mudballs authenticated by letter" by Richard E. Baldwin, News Niagara Reporter.

Lewiston boys built a homemade cannon out of a log and rolled mud into the shape of cannonballs according to a local folk legend.  Now, the Historical Society of Lewiston says it has evidence that this actually happened and that a British schooner reversed course and retreated down the river after seeing it.

They have a copy of an 1865 letter by Alexander Miller, who was 15 years old in 1810 when he led his friends on the "Mudball Attack."  He and a dozen boys built a makeshift fort on the bank of the Niagara River and cut down some maple trees and turned them into ten cannons.  They then brought up barrels of clay from the river bed and fashioned them into cannonballs and let them dry after which they stacked them.

When Miller ordered his boys to fire, two split apart and two others dislodged, but two "mudball cannonballs" splashed into the river by the schooner and it turned tail.

Legend has it that British officers later came to Lewiston to complain but were told the boys were simply firing a salute.

Not Sure How They Fired Anything From a Log, But a Good Story Nonetheless.  --Brock-Perry

Monday, November 12, 2012

Sorting Out Laura Secord's Role

From the April 29, 2012, Niagara Gazette by Don Glynn.

Laura Secord is credited for putting her life at risk after overhearing American officers dining at her house in Queenstown that they intended to surprise the British outpost at Beaver Dam and also capture the British officer Lt. James Fitzgibbon.

She walked twenty miles and was captured by British Indian allies, the Caughnawaga and then taken to Fitzgibbon.

The Americans did not attack February 23rd as she had said and she was questioned.

Three hundred Caughnawaga and 100 Mohawks attacked Lt. Col. C.G. Boerstler's rear guard and they surrendered.

Laura Secord's American counterpart, Betsy Doyle, escaped the fall of Fort Niagara in December 1813 and walked 300 miles to the American camp near Albany where she worked as a nurse.

Filling in the Blanks.  --Brock-Perry

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The USS Oneida-- Part 2

Part of the contract for the ship involved 110 gallons of liquor.  Exactly what that has to do with building a ship I don't know.

One of the young officers assisting Melancton Woolsey was midshipman James Fennimore Cooper, who went on to some notoriety afterwards.

The group arrived in Oswego and after a few weeks the frame began to take shape.  By the end of 1808, the ship's deck was in place and by the end of February 1809, most of the outside work had been completed.  And, by the end of March, most of the rigging was complete.

The Oneida played a key role in several battles, including Sacket's Harbor, Kingston and the capture of York (now Toronto).

Historians are not sure what happened to the Oneida after the war.  Some think it might have been used to haul lumber for several years, beached near Clayton and allowed to rot.

Others say it was at Sacket's Harbor until 1825 and then broken up.

What Happened to It?   --Brock-Perry

The USS Oneida-- Part 1

From the March 28, 2009, Syracuse (NY) Post-Standard "USS Oneida, first warship on the Great Lakes, was completed 200 years ago in Oswego" by John Doherty.

Again, a ship I had never heard of before, but very much involved in what I have been writing about of late, some action around Lake Ontario.  The Oneida was one of the ships after the HMS Royal George that I wrote about yesterday.

Two hundred years ago, Oswego was getting ready to celebrate the launch of the USS Oneida, built from area hardwood.  At that time, Oswego really wasn't much, consisting of just a few buildings, two old forts and a few people.  It was so bad that the people had to go out and look for women to dance at the ball they had planned.

Throughout the early 1800s, tension between the new nation, the United States, and Britain and France had been increasing.  In 1808, the federal government had decided to build a warship for duty on the Great Lakes and assigned Lt. Melancton Taylor Woolsey to do it.

He negotiated a $20,500 contract with New York City shipbuilders Henry Eckford and Christian Burgh and gathered carpenters and  blacksmiths and headed to Oswego.

Out Into the Wilds to Build a Ship.  --Brock-Perry

Friday, November 9, 2012

The HMS Royal George

This date 200 years ago, the HMS Royal George escaped from an American fleet.  Again, I had never heard of this ship, even though it it was the largest ship on Lake Ontario, mounting twenty guns and  with a crew of 200.  On this date in 1812, it managed to escape from a seven-ship American fleet into Kingston.  In 1814, it was renamed the HMS Niagara and sold in 1827.

Of interest, June 30 and July 1st, 2012 there was a re-enactment of the flight of the Royal George held from Bath, Ontario to Kingston.  Ironically, the role of the Royal George was played by the brig USS Niagara.

The Royal George was one of the ships of the Provincial Marine based in Kingston along with the HMS Wolfe, HMS Duke of Gloucester, HMS Earl of Mora and Governor Simcoe.

Giddy-Up Boat and Go.  --Brock-Perry

War Events Planned for the Bicentennial-- Part 2

THE WHITE HOUSE--  Burned August 24, 1814.  Dolley Madison save the Gilbert Stuart painting of George Washington from the White House where it still hangs.

USS CONSTITUTION--  Britain had a fleet of 600 warships, the US had 17.  This is the only remaining ship from either side and still can be seen at Charleston, Massachusetts if you can stand the lines.

ALABAMA--  One of the biggest US victories was at Horsehshoe Bend, now a National Park, 100 miles southwest of Atlanta.  Andrew Jackson slaughtered the Creek Red Sticks tribe and secured 23 million acres.

NEW ORLEANS--  Famous for the battle at Chalmette referred to as the Battle of New Orleans.

GREAT LAKES--  Much fighting in Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio.

Fort Dearborn, Chicago--destroyed during the war and the massacre.
Fort Mackinac--  captured by the British and still standing.
Battle of Lake Erie 1813.  The Peace Monument at Put-In-Bay, Ohio. 352-feet high to commemorate Perry's victory and the peace along the US-Canadian border since the war.  Perry's reconstructed flagship, the brig USS Niagara is based at Erie, Pennsylvania.

SACKET'S HARBOR, NY, major US Naval base that fended off a British attack in 1813.

OLD FORT NIAGARA--  base for US invasions of Canada.  Captured by the British in 1813.

BATTLE OF PLATTSBURGH, NY--  A US victory here Sept. 14, 1814, thwarted a British invasion.

More Than You Thought.  --Brock-Perry

Thursday, November 8, 2012

War Events Planned for the Bicentennial-- Part 1

From the May 20, 2012, Fort Wayne (In) News=Sentinel "Variety of War of 1812 events planned for its bicentennial" by Beth J. Harper.

Some historians consider it as England's last effort to regain control over its former colonies.  Others call it the Second War for Independence.  Canada regards it as a U.S. land grab.

And, there were parallel wars going on at the same time.  The big one was Britain's war with napoleon in Europe (the main reason Britain didn't easily crush the U.S.).  There was also the Indian effort to keep their land from the encroaching Americans (why they allied with Britain).


Francis Scott Key wrote the words to "The Star Spangled Banner" September 14, 1814, after witnessing the British bombardment of Fort McHenry, protecting Baltimore.  The fort is now a National Park and the original manuscript of the song can be seen at the Maryland Historical Society at 201 W. Mon St. in Baltimore.

You can see the very same flag Key was writing about at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in Washington D.C..


June 13-19, the Star-Spangled Sailabration will be in town with 40 Tall Ships.  Other ports for the ships:
May 23-30 in New York City
June 1-12 in Norfolk, Virginia
July 6-8 New London, Connecticut

More to Come.  --Brock-Perry

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

USS Constitution Cannon Restored

From the October 20, 2012, "USS Constitution's cannon restored, dedication Sunday" by Phil Attinger.

The 2,000 pound cannon was not damaged when a motorist ran into the side of the trailer it was in a half block from its destination at the Lake Wales, Florida, Depot Museum at 325 S. Scenic Highway.

It is not an actual cannon from the ship, but a replica that was on the ship from 1906-1927 that had been donated to the City of Lake Wales and had been at the city library until 1993 when it was moved to a concrete pad outside the Lake Wales Depot Museum.

It was not covered and the wooden carriage rotted away and it was then moved to a storage area.  Recently it became a Daughters of the American revolution project and it was sent away for a new replica gun carriage made of concrete and steel.


War Hero Rests in Pauper's Grave-- Part 3

First Nation warriors attacked the advancing Americans from the woods.  FitzGibbon and his 50 men arrived and under a white flag, suggested the Americans surrender saying his forces was the vanguard of a much larger one and he got their surrender.

After the war, he remained in Canada and restored peace among rival factions in Upper Canada and also broke up fighting between Tories and Reformers in York.  In 1837, he organized troops who participated in the eventual route of William Lyon Mackenzie.  He finally attained the rank of Lt. Colonel.

After facing some financial problems, James FitzGibbon retired to Windsor Castle in England where he lived on a small pension as a "military knight" in quarters provided by the Crown.

He died at age 83 and is buried in the Catacombs of St. George's Chapel at the castle.

I'd Never Heard of Him Before.  --Brock-Perry

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Day, 1812: 200 Years Ago

I was unable to find the exact day of the 1812 presidential election, but will write about it today since it is vote day.

And the election was kind of mean back in 1812 as it is today.  And, there was also this war going on.

It was the incumbent Democratic-Republican President James Madison and VP Elbridge Gerry (he of gerrymandering fame) against the dissident Democratic-Republicans backing DeWitt Clinton, the nephew of Madison's vice president, and his VP candidate Jared Ingersol.

The Federalists generally supported Clinton.

Big campaign issues were the French and the British impressment.  American expansionists wanted to take over British Canada and Florida.

It was close, like today's election, with Madison getting 50.4% of the popular vote with 140,431 and 128 electoral votes to Clinton's 89.  The states of: Louisiana, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Vermont voted for him.

DeWitt Clinton got 47.6% popular with 132,781 votes and 89 electoral votes, mostly in the New England and Mid-Atlantic states:  New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

Of course, the New England states threatened to secede from the United States over the War of 1812, and by-an-large, didn't support it.  Of course, these same states did not believe the Southern states had the right to secede in later years.

Another Tight Election.  --Brock-Perry

Monday, November 5, 2012

War Hero Rests in Pauper's Grave-- Part 2

From the May 17th Hamilton (Canada) Spectator.

Continued from September 14th.

James Fitzgibbon was an Irish farmer's son and was a special protegee of Sir Isaac Brock until his 1812 death.  He rose through the ranks by merit rather than by buuying commissions as was the common practice.

During the early days of the War of 1812, he ran supplies along the St. Lawrence River from Montreal to Kingston, past American forces. 

His group used guerrilla tactics they learned from their First Nation (Indian) allies and wore gray-green uniforms and earned the name Bloody Boys, the Green 'Uns or the Bully Boys.  There is a story about how they captured two Americans in a tavern with the help of the owner's wife.

Americans at Fort George decided they were going to destroy the Bloody Boys and 600 set off to Queenstown.  Several officers stayed at the home of James and Laura Secord who overheard them boasting about a surprise attack on Fitzgibbons.  James was recovering from wounds, so Laura began her "legendary overnight trek" to warn the British.

The Story of Laura Secord's Night Trek.  --Brock-Perry

200th Post on 200th Anniversary

The last post was the 200th in this blog.  Not bad considering it just started in April as a salute to these events of 200 years ago. And, there was that off-line period back in May.

I sure am learning a whole lot about the war that I didn't know.

Very informative.


The USS Hamilton


The other ship that sank in the August 8, 1813, by Hamilton, Canada.  A schooner built in Oswego, New York as the  merchant ship Diana.  Purchased by the US Navy Oct. 21, 1812 for use in Lake Ontario based out of Sacket's Harbor.  Named after US Secretary of Navy Paul Hamilton.

Weighed 76 tons and mounted eight 12-pdr. carronade, one 24-pdr. and one 32-pdr.

Both ships contain human remains and are considered war graves.


Saturday, November 3, 2012

The USS Scourge

From Wikipedia.

Wednesday, I wrote about sailors from the USS Scourge and USS Hamilton which sank in a storm in Lake Ontarion, being honored.

I never heard of either ship, so Wiki here I come.

The USS Scourge was converted into a warship from a captured merchant schooner. It had been boarded and taken by the USS Oneida June 5, 1812 and confiscated under the Embargo Act of 1809.  This was two weeks before war was declared.

It was taken to Sackets Harbor and refitted with four 6-pdr guns and joined Captain Isaac Chauncey's squadron on Lake Ontario.

On Aug. 18, 1813, it was sunk in a sudden squall that hit at 2 AM near Fourteen Mile Creek near present-day Hamilton, Canada.  More than 80 died between it and the Hamilton.  Only 16 survived, eight from the Scourge.

In 1976, the wreck was designated a National Historic Site of Canada.

Of interest, the original owners of the ship when it was captured by the Oneida demanded compensation for its seizure and on July 11, 1817, the Court of the Northern District of New York decided that it was seized illegally, but the money to pay for it was embezzled by the clerk of the court and the owners got nothing.

Ninety-five years later, the owners' descendants again pursued compensation and received $50,000 plus 93 years interest.

Never Give Up the Ship.  --Brock-Perry

Friday, November 2, 2012

Commodore Jacob Nicholas Jones, USN

From Wikipedia.

(March 1768-August 3, 1850.  An American officer in the Quasi-War with France, the Barbary Wars and War of 1812.  Born in Kent County, Delaware.

He was definitely involved with some of the ships I wrote about last month on their 200th anniversaries.

Strangely, however, he didn't join the Navy as a midshipman until he was 31, that when some midshipmen were as young as 10.  Some think the death of his wife prompted him to do it.During the Quasi War, he served on the USS United States under Commodore John Barry and was promoted to 2nd Lt. in 1801.

On Oct. 31, 1803, during the Barbary War, he was taken prisoner on the USS Philadelphia in the Bay of Tripoli, but freed in 1805. 

In 1810, he was given command of the USS Wasp and during the War of 1812, on Oct. 18, 1812, captured the HMS Frolic and that same day he was again captured, this time by the HMS Poictiers.

He was widely acclaimed after his prisoner exchange despite losing his ship.  He then was given command of the USS Macedonian, a captured British ship before getting bottled up with the USS United States in New London, CT. in 1814.  He was then transferred to Lake Ontario and given command of the USS Mohawk during the last year of the war..

During the Second Barbary War, he again commanded the USS Macedonian and later captained the USS Guerriere, another captured British ship.  From 1821-1823, he commanded the Mediterranean Squadron, then the Pacific Squadron 1826-1829 and then was Navy Commissioner in Washington, DC. 

He commanded the Philadelphia Navy Yard from 1847 until his death.

So here was a guy captured twice and then who commanded two captured ships.

Must Have Been In His Blood.  --Brock-Perry

War of 1812 Timeline: November 1812

November--  James Madison re-elected president
November--  British blockade the coasts of Georgia and South Carolina

Nov. 9--  Escape of the HMS Royal George
Nov. 10--  Commodore Isaac Chauncey blockades Kingston Harbor
Nov. 13--  Second Battle of Queenstown Heights

Nov. 19--  Destruction of Prophetstwon
Nov. 20--  Skirmish at Lacolle

Nov. 22--  Spur's defeat, Second Battle of Tippecanoe
Nov. 22--  USS Vixen vs. HMS Southampton
Nov.  22--  Skirmish at Maumee River, Ohio

Nov. 23--  Americans retreat from Upper Canada
Nov. 23--  Raid at St. Regis
Nov. 23--  Raid at French Mills, New York

Nov. 27--  Americans attack Fort Erie redoubts

Nov. 28--  Skirmish at Frenchman's Creek
Nov. 28--Dec. 1--  Smyth's failed invasion of Upper Canada

We'll See What Happened.  --Brock-Perry