Monday, June 30, 2014

The British Get Surprised at Battle of Craney Island, Virginia-- Part 3

From the June 22, 2013, Stars and Stripes "War of 1812: An American Surprise at Craney Island" by Mark St. John Erickson.

The first two parts were posted in June 2013, so it is about time I finished the story.  To see the first two parts, click on the Battle of Craney Island label on this post.  The battle took place on June 22, 1813.

The American fortifications were hastily thrown up to thwart the British advance and consisted of three large caliber naval guns, four 6-pound field pieces manned by militiamen of the Portsmouth Light Artillery.  Also, there were 150 sailors and Marines from the USS Constellation and the Navy yard.

They had just finished getting the three naval pieces in place when the 2,500 Royal marines and soldiers arrived.

British Colonel Sir Thomas Sidney Beckwith arrived at the creek, only to find he couldn't ford it at high tide.  he opened fire at long range with Congreve rockets and the American guns replied and pounded the British who suffered heavy casualties.  The naval guns were particularly effective.

More to Come.  --Brock-Perry

Saturday, June 28, 2014

200 Years Ago-- June 28th 1814: USS Wasp Captures HMS Reindeer

JUNE 28TH, 1814:  The USS Wasp captured the HMS Reindeer in the English Channel.

During a failed American raid on Odelltown, Lower Canada, Lt.Col. Benjamin Forsyth is shot and killed, his body returned to Champlain, NY, for burial.

JUNE 28TH AND JULY 7TH, 1814:  Americans intercept contraband on Lake Champlain destined for the navy yard at Ile aux Noix, Lower Canada.

JUNE 29TH, 1814:  Lt.Col. Joseph Bouchette, Surveyor general of Lower Canada, gives land grants along the Grand Portage between Lake Temiscouata and the St. Lawrence River to disbanded soldiers of the 10th Royal Veterans Battalion, "for the purpose of facilitating the Communication between Lower Canada and New Brunswick.

JUNE and JULY, 1814:  Arrival at Quebec City, Lower Canada, of materials and pieces of frigates-in-frame for the naval forces on the Great Lakes.


Friday, June 27, 2014

200 Years Ago Today: June 26-27, 1814: Barney's Fleet Breaks Blockade

JUNE 26TH, 1814:  Captain Joshua Barney's flotilla breaks through the British naval blockade on St. Leonard's Creek and moves into the Patuxent River, Maryland.

JUNE 27TH, 1814:  A raiding force under American naval Lieutenant Francis Gregory burn a nearly completed schooner at Newcastle, Upper Canada.


Thursday, June 26, 2014

Chesconessex Creek, Virginia

Tuesday, i wrote about an engagement at Chesconessex Creek in Virginia.  Follow up on it.

Chesconessex Creek is in Accomack County in Virginia's eastern peninsula.    It is to receive a marker in Virginia's War of 1812 Trail according to House Bill 1602.  It and other markers are  to be paid for by special license plates.

Other markers already erected for the War of 1812 Trail.

AFRICAN-AMERICANS IN 1812 in Northumberland County


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

200 Years Ago-- June 25th-July 24, 1814: British Reinforcements Arriving

JUNE 25-JULY 24, 1814:  Arrival of British reinforcements at Quebec City, Upper Canada.  The downfall of napoleon had freed up British troops to go to North America and fight the Americans.

British troops arriving during this time:  1st Battalion, 82nd regiment, 4th Battalion 1st regiment of the Royal Scots, 1st battalion 8th Regiment and 9th regiment, Nova Scotia Fencibles.


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Timeline: Engagement at Chesconessex Creek, Va.

JUNE 24TH, 1814:  British Marines destroy a battery at Chissinsack (Chesconessex), Virgina.

Chesconessex Creek in in Occomack, County, on Virginia's eastern peninsula.

In 2011, the Virginia House had a bill to form the Virginia War of 1812 Heritage Trail to consist of highway markers for various events that took place in the state.  They plan to help pay for the signs with special War of 1812 license plates.


Nautical Term: Spar Deck, Spar-Decked Frigate

In case you're wondering.

SPAR DECK is an upper deck or a light deck fitted over an upper deck.  Frigates at the time usually had just a single deck of guns.  A spar deck would present two decks of guns.


HMS Leander-- Part 2: A Large Spar-Decked Frigate

The Leander was a new type of ship in the British Navy.

It is too bad that neither one of these British frigates ever were able to engage their American counterpart.  And, it wasn't for not trying.  They gave chase to American frigates on several occasions, including the USS Constitution.  But, they were never able to bring on a fight.

The 5th Rate HMS Leander was completed 18 February 1814 and had a crew of 450.  It was 174-feet long and had a 45-foot beam.  It's armament consisted of thirty 24-pounders on the upper deck, twenty-six 42-pdr. carronades on the spar deck as well as four 24-pdrs. on the forecastle.  (I have also seen it listed as carrying 50 guns.)

The Leander fired 3000 round shot at Algiers during the Second Barbary War and also spent some time as the flagship of the North American Station before being refitted as a receiving ship in 1822 and it was broken up in 1830.


Monday, June 23, 2014

HMS Leander, Frigate Designed to Take on the American Super-Frigates-- Part 1

From Wikipedia.

Last week I mentioned the USS Rattlesnake, a brig, being captured by the HMS Leander on June 22, 1814.

Much was made about the success of American frigates fighting British frigates during the War of 1812.  But those victories were not so glorious when you consider the huge superiority in construction and armament enjoyed by our ships.  It didn't take the British long to realize they needed ships that could stand muzzle-to-muzzle with the U.S. ones.

They designed their own super-frigates.

The first two were the HMS Leander and its sister ship, the HMS Newcastle.

The HMS Leander was competed 18 February 1814 and participated in the Napoleonic Wars, War of 1812 and the Second Barbary War.

It was a new type of ship in the British Navy.  If frigates were essentially what became  cruisers, these frigates (and the American ones) were heavy cruisers.


Saturday, June 21, 2014

USS Rattlesnake

From Wikipedia.

As mentioned in the last post, it was captured on June 22, 1814, 200 years ago.

Fourteen-gun brig built in Medford, Massachusetts as a privateer and purchased by U.S.Navy in 1813.  Sailed from Portsmouth, New Hampshire 10 January 1814 under Master commandant John O. Creighton and sailed with the USS Enterprise to the Caribbean and took three prizes before being forced to split up and run for it ny a British frigate.

It put into Wilmington, North Carolina.

It was back to sea under Lt. James Renshaw and captured eight more merchant ships along the Atlantic coast.  On May 31st it was again chased by a British frigate and managed to escape after throwing all but two guns overboard.

Its evading luck ran out on June 22, 1814, when it was captured by the HMS Leander off Cape Sable, Nova Scotia.  The Leander's captain reported that the Rattlesnake had 22 cannons aboard, but had thrown all overboard during the chase and it had a crew of 131.

The British Admiralty recorded the USS Rattlesnake being captured on July 7. 1814, however, and that is considered to be most likely the capture date.

It was purchased by the British Navy, but no further records of the ship have been found.

When Chased, Throw Those Heavy cannons Overboard.  --Brock-Perry

200 Years Ago: Capture of USS Rattlesnake

JUNE 22ND, 1814l  HMS Leander captured the USS Rattlesnake off Sable Island, Nova Scotia, Canada.


Friday, June 20, 2014

Francis Hoyt Gregory: From War of 1812 to End of the Civil War

From Wikipedia.

Francis Hoyt Gregory (born 1789-October 4, 1866).  Officer in the U.S. Navy, eventually becoming a rear admiral who was impressed by the British, fought pirates, fought the British in the War of 1812, led two gallant raids, was captured in August 1814, refused to take parole and was held in England and held until June 1815.

He then served in the Navy until 1858 when he retired and then returned during the Civil War.

Born in Norwalk, Connecticut.  While in American merchant service, was impressed by the British, escaped and was appointed midshipman in U.S. Navy January 16, 1809 and reported to the USS Revenge under  the command of Oliver Hazard Perry.

He was later sent to the Gulf of Mexico and as acting captain of Gunboat 162 had three encounters with pirates.  On August 7, 1811, off Pensacola, attacked and crippled pirate schooner La Franchis.  Three days later, off Mobile, attacked and captured pirate schooner Santa Maria.  Then on September 11,captured pirate ship La Davina and schooners La Sophie and Le Vengeance.

He served in Lake Ontario during the War of 1812 under Commodore Isaac Chauncey and participated in attacks on Toronto, Kingston and Fort George.  There was no mention of his capture of the Black Snake, however.

In August 1814, he was captured by the British and refused to accept parole. Taken to England, he was held until June 1815 before release.

I will write about his Civil War service in my Running the Blockade blog.

Quite a Heroic Man I've Never Heard Of Before.  --Brock-Perry

200 Years Ago: Sinclair-Croghan Expedition to Upper Great Lakes Begins

Cont. from yesterday.

Captain Arthur Sinclair, commander of the U.S. Lake Erie squadron, set sail from Erie, Pennsylvania, on 19 June with seven vessels and contingents of soldiers from several regular regiments led by Lt. Col. George Croghan.  After immense effort, the squadron was hauled across the shallows of the St. Clair River and entered Lake Huron in mid-July.

Also on JUNE 19TH, 1814:  An American gunboat force commanded by Lt. Francis Gregory capture the British gunboat Black Snake in the St. Lawrence River near Kingston, Upper Canada.  Gregory is forced to scuttle his prize when pursued by additional British gunboats from Kingston.


Thursday, June 19, 2014

War of 1812 Timeline, June 19, 1814

JUNE 19TH, 1814:  Captain Arthur Sinclair and Lt. Col. George Croghan begin a four-month expedition against the British in the upper Great Lakes.

United States Secretary of the Navy William Jones ordered a joint army-navy expedition to the Upper Great Lakes.

 The campaign had several objectives: the recapture of Fort Mackinac with an eye to disrupting British-First Nations (Indians) and Metis relations, the capture of British Fort St. Joseph, the destruction of any British shipbuilding facilities and generally to secure the command of the upper Great lakes.


In Case You're Wondering What Antifogmatic Was

Antifogmatic referred to a liquor taken to counteract the effects of damp or wet conditions.  An alcolholic drink.


Wilmington's Great "Skeeter" Battle-- Part 4: "To the Right About Face"

"The officers of the two parties met, shook hands, took antofogmatic together which some provident souls had secured in portable flasks, and brought along to keep off the chill.  (One has to wonder what an antofogmatic is?)

"The word was given 'to right about face'  and we found ourselves retracing our steps toward Wilmington, the whole population of which, of all colors, orders, ages, sexes and condition, had apparently followed to see the fight & fun, or to gratify curiosity.

"And altho' North Carolina's latest & greatest historian (referring to John Hill Wheeler (18016-1882) author of "Historical Sketches of North Carolina from 1584-185.") has failed to record the mighty deed, long will the battle of Greenfield be imprinted on the memory of the people of Wilmington."

Only three participants of the battle were still alive when this account of the little-known battle was written in the 1850s.

No Bloodshed, Just Bites.  --Brock-Perry

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Wilmington's Great "Skeeter" Battle-- Part 3: What Actually Happened

So, now we have a tense stand-off going on between the Wilmington soldiers and those being inhumanely pestered by mosquitoes at Greenfield.  In case you're wondering about the gaunt, hoosier-looking captain who said the mosquitoes were sucking their blood to the general, hoosier-looking mans inexperienced, awkward or unsophisticated.  (I have to wonder if Indiana is aware of this definition?)

That hoosier-looking Captain continued: "Howsomdeavor if they were to be baggonetted [bayoneted] to death he supposed they must submit.  He didn't like it nohow;but it was he, the general, who requested it, he supposed they moust stay a leetle longer.

"The general spoke soothingly to them; talked about patriotism,, love of country, and all that sort of thing.

Looking Like the Whole Thing's Not Going to Result in Bloodshed.  --Brock-Perry

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Wilmington's Great "Skeeter" Battle-- Part 2 "Mosquitoes Were Sucking All Their Blood"

"We soon found ourselves marching in the direction of Greenfield, with loaded guns and pistols primed, bristling bayonets and drawn scimitars glittering in the rising sun beams.

"The tents of the Greenfield regiments were surrounded and their officers ordered to appear....  Our commander advanced and addressed them, telling them he understood they were in a state of mutiny and had threatened to go home....

"A gaunt hoosier-looking Captain replied that the mosquitoes were sucking all their blood, and that they had not even a [negro] to bring them water from the spring when they were sick; that they were not used to such hardships & he'd be darned if they would put up with it any longer."

Wonder What Happened Next?  --Brock-Perry

Monday, June 16, 2014

Wilmington's Great "Skeeter" Battle-- Part 1

Continued from June 4, 2014.

Referring to the militia unit camped at Greenfield Lake about a mile south of Wilmington.  These men were essentially under a major attack from a very hungry mass of mosquitoes and their buddy gallnippers.  Things got so bad, they were ready to have a mutiny.  Continuing with the account of the near-battle:

"News was brought to our commanding general that they (the militia at Greenfield Lake) were in  a state of mutiny.  About daybreak next morning the town division of the army was aroused from our slumbers by the drums and fifes, and the cavalry summoned by the loud blast of the bugle, issuing from the wind-pope of Philip, the mulatto trumpeter."

More to Come.  --Brock-Perry

Friday, June 13, 2014

Some War of 1812 Terms in Use Today: Three Square Meals, Learning the Ropes

May 30, 2014 Olean Times Herald "County historian cites War of 1812 history wealth in our backyard" by Kelsey M. Boudin.

Allegany County historian Craig Braack gave a talk and related some interesting information about the war's connection with two oft-used expressions in use today.

THREE SQUARE MEALS A DAY:  Today, our plates are round and when you store them there is a lot of wasted space between them in the cupboard.  Not so on a ship, where space is always at a premium.  Sailors ate off trays that were space wasted.  One got a square meal.

LEARNING THE ROPES:  In order for seamen to advance in rank they had to know what each and every one of the myriad of ropes and sails did.  They had to learn the ropes.

I Sure Didn't Know That.  --Brock-Perry

Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Great "Big Rope" Carry 200 Years Later-- Part 3: Jaime Brockett's Rope Story

I came across a video of the "Big Rope" carry on WWNY TV 7.  Worth watching "200 Years Since the Great Cable Carry."

But, technically, both the article and the video referred to the American warship as a battleship which we didn't have until the end of the century.  It was a frigate, more along the lines of a cruiser.  Ships-of-the-line were that eras "battleships."   Just saying. 

Also, with all this rope talk, I can't help but be reminded of that classic 8-minute-long Jaime Brockett song "The Ballad of the USS Titanic."  In this he explains the role that 298 and a half feet of rope had in the sinking of the Titanic.  If you've never heard it before, go to You Tube.

"You've Got to Let It Out Captain!!!"  --Brock-Perry

The Great "Big Rope" Carry 200 Years Later-- Part 2: Something You Don't Learn in School

Local Boy Scouts participated as well and were still eager to carry that "Big Rope" despite having carried it ten miles the day before.    All of this was to honor the American soldiers and civilians waho made a similar walk 200 years earlier.  I have to wonder what kind of merit badge they can get for carrying that rope? 

Kevin O'Rourke, a spokesman for this year's cable-carry (they've done it before?) said: "The kids learn about the local history of the cable carry through this event which sometimes (try, all the time) gets overlooked in the schools."

The event served as a major turning point of the war.  After the Americans win the Battle of Big Sandy Creek, they had to transport supplies to Sackets Harbor.  The cable was needed for the rigging and anchor of a frigate, the USS Mohawk, that the Americans were building there.

The cable had moved from New York City to near Oswego by water, but the British were still in control of Lake Ontario and figured they could capture it if the Americans tried to move there.

So, the Americans moved it by land.

The one carried this past weekend, however, was much lighter than the original one was.

O'Rourke also said that what was important for the kids was that they were outside in the open air  and "not in front of the game consoles."

I'm not so sure it was a major turning point of the war, myself, but itwas important.

Walk Tall, But Carry a Big Rope.  --Brock-Perry

The Great "Big Rope" Carry 200 Years Later-- Part 1

From the June 8, 2014, Time Warner Cable News "War of 1712 Cable Carry Re-enacted 200 Years Later" by Elizabeth Jeneault.

And, I just found out about this "Big Rope" about a week ago when I was researching the Battle of Big Sandy Creek in New York.  And, here it is being re-enacted.  Obviously, someone better versed in the War of 1812 history knew.

I found this to be a very interesting sidelight to the war.

There was a great picture of a bunch of people, including youngsters, carrying the "Big Rope" as well as a video, but since I am not a TWC subscriber, I couldn't see it.  I'l have to try You-Tube.

Jefferson County. New York:  "People in Jefferson County carried a 600-foot-long rope 20 miles this weekend to commemorate a War  of 1812 event.  Elizabeth Jeneault explains why locals believe it's so important to remember the "Great Cable Carry."

I'd Prefer It Called the "Great Big Rope Carry."  --Brock-Perry

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

War Timeline-- 200 Years Ago: USS Mohawk Launched, Fortifications at Plattsburg, NY

JUNE 11TH, 1814:  The frigate USS Mohawk (42 guns) is launched on Lake Ontario.  This vessel, along with the USS Superior (58 guns) , launched in May helps restore naval superiority on Lake Ontario to Commodore Isaac Chauncey in the summer of 1814.

The launch of these ships only occurred when those guys carried the "Big Rope" mentioned in yesterday's post.

SUMMER 1814:  The Americans construct fortifications at Plattsburg, NY, capable of resisting land-or-water-based attacks.


War of 1812 Timeline: 200 Years Ago Today-- British Raids in Maryland

JUNE 8-10TH, 1814:  British raids up St. Leonard's Creek, Maryland.  More action took place between the American and British fleets.  The Americans fled seven miles up the Patuxent River to St. Leonard's Creek.  The Americans were bottled up there.

The British continued raids along the Patuxent River June 12-16th.

The American fleet fought its way out of St. Leonard's Creek on June 26th.


Monday, June 9, 2014

Walk Tall and Carry a "Big Rope"

From the Adirondack Almanack.

Despite the victory at the battle of Big Sandy Creek, it was determined that carrying the needed supplies to the American ships awaiting launching at Sackets Harbor was too dangerous by water as the British fleet still held the upper hand on Lake Ontario.

Much of what still needed to be taken to Sackets Harbor was meant for the USS Superior, a frigate building there, and which would give the Americans the edge in power in Lake Ontario.  This included the anchor line and a lot of rope for the ship's rigging, some 600 feet of 6-inch rope weighing almost five tons.  It was aptly given the name "Big Rope."

The Americans had no cart big enough to transport it along the land.

It was decided to put a section of it on a cart and then trail the rest of it along the trail like a snake and carried by militiamen.

It was estimated that between 84 and 200 carried that "Big Rope.  It took two days to move it the 20 miles to Sackets Harbor.  All of the militia men arrived with abrasions, cuts and large deep-purple bruises.  There was much celebrating in Sackets Harbor and the men received an extra $2 for their ordeal.

Where There's a Will, There's a Way.  --Brock-Perry

Background of the War-- Part 4: Treaty of Ghent

British hero Duke of Wellington, fresh from his victory in the Iberian Peninsula was asked to assume command of British forces in North America, but refused, doubting that he could win any victory anytime soon.

Then, along with the September 1814 loss at the battle of Lake Champlain, the British were turned back in their attack on Baltimore.

The British still held ground in eastern Maine, Fort Niagara and American territory along the Niagara  River plus much Indian land along the Great Lakes,  but prospects of peace were still a long way off.  And then, peace talks with France started breaking down and British Prime Minister Lord Liverpool advised the British peace commissioners to recognize the "inconvenience of the continuance of the war."

In October 1814, British Secretary of State of Foreign Affairs, Lord Castlereaugh, instructed British Commissioners meeting with the Americans in Ghent to make peace by returning to the "status quo ante bellum," a return to the state of affairs before the war.

The commissioners on both sides quickly hammered out peace and signed it  on principle on December 24, 1814.  Britain signed the treaty on Dec. 27 and the American government did the same on February 17, 1815, thus ending the war.

A Pretty Good Summation of the War on a Larger Scale.  --Brock-Perry

Background to the War-- Part 3: The Naval War on the Great Lakes

A crucial fact of the war was the 1,500 mile distance between Quebec City and Detroit, during an age of nonexistent roads.  Control of the Great Lakes was an absolute necessity for the British.  Their fortunes had a major setback in September 1813 when the American fleet under Commodore Perry defeated the British one at the Battle of Lake Erie.

This meant that British ships could no longer go through that Lake.

Then, control of Lake Ontario was deadlocked because of a naval shipbuilding race in which neither commander dared risk it all.

Then, in September 1814, a British attack on Plattsburgh, New York, by the largest army they ever fielded on the continent was thwarted when the British Navy which was supposed to guard its flank was defeated by Macdonough's American fleet.


Background to the War-- Part 2: Bad American Assumptions

The rationale for the war was based on two assumptions by the Americans.  NUMBER ONE: That Napoleon would keep Britain fully engaged in the war on the continent.  NUMBER TWO:  When our troops marched into Upper Canada they would be welcomed as saviors.

Both assumptions proved wrong.  Napoleon was defeated and forced into exile, freeing up British troops and ships to come to America.  And not only didn't Canadians flock to their "saviors,: they organized and fought alongside the British.

Though the population of the U.S. outnumbered  Canada 10 to 1 (6 million to 600,000), the bulk of the conflict took place along the border states like New York.


Background of the War-- Part 1: The New England Thing

From the June 8, 2014, Finger Lakes Times "Way Back When in Wayne County: Naval decision made all the difference" by Peter Evans.

Some interesting background to the fighting.

Peace discussions began almost the same day the war began.

The Congressional war declaration passed completely along party lines.  The Federalists in New England were completely against the war, even though they were the ones adversely affected by the British trade embargo laws and impressment of American sailors.  New England shipping interests had lost 1,000 ships and almost 10,000 sailors during the years leading up to the war.

They saw these losses just the cost of doing business with war-torn Europe.

As a matter of fact, there was a time when New England appeared ready to secede from the United States, so much was their opposition to the war.


Way Back When in Wayne County, NY: Two Battles Fought Here

From the June 8, 2014, Finger Lake Times by Peter Evans.

The British and Amereicans fought twice in Wayne County during the War of 1812.

The first time was at Sodus Point, on June 19, 1813.  The second time was at Pultneyville, May 15, 1814.


Saturday, June 7, 2014

Fort Shelby in Wisconsin

From Wikipedia.

I have recently mentioned this fort as being built 200 years ago this month in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin territory.

Built 1814 at Prairie du Chien.  Named for Isaac Shelby, Revolutionary War soldier and first governor of Kentucky.  It was a wooden palisade fort built on a mound with a blockhouse.

Captured by the British at the Siege of Prairie du Chien in July 1814 and renamed Fort McKay after Major William McKay, commander of the British force and remained under their control until the end of the war.  It was destroyed when they left.

American Fort Crawford built on the same site in 1816.


Friday, June 6, 2014

A Salute to D-Day: A Vanishing Generation

Continuing with today's Chicago Tribune article--  Part 3.  Part 1 was in today's Down da Road I Go blog and part 2 in today's Cooter's History Thing.

The War of 1812 was being fought 200 years ago today.  One hundred and thirty years ago, British, Canadian and American soldiers were also at war again, only this time fighting on the same side.

"About 15 million of the 16 million Americans who served in the war are now dead, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.  Each day, the government estimates, an additional 413 World War II veterans die.

Not so long ago, it seemed that most men of a certain age had served in World War II.  But there are only so many men in their late 80s or 90s, and that means there are only so many men like Rossetti who can speak firsthand about the war that freed Europe from Hitler and Benito Mussolini.


War of 1812 Timeline: June 1814

JUNE 6, 1814:  U.S. General William Clark establishes Fort Shelby at Praiie du Chien, Wisconsin territory.

JUNE 6TH, 1814:  The British Secretary of War, the Earl of Bathurst, orders Lt. Governor Sir John Coape Sherbrooke to occupy the part of the District of Maine "which at present intercepts the communication between Halifax and Quebec."

The marches of the 104th Regiment and others had opened British eyes wide to the strategic importance of the Saint John River as a conduit for reinforcements during winter.  The invasion of eastern Maine to secure that route was seen as part of a major offensive that would include escalation of the Chesapeake Campaign and the invasion of Upper New York via Lake Champlain.

The British captured Moose Island, Passamquoddy Bay on 11 July, and in early September an army-navy contingent of 2,500 men took possession of the entire Maine coast between Penobscot and St. Croix rivers.  This guaranteed that troops who might have to march up the frozen Saint John River would not have to worry about the enemy along the way.


War of 1812 Timeline: June 1814.

JUNE 1, 1814:   British raids on Cedar Point and St. Jerome's Point, Maryland.  This was an indecisive encounter near the mouth of the Patuxent River between American and British ships.  Both sides maneuvered and fired at each other at long range, but no damage was done.  The Americans broke off the fight.

JUNE 2-5, 1814:  Americans take possession of Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin Territory and start construction of Fort Shelby.   This was a preemptive move by the Americans to occupy this fur trading settlement at the confluence of the Wisconsin and Mississippi rivers.  They feared that the British might use it to launch an offensive operation down the Mississippi River.


The Rest of the Story on Wilmington's 1813 Defense

The mutinous American soldiers were camped at Greenfield, describes as being a mile south of Wilmington.  The name is familiar to me as a park and lake in the city.  I imagine this to be the same one.  With the gallnippers and mosquitoes abounding there, it would make sense this is the place.

Greenfield Lake is in downtown Wilmington today, but was originally developed in the 1730s by Dr. Samuel Green to aid in his rice production.  In later years, it became a recreation destination with diving boards, docks, bathhouses and a pavilion built.

In 1918, an amusement park opened there and today it is the site of the Greenfield Lake Amphitheatre (Hugh Morton Amphitheatre which hosts all sorts of events including a concert July 5th this year by Bruce Hornsby and in September the Eli Young Band.

A far Cry From Those Skeeters.  --Brock-Perry

Thursday, June 5, 2014

And, Now for the Rest of the Story of the Defense of Wilmington: What Are Gallnippers?

In the last post, I mentioned the American regiment at Greenfield, in defense of Wilmington, NC, in 1813, as being plagued by mosquitoes and "Gallnippers."  Whereas I am very familiar with mosquitoes (today, when I parked the boat trailer over by Kora's for the summer, I was accosted by one huge bunch of mosquitoes rising out of the grass.   It reminded me of those World War II movies when you had all those bombers and fighter in the air).

But, I was not aware of gallnippers, but figured they were something like a mosquito.

They were.

Gallnippers are especially prevalent in Florida.  It is a name given to Psorophora Ciliata, and especially large species of mosquitoes.  Adults can be 1/2 inch long and have a reputation as aggressive biters with a marked preference for human blood.

The males are harmless, but, oh those females.


Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Defense of Wilmington, 1813-- Part 4

The troops billeted in Wilmington, but one regiment was at "Greenfield," a mile below the town.  They constructed little log huts which they put up hastily for the occasion.

They soon became quite dissatisfied with their location; they could not even with bayonets, if they had them, drive off the invading arm of mosquitoes and gallnippers that assaulted them by day, as well as by night.

News was brought to our commanding general that they were in a state of mutiny."

Up Next, the Battle of Greenfield?  --Brock-Perry

The Defense of Wilmington, NC, in 1813-- Part 3

The residents of Wilmington were expecting an attack by the British at any time.  They had landed at Ocracoke, just up the coast.  The state militia was called out.

Fayetteville sent a company of light infantry, Sampson County furnished a company of light horse.  Richmond did too.

The "sickly season commenced" and there was much illness among the militia.  One company looked particularly hard hit.  But, the British did not come.

The Troop of Horse consisted of 80 men: "Col. Hill was the best horseman I ever knew & the most graceful figure on horseback.... and often did we dash at full speed thro' the town, the horses' hoofs thundering along the streets, the clattering of steel sabre-sheaths, & the yelling of the boys, as if to say 'the devil take the hindmost."


Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Defense of Wilmington, NC, in 1813-- Part 2

In 1852, he wrote an account of the July 1813 muster in Wilmington:

"Recollection of Wilmington--Battle of Greenfield.

"At one period of the last war with Great Britain, it was assumed a sanguinary and devastating aspect, the British government had given orders to their fleet on our coast to lay waste with fire and sword every available point of our country.  Admiral Cockburn, who commanded, and had never distinguished himself in any other service than that of robbing hen roosts, was well-fitted to execute the barbarous mandate.

"Witness his infamous outrage upon the inhabitants of Hampton, with numerous excesses of a kindred nature."

Obviously, Mr. Jones was not a big fan of Cockburn.


The Defense of Wilmington, NC in 1813-- Part 1

From the September 21, 2011, War of 1812 Bicentennial 2012-2015.

In June 1813, the British fleet under Raer Admiral Sir George Cockburn established a blockade of the Chesapeake Bay.  From there, his ships made many shore incursions, including a squadron sent southward to Ocracoke Inlet, NC, where they occupied Portsmouth, south of the inlet, for four days 13-16 July.

Alarm spread throughout the state and Governor William Hawkins called out the local militia and ordered them to rendezvous at New Bern, Edenton, South Washington and Wilmington.

In Wilmington, the New Hanover Troop of Horse under Colonel Nathaniel Hill mustered in with the militia.

One of the members of the Troop was John D. Jones (1789-1854), who later commanded the brigade and after the war was a lawyer, planter, legislative member and president of the Bank of the Cape Fear.  

More to Come.  --Brock-Perry

Monday, June 2, 2014

War of 1812 Timeline: June 1814

JUNE 1814:  Upon receiving news that Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin territory, had fallen to American forces, the Mississippi Volunteers, a British unit formed primarily of voyageurs and fur trappers, is raised at Fort Mackinac to help recapture the lost post.

JUNE 1, 1814:  British raids on Cedar Point and St. Jerome's Point in Maryland.

JUNE 2-5, 1814:  Americans take possession of Priarie du Chien, Wisconsin territory and start construction of Fort Shelby.

JUNE 3, 1814:  The British Secretary of War, the Earl of Bathurst, orders Governor General Sir George Prevost to take offensive action against the Americans with the reinforcement of 13,000 regulars that will soon arrive from Europe.  Prevost will allocate the majority of these troops to the September 1814 campaign in northern New York near Plattsburg and Lake Champlain.


Battle of Big Sandy Creek-- Part 2

On May 29th, the American expedition reached the mouth of the Big Salmon River where their presence was discovered by the British.  The Americans were joined by 120-130 Oneida Indians at this place.  At 8 AM, the British began a cannonade of the Americans at the mouth of the Big Sandy Creek and advanced.  But the Americans and Indians had hidden themselves and ambushed the British as they advanced  A ten minute battle ensued and the British surrendered their entire force.

American losses of the 250 regulars and 125 Indians were two wounded.  The British force under Stephan Popham, lost 13 killed, 28 wounded and captured and 140 others captured.


Battle of Big Sandy Creek, New York-- Part 1

From Wikipedia.

I mentioned this battle in the timeline on the previous post.

Fought in northwestern New York May 29-30, 1814.  A force of American militia and Oneida Indians surprised a force of British sailors and marines.

After their successful attack on Fort Oswego May 5-6, 1814, the British withdrew from Oswego to the Galloo Islands in Lake Ontario to keep watch on supplies going to Sackets Harbor where three American ships (the brigs Jefferson and Jones and frigate Superior) were waiting for cannons and rigging.

Unfortunately for them, they had missed these when they attacked Fort Oswego as they were nearby, but further up the Oswego River.

these supplies had been sent from the Brooklyn Navy Yard in New York City, up the Hudson River to Albany, NY, and then on the Mohawk River to Wood Creek and Oneida Lake before arriving at the Oswego River.  Here, they stopped while the British took Fort Oswego at the mouth of the river by Lake Ontario.  This was quite an accomplishment in itself, going all that distance, but thankfully water routes were available.

Commodore Isaac Chauncey at Sackets Harbor ordered an expedition under Melancton Taylor Woolsey to get the supplies.  The British found out about the supplies and sent their own expedition to intercept.