Friday, July 25, 2014

200 Years Ago:Sinclair's Expedition

JULY 23-26, 1814:  Captain Arthur Sinclair's raid up the St. Marey's River (Sault Ste. Marie), Upper Canada.

After burning the abandoned Fort St. Joseph, he sent a flotilla of boats with sailors and infantry up St. Mary's River.

They torched the North West Co. trading post and storehouses as well as the locks of the first Sault Ste. Marie canal (built in 1798 to allow freight cannons to bypass the falls).  They also captured and burned the company's schooner, the Perseverance, one of the few British vessels on the Upper Great Lakes.


Thursday, July 24, 2014

200 Years Ago: Second Treaty of Greenville

JULY 22ND, 1814:  The Second Treaty of Greenville, Ohio, reestablished peace between the United States and the Wyandot, Lenape (Delaware), Shawnee, Seneca and Miami Nations.

I am not sure about what happened to the first treaty?


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Unproductive Cruise of the USS Congress

From "War of 1812: The Navy's War" by George C. Doughan.

In December 1813, the USS Congress returned to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, from a long cruise  in the South Atlantic.  The ship's commander was Captain John Smith.

In its 8-month voyage, the Congress had only captured four British prizes.  It was the most unproductive frigate voyage of the war and the ship's crew's enlistments were coming up and most were leaving thee service.

In May, 1814, Secretary of the Navy Jones sent what was left  of the crew to Sackets Harbor to man the new frigate USS Mohawk.  The Congress' guns were sent further up the Pisctagua River for protection.

In September 1814, Charles Morris was put in charge of getting the USS Congress ready for duty again.


Saturday, July 19, 2014

200 Years Ago: Battle of Rock Island Rapids, Illinois

JULY 21ST, 1814:

Battle of Rock island Rapids, Illinois Territory.  An American force attempting to relieve Fort Shelby at Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin Territory, is defeated by Sac (Sauk) Fox and Kiikaapoi (Kickapoo) Indians.

While on Lake Huron, Captain Arthur Sinclair's flotilla captures the merchantman Mink, laden with provisions for St. Mary's River, Upper Canada.


200 Years Ago: Americans Test Fort George and Fort Mississauga

JULY 20-21:    Aftre the Battle of Chippawa, the Americans under Major General Jacob Brown marched to Queenston, Upper Canada.  On July 20th, they sent forces against Fort Mississauga and Fort George.

The column approaching Fort Mississauga came under heavy fire and withdrew.  This was the only time teh fort's cannons fired on an enemy.

A second force approached Fort George and began to dig siege batteries.  The British shelled the Americans.  The U.S. naval commander on Lake Ontario, Commodore Isaac Chauncey, failed to transport the heavy guns needed to capture the British forts from his base at Sackets Harbor.

On 22 July, without the necessary artillery, Major general Brown withdrew to Queenston.

The was the limit of the American advance on the Niagara Frontier in the 1814 campaign.


200 Years Ago: American Raid on Port Talbot and Burning of Ft St. Joseph, Upper Canada

JULY 20, 1814:  American raid on Port Talbot, Upper Canada.

JULY 20, 1814:  The burning of Fort St. Joseph, Upper Canada.  The American expedition to the Upper Great Lakes under Captain Arthur Sinclair arrives off St. Joseph Island in mid-July.

A shore party burns the abandoned British fort and the fur traders' storehouse.


Friday, July 18, 2014

200 Years Ago: British Marines Take Leonard's Town, Maryland

JULY 18TH, 1814:  Facing no resistance, British Marines take possession of Leonard's Town (Leonardtown), Maryland taking prisoners and destroying military stores.


200 Years Ago: British Recapture Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin Territory

JULY 18TH, 1814:

British and First Nation allies capture Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin territory.

Prairie du Chien was a small fur trading post at the confluence of the Wisconsin and Mississippi rivers and was occupied by French-Canadians and managed by British merchants.

On June 2, 1814, the governor of Missouri Territory, William Clark, afraid that the British would use the post to launch an expedition down the Mississippi River, seized control of the post without incident and built Fort Shelby.

Under prominent fur trader William McKay, a force of about 120 voyageurs, Michigan Fencibles, and officers of the British Indian department and over 500 fighters from nations including the Ho-chunk (Winnebago), Menominee and Arishnabe (Ojibwe) set out to retake it.

With little ammunition and only 60 regulars to defend the post, the Americans surrendered after a shirt siege and returned home on parole.


200 Years Ago Today: Fighting in Upper Canada After the Battle of Chippawa

JULY 18TH, 1814:  American troops burn St. Davids, Upper Canada, following a fierce fight with local militia.

After the Battle of Chippawa, the U.S. Army advanced to Queenston, Upper Canada.  Foraging parties were sent out to requisition (take) supplies, and their unrestricted looting infuriated local inhabitants.

On July 18th, a force of New York militia led by Lt. Col. Isaac Stone was attacked near St. Davids.  Although resistance was expected, the Americans barely escaped with their lives.

They returned the next day and completely destroyed the village.

Stone was dismissed from the Army because of his actions.  This incident marked a change in the attitude of many of the inhabitants towards the Americans and their increasing brutality,  Local men, once eager to avoid military service or even ready to surrender to the Americans, now took up arms in their defense.


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Kentucky's Boone County Involved in War of 1812-- Part 2

Boone County residents were mad about the usurpation of the fur trade by the British and their friendship with the Indians, especially Shawnee Chief Tecumseh.

Kentucky supplied 25,010 troops to American service and suffered more casualties than all the other states combined.  Troops from the state served everywhere during the war.

Cannonballs were made in Bath County.  The biggest ingredient in gunpowder, saltpeter, came from Saltpeter and Mammoth Caves in Kentucky.  Troops mustered in at Newport Barracks.

Boone County militia under Uriel Sebree were at River Raisin.  Petersburg resident John Norris served under Perry at the Battle of Lake Erie and Litterberry Noel was at the Battle of New Orleans.


Kentucky's Boone County Involved in War of 1812-- Part 1

From the June 24, 2013, "Column: Boone County played role in War of 1812" by Tom Schiffer.

"War of 1812 was really a 'Kentucky War,' and along with it a Boone County War."

Kentucky interests were at stake. and it wasn't from British impressment of American sailors.  There were many raids on Kentucky settlements by Indians, aided and abetted by the British.  Men, women and children  murdered, captured and carried into slavery.  Cabins were burned down, livestock killed and crops destroyed.

In 1810, Kentucky's population was 406,511, even more than Ohio which had 230.700.  Boone County was the oldest county in the state, founded in 1798.  In 1810, it had a population of 3,608, more than double its 1800 one.


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Hampton, Virgina Pillaged by British-- Part 3

The Sack of Hampton

Lt. Col. Napier picked up an American Rutherford rifle found on the battlefield,  and that gun is now at the Hampton History Museum.

After the battle, the French troops, members of the "Independent Companies of Foreigners" went on a rampage of stealing, raping and pillaging.

The British departed a destroyed town on June 27, 2013.  several bodies were found in the ruins.

There are conflicting reports as to what happened.


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Hampton, Virginia, Pillaged By British-- Part 2: The Defense

A little over a year and a half later, U.S. General Andrew Jackson rallied his troops at the Battle of New Orleans with the cry "Remember Hampton!!"

British Lt.Col. Charles Napier wrote, "Every horror was committed with impunity, rape, murder, pillage."  It is said that he had to restrain his troops from joining into the horrors being committed.

Hampton's defenses were poor, manned by 450 militiamen, mostly from the town and many of them quite sick.  However, major Stapleton Crutchfield and his men had repulsed an earlier June attack at Harris Creek.  They had also built a battery of four 12-pounder long guns which commanded the Hampton River from Cedar Point and then a secondary battery of three 6-pounder guns at Blackbeard's Point.

They fought well against 40 attack barges rowing down river before dawn.  The British fired Congreve rockets and also fired from guns in their boats.  They drove the British back after 45-minutes.  Two Hampton houses were set on fire by the rockets.

Meanwhile, other British troops had landed.  The Americans were able to resist until the enemy brough up their cannons.  The militia was driven off and the batteries captured.


Hampton, Virginia, Pillaged By British-- Part 1

From the June 22, 2013, Hampton Roads, Va. Daily Press "War of 1812: British raiders pillage Hampton" by Mark St. John Erickson.  Again, the go-to guy for anything War of 1812-related in eastern Virginia.

British Rear Admiral George Cockburn landed soldiers and Marines on the north shore of Hampton Roads during the pre-dawn hours of June 25, 1813.  He had already led incendiary raids along the shores of northern Chesapeake Bay in the spring, including the May 3rd plundering and burning of 40 houses in Havre de Grace, Maryland.

But "nothing prepared Americans for the outrages his troops committed after overwhelming a furious but hopelessly outnumbered defense and sacking of the town of Hampton."

So villainous was the trail of plunder, homicide and sexual assault left largely by the French soldiers who made up part of Cockburn's command that one incensed Virginian offered a reward of $1,000 for the admiral's head and $500 for each of his ears, the Niles Weekly Register of Baltimore reported.

Mean Old Cockburn.  --Brock-Perry

Monday, July 14, 2014

Sinclair's July-August Upper Great Lakes Campaign

Captain Arthur Sinclair was given orders to take the American Lake Erie Squadron on a campaign to retake the Upper Great Lakes during July-August 1814.    It was largely unsuccessful attempt.  The removal of British forces at Detroit caused the effort to be taken.

The only success for the Americans was the capture of three British merchant ships and the destruction of an abandoned fort at St. Joseph's Island and a raid on a trading post at St. Mary River.

Sinclair failed to recapture Fort Michillimackinaw.  Two schooners were lost on the return voyage.


Saturday, July 12, 2014

USS Siren-- Part 2

One of the crew members of the Siren when the HMS Medway captured it was Samuel Leech who later wrote an account of his experiences with the rather long title "Thirty Years From Home, Or a Voice from the Maine Deck, Being the Experience of Samuel Leech, Who Was Six Years in the British and American Navies, Was Captured in the British Frigate Macedonian Afterward Entered the American Navy, and Was Taken in the United States Brig Syren, By the British Ship Medway."

Sounds like an interesting book, even with a title like that.  I doubt that many sailors were captured while serving in both navies during the War of 1812.

According to Leech, afterwards, the crew of the Siren were taken to the Cape of Good Hope where they were landed and marched to jail in Cape Town and held there until transferred to England after the war was over.  They were later released.


USS Siren-- Part 1

From Wikipedia.

The USS Siren, originally named the USS Syren, was a 94-foot brig with crew of 120, mounting eighteen 24-pounder cannons.

Built for the Navy at Philadelphia by shipwright Nathaniel Hutton and launched in 1803 under Lt. Charles Stewart.

In the First Barbary War, the Syren carried gifts and money to the Dey of Algiers in 1803 and was later involved in the  attack to destroy the captured frigate USS Philadelphia along with the ketch USS Intrepid commanded by Stephen Decatur.

Later captured two Barbary ships and one became the USS Scourge.

In ordinary 1806 and recommissioned 1807.  In 1810, the name was changed to the USS Siren.  Not much is known of its War of 1812 service when it was initially commanded by Lt. Joseph Bainbridge.  At one point, it was searching for the HMS Herald.

On its last voyage in 1814, it captured and sank several British ships until on July 12, 1814, 200 years ago, it was seen and chased by the 74-gun ship of the line HMS Medway.  Despite lightening ship by throwing its cannons overboard, it was captured after an eleven-hour chase.

Just a Tad Outmatched.  --Brock-Perry

200 Years Ago: HMS Medway Captures USS Siren

HMS MEDWAY  from Wikipedia.

74-gun 3rd rate British ship of the line launched 19 November 1812 at Northfleet, England.

Converted to a prison ship in 1847 and sold 1865.

176-feet long, 47.8-foot beam.

Vengeur-class of ships of the line.


Friday, July 11, 2014

200 Years Ago: British Capture Fort Sullivan in Maine

JULY 11TH, 1814:  Surrender of the American garrison at Fort Sullivan, Eastport (Moose Island), District of Maine.

I have been writing about the British conquest of much of the coast of Maine in the last several posts.


Thursday, July 10, 2014

British Invasion of Maine Leads to Statehood-- Part 2

American support for the War of 1812 was weakest in New England and at one point, these states threatened to secede from the Union, something they were completely against when the Southern states did the very same thing less than 50 years later.  In Castine, Maine, town officials condemned the declaration of war in June 1812 and they didn't much like President Madison either.  To them, the war would just disrupt the trade they so depended on for livelihood.

In early July 1814, a British squadron of ships, including the bomb ship HMS Terror, sailed into Pessamaquoddy Bay and took possession of Fort Sullivan, the town of Eastport and the islands and villages in the bay.

They left 800 soldiers in Eastport and built fortifications that mounted some 60 cannons.  The town remained under British control for the rest of the war.  In September of that year,the HMS Terror took part in the British attack on Fort McHenry, guarding Baltimore, Maryland and the source of "The Star-Spangled Banner."

The British left main around the middle of 1815, long after the wra was over.

Maine, at the time, was a part of Massachusetts, which state did little to protect Maine.  This led to calls for secession.  In 1820, Maine became the 23rd state as part of the Missouri Compromise.


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

British Invasion of Maine Leads to Statehood-- Part 1

From the July 6, 2014, Midcoast (Maine) "The War of 1812 +2: Mainers mark 200th anniversary of British invasion that led to statehood" by Bill Trotter.

I already wrote that on July 5th, 1814, a British Army-Navy expedition left Halifax bound for the Maine coast.  This is a follow-up on it.

In the summer of 1814, the British Navy attacked Maine towns of Eastport, Machias and Castine.  At the time, Maine was still a part of Massachusetts.  Eventually, they controlled virtually the whole coast between Penobscot and Cobscock bays for nearly a year.

They raided towns along the Penobscot River and attacked Hampden and Bangor before returning to Castine.

However, for the first two years of the war, there wasn't much activity other than the victory of the USS Enterprise over the HMS Boxer in September 1813.

A Backwater of the War No Longer.  --Brock-Perry

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Battle of Chippawa Re-enacted Saturday

From the July 5, 2014,  Welland (Can.) Tribune "Battle of Chippawa re-enacted on same field 200 years later" by Tony Ricculo.

And, that land is still a farmer's field and looks essentially like it did 200 years ago.

Some 200 lives were lost there on July 5, 1814, and the British were forced to withdraw.  On Saturday, more than 800 re-enactors were on the same field, on the same day, to recreate what transpired there 200 years ago.

Niagara Parks Commission acquired the site in 1995 and has preserved 200 acres on the site where over 5000 British, Canadian, American and Indians fought.  Nearly 25% of the Grand River warriors fell.  They were allied with the British and fought Indians allied with the Americans.

The tactical re-enactment of the battle was fought at 2 PM.


Monday, July 7, 2014

200 Years Ago: Maine Invasion and Queenston Heights Occupied

JULY 5TH, 1814:  A joint British army-navy force departs Halifax, Nova Scotia, for the invasion of the Passamaquoddy Islands, District of Maine.

JULY 7TH, 1814:  United States troops occupy Queenston Heights, Upper Canada.  Damaged already during the October 1812 battle, the village again suffers during the occupation.


Iroquois and Grand River First Nations Meet in Council

JULY 7TH, 1814:  Shortly after the Battle of Chippawa, representatives of New York Haudenosaunee (Iroquois Confederacy allied with the United States) met with  Grand River First Nations (allied with the British) in an imporatnt council.

During the Battle of Chippawa, First Nations from the Grand River and the Western tribes confronted Haudenosaunee  from the Onondowahgah (Tuscorora) and Skaruhreh (Seneca) communities.

In the bloody, fratricidal battle that erupted, American allies lost about 26 men and the allies of the British had 90 casualties.  Both sides were dismayed by these huge losses and by the fact that they had been fighting friends and relatives.

Following the council, the majority of Haudenosaurees decided to pursue a course of neutrality for the rest of the war.


Saturday, July 5, 2014

200 Years Ago: July 5, 1814, the Battle of Chippawa

An invading American Army led by Major General Jacob Brown clashed with British forces under Major-General Phineas Riall.  Each side had roughly 2,000 men engaged in the battle in which American regulars, militia and U.S.-allied First nations were victorious.

The main battle was a European-style conflict, fought in the open, where the British were thought to be nearly invincible.  All that training by General Winfield Scott must have paid off.

The inspiring American victory is still commemorated by the gray uniforms worn by the cadets at the United States Military Academy at West Point.

The battle caused the greatest loss of life in the War of 1812 up until that time, with about 800 casualties.  More Canadian militia were killed and wounded here than in any other battle.  First Nations losses on both sides were also very heavy.


USRC Surveyor, Master Samuel Travis

MASTER:  On December 30, 1811, Samuel Travis received a commission as a revenue cutter master by the Commonwealth of Virginia and took command of the cutter Surveyor.  Earlier, he had been commissioned a 1st mate for Virginia on August 27, 1807, and began serving after the Surveyor's commissioning.

As master, his officers included John Hebb, first mate; William Phippen, second mate; and William L. Travis, third mate.  I have to wonder if the third mate was related to Samuel?  Also, was there some relationship with the Alamo's commander?

After his capture on the Surveyor, there is no record of him serving as the master of a revenue cutter.  I wasn't able to find a burial site for him on Find-A-Grave.

USRC Surveyor, 1807-- Part 1

From the United States Coast Guard History Program.


Builder: Robert Parsons, Baltimore, Md.
Rig: Schooner
Length: 68 feet
Beam: 19 feet
Displacement: 75 tons
Commissioned: 1807
Disposition: Captured by the British, 1813 Complement: 25
Armament: six 6-pounder cannons


Thursday, July 3, 2014

Revenue Cutter Surveyor and Samuel Travis-- Part 2: Its Capture

On December 30, 1811, Samuel Travis received his commission as a revenue cutter master for the Commonwealth of Virginia and he commanded the ship until 1813.

Revenue cutters at Savannah, Norfolk, Charleston, New York City, Portsmouth (NH), Wilmington (NC) and Wilmington (Del.) were put on war-footing after the U.S. declaration of war in June 1812.  They were to assist the small U.S. Navy.

On July 4, 1812, the Surveyor captured a British brig bound from Jamaica..

On June 12, 1813, a large British boarding party off four barges from the 32-gun frigate Narcissus captured the Surveyor, Travis and most of its crew while it was anchored off Gloucester Point near Yorktown, Virginia.

Travis returned to Norfolk, Virginia, on August 7, 1813,  after being paroled at Washington, North Carolina.  No record of him as a revenue cutter master after that have been found.

The Surveyor served in the British Navy after its capture, but its fate is not known.

Story of a Boat and Its Commander.  --Brock-Perry.

Revenue Cutter Surveyor and Samuel Travis-- Part 1

On July 1st, I wrote about Samuel Travis, while a prisoner on a British ship at the Battle of Craney Island on June 22, 1813, as reporting that an American shell had cut off the feet and legs of almost one entire British barge crew.

A follow up on him and his ship.

From the US Coast Guard site.

There is a painting of "The Capture of the [Revenue Cutter] Surveyor, 12 June 1813"; a watercolor by Irwin John Bevan at the Mariners Museum collection.  It is incorrectly, however, shown flying the national ensign where, as per Treasury Department regulations, it would have flown the Revenue ensign.

The schooner was built by Robert Parsons, in Baltimore, Maryland and was 68 feet long, 19 foot beam, 6 foot draft, 25 man crew and carried six 6-pounder cannons.  It was commissioned in 1807.

More to Come.  --Brock-Perry

200 Years Ago: The 1814 American Niagara Peninsula Campaign Begins with Capture of Fort Erie

JULY 3RD, 1814:  Before daylight on 3 July, American Major General Jacob Brown's army crossed the Niagara River at Frenchman's Creek, just north of Fort Erie, Upper Canada.  Surprisingly, the fort's commander surrendered without any opposition.

The British commander on the Niagara, Major General Phineas Riall, had hoped to attack the Americans while they were attacking Fort Erie.  he sent a small force under Major Thomas Pearson to the fort where he encountered Brigadier General Winfield Scott's brigade at Frenchman's Creek.

Pearson, supported by First Nation braves led by John Norton, conducted a brilliant fighting withdrawal to the main British force north of Chippawa Creek.

By the end of the day, the Americans had covered just 19 km and camped south of Street's Creek.


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

American Lt. Francis H. Gregory

From "The Naval War of 1812" by Theodore Roosevelt.

I posted about the June 19, 1814, capture of the British warship Black Snake off Kingston, Upper Canada, and then, followed up with a short biography of Gregory the next day.  Here is some more about him and his accomplishment 200 years ago as written by the U.S. president.

"Lt. Francis H. Gregory, on June 16, 1814 left Sackets Harbor after Yeo (the British commander) had ceased his blockade with two sailing masters, 22 men, in 3 gigs to intercept British provisional schooners.

"On the 19th he discovered the British gunboat Black Snake, with one 18-pound carronade and 18 men, commanded by Captain H. Landon.  Gregory attacked and captured it without loss, but was obliged to burn it, but brought prisoners, mainly Royal Marines to port (Sackets Harbor).

On July 1st, he again set off in two gigs and on the 5th, burned a 14-gun schooner about to be launched at Presque Isle and got away again."


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Engagement at Chesconessex Creek, Virginia

From the Delmar Dust Pan Blog.

Captain John R. Joynes of the 2nd Regiment (men from Accomack County, Va. served mainly in the 2nd and 99th Regiments) had a camp of 32 men on Chesconessex Creek.  On June 25, 1814, British barges were spotted by a sentinel about 2:45 AM on a stormy Monday.

Some 450 British Royal Marines and 50 Negroes from the Colonial Marines rowed up the creek and disembarked.

Joynes' men, alerted, fired a volley with their muskets and 4-pdr. cannons.  The British fired back with their 18-pdrs.

By 6AM. the British Marines returned to their ships, which included the 83-gun HMS Albion, The Dragon, Endimyon and several tenders and barges.

A skirmish also took place here during the Civil War on November 24, 1861.


War of 1812 Timeline: July 1814 War of 1812 Timeline.  The best chronology of the war that I have found.

JULY 1814:  British complete Fort George on the high ground overlooking Fort Mackinac further strengthening their positions on the island of Michillimackinac, Michigan territory.

JULY 1814-APRIL 1815:  MAINE CAMPAIGN.  British Naval campaign along the Maine coast met little opposition.  At various times, they occupied Eastport, Machias, Castine and Bangor.

JULY 2ND:  British raid St. Leonard's, Maryland, destroying naval supplies and residences.


British Get Surprised at Craney Island-- Part 5

Captain Samuel Travis of the captured revenue cutter Surveyor was a prisoner on board a British ship and later reported that one shot from the Americans cut off of the feet and legs of almost one entire barge crew..  Another source lists British losses at 71.

The British fleet retired and never attacked Norfolk again.

There will be activities June 22-13 commemorating the American victory.  There will be tours and exhibits at Fort Norfolk as well as re-enactors, flag raising, patriotic music at High Street Landing and the pealing of church bells.


British Get Surprised at Craney Island, Va.--Part 4

North of Craney Island, fifty British barges were approaching in two columns and came under fire. Royal Navy Captain John Martin Hanshette was the illegitimate son of King George III, and reportedly was eating strawberries and drinking champagne under an umbrella, so sure of success was he.  (I've also seen his name spelled Hanchett or Hanshard, but I was unable to find out much about him.)

His barge grounded on the mud flats 300 yards from the shore and came under terrific fire from the Americans.  Hanshette was among the first to fall and his death threw the barges into confusion.

The British simply were too over confidant.  Their casualties are not known.