Saturday, January 31, 2015

A Catesby ap Jones Connection to the Civil War

This past week, I have written about Thomas Catesby ap Jones, a U.S. Navy officer in both the War of 1812 and Mexican War.  The last name rang a bell with me for a man who fought in the Civil War on the Confederate side.  After all, the name Catesby ap is not one you see very often.

Catesby ap Roger Jones, commander of the CSS Virginia in its famous fight with the USS Monitor in 1862, after the wounding of Franklin Buchanan, was the son of Thomas' brother, Roger Catesby ap Jones and a part of a very distinguished military family.

His father, Roger Catesby ap Jones, was a 2nd lieutenant. in the USMC in 1809 and resigned in 1812 to become a captain in the U.S. Army.  He rose through the ranks during the war, eventually to colonel.


Friday, January 30, 2015

The Sacking of York and Washington, D.C.-- Part 2

JANUARY 30, 1815:  :"Commodore Chauncey, who has generally behaved honourably, was so ashamed of the last transaction that he endeavoured to collect the books belonging to the library and actually sent back two boxes filled with them, but hardly any were complete.

"Much private property was plundered and several homes left in a state of ruin.

"Can you tell me why public buildings and the library at Washington should be held more sacred than those of York?"

The Sacking of York and Washington, D.C.-- Part 1

From War of 1812 Timeline, Post 1814 Fire Along the Frontier.  Along with the Canadian Historic Places Time line, I find this one to be the most complete timeline for the War of 1812.

JANUARY 30, 1815:  The Rev. John Strachan of York wrote a letter to ex-President Jefferson protesting the actions of U.S, troops at York (now Toronto) the capital of Upper Canada (now Ontario).  Evidently, Jefferson had written something that was published about the burning of Washington, D.C. by the British in August 1814.

"In April, 1813, the public buildings at York, the capital of Upper Canada, were burnt by troops of the United States, contrary to the articles of capitulation.

"This consisted of the two elegant halls with convenient offices for the accomodation of the Legislature and the Courts of Justice.  The library and all the papers and records belonging to these institutions were consumed, at the same time the church was robbed and the town library totally pillaged."


Thursday, January 29, 2015

Thomas Catesby ap Jones-- Part 2

From 1841 to 1844, Thomas Catesby ap Jones was commander of the U.S. Pacific Squadron and he again commanded it 1848-1850.

Expecting a war to start with Mexico, in 1842 he seized the California port of Monterrey for one day before returning it to Mexico.  In 1843, upon hearing that British captain Lord George Paulet had seized the Kingdom of Hawaii, he sailed there and restored the Kingdom.

In 1843, he returned the deserter Henry Melville to the United States from the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii).  Melville later based his "Commodore J" in "Moby Dick" after Jones.

He arrived late in the Mexican War.

During the California Gold Rush, he provided the U.S. Navy presence in San Francisco.  Jones was relieved of command in 1850 for "oppression of junior officers."  President Fillmore reinstated him in 1858.

Never a Dull Moment With This Man.  --Brock-Perry

Thomas Catesby ap Jones, Naval Officer-- Part 1

From Wikipedia.


Naval officer in the War of 1812 and Mexican War, born in Virginia.

His interesting name means Thomas, son of Catesby Jones in the Welsh language.  He commanded the American fleet at Lake Borgne, Louisiana, which was a delaying action against the British as they drove on New Orleans in December, 1814.

In 1826, as commander of the USS Peacock, he signed and agreement with Hawaii.  The following year, the Peacock was seriously damaged by a whale and returned to New York, was decommissioned, broken up and rebuilt as the USS Peacock 1828.


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Fort Sullivan, Maine-- Part 2

After the war, the British claimed that Moose Island, Maine and Eastport were on their side of the border and left 800 men there to hold it.

After negotiations, Americans regained control of them on 30 June 1818.

During the Civil War, the Army constructed and earthwork battery in the area.

In 1973, the fort was decommissioned and sold.  The barracks were moved to 74 Washington Street.  Other parts collapsed over time.  The ruins of the powder magazine can still be seen off McKinley Street.


Fort Sullivan, Maine-- Part 1

From Wikipedia.

Back in my July 11, 2014, blog entry, I posted about the capture of Fort Sullivan in what is today the state of Maine by the British 200 years earlier on that date.

Here is some more information about the fort.

It was also called Fort Sherbrooke and was at Eastport, Maine, opposite New Brunswick, Canada.

British Commander Sir Thomas Hardy captured the fort on July 11, 1814, and renamed it Fort Sherbrooke after John Coape Sherbrooke, governor of Nova Scotia.

It had been built by the U.S. Army 1808-1809, overseen by Major Lemuel Trescott.  It was built on a local feature called Clark's Hill and was a 4-gun circular earthwork with a wooden blockhouse and barracks.


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

200 Years Ago: Madison Signs Bill Authorizing Call Up of 40,000 State Troops

JANUARY 27TH, 1815:  President Madison signs bill authorizing the President to call up 40,000 state troops.  Congress, however, had earlier limited the bill by authorizing troops only to serve in their home states with the consent of the state governors.

Kind of defeats the purpose of the bill, don't you think.  I wonder how the New England states voted.

He obviously didn't yet know about the Treaty of Ghent.


Monday, January 26, 2015

USS Wasp (1807)/HMS Loup Cervier

From Wikipedia.

The USS Wasp was constructed in the Washington Navy Yard and commissioned in 1807.  During the War of 1812, it captured the HMS Frolic, but was immediately afterwards captured and taken into British service as the HMS Loup Cervier and then the HMS Peacock.

It was lost with all hands, presumably foundered, on July 23, 1814, off tge Virginia Capes.


Saturday, January 24, 2015

The USS Sea Horse and Battle of Bay St. Louis Unrecognized for Too Long

The Mystic Krewe of the Seahorse in Bay St. Louis, cites four reasons why this particular battle should be better known:

1.  It was a classic "David vs. Goliath."

2.  The battle saved New Orleans and gave Jackson time to prepare its defenses.

3.  It was a precursor of "The Alamo."

4.  It was the last naval battle of the War of 1812 between U.S. Navy ships and a foreign power in U.S. territorial waters.

Now, You Know.  --Brock-Perry

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Tennessee's Role in the War

From the Jan. 8, 2015, Crossville (Tn) Chronicle "New TSLA exhibit explores Tennessee's role in the War of 1812."

The War of 1812 was a "pivotal period" in Tennessee's history.  Congressional leaders like Felix Grundy made the nation more aware of "western" interests and concerns.

Andrew Jackson won overwhelming victories during the Creek Wars and the Battle of New Orleans which propelled him to national attention and eventually the White House.

Nearly one third of Tennessee counties are named for men connected to the war.

The name "Volunteer State" has its roots in the thousands of Tennesseeans who fought.

Military campaigns ceded Indian lands in Western Tennessee which caused an influx of settlers.

"The war catapulted Tennessee and its lands to a position of unprecedented influence on the national stage."

There is a new free exhibit "Answering the Call: Tennesseeans in the War of 1812 which opened Jan. 5th at the Tennessee State Library and Archives consisting of sixteen panels loaded with information.  It will be open until mid-April at 403 7th Avenue, west of the State Capitol building in Nashville.


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

USS Sea Horse-- Part 3: Victory and Scuttling

The British gunboats landed at Pass Christian and attacked the garrison there in the early morning.  Meanwhile, the Sea Horse dropped anchor and its crew was sent to get some sleep.  The British attacked and got in closer than before this time.  The Sea Horse spotted them and the alarm was raised.  The crew opened fire with muskets and drove the British off.

Captain Lockyer decided to move on to his main objective, Lake Borgne and ceased attacking the Sea Horse.

During the action, several British longboats were damaged and there were an unknown number of casualties.

U.S. losses were two killed, two wounded and damage to the Sea Horse.Sailing Master William Johnson sailed to the Ulman Avenue Pier and set fire and scuttled his ship to prevent capture by expected future attacks.

I wonder if the remains of the Sea Horse are still there?

A Brave Little Ship and Crew  --Brock-Perry

Monday, January 19, 2015

USS Sea Horse-- Part 2: Mission to Destroy Supplies Before Capture

On the night of December 13, 1814, British Admiral Alexander Cochrane ordered Captain Lockyer of the HMS Armide  to proceed to Lake Borgne with 42 armed longboats and 1200 sailors and Marines along with 8 to 24-pdr cannons.

The USS Sea Horse, commanded by Sailing Master William Johnson was on a mission at that very moment to Bay St. Louis with orders to destroy weapons and gun powder before the British captured it (as they would be passing by the bay on their way to Lake Borgne.

The ship one 6-pdr. cannon and 14 men.  The USS Alligator was also in the bay at the time as it was stationed there.

The Sea Horse was spotted by Lockyer and longboats were sent to capture it.  A fight ensued and the Alligator was destroyed and Sea Horse damaged.  The Sea Horse retreated to a dock in the bay and continued the fight.  As the British came into range, a U.S. shore battery opened fire as well, forcing the British to withdraw.


USS Sea Horse-- Part 1

From the History of the Mystic Krewe of the Seahorse site.

The Krewe takes its name from the USS Sea Horse and the Battle of Bay St. Louis on December 13, 1814.  It is also called te Battle of Lake Borgne and Battle of Pass Christian.

The British Navy was advancing on New Orleans after engagements at Pensacola and Mobile.  Their plan was to sail through Rigolets and into Lake Ponchetrain, but the USS Sea Horse and the later Battle of Lake Borgne stopped it.

This battle also has an  "Alamo" connection.  Supposedly at the Alamo, one fighter exclaimed "Remember the Battle of the Bay."  This battle pitted a small group of Americans against a much larger group of British.


Saturday, January 17, 2015

British Rules of Engagement: Frigate vs. Frigate

While researching the USS President's capture, I found some discrepancy in what happened.  Had the President just engaged the Endymion or the whole British fleet?  You'd think one of our "Super Frigates" could take a regular British frigate (unless it was one of their "Super frigates" they started launching later in the war).

Obviously, one American frigate fighting a whole British squadron would not be expected to win.

But, did it fight the whole squadron?

I came across mention of British regulations requiring that equal numbers of ships being involved in battles.  The HMS Endymion was the first to engage the President.  Both ships came out of the fight seriously damaged, but Decatur knew he would then have to engage the rest of the British fleet in succession, a fight he knew he couldn't win which led to the surrender.

I'd never heard of the one vs. one ship engagement rule,. so will keep my eyes open for further mention mention of it.  But, it would seem to me you'd always want to press home an advantage like numbers superiority in battle.

And, the President was one of our capital ships and Decatur a big naval hero.

Oh, Well.  --Brock-Perry

Frigate USS President-- Part 3: Capture and British Service

Back in New York City, the President was placed under the command of Stephan Decatur, who had captured the HMS Macedonian earlier in the war.  The frigate was blockaded in New York Harbor for a year before running the British blockade of that port in January 1815.  It engaged the HMS Endymion and later the rest of the British squadron arrived and the President was forced to surrender.

It was taken into British service as the HMS President (a strange name for a British warship if you ask me)  It served until broken up in 1818.  But its design was used for the new HMS President in 1829.


Frigate USS President-- Part 2" The Little Belt Affair

George Washington picked the name for the ship to reflect a principle of the U.S. Constitution.

In 1811, the President was involved in the Little Belt Affair when the ship mistook the HMS Little Belt for the HMS Guerriere, which had been impressing American seamen.  There was an exchange of gunfire for several minutes, but no serious damage.  Blame for the incident was not placed, but it helped add to tensions between the United States and Britain.

The ship served in the Quasi War with France and First and Second Barbary wars.

During the War of 1812, the USS President made several extended cruises as far away as the English Channel and Norway.  It captured the armed schooner HMS Highflyer and numerous merchant ships.


Friday, January 16, 2015

Frigate USS President-- Part 1: A Super Frigate

From Wikipedia.

I mentioned in yesterday's and today's post, that the frigate USS President was captured this date (or yesterday) by four British frigates off New York City where it had just run the blockade.  Again, like at New Orleans, neither side was aware that the war had ended, pending ratification by the two countries, on Dec. 24, 1814 at the Treaty of Ghent.

I didn't know much about the USS President, so looked it up, of course to good old Wiki, always a fast source of information.

The USS President was a wooden-hulled, three-masted heavy frigate rated to carry four guns.  It was launched in April 1800 in New York City, one of the original six super frigates authorized by the Naval Act of 1794 (the USS Constitution was another of these).

The President was the last one completed and designed by Joshua Humphreys.  These six were to serve as the U.S. Navy's capital ships (whereas the biggest British ships were ships-of-the-line, then came their frigates.  These six frigates were larger, more-heavily armed and built than their British counterparts.  That is one reason why British frigates lost whenever engaged one-on-one with these American ones.


200 Years Ago: Capture of the USS President, Bombardment of Ft. St. Philip Continues

JANUARY 16, 1815:  The HMS Endymion, one of a squadron of four British frigates, captures the USS President.

JANUARY 9-18, 1815:  The Battle of Ft. St. Philip, Louisiana, continues as British fleet continues bombardment.  Eventually they gave up and left on the 18th.


Thursday, January 15, 2015

Fort Fisher 150th Anniversary Commemorated

Even though Fort Fisher did not exist fifty years earlier at the conclusion of the War of 1812, there is a Wilmington connection to the war.

During the War of 1812, Wilmington was never attacked by the British, despite being the biggest city in North Carolina and a major port and being right near such a huge supply of naval stores which would be very important to the Royal Navy.

However, three Jeffersonian Gunboats were built near Wilmington.  One, Gunboat No. 166, was built at Smithville (now Southport), across the Cape Fear River from Fort Fisher and some twenty miles downriver from Wilmington.  It later operated in South Carolina and was named the Alligator.

Fort Johnston, at Smithville existed during the Civil War as well.


200 Years Ago: The British Chase the USS President

JANUARY 15, 1815:  The HMS Majestic and HMS Endymion lead a squadron of British frigates against the USS President, commanded by naval hero Stephen Decatur, after the American ship leaves New York City.


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

200 Years Ago: British Land at St. Marys, Georgia

JANUARY 14TH, 1815--  Admiral Sir George Cockburn lands British force on Cumberland Island, Georgia, and occupies the mansion of Dungeness.  After dispersing the small force of American defenders attack Point Peter and defeat troops at the fort there which was built during the Revolutionary War as Fort Tonyn, now called Fort Peter or Fort Point Peter.

St. Marys was seized and large quantities of military supplies were taken.    Cockburn set up his headquarters at Dungeness and soon a number of ex-slaves sought sanctuary with him.

Fighting at sea for the War of 1812 continued, but St. Marys was the last land engagement.


200 Years Ago: British Ban Americans from Settling in Canada

JANUARY 10TH, 1815--  British government ban Americans from settling in Canada.

JANUARY 12TH, 1815--  British raid on Lakes Cove, Dorchester County, Maryland.


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

200 Years Ago Today: British Capture Fort Peter in Georgia

JANUARY 13, 1815"  A British amphibious force attacks and captures Ft. Peter and the town of St. Marys, Georgia, right on the Florida border.  They occupy the town for a month before withdrawing.

More on this tomorrow.


200 Years Ago, War of 1812: Jan. 8, 1815: The Battle of New Orleans

JANUARY 8TH:  Battle of New Orleans.  Andrew Jackson's army of 4,000 consisted of militia, volunteer citizens, free blacks, , slaves, pirates and regular soldiers.

The British campaign in Louisiana sought control of the mouth of the Mississippi River with the goal of disrupting American economic activity along the river by seizing New Orleans.

However, the slowness of the British advance through difficult bayou country of the river delta gave time for Andrew Jackson to organize the city's defense.

The main attack took place on Jan. 8th, took place over open terrain against American prepared fortifications and it was a disaster for the British.  British casualties exceeded over 2,000 out of 6,000, including the death of their commander, Major General Edward Parkenham.

The Americans lost 71.

With the defeat, the British lifted their siege and retreated downriver in search of easier targets along the Gulf coast.

Jan. 9-12.  Royal Navy warships bombard Ft. St. Philip, Louisiana, situated downriver from New Orleans.  That too fails.


Monday, January 12, 2015

War of 1812, 200 Years Ago: Hartford Convention Ends

JANUARY 5TH, 1815:   Hartford Convention--  A group of 22 delegates from Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island, meeting since December 15, 1814, wind up the convention and issued a report condemning the federal government for failing to defend New England and recommending that states negotiate arrangements with that government for their defense.

They also propose 7 Constitutional amendments to protect the influence of the northeastern states and their increasingly minority status in the United States.  Primary would be it requiring a 2/3 vote by Congress to impose embargoes, admit a western state into the Union, or begin a war (unless in case of an invasion).

It is surprising how much these seems like the situation Southern states found themselves in as the years rolled on toward the Civil War.  At that time, the New England states stood against the things they seemed to want in 1815.

Times and Economic Interests Change, I Guess.  --Brock-Perry

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Battle of New Orleans-- Part 9: Later Years

1832--  British Admiral Cochrane dies.

JAN. 8, 1840--  Jackson revisits New Orleans and the battlefield on the 25th anniversary of it.  He went to the battlefield on Jan. 10th.  He lays the cornerstone in Place d' Armes on Jan. 13th.

1844--  Keane dies

1845--  Jackson dies

1851--  Place d' Armes renamed Jackson Square.  The equestrian statue of Jackson is added in 1856.

1855--  Louisiana acquires the property where the battle was fought and construction begins on the Chalmette Monument which was finished in 1908.

1930--  The U.S. War Department acquires the property.

1959--  Johnny Horton hits #1 with his song "The Battle of New Orleans.

2005--  The visitor center on the battlefield destroyed by Hurricane Katrina flooding. It has since been rebuilt.


Battle of New Orleans Timeline-- Part 8: The Rest of 1815

All Dates 1815.

FEB. 12--  British capture Fort Bowyer at the head of Mobile Bay.  Plans were being made to attack Mobile, which probably would have fallen.  But word of the Treaty of Ghent arrives and plans are dropped.

MARCH 13--  Jackson receives word of the Treaty of Ghent and revokes martial law.

APRIL 6--  Jackson and his family return to Tennessee.


Friday, January 9, 2015

Battle of New Orleans Timeline-- Part 7: After the Battle

JANUARY 18--  Exchange of prisoners.

JANUARY 18--  Start of British retreat at 9 p.m..  They had a rear guard, but Jackson does not pursue except for a detachment of dragoons to harass the enemy.

JANUARY 21--  Fearing cholera from the many buried British soldiers, Jackson orders his army to retire to New Orleans.

JANUARY 23--  Jackson's victory celebrated in New Orleans.

JANUARY 27--  The last of the British Army rejoins the fleet and depart from the area.

FEBRUARY 4--  Word reached Washington, D.C., of Jackson's amazing victory.  people there had been expecting a defeat.  celebrations are held.


Battle of New Orleans Timeline-- Part 6: Jan. 8, 1815, the Battle

THE BATTLE, JANUARY 8, 1815 (200 years ago)

The British launched an early morning main attack, hoping to start in the darkness, but delays and confusion prevented it until early dawn.  The attack on the East Bank started late, but was able to defeat the Americans.

The main British attack on the West Bank (of the Mississippi River) consisted of 8,000 men and was repulsed with heavy losses.  Nearly 300 British were killed, including General Pakenham.  The Americans lost 13 killed.

General Lambert takes command of the British.

The British ships HMS Herald and Sophia and others begin a bombardment of Fort St. Philip, protecting the southern river approach to New Orleans.  The attack there continued for ten days, hoping to reduce the fort so the main British fleet could advance, but it also failed.  (Some 47 years later, Union Admiral Farragut simply ran past Fort St. Philip and Fort Jackson across the river and captured New Orleans.)

General Lambert begins plans to withdraw.

January 8th was a day of celebration in New Orleans every year thereafter until the Civil War.


Thursday, January 8, 2015

Battle of New Orleans Timeline-- Part 5

Dec. 25, 1814-- British General Pakenham arrives and takes command of the forces.

Dec. 27, 1814--  British sink the USS Carolina.

Dec. 28, 1814--  The British make probing attacks on the American line.  Pakenham wants to attack on the Chef Menteur Road but naval commander Cochrane disagrees.

Jan. 1, 1815--  Battle of Rodrigues Canal:  Artillery duel for three hours.  Several American guns are destroyed and the British run out of ammunition.

JAN. 4, 1815--  About 2,000 poorly armed Kentucky militia arrive in New Orleans after floating down the Mississippi River.  Only some 50 are armed.  The rest of their guns don't arrive until after the battle.  Whatever guns could be found in the city were given to them.  Their lack of armament was a big reason for the American defeat on the East Bank on Jan. 8th.


Battle of New Orleans Timeline-- Part 4

All dates 1814.

NOV. 26--  60 British warships depart Negril Bay, Jamaica, for New Orleans.

DEC. 1--  Jackson arrives in New Orleans.

DEC. 12--  British fleet arrives at Lake Borgne, Louisiana.

DEC. 13--  William Carroll, who replaced Jackson as commander of the Tennessee militia arrives at Natchez with three regiments.

DEC. 14--  British defeat American gunboats at Lake Borgne.

DEC. 22--  British troops land on Bayou Bienvenu.


Today Marks the 200th Anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans

The battle was fought January 8, 1815, between British forces and Americans under the command of future president Andrew Jackson and was a big victory for the United States.

The victory also helped Jackson to the presidency and spawned that famous song by Johnny Horton that I am humming right now.


Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Battle of New Orleans Timeline-- Part 3

DECEMBER 16--  The British begin landing troops at Pea Island.  The Louisiana legislature goes into a panic and Jackson declares martial law in New Orleans.  A curfew is enforced and sailors are impressed.

DECEMBER 20--  Jackson orders Coffee and his troops at Baton Rouge to come to New Orleans.

DECEMBER 23--  British occupy the Villere plantation.  Jackson launches an Indian-style night attack on the British at Lacoste's plantation.  British have 46 killed, Americans 24 killed.

DECEMBER 24--  Jackson withdraws to the Rodriguez Canal and begins building a defensive rampart along it.  British finish ferrying troops from Pea Island.  Unknown to all, the Treaty of Ghent is signed in Belgium, on paper, at least, ending the war, though they had no way of knowing it and it still had to be ratified by both countries.


Battle of New Orleans Timeline-- Part 2

All dates 1814.

OCTOBER 7--   The British fleet leaves the Chesapeake Bay and heads for Jamaica in preparation to enter the Gulf of Mexico.

NOVEMBER 7--  Jackson captures Pensacola from the British.

NOVEMBER 19--  Jackson returns to Mobile but expects a British attack.

NOVEMBER 22--  Jackson departs for New Orleans.

NOVEMBER 24--  British ships from England and France arrive at Negril Bay, Jamaica to meet the Chesapeake fleet.

DECEMBER 1--  Jackson arrives at New Orleans.

DECEMBER 12--  British fleet arrives at Lake Borgne, east of New Orleans.


Battle of New Orleans Timeline-- Part 1

From the site.

All events from 1814.

SEPTEMBER 3--  Captain Nicholas Lockyer of the HMS Sophia meets with pirate Jean Lafitte, hoping to enlist his aid in the British attack on New Orleans.  Lafitte sends copies of their offer to the Americans.

SEPTEMBER 12--  British commander Robert Ross killed in the Chesapeake Bay area and General Pakenham takes over.

SEPTEMBER 13--  Despite warnings of impending British attack, Commodore Daniel Patterson leads an attack on Jean Lafitte's base at Grand Tere, seizing goods and ships and burned down the base.  Lafitte escapes.

SEPTEMBER 16--  Failed British attack on Mobile.

SEPTEMBER 26-27--  Battle of Fayal in the Azores.  The 74-gun ship-of-the-line HMS Plantagent and two other warships sailing for the Gulf of Mexico fight the U.S. brig General Armstrong, 7 guns, and are delayed for several days, giving time for General Jackson to prepare for the British upcoming attack.

The Wreck of the HMS Psyche at Kingston, Ontario

The third HMS Psyche was to be a 56-gun fourth rate frigate.  It was launched and I am not sure if it was ever completed as the War of 1812 was over.  The hulk was sold in 1837.  I wasn't sure whether it was broken up or sunk.

I came across the Diving Kingston site where a local scuba diver tells of wrecks by Kingston, where the Psyche was built.    It says that the Psyche was mostly used to ferry troops about after the war.  It had been finished in a hurry because of the threat from the American shipbuilding program and green wood used for much of it, which made it a poor sailing ship.

It was sunk purposefully after being covered with a layer of tar in case it would be needed at a later date.

The easiest way to the remains which are 150 feet back from the beach at the head of Dead Man's Bay.  There are lots of weeds at the site, but very little remains of the former frigate.


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

New U.S. Stamp Featuring Battle of New Orleans to Be Issued

From the Dec. 31, 2014, New Orleans Times-Picayune "U.S. Postal Service to launch War of 1812: Battle of New Orleans stamp in Chalmette" by Benjamin Alexander Bloch.

The Battle of New Orleans was fought on January 8, 1815, just two days from now.

The stamp uis of a historical painting of Greg Harlin and shows American troops and artillery "repelling British forces from behind a mile-long defensive earthwork known as the Jackson Line."

There is a portrait of Andrew Jackson in his military uniform by artist John Vanderlyn (1775-1852) on the reverse of the stamp plate.

This stamp marks the last of three issued for the bicentennial of the War of 1812.

The First Two HMS Psyches

From Wikipedia.

The HMS Psyche I've been writing about was the third British warship to bear that name.


Was a 36-gun fifth rate frigate captured from the French in 1805 and sold in 1812.

It was originally a French privateer which got into a fight with the HMS Wilhelmina under the command of Commander Henry Lambert off the coast of India in April 1804.  It escaped and later brought into French naval service in June 1804.

In February 1805, it was captured by the HMS San Fiorenzo.  Of interest, this ship was under Captain Henry Lambert, the same British officer who had fought it while it was a privateer.  It was the  taken into British service and renamed the HMS Psyche and captured several prizes and participated in the capture of Mauritius.  It was broken up in 1812.

(Either sold or broken up.)


Was to be a 32-gun, fifth rate frigate.  Her frames were constructed in England and sent to Canada but never assembled.  Its parts were ordered sold in 1814, though some may have been incorporated in the third HMS Psyche.


Monday, January 5, 2015

Launch of HMS Psyche-- Part 2: Completed Too Late

Like the construction of the HMS St. Lawrence, this undertaking demonstrated the logistical challenges of constructing heavily-gunned warships on the Great Lakes and the importance of naval supremacy during the war.

Launching a warship does not mean that it is ready to fight and the HMS Psyche was not finished until after the war and never saw conflict.  Under the Rush-Bagot Treaty, it was disarmed and laid up in Kingston.  The hulk was sold in 1837.


Launch of the HMS Psyche on Dec. 25, 1814-- Part 1: "In Frame"

I already mentioned this, but a little more detail on it.

Launch of the HMS Psyche, 56-gun frigate sent "in frame" from England and assembled in Kingston, Canada.

In the summer of 1813, British Commodore Sir James Lucas Yeo struggled to vanquish the growing American fleet in Lake Ontario.  As a result, the crown adopted an innovative approach to shipbuilding: sending prefabricated pieces to expedite the construction of warships.

Transports left Chatham Dockyard, England, early in 1814 with four vessels "in frame."  Three of the ships never made it past Montreal, but sections of "Frigate B", the Psyche, were laboriously shipped up the St. Lawrence River to Kingston, where shipwrights assembled the parts.


Saturday, January 3, 2015

Slaves and the British Government

From the Canadian Encyclopedia.

Slaves had safe passage on British ships as long as they served in the British military or be received as free settlers"to other colonies."

Slavery had been abolished in England the century before the War of 1812.

It was hoped the proclamation of freedom would bolster the British military strength and hurt the Southern states.  Of course, this move angered the Southern states.

Many slaves entered British military service on naval vessels.

Some 600 were organized into the Colonial Marines.


700 Slaves Took British Up on Freedom Offer

Twenty-one of them were from Annapolis.  Twenty of them came from one plantation.  The men, women and children fled from Henrietta M. Ogle's plantation.  She was the widow of Governor Benjamin Ogle of Maryland.

Following the war, Maryland slave owners submitted claims for compensation for their loss of slaves and other property.  The claim for the twenty Ogle slaves was submitted by her son, Benjamin Ogle, as she had died in the meanwhile.  I didn't find out if he was compensated.


James P. Wilmer-- Part 3

Lt. Wilmer wrote his will while on the USS Essex on July 14, 1814, saying that if he was killed doing his duty, his sisters Mary and Sarah at Havre de Grace should receive his gold watch, clothes, effects and any prize money he had coming.

A fortunate move on his part because he was killed at Valparaiso, Chile, in March 28, 1814, when the British destroyed the Essex.

The 12-year-old cabin boy aboard the Essex at the time was a friend of crew member #61, a slave named Henry Ruff, who was listed simply as 'boy."  He said that when Ruff was told that Wilmer had been killed, he was so distraught that he jumped into the sea and drowned.  This story comes from the Essex's Captain Porter's foster son and future famous Civil War Admiral David Glasgow Farragut.  Porter's son was another famous Civil War Admiral, David D. Porter, who became even more famous with the capture of Fort Fisher in North Carolina on January 15, 1865, almost 150 years ago this month.


Friday, January 2, 2015

James P. Wilmer-- Part 2: U.S. Naval Hero

Young Midshipman Wilmer was on the first U.S. Navy ship to cross the equator and first to double the Cape of Good Hope, Africa, in 1800.  He served in the First Barbary War and in the War of 1812 in the Caribbean Sea and the coasts of South America.

"The United States ship of war Alext, commanded by Lieutenant James P. Wilmer, arrived at this port yesterday, in 14 days from St. John's, Newfoundland, with 232 prisoners.  She was captured on the 13th of August by Captain Porter, of the United States' frigate Essex, who on the 19th stripped her of all armaments excepting one gun, and sent her as cartel to St. John's with her officers, crew and other English prisoners of war amounting to 120 men," the National Intelligencer reported on September 22, 1812.


James P. Wilmer-- Part 1: His Father

From the December 28, 2013, Cecil (Md.) Whig "Havre de Grace sailor killed in final War of 1812 battle"by Ericka Quesenbery Sturgill.

James P. Wilmer was appointed midshipman on Dec. 27, 1802.  His daring War of 1812 exploits were covered in the newspapers but overshadowed by his father, Reverend James Jones Wilmer, Episcopal clergyman who served as chaplain of the U.S. Senate..

He was then appointed chaplain in the U.S. Army in 1813 and served in that until his death in 1814 at the age of 65.  As editor of the Baltimore American newspaper, he covered the burning of Havre de Grace.  He also wrote a lot about his son, who had by then retained the rank of first lieutenant on the USS Essex.


Thursday, January 1, 2015

200 Years Ago: Reinforcements Arrive, Action in Maine

Even though the Treaty of Ghent had been signed in December, it had yet to be ratified in Britain of the United States.  The war went on in North America.

JANUARY 1815:  The British 102nd Regiment arrives in Quebec City, Lower Canada.

JANUARY 1815:  Ensign Goerge Morehouse of the New Brunswich Fencibles led a detachment from Meductic and captures Houlton, District of Maine, in an effort to secure the strategically important line of communications between Saint John, New Brunswick, and Quebec, Lower Canada.

JANUARY 1, 1815:  The British bombard the defenses of New Orleans.