Friday, April 28, 2017

Georgia's John Floyd-- Part 4: The Battle of Autossee Desolation

General Floyd's son, Charles Rinaldo Floyd, 16, was along with his father at the Battle of Autosee and later wrote:  "The Indians never repair the desolation of a town, so Autosee has been deserted ever since the battle, except by wolves and ravens, and the skeletons of the slain are still bleaching amidst the ruins.

General Floyd was seriously wounded in his knee at the battle and recuperated over the Christmas holidays at Fort Mitchell.


Thursday, April 27, 2017

Georgia's John Floyd-- Part 3: The Battle of Autossee

General John Floyd was ordered to take command of the federal troops assembling at Camp Hope on the Ocmulgee River.  They constructed forts in a defensive line along the federal Road from the Ocmulgee River to the Alabama River.  Fort Mitchell was erected on the west bank of the Chattahoochee River.

In November 1813,  Floyd was on the offensive and fought at the Battle of Autossee on the east bank of the Talapoosa River   It was the site of one of the most populous Creek towns.

Floyd planned to attack at daybreak and encircle the town.  His scouts discovered a second town and Floyd had to divide his force.  Fighting was fierce.  Red Stick men, women and children were shot, bayoneted and burned to death in their own houses.  Both villages were completely destroyed.


Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Trouble On the High Seas-- Part 4: Blockade


There is a name for this kind of a war plan: blockade.  It was the job of the Royal Navy to blockade the French seaports and keep all ships from passing in or out.

But it was the opinion of the American government that the blockade should stop only French ships.  We said that a neutral country, a country that was not fighting in the war, should be able to trade with anyone.  Our policy was the policy of free trade for neutral nations.Having a policy is easy, but making it work is sometimes hard.

The British had plenty of sea power to stop American ships, and they did.


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Georgia's John Floyd-- Part 2: St. Marys and the Patriot War

At the beginning of the War of 1812, John Floyd commanded a force at Point Peter at St. Marys in Camden County.  He was asked by General George Matthew, special agent during the Patriot War, to have his militia ready to overthrow the Spanish government in East Florida.

In October 1812, Floyd, with 120 volunteers reached New Camp Hope in East Florida where he encountered Seminoles (who the Spanish government had enlisted their aid).  The Americans ran out of supplies and many got sick, forcing a withdrawal.

Creek Indians, allied with Britain, began attacking American settlements in eastern and central Alabama and western Georgia.  Those Indians from the Upper Creek Towns were known as the Red Sticks and were especially bad.


Monday, April 24, 2017

Georgia's John Floyd, Georgia Politician-- Part 1

From Wikipedia.

Back in December 2015, I wrote about War of 1812 veteran Henry Griggs being honored in Texas.  The name John Floyd came up a lot.

So, now I go into some more detail on him.

October 3, 1769- June 24, 1839.  American politician and brigadier general in the First Brigade of the Georgia Militia.  member of the Georgia and U.S. House of Representatives.  Born Hilton Head, South Carolina.

In 1800, he had two large plantations in Camden County, Georgia.  On May 25, 1808, he bought Little Cumberland Island.

On May 2, 1804, he was commissioned captain of the 31st Militia in Camden County, Ga., and became brigadier general of the First Georgia Militia in 1806.


Friday, April 21, 2017

Casualties in the USS Chesapeake-HMS Shannon Engagement

HMS Shannon

24 killed, 59 wounded, including Captain broke who received a head wound while leading the boarding party.  Lt. Provo Wallis took command of the Shannon after the wounding of his captain.

USS Chesapeake

56 killed, 85 wounded.

Captain Lawrence died of wounds received on June 4.


HMS Shannon Legacy-- Part 3: Books, Coins, Parks

**  A fine detailed account of the battle between the USS Chesapeake and HMS Shannon is in the book "Enduring Journey of the USS Chesapeake" by Chris Dickon.

**  A fictionalized account of the battle appears in the book "Fortunes of War" by Patrick O'Brien.

**  A special Canadian ten dollar coin was made to commemorate the War of 1812 and depicts the HMS Shannon.

**  South West Western Australia has a Broke Inlet and a Shannon River.  There is also a Chesapeake Road in Shannon National Park.


Thursday, April 20, 2017

HMS Shannon Legacy-- Part 2: Provo Wallis

**  The Shannon's bell is displayed at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic in Halifax.  It also has a surgeon's chest and mess kettle from the Chesapeake.

**  A cannon, believed to have been from the Shannon, is on the north side of Province House., Nova Scotia's legislative building.

A lieutenant named Provo Wallis was acting captain of the Shannon for six days following the wounding of Captain Broke.  because of this, he became senior to many other lieutenants during the Napoleonic-era Royal Navy.

This enabled him to eventually become Admiral of the Fleet.


HMS Shannon Legacy-- Part 1: Graves and Point Pleasant Park

From Wikipedia.

**Graves of the Shannon's crew, killed during the battle with the Chesapeake are marked in the cemetery of the Royal Navy Dockyard in Halifax and the city's St. Paul's Church, at the time the cathedral of the Anglican Diocese of Nova Scotia.

A plaque was erected in 1927 to commemorate the battle and is in the Point Pleasant Park.  This park was also the site of several artillery batteries over the years and also the Prince of Wales Tower, the oldest martello tower in North America.  Also, there is the Halifax Monument, more commonly called the Sailor's Memorial to honor Canadians who have died at sea and especially the 3257 who died during the world wars.

**  Shannon Park in Nova Scotia.


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Some Confusion on Thomas O. Selfridge in the Last Post

In the last post on the court martial trial of William S. Cox, for the surrender of the USS Chesapeake on June 1, 1813, I wrote that Naval hero Stephen Decatur served as president at the proceedings and Thomas O. Selfridge was judge advocate.  This was according to the June 28, 2014, "The War" newspaper.

The name Selfridge is a very familiar one to me because of Thomas O. Selfridge, Jr.,'s service during the Civil War.  Must be his father.

The problem with Thomas O. Selfridge being the judge advocate in Mr. Cox's court martial is that Thomas was born April 24, 1804 and that would have made him just ten years old in 1814.  Kind of young to have been a judge advocate, I think.

Plus, Wikipedia says Thomas O. Selfridge was appointed a midshipman on January 1, 1818, at age 13.

I couldn't find any other Selfridge who would have been a naval officer during the War of 1812.


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Some More On William Cox's Court Martial

From the June 28, 1814 "The War" newspaper.  This short-lived newspaper covered the War of 1812.

The court martial of William Sitgreaves Cox was presided over by Stephen Decatur as president and Thomas O. Selfridge was judge advocate.  The court martial was held on the frigate USS United States at New London, Connecticut.

It took place from April 1814 to May 5.

There were four charges against Cox:

1.  Cowardice

2.  Disobeyance of orders

3.  Desertion from his quarters and neglect of his duties.

4.  Unofficerlike conduct.


William Sitgreaves Cox: Victim or Coward?-- Part 2

William Cox was convicted in an 1814 court martial for dereliction of duty and for abandoning his watch station while under fire.  he was discharged from the Navy in disgrace.

His great grandson, New York architect Electus D. Litchfield fought for many years to have William Cox's conviction overturned.  Finally, in 1952, a resolution passed by Congress was signed by President Truman overturning the conviction and restoring Cox's rank.

Personally, from what I have read, I think this was long overdue.


Monday, April 17, 2017

William Sitgreaves Cox: Victim or Coward?-- Part 1

From Wikipedia.

In the last post I mentioned what happened to the USS Chesapeake's Third Lt, William Sitgreaves Cox who ended up taking the blame for the loss of the USS Chesapeake to the HMS Shannon on June 1, 1813, off the shore of Boston.  For this he was found guilty at a court martial the next year.

I had never heard of him or the case before so did a little more research.


Served below deck in charge of a gun crew during the battle, but when his crew abandoned their post, he went to the upper deck to continue the fight.  When his Captain James Lawrence was wounded, he took him below deck to the ship's doctor.

However, the rest of the officers were all wounded or killed so Cox had become the senior, non-wounded officer present.


Friday, April 14, 2017

The Real, Shameful Story Behind 'Don't Give Up the Ship'-- Part 8: A Scapegoat

No American heroes arose from the engagement at first.  The first and second lieutenants of the Chesapeake had been wounded and were out of action.  The 4th lieutenant had been killed.

The 3rd lieutenant, William Cox, had not been able to get back up on deck after taking Lawrence below and he was made the scapegoat by the disbelieving American public.  It was his fault that the ship was lost.  he was tried by military court and found guilty of leaving his place of duty and dismissed from the U.S. Navy in disgrace.

His family and descendants tried for years to clear his name.  Finally, in 1952, President Truman pardoned him and restored him to his former rank.

James Lawrence was the clear culprit in the Chesapeake's loss.  But the American public would not allow any blame to be given to him.  If they couldn't have a victory, at least they would have a hero.

And, Captain Lawrence was that man.

Hero or Culprit?  --Brock-Perry

The Real, Shameful Story Behind 'Don't Give Up the Ship'-- Part 7: Who Surrendered the Ship?

The Shannon and Chesapeake collided and British Captain Philip Broke led a boarding party onto the USS Chesapeake.  Very close quarter hand-to-hand fighting ensued and Broke was wounded by a saber cut on his skull.

It didn't take long before the American colors came down and the British ensign was hoisted.  The battle was over.

Captain James Lawrence's exhortations to his crew came to naught.  They did give up the ship, but perhaps not actually.  There were no American officers on the deck to formally surrender the ship.  The British officers themselves simply declared the fighting over and the ship theirs.

The remaining Americans and Lawrence were taken prisoner and the two ships sailed away in tandem to Nova Scotia, leaving the Boston spectators dumbfounded.

What had happened?


Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Real, Shameful Story Behind 'Don't Give Up the Ship'-- Part 6

The carnage from these broadsides was enormous.  In less than fifteen minutes the Chesapeake had lost 40 killed and 90 wounded.  Meanwhile, on the Shannon there were 34 killed and 56 wounded.  The Chesapeake's headsail and wheel were quickly shot away and the Chesapeake now drifted helplessly downwind towards the Shannon which continued firing.

Sharpshooters in the Shannon's fighting tops fired down on American targets on the Chesapeake's decks.  One shot felled James Lawrence who was taken below for treatment.  It was below decks where he allegedly uttered those famous words.


The Real, Shameful Story Behind 'Don't Give Up the Ship"-- Part 5: Big British Advantage

Meanwhile, Captain Lawrence's adversary on the HMS Shannon had commanded that ship for seven years and an experienced crew that was so well trained that he didn't have to issue many orders.  They knew what they were doing.  They had trained long and hard on their gunnery and were additionally helped by special sights designed by Captain Broke and affixed to the top of their cannons.

Broke brought the Shannon to within a few miles of Boston and hove to, waiting for the USS Chesapeake.  Captain Lawrence brought his ship down on the near stationary Shannon from upwind, giving him a huge advantage.  But, for some reason, perhaps an act of bravado, swung around to be parallel with the British ship.

Both ships then exchanged broadsides at close range.


Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Real, Shameful Story of 'Don't Give Up the Ship'-- Part 4: Clearly Overmatched

The USS Chesapeake and James Lawrence were hopelessly overmatched in this battle with the HMS Shannon.  Lawrence had just taken command of his ship two weeks earlier and had not had the time to train his crew and officers.  Even worse, he was unhappy with his new command as he had really wanted to command the USS Constitution, but that ship was in drydock for repairs and was unavailable..

Half of his crew were new to the Navy and untrained in working together.  These men were also not happy because they hadn't been paid for weeks.  There are some reports that some of the crew were drunk when they met the Shannon on June 1.


Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The Real, Shameful Story Behind 'Don't Give Up the Ship!'-- Part 3

The first shots fired in the battle came at 6 p,m..  The USS Chesapeake surrendered to the HMS Shannon just 15 minutes later.  A shocked and disappointed Boston had been planning a huge victory banquet to fete Captain Lawrence and his crew.  Plans were immediately canceled.

And, there were other reasons why Captain Lawrence lost the battle which I will write about in the next post.


The Real Shameful Story Behind 'Don't Give Up the Ship!'-- Part 2

Captain James Lawrence disobeyed orders not to engage the enemy and then committed a series of tactical blunders that all but guaranteed that he and his ship would lose the battle.

In May 1813, British Captain Philip Broke, commanding the flagship of the British blockading squadron off Boston, the HMS Shannon, sailed into Massachusetts Bay, daring the Americans to come out and fight him.  Captain Lawrence and his ship, the USS Chesapeake took the bait and sailed out to fight.

This was a big deal in Boston and everyone wanted to watch the fight.  Spectators were on the roofs of the city to see an expected easy American victory.  After all, U.S. frigates like the USS Constitution had been highly successful in one-on-one engagements with the British.

Small boats accompanied the Chesapeake out to get an even closer view of the battle.  The two commanders had to warn them to keep their distance.


Monday, April 10, 2017

The Real, Shameful Story Behind 'Don't Give Up the Ship!'-- Part 1

From the Mat 19, 2013, Boston Globe" by Tom Halsted.

On June 1, 1813, a few miles north of Boston, a mortally wounded Captain James Lawrence, as his crew was locked in a vicious hand-to-hand combat,  was taken below deck and allegedly uttered those faomus words, "Don't Give Up the Ship."

These words were published a few weeks later in a Baltimore newspaper and it went on to become the unofficial motto of the U.S. Navy.  This predated the famous slogans "Remember the Maine" and "Remember Pearl Harbor."

Later that year, Oliver Hazard Perry had a flag with those words on his flagship, the USS Lawrence at the Battle of Lake Erie.

But, those words did not mark a historic or heroic moment.

Not So Don't.  --Brock-Perry

Friday, April 7, 2017

Lexington Light Infantry

In the last post I mentioned that Nathaniel Hart commanded the Lexington Light Infantry from Lexington, Kentucky.  Since they were  also called the "Silk Stockings," I am of the belief that they must have been well-to-do.

I was unable to find out much about them except that they were organized in 1789.  In 1810, Lexington had a population of 4,326.

There is a photo of the group taken in the 1850s at the Civil War talk site, so they might have participated in the Civil War.


Nathaniel G.S. Hart-- Part 2: Killed at River Raisin Massacre

Mathaniel Hart attended Princeton and studied law under Henry Clay.  His wife was the sister of Henry Clay's wife.

The Lexington Light Infantry" was called "The Silk Stocking Boys" and were part of the 5th regiment Kentucky Volunteer Militia.  The unit left for the Northwest in August 1812 and became a part of the Army of the Northwest under General James Winchester.

In January 1813, they were sent to Frenchtown , Michigan Territory, as part of the American attempt to recapture Detroit from the British.  At the First Battle of Frenchtown on January 18, 1813, the Americans drove the small British force away.  On January 22, the British counter-attacked and the result was an American defeat with 397 killed.

Nathaniel Hart was wounded and one of the 547 Americans who surrendered.  he was shot and scalped by Indians the following day.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Nathaniel G.S. Hart of Kentucky-- Part 1

From Wikipedia.

In my Cooter's History Thing blog I have been writing about Georgia's American Revolution heroine Nancy Hart who moved to Kentucky after the war and is buried there.  I came across the name of a Hart County in Kentucky and though it might have been named after her, but upon further research found out it was named after Nathaniel G.S. Hart, who fought and died in the War of 1812.

Born 11784  Died January 23, 1813.  Lexington, Kentucky, lawyer and businessman who fought with the Kentucky militia in the War of 1812 as captain of the Lexington Light Infantry.

He was taken prisoner at the Battle of Frenchtown in Michigan Territory and killed along with many of his men at the River raisin Massacre the next day.

Remember the Raisin.  --Brock-Perry

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The Battle of Rock Island Rapids-- Part 3: About the Monument

The Mary Little Deere-Fort Armstron Chapter of the D.A.R. is based in Molene, Illinois, (one of the Quad Cities) and has 150 members and is one of the oldest in the United States.  So far they have raised $9,000 of the expected $65,000 needed to restore the monument.

There are four plaques on it.

One reads:  "This shaft bears witness to the heroism of Lieuts. John Campbell, Steve Rector, Jonathan Riggs, Surgeon John Steward, 33 U.S. Regulars and 65 Illinois Rangers who on this spot valiantly battled for their country."

Karpeles Museum is located at 700 22nd Street in Rock Island.  It features an exhibit containing 27 documents, including the June 25, 1812 Declaration of War, and items written by John Quincy adams, James Madison and James Monroe.


The Battle of Rock Island Rapids-- Part 2: Sixteen Americans Killed, Including One Woman and One Child

The 143 Americans encountered friendly Indians at first, but as they moved into the Rock Island Rapids, they were attacked.  Sixteen Americans were killed (one woman and one child among  them) and twenty-four, including Lt. Campbell were wounded.

Black Hawk claimed that he had two killed.

Afterwards, the Sauk Indians controlled the Quad-Cities area for almost twenty years.

The island was named in honor of Lt. Campbell and the monument to the action was dedicated July 20, 1908 with a huge crowd, speeches, music and a reenactment.


Tuesday, April 4, 2017

The Battle of Rock Island Rapids-- Part 1: Ambushed by Black Hawk

From the March 5, 2017, Quad-City Dispatch-Argus "Campbell's Island 1814 battle recalled by 'survivor' by Jonathan Turner.

Susan McPeters, portraying the wife of one of the soldiers at the battle, put on a one-woman show in period dress.

On July 19, 1814, 500 Sauk Indians, led by the famous warrior Black Hawk attacked U.S. soldiers in boats in an expedition led by Lieutenant John Campbell in one of the westernmost battles of the war.

Lt. Campbell had command of three gunboats and was carrying military supplies north from St. Louis along the Mississippi River to Fort Shelby, at the present-day site of Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin.


Preserving the Monument on Campbell's Island, Illinois

From the March 5, 2017, WQAD 8, Quad Cities (Ill. and Iowa)  "War of 1812 reenactment put on in efforts to help preserve local historical monument" by Yessinia Chavez.

I wrote about this in the last post.

The Kapeles Museum in Rock Island and the Marry Little Deere-Fort Armstrong Chapter of the Daughters of the American revolution are having a reenactment of the War of 1812's Battle of Rock Island Rapids.

This is part of their effort to preserve the historical monument on Campbell's Island commemorating the battle.  They years and elements have worn it down.


Monday, April 3, 2017

Illinois War of 1812 Engagement at Campbell's Island-- Part 2

The battle of Campbell's Island took place between American forces and Indians led by Sauk warrior Black Hawk.  The American soldiers were in three boats which were headed upstream on the Mississippi River.

One boat was attacked by Black Hawk and his warriors.  Women and children of some of the American officers were also in the boat.

There is a current exhibit at the museum containing documents of the war.

The D.A.R. wants to restore a monument to the engagement on Campbell's Island.


Illinois War of 1812 Engagement at Campbell's Island-- Part 1

From the March 6, 2017, Quad-City Times (Iowa)  "History of War of 1812 battle to be told Sunday" by John Schultz.

Campbell's Island is in East Moline, Illinois, part of the Quad Cities shared by Iowa and Illinois along the Mississippi River.  A battle took place there during the War of 1812 and its story will be told through the eyes of a female survivor of the battle at the Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum in Rock Island, Illinois.

The presentation is put on by museum and the Mary Little Deere-Fort Armstrong Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.  It starts at 2 p.m. Sunday at 700 22nd Street in Rock Island.

Susan Peters will tell the story.


Saturday, April 1, 2017

Other Ships Named USS Patapsco

According to Wikipedia, there were two other USS Patapscos which may have participated in the War of 1812 as one was launched in 1806 and the other in 1812.  But Wikipedia only had a stub about these ships saying they existed, but there was no more information.  Nor could I find any more information about these ships elsewhere.

These ships might have served around Baltimore since that is the name of a river that flows into the Chesapeake Bay at  that point.

The next USS Patapsco was a Paissac-class monitor launched in 1862, fought during the Civil War, and sunk by a mine in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina, in January 15, 1865.

The next one was a tug, the AT-10, the lead ship of her class which served the Navy from 1911 to 1936.

The last USS Patapsco, AOG-1, was the lead-ship of her class of gasoline tankers and served in World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam War.


The Quasi War's USS Merrimack-- Part 3: Cooperating With the USS Patapsco

The USS Merrimack, along with the USS Ganges and USS Pickering recaptured the American schooner John on the 15th of August after it had been captured the day before.

On June 6, 1800, it freed the American brig which had been captured a few days earlier.

In 22 September 1800, the ship arrived at Curacao, in the Netherlands Antilles and found sixteen French ships and 1400 men besieging it.  The Merrimack and USS Patapsco forced them to leave.

20 October 1800, it captured the French privateer Phoenix.

The Merrimack was stripped of its naval equipment and sold in 1801, later in the merchant service as  the Monticello and sank off Cape Cod, Massachusetts.


The Quasi War's USS Merrimack-- Part 2: Battling the French in the Caribbean

The newly commissioned USS Merrimack left Boston on 3 January 1799 for the Windward islands in the Caribbean to protect American merchant ships during the Quasi War with France.

On June 28, 1799, it took a prize, the L'Magicienne, the former U.S. Navy schooner Retaliation which had been captured by the French in 1798.  The Merrimack then captured the French privateer Bonaparte 7 August.

With the USS Ganges and USS Pickering, she recaptured the American schooner John on the 15th after that ship had been captured the day before.

This Is Called Close Action With the Enemy.  --Brock-Perry