Thursday, August 31, 2017

USS Niagara-- Part 6: More Reconstruction

The 1913 reconstruction, without the original plans, was not very accurate to the period.  The hull of the Niagara was launched in 1943, without its masts and then placed in a concrete cradle in 1951.

Dry rot was discovered throughout every part of the ship and it was determined that a complete reconstruction was needed.  Funds were given by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission to make the USS Niagara presentable for the sesquicentennial of the Battle of Lake Erie in 1963, including rigging and cannons.

It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.


Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Richard M. Johnson-- Part 3: Turning Political

Richard Johnson was born in Virginia, but his family moved to Kentucky when he was very young..  This still being frontier, he received no formal education until he was 15 and entered Transylvania University in Kentucky.  He was admitted to the bar in 1802, at age 22.

When his father died, he inherited an octoroon slave named Julia Chinn who became essentially his common-law wife.

In 1804, he entered politics and was elected to the Kentucky House of Representatives, even though he was just 23 (Kentucky law had minimum age at 24), but he was so popular, his age was overlooked.  In 1806, he was elected as a Democrat-Republican to the U,S, House of Representatives.  This, even though he had not yet attained the minimum age 25 (but he was that old when he took his seat).

Age Is Just a Numbers Thing for Richard.  --Brock-Perry

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Richard M. Johnson-- Part 2: Killed Tecumseh

Richard M. Johnson was the only vice president ever elected by the U.S. Senate under Amendment 12.  He was also U.S. Representative and Senator from Kentucky.  His political career began and ended in the Kentucky House of Representatives.

Elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, he allied with fellow Kentuckian Henry Clay as a member of the War hawks, those who supported having a war with Great Britain.

Commissioned as a colonel in the Kentucky Militia, he commanded a regiment of mounted volunteers from 1812-1813.  He and his brother James served with General William Henry Harrison in the Battle of the Thames in Upper Canada and some reports had him killing the famed Shawnee Chief Tecumseh at this battle which he later used to his political advantage.


Monday, August 28, 2017

Richard M. Johnson-- Part 1: Kentucky Politician, Vice President and Killed Tecumseh

From Wikipedia.

I have been writing about Ann Bradford Stokes in my Running the Blockade Civil War Naval Blog.  She served on the hospital ship USS Red Rover during the Civil War, one of the first women to serve on a U.S. naval ship.  She also became the first woman to receive a pension based on her wartime service.  She was also a black woman and former slave.

She died in the town of Belknap, Illinois, in 1903, which is in Johnson County, named for this man.

I wrote about that today and am looking to see where her grave is and whether or not it is marked (but have been unsuccessful so far).

Richard Mintor Johnson was born October 17, 1788, apparently in Virginia, and died November 19, 1850.  He was a War of 1812 leader and the 9th vice president of the United States, serving under Martin Van Buren (1837-1841).

I'd never heard of Him.  --Brock-Perry

Friday, August 25, 2017

USS Niagara-- Part 5: Efforts at Restoration

The City of Erie transferred ownership of the vessel to the newly formed USS Niagara Foundation in 1929.  They were set up to restore it and make it the centerpiece of a museum.

However, the Great Depression forced the State of Pennsylvania to take over.  Two years later the state gave $50,000 for another restoration in 1931.  In 1938, the state stopped funding the ship.  It was transferred to the Pennsylvania Historical Commission and it became a WPA project.

The commission contracted Howard I. Chapelle to restore the Niagara and he used plans for period ships built by Noah Brown like the USS Saratoga.

Very little of the original USS Niagara remained by this time.  What hadn't rotted had been sold off as souvenirs.


Thursday, August 24, 2017

Washington, D.C., Invaded 203 Years Ago Today

In 1814, during the War of 1812, British forces invaded the United States' capital, Washington, D.C..

They set fire to the Capitol (which was still under construction) and the White House and other public buildings.


Wednesday, August 23, 2017

USS Niagara-- Part 4: Raised Again in 1913 For Centennial of Battle of Lake Erie

For the centennial of the Battle of Lake Erie in 1913, the Niagara was again raised in April 1913.  It was found to be in good enough condition to be rebuilt.  But that was made difficult because of a lack of the original plans.

The restored USS Niagara was launched 7 June with a new bowsprit, rigging and reproduction cannons.

From mid-July to mid-September of that year, the Niagara was towed to various Great Lakes ports, including Chicago, Milwaukee, Detroit, Buffalo and Cleveland.  The USS Wolverine, the Navy's first iron-hulled warship towed it.

Ownership of the ship was transferred to the City of Erie in 1917.

It was docked and allowed to deteriorate.


Tuesday, August 22, 2017

USS Niagara-- Part 3: Sunk, Raised and Sunk Again

The USS Niagara was built by Daniel Dobbins, who also built the USS Porcupine.  In September 1812, he traveled to Washington, D.C. to warn the government about the vulnerability of the Great Lakes.  On 15 September he was authorized to build 4 gunboats for the protection of Lake Erie

The construction of these four ships was largely overseen by Noah Brown, a noted naval architect.

After the war, the Queen Charlotte, Detroit and Lawrence were sunk for their preservation in Misery Bay by Presque Isle.  The Niagara was kept afloat to be used as a receiving ship.  It was sunk in 1820 when the naval station at Presque Isle closed.

Benjamin H. Brown of Rochester, New York, bought all four ships in 1825 and then he sold them to George Miles of Erie, Pennsylvania who raised them to use as merchant ships, but he found the Niagara and Lawrence had holds that were too small and they were in such bad shape that he allowed them to sink again..


Monday, August 21, 2017

USS Niagara-- Part 2: Mounted Twenty Guns

Ordered 31 December 1812.  Launched 4 June 1813.  Sunk 1820.  Raised March 6, 1913.  Restored 1913, 1931, 1943, 1963, 1988.  Homeport: Erie, Pennsylvania.

Class-type :  Niagara-class, snow-brig.

110 ' 8", beam 32', 9 feet draft.

1813:  492 tons burden, 155 crew

Armament:  Eighteen 32-pdr. carronades, two 12-pdr long guns.  (Long guns had more distance than carronades)


USS Niagara (1813)-- Part 1: Second Flagship of Perry at the Battle

From Wikipedia.

Snow brig, square rigged vessel, wooden hulled, with two masts.  A snow-brig has a snow or try-sail mast located behind the main mast.

It was the relief flagship for Oliver Hazard Perry at the Battle of Lake Erie after his USS Lawrence was too smashed to continue fighting.  It is certified for sail training by the U.S. Coast Guard and as such is the SSV Niagara.  It is usually docked behind the Erie Maritime Museum in Erie, Pennsylvania.  It often travels the Great Lakes during summers.

It was constructed 1812-1813 to protect  the vulnerable American shore of Lake Erie and played a pivotal role in the Battle of Lake Erie.


Saturday, August 19, 2017

U.S. Navy Ships at the Battle of Lake Erie-- Part 2: Long Guns and Carronades

Name--   classification---  armament--   fate

Long guns are regular cannons and good for long range firing.

CALEDONIA--  brig--   2 long guns, 1 carronade--  1830 either sank or was dismantled

NIAGARA--  brig--  2 long guns, 18 carronade--  present day used as a sailing school.  (Original ship?)

SOMERS--   schooner--   1 long gun, 1 carronade--   unknown

PORCUPINE--   schooner--  1 long gun--    1873 beached

TIGRESS--   schooner--  1 long gun--  1815 sunk

TRIPPE--  sloop--   1 long gun--  1813 burnt by British

Totals:  9 ships--  15 long guns, 39 carronades


Thursday, August 17, 2017

U.S. Navy Ships At the Battle of Lake Erie, September 10, 1813

From the National Park Service.

Sunce I have been writing about the USS Porcupine, these were the U.S. ships at the battle:

Name--  classification--  armament--  fate

SCORPION---  schooner---  1 long gun, 1 carronade---  Broken up 1831

ARIEL---  schooner---  4 long guns---  unknown

LAWRENCE---  brig--  2 long guns, 18 carronades--=  1876 burnt in a fire

More to Come.  --Brock-Perry

USS Porcupine-- Part 4: Sank and Raised

The Porcupine/Caroline made one last sail into Spring Lake, Michigan, where it was abandoned in 1843.  Soon after that it sank at the foot of 4th Street near the Johnston Brothers Boiler Works.

It was raised in 1901 by Charles G. Butthouse of Ferrysburg.  There is a photo accompanying the article captioned "Remains of 'Porcupine' In the Yard of Mr. Bolthouse, Ferrysburg, Mich."  So, it appears there has been a misprint on his name.

Pieces of the Porcupine were sent to Detroit and Put-In-Bay for the centennial of the Battle of Lake Erie.  Other pieces ended up in museums in Grand Rapids, Grand Haven and Lansing, Michigan.


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

USS Porcupine-- Part 3: U.S. Coastal Survey and Revenue Cutter Service

From the Michigan Shipwreck Research Association.

In 1816, the Porcupine was commissioned as a survey vessel in the newly formed United States Coastal Survey Office, and worked the border between the United States and Canada under the command of War of 1812 hero Stephen Champlin (he commanded the USS Scorpion at the Battle of Lake Erie)..  In 1819, it entered the United States Revenue Cutter Service.

In 1825 it was sold by the government and five years later renamed the Caroline.  It had several owners over the rest of its career, including Ferry & Sons of Grand Haven, Michigan, and was used extensively in the lumber trade until she became unseaworthy.


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

USS Porcupine-- Part 2: More Service Afterwards

The USS Porcupine was anchored at the head of the Niagara River 12 August 1814, along with the USS Ohio and USS Somers, when they were attacked by 6 or 8 boats manned with English seamen and Canadian militia.  The other two were captured, but the Porcupine escaped.

It remained in Lake Erie providing transportation and support William Henry Harrison's army at the battle to recover Detroit and the Battle of the Thames.  It was still commanded by George Senat when it transported supplies to Harrison's Army to the north of the Thames and went up the Thames to provide artillery and logistics support.

It was laid up in Erie, Pennsylvania, until 1819, when it was refitted and turned over to the Collector of Revenue at Detroit 2 June.

Returned to the Navy 2 August 1821, it remained inactive until sold 8 August 1825.  Afterwards it served as a cargo vessel on the Great Lakes until it was determined to be unseaworthy and beached on the sand at Spring Lake near Grand Haven, Michigan.


Monday, August 14, 2017

USS Porcupine-- Part 1: At the Battle of Lake Erie

From Wikipedia.

60 tons, 60 feet length, 25 crew.  Mounted one 32-pdr and later two 12-pdrs.

Launched May 1813 and commissioned spring 1813.  Allowed to sink in Spring Lake at Ferrysburg, Michigan, in 1873.

It was a gunboat schooner built by the famed Adam and Noah Brown shipbuilders at Presque Isle, Pa (by Erie, Pa.)  an was a part of Oliver Hazard Perry's fleet at the Battle of Lake Erie.

At the battle, Acting master George Senat was in command of it on 10 September 1813.

After the battle, the Porcupine was used as a hospital ship for wounded and captured British sailors.


Friday, August 11, 2017

USS Porcupine Project-- Part 3: The Original Fought At the Battle of Lake Erie

The 7,800 pound keel was welded to the Porcupine's hull last year.  Shipwrights have changed the shape of the Porcupine's bow, stern and transom, installed a rudder and have raised the free board, giving the ship more height above the waterline as well as additional internal room and more deck space than the original USS Porcupine.

The first USS Porcupine was built under the direction of Daniel Dobbins in the spring of 1813 near the foot of present-day Sassafras Street.  It fought at the Battle of Lake Erie that year near Put-In-Bay, Ohio in September 1813.

Keith and Kathy Palmerton donated the Porcupine's 40-foot fiberglass hull in September 2014 after learning about the Maritime Center and its work with inner city and underserved children.

Always Like It When a Historic Ship Is Rebuilt.  --Brock-Perry

USS Porcupine Receives $100,000 Donation-- Part 2

The Maritime Center has raised $400,000 of the estimated $810,000 cost of the Porcupine.  Larson has been making math textbooks from 6th grade to college calculus for nearly four decades and currently provides books for around five million students.

The Porcupine's primary function will be to serve as a floating classroom offering half-day or full-day sails for school children.  There will also be overnight programs, public sails, private charters and special programming.  I imagine it will also participate in tall ships reviews.

The new one is twin-masted, 43 feet long on deck with a 15 foot 2 inch beam.  The overall length from bowsprit to the stern is 62 feet with a draft of 5'4".


Wednesday, August 9, 2017

USS Porcupine Project Receives $100,000 Donation-- Part 1

From the August 5, 2017, Go "Porcupine project infused with $100,000 donation" by Ron Leonadi.

The Bayfront Center and Larson Texts on August 4 announced a partnership to build a topsail schooner Porcupine.

Big Ideas Learning, a subsidiary of Larson Texts pledged $100,000 over the next six years to complete the Porcupine project and to provide maritime-themed math curriculum for onboard programming.

The Porcupine Project is to build a representative of a War of 1812 topsail schooner and it will be known as "The School Ship for Presque Isle Bay."


Tuesday, August 8, 2017

The Encampment Called Greene Ville-- Part 4: Covered by Greenville, Ohio

Today the site of Encampment Greene Ville is covered by much of downtown Greenville, Ohio.

There is a bronze tablet in front of the City Hall of Greenville.

It reads:

"Site of Fort Greene Ville.  The largest pioneer fort in Ohio built in 1793 by General Anthony Wayne.  Here August 5, 1795, the Treaty was signed by which much of present Ohio was opened to White settlement."


The Encampment Called Greene Ville-- Part 3: Abandoned and Reused in War of 1812

The site was abandoned after 1796.  Later, the buildings were burned for the nails to be reused in Dayton, Ohio.  What was left of the encampment began to rot.

During the War of 1812, sections of what was left of the enclosure were refitted and it was reused briefly as a supply depot and a staging area (used by Col. John B. Campbell's force preparing to attack the Miami Indians at Mississinewa).

After the war, it was abandoned again.


Monday, August 7, 2017

The Encampment Called Greene Ville-- Part 2: Battle of Fallen Timbers and Treaty of Greenville

The camp (well, Fort Greenville) had a double two of cabins within the walls and each corner had a defensive bulwark.  In addition, there was a blockhouse in the central wall on each side  There were eight redoubts, each with blockhouses.  A strong fortification indeed.

This was General Wayne's winter encampment 1793-1794.  In the spring of 1794, he led his troops to what is now Toledo and fought the Indians at the Battle of Fallen Timbers.  In the summer of 1795, the Indians cam,e to Wayne and there signed the Treaty of Green Ville which became known as the Treaty of Greenville.

This ended what was known as the Northwest Indian War and is considered the beginning of modern Ohio history.

In addition, it established the Greenville Treaty Line, which was the boundary between Indian and American lands.  It also gave the U.S. government a lot of control over the Indians.

--Not a Good Treaty for the Indians.  --Brock-Perry

Saturday, August 5, 2017

The Encampment Called Greene Ville-- Part 1: Largest Wooden Fortification Ever Built

From the Touring Ohio site.

Probably the reason I wasn't able to find out much about a Fort Greenville in Ohio was because it was called Greene Ville and was classified as an encampment.

It was built by General Anthony Wayne, 5 miles north of Fort Jefferson at what is now Greenville, Ohio.  It had ten feet high walls and enclosed about 50 acres.  It  is said that it was the largest wooden fortification ever built.

It was named for Wayne's friend, Nathaniel Greene and laid out like a city.


Friday, August 4, 2017

Greenville and Fort Greenville, Ohio-- Part 2

I found that both the city of Greenville and Fort Greenville were located in the southwestern part of Ohio.  This would make it fairly close to the Miami Indian village of Mississinewa, which would make sense for the path Col. Campbell would have taken.


Fort Greenville, Ohio-- Part 1: Some Difficulty Finding It

From the Ohio War of 1812 Bicentennial Commission.

Last week, I was writing about John B. Campbell and his December attack on the Miami Indians village of Mississinewa in 1812.  He left from a Fort Greenville in Ohio.  I looked it up but couldn't find much about any Fort Greenville.

There is, however, a city of Greenville, Ohio.  Perhaps this was the site of the old Fort Greenville?

There were two markers listed in Greenville.  One was for the Colonel Campbell Campaign and the other for Second Fort and Second Treaty.

According to the commission, neither was completed.


Thursday, August 3, 2017

"Old Ironsides" Is Back in the Water

From the July 23, 2017, Washington Post.

The USS Constitution has been out of the water for repairs for more than two years.  It undocked Sunday night at 11:45 p.m. before  a large crowd of onlookers.

It is taken out of the water every twenty years for maintenance in a drydock to its below the waterline area.

Bob Gerosa, USMC, serves as the ship's 74th commander.  It is the last of six super frigates ordered by George Washington.

The ship was originally expected to last just 10-20 years, but here it is 220 years later.

It entered the drydock on May 18, 2015.


The USS Constitution Is Back In the Water Again

From the July 24, 2017, USA Today  "The USS Constitution -- 'Old Ironsides' -- is back afloat again" by Matthew Diebel.

The world's oldest commissioned warship, launched in 1797, is afloat again after a $12 million project which replaced most of its copper cladding with 2,200 sheets, repairing outside wooden planks and rebuilding its 42 gun carriages.

Refurbishing of the rigging and masts will be done before the ship reopens for visitors in August.  The ship received its name from George Washington and won three major ship-to-ship victories in the War of 1812.

It remained on active duty until 1855.  After that it became a training ship for the USNA then a touring national landmark.  Since 1934 it has been based at Charleston Navy Yard in Boston.

One Hell of A Ship.  --Bock-Perry

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The Plattsburgh Barracks-- Part 6: War of 1812 Skeletons Found

All of the War of 1812 forts except Fort Brown were leveled to form a huge 40-acre parade ground known as the "U.S. Oval."  This happened in the early 1890s.

In 1892, during the removal of Fort Moreau which had been the main and largest of the War of 1812 forts during the Battle of Plattsburgh, numerous human remains, as many as twenty-five, were unearthed.  They had been hurriedly buried either during or immediately after the Battle of Plattsburgh.

When Fort Scott was leveled, perhaps thirty or more skeletons were also discovered.  Cannonballs and other War of 1812 artifacts were also found.  These were reportedly sent to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

All of the recovered skeletons were buried with full military honors in the nearby Old Post Cemetery in a mass grave marked by a large monument to the unknown dead of the War of 1812.


The Plattsburgh Barracks-- Part 5: Much Delayed in Opening and Then, A War of 1812 Flashback

By August 1839, under the direction of Benjamin Kendrick Pierce the exteriors for the officers and enlisted men had been built, but in peacetime, there were lots of delays

Eventually it was occupied by various infantry and artillery units and by early 1890, a big expansion program was instituted.

And this led to an interesting sidebar back to the War of 1812.


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The Plattsburgh Barracks-- Part 4: The War of 1812 Fortifications

During the Second Seminole War, nearly a quarter of the U.S. Army strength was sent to Florida and Congress realized that the Army needed to be expanded and that was when it was raised to 12,539.  Along with the increase in strength, housing became a big issue which was why the Army built the Plattsburgh Barracks.

A permanent Army post was planned and was to have four stone barracks surrounded by a wooden palisade.

A site was selected outside of the town of Plattsburgh and just south of the three remaining earthwork fortifications from the 1814 siege:  Fort Brown, Fort Moreau and Fort Scott.

These forts had been constructed under the direction of Major Joseph Totten, an expert military engineer during the war.  There were also two smaller redoubts erected later, Fort Tompkins and Fort Gaines.  All five of these fortifications formed the endpoints of a pentagon which featured a field of interlocking cannon fire.


The Plattsburgh Barracks-- Part 3: The Need for Permanent Barracks

Troops were stationed there from 1812-1823, but  they did not have permanent barracks or even a permanent military installation.  Men often stayed in dilapidated and inadequate log structures left over from the War of 1812.

In an October 1839 letter to the General of the Army, Major General Alexander Macomb, who had commended the troops at the Battle of Plattsburgh, and Brigadier General Abraham Eustis told of just how bad the barracks situation was at Plattsburgh.

It was decided to construct permanent barracks, with part of the reason for doing it because the strength of the Army had been raised to 12,539 men because of the Second Seminole War.