THIS WEEK in the War of 1812 (September 21-September 27, 1814)

Seven Odd Facts About the War of 1812.

Kentucky Mounted Riflemen, led by Colonel Richard M. Johnson, charge the British line at Moraviantown (Courtesy Kentucky National Guard)

Kentucky Mounted Riflemen, led by Colonel Richard M. Johnson, charge the British line at Moraviantown
(Courtesy Kentucky National Guard)

After the American victories at Plattsburgh and Lake Champlain and the unsuccessful siege of Fort Erie and attack on Baltimore by the British, things are mercifully quiet just about everywhere on the North American continent this week in 1814. So your 4GWAR editor would like to share seven little known oddities about the War of 1812.

Major General Jacob Brown

Major General Jacob Brown

1. Friendly Persuasion. U.S. Major General Jacob Brown was one of the few successful military leaders on the American side.  In 1813 his troops repulsed a British attack on Sacket’s Harbor, New York, a major U.S. supply base on Lake Ontario. He led the last invasion of Canada in 1814, capturing Fort Erie. He defeated British-Canadian-First Nations forces at Chippawa Creek and fought them to a standstill at Lundy’s Lane. He also oversaw the successful defense of Fort Erie during a 48-day siege. Ironically, Jacob Brown was born and raised a Quaker, a Christian sect famous for their opposition to war and violence.

2.   The Admiral’s Grudge. Vice Admiral Sir Alexander Cochrane, commander of the Royal Navy’s North America Station, was commander-in-chief of the sailors and soldiers that burned Washington, attacked Baltimore and raided up and down the Chesapeake Bay. He had a distinguished record but he did not like America or Americans. He once likened them to a whining spaniel who needed a “good drubbing” every now and then. It’s never been determined why the admiral bore America a grudge. Many believe, however, that it stemmed from the death of his brother, Charles, a British Army officer, at the Siege of Yorktown, Virginia, who was struck and killed by an American canon ball during the last big battle in the War for Independence.

3. War? What War? Given the bloodshed on the high seas, Great Lakes and all along the U.S.-Canadian border, its surprising to learn that for much of the war, farmers in northern New York and some of the New England states sold food, livestock and grain to the British in Canada. Some of this was smuggling, but a lot of the cross-border trade was licensed by one side or the other. Equally surprising, some American merchant ships had license to ship food to the Duke of Wellington’s army in Spain during the Napoleonic Wars and that didn’t stop once Congress declared war on Great Britain. In 1814, Vice Admiral Cochrane put a stop to licensed trade between Nova Scotia and the New England states.

Zachary Taylor organizes defense of Fort Harrison in this contemporary woodcut.

Zachary Taylor organizes defense of Fort Harrison in this contemporary woodcut.

4. Presidential Training Ground. Several prominent young men rose to greater prominence during and after the war and others rose from obscurity to the highest office in the land. They included Secretary of War and Secretary of State James Monroe, who became the fifth president in 1817. John Quincy Adams, the son of the second president and one of the U.S. negotiators in Ghent, Belgium who hammered out a treaty ending the war, became the sixth president in 1825. Andrew Jackson, a Tennesee militia officer who rose to major general of regulars and defeated the Creek Indians at Horseshoe Bend and the British at New Orleans, was elected the 7th president in 1828. William Henry Harrison, a major  general who retook Detroit and defeated the British and Tecumseh at the Battle of the Thames, was elected the 9th president in 1841. Until Ronald Reagan, he was the oldest man elected president.  And the last hero of the war elected president was Zachary Taylor, an Army major who spent most of the war fighting Indians in the West, including holding Fort Harrison in the Indiana Territory with a paltry force against hundreds of Native American warriors. After victories in the Black Hawk, Seminole and Mexican wars, Taylor was elected the 12th president in 1849.

5. Everywhere a Battleground. For a little remembered conflict, the War of 1812 certainly cut a swath of bloodshed and property damage in many of the 18 states in the union at the time. In addition to Louisiana, Maryland, New York, Ohio and Vermont, where significant battles were fought, the British raided or threatened ports and seacoast towns in South Carolina, Virginia, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island. Pennsylvania, Kentucky and Tennessee sent many militiamen and volunteers to fight, especially in the frontier battles of the South and Old Northwest.  Several battles were fought against the British, Canadians or their Indian allies in territories that later became the states of Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Michigan, Iowa, Missouri, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.  Additionally, U.S. Navy ships battled the Royal Navy or raided maritime commerce off the Pacific and Atlantic coasts of South America, in and around Jamaica and other British possessions in the Caribbean and in the English Channel.

The recently unveiled Bladensburg Battle monument featuring (left to right) A U.S. Marine, Commodore Joshua Barney and Charles Bell, a freed slave and one of Barney's flotilla men. (DC War of 1812 blog)

The recently unveiled Bladensburg Battle monument featuring (left to right) A U.S. Marine, Commodore Joshua Barney and Charles Bell, a freed slave and one of Barney’s flotilla men.
(DC War of 1812 blog)

6. Commodore Barney — Joshua Barney, one of the few heroes at the Battle of Bladensburg had also been a naval hero in the American Revolution, rising through the ranks and even escaping from a British prison when he was captured. But he was technically not a naval officer during his heroic service in the War of 1812. Frustrated by the lack of advancement in the early American Navy, Barney resigned and accepted a commission in the French Navy. This posed a problem when America and France fought an undeclared naval war (1798-1800).  Barney left French service and returned to America but some in the Navy no longer trusted his loyalty. When war with Britain broke out, Barney came up with the idea of protecting the Chesapeake Bay from British raids with a fleet of shallow draft gunboats. He and his flotilla drove the British crazy in early 1814. Barney didn’t quite fit into the Navy’s promotion schedule due to his years of absence and slipping him in would have ruffled a lot of feathers, so President Madison and Navy Secretary William Jones made him a commodore in command of the U.S. Flotilla Service.

7. Black Men in Arms — Many of the flotilla men who served with Barney on the Chesapeake, the Patuxent River and the Battle of Bladensburg were free black men. They stood and fought when most of the white militia men fled at Bladensburg. In fact, one — Charles Bell — stuck with Barney after he was wounded and ordered his men to retreat. After Washington was burned, the flotilla men marched to Baltimore and manned several gun emplacements that guarded the city and the approaches to Fort McHenry. Free black men also joined the American forces defending New Orleans. Vice Admiral Cochrane issued a proclamation while his fleet held sway in the Chesapeake Bay urging American slaves to flee their masters and join the British, either as soldiers or paid workers. Hundreds of blacks fled Virginia and Maryland plantations for freedom. About 600 of the men were trained as soldiers in the Corps of Colonial Marines. They surprised the British with their courage at Bladensburg and other battles. Most returned to Canada with the British when they left the Chesapeake. Not odd, but remarkable.

September 29, 2014 at 12:36 am Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (September 26, 2014)

Air War.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Matthew Bruch

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Matthew Bruch

A pair of U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagles fly over northern Iraq early in the morning of September 23, 2014, after conducting airstrikes in Syria. These aircraft were part of a large coalition strike package that was the first wave to strike Islamic State in Syria and the Levant (ISIL) targets in Syria. The United States has been conducting airstrikes against ISIL militants besieging villages and towns in northern Iraq since August 8.

But the September 23 strikes by U.S. and partner nation aircraft — including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — were the first in Syrian territory. Pentagon officials said the Syrian government was notified through the United Nations that the United States intended to take action against ISIL — which is also fighting the regime of President Bashir Assad — and Syrian air defenses remained in a passive mode during the air raids.

To see more photos of the raid, click here.

The Defense Department has a special page on its website dedicated to the air war against ISIL and humanitarian relief air drops to people driven from their homes by the terrorists.

 

September 26, 2014 at 12:00 am Leave a comment

COUNTER TERRORISM: Air Strikes on Khorosan Group, Australian Attack Thwarted

Syria Air Attack.

Army Lt. Gen. William Mayville Jr. details air strikes in Syria at a Pentagon press briefing Sept. 23. (Defense Dept. photo by Casper Manlangit)

Army Lt. Gen. William Mayville Jr. details air strikes in Syria at a Pentagon press briefing Sept. 23. (Defense Dept. photo by Casper Manlangit)

U.S. and Middle East partner nation forces launched air strikes Monday night and early Tuesday morning (September 22 and 23) against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

The United States also launched air strikes into Syria to attack the Khorasan Group, a terrorist organization believed to planning an attack against the West, Defense Department officials said.

“We’ve been watching this group closely for some time,” Army Lieutenant General William Mayville told a Pentagon press briefing Tuesday afternoon (September 23). Mayville said U.S. intelligence officials believe the Kkorasan group “was in the final stages of plans to execute major attacks against Western targets and potentially the U.S. homeland,” he added.

U.S. Navy ships in the Arabian Gulf launched a barrage of Tomahawk cruise missiles at Khorasan compounds and other targets in Syria. Khorasan Group, an offshoot of al Qaeda has attempted to recruit Westerners to serve as operatives or infiltrate back to their homelands.

The three waves of air attack were directed at ISIL and Khorasan Group. The first consisted of Navy cruise missiles. The second wave employed F-15 Strike Eagle, F-16 Fighting Falcon and F-22 Raptor fighter jets as well as B-1 bombers and numerous unmanned aircraft. The final wave consisted of F-18 Hornet jets off Navy carriers and more F-16 Fighting Falcons. In the third wave, U.S. aircraft were joined by forces and planes from Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.

Mayville the air attacks were part of a sustained campaign that “should be thought of in terms of years” to “dislodge and eventually remove ISIL from Iraq.” 

*** *** ***

Beheading Plot

Australian security personnel have arrested 15 people in the cities of Sydney and Brisbane for an alleged plot to carry out random public beheadings in those two cities.

Australia (CIA World Fact Book)

Australia
(CIA World Fact Book)

Officials said a man believed to be the senior Islamic State (IS or ISIL) leader in Australia “is understood to have made the instruction to kidnap people in Brisbane and Sydney and have them executed on camera,” the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported. The video was then to be sent back to ISIL’s media unit, where it would be publicly released,” according to the Australian broadcaster.

Earlier in September, the Australian government raised the terrorism threat level to the second-highest warning in response to the domestic threat posed by ISIL/ISIS.

The Australian Security Intelligence Organization, the country’s domestic spy agency said the threat had been rising over the past year, particularly in recent months, mainly due to Australians joining the ISIS/ISIL movement to fight in Syria and Iraq, according to Thompson Reuters.

*** *** ***

September 24, 2014 at 1:29 am Leave a comment

SPECIAL OPERATIONS: Green Berets Cross Florida sound the stealthy way

Infiltration Operation.

U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Bryan Henson

U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Bryan Henson

U.S. Army Special Forces soldiers, towing their equipment, swim across Santa Rosa Sound in Northern Florida.

We rarely get to see photos of Green Berets or other Special Operations Forces (SOF) in action – whether in training, as they are here, or in the field.

These troops are from the 7th Special Forces Group, which is based at nearby Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, and focuses on Central and South America as well as the Caribbean. In this exercise they were honing their waterborne infiltration skills before conducting additional missions that included hostage rescue and sensitive site exploitation.

As one can see in the photo below, these swimmers aren’t wearing wet suits or even swim suits. They make their way through the water in their combat uniforms – boots and all.

To see more photos of this exercise, click here.

U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Bryan Henson

U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Bryan Henson

Meanwhile, the Italian Army has reconstituted its Special Forces units into a single command, Comando Forze Speciali dell’Esercito (COMFOSEs), according the IHS Jane’s website.

The new command, officially activated September 19 at the Gamerra barracks in Pisa, has been in development for the last 18 months under Brigadier General Nicola Zanelli, who was appointed September 1, 2013, IHS Jane’s said.

September 22, 2014 at 5:30 pm Leave a comment

THIS WEEK in the War of 1812 (September 21-September 27, 1814)

Historic re-enactors of British troops at Fort Erie. (Courtesy of Parks Canada)

Historic re-enactors of British troops at Fort Erie.
(Courtesy of Parks Canada)

Siege Ends.

September 21, Fort Erie, Canada

British Lieutenant General Gordon Drummond, after weeks of failed attacks and bombardment, calls off his siege of Fort Erie and marches away into the rainy night. The 48-day-long siege has cost British-Canadian-First Nations (Indian) forces more than 280 killed, 500 wounded and over 700 captured or missing. The Americans have lost 213 dead, over 500 wounded and more than 250 missing or captured.

Drummond heads north along the Niagara River to Chippawa Creek near the scene of two bloody battles in July.

That same day, The Baltimore Patriot is the first newspaper to print Francis Scott Key’s four-stanza poem, “Defense of Fort M’Henry.” I becomes wildly popular – first in Baltimore – and then throughout the country. It becomes even better known when set to music (a difficult-to-sing – but popular – tune) and the title is changed to “The Star-Spangled Banner” (but the song does not become the official national anthem of the United States until 1931).

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At Sea

September 26-27, the Portuguese Azores

The U.S. privateer Gen. John Armstrong (U.S. Navy via Wikipedia)

The U.S. privateer Gen. John Armstrong
(U.S. Navy via Wikipedia)

The American privateer, General Armstrong, a Baltimore clipper, has been raiding British shipping in the Atlantic for over a year when she puts into port at Fayal (now Faial) in the Azores, a Portuguese colony. The Armstrong is named for Brigadier General John Armstrong Senior, a commander in the Revolutionary War as well as the earlier French and Indian War. The privateer, a non-military ship authorized by the U.S. government to raid commercial shipping, has captured or destroyed several British ships since 1813.

A squadron of three British warships heading for Jamaica and the British military buildup for an attack on New Orleans, sails into the port, spies the Armstrong and send several small boats to try and board her. Contemporary British, American and Portuguese accounts differ on who did what to whom – and when.

What is certain: Samuel Chester Reid, the captain of the eight-gun Armstrong, ordered his canon to fire on approaching boats carrying British sailors and Marines, driving them off. The British tried to board the American vessel again but were again driven off after a fierce hand-to-hand fight on deck (like something out of the novels of Patrick O’Brian or C.S. Forester). At least two large British rowboats were sunk.

A Currier and Ives print of the British attack on the American privateer Gen. John Armstrong Sr.

A Currier and Ives print of the British attack on the American privateer Gen. John Armstrong Sr.

The next day, September 27, the infuriated British commander, Captain Robert Lloyd, orders his smallest warship, the brig HMS Carnation, to attack. Reid fires on the Carnation, doing some damage but sees he is outnumbered with no way out. He orders his crew to abandon ship and scuttles the Armstrong. Historians don’t even agree on who set fire to the ship. Reid and his crew (two dead, seven wounded) take refuge on the island, which is neutral territory, and the Portuguese governor refuses to allow the British to land and hunt them down. Lloyd and his ships sail for the West Indies and historians again disagree on whether this has any bearing on the Battle of New Orleans. British losses in the fracas are put at 36 dead and 93 wounded.

Historical Footnote: The man the General Armstrong is named for is the father of the second U.S. Secretary of War during the War of 1812, John Armstrong Junior, who is largely blamed for not fortifying Washington before the British attacked and burned parts of the U.S. capital.

September 21, 2014 at 10:48 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (September 19, 2014)

We Mean Business.

U.S. Army photo by Spc. Joshua Leonard

U.S. Army photo by Specialist Joshua Leonard

Paratroopers from U.S. Army Europe’s 173rd Airborne Brigade show Ukrainian Marines and National Guard Soldiers the proper procedures for clearing a room during Exercise Rapid Trident 2014 in Yavoriv, Ukraine, near the Polish border. Rapid Trident is an annual multinational exercise conducted by U.S. Army Europe and led by Ukraine. The exercise is designed to enhance interoperability with allied and partner nations while promoting regional stability and security.

Below is another view of this particular training session, which shows Bulgarian troops (at the bottom of the frame) as well as the Ukrainians and Americans. . For more photos of Rapid Trident, click here.

U.S. Army photo by Specialist Joshua Leonard

U.S. Army photo by Specialist Joshua Leonard

 

 

September 19, 2014 at 1:33 am Leave a comment

AROUND AFRICA: U.S. Ebola Response, Nigeria College Attacked, U.N. Peacekeepers Killed in Mali UPDATE

Ebola Roundup.

UPDATES Ebola Roundup with aid pledge from Canada, Sierra Leone shutting down for three days and report of health workers and journalists found dead in Guinea.

Disinfecting personal protective garb and equipment at the J. F Kennedy Treatment Center in the capital of Liberia. (WHO photo by Christina Bamluta)

Disinfecting personal protective garb and equipment at the J. F Kennedy Treatment Center in the capital of Liberia. (WHO photo by Christina Bamluta)

The death toll from the Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa has gone over 2,600, according to the World Health Organization.

At least 2,630 people have died and at least 5,357 people have been infected, the WHO said Thursday (September 18), according to Reuters.

In an update on the epidemic, which is raging through Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia – and has spread to Senegal and Nigeria, the U.N. health agency said there were no signs of the outbreak slowing, said Reuters.

Several Western governments – criticized for not doing enough — have stepped up their assistance in fighting the fast-moving virus, for which there is no known cure.

President Barack Obama says the United States will send 3,000 military personnel to West Africa where they will erect new treatment and isolation facilities, train health care workers and increase communications and transportation support, according to The Associated Press.

President Barack Obama convenes briefing on the Ebola virus at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia.  (White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama convenes briefing on the Ebola virus at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia.
(White House Photo by Pete Souza)

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said the 3,000 troops would not provide direct care to Ebola patients, the AP reported. A substantial number will be stationed at an intermediate base in Senegal, Earnest said, with others at locations in Liberia where they will provide logistical, training, engineering and other support.

Obama said the Ebola outbreak is now an epidemic “of the likes that we have not seen before. It is spiraling out of control … The reality is that this epidemic is going to get worse before it gets better,” Obama said during a visit to the National Centers for Disease Control (CDC) where he consulted with health officials about the U.S. response to Ebola. “Right now, the world has the responsibility to act – to step up, and to do more. The United States of America intends to do more,” Obama added.

France says it will set up a military hospital in West Africa as part of its contribution to the fight against Ebola. President Francois Hollande said Thursday (September 18) that the facility will be set up “in the forests of Guinea, in the heart of the outbreak,” according to Reuters.

UPDATE:

Earlier this week, Canada said it will donate $2.5 million worth of the specialized medical gear used to protect health-care workers who are treating Ebola patients, The Canadian Press reported.

In a bid to reduce its Ebola infection rate, Sierra Leone will “close down” the country for three days beginning Friday (September 19), according to information minister Alpha Kanu.

Current figures show there are 1,400 cases of the Ebola disease in Sierra Leone, according to Kanu, the Voice of America reported. Sierra Leone is one of three hard-hit Western African nations being overwhelmed by the rapidly spreading deadly virus.

Meanwhile, the BBC reports officials in Guinea searching for a team of health workers and journalists who went missing while trying to raise awareness of Ebola have found several bodies.

A spokesman for Guinea’s government said the bodies included those of three journalists in the team. The group was reported missing after being attacked Tuesday (September 16) in a village near the southern city of Nzerekore.

Guinea and its neighbors (CIA World Factbook)

Guinea and its neighbors
(CIA World Factbook)

On Thursday night, a Guinea government spokesman, Albert Damantang Camara, said eight bodies had been found, including those of three journalists.

He said they had been recovered from the septic tank of a primary school in the village, adding that the victims had been “killed in cold blood by the villagers”.

The reason for the killings is unclear, but correspondents say many people in the region distrust health officials and have refused to co-operate with authorities, fearing that a diagnosis means certain death, the BBC said. Last month, riots erupted on rumors that medics who were disinfecting a market were contaminating people.

*** *** ***

Nigeria College Attack

Gunmen have attacked a teacher training college in the northern Nigerian city of Kano, and officials say at least 15 people have been killed, the BBC reports. Another 34 people were injured in the Wednesday (September 17) attack.

The gunmen exchanged fire with police outside the college before running inside. While it is not clear who was responsible for the attack, the BBC said, suspicion will fall on the militant Islamist group Boko Haram, which has been waging an insurgency in Nigeria since 2009. The group which wants to set up a separate Islamic state in Africa’s most populous country has already killed 2,000 people this year and kidnapped hundreds of high school-age schoolgirls.

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Peacekeepers Killed

A French AMX-10RCR armored reconnaissance vehicle in convoy near Gao, Mali in the drive against Islamist fighters in 2013. (Copyright French Ministry of Defense)

A French AMX-10RCR armored reconnaissance vehicle in convoy near Gao, Mali in the drive against Islamist fighters in 2013.
(Copyright French Ministry of Defense)

The United Nations mission in Mali says five of its peacekeepers from Chad were killed and another three wounded when their vehicle was hit by an explosive device in the north of the country on Thursday (September 18).

The attack brings the number of U.N. peacekeepers killed in the country this month to 10, according to Reuters. The U.N. mission, known as MINUSMA, said the blast happened between the desert towns of Aguelhok and Tessalit, in the Kidal region of the Wester African nation.

MINUSMA was deployed last year to help stabilize Mali following a three-pronged crisis which began with a Tuareg separatist uprising, followed by a military coup in the southern capital and a nine-month occupation in the north by al Qaeda-linked Islamist militants.

The militants were chased out by a French-led intervention, but pockets of insurgents remain in Mali’s vast desert north from where they have launched attacks on the U.N. peacekeepers.

September 18, 2014 at 11:57 pm Leave a comment

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