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.

*** *** ***

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

THIS WEEK in the War of 1812 (September 14-September 20, 1814) UPDATE

Silent Emblem.

September 14, Baltimore

UPDATES with final action in Fort Erie Siege September 17

Bombardment of Fort McHenry by Peter Rindlisbacher (Courtesy of Royal Canadian Geographic Society/Parks Canada)

Bombardment of Fort McHenry by Peter Rindlisbacher
(Courtesy of Royal Canadian Geographic Society/Parks Canada)

Some 20 Royal Navy ships – bomb and rocket vessels, frigates and troop-carrying barges – continue their futile assault on Fort McHenry and the outer defenses of Baltimore. The ships, blocked by sunken hulks, a chain boom and batteries on either side of the channel east of the fort leading to Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, are forced to bombard McHenry from two miles out – beyond the range of the American guns.

An amphibious assault at an area west off the fort in the wee hours of the 14th is repulsed when Americans manning two fortifications outside McHenry, spot the British barges carrying infantry and open fire with deadly effect.

Meanwhile, Colonel Arthur Brooke, leading the land forces facing the Americans near heavily fortified Hampstead Hill in Baltimore finally receives a note from Vice Admiral Alexander Cochrane. Cochrane, the expedition’s overall commander, explains that his ships in the Patapsco River won’t be able to offer supporting fire for any land attack on the other side of the city. It was up to Brooke to decide if he could take Baltimore with his force of less than 5,000 men. If not, Cochrane writes, it “would be only throwing the men’s lives away” and keep the expedition from performing other missions.

Brooke, has been planning a 2 a.m. attack on American General Samuel Smith’s 15,000-man force of soldiers, sailors, flotilla men, Marines, militia and volunteers spoiling for a little payback after the burning of Washington. But the note gives him pause – and an honorable out from an attack likely to end in failure. After a council of war with his officers, Brooke’s army slips away leaving campfire burning to fool the Americans into thinking the British were still there.

Francis Scott Key notes "that our flag was still there." Photo courtesy of Library of Congress

Francis Scott Key notes “that our flag was still there.” Photo courtesy of Library of Congress

At daybreak on the 14th Cochrane calls off the bombardment. Maryland lawyer Francis Scott Key, stuck on a boat downstream from Fort McHenry during the attack, is thrilled to see the fort’s huge American flag still flying in the morning light. Fifty-years later, American General William Tecumseh Sherman will call it “the silent emblem of [our] country” but thanks to Key, the amateur poet, his opus “The Defense of Fort McHenry,” will immortalize the national flag as The Star Spangled Banner.

Brooke and his troops march back to where they first came ashore two days earlier and re-board the transports. Cochrane’s fleet eventually weighs anchor and heads for Canada. The Battle of Baltimore is over. Here is the seldom sung fourth, and final, verse of the poem that becomes the U.S. National Anthem …

Oh! thus be it ever, when free men shall stand

Between their loved homes and the war’s desolation!

Blest with victory and peace, may the heaven-rescued land

Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.

Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,

And this be our motto: “In God is our trust.”

And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave

O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

*** *** ***

War Moves South

September 14-16, Mobile Bay

British leaders in London still have their eye on New Orleans and plan to send an invasion force there as part of the strategy to attack the United States from the north and south.

Maj. William Lawrence (War of 1812 Alabama, Facebok page)

Maj. William Lawrence
(War of 1812 Alabama, Facebok page)

In preparation for that operation, the British plan to attack Fort Bowyer overlooking Mobile Bay on the Gulf Coast. Major General Andrew Jackson, expecting a British thrust from Pensacola (in what was then Spanish Florida) has beefed up the earth and timber fortification with 160 Army regulars and 20 canon under the command of Major William Lawrence of the 2nd U.S. Infantry Regiment..

If the British capture the small fort, it will enable them British to move on Mobile, and then head overland to Natchez in Mississippi Territory and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, cutting off New Orleans from the north.

Four British ships under Captain William Percy land 60 Royal Marines, 60 pro-British Indians and a small canon nine miles from the fort, but they are repulsed by the Americans September 14. The British ships attack the fort the next day but canon fire from the fort damages one ship which runs aground. That ship is set afire by the British after the beached ship’s crew is rescued. The other three ships sail away on September 16 after losing 34 killed and 35 wounded in the land and sea attacks. American casualties are only four killed and four wounded.

*** *** ***

Fort Erie Sortie

September 17, Canada

The British siege of Fort Erie on the Canadian side of the Niagara River continues after 42 days.

On September 17, two columns of American troops totaling 1,600 men sortie from the fort and sneak up on three British artillery batteries under cover of a heavy rain. One column, commanded by Brigadier General Peter Porter, consists of volunteers from the New York and Pennsylvania militia and elements of the 23rd U.S. Infantry Regiment. Porter’s men capture Battery Number 3. The other column, commanded by Brigadier General James Miller, includes detachments from the 9th, 11th and 19th U.S. Infantry regiments. Miller’s group captures Battery Number 2.

But there is fierce fighting after the British regroup and counter attack. The Americans are driven out of batteries 2 and 3 and are unable to take Battery Number 1. Three of the six siege guns in Battery Number 3 are destroyed, but the Americans are unable to spike the guns in Battery Number 2 before retreating following the two-hour engagement in the trenches.

In the often hand-to-hand fighting, the Americans suffer 79 killed, 216 wounded and 170 captured. The British losses are 49 killed, 178 wounded and 382 captured. A few days later, the British commander, Lieutenant General Gordon Drummond, decides to break off the siege.

East Bastion and barracks of Fort Erie today. (photo by Ernest Mettendorf via Wikipedia)

East Bastion and barracks of Fort Erie today.
(photo by Ernest Mettendorf via Wikipedia)

September 14, 2014 at 11:57 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (September 12, 2014)

Horizontal While Vertical

U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Emmanuel Ramos

U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Emmanuel Ramos

U.S. Marine Lance Corporal Julio Miranda Jr. rappels down a cliff during Mountain Exercise 2014 at the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center  (MCMWTC)  in Bridgeport, California.

Miranda is a rifleman with the 3rd Platoon of Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment. Marines with the 3rd Battalion will become the ground combat element of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit in October.

“This isn’t easy for someone doing it their first time,” said Sergeant. Andrew Rector, a unit training instructor with MCMWTC. “Everything in your body is telling you no, don’t walk off that ledge, but you have trust in your equipment and follow the technique.”

The training started with classes on tying basic knots and rappel harnesses, as well as getting a feel for what it’s like to rappel with no gear, according to Sergeant Emmanuel Ramos, who took this photo. After learning the basics, the Marines made their way through the mountainous terrain to a location two kilometers from their camp to begin their rappel assault with day packs and rifles.

The Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center teaches a variety of high altitude survival skills as well as mountain and cold weather operations. The center last year started an advanced horsemanship course to teach Special Operations Forces including Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command the necessary skills to enable them to ride horses and move through terrain that can’t be navigated by motor vehicles — as was the case in the early days of the Afghanistan war.

September 12, 2014 at 1:11 am Leave a comment

COUNTER TERRORISM: New Threats, New Challenges, New Response UPDATE

9/11 2001 and 2014

UPDATES with additional Obama remarks, criticism by Sens. McCain and Graham, Middle East coalition agreement and maps of Iraq and Syria by the Institute for the Study of War

Burning World Trade Center towers Sept. 11, 2001 (National Park Service)

Burning World Trade Center towers Sept. 11, 2001
(National Park Service)

It’s the 13th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks in New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania that left nearly 3,000 dead, hundreds injured and untold numbers traumatized by an surprise attack from a little known, but vicious, enemy.

Now America is gearing up to battle extremist terrorism again.

In a televised address from the White House Wednesday night (September 10) President Barack Obama outlined plans to “degrade and ultimately destroy” the violent militant group that calls itself the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. The extremist group has emerged from the Syrian civil war to rout Iraqi military units and seize a swath of northern Iraq. The group, also known as ISIL (for the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) has killed captured prisoners, threatened non Sunni Muslims like Shia and Yazidi with extermination, killed two American journalists in gruesome videos and forced Christian Iraqis to convert to Islam, flee the country or be killed.

“ISIL is not “Islamic.”  No religion condones the killing of innocents.  And the vast majority of ISIL’s victims have been Muslim,” Obama said in his 14-minute address. He added: “And ISIL is certainly not a state.  It was formerly al Qaeda’s affiliate in Iraq, and has taken advantage of sectarian strife and Syria’s civil war to gain territory on both sides of the Iraq-Syrian border.  It is recognized by no government, nor by the people it subjugates.  ISIL is a terrorist organization, pure and simple.  And it has no vision other than the slaughter of all who stand in its way.”

The president outlined a strategy for eliminating ISIS, which critics claim has taken too long to evolve and doesn’t go far enough. Obama said he was sending 475  more troops to Iraq to serve as advisers and trainers of Iraqi forces. That would bring the number of American troops there to more than 1,500 — just a few years after the United States withdrew combat troops from the war-shattered country. Obama also promised more airstrikes against ISIS/ISIL in Syria as well as Iraq, a step he has declined to take in the past. Since August, the United States has launched 150 airstrikes against ISIS/ISIL targets in Iraq. The United States has also been dropping cargo pallets of food, water and other relief supplies to Iraqi refugees hiding in the mountains.

Iraq Situation Report by the Institute for the Study of War. (click to enlarge)

Iraq Situation Report by the Institute for the Study of War.
(click to enlarge)

“Moreover, I have made it clear that we will hunt down terrorists who threaten our country, wherever they are.  That means I will not hesitate to take action against ISIL in Syria, as well as Iraq.  This is a core principle of my presidency:  If you threaten America, you will find no safe haven,” Obama said, noting U.S. actions against al Qaeda affiliates in Yemen and Somalia. He also stressed that the additional forces will not have a combat mission. “We will not get dragged into another ground war in Iraq,” he pledged.

But if ISIS/ISIL is left unchecked it could pose a treat to the Middle East and beyond, including the United States. American intelligence agencies believe that thousands of foreign nationals, including Europeans and some U.S. citizens have flocked to Syria over the last three years to fight against the Assad regime and other rebel groups. There is concern that those fighters, now battled-tested and exposed to extreme radical ideology, could return to their home countries and launch terrorist attacks. U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson made that point back in February.

Obama called on Congress to authorize and fund the training and equipping moderate Syrian rebels. He also said the United States will work with partner nations to redouble intelligence and counter terrorism efforts to prevent a terror attack by ISIS/ISIL in America. Lastly,Obama to keep support relief efforts for the tens of thousands of Iraqis who have fled their homes to avoid persecution by ISIS/ISIL. Obama pledged to head a coalition of partner nations to battle the threat. “Already, allies are flying planes with us over Iraq; sending arms and assistance to Iraqi security forces and the Syrian opposition; sharing intelligence; and providing billions of dollars in humanitarian aid,” Obama said.

Syrian Situation Map by the Institute for the Study of War. (click on image to enlarge)

Syrian Situation Map by the Institute for the Study of War.
(click on image to enlarge)

Shuttle diplomacy by Secretary of State John Kerry has born fruit. Leaders from Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and the Gulf Cooperation Council – an alliance of the Sunni Arab Gulf nations, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates – have pledged to “stand united” against “the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant,” according to The Guardian website.

But the British newspaper notes there are several thorny issues such as whether the Assad regime will allow coalition warplanes into its airspace to bomb ISIS/ISIL and whether U.S. advisers will enter Syria with the retrained rebels. There are also questions about what role pro-Assad Russia will play as well as Shia-majority Iran, which sees ISIS/ISIL as a threat on its border.

September 11, 2014 at 11:59 pm Leave a comment

THIS WEEK in the War of 1812 (September 7-September 13, 1814) PART III

Battle for Baltimore.

British Major General Robert Ross

British Major General Robert Ross

September 12, 1814

At 3 a.m. the British fleet in the Patapsco River south of Baltimore are unloading thousands of British soldiers and sailors — including about 500 Colonial Marines, runaway American slaves who have joined the British who promised them freedom from servitude in return. The overall commander, Vice Admiral Sir Alexander Cochrane, originally planned to depart the sultry and (in his mind) fever-ridden Chesapeake Bay after capturing and burning Washington. But unfavorable tides, storms in the Atlantic and the urging of his two sub commanders — Major General Robert Ross and Rear Admiral Sir George Cockburn — persuades Cochrane to try and take Baltimore, the most pro-war city on the Atlantic Coast and home to numerous privateers (state-sanctioned sea-going raiders) that have been wreaking havoc with British shipping for the past three years.

By 7 a.m. more than 4,000 troops are ashore and Ross decides to begin marching while the rest of the troops, cannon and equipment are being landed and organized.  Baltimore is about 14 miles away and Ross is anxious to take his men across this neck of land between the Patapsco and Back rivers before it gets too hot and the Americans realize they are attacking from the land side.

Brigadier Samuel Smith, the overall American commander in Baltimore has sent the 3,200-man 3rd Maryland (militia) Brigade about half way between the American lines and the British landing point, as a tripwire to warn of the British advance and to slow it down. Brigadier General John Stricker, the brigade’s commander, posts his men across a narrow neck of land only about a half mile wide between two creeks, straddling the road from North Point to Baltimore. Stricker sends a small unit, consisting of two companies of the 5th Maryland Regiment and less than 100 members of the Baltimore Rifle Battalion, even farther forward to surprise the British as they advance.

 

Battle of Baltimore (Click on map to enlarge)

Battle of Baltimore
(Click on map to enlarge)

It is the Americans who are surprised when thy run into the lead elements of the British force. The 5th Maryland companies, standing in the middle of the road, fire two volleys and flee. The riflemen, with more accurate weapons, take cover in the tall grass and behind trees to fire at the British. One or two of their bullets strike the British commander, General Ross, mortally wounding him. Colonel Arthur Brook takes command.

By 2 p.m. the British force reachStrickler’s position and are surprised when the militia units do not run when fired upon by artillery and Congreve rockets as they did at Bladensburg. While the 5th Maryland, 27th Maryland and the six-gun Union Artillery battery stand their ground but the 51st Maryland begins to waver and finally flee, followed by the neighboring 39th Regiment. With hisleft wing collapsing,Strickler fears the now outnumbered 5th and 27th regiments will be overrun by the British who mount a bayonet charge. At 3:45 p.m.Strickler orders his troops to retreat a mile back to a line where the 6th Maryland is standing in reserve. The American losses are 24 dead, 139 wounded and 50 captured. By contrast British suffer 46 killed, 295 wounded. Brook decides not to pursue the Marylanders, leaving his attack on Baltimore, still 7 miles away, until the next day to give his hungry, thirsty and exhausted troops a rest.

The 5th Maryland Militia Regiment at the Battle of North Point. (National Guard Heritage Series)

The 5th Maryland Militia Regiment at the Battle of North Point.
(National Guard Heritage Series)

*** *** ***

As the British prepare to attack Baltimore by sea, defenders block the entrance to the city’s inner harbor by sinking old ships between Whetstone Point — where Fort McHenry stands guard — and Lazaretto Point, where an artillery battery was set up. A chain barrier was stretched across the space and a string of barges, and as a last line of defense, the sloop-of-war Erie. General Smith, a Revolutionary War veteran and U.S. senator from Maryland began strengthening Baltimore’s defense — especially Fort McHenry — when the British began raiding the Chesapeake shoreline in 1813.

There were about 1,000 Army soldiers and militiamen inside the fort. Smaller earthworks fortifications were set up west of the five-sided masonry fort to prevent the British from sailing around the Fort McHenry and attacking Baltimore by land from the south. Most of the seaside fortifications are manned by some 1,000 sailors, Marines and Commodore Barney’s flotilla men, many of whom were black freemen.

*** *** ***

September 13

Shortly after daybreak, the British begin bombarding Fort McHenry and some of the shore batteries. Five of Royal Navy’s eight bomb ships are drawn up two miles from Fort McHenry. Thy have fearsome names like Devastation, Terror and Volcano and can hurl 200-pound shells up to two-and-a-half miles. The Americans briefly return fire but even their biggest guns can’t reach more than a mile and a half. There is also a ship, the Erebus, firing Congreve rockets. The bombardment continues all day and into the night where “the rockets’ red gleaming” illuminated the fort and its enormous 15-star, 15-stripe flag. Farther down the Patapsco River, American lawyer and poet Francis Scot Key has a good view of the attack but it is one he can do without. Key and John Stuart Skinner have sailed out to the British fleet to negotiate the release of a Maryland physician, Dr. William Beanes, who was taken prisoner for arresting at gunpoint British deserters and looters. The British agree to release Beans but keep all three men aboard ship until the battle is over.

Fort McHenry’s commander, Major George Armistead estimates 1,500 and 1,800 projectiles are fired at the fort. Only about 400 fall within the compound. The noise and concussion are almost unimaginable, however. At one point the bomb ships move a half a mile closer but they are now within range of some of the American big guns and after taking some hits, they are ordered back to their original position. Cochrane, the overall British commander sends a message to Brooke, the Army commander, saying the Navy can’t penetrate Baltimore’s waterside defenses and won’t able to support his attack on Baltimore’s fortifications. The message doesn’t reach Brooke for hours.

Fort McHenry today (Defense Department photo)

Fort McHenry today
(Defense Department photo)

General Smith has between 15,000 and 16,000 troops under his command, including 1,000 sailors, Marines and flotilla men. The American trenches flow all around Hampstead Hill, the American strong point. By 9 a.m. the British land forces have come within sight of he American lines, which are stronger, more extensive and heavily armed than Brooke had been led to believe. After assessing the situation and estimated the Americans may have 20,000 men and more than 100 canons, Brooke probes for a weakness in the America lines but is repulsed very time.

With only 4,500 men, Brooke knows it,s a big risk to attack an entrenched, larger force. However, with fire support from the Navy (he still hasn’t gotten Cochrane’s note) Brooke begins to think he might be able to pull it off. After a council or war, Brooke and his officers plan to launch a nighttime assault at 2 a.m. September 14.

Next Week: Star Spangled Banner and Fort Erie Holds On

September 11, 2014 at 1:18 am Leave a comment

THIS WEEK in the War of 1812 (September 7-September 13, 1814) PART II

Battle on the Lake.

September 11

Macdonough's victory on Lake Champlain (U.S .Naval History and Heritage Command)

Macdonough’s victory on Lake Champlain
(U.S .Naval History and Heritage Command)

On the same day the British threaten Baltimore, Captain George Downie’s 16-vessel fleet rounds Cumberland Head just southeast of Plattsburgh, New York and almost immediately attacks the 14-ships and gunboats led by Master Commandant Thomas Macdonough.

Macdonough has his four larger ships anchored close to shore in the narrow area of Plattsburgh Bay, putting the British sailing ships at a maneuvering disadvantage – especially if the wind dies, which it does. Additionally, the Saratoga, Eagle, Ticonderoga and Preble are rigged with spring cables, heavy lines attached to anchors at either side of the ship, allowing them to swing almost 180 degrees so the guns can be brought to bear on the enemy without having to rely on the sails to maneuver in battle.

The fighting is fierce. Within 15 minutes, Downie, the British commander is killed when an American canon ball strikes a gun carriage on the Confiance, which smashes into the commander. Macdonough is knocked unconscious twice, first when he’s struck by falling debris and later he’s struck by the decapitated head of one of his crew.

 

Map of Battle of Lake Champlain

Map of Battle of Lake Champlain

(Click on map image to enlarge)

The British Chub and the American Preble are lost when Chub runs aground and the Preble when canon fir disables the ship and it drifts away from the battle.

The spring cable idea works brilliantly when most of the guns on one side of the Saratoga are knocked out of action. The cables are hauled to swing the ship’s other side around to face the enemy and pour broadsides into the larger British ship.

After two and a half hours, the last British ships strike their colors and surrender. Seeing the naval disaster, Prevost decides to withdraw his army over the strong objections of his officers and heads back to Montreal. Historians will later call this the turning point of the war.

NEXT: Another British Assault — on Baltimore

September 10, 2014 at 1:35 am Leave a comment

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