Posts tagged ‘Navy’

FRIDAY FOTO (October 17, 2014)

Hitting the Beach.

U.S. Marine Corps photo by Private First Class Matthew Casbarro

U.S. Marine Corps photo by Private First Class Matthew Casbarro

This photo is so sharp, you can almost hear the splashing water as U.S. and Filipino Marines (in camouflage helmets) wade toward the beach during a simulated raid for Amphibious Landing Exercise at PHIBLEX15  in Palawan, Philippines on  October 2. (Make sure to click on the photo to see a larger image).

PHIBLEX is an annual, bilateral training exercise conducted by the Armed Forces of the Philippines, U.S. Marine Corps and the U.S. Navy to strengthen interoperability across a range of skills including disaster relief and amphibious warfare operations. U.S. Army officials this past week  in Washington at the Association of the United States Army conference  stressed the importance of such multi-national training exercises to solidify both militaries’ readiness for amphibious operations in times of crisis.

 

October 17, 2014 at 1:04 am Leave a comment

THIS WEEK in the War of 1812 (October 12-October 18, 1814)

War in the North. 

October 15

Skirmishing at Chippawa

Map-Chippawa-NHS

U.S. Major General George Izard catches up with the British force that had besieged the Americans in Fort Erie over the summer. Even though he outnumbers them nearly three-to-one, Izard finds Lieutenant General Gordon Drummond’s troops dug in along Chippawa Creek — the site of a bloody encounter in July. To the frustration of Major General Jacob Brown, the commander at Fort Erie, Izard has waited too long to pursue Drummond after he broke off the siege allowing his troops to rest and build a defensive position.

Izard exchanges artillery fire with the British and Canadians and plans to attack a British outpost at Cook’s Mill.

October 16

Age of Steam

Shipbuilders in New York City are readying the world’s first steam-powered warship, designed by Robert Fulton, for launching in late October. The 150-foot-long, 2,455-ton  steam frigate, or floating fort, is created to protect New York harbor more efficiently than any land fort because it can move to block enemy warships whichever the direction they attack from. Officially, th massive ship does not have a name yet. Fulton calls it “Demologos,” and Navy records describe it as a U.S. Steam Battery.

The U.S. Steam Battery, later dubbed "Fulton he First." (Naval Historical Center)

The U.S. Steam Battery, later dubbed “Fulton he First.”
(Naval Historical Center)

October 18

New England Storm

Lawmakers and businessmen in the New England states are furious with the Madison administration’s inept prosecution of the war: with the end of the Napoleonic wars in Europe, the Royal Navy has effectively blockaded the entire eastern sea coast, Maine — still a part of Massachusetts — was invaded and occupied by British sailors and Marines July, the White and Capitol were burned by British troops in August, the British are advancing farther in Maine and a naval assault on Boston is expected at any moment.

The blockade has cost thousands of sailors, fishermen, warehousemen, importers and exporters in maritime-dependent New England their jobs. The federal government is nearly broke.

Massachusetts Governor Caleb Strong, of the anti-war Federalist Party, calls a special session of the legislature  on October 5, 1814. A report by a legislative committee calls for resistance to any British invasion, criticizes the Democratic-Republican Party leadership that brought the nation close to disaster, and calls for  a convention of New England states to deal with both their common grievances and common defense. The committee report passes the state senate on October 12 (22 to 12 vote) and the house on October 16 by 260 to 20. Letters go out to the other sates on the 18th.

A letter of invitation was sent to the other New England governors to send delegates to a convention in Hartford, Connecticut. The stated purpose of the convention is to propose constitutional amendments to protect New England’s interests and make arrangements with Washington for the region’s defense. Some of the fiery opponents to the war have mentioned secession as a way to get out from the war and blockade.

October 12, 2014 at 10:33 pm Leave a comment

THIS WEEK in the War of 1812 (October 5-October 11, 1814) [UPDATE]

Maritime Setbacks.

USS Wasp in 1814 (via Wikipedia)

USS Wasp in 1814
(via Wikipedia)

 

October 9 [Restores dropped material and fixes typos]

The American sloop-of-war, USS Wasp, is lost at sea. Under Master Commandant Johnston Blakeley, the 22-gun vessel, sank, burned or captured 15 British ships — including three warships — during two raiding cruises in the summer of 1814.

After capturing the British brig Atalanta on September 21, Blakeley sends the prize back to the United States manned by some of his 173-man crew. The Wasp is last seen by a neutral merchant vessel in the mid Atlantic around October 9.

HMS St. Lawrence (Paining by C.H.J. Snider)

HMS St. Lawrence
(Paining by C.H.J. Snider)

 

October 10

The British launch the HMS St. Lawrence, a three-deck gunship from Kingston Navy Dockyard in what is now Ontario. Bigger than HMS Victory, Admiral Nelson’s flagship at Trafalgar, the St. Lawrence is the biggest wooden ship built for fresh water sailing and upends the naval balance of power on Lake Ontario. The big ship will see no action, however, as the war has largely moved south to the Gulf of Mexico.

October 11

The American relief force sent to break the siege of Fort Erie finally arrives on the scene, but the British have already departed. General George Izzard, commander of the U.S. Northern Army, has marched over from Sackets Harbor, New York with more than 4,000 men. Back in August, then-Secretary of War John Armstrong orders Izzard — who was based at Plattsburgh awaiting a British attack on Lake Champlain — to take 4,000 men and march to Sacket’s Harbor, which Armstrong fears is vulnerable to a British amphibious assault. The move leaves Plattsburgh with less than 2,000 troops to defend the vital Lake Champlain Valley. In September he is ordered to relieve Major General Brown and his troops at Fort Erie.

Combined with the Fort Erie defenders, Izard decides he has overwhelming numerical superiority to the retreating British. After two days’ delay, he heads north on the Canadian side of the Niagara River to intercept the retreating British commanded by Lieutenant General Gordon Drummond.

Northern Frontier 1812-1814 (Map: U.S. Army Center of Military History)

Northern Frontier 1812-1814
(Map: U.S. Army Center of Military History)

Be sure to click on the map to enlarge the image. Lake Champlain and Plattsburgh are on the far right. You can follow the St. Lawrence River Southwest (to the left) past Sacket’s Harbor and Kingston on Lake Ontario. Then continue West to Fort Erie and the Niagara River (towards the middle of the map). Put in Bay is where the Battle of Lake Erie was fought in 1813, followed by the Battle of Thames (Moraviantown) a few weeks later.

October 6, 2014 at 1:35 am Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (October 3, 2014)

Blowing Off Steam.

 U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Joshua Card

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Joshua Card

How big is the hangar deck of a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier? Big enough to store and work on the jets and other aircraft — and still have plenty of room for a half court basketball game.

This photo was taken on the carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77). The basketball team practicing their passing game is called the Avengers. Make sure you click on the photo to enlarge the image.

The Navy says the George H.W. Bush is supporting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility. But if you click on this link, you will see how busy the flight deck and crew is — supporting air strikes against the murderous extremist group that calls itself the Islamic State — in Syria and the Levant (ISIL)  or Iraq and Syria (ISIS) depending on whom you’re talking to. No wonder these sailors are letting off a little steam.

And it’s important to remember that even below deck, not everyone is off duty at the same time.

Aviation Machinist's Mate 3rd Class Catherine Byron performs maintenance on a jet engine aboard the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77).  (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Brian Stephens)

Aviation Machinist’s Mate 3rd Class Catherine Byron performs maintenance on a jet engine aboard the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77).
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Brian Stephens)

 

October 3, 2014 at 12:00 am Leave a comment

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

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

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

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