THIS WEEK in the War of 1812 (April 20-26, 1814)

April 21, 2014 at 6:13 pm Leave a comment

 

SETBACKS AT SEA.

USS Frolic Captured

The USS Wasp, a sister ship of the USS Frolic, an American sloop-of-war in 1814.

The USS Wasp, a sister ship of the USS Frolic, an American sloop-of-war in 1814.

The  USS Frolic, is one of three new American sloops-of-war, when she first put to sea on February 18, 1814. The other two are the USS Peacock and the US Wasp. During a cruise of the West Indies, between March 29 and April 3, Frolic sinks two British merchant ships and a South American privateer preying on ships of all nations in the Caribbean.

On April 20, 1814 Frolic encounters the British 36-gun frigate HMS Orpheus and the 12-gun schooner HMS Shelburne in the Florida Strait. Frolic tries to outrun the two warships – cutting away an anchor and dumping some of her cannons over the side — but after a six-hour chase, the Orpheus and Shelburne catch up off the coast of Cuba and take Frolic for a prize. The British rename the Frolic the Florida and press her into His Majesty’s Service.

Note: The USS Frolic was named for the HMS Frolic, which lost a seabattle with another Aerican ship named the USS Wasp in 1812. Shortly after that action, more British ships appeared on the scene and captured the Wasp and re-took the badly damaged Frolic as well.

 

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Blockade Extended

Starting on April 25, 1814 the Royal Navy begins extending its blockade of U.S. ports up into the waters  off New England. The British began the blockade in November 1812 when they post ships to discourage merchantmen and warships from leaving port. The blockade is  extended from Long Island to the mouth of the Mississippi River by the middle of 1813.

The British blockade bottles up ships in port, causes economic hardship, drives up prices and — perhaps most importantly — deprives the federal government of much-needed revenue at a time when Congress ddoesn’t want to raise taxes to pay for a larger Army and more ships for the Navy. Federalists oppose the war as bad for business and don’t want to fund it, while the Jeffersonian “War Hawks” from the South and West, think the war will be short won’t need much money. They oppose restoring taxes eliminated during Thomas Jefferson’s administration, according to George Daughan in “1812, The Navy’s War.”

HMS Shannon takes the  American frigate, USS Chesapeake.

HMS Shannon takes the American frigate, USS Chesapeake.

While several U.S. warships like the USS Constitution and USS Essex are able to elude the blockade and wreak havoc on the open seas, the collapse of Napoleon’s empire frees up more British ships for blockade duty — making it increasingly hard for merchantmen and even Navy ships to make their way out to sea. In 1813, the frigate USS Chesapeake was captured by the HMS Shannon when it tries to sail out of Boston Harbor. Other U.S. frigates are trapped in rivers of Connecticut and Virginia.

The British initially spare the maritime economy of New England from blockade for two primary reasons: First they needed the food and other supplies the Yankees were shipping them from Boston, Portsmouth and other New England ports. Secondly, they know the Federalists opposed the war to begin with and anything that can drive a political wedge between New England and the rest of the country will help Britain’s war effort.

But with more ships available, extending the blockade and squeezing New England merchants, ship owners and seamen seems a quicker  strategy. Late in the war, New Englanders will meet in Hartford, Connecticut to consider a solution — possibly even secession from the union.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Entry filed under: National Security and Defense, Special Operations, THIS WEEK in the War of 1812. Tags: , , , , , , .

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