THIS WEEK in the War of 1812 (May 11-May 17)

May 12, 2014 at 12:26 am 1 comment

Ships Vs. Fort.

Stephen Macdonough

Stephen Macdonough

Things are beginning to heat up on Lake Champlain, an avenue from Canada into New York and New England. Both the Americans and British are building ships to battle for supremacy on the long, narrow lake. The Americans are based at Vergennes, Vermont on Otter Creek, which feeds into the lake. The British were based at Isle aux Noix at the northern end of the lake.

On May 9, 1814, a small British fleet sails down to the mouth of Otter Creek, hoping to blockade the creek or sail in and destroy the U.S. fleet. But an earthworks, dubbed Fort Cassin, bars the way.

Master Commandant Thomas Macdonough, who is charge of naval operations on Lake Champlain, has the defenses built when he learns the British force is coming south to attack his shipyard. Macdonough,  along with with Lieut. Stephen Cassin – for whom the “fort” is named – some sailors, and a company of artillery sent from Burlington, Vermont, trade cannon fire with the British for about 90 minutes on May 14. There are few casualties on either side but the British withdraw, although what the British naval commander, Captain Daniel Pring, sees at Vergennes prompts him to begin construction of the Confiance, a 37-gun frigate.

The Fort Cassin skirmish protects the American fleet, but sets in motion the naval arms race that will result in the Battle of Plattburgh in September.

Lake Champlain and the Northern Front (U.S. Army Office of Military History)

Lake Champlain and the Northern Front
(U.S. Army Office of Military History)



Entry filed under: National Security and Defense, Naval Warfare, SHAKO, THIS WEEK in the War of 1812, Traditions, Weaponry and Equipment. Tags: , , , , , .

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May 2014


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