THIS WEEK in the War of 1812 (Jun 15-June 21, 1814)
Men in Motion
There was little if any gunfire this week in 1814 but leaders in Canada, London,Washington and Upstate New York were setting things in motion that would lead to the bloodiest battle of the war in Canada and British attacks on Baltimore, Washington and New Orleans later in the year.
In June, 10,000 British troops – veterans of the Duke of Wellington‘s campaign against the French in Spain – are sent to the Americas, first to Bermuda and then on to Quebec.
British Major General Robert Ross – one of Wellington’s best generals – is set to command troops raiding the eastern seaboard. Ross and his troops depart Bordeaux, France June 2, reaching Bermuda on July 25.
With Napoleon removed from the scene, the British prime minister Lord Liverpool, means to teach the upstart Americans a lesson – particularly after U.S. Troops burn York (later to become Toronto, Canada) in 1813.
For the past year, British troops based at Virginia’s Tangier Island in Chesapeake Bay have conducted a series of raids: burning towns and plantations, seizing food and other supplies as well as southerners’ slaves. Many of the now free slaves join the British Corps of Colonial Marines.
The British raid Havre de Grace, Maryland in May 1813, Hampton, Virginia in June. Frenchtown, Fredericktown and Georgetown all on Maryland’s Eastern Shore are also raided in 1813. Raids against military targets in 1814 include: Pongoteague Creek on May 30; a skirmish between British and American naval forces at Cedar Point, Maryland on June 1 and additional skirmishes between the British fleet and a U.S. Navy flotilla of barges turned into gunboats at St. Leonard’s Creek, Maryland between June 8 and June 26.
On June 20, near Benedict, Maryland on the Patuxent River, an advance party of U.S. cavalry clashed with a British raiding party, killing one and capturing five.
Meanwhile, U.S. President James Madison and his cabinet still have their eyes on Canada. Madison thinks if U.S. generals can take parts of Lower Canada before Wellingtons veterans reach North America, the United States will have a bargaining chip at the peace negotiations. Washington dispatches troops from Ohio on June 19 to begin a campaign to control Lake Huron and recapture Mackinac Island. More troops are moved along the Niagara frontier between New York and Canada, although little is done to reinforce Baltimore, Washington or New Orleans.
Entry filed under: National Security and Defense, Naval Warfare, Technology, THIS WEEK in the War of 1812, Traditions, Weaponry and Equipment. Tags: British Army, Duke of Wellington, James Madison and Lord Liverpool, War of 1812, War of 1812 in New York, War of 1812 in Ohio.