THIS WEEK in the War of 1812 (February 8-February 14, 1815)

February 8, 2015 at 8:00 pm Leave a comment

Fort Bowyer Besieged Again.

February 8-12, Mississippi Territory

The Fall of Fort Bowyer, 1815. Courtesy, Alabama Department of Archives and History)

The Fall of Fort Bowyer, 1815.
Courtesy, Alabama Department of Archives and History)

Repulsed at New Orleans, the Royal Navy is now at anchor near the entrance to Mobile Bay in Mississippi Territory (now the state of Alabama). Vice Admiral Sir Alexander Cochrane, the overall commander of the British invasion of the southern United States is looking to recoup his losses and reputation after the disaster in Louisiana by taking the small city of Mobile.

Standing in the way, however is a small sand and log fort, Fort Bowyer — which repulsed a British attack in September. Army Major William Lawrence, the commander who beat back a combined land and sea attack in 1814 with just 160 men of the 2nd U.S. Infantry Regiment, now has 375 soldiers. But instead of the 60 Royal Marines and about 100 Indian allies he faced the previous Fall — the British have landed more than 1,000 troops on shore with a dozen canons and rocket launchers. And there are now scores of British ships surrounding the point where the fort sits, compared to the four used in the unsuccessful September attack.

Fort Bowyer at the entrance to Mobile Bay 1814-1815. (Courtesy, Alabama Department of Archives and History)

Fort Bowyer at the entrance to Mobile Bay 1814-1815.
(Courtesy, Alabama Department of Archives and History)

While the fort and the Royal Navy exchange gunfire, the British land troops take three days to dig trenches within 30 yards of the fort and deploy their artillery. Outnumbered and outgunned, Lawrence agrees to surrender and on February 12 his troops march out of the fort. Cochrane plans taking Mobile — and maybe attacking New Orleans again, from the North.

February 11 New York City

The British sloop HMS Favorite arrives in New York harbor with the peace treaty negotiated by British and American representatives in Ghent, Belgium on Christmas Eve. The document has been signed by the Prince Regent, acting for his father King George III. The war is still on until the U.S. Senate ratifies the document.

President James Madison (Courtesy, The White House Historical Association)

President James Madison
(Courtesy, The White House Historical Association)

The treaty reaches Washington City on the evening of February 14 and Secretary of State James Monroe presents it to President James Madison. Word leaks out and celebrations erupt around the capital, battered by a British invasion force less than six months earlier. Madison, who is living at the Octagon House across the street from the burned out White House, plans to keep quiet about the agreement until he presents it for ratification on the 15th.

February 14 Mobile Bay, Mississippi Territory

Admiral Cochrane gives up his plans to attack Mobile when another British ship arrives with word of the Prince Regent’s signing the Treaty of Ghent.

The attack on Fort Bowyer, considered the last land engagement between U.S. and British forces during the War of 1812, costs the British 30 killed and wounded. The U.S. casualties total 10 killed and wounded.

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Entry filed under: Army, National Security and Defense, Naval Warfare, THIS WEEK in the War of 1812, Washington. Tags: , , , , , , , , .

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