Posts tagged ‘Royal Navy in the War of 1812’

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

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.

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

THIS WEEK in the War of 1812 (January 25-January 31, 1815)

Parting Shots.

Equestrian statue of Andrew Jackson in front of St. Louis Cathedral at Jackson Square, New Orleans. (Photo by Sami99tr via Wikipedia)

Equestrian statue of Andrew Jackson in front of St. Louis Cathedral at Jackson Square, New Orleans.
(Photo by Sami99tr via Wikipedia)

January 25

The slow process of evacuating thousands of British troops from the chilly shoreline of Lake Borgne continues. Sailors in longboats and barges have to row the troops some 60 miles out to the waiting fleet, unload, and then row back to pick up more troops.

Fearing an outbreak of cholera after continuing heavy rains uncover British remains in a mass grave on the Chalmette Planation battlefield near the American lines, Major General Andrew Jackson orders his forces to withdraw back to New Orleans, where a tumultuous celebration is held on January 23 starting at the Roman Catholic cathedral of St. Louis with Abbe Guillaume Duborg, bishop of the Diocese of Louisiana and the Floridas presiding. (One wonders what Jackson, the son of Scotch-Irish Presbyterians made of all the candles, Latin chanting and incense).

A Mississippi Dragoon about 1808. (Courtesy, Mississippi National Guard)

A Mississippi Dragoon about 1808.
(Courtesy, Mississippi National Guard)

On January 25 there is a brief skirmish between the British rear guard and Major Thomas Hinds’ Mississippi Dragoons. If there are any casualties, their number is not known.

January 27

The evacuation is finally completed. The last soldier makes his way aboard the waiting fleet. And by 11:30 a.m. the last sails of the British fleet disappear over the horizon, according to American sentries. But the fighting in the Gulf area is not over. The British are heading for Mobile Bay to capture Fort Bowyer and Mobile itself.

January 28

The famished British stop at Dauphin Island near Mobile and seize all the cattle and pigs.
Meanwhile, on the high seas the war goes on …

War at Sea

January 15

The Royal Navy’s blockade of the U.S. Atlantic coastline from Maine to the Gulf of Mexico is still in force.  Captain Stephen Decatur and his frigate, the USS United States, have been bottled up in New Haven, Connecticut since June 1813.  Late in 1814, the U.S. Navy assigns Decatur, a hero in the war with the Barbary pirates a decade earlier, to command another 44-gun frigate, the USS President, anchored in New York harbor.

On January 15, Decatur and the President slip out of New York in a snowstorm. But the ship runs aground on one of the many sandbars between New York and New Jersey. Battered by the storm, it takes hours to free the ship, soon after setting sail again, three British frigates ships are closing in.

USS President after her capture by the HMS Endymion and two other Royal Navy frigates.

USS President after her capture by the HMS Endymion and two other Royal Navy frigates.

Decatur and the 475 sailors and Marines on the President are facing the 40-gun HMS Endymion, HMS Pomone and HMS Tenedos –both carrying 38 guns. Decatur battles the Endymion first, but by nightfall, the President had lost 24 dead and 55 wounded. There are steering problems and the other two ships are getting ready to pound the President., so Decatur is forced to strike his colors.

The British take the President as a prize and sail her back to Bermuda, where a few days later they learn the war is over.

January 25, 2015 at 8:42 pm Leave a comment


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