Posts tagged ‘USS President’

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

THIS WEEK in the War of 1812: June 24-June 30

The Starting Lineup

In an era of limited transportation and a region without many good roads, the War of 1812 got off to a slow start in the first week after the United States declared war on Great Britain and its colonies in North America.

Upon learning of the declaration of war, several U.S. Navy ships — including the frigates USS President, USS United States and USS Congress — put to sea (June 21) hoping to intercept a convoy of British merchantmen reportedly sailing from the island of Jamaica for Britain. The first shots of the war are fired on June 23 when the President and Congress encounter the HMS Belvidera. But the British frigate escapes when one of the President’s canons explodes, killing or maiming more than a dozen sailors.

HMS Belvidera vs. USS President, June 1812

By week’s end, two American schooners, the Sophia and Island Packet, were captured in the St. Lawrence River between Canada and New York State near the Thousand Islands. Both vessels were fleeing the confines of the St. Lawrence near Ogdensburg, N.Y. (see map below) for the relatively safer open waters of Lake Ontario when they were captured. The schooners were burned after their passengers and crew disembarked, according to contemporary accounts.

,Meanwhile, U.S. leaders were readying for a war which the young nation was ill prepared to fight.

The 18 states — Vermont, Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio and Louisiana had been added to the original 13 since the Constitution was ratified — had a population of 7.7 million compared to the approximately 13 million inhabitants of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.

The U.S. Army consisted of  11,744 officers and men, many of them scattered among posts along the Western Frontier and the border with Canada. The Army would have to rely on poorly trained state militias to bolster its numbers. Some states wouldn’t contribute troops at all, and others wouldn’t let their soldiers cross the border into Canada. The U.S. Navy consisted of just 20 vessels, including three large frigates mounting 44 guns and three smaller 38-gun frigates.

Britain had a much larger army and navy but both were preoccupied with the worldwide war against Napoleon’s France. So in terms on manpower, the belligerents were fairly evenly matched.

According to the U.S. Army’s Office of the Chief of Military History, at the war’s start, there were approximately 7,000 British and Canadian Regulars in Canada, which had a total non-Indian population of only about 500,000. The British side did have better relations with Native Americans and as many as 3,500 may have supported the British-Canadian forces. The vaunted Royal Navy had eleven ships of the line, thirty-four frigates, and about an equal number of smaller naval vessels in the western Atlantic. A small force compared to the total navy, but much larger than anything American navy could field in the early days of the war. Thousands more troops and many more ships would be turned loose against the United States after Napoleon was defeated and sent into exile in 1814.

Map courtesy of U.S. Army Office of Chief of Military History

NEXT WEEK: Slow News

June 25, 2012 at 12:12 am 2 comments


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