Archive for the 'War of 1812' Category

Mar 23

USS Hornet Captures HMS Penguin, 23 March 1815

Wednesday, March 23, 2011 12:01 AM


Though the United States had ratified the 24 December 1814 Treaty of Ghent on 18 February 1815, thus formally bringing the War of 1812 to an end, this information took a long time to reach ships at sea. Thus, in the late morning of 23 March 1815, when the U.S. sloop-of- war Hornet, under Master Commandant James Biddle, sighted the British brig-sloop Penguin (of similar size and force) off Tristan d’Acunha island in the south Atlantic, neither vessel was aware that their two nations were now at peace. The two sloops approached each other on roughly parallel courses, Penguin to… Read the rest of this entry »

Mar 1

Trusty Son of Neptune: Boatswain’s Mate William Kingsbury

Tuesday, March 1, 2011 12:01 AM


Just as it did for commissioned officers, service on the high seas during the War of 1812 provided opportunities for petty officers to distinguish themselves and thereby earn promotion, as the experiences of sailors in frigate Essex illustrate. Violent weather in rounding Cape Horn in late February and early March 1813 tested Essex’s crew. By 1 March “the sea had increased to such a height, as to threaten to swallow us at every instant.” Captain David Porter recalled, “the whole ocean was one continued foam of breakers, and the heaviest squall that I ever before experienced, had not equaled in… Read the rest of this entry »

Nov 16

OpSail 2012

Tuesday, November 16, 2010 10:09 AM


This 2012, Operation Sail and the US. Navy will once again bring the glory of tall ships to the American seaboard to celebrate the bicentennial of our national anthem, The Star-Spangled Banner. A parade of magnificent tall ships and warships, from over 25 nations, will sail to five historic ports: New Orleans, Norfolk, Boston, Baltimore, and New York City and join America in commemoration of this national milestone. Operation Sail, (OpSail), a national non-profit organization dedicated to promoting goodwill among nations, and the development of youth through sail training, was conceived in 1961 by Frank Braynard and Nils Hansell. Following… Read the rest of this entry »

Oct 18

Wasp and Frolic: October 18th, 1812

Monday, October 18, 2010 8:38 AM


Image is from the Beverly R. Robinson Collection, United States Naval Academy Museum.

Oct 15

America’s Naval Technological Surprise in the War of 1812

Friday, October 15, 2010 12:13 PM


The original six frigates of the US Navy were ahead of their time in design. Though ships have changed dramatically, we still hearken to the days of USS CONSTITUTION and her five sister ships before we were a major naval power. It wasn’t possible for our fledgling nation to build a fleet which could surpass the Royal Navy’s ships of the line. So a design was required which could both outfight anything it couldn’t out sail, and out sail anything it couldn’t outfight. A Philadelphia ship designer by the name of Joshua Humphries was hired to design the new ships…. Read the rest of this entry »

Sep 13

The Bombardment of Fort McHenry and the Star Spangled Banner, 13-14 September 1814

Monday, September 13, 2010 12:01 AM


Following the capture of Washington in late August 1814, British expeditionary forces under Vice Admiral Alexander Cochrane moved to attack Baltimore. As the third largest American city and home to privateering operations that had netted over 500 British merchantmen, the Maryland port offered a tempting target for a destructive, retaliatory blow. Fort McHenry, a star-shaped masonry fortification guarding the entrance to Baltimore harbor, held the key to the city’s defenses. U.S. naval forces not only helped garrison Fort McHenry but manned shore and floating batteries protecting the water and land approaches to the American bastion. On 12 September the British… Read the rest of this entry »

Sep 11

Unsung Heroes of the Battle of Lake Champlain

Saturday, September 11, 2010 12:01 AM


On 11 September 1814, the U.S. Navy squadron on Lake Champlain won the most decisive naval engagement of the War of 1812. The U.S. squadron completely defeated its British counterpart and denied the English naval mastery of Lake Champlain. The failure of the British squadron to gain naval supremacy, in turn, forced the commander of an eight-thousand-strong British invasion force to break off a land assault in mid-battle and withdraw his army to Canada. Credit for this victory rightly belongs to Master Commandant Thomas Macdonough, USN, as it was secured because of his strategic placement of the ships under his… Read the rest of this entry »

Sep 10

The Battle of Lake Erie, 10 September 1813

Friday, September 10, 2010 12:01 AM


The Battle of Lake Erie was a pivotal naval engagement between British and American forces during the War of 1812. At the beginning of the War of 1812, the United States sent Oliver Hazard Perry to command the American forces on Lake Erie. When he arrived in Presque Isle (modern-day Erie, Pennsylvania), Perry commissioned several carpenters to build a fleet of ships. Within a year, he had nine ships. However, only two, the Lawrence and the Niagara, were fit for battle. Perry had also assembled a force of about five hundred men to serve under him, and after several months… Read the rest of this entry »

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