Tag Archives: war of 1812

McHenry (or Derna) Flag at the Golden Gate

SAN FRANCISCO (Sept. 11, 2021) Sailors aboard USS Tripoli (LHA 7) man the rails as the America-class amphibious assault ship prepares to pull into San Francisco for an annual Defense Support of Civil Authorities (DSCA) exercise, part of the upcoming San Francisco Fleet Week (SFFW). SFFW is an opportunity for the American public to meet their Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard teams and experience America’s sea services. During Fleet Week, set for Oct. 4-11, service members participate in various community service events, showcase capabilities and equipment to the community, and enjoy the hospitality of San Francisco and its surrounding areas. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Julian Moorefield)

Easy to spot, against the fog-shrouded Bay, is Tripoli’s 15-starred flag, of the kind flown from 4 July 1795 to 4 July 1818, including the 1805 Battle of Derna where U.S. Marine Corps First Lieutenant Presley Neville O’Bannon led seven Marines (and 500 of what we would call today “regional private military contractors” under Navy LT William Eaton) to storm the “Shores of Tripoli.”

Of course, that “star-spangled banner” is flown at a number of War of 1812 locations, including Fort McHenry and Fort Morgan (nee Fort Bowyer).

A shot I took at Ft. Morgan a few years ago, where it flies to remember Fort Bowyer, an earlier earthwork on the same location that fought off the British in 1814 but fell in a more aggressive attack in 1815

The Unlucky President

In honor of President’s Day, here is a beautiful pen and ink circa 1802 drawing by artist Antoine Roux of the 44-gun “Original Six” frigate, USS President.

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One of only two American warships named for the office of the United State’s Chief Executive, USS President was ordered on 27 March 1794 during the administration of General Washington. Completed in 1800, the vessel was heavily involved in the Barbary Wars, helped spark the War of 1812 with the “Little Bent” affair, and was captured after tangling with a much stronger four-frigate British squadron– ironically after the end of hostilities– in that conflict. The Brits would rename her HMS President for a time and scrap the vessel in 1817.

The only other USS President was a sloop constructed on Lake Champlain in 1812 and, like the first, was captured by the British.

Probably a good thing the Navy hasn’t suggested the name a third time.

Guns of the U.S. Army, 1775-2020

While you may know of today’s standard U.S. Army infantry rifles, and those of the 20th Century, how about those present at Lexington and Concord or the line of Springfield muskets from 1795 through 1865? What came after?

For all this and more, check out the easy 2,000-word primer I did for this last weekend at Guns.com.

‘They ran through the briars and the ran through the brambles’

203 years ago today: A small force of U.S. Marines participate in the Battle of New Orleans, repulsing the British assault on General Andrew Jackson’s lines. The enemy loses more than 2,000 soldiers, while the American forces suffer only 13 casualties.

This painting by Col Charles H. Waterhouse, USMCR -- Repulse of the Highlanders, New Orleans, 8 January 1815-- is from the Marine Corps Art Collection via the National Museum of the Marine Corps.

This painting by Col Charles H. Waterhouse, USMCR — Repulse of the Highlanders, New Orleans, 8 January 1815– is from the Marine Corps Art Collection via the National Museum of the Marine Corps.

From Leatherneck:

As the battle lines formed for the city, 58 Marines from the New Orleans Navy Yard took position in the redoubt next to the Mississippi River, where they were commanded by Maj. Daniel Carmick, a veteran of the Quasi War with France. As commander of the Marine detachment assigned to the frigate Constitution, Carmick had led an attack to spike the cannon in the fort at Puerto Plata, Santo Domingo, according to the Navy’s history Web site.

They also particpated in the campaign in several other ways .

After 200 years, part of Britain remains in the swamps

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This, is the very definition of tactical advantage

This week two hundred years ago, some 11,000 British soldiers, marines and sailors advanced through the swamps to the southeast of New Orleans, the recently acquired crown jewel of the young United States’ vast Louisiana Territory. There, in the thick wilderness that is now Chalmette, Louisiana, they collided with an entrenched force of some 4700 rag-tag Americans  consisting of a small group of regulars of the 7th and 44th U.S. Infantry, a detachment of U.S. Marines, men from the 1st U.S. Dragoons, two loose brigades of Tennessee militia, one of Kentucky militia, Jean Lafitte’s swashbuckling pirate crews fighting on shore, two battalions of local Free Men of Color under Monsieurs Lacoste and Daquin, Major Plauche’s battalion of creole French led by New Orleans gentlemen (which included a number of veterans from Napoleon’s armies and true to their roots, two of the companies wore uniforms based on French Imperial Guard’s Grenadiers), Jugeant’s Choctaw warriors, and last but not least, a force of mounted Mississippi Dragoons under Colonel Hinds.

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The Brits were some of the most professional soldiers in the entire world at the time and their legions included the famed green-uniformed 95th Rifles, 1st and 5th West India Regiments made up of freed Caribbean slaves who had seen much campaigning, the blue-coated 14th Light Dragoons who left their horses behind and fought on foot, the 4th Kings Own Regiment, 7th Royal Fusiliers, 21st Royal Scots Fusiliers, 43rd Monmouth, 44th East Essex Foot, as well as the 93rd Sutherland Highlanders (who, contrary to popular myth, did not fight in kilts that day). These men were volunteers, not, as in many European armies, draftees. They were long-serving career men who had taken up arms as a skilled trade. Most had been well-bloodied in the ongoing series of colonial campaigns and wars on the European, African and American continents. Rule of thumb on an assault is to have the attacking force enjoy a 3:1 superiority, which the Brits did. Comparatively, the scratch force of Americans were neophytes in warfare, having rarely met modern army in set battle.

The line at Chalmette. Jackson's headquarters was the McCarty House, which fell into ruins after the war. The Mansion seen in the distance is commonly known as the Beauregard mansion, built in the 1840's for a Spanish nobleman, the Marquis de la Trava, by the famous architect, Gallier, and was originally called "Bueno Reposito." Shortly after its construction for De la Trava the estate became the property of Rene Beauregard, a nephew of General Pierre Beauregard of Civil War fame and became part of the National park in 1938

The line at Chalmette. Jackson’s headquarters was the McCarty House, which fell into ruins after the war. The home seen in the distance is commonly known as the Beauregard mansion, built in the 1840’s for a Spanish nobleman, the Marquis de la Trava, by the famous architect, Gallier, and was originally called “Bueno Reposito.” Shortly after its construction for De la Trava the estate became the property of Rene Beauregard, a nephew of General Pierre Beauregard of Civil War fame and became part of the National park in 1938. The the battlefield’s 100-foot-high obelisk, seen to the right, was placed after that.

Things went bad for the British on Jan, 8, 1815 from the start. The King’s army, led by Major Sir Edward Pakenham, had been halved by leaving guard forces around the rear and sending a strong force down the West Bank of the river to try to flank Jackson’s army. This left them only 6,970 men to attack the Americans. While still more numerous, it was nowhere near the 3:1 rule of thumb, and many speculate that the Royal Navy, in overall command of the landings, forced Pakenham’s avenue of approach.

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Further, vital equipment needed to scale the American fortifications and pass over the bayou were left behind, slowing progress. Starting the assault some 12-hours late, the British began almost immediately taking heavy casualties while trying to make a brave, but futile attack.

The 16-gun sloop USS Louisiana, fighting the river current, sailed down the British lines and raked them in enfilade fire from her 24-pounders filled with grapeshot (this plucky 99-foot wooden warship performed yeoman service and her contribution to the battle goes largely forgotten). Trying to encourage their men and lead from the front, Pakenham was killed, followed by many other key senior officers. Nevertheless, the Brits kept pressing the attack.

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One unit, the Highlanders,  actually came close to turning the American lines but withered under harsh fire, earning some 557 casualties that included their colonel. The battle had cost 2,042 British casualties that included 291 killed. The Americans suffered just 71 and retained the field in a stunning victory– the only such large set battle of the War of 1812 that could be counted as such.

In the end, the British recoiled and, contrary to myth, withdrew in good order, fighting a rear guard engagement until they were evacuated by the Royal Navy ten days later from Villere.

With this in mind, here are some more images from that battlefield that I took on a somber trip.

The site is also home to the Chalmette National Cemetery.

The site is also home to the Chalmette National Cemetery.

Began during the Civil War some 16,000 are interred there with the bulk (75%) coming from that conflict. There are four graves from War of 1812 vets to include one who fought at the Battle of New Orleans.

Began during the Civil War some 16,000 are interred there with the bulk (75%) coming from that conflict. There are four graves from War of 1812 vets to include one who fought at the Battle of New Orleans. The small square markers are for unknowns.

Sadly, many of the markers have been consumed by oaks over time and most are for soldiers unknown but to god.

Sadly, many of the markers have been consumed by oaks over time and most are for soldiers unknown but to god.

Nevertheless, the very soil of that cold, wet field, venerated with the life's blood of over 2000 of His Majesty's fighting men, there will always be a part of Louisiana that will forever be British.

Nevertheless, the very soil of that cold, wet field, venerated with the life’s blood of over 2000 of His Majesty’s fighting men, there will always be a part of Louisiana that will forever be British.

 

USCGC Eagle Flying War of 1812 Pennant

NEW ORLEANS — Pictured from left to right holding a replica commissioning pennant circa the War of 1812 aboard the Coast Guard Barque Eagle, April 17, 2012, are Capt. Peter Gautier, commander of Coast Guard Sector New Orleans, Rear Adm. Roy A. Nash, commander of the Eighth Coast Guard District, Capt. Steven Pope, Coast Guard Atlantic Area, and Vice Adm. Robert Parker, commander of Atlantic Area. Atlantic Area staff overseeing the Bicentennial of the War of 1812 presented the Eagle with the pennant. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Brandyn Hill.

NEW ORLEANS – Capt. Eric Jones (left), commanding officer of the Coast Guard Barque Eagle, holds the end of a replica commissioning pennant before Lt. j.g. Jonathan Heesch (right) raises it aloft aboard the Eagle at the Bienville Wharf, April 17, 2012. The Eagle and its crew arrived in New Orleans for the Bicentennial Commemoration of the War of 1812. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Brandyn Hill.