1812: The Navy's War

1812: The Navy's War

George C. Daughan

Language: English

Pages: 528

ISBN: 0465085997

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


When war broke out between Britain and the United States in 1812, America’s prospects looked dismal. British naval aggression made it clear that the ocean would be the war’s primary battlefield—but America’s navy, only twenty ships strong, faced a practiced British fleet of more than a thousand men-of-war. Still, through a combination of nautical deftness and sheer bravado, a handful of heroic captains and their stalwart crews managed to turn the tide of the war, besting the haughty skippers of the mighty Royal Navy and cementing America’s newly won independence. In 1812: The Navy’s War, award-winning naval historian George C. Daughan draws on a wealth of archival research to tell the amazing story of this tiny, battletested team of Americans and their improbable yet pivotal victories. Daughan thrillingly details the pitched naval battles that shaped the war, and shows how these clashes proved the navy’s vital role in preserving the nation’s interests and independence. A stunning contribution to military and national history, 1812: The Navy’s War is the first complete account in more than a century of how the U.S. Navy rescued the fledgling nation and secured America’s future.

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thought replacing him was more bother than it was worth. GAINING NAVAL SUPREMACY on lakes Ontario and Champlain was as essential, in Madison’s view, as reinvigorating the army. Secretary Jones spared no effort to carry out the president’s policy, but he thought the forces building on the lakes should be part of a defensive, rather than an offensive, strategy. He did not think it wise, given the government’s limited resources, to continue attacking Canada. He urged that emphasis be placed on

see the attitude of the United States change toward these powers.” Indifferent to Madison’s warnings, Napoleon attacked American commerce—to the limited extent he could, given the strength of the Royal Navy—throughout 1812. The armada of Yankee merchantmen supplying food to British forces in Spain annoyed the emperor. The ports of Lisbon and Cadiz, it seemed, were always crowded with American vessels, protected by British licenses that permitted them to ship food to Wellington’s army. French

at,” while keeping the sails wet from the royals down to coax every bit of speed out of her. At three o’clock Decatur had a light wind, but the ship in chase had a strong breeze, and she was coming up fast. The Endymion began firing her bow chasers, and Decatur responded with stern guns. By five o’clock the Endymion was close on the President’s starboard quarter, where neither Decatur’s stern guns nor his quarter guns would bear. He was steering east by north; the wind was from the northwest.

under Captain Henry Brush at the River Raisin—2,200 regulars and militiamen. In addition, Hull surrendered 33 pieces of artillery, 2,500 muskets, 5,000 pounds of gunpowder, and all the fort’s other supplies, as well as the 6-gun brig Adams, tied up at Detroit’s waterfront. The British later rename her Detroit in honor of their victory. Adding to Hull’s disaster, on August 15 a large force of Potawatomi massacred the American soldiers and civilians evacuating Fort Dearborn (Chicago). Afraid of

attempted to change his orders. He wrote to him and to David Porter that they were to take the Constitution, Hornet, and Essex to Charleston and “clear the coast of the enemy’s cruisers,” before doing anything else. What prompted the secretary’s new instructions was the 32-gun frigate H.M.S. Southampton, under Captain James Yeo. The Southampton, traveling in company with two brigs, had been active along the South Carolina coast during the summer and fall, and Hamilton wanted to get rid of her.

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