Category Archives: Project:1812

War of 1812 project related posts.

Project:1812 – The British Invasion Part II – Washington DC

One of the more controversial actions of the War of 1812 is the destruction of Washington DC. It is something that Canadians hold over the heads of our American neighbors, something we have no right to do. The fact was that the Americans in the area were used to British raids and destruction of property. The commander-in-chief of the North American Station had in 1813 issued a proclamation to his subordinates that any and all American property was forfeit. But now amassed British army had a clear path to the capital, and in the aftermath of the Battle of Bladensburg the American government was hurriedly packing up shop and heading out. While Ross had won at Bladensburg, he needed some time to reorganize his troops, sort out the wounded and have a meal. But the British had no intentions of stopping for the night.

The Capitol
The US Capitol was the first target for the British Sappers, in 1814 the building was far from complete
Graflex Pacemaker Crown Graphic – Fuji Fujinon-W 1:5.6/125 (Orange-22) – Adox CHS100II @ ASA-100 – Blazinal (1+25) 5:00 @ 20C

President James Madison, having witnessed the American loss at Bladensburg sent a message back to the Presidential Mansion to his wife and first lady, Dolly Madison that she should leave as soon as possible. While the President made tracks for the home of his friend Caleb Bently in the village of Brookeville, Maryland. Dolly tried her best to organize an escape with some of the treasures found. But it was efforts of two servants of the house, Jean Sioussat, and Paul Jennings that preserved many of the home’s treasures. Ahead of the column Ross and Cockburn, under a flag of truce, entered the city unopposed. Even an effort by Winder and Armstrong to form a line of defense had failed as the militia had fled to defend their homes. Only a small force was left, and they upon seeing the British officers opened fire, despite the flag of truce. That little action was enough to set the British fury alight. Without a formal surrender that Ross and Cockburn had been seeking the city was fair game.

The House of White
In 1812 The White House was simply “The Presidential Mansion” it was also burned so that only the walls were left.
Pacemaker Crown Graphic – Schneider-Kreuznach Symmar-S 1:5.6/210 – Fuji Provia 100F @ ASA-100 – Unicolor Rapid E-6 Kit

The first building to be destroyed was that in which the small American force was occupying. Pioneers and Sappers set it ablaze and then turned their eyes on the only building of note in the city. The US Capitol was still partially under construction and served as the next target. Finding it hard to light the stone building on fire the troops pillaged the senate and house chambers and piled the wooden furniture in the middle. Using powder from Congreve rockets started the fire. The whole building was ablaze, a deadly beacon in the night. The fire spread to the Library of Congress and the Supreme Court. The Presidential Mansion, today known as The White House, was next on their list. With the treasures gone, the British troops repeated their actions and using the furniture set the building on fire. The War Department, State Department, and Treasury building were all next to go up in flames. A local newspaper, the National Intellegencer, was saved from the torch but Cockburn, having been slandered by the paper, ordered the building torn down brick-by-brick. The historic Washington Navy Yard was set alight to prevent the capture of supplies by the US Navy officers present. An attempt to seize some powder located outside the central city resulted in an explosion and death of several British soldiers. Within several hours almost all public buildings were on fire. The superintendent of the US Patient Office stepped in, many of the records from the patient office remained inside, and he convinced the British troops to spare the building. They agreed, and it remained unfired. A sudden storm blew through the city less than 24 hours after the destruction began torrential rains and the wind doused the blaze and forced Ross to retreat to the fleet.

Project:1812 - The Destruction of Washington
The US Treasury was also targeted with hopes of finding currency, they only found records. Today the Treasury stands next to the White House.
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Kodak TMax 100 (TMX) @ ASA-100 – Blazinal (1+25) 6:00 @ 20C

But the damage was done, much of the city was in ashes. All that remained of the Presidential Mansion and the US Capitol was flame-scarred walls. Ross’s decision to burn the city saw criticism by both American and British Officials because such acts are commonly prevented by terms of surrender. During the American occupation of York, most of the destruction of the city had been carried out before Dearborn signed the surrender order. In Washington’s case, no terms were ever discussed, and when Ross actively entered the city to find an official, he was fired upon instead. But many citizens in the British Empire and especially up in Canada were pleased when news of the US Capital’s destruction reached them. Reverand John Strachan went so far as to write a letter to former US President Thomas Jefferson rubbing his nose in the action. President Madison and the rest of the US Government returned on 1 September, Madison issuing a proclamation that the local population should come back and defend the capital. Many in the government believed in the face of the attack the capital should be moved and rebuilt elsewhere. A bill that was quickly defeated. Reconstruction of the city would be slow; the Capitol would meet briefly in the patient office before the Old Brick Capitol was completed. The Presidential Mansion and Capitol would both be completed by 1818.

Project:1812 - The Destruction of Washington
The Octagon House where President Madison lived during the last months of the war, he would ratify the Treaty of Gent in a second-floor room now known as the Treaty Room.
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Kodak TMax 100 (TMX) @ ASA-100 – Blazinal (1+25) 6:00 @ 20C

Today Washington DC is a thriving metropolis, the only two buildings that remain from the War of 1812 period is the US Capitol and the White House. For the White House, you can still see some surviving scars from the burning of 1814. Many of the other buildings that were destroyed have been rebuilt and demolished over the 200 years since. Today you can see some artifacts relating to the War of 1812 at the Museum of American History, part of the Smithsonian, although the Octagon House Museum where Madison setup the Executive Branch is a better choice as you can see both the Treaty Room and his Desk on which he conducted business.

Project:1812 - The Destruction of Washington
Today the old Patent Office is the Smithonian Gallery of American Art, this structure was built after the one saved in 1814 burned in 1838.
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Kodak TMax 100 (TMX) @ ASA-100 – Blazinal (1+25) 6:00 @ 20C

Written with Files from:
Collins, Gilbert. Guidebook to the Historic Sites of the War of 1812. Toronto: Dundurn, 2006. Print
Hickey, Donald R. Don’t Give up the Ship!: Myths of the War of 1812. Urbana: U of Illinois, 2006. Print.
Hickey, Donald R. The War of 1812: A Forgotten Conflict. Urbana: U of Illinois, 1989. Print.
Lossing, Benson John. The Pictorial Field-book of the War of 1812 Volume 2. Gretna, LA: Pelican Pub., 2003. Print.
Berton, Pierre. Flames across the Border, 1813-1814. Markham, Ont.: Penguin, 1988. Print.
McCavitt, John, and Christopher T. George. The Man Who Captured Washington: Major General Robert Ross and the War of 1812. Norman: U of Oklahoma, 2016. Print.

Project:1812 – Brigadier General William H Winder

Brigadier General William H Winder, like many officers in the American Army, made a name for himself in the War of 1812, and I don’t mean that in a good way. Winder has been grouped by many in the same category as William Hull and is considered one of the worst generals of the war. The ill-starred general was born in 1775 near Baltimore, Maryland, Winder wound attend the University of Pennsylvania and study law and return to Baltimore and began to practice law in 1798 and earned a reputation for being one of the best lawyers in the entire state.

Project:1812 - The Battle of Fort George
The battle field from the capture of Fort George, now a Golf Course in Niagara-On-The-Lake.
Modified Anniversary Speed Graphic – Fuji Fujinon-W 1:5.6/125 – Fuji Neopan Acros 100 @ ASA-100 – Kodak Tmax Developer (1+4) 5:30 @ 20C

Winder, being the nephew of the governor of Maryland was granted a commission of colonel when the war with England began in 1812, and he would be sent to the Niagara Frontier to join the shattered army, repulsed at Queenston Heights. The new commander of the army, General Alexander Smyth had his designs for the invasion of Upper Canada, and in November that same year Winder would command a relief force that was sent to rescue the trapped American soldiers and escape under fire from the British army who attacked Winder’s brigade at Frenchman’s Creek. General Smyth would be dismissed and would earn Winder a promotion to Brigadier General. When the American invaded again in the spring of 1813 Winder joined Dearborn’s army forcing the British army to fall back to Burlington Heights. Winder would join the occupation and lead a division to occupy the Gage Farm at Stoney Creek. In the resulting night assault by the British Winder found himself a prisoner of the British.

Project:1812 - The Battle of Stoney Creek
The monument to the Battle of Stoney Creek which saw both American generals taken prisoner.
Modified Anniversary Speed Graphic – Fuji Fujinon-W 1:5.6/125 – Ilford Ortho Copy Plus @ ASA-40 – PMK Pyro (1+2+100) 12:00 @ 20C

The general’s capture was a cause of great concern with news of poor treatment of American prisoners littered the newspapers. And much to their relief, Winder was exchanged in the summer of 1814 and returned home to Baltimore. When news of a British invasion reached Washington DC, President Madison and Secretary of War, John Armstrong created the 10th military district to defended the capital, and to the annoyance of Armstrong, President James Madison appointed General Winder to the post of commander of the new district. The President’s choice resulted in bad blood between Winder and Armstrong. While Winder did the minimum to inspect the area’s fortifications and militia troops he received little logistical support from the government. When the British landed in August 1814, Winder had to struggle to call up the area’s militia and divide the force as the British plans remained unclear. When Ross attacked, Winder out of fear moved back thinking that Ross would launch a night assault. Winder’s fear would spread, and when he arrived at Bladensburg, he found that the general there had given up a tactically sound position. And when Ross attacked, Winder was unable to control the retreat left the door open to Washington DC.

Project:1812 - Battle of Bladensburg
The new memorial to the Battle of Bladensburg in Bladensburg, Maryland.
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Kodak TMax 100 @ ASA-100 – Blazinal (1+25) 6:00 @ 20C

The defeat at Bladensburg and destruction of Washington would be laid squarely at Armstrong’s and Winder’s feet, while Armstrong would resign his post, Winder retained his commission but would never hold a senior command for the rest of the war, spending it on the Niagara frontier. After the war was over, he would return to Baltimore requesting a court of inquiry in an attempt to clear his name. The court would only give him the vague judgment that he was worthy of a better fate. Resigning his commission, Winder would return to his law practice. But the war had broken his health but not his spirit. He would go on to serve twice on the Senate of Maryland, and at the time of his death at the age of 42, his firm was one of the largest in Baltimore. His remains would be laid to rest at Greenmount Cemetary.

Project:1812 - General William H. Winder
General Winder’s grave at Greenmont Cemetary in Baltimore, Maryland.
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Kodak Tri-X 400 @ ASA-400 – Kodak D-23 (Stock) 7:30 @ 20C

Written with Files from:
Mayer, Brantz. Baltimore: Past and Present, with Biographical Sketches of Its Representative Men. Baltimore: Richardson & Bennett, 1871. Print.
Web: casebook.thewarof1812.info/People_files/Winder/people_summary.html
Web: www.geni.com/people/Brig-General-William-Henry-Winder-USA/6000000000907794457

Project:1812 – The British Invasion Part I – Bladensburg

One of the most iconic and controversial campaigns of the Anglo-American War of 1812 are the British operations in the Chesapeake Bay region of the United States during the late summer and fall of 1814. This action was a true invasion; it was an attempt to force the US to sue for peace but on British terms, but it was more than that, it was revenge. It was the action that took the war to President Madison doorstep.

Project:1812 - Battle of Bladensburg
The Anacostia River as it stands today. The British would approach from this side, while the fighting would occur on the other side.
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Kodak TMax 100 (TMX) @ ASA-100 – Blazinal (1+25) 6:00 @ 20C

Just as the war in North America started because of the war in Europe, so to the invasion of the American east coast was linked to the end of that war. Napoleon had in October 1813, lost the Battle of Leipzig and as a result, the allied nations had chased the French Emporer back to Paris and by the spring of 1814 Napoleon had abdicated ending the War of the Sixth Coalition. With Napoleon established as the king of the small island nation of Elba, Great Britain could turn their attention to the War in North America. Since March of 1813, the Royal Navy had established a blockade on the eastern seaboard and squadrons were raiding all along the coastline with little respect for American property. By 1814 several thousand British regular troops were beginning to arrive in the Canadas. A majority of these forces were put under General George Prevost’s command at Quebec City to affect an invasion of upstate New York which ultimately ended in disaster at the Battle of Plattsburg. A second group arrived in Halifax and under the command of General John Sherbrook successfully invaded what is today eastern Maine holding it under British control. The third and finally group acted on their own under one of Field Marshall Arthur Wellesley’s ( Lord Wellington) top commander, Major General Robert Ross. Ross’s army was attached to a squadron of 24 warships under Rear Admiral George Cockburn and consisted of 4,500 British Regulars. And these weren’t colonial troops; these men were battle-hardened in the fields of Europe. When word of Napoleon’s defeat reached Washington DC, the American capital, the government was not too concerned. Both the President and Secretary of War, John Armstrong, did not think that the British would attack the capital city. Washington DC offered little of strategic value; Armstrong was sure that the British would attack the larger port city of Baltimore and ordered that General Samuel Smith increases the defenses around the harbour city. Armstrong did create the 10th Military District to defend Washington DC but offered little help or support to the District’s commander, General William H Winder.

Project:1812 - Battle of Bladensburg
The Bladensburg Bridge today, today it carries US-1 into Washington DC.
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Kodak TMax 100 (TMX) @ ASA-100 – Blazinal (1+25) 6:00 @ 20C

Winder and Armstrong did not see eye-to-eye. Armstrong would go out of his way to show his annoyance to Winder’s appointment to the district command, even blocking his attempts to call up the militia. Armstrong felt that the militia could be called up quickly to surprise any potential British invasion or attack. While Winder did inspect the region, he did little to shore up the defenses around the capital, either through his lack of desire, or lack of support from the government. The British, on the other hand, were in a much better position. Cockburn having been raiding along the coast for the better part of a year had a strong knowledge of the region and had even captured Tangier Island, a small island just outside of the Chesapeake Bay off the coast of Virginia. The island was to act as a staging ground for the British forces. Cockburn wished to launch a direct assault on Washington DC; Ross urged caution. He did not feel comfortable attacking without cavalry and artillery support, and there was the question of the small American naval force under Commodore Joshua Barney and his Chesapeake Bay Flotilla. The flotilla was the only thing keeping the British out of the bay, giving Winder a bit more time, and even though he could outnumber the British, at least on paper, he was commanding a mostly militia army that was both under trained and under equipped.

Project:1812 - Battle of Bladensburg
Eathworks in Fort Lincoln Cemetery represents both Fort Lincoln and Commodore Joshua Barney’s fortifications during the battle
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Kodak TMax 100 (TMX) @ ASA-100 – Blazinal (1+25) 6:00 @ 20C

While the two British commanders worked well together, they still had not agreed on a target, but they did agree it was time to make a move on the American mainland. Cockburn would take a small number of ships with his flagship, HM Frigate Menelaus (38) in the lead headed for Baltimore to throw off the Americans while another group of bomb and rocket ships made a successful raid against Alexandria, Virginia. Ross landed his troops on the 19th of August at Benedict, Maryland and began his march north. By the time he reached Nottingham, it was enough to scare Commodore Barney. Barney would order the flotilla scuttled and his men marched towards Bladensburg. At Bladensburg, Winder had ordered Brigadier General Tobias Stansbury to establish a defensive line at Bladensburg while he took a body of troops to occupy Long Old Fields (today the town is known as Forestville, Maryland). Winder was hoping to stop the British at Upper Malborough. Winder’s army engaged the British vanguard on the 22nd and gave Winder pause enough to pull back as Ross occupied Upper Malborough. From there, the British could strike at either Baltimore or Washington DC. At Bladensburg, Stansbury had established a strong defensive line controlling all roads leading into and out of the village and held the high ground. By the 23rd Ross had been convinced to attack Washington DC at the urging of Cockburn and the personal plea from General Prevost to avenge the wanton destruction of the village of Port Dover. Ross had two routes to choose from, if they went south, they would need to find a way to ford the Anacostia River or head north through Bladensburg which had a bridge across the river. On the 24th Ross first headed south then swung north. Winder though in a strong position to attack the British opted to retreat across the river destroying the bridge in the process out of fear of a night assault.

Project:1812 - Battle of Bladensburg
A memorial to Commodore Barney’s Marines that were the last to fall during the Battle of Bladensburg
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Kodak TMax 100 (TMX) @ ASA-100 – Blazinal (1+25) 6:00 @ 20C

At Bladensburg, news reached General Stansbury that Winder had abandoned Long Old Fields and the British were on the move. Stansbury, despite holding a strong position retreated across the river leaving the Bridge intact and reorganizing the men into three defensive lines. At Washington, it became apparent that the British were moving towards the capital and in a rush began to remove as much as they could from the government buildings in a mass exodus. Ross would be facing close to 5,000 American troops at Bladensburg, but only 1,000 of them were regulars a mix of US Infantry, US Dragoons, US Navy Sailors, and Marines. The remainder local Virginia and Maryland militia units supported by Artillery. Ross, on the other hand, had a mix of veteran troops from the Royal Marines, 4th, 21st, 44th, and 85th Regiments supported by Royal Marine Artillery and Rocket troops. As the British took the field, it became painfully clear that Stansbury in retreat across the river had been a tactical error. Had the American general stood his ground he would have made the British pay for every advance and engage them in dirty street fighting in the village. Ross’s officers would mock the appearance of the farmer’s army that they now faced across the river.

Project:1812 - Battle of Bladensburg
A close up on the plaque memorializing the battle
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Kodak TMax 100 (TMX) @ ASA-100 – Blazinal (1+25) 6:00 @ 20C

Seeing the bridge intact, Colonel William Thorton of the 85th Regiment along with other light troops took the lead and made to cross the bridge. The American artillery on the opposite bank did little to stop them. The light troops in skirmish order, spread out rather than tightly packed lines, made it difficult to hit them with solid round shot and the Americans lacked canister shot. Thorton’s steady advanced forced the American gunners and militia into a retreat. Winder upon seeing this made an attempt to drive off Thorton’s light brigade, only to have his flank turned by the 44th that had forded the river. With the reinforcements Thorton’s brigade pushed in against the American’s second line only to be repulsed, Thorton himself wounded in action. The 44th moved up and drove back the line. Winder in a panic ordered a general retreat. The militia fled in terror, and the word did not reach Barney and his sailors and Marines entrenched on a hill that made up the third and final line. Barney’s men held on the longest, taking the combined effort of the 4th and 44th to break through. The battle had turned into a route and Winder lost complete control over his men. The British would mock them calling it the Bladensburg Races as the militia fled towards Washington.

Project:1812 - Battle of Bladensburg
A memorial to the battle at the rather odd intersection of US-1 over the Anacostia River.
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Kodak TMax 100 (TMX) @ ASA-100 – Blazinal (1+25) 6:00 @ 20C

The city already in general panic was not comforted by the sight of their militia fleeing in the streets. The action had cost the British, with 64 dead and 185 wounded. Many troops simply collapsed under the summer heat. The Americans counted only ten dead, four wounded, but the British had taken over 100 prisoners. They also carried off the field some American artillery pieces and the colours of two units, the 1st Hartford Light Dragoons, and the James City Light Infantry. Ross would wait, knowing that there was no way the Americans could secure the way to the capital. Washington was almost a ghost town, only a handful of people remained, most of the government had fled to Maryland or Virginia in the face of possible capture or death.

Project:1812 - Madison House
The home of Caleb Bentley, where President Madison fled to ahead of the British army. It still stands in nearly original shape today as a private home.
Pacemaker Crown Graphic – Fuji Fujinon-W 1:5.6/125 – Adox CHS100II @ ASA-100 – Blazinal (1+25) 5:00 @ 20C

Like many battlefields from the War of 1812, there is not much left of Bladensburg. The expansion and urbanization of the area have rendered the field all but covered up. The old Bladensburg Bridge although sketched by Lossing in the mid-19th century was replaced in the 20th-Century by the new US-1 bridge that now spans the river. The Bladensburg Waterfront Park has a visitor’s centre relating to the battle that featured artifacts from the battle on display.

Written with Files from:
Collins, Gilbert. Guidebook to the Historic Sites of the War of 1812. Toronto: Dundurn, 2006. Print
Hickey, Donald R. Don’t Give up the Ship!: Myths of the War of 1812. Urbana: U of Illinois, 2006. Print.
Hickey, Donald R. The War of 1812: A Forgotten Conflict. Urbana: U of Illinois, 1989. Print.
Lossing, Benson John. The Pictorial Field-book of the War of 1812 Volume 2. Gretna, LA: Pelican Pub., 2003. Print.
Berton, Pierre. Flames across the Border, 1813-1814. Markham, Ont.: Penguin, 1988. Print.
McCavitt, John, and Christopher T. George. The Man Who Captured Washington: Major General Robert Ross and the War of 1812. Norman: U of Oklahoma, 2016. Print.

Project:1812 – Fort McHenry

To the American people, Fort McHenry is the most important symbol to continuing American freedom in the face of the British Empire, due to one single action during the greater War of 1812. Situated on a spit of land and stands to this day watching over Baltimore’s harbor. The original fort, however, was not called McHenry, but rather Fort Whetstone. Constructed on Whetstone Point, the five-point star earthworks fort was placed in an ideal spot to defend the city without its guns endangering the city itself. Whetstone was constructed by the Continental Army to defend Baltimore against potential British attacks which never materialized. But the end of the American Revolution it became clear that a stronger defensive position would be needed.

Project:1812 - Fort McHenry
The Main gate of the fort. The flag pole to the left is where the star spangled banner still flies today. Just not when I was there, too windy.
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Kodak Tri-X 400 @ ASA-400 – Kodak D-23 (Stock) 7:30 @ 20C

By 1797, the War Department earmarked 20,000$ for improvements at Whetstone Point. Construction of a new masonry fort began in 1798 based on a design by Jean Foncin with the construction of the new fort was completed in 1800. The new fortification would take the name Fort McHenry, named for the Secretary of War, James McHenry. McHenry served in the post under two American Presidents, George Washington and John Adams and had approved the construction of the new post. The new fort was again a start design, but where Whetstone had points, McHenry had bastions ensuring that there would not be any blind spots. Inside the fort stood stone barracks, a powder magazine and separate quarters for the commanding officer. The fort’s guns would ensure that no ship could easily approach Baltimore, and a dry ditch surrounding the fort ensured that an infantry assault would be suicide for any attacker.

Project:1812 - Fort McHenry
A War of 1812 era gun battery display outside of the fort. Most of the fort’s displayed artillery dates to the Civil War
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Kodak Tri-X 400 @ ASA-400 – Kodak D-23 (Stock) 7:30 @ 20C

And it worked, for a majority of the War, Fort McHenry stood as a silent sentry over Baltimore. As the war moved into the second year, the city of Baltimore prepared for any attack as the Royal Navy stepped up their operations along the eastern seaboard. While General Samuel Smith fortified the city, the new commander of Fort McHenry, Major George Armistead, began to upgrade the fort’s defenses. And added a personal touch, a new garrison flag made by a local woman to rival the flag he had at his former post, Fort Niagara. And on 13 September 1814, the attack did come. A British assault fleet would over the course of 27 hours fire over 2,000 projectiles at a range of 3 kilometers at the fort. McHenry would only suffer damage to the powder magazine (thoughtfully emptied) and one of its bastions. The British would withdraw having failed to break the fort. The attack, witnessed by Francis Scott Key, would inspire the Washington Lawyer to pen the poem “The Defense of Fort M’Henry.”

Project:1812 - Fort McHenry
Two barracks upon entering the fort proper. During the War of 1812 they only had a single story.
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Kodak Tri-X 400 @ ASA-400 – Kodak D-23 (Stock) 7:30 @ 20C

During the middle of the 19th Century, the fort’s internal buildings would be expanded or replaced with new construction. When the United States was torn in two during the American Civil War, Fort McHenry would serve a dual purpose. A new battery of Rodman Guns served to train artillery crews posted to more frontline forts. The second, darker purpose, was a military prison. Fort McHenry housed both Confederate soldiers captured in battle but also local citizens feared to have leanings towards the Confederate States of America. In an odd twist of irony, Francis Key Howard, the grandson of Francis Scott Key, was held at the fort. The fort would continue to serve the armed services as a general hospital when the United States entered the First World War and as a training base for the Coast Guard during the Second World War.

Project:1812 - Fort McHenry
A battery of Rodman Guns from the Civil War. They were undergoing restoration when I visited.
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Kodak Tri-X 400 @ ASA-400 – Kodak D-23 (Stock) 7:30 @ 20C

By the 20th Century, the fort already was designated as a national park (1925) and a national monument and historic shrine (1939) it finally received a national historic place designation in 1966. The fort also holds the honour of being the first place any newly designed American flag would fly before being widely distributed due to the now famous Star Spangled Banner, the large garrison flag Armistead had ordered in 1813. Today the fort is one of Baltimore’s popular tourist destinations. Most of the buildings constructed during the First and Second World Wars have been torn down and the fort today appears as it would have during the American Civil War. As for Armistead’s Star Spangled Banner, that flag is now displayed on permanent collection at the Smithsonian in Washington DC.

Project:1812 - Fort McHenry
A statue of Artmistead, the fort’s celebrity commander.
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Kodak Tri-X 400 @ ASA-400 – Kodak D-23 (Stock) 7:30 @ 20C

Written With Files From:
Collins, Gilbert. Guidebook to the Historic Sites of the War of 1812. Toronto: Dundurn, 2006. Print
Hickey, Donald R. Don’t Give up the Ship!: Myths of the War of 1812. Urbana: U of Illinois, 2006. Print.
Hickey, Donald R. The War of 1812: A Forgotten Conflict. Urbana: U of Illinois, 1989. Print.
Lossing, Benson John. The Pictorial Field-book of the War of 1812 Volume 2. Gretna, LA: Pelican Pub., 2003. Print.
Web: www.nps.gov/fomc/index.htm
Web: wardepartmentpapers.org/document.php?id=27413
Web: www.hahs.us/flags/r18.pdf

Project:1812 – Rear Admiral Sir Robert Barrie KCB, KCH

Robert Barrie is one of the more unique people related to the War of 1812 that I have researched and written on. While he managed to earn a disreputable reputation among the American population among the British and Canadians whom he interacted with he was well liked and respected. Barrie was born on the 5th of May 1774 in Florida, which at the time was still under British Rule, the son of Doctor Robert Barrie and Dolly Gardner. Despite his birth in North America he was raised in England. After his father passed away when he was still an infant his mother would move back to England. Following his schooling he was sent to sea as servant to his Uncle, Alan Gardner in 1788. Barrie would find his calling at sea. He was not to remain a servant for long and was commissioned as a midshipman in the Royal Navy and posted to the HM Ship Goliath (74). This was followed, with the influence of his uncle, now a Rear Admiral had Barrie posted to the HM Ship Discovery (10) under Captain George Vancouver. Vancouver would lead a mission along what would become British Columbia. Barrie’s performance during the cruise would see him promoted to Lieutenant in 1795 upon the Discovery’s return to England. Barrie continued to serve as a Lieutenant aboard the Discovery through to 1801. A quick promotion to commander and then to captain followed. He would be assigned to the HM Sloop Calypso (16). As the war against France heated up he would soon find himself in command of the HM Frigate Pomone (38). His ship would patrol through the English Channel and into the Mediterranean. It was during this time he would earn a reputation of being a ruthless captain dedicated to the distruction of the enemy. The Pomone would capture two notable prisoners during her cruise, Chevalier Charles de Boissi, the Adjutant General of France and Lucien Bonaparte, Napoleon’s brother. Barrie’s exploits would also see he destroy fortifications along the Corsican coast. During his final voyage, Barrie was assigned to transport the British Ambassador to Persia back to England, the Pomone sank just off Portsmouth without any loss of life. The tribunal would acquit Barrie of the loss of the ship and he would soon find a new command aboard the HM Ship Dragon (74) and would be assigned the North American Station.

A Lone Reminder
The lone gravemarker in Hampden, ME of two British troops killed during the action
Sony a6000 – Sony E PZ 16-50mm 1:3.5-5.6 OSS

Barrie and the Dragon would arrive shortly after the British declaration of war against the United States in October 1812. While he didn’t hate the Americans he did view them as the enemy and proceeded to act against them as he did against the French and behaved towards them as he interpreted the rules of war. During his service on the blockade, Barrie and his squadron destroyed or captured seventy-two American merchant ships earning the captain a loathsome reputation among the Americans along the eastern seaboard. A reputation he would solidify. The Dragon joined the Sherbrooke Expedition to capture the district of Maine in the Fall of 1814, and Barrie would be assigned to capture the disabled US Frigate Adams (20). The actions of Barrie following the battle of Hampden which scattered any American resistance in the region and the burning and looting of Hampden and Bangor by British soldiers and sailors left a lasting anti-British sentiment in the region. To Barrie, the Americans, like the French were the enemy, he had no mercy or humanity for the enemy. It wasn’t that he hated the Americans, he just saw them as the bad guys, and proceeded to treat them as such. Barrie hoped that his efforts would secure Maine for the British, but it wasn’t to be.

Project:1812 - The Battle of Hamden
Bald Head Cove, where Barrie landed his force before marking on Hampden and Bangor, ME
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford Pan F+ @ ASA-50 – FA-1027 (1+14) 5:00 @ 20C

After the war ended men like Barrie were not in high demand and he was retired on half pay in England. He would take the time to marry Julia Wharton Ingilby in 1816 and the couple moved to France briefly. Barrie would return to Canada in 1819 as the commissioner at the Kingston Naval Yard. Barrie would oversee the expansion of the naval yard and several of the buildings such as the Stone Frigate still stand today as part of the Royal Military Academy. Barrie would also oversee the reduction in the great lakes squadrons under the terms of the Rush-Baggot Agreement and advised for the selling off of any remaining ships held in ordinary. When the Great Lakes Squadron was formally stood down Barrie continued to busy himself working on the International Boundary Commission and championed the Hydrographic Survey of the St. Lawrence River and the Great Lakes. He also had a hand in planning and constructing the Welland and Rideau Canals.

Project:1812 - Kingston Royal Naval Dockyard
The Stone Frigate as it stands today at the Royal Military Academy
Pentax 645 – SMC Pentax A 645 35mm 1:3.5 – Kodak Tmax 100 (100TMX) – Blazinal (1+50) 12:00 @ 20C

Barrie would return briefly to Canada in 1825, serving as an advisor to the defense of Canada to the Admiralty before returning in 1827 to his post at the dockyard at Kingston, now at the rank of Commodore First Class. He would oversee the commissioning of the first gunboat built under the Rush-Baggot Agreement, the HM Schooner Cockburn (1). His service would last until 1834 when the Kingston Dockyards closed and the Cockburn ordered paid off. Upon his return to England he was invested as a Knight Commander of the Royal Guelphic Order. He would be promoted to Rear-Admiral in 1837 and in 1840 invested as a Knight Commander in the Order of the Bath. Barrie would pass away on the 7th of June, 1841.

The Dreamcatcher
The Dreamcatcher — Stands today at Barrie, Ontario a town named for Robert Barrie
Intrepid – Fuji Fujinon-W 1:5.6/125 – Adox CHS 100 II – Blazinal (1+25) 5:00 @ 20C

Despite his churlish behaviour during the war towards the enemy. Barrie was well liked among his peers in the Canadian provinces. While he wanted to run for a seat in the provincial legislature he never did under the advisement of Rear Admiral Cockburn. Nevertheless his mark was clearly left on the country he served well. His work at the Kingston Dockyards still stand today as part of the Royal Military Academy as does two towns named in his honour, Barrie, Ontario and Barriefield, Ontario. Barrie Island on Lake Huron as well as Barrie Point and Barrie Reach in British Columbia.

Written with Files from:
Web: www.biographi.ca/en/bio/barrie_robert_7E.html
Young, George F. W. The British Capture & Occupation of Downeast Maine, 1814-1815/1818. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.
Hickey, Donald R. Don’t Give up the Ship!: Myths of the War of 1812. Urbana: U of Illinois, 2006. Print.
Lossing, Benson John. The Pictorial Field-book of the War of 1812 Volume 2. Gretna, LA: Pelican Pub., 2003. Print.

Project:1812 – Commodore Charles Morris

Commodore Charles Moris, commander of the American forces during the British invasion of what is today Maine, a man who devoted his life to a single organization, the United States Navy. Born on 26 July 1784 in Woodstock, Maine, and at the age of 15 was commissioned with the rank of Midshipman in the fledgling US Navy. His early service took him to the Mediterranian during the two wars against the Barbary Pirates and then the Quasi-War with France. During this time he saw a promotion to Lieutenant. When he returned to the United States, he was promoted to Commander and assigned as the second in command of the US Frigate Constitution (52).

Project:1812 - USS Constitution
The USS Constitution was the first ship Morris served on during the War of 1812 as the executive officer.
Rolleiflex 2.8F – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 (Green Filter) – Blazinal 1+25 6:00 @ 20C

When war broke out with England, Morris and the Consitution cruised against British military and merchant vessels along the eastern seaboard. The most famous of these actions saw the Constution defeat the HM Frigate Guerriere (50) earning Morris a serious wound and the nickname “Old Ironsides” applied to the Constitution. In March of 1813, Morris would see a promotion to Captain and a command of his own in the form of the US Brig Adams (27). Morris and the crew of the Adams managed to give the slip to the Royal Navy blockade of the east coast and begin to raid along both the American, British, and African shores. The Adams managed to capture ten merchantmen and three warships. His return voyage saw the ship run aground on Isle Au Haut off the Maine coast. Skillful seamanship assisted in allowing the Adams to limp up the Penobscot River to Hampden to conduct repairs at the town’s wharf.

Project:1812 - The Battle of Hamden
The Hampden Academy building served as a meeting house during Morris’ meeting with the local population ahead of the Battle of Hampden.
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford Pan F+ @ ASA-50 – FA-1027 (1+14) 5:00 @ 20C

Morris found himself trapped along with his ship when General John Sherbrooke blockaded the Penobscot River and led an all-out invasion of eastern Maine in the late summer of 1814. Captain Morris at the urging of the local community took command with the assistance of General Blake, the local militia commander. Despite his misgivings about the local militia forces, he reinforced the lines using his men and guns from the Adams. When the center of his line crumbled in the face of the British army, Morris had little choice but to retreat. He sent the Adams to the bottom of the river and ordered his crew to retreat to Portsmouth, New Hampshire. As a testament to his leadership skills, not a single man deserted on the overland march.

Project:1812 - The Battle of Hamden
Looking out in the direction in which the British forces under Commodore Barrie attacked.
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford Pan F+ @ ASA-50 – FA-1027 (1+14) 5:00 @ 20C

Despite having lost the battle, Morris remained in the service of the US Navy after the war. When word reached the United States that Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry had taken ill, Morris, now a commodore as well, was ordered south to take command of the squadron along with his flagship, US Frigate Constellation (48). Morris would pick up where Perry left off and successfully negotiated several treaties and establish friendly relations with the new republics of South America. Morris would continue to command two American Squadrons, first in Brazil and then in the Mediterranean. After returning to the United States, he would go on to serve as the Chief of the Bureau of Ordnance, Chief of the Bureau of Construction Equipment, and the Naval Commissioner. At the time of his death, Morris held the second highest rank in the US Navy. His son-in-law arranged for an ornate headstone in Washington’s Oak Hill Cemetery. Seven US Navy ships have been named for Commodore Morris, most bearing the name USS Morris the last of these, a Patrol Ship served from 1943 to 1960, the USS Commodore Morris served as a gunboat for the Union during the American Civil War. A street is named in his honour at the Washington Navy Yards.

Written With Files From:
Young, George F. W. The British Capture & Occupation of Downeast Maine, 1814-1815/1818. Print.
Lossing, Benson John. The Pictorial Field-book of the War of 1812 Volume 2. Gretna, LA: Pelican Pub., 2003. Print.
Morris, Charles, and Frederick C. Leiner. The Autobiography of Commodore Charles Morris, US Navy. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute, 2002. Print.

Project:1812 – Lieutenant General Sir John Coape Sherbrooke, KCB

One of notable Governors of the British colonies that made up British North America during the Anglo-American War of 1812 is a man who helped aid the economic growth despite the war and presided over one of the least known campaigns in the war. Baptized John Coape Sherbrooke on the 29th of April 1764, the only son of William Sherbrooke and Katherine Pyndar. Born and raised in Arnold, Nottinghamshire, England as part of the gentry John, following his formal schooling was commissioned as an Ensign in the 4th Regiment of Foot in 1780, and three years later gazetted Captain transferring to the 85th Regiment of Foot. A year later following the breaking up of that regiment he transferred to the 33rd Regiment of Foot and took command of a company as they sailed for Nova Scotia. During the regiment’s time in Nova Scotia, the regiment found themselves stationed in the village of Sydney located on Cape Breton Island. When the French Revolution sparked a series of wars in the late 18th Century, Sherbrooke found his career back on track. He would continue to serve with the 33rd in Flanders and the Mysore Wars in India where he would serve under England’s rising star, Sir Arthur Wellesley. By 1798, Sherbrooke’s actions granted him a promotion to full Colonel.

Project:1812 - The March of the 104th (New Brunswick) Regiment of Foot
One of Sherbrooke’s early actions in the War of 1812 was sending the 104th (New Brunswick) Regiment of Foot on their historic winter’s march.
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford FP4+ @ ASA-100 – Kodak D-23 (Stock) 6:00 @ 20C

India left Sherbrooke in ill health, forcing his return to England to recover. By 1802 Napoleon had seized power and ended the various wars started by France during the revolution. Sherbrooke found himself placed on half-pay. The peace would be short lived, as post-revolution France continued to be a threat to the English way of life. In need of commanders, Sherbrooke would find a home with the 4th Reserve Batallion. As the War in Europe heated up, Sherbrooke, a stickler for discipline would be sent to Italy to command as Major-General of the Sicilian forces. By 1809 he would transfer back to the regular army taking up a post with the 68th Regiment of Foot, serving both as Lieutenant Governor of the Portuguese forces and second in command to Field Marshall Wellesley. Working closely with Wellesley would lead the Iron Duke to describe Sherbrooke as, “a very good officer, but the most passionate man I ever knew.” Sherbrooke would command at Oporto and Talavera and earn a knighthood as Knight Commander of the Order of Bath.

Project:1812 - Fortress Halifax
The heavy defenses of Halifax made the city an unlikely target for the Americans, Sherbrooke made sure it was a good spot to conduct business.
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Distagon 50mm 1:4 – Kodak Tri-X 400 @ ASA-400 – Kodak D-23 (Stock) 7:30 @ 20C

Promotion in 1811 to Lieutenant General would return Sherbrooke to Nova Scotia, this time in the governor’s post. When he arrived in Halifax, the clouds of war were starting to gather in North America. Sherbrooke could only hope to hold the colony with the unwavering might of the Royal Navy. He would also continue to improve the fortification by installing batteries throughout Nova Scotia. He would also send the 104th (New Brunswick) Regiment on their legendary overland march in the Winter of 1813. While he could do little in the way of attack, he did set up an unofficial peace with the citizens of the New England States. He would through his actions turn the Maritimes into a thriving port of International Trade since the New England States were less than pleased with “Mr. Madison’s War.” This arrangement was not to last as British regulars began flooding across the ocean after Napoleon’s abdication. Sherbrooke was charged with making the peace permanent by seizing eastern Massachusetts’s now a part of Maine. Sherbrooke would occupy the territory east of the Penobscot River in the fall of 1814, landing at Castine with a force of 3,000 regulars and several Royal Navy Warships. Within four weeks New Ireland was established, and the local citizenry went about their business. However, the actions at Hampden and Bangor at the hands of Captain Robert Barrie did leave a bad taste in the mouth of many. Sherbrooke would return to mundane administrative duties for the remainder of the war.

Project:1812 - The Occupation of Castine
A home in Castine, Maine that was used by British officers during the occupation. It was the house that had the infamous ‘Yankee Doodle Upset’ etching in the window until 1931.
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford Pan F+ @ ASA-50 – FA-1027 (1+14) 5:00 @ 20C

When a formal peace was reestablished in 1815, Nova Scotia found itself on a secure economic footing. The taxes collected from New Ireland would go on to fund the construction of Dalhousie College, today Dalhousie University as well as a military Library in the Halifax Dockyard. Sherbrooke’s talents for administration would not go unnoticed as he would be appointed the Governor General of all of British North America following Gordon Drummond’s departure. His skills as a negotiator would be put to good use as he fought for equality between the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of England, earning him the respect of both English and French Canadians. A possible stroke would see him resign the post in 1818 and return to England. He would pass away on the 14th of February, 1830. Today Sherbrooke is well remembered in Canada, the town of Sherbrooke; Nova Scotia is named in his honour as well as the neighborhoods of Sherwood Heights and Sherwood Park in Halifax, Nova Scotia. In Montreal, a subway station and street are named his honour as well.

Written With Files From:
Web: www.biographi.ca/en/bio.php?id_nbr=3132
Web: www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/sir-john-coape-sherbrooke/
Burpee, Lawrence J., and Arthur G. Doughty. The Makers of Canada: Index and Dictionary of Canadian History. Toronto: Publisher Not Identified, 1911. Print.

Project:1812 – The Sherbrooke Expedition

While the major campaigns of the War of 1812 get the spotlight and widely known, and it is true; these were the battles that shaped the course and action of the war those weren’t the be all and ended all of the war. And even today the British capture and occupation of what is now Maine, or as it was two hundred years prior Massachusetts, the War of 1812 remains relatively unknown even to those living in the modern communities today. I would not have even known about this conflict if it were not for my reading and participating in the reenactment of the war as the unit that I am a member of, the 7th Batallion, 60th (Royal American) Regiment of Foot fought in what is known as the Sherbrooke Expedition.

Fort George
My rather well worn 60th Golf Shirt near the Fort George Marker in Castine, ME
Sony a6000 – Sony E PZ 16-50mm 1:3.5-5.6 OSS

For the eastern seaboard, the first two years of the war were taken up mostly by the naval battles between the US and Royal Navies. The governor of Nova Scotia, General Sir John Sherbrooke could do little more than muster the local militia, mount guns along the shores, and pray that the might of the Royal Navy would prevent any American invasion. And while Sherbrooke could not invade, he did see an opportunity. The war was not well received in the New England States, and rather than antagonize his neighbors, Sherbrooke opened up trade relations. Sherbrooke began to issue passports and licenses to American merchants allowing them to trade with the British Colonies in the Maritimes; the move boosted the economy of Nova Scotia. The unofficial peace the two sides enjoyed was not to last. With the abdication of Napoleon following his defeat at The Battle of Leipzig, the might of the British army was about to come crashing down on the United States. The British Parliment and Sir Arthur Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington wanted the American war to come to a quick end.

Old Smooth Bore
The Halifax Defenses ensured that no American captain in their right mind would attack the center of Royal Navy Activity in North America.
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Kodak Portra 400 @ ASA-800 – Processing By: Burlington Camera

Governor General Sir George Prevost ordered that Sherbrooke establish a land link between Halifax and Quebec City. The idea of capturing the eastern part of Massachusetts had been in flux since the Treaty of Paris (1783). So to Sherbrooke, the reoccupation of the territory seemed the best option. His first move was to send Commodore Sir Thomas Hardy and Lieutenant Andrew Pilkington with a thousand regulars to capture Moose Island. Upon seeing the British fleet, Major Perley Putnam surrendered his garrison of eighty-five regulars of the 40th US Infantry along with Fort Sullivan and the village of Eastport. Hardy and Pilkington immediately renamed the post, Fort Sherbrooke and as the island was considered by the Crown as British ordered that all citizens declare an oath of allegiance to the British Crown. A majority of the citizens did, those who refused were ordered to leave. To maintain the island and deter any counter attack a garrison of 800 regulars were left behind.

Project:1812 - Fort Sullivan
Fort Sullivan surrendered quickly without firing a shot. Today there are a few remains including the hill, a cannon, and the 1808 barracks in Eastport, ME
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford Pan F+ @ ASA-50 – FA-1027 (1+14) 5:00 @ 20C

But Moose Island was a small spit of land, to secure a land route between Halifax and Quebec City the British would need to reestablish an old colony. In 1779, Brigader General Francis McLean established the colony of New Ireland; Sherbrooke was going to take a page out of the history book. Five ships, HM Ship Dragon (74), HM Frigate Endymion (40), HM Frigate Bacchante (38), and HM Sloop Sylph (18) were placed under command of Rear Admiral Richard Colpoys while ten transports carried 3,000 regulars from the 29th (Worcestershire), 60th (Royal American), 62nd (Wiltshire), and 98th regiments under Major General Gerard Gosselin set out from Halifax late in August 1814. By the 30th the invasion fleet was joined by the HM Sloop Rifleman (18) which brought news that Captain Charles Morris and his ship, the US Brig Adams (20) had taken shelter at Hampden. The Rifleman would join the invasion fleet along with HM Ship Bulwark (74), HM Brig Peruvian (18) and HM Frigate Tenedos (38). Sherbrooke decided to prevent the Adams from escaping first before capturing or destroying her. The fleet sailed north on the Penobscot River for the small village of Castine. On the 1st of September, Lieutenant Lewis, commander of the garrison at Fort Madison that watched over the village of Castine received word from the British fleet requesting his surrender. Having only 40 men under his command, Lewis chose to fire several volleys at the invaders from the fort’s four 24-pounders then spike them. Lewis, his forty men, and a pair of smaller field guns left without a fight. Landing a small force of regulars the village of Castine quietly came under British occupation. Sherbrooke would order that Fort George, built by General Francis McLean be rebuilt and reoccupied. Additional fortifications were constructed around the town such as Fort Castine (built on the remains of Fort Madison).

Project:1812 - Fort Madison
Fort Madison as it stands today. The 24-Pound Cannon dates to the War of 1812, however the earthworks are from the Civil War.
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford Pan F+ @ ASA-50 – FA-1027 (1+14) 5:00 @ 20C

With the river blockaded Sherbrooke would assign the capture or destruction of the Adams to Captain Robert Barrie of the Dragon, Barrie would take a ground force of 750 regulars, along with the Dragon, Slyph, and Purivan. For Captain Morris, the situation was not good. His ship was still under repair, and he only had a crew of 150 sailors and Marines. General John Blake, the local militia commander, offered a force of 600 men. The timely arrival of Lieutenant Lewis gave Morris an extra pair of field guns and forty regulars. Calling the townspeople together, Morris said that he would stand and defend the town providing the militia held. If they did not, Morris would destroy his ship and retreat. The trouble was that the militia had never seen combat, and while Blake had confidence in the men, Morris had little.

Project:1812 - The Battle of Hamden
If the water level is low enough, you can still see the remains of the Crosby Warf. Just ask permission as it sits on private property today.
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford Pan F+ @ ASA-50 – FA-1027 (1+14) 5:00 @ 20C

Moving the guns from his ship, he set up a battery along the shoreline and the Crosby Warf. His sailors would form the right flank, while Lewis his men and two field guns would make up the right flank, the center would be Blake’s Militia. They only thing that they had to their advantage was that they had the high ground. Sherbrooke hoped to protect the peace, and in a proclamation informed the local population that should they wish to trade with British North America, they would need to swear an oath of allegiance to the Crown. It was not required as it had been on Moose Island (the British felt Moose Island was rightfully theirs). Any other would simply have to swear an oath to keep the peace and turn in their weapons. Sherbrooke ensured that the garrison would pay fair prices for all the goods and services they required.

Project:1812 - The Battle of Hamden
Bald Head Cove as it is today. Probably hasn’t changed much in 200 years, but with the dry summer the water level was pretty low.
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford Pan F+ @ ASA-50 – FA-1027 (1+14) 5:00 @ 20C

On the 2nd of September, Barrie landed his ground forces at Bald Head Cove, a short three miles south of Hampden. With the late hour, the British troops made camp that night. The next day dawned with a damp drizzle and fog. With the riflemen of the 60th in the lead, by seven in the morning the skirmishers started shooting. Lewis, unable to see anything through the fog opened fire with his cannons pointed roughing in the direction of the approaching enemy. It was nowhere near enough, the mere site of the organized British regulars advancing through the fog, the rain drops glistening off the fixed bayonets combined with disciplined volleys saw the militia scatter. Morris and Lewis, seeing that they had no chance against Barrie’s troops and began their retreat. Morris flew the colours from the Adams lighting the charge himself that sent the brig to the bottom of the river. With Hampden captured, the trouble for the locals was just beginning. Barrie made no delay in giving chasing to Lewis and Morris and sailed his squadron to Bangor demanding the town’s immediate surrender along with quarters and supplies with the threat of their destruction.

Project:1812 - The Battle of Hamden
Looking south along the main road (US-1a) in Hampden, ME the battle would be fought here.
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford Pan F+ @ ASA-50 – FA-1027 (1+14) 5:00 @ 20C

The town scrambled to comply with the officer’s demands, while that was happening some of the men got their hands on some alcohol, and when Barrie got word of this ordered all the town’s liquor destroyed. This order set off a wave of looting, British soldiers and sailors rampaged through the town looting and destroying property, they even went across the river, burning fourteen ships. The town only escaped further destruction by promising Barrie that they would deliver some of the ships still under construction. A similar scene occurred in Hampden, property destroyed, animals killed for sport, and fearing for their lives the citizens applied to Barrie for a little humanity. The captain scoffed at their request, explaining that he had every right under the rules of war, and while he spared their lives, he would certainly burn their houses. Thankfully he never got around to that. By the time Barrie sailed back to Castine the British invasion had caused an estimated 90,000$ in damages, the British lost two men in the fight with another eleven wounded, seventy Americans were taken prisoner with twelve wounded. In one final act, the British took and destroyed the small fort at Michasport, Fort O’Brien fully securing the coast of Maine from American troops.

Humanity! I have none for you. My business is to burn, sink, and destroy. Your town is taken by storm. By the rules of war we ought to lay your village in ashes, and put its inhabitants to the sword. But I will spare your lives, though I mean to burn your houses. — Captain Robert Barrie

The British occupation would last until 1815. And while the state government did come up with a plan to retake the district of Maine, the governor showed little interest, having little funds or desire to support such an action. The British administration and garrison at Castine were much better behaved, the troops would put on plays for the townsfolk and treated the locals with respect. There was only one recorded instance of vandalism when an officer etched ‘Yankee Doodle Upset’ on a pane of glass in the house he was billeted. When news of the Treaty of Gent arrived, the British destroyed their posts and marched out of the town with much fanfare from the townsfolk. The garrison at Moose Island did not withdraw until 1818. While the Treaty didn’t solve the border issue, the occupation and treatment of Hampden and Bangor left a bad taste in the mouth of the population in the district of Maine. Maine would vote to secede from Massatuchetts and become a separate state under the Missouri Compromise of 1820. Anti-British sentiment would find an outlet in the Aroostook War (1838-39) and the border finally set by the Webster-Ashburton Treaty in 1842. The duties paid to the British administration during the occupation would come back to Nova Scotia, the money, known as the Castine Fund would be used to help found Dalhousie College, today Dalhousie University as well as a military library in Halifax.

Project:1812 - The Battle of Hamden
A lone cannon sits on Bangor’s riverfront, the only reminder that war once came to the town. The cannon dates to the American Revolution.
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford Pan F+ @ ASA-50 – FA-1027 (1+14) 5:00 @ 20C

It is tough to find information about the Sherbrooke Expedition, even in the areas where it was fought. In Eastport, there’s a sign and cannon marking the site of Fort Sullivan and the wooden barracks now house the local historical museum on Washington Street. Fort O’Brien’s earthworks still stand behind the school of the same name in Miachasport. Castine is home to the greatest number of relics from the occupation, and the local historical society has gone to great lengths to preserve the forts and batteries. Fort Madison/Castine can still be seen with the earthwork battery that was rebuilt during the American Civil War. Fort George’s earthworks and ruins of a casemate and powder magazine now play host to a baseball diamond. And the “Yankee Doodle Upset” etching, while destroyed in 1931 by accident, was recreated by the Castine Historical Society for the bicentennial. In Hampden the old meeting house was destroyed and rebuilt and now is a part of the Hampden Academy the battlefield is now Locus Grove Cemetary. A small grave marks the final resting place of the two British dead in the old burying ground. The Crosby Warf is long gone, but if the water is low enough you can see the remains, but it sits on private property. There’s no evidence that war ever came to Bangor, only a Revolutionary War cannon recovered from the Penobscot Expedition sits mounted on the waterfront behind Sea Dog Brewing. There are no plaques, no markers, and even contemporary guide books focus on Castine for the most part.

Project:1812 - The Occupation of Castine
A recreation of the famous “Yankee Doodle Upset” etching. The original was destroyed in 1931
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford Pan F+ @ ASA-50 – FA-1027 (1+14) 5:00 @ 20C

Special Thanks to the fine folks at the Castine Historical Society for assisting me in the photography for this post. They were helpful in pointing out locations and letting me photograph the replica glass etching. Also special thanks to the kindly woman who owns the property where the remains of the Crosby Warf can be seen for letting me photograph that as well.

Written with Files From:
Collins, Gilbert. Guidebook to the Historic Sites of the War of 1812. Toronto: Dundurn, 2006. Print
Young, George F. W. The British Capture & Occupation of Downeast Maine, 1814-1815/1818. Print.
Hickey, Donald R. Don’t Give up the Ship!: Myths of the War of 1812. Urbana: U of Illinois, 2006. Print.
Hickey, Donald R. The War of 1812: A Forgotten Conflict. Urbana: U of Illinois, 1989. Print.
Lossing, Benson John. The Pictorial Field-book of the War of 1812 Volume 2. Gretna, LA: Pelican Pub., 2003. Print.

Project:1812 – The Forts of Maine

During the British invasion and subsequent occupation of what is today eastern Maine, there were several forts involved in the action. While many have unique histories, there isn’t much to give each one their blog entry. So I’ve decided, for the sake of you readers, to combine them all into a single post. In the interests of geography, I’ll be moving from east to west if you want to follow along the route on a map.

Project:1812 - Fort Furieuse
The historic sign is the only remains of Fort Furieuse in Castine, Maine
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford Pan F+ @ ASA-50 – FA-1027 (1+14) 5:00 @ 20C

The small settlement of Eastport, Maine is located on the formerly contested spit of land named Moose Island. Located near the New Brunswick/Maine border, the US Army fearing British encroachment established Fort Sullivan in 1808. A single four gun circular battery with a powder magazine, blockhouse, and barracks. The island remained in the care of Major Perley Putnam and a small garrison of men from the 40th US Infantry. When the British showed up in the fall of 1814, Major Putnam surrendered without a fight. The British renamed the fort after the governor of Nova Scotia, John Coape Sherbrooke and left 800 regulars to prevent any American attempt at retaking the fort. When the war ended with the Treaty of Gent in 1815, the issue with the border remained unsettled, even though the treaty stipulated that every return to how it was before the war, the border wasn’t settled before the war. As a result, Moose Island and Fort Sherbrooke remained in British hands until 1818. When the American army returned the fort reverted to Fort Sullivan and the garrison would stay at the fort until 1873. The post remained intact until 1880 when the locals began to remove items for constructing other town buildings, today there is little left. A sign marks the location of the fort and a cannon from the war now sits in front of Shead High School, that sits next to the fort site. The powder magazine should still be there; I was unable to locate the ruins. The 1808 Barracks moved from the old fort site to Washington Street and now house the local historical society and town museum.

Project:1812 - Fort Sullivan
The Historic Sign marking the site of Fort Sullivan, I was unable to locate the ruins of the powder magazine
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford Pan F+ @ ASA-50 – FA-1027 (1+14) 5:00 @ 20C

Project:1812 - Fort Sullivan
The 1812 era cannon on display
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford Pan F+ @ ASA-50 – FA-1027 (1+14) 5:00 @ 20C

Project:1812 - Fort Sullivan
The 1808 Barracks at their new location
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford Pan F+ @ ASA-50 – FA-1027 (1+14) 5:00 @ 20C

Next along the route is Fort O’Brien in the Town of Machiasport, Maine. One of the oldest forts on the list, the post, was built in 1775 as Fort Machias by two officers in the Continental Army, Captain Jeremiah O’Brien, and Major Benjamin Foster. Established in response to a possible attack following the capture by American forces of the HM Schooner Margaretta. The British attack was swift and in 1777 chased off the defenders, but the British did not stick around, and the fort was reoccupied by 1781 under the name Fort O’Brien. With the end of the Revolution, the fort was abandoned and fell into disrepair. When border disputes in the early 19th century threatened to boil over the old post was rebuilt a stone and earth bastion mounted four guns. The fort never saw action during the British invasion of 1814 but was the final American post that was destroyed by the British after they had established the occupation. The British simply took the guns and demolished the position rather than commit the troops to occupy it. The American army would rebuild the post for the third time during the American Civil War mounting three 32-pound cannons along with a pair of rifled 24-pound guns. Due to the position the fort never saw action and was abandoned in 1865. Today a single brass Napoleon gun from the civil war is mounted on the earthworks; the powder magazine is still there as an overgrown mound. The site is designated a state park and sits behind Fort O’Brien School.

Project:1812 - Fort O'Brien
A close up of a Napoleon Brass Cannon from the Civil War Era
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford Pan F+ @ ASA-50 – FA-1027 (1+14) 5:00 @ 20C

Project:1812 - Fort O'Brien
A wide look at the earthworks that remain at the site
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford Pan F+ @ ASA-50 – FA-1027 (1+14) 5:00 @ 20C

Project:1812 - Fort O'Brien
The old powder magazine over grown
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford Pan F+ @ ASA-50 – FA-1027 (1+14) 5:00 @ 20C

A fascinating fort on my journey was Fort George in Castine, Maine as it has the richest history of all the forts. Established in 1779 as the primary British post in the colony of New Ireland. Major General Francis McLean would hold out against a great American Siege in the later days of the American Revolutionary War. Fort George is also the largest fort visited, sitting on a ridge above the village of Castine, with a clear view of the Penobscot River. The American force of 45 ships and 200 infantry failed to dislodge General McLean and were compelled to flee upriver and burn their ships. The debacle known as the Penobscot Expedition would be a low point during the Revolution. The massive earthen walls would remain above the town, and when General Sherbrooke arrived in 1814, he would order the post rebuilt when he reestablished New Ireland. The 200 square-foot Fort would mount some 60 guns, and the British surrounded the town with a ring of smaller forts and artillery batteries. When the war ended the garrison marched out in 1815 with much fanfare from the townsfolk. The American Army would occupy the old British fort until 1819 when Fort Knox was completed further up the river. Today you can still see the massive earth walls as well as the ruins of a casemate and powder magazine. A small marker in one of the bastion identifies the site, and a lone cannon from the British occupation is just by the parking lot. The interior of the fort has a baseball diamond.

Project:1812 - Fort George
Casemate ruins at Fort George
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford Pan F+ @ ASA-50 – FA-1027 (1+14) 5:00 @ 20C

Project:1812 - Fort George
The old Powder Magazine
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford Pan F+ @ ASA-50 – FA-1027 (1+14) 5:00 @ 20C

Project:1812 - Fort George
Play Ball! What better use for a 200 square foot area than a baseball diamond!
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford Pan F+ @ ASA-50 – FA-1027 (1+14) 5:00 @ 20C

The final fort that I visited was Fort Madison, also located in Castine, Maine. Established in 1808 during the border tensions between the United States and British North America the simple earthen bastion mounted four 24-pound cannons, a blockhouse, and brick magazine. It would be the only fort to engage the British during the invasion in the fall of 1814, the garrison commander; Lieutenant Andrew Lewis would fire a single volley from the heavy guns before beating a retreat. The British would operate the post as Fort Castine during the occupation. At the end of the war, the British destroyed Fort Castine along with the rest of their fortifications when they retreated in 1815. The American army would operate the post until 1819 before moving all operations north to Fort Knox. During the American Civil War, the site was rebuilt and manned by local volunteer troops who operated the site, calling it Fort United States. The Civil War-era earthworks still stand, and the site is a city park, an 1812 era cannon is located at the site as well.

Project:1812 - Fort Madison
The Historic marker for Fort Madison
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford Pan F+ @ ASA-50 – FA-1027 (1+14) 5:00 @ 20C

Project:1812 - Fort Madison
A War of 1812 era 24-Pound Cannon that marks Fort Madison, it’s twin is now up at Fort George
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford Pan F+ @ ASA-50 – FA-1027 (1+14) 5:00 @ 20C

Project:1812 - Fort Madison
Looking down at the Civil War Earthworks
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford Pan F+ @ ASA-50 – FA-1027 (1+14) 5:00 @ 20C

While not much to look at, in reality, none of them having anything beyond some old cannons, earthworks, and maybe an information sign they still make up a strange and relatively unknown part of the War of 1812 and themselves weaved into the fabric of the tale. I do highly recommend visiting at least Castine, Maine as they have a thriving historical society that loves to share their town’s history with any who are interested.

Special Thanks to the Castine Historical Society for helping me on my journey and providing additional information and location details!

Written with Files From:
Collins, Gilbert. Guidebook to the Historic Sites of the War of 1812. Toronto: Dundurn, 2006. Print.
Young, George F. W. The British Capture & Occupation of Downeast Maine, 1814-1815/1818. Print.
Web: castine.me.us/welcome/history/history-of-castine/

Project:1812 – Fortress Halifax

Halifax, it’s hard not to be reminded of the military past of the capital of Nova Scotia, just look up from the downtown and you’ll see the massive hill that rises above the town. Or see the Royal Canadian Navy sailing in and out of the harbor. Or even see the old fortifications that dot the islands in the harbor or see the old gun batteries along the shoreline. The saying goes that a strong defense is a potent offense, except in Halifax’s case where a strong defense is just that, a defense. From the mid 18th-century through to the middle of the 20th-century Halifax was a fortress, so much so that it was never directly attacked by land or by sea during those turbulent years.

Project:1812 - Fortress Halifax
The Main Entrance to the Halifax Citadel.
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Distagon 50mm 1:4 – Kodak Tri-X 400 @ ASA-400 – Kodak D-23 (Stock) 7:30 @ 20C

Let’s go back to 1749, what we know today as the Maritimes was heavily contested between France and England. The French had their stronghold at Louisbourg which had recently been returned to them under the treaty that ended the War of Austrian Succession after it’s capture by British forces from New England in 1745. So to counter-balance the French presence in the Atlantic Lord Edward Cornwallis established what we know today as Halifax. While the Royal Navy built their dockyard, Cornwallis constructed a simple redoubt at the top of the hill and continued to extend walls around the new city. Halifax would have a defensive ring of five forts, but the fort on the hill he named Fort George, after King George II. The British would also fortify George’s Island as well. This first citadel would continue to defend the city through those early colonial wars along with the Seven Years/French-Indian War.

Project:1812 - Fortress Halifax
The central building in the Citadel. Houses the various museums, offices, and shops connected to the site.
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Distagon 50mm 1:4 – Kodak Tri-X 400 @ ASA-400 – Kodak D-23 (Stock) 7:30 @ 20C

The defenses at Halifax got a major upgrade during the American Revolution, trenches, redoubts, artillery batteries and a massive octagonal blockhouse was constructed on citadel hill. By the time the second citadel was constructed in 1776, it had boasted a garrison of one hundred men and an artillery battery of 86 guns. But that was nothing compared to the ring of defenses that now surrounded the city. Batteries had been set up on both sides of the harbor and several islands. England did not want their navy to come under attack from the upstart revolutionaries from the thirteen colonies. Fortress Halifax would become known as the Warden of the North. And it worked, Halifax never came under attack by American or French forces during the war, and it remained loyal to the British Crown throughout the conflict. Even after the Treaty of Paris ended the American Revolution, the garrison remained on guard against American Privateers.

Project:1812 - Fortress Halifax
An example of a heavy rifled muzzle loading cannon from the late 19th century.
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Distagon 50mm 1:4 – Kodak Tri-X 400 @ ASA-400 – Kodak D-23 (Stock) 7:30 @ 20C

By the end of the 18th-Century, the British faced a new threat, that of a Revolutionary-era France. With a new conflict brewing, Fort George and Citidal Hill received the third upgrade. The old blockhouse was demolished, and the top of the hill leveled off and lowered. A new fortress was constructed at the peak and a new four-bastion star fort built. A massive blockhouse and magazine were built inside earthwork walls. The French again never reached North America, it was only the Threat of the Anglo-American War of 1812 that saw the citadel and the surrounding fortifications completed. The American government knew that to remove the British from North America would mean attacking Halifax. But it didn’t exactly go to their plans and the Royal Navy and the sheer size and scope of Halifax’s defenses kept the Americans at bay.

Project:1812 - Fortress Halifax
The Ditch of death, if invaders managed to breach the initial lines of defense they would be slaughtered by anti-infantry fire from muskets and cannon.
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Distagon 50mm 1:4 – Kodak Tri-X 400 @ ASA-400 – Kodak D-23 (Stock) 7:30 @ 20C

With the end of the American war, the British began to look at their fortifications of British North America and quickly realized that they needed to improve them if they were to hold the land against any future American attacks. Construction of the fourth citadel began in 1828 using the outline of the third citadel, but many changes in the plans resulted in a twenty-eight year construction period. The earthwork walls were replaced with limestone and soon the citadel began the central point for the Halifax Defensive Complex. Anyone who even attempted to attack the city would face certain destruction against eleven forts, seven artillery batteries, and three Martello towers. The British Army and Royal Navy would continue to occupy the Halifax complex well past the creation of the Dominion of Canada in 1867 eventually turning over the complex to Canada in 1906.

Project:1812 - Fortress Halifax
The view from the top of the Citadel is far different from what it was even a short seventy years ago.
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Distagon 50mm 1:4 – Kodak Tri-X 400 @ ASA-400 – Kodak D-23 (Stock) 7:30 @ 20C

With the advent of heavy rifled artillery, the Halifax Citadel was considered obsolete but it continued to serve as headquarters for the entire defense complex throughout the First World War. During that conflict the use of the citadel took a darker turn, serving as an internment camp for those who the government had labeled as enemy aliens, mostly those of German decent. The final military use of the citadel was acting as a headquarters for the coordination of anti-aircraft and anti-submarine defenses.

Bayonet Drill
Modern day employees portray the 78th Highland Regiment of Foot, the unit most known for their time stationed in Halifax.
Sony a6000 – Sony E PZ 16-50mm 1:3.5-5.6 OSS

After the Second World War, the fort was essentially abandoned, and while it had received some restoration work in the 1930s it was beginning to suffer decay. And like many fortifications from the 19th-Century that had long since fallen out of use, it was faced with demolition for a parking lot. Thankfully the city realized that a restored fort would offer both a historical presence and tourism for the city. By 1956 a partially restored fort and the Halifax Army museum opened to the public. The site is now the most visited historical site in all of Atlantic Canada. Not to mention during the peak season it is manned by some of best staff I have ever seen and interacted with. The fort today is restored to what it would have been like during the mid 19th-century with men of the 78th Highlanders who were stationed at the post for three years along with men of the Royal Artillery. The fort continues the tradition of firing the noon gun as well as 21-gun salutes. It is certainly worth a visit if you find yourself in Halifax.

Written with Files from:
Collins, Gilbert. Guidebook to the Historic Sites of the War of 1812. Toronto: Dundurn, 2006. Print.
web: www.pc.gc.ca/eng/lhn-nhs/ns/halifax/index.aspx
web: www.canadahistory.com/sections/places/forts/halifax_citadel.htm

Special Thanks to the men and women of the Halifax Citadel National Historic Site for answering all my questions and providing additional information for this article.