Category: Project:1812

War of 1812 project related posts.

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

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

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

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

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.

Project:1812 – Captain James Lawrence

Project:1812 – Captain James Lawrence

While I have of late focused more on British personalities in the War of 1812 I will be making an effort to balance it out. James Lawrence is a tragic tale of the war. Born 1 October 1781 in Burlington, New Jersey. The young James was, for a majority of his youth raised in nearby Woodbury and grew up for the most part without his parents. His mother passed away while he was an infant and his father, a Loyalist to the British Crown fled to Upper Canada, leaving James behind to be raised by his half-sister. James originally planned to become a lawyer, but he ended up at the age of 17 as a midshipman in the United States Navy. He would see his first action during the Quasi-War with France aboard US Brig Ganges (26) as well as US Brig Adams (20) during his time in the American Caribean Squadron. Lawrence’s actions would earn him a promotion to Lieutenant in 1802 and transfer to US Schooner Enterprise (12) under Captain Stephen Decatur. The Enterprise would sail to join the Mediterranean Squadron and saw action during the American war against the Barbery Pirates. Lawrence would serve as the second-in-command during the mission to destroy the captured US Frigate Philidelphia (44) and would end up commanding the Enterprise during its actions against the Tripolitan Pirates. Lawerence would have his first encounter with the Royal Navy in 1805 that saw several members of his crew taken and pressed into the service of the British crown, an act that would stick with him for the remainder of his career.

Ironsides
The USS Constitution as it stands today was Lawrence’s ideal command.
Nikon D300 – AF-S Nikkor 14-24mm 1:2.8G

Lawerence would go on to command three more American naval ships before receiving command in 1810 of the US Sloop Hornet (20). When war broke out in 1812 with Great Britain Lawerence and the Hornet actively cruised against British ships both in the Royal Navy and merchant’s vessels. His service aboard the Hornet is best remembered for his action in February 1813 against HM Brig Peacock (18). The Royal Navy ship quickly succumbed to the American vessel and Lawrence left the action with a congressional gold medal and a sense of confidence should he meet another Royal Navy ship in open combat. Lawerence would receive a promotion to Captain; he immediately requested command of old Ironsides, theUS Frigate Constitution (52) still undergoing refitting in Boston harbour. His request fell on deaf ears at the Navy Department, and Lawrence received command of the ill-starred US Frigate Chesapeake (50).

Project:1812 - Oliver Hazard Perry
Master Commandant Oliver Hazard Perry would take Captain Lawrence’s final command and use it as his own battle flag
Pentax 645 – SMC Pentax A 645 35mm 1:3.5 – Kodak Tri-X Pan (320TXP) @ ASA-320 – HC-110 Dil. B 5:30 @ 20C

Upon his arrival on the Chesapeake, Lawrence found that he was commanding a mostly green crew. Many veteran seamen left the ship when it returned to Boston as their enlistments were up and those who remained kept complaining about the prize money owed to them. Lawrence took action immediately paying out the money out of his pocket and pulled several experienced crewmen off the Constitution. Not worrying about the British squadron off the east coast he put to sea on the first bright day and into infamy. He would give rousing speeches to the crew and hoist three American flags from the ship’s rigging as well as his battle flag, a white flag with blue text reading, Free Trade, and Sailor’s Rights. An appropriate phrase for the Chesapeake. On the 1st of June 1813, Lawrence met his match. He did not fear the gunners of the Royal Navy, but Captain Philip Broke and the HM Frigate Shannon (52) would quickly change his mind. Lawrence felt that the unassuming and sea-worn ship would make an easy target to bring up his crew’s morale and give them combat experience. It would but in all the wrong ways. The Shannon bested the Chesapeake in both a gunnery duel and in hand-to-hand combat, Lawrence would receive a mortal wound and while being carried to the surgeon gave one last order, for his men to not give up the ship! The Chesapeake’s, crew was in no state to save the ship. Lawrence would die on the cruise back to Halifax criticising the actions of the sailors and officers. One officer, Lieutenant Cox, would stand trial for his actions (the trial of Cox is discussed in detail in Robert Heinlein’s science-fiction novel Starship Troopers). For his actions during the battle, James Lawrence received full military honours as his body was laid to rest in Halifax with six Royal Navy Officers acting as pall bearers.

Project:1812 - The Capture of the Chesapeake
While Lawrence’s body was repatriated to the United States after the war, several of his crew remain in Halifax today
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford Pan F+ @ ASA-50 – FA-1027 (1+14) 5:00 @ 20C

James Lawrence is a unique figure among the American officers during the War of 1812. Lawrence suffered a humiliating defeat and yet is hailed as a hero still to this day. While he never actually received the Congressional Gold Medal for his capture of the Peacock was stuck despite his death. Lawerence would be inducted into the New York Society of the Cincinnati, posthumously of course. There are twenty places in the United States named for Captain Lawrence including an elementary school in his birthplace of Burlington, New Jersey. Five United States Navy ships would be named after Lawrence, the final ship, USS Lawrence (DDG-4) a Charles F Adams class Destroyer would be commissioned in 1960 by his great-great-granddaughter, Mrs. Fernie C. Hubbard; it would be sold for scrap in 1994. But the phrase “Don’t Give up the Ship” still resonates in the Navy today, being affixed as the motto of the USS Lake Erie (CCG-7) a Ticonderoga class cruiser still on active service.

Written with files from:
Gleaves, Albert. James Lawrence, Captain, United States Navy, Commander of the “Chesapeake,” New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1904. Print.
Parton, James. “James Lawrence.” People’s Book of Biography; Or, Short Lives of the Most Interesting Persons of All Ages and Countries. Hartford, CT: A.S. Hale, 1869. N. pag. Print.
Web: www.nj.com/gloucester-county/index.ssf/2013/01/wall_of_heroes_capt_james_lawr.html

Project:1812 – Rear Admiral Sir Philip Bowes Vere Broke, 1st Baronet, KCB

Project:1812 – Rear Admiral Sir Philip Bowes Vere Broke, 1st Baronet, KCB

The history of the Royal Navy is filled with legendary figures both real and imagined. Names like Nelson and Hornblower, Pellew and Aubrey. But there is one name that stands out in the annals of the War of 1812, and that is Philip Broke, or as he became known as Broke of the Shannon. While Broke was one of many captains that served in the blockade of the American coast, his actions turned the luck of the Royal Navy and boosted the flagging morale of the service. Born on 9 September 1776 at Broke Hall in Nacton, England. As the eldest of eleven children, he decided early on to join the Navy. But unlike his peers, who would learn on the job aboard ships, Broke enrolled in the Royal Naval Academy at Portsmouth. He would be commissioned as a midshipman in 1792 and was assigned to HM Sloop Bull Dog (18). During his service aboard the Bull Dog, he impressed the captain of the ship enough that when he (the captain) was reassigned to HM Schooner Eclair (12), Broke would come along to help form the officer corps aboard the new ship. Broke would be promoted to Lieutenant and serve aboard HM Frigate Southampton (32) as the ship’s third lieutenant. His first taste of battle would come at Cape Vincent in 1797 then along the coast of Ireland and in the North Sea. By 1800 he was senior enough to be promoted to Commander and given command of HM Sloop Shark (16) it would not last long, peace with France and a promotion to post-captain would have Broke ashore and on half-pay. The peace did not last long, and Broke soon found himself in command of HM Frigate Druid (32) by 1804. The ship was too large to run and too small to fight. Despite this Broke busied himself dealing with French Privateers.

Project:1812 - The Capture of the Chesapeake
The Bell of the Shannon on display in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Fomapan 200 @ ASA-200 – Kodak Xtol (1+1) 8:30 @ 20C

After two years commanding the Druid, Broke would assume command of the newly commissioned HM Frigate Shannon (52). The ship fresh from the stocks at Frindsburby was finally what the captain was looking for, a ship from which he could exersize his passion for naval gunnery. The Royal Navy at the time put more emphasis on seamanship than gunnery following the Battle of Trafalgar. Broke was among the minority who vauled both seamanship and gunnery his beliefs became clearly apparant and by the time the Shannon sailed for Halifax, Broke was drilling the crew on both the heavy guns and ship operations. The men of the Shannon were one of the more efficient fighting units in the Royal Navy, and Broke would go out of his way to keep them together. Broke would officially join the North American Squadron on 24 September 1811 and would begin to harras French and then American ships off the eastern seaboard of the United States. Broke’s efforts did not go to waste, but the captain did not want simple American privateers, he wanted one of the heavy frigates, the same ones that had on many occasions bested his fellow captains.

Project:1812 - The Capture of the Chesapeake
While Broke would go on to be buried in his home country, many of his crew remain still today in Halifax, Nova Scotia
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford Pan F+ @ ASA-50 – FA-1027 (1+14) 5:00 @ 20C

When the Shannon sailed from Halifax on 21 March 1813, Broke was spoiling for a fight, and he determined that if the Americans did not come out on their own, he would have to provoke the matter. With the month of May coming to a close, the Shannon was running low on supplies, so Broke sent a challenge to Boston for single combat, ship-to-ship to Captain James Lawrence aboard US Frigate Chesapeake (50). A challenge that never reached Lawrence as the messenger arrived too late only to see the American Frigate sailing out of Boston Harbor with flags flying. The two captains did meet on 1 June 1813 where the months of training saw the Shannon outfight and outgun her American opponent. But the action would prove deadly for Broke who survived the engagement but suffered a major head wound.

As the Chesapeake appears now ready for sea, I request you will do me the favour to meet the Shannon with her, ship to ship, to try the fortune of our respective flags. The Shannon mounts twenty-four guns upon her broadside and one light boat-gun; 18 pounders upon her maindeck, and 32-pounder carronades upon her quarterdeck and forecastle; and is manned with a complement of 300 men and boys, beside thirty seamen, boys, and passengers, who were taken out of recaptured vessels lately. I entreat you, sir, not to imagine that I am urged by mere personal vanity to the wish of meeting the Chesapeake, or that I depend only upon your personal ambition for your acceding to this invitation. We have both noble motives. You will feel it as a compliment if I say that the result of our meeting may be the most grateful service I can render to my country; and I doubt not that you, equally confident of success, will feel convinced that it is only by repeated triumphs in even combats that your little navy can now hope to console your country for the loss of that trade it can no longer protect. Favour me with a speedy reply. We are short of provisions and water, and cannot stay long here.

Broke and the Shannon would return in triumph, Broke hailed as a hero, as his victory resonated across both North America and through England. He would earn the name Broke of the Shannon as the Common Court of London would award him with a plate and cup as prizes, as well as the Freedom of the City of London, as the Court at St. James would make him a Baronet. Broke would recover enough to command the Shannon on her return voyage home. Further awards would come to him including the Naval Gold Medal, one of only eight awarded for single ship actions. While his head wound would preclude him from commanding again in his career, he would continue to serve the Royal Navy as a gunnery expert and would receive an appointment to Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath in January 1815. He would receive his final promotion to Rear Admiral of the Red in 1830. He would finally attempt to relieve the pain from his wound in 1840, but his body could not take the strain and at the age of 64 he would pass away. He would be buried at St. Martin’s Church near his family home of Broke Hall. But even today the name of Broke is far from forgotten, historical fiction author, Patrick O’Brien would bring Broke to life in two of his novels, The Fortunes of War and The Surgeon’s Mate where Broke was depicted as a cousin of O’Brien’s creation, Captain Jack Aubrey.

Written with Files From:
Brighton, J. G., and Philip Bowes Vere Broke. Admiral Sir P.B.V. Broke a Memoir. London: S. Low, Son, and Marston, 1866. Print.
Pullen, H. F. The Shannon and the Chesapeake. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1970. Print.
Lossing, Benson John. The Pictorial Field-book of the War of 1812 Volume 2. Gretna, LA: Pelican Pub., 2003. Print.
Web: www.biographi.ca/en/bio/broke_philip_bowes_vere_7E.html
Web: ageofsail.wordpress.com/2009/01/29/rear-admiral-sir-philip-bowes-vere-broke/

Project:1812 – The Capture of the Chesapeake

Project:1812 – The Capture of the Chesapeake

When it comes to photographing sites connected with the naval actions of the war, it can be complicated. Most of the actions take place out on open water, and many don’t have much to photograph especially in the way of ships as many are long gone. Only one ship from the era exists in its original form while another is a rebuild of the historic ship. But if you know where to look there is plenty of things to photograph when it comes to the capture of the Chesapeake. By the summer of 1813, the spirits of the Royal Navy on the North American station was sinking as were their ships. They had lost all of their last major actions off the coast to the US Navy. But one man, Captain Philip Broke aimed to change the luck of his mighty Royal Navy. And he would at a fateful meeting on the 1st of June, 1813.

Project:1812 - The Capture of the Chesapeake
A typical heavy naval gun of the day, on display outside the Naval Museum of Halifax.
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford Pan F+ @ ASA-50 – FA-1027 (1+14) 5:00 @ 20C

The US Frigate Chesapeake (50) was not exactly a favored ship in the American Navy and many sailors and officers in the service considered her unlucky. The Chesapeake, of course, is the same ship that was at the center of the Chesapeake-Leopard Affair in 1807 that nearly lead to war and was a critical factor in the American declaration of war in 1812. The frigate’s cruise in the spring of 1813 had met with some success it left her captain, Samuel Evans in a bad health, to preserve himself and the sight in his one remaining good eye, he requested relief of his command. When she sailed into Boston Harbor, the matter of the crew also came to a head. For many the arrival in Boston marked the end of their enlistments and the ones who were left were disgruntled over the matter of their share of the prize money. Even Captain James Lawrence, freshly promoted off his successful capture and destruction of the HM Brig Peacock (18). Lawrence was none too keen on taking command of the Chesapeake hoping instead for the famous US Frigate Constitution (52). But the letter from the Secretary of the Navy was not a request but an order. Lawrence’s first order was to pay out the prize money to the crew; the second was to bring over able-bodied seamen from the Constitution to bring his numbers up.

Project:1812 - USS Constitution
The US Frigate Constitution, the command that Lawerence actually wanted.
Rolleiflex 2.8F – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Kodak TMax 100 – Blazinal 1+25 6:00 @ 20C

The HM Frigate Shannon (52) was a different ship entirely. The crew had been working together as a unit since before the start of the war. Her captain, Philip Broke, had gone to great lengths in ensuring that his crew remains intact even going as far as burning prize vessels. Broke prided himself on the fine art of naval gunnery. Using his funds, he equipped the Shannon’s guns with sights and the use of powder and ammunition for live gunnery practice, gun crews who hit their targets would be rewarded. The practice of live gun practice was largely abandoned by the Royal Navy following the Battle of Trafalgar, but the number of ship-to-ship actions on the North American station caused the Admiralty in London to reinstate the practice on the North American station. Broke also would present the crew with hypothetical situations to the crew and ask how they would go about defending the ship as well as plenty of practice with small arms. The one disadvantage that Broke had was that his ship had been on patrol for fifty-six days.

Project:1812 - The Capture of the Chesapeake
The final resting place of the dead from the Shannon. Old Royal Navy Burying Grounds, CFB Halifax
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford Pan F+ @ ASA-50 – FA-1027 (1+14) 5:00 @ 20C

For Broke it wasn’t just his honor at stake but that of the whole Royal Navy. He sat just off Boston Harbor waiting for a chance to engage an American ship. The US Frigate President (55) had managed to slip past in the fog making it out to open water. The Constitution would be laid up for months. Only the Chesapeake remained, and Broke was of the mind that Lawrence would remain in the safety of the harbor until the Shannon’s supplies had run out. So Broke decided to force an action, penning a challenge directly to Lawrence to a ship-to-ship duel, under any condition that Lawrence wished, sending a paroled prisoner to deliver the challenge directly to Captain Lawrence, a challenge that never reached the captain. Lawrence had no intention of waiting out the Royal Navy. To inspire the crew on 1 June 1813 under full sail and flying three American flags as well as Lawrence’s personal battle flag, a white ensign emblazoned with the phrase “Free Trade and Sailor’s Rights” a matter both important to Lawrence and the Chesapeake. All the messenger could do is watch as the frigate sailed out.

Project:1812 - The Capture of the Chesapeake
The final resting place of the crew of the Chesapeake
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford Pan F+ @ ASA-50 – FA-1027 (1+14) 5:00 @ 20C

The two ships were almost of the equal match in size, guns, and men. So when the two ships met, thirty-seven kilometers off the Boston light between Cape Anne and Cape Cod the two ships spotted each other. A sailor aboard the Shannon was taken by the three flags flying from the American frigate he requested to Broke if they (as in the Shannon) could have three ensigns as well. Broke just replied that they had always been an unassuming ship. And to the Americans, the Shannon would be an easy target as the long patrol had left the ship weather worn and shabby. The two ships took little time bearing down on the other and Lawrence, despite having the weather in his favor, refused to rake fire across the bow of the Shannon. Broke spoke to his gun crews; he didn’t want to destroy the enemy frigate; he wanted it as a prize. Don’t throw away a shot; he warned, their aim wasn’t to de-mast the ship but to kill the crew. It was the Shannon who scored the first hit sending iron though the forward gun decks were shattering both ship and crew. As the Chesapeake was moving faster, the British gun crews worked in deadly fashion firing shot-after-shot as the enemy sailed past. Despite the havoc being caused, Lawrence’s men responded in kind. While they suffered, as many American ships did, with poor powder, the underpowered shot would hit the water or bounce off the Shannon. But some hits were scored, taking out some of the enemy 12-pounders as well as damaging the rigging. Lawrence, realizing that if he kept up the speed, he would soon pass the British ship and ordered a short turn into the wind, a maneuver known as a pilot’s luff, to cut his speed. As the Chesapeake started her turn, her quarter deck was exposed to fire from the Shannon’s guns mounted on her quarter deck. Officer and crew fell to deadly fire; the helmsman perished as the ship’s wheel was shot away. In response, the Chesapeake, shot away the ship’s bell as well as destroying the bow chasers in the forecastle along with three crewmen. But with no way to maneuver the Chesapeake found herself trapped against the Shannon.

Project:1812 - The Capture of the Chesapeake
The headstone of two crew of the Shannon in St. Paul’s Church, Halifax.
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford Pan F+ @ ASA-50 – FA-1027 (1+14) 5:00 @ 20C

Both captains made the call for boarding parties. Lawrence was the only officer remaining above decks and the bugler he had requested to sound the call for boarding parties had hidden himself away out of fear. Soon even Lawrence fell, shot by a British sharp-shooter. Coming from below decks to answer the call, Lieutenant Cox found the captain wounded. As the wounded captain went below to the ship’s surgeon his order to the crew was “Don’t Give Up the Ship!” By comparison, the British were well organized, Broke taking the lead charged across to the enemy ship with the first party. The main decks by this point were deserted, most of the officers and the crew had taken refuge below deck. A pair of lieutenants took up the charge and poured out onto the main deck of the ship, nearly forcing the British back. It was the timely arrival of fresh men from the Shannon that saw the tide turn. Upon the tops, British and American sharpshooters had been exchanging sniper fire both with each other and the men below. A royal marine took a small party across the rigging and stormed the American tops killing the men there. A timely gust of wind separated the two ships, leaving Broke a small party of fifty sailors and Marines. While the numbers were not in his favor, most the Americans had given up. The only source of resistance was from the forecastle. Three sailors would jump Broke, the captain killing one before the second knocked him to the deck, a blow from the third opened up Broke’s head. Seeing their captain fall the remaining British stormed the forecastle, bayonetting the sailor before he could make the killing blow. With most of the Americans trapped below, a single shot echoed out killing a Marine. As the angered British began to fire indiscriminately into the trapped Sailors, a quick thinking officer prevented the massacre by threating death on the next man who fired a shot. The action had, according to the official report, taken a short fifteen minutes resulting in seventy-one dead, and one hundred and fifty-five wounded between the two ships. The Shannon quickly organized a prize crew, locking up the Americans in their restrants and keeping the rest at bay by pointing a pair of 18-pound cannon loaded with grapeshot at them through holes cut through the deck. The two ships sailed into Halifax harbor with much fanfare on the 6th of June, 1813.

Project:1812 - The Capture of the Chesapeake
The Original Bell of the Shannon on display at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, on loan from the Naval Museum of Halifax
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Fomapan 200 @ ASA-200 – Kodak Xtol (1+1) 8:30 @ 20C

Captain James Lawrence would pass away on the 4th of June, 1813, complaining the whole way over the fact that the crew had surrendered. He was laid to rest with full honors at HM Dockyard Halifax (his body would later be moved to the Trinity Church Cemetary in New York City). The dead from both crews were laid to rest at the dockyard as well. The American prisoners were transferred to Dartmoor Prison in Portsmouth, England aboard the repaired HM Frigate Chesapeake (50). Captain Philip Broke would be named a hero and carried the title “Broke of the Shannon” but he would never command again, his head wound plaguing him the rest of his days. Lieutenant Provo Wallis would command the Shannon on her journey back to Halifax and earn a promotion to Commander and would eventually become Admiral of the Fleet and the longest serving member of the Royal Navy a record still held today. The Chesapeake despite the change in flag would retain her bad luck and was sold for timber in 1819; the Shannon would continue to serve until 1859 until she was broken up. Despite this, there is still plenty to see here in Canada from the Action.

Project:1812 - The Capture of the Chesapeake
The two lonely tombstones of both crews, enemies in life, neighbors in death look out over Halifax Harbor.
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford Pan F+ @ ASA-50 – FA-1027 (1+14) 5:00 @ 20C

The Shannon’s Bell and pieces from the Chesapeake were saved by the Royal Navy and ended up in the collection of the Naval Museum of Halifax and are currently on loan to the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. A gun from each ship was also saved and now sit outside Province House in Halifax, Nova Scotia, although when I was there, they had been removed for restoration. The dead from both ships still lay in the old Royal Navy Burying Ground on Canadian Forces Base Halifax (Stadacona), if you ask nicely you may even be allowed to visit. The timbers from the Chesapeake were turned into a mill that still stands in Wickham, England. And the sister ship of the Shannon the HM Frigate Trincomalee (52) is restored as a museum ship in Hartlepool, England. The capture is also represented in two pieces of fiction, Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers discussing the court martial of Lieutenant Cox and in Patrick O’Brien’s The Fortune of War, where Captain Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin are present on the Shannon during the action as Captain Aubrey is cousin to Captain Broke.

Provo Wallis
The epauletts of Provo Wallis, on display at the Naval Museum of Halifax.
Sony a6000 – Sony E PZ 16-50mm 1:3.5-5.6 OSS

Special Thanks to Richard Sanderson, Director of the Naval Museum of Halifax and the men and women of CFB Halifax for assistance in writing this piece and granting me permission to photograph on the base. As well as Melissa Bellefeuille for showing me the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic.

Written with Files from:
Hickey, Donald R. Don’t Give up the Ship!: Myths of the War of 1812. Urbana: U of Illinois, 2006. Print.
Pullen, H. F. The Shannon and the Chesapeake. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1970. Print.
Lossing, Benson John. The Pictorial Field-book of the War of 1812 Volume 2. Gretna, LA: Pelican Pub., 2003. Print.
Web: www.eighteentwelve.ca/?q=eng/Topic/24
Web: www.1812privateers.org/NAVAL/shannon.html
Web: museum.novascotia.ca/resources/nova-scotia-and-war-1812/hms-shannon-and-uss-chesapeake

Project:1812 – The March of the 104th

Project:1812 – The March of the 104th

While many regiments served with distinction during the Anglo-American War of 1812 on both sides of the fighting, I would not be able to share with you the tales of every single one. As many have histories that stretch well before and after the war and some even, have units that carry on these traditions still today. There is, however, one unit that stands out in the history of the war and of Canada. The 104th (New Brunswick) Regiment of Foot served their king and country both in combat and how they arrived at the main theater of the war.

Project:1812 - The March of the 104th (New Brunswick) Regiment of Foot
The Fredericton Barracks while not original to the 1812 era, they were the center point of Military operations in Fredricton until the end of the 19th century.
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford FP4+ @ ASA-100 – Kodak D-23 (Stock) 6:00 @ 20C

Raised in 1808 as the New Brunswick Regiment of Fencible Infantry, while dressed as a British regular infantry in red coats with buff coloured collars and cuffs the New Brunswick Regiment would never have to see service outside their home colony. Like other Provincial units, they were designed to serve in defense of their home colony reinforcing any British regular unit that was stationed there. But the staff of the regiment saw that they men could be more and appealed, several times, to Horse Guards to have their unit made a part of the regular army. While their request was turned down several times, it was finally accepted in 1810. The unit was taken into the British line at the 104th (New Brunswick) Regiment of Foot. As tensions rose between England and the United States the 104th was deployed to the most important points throughout New Brunswick as the colony shared a land boundary with Massatuchettes, today is known as the State of Maine. After the first year of war and when word was received that the American Army was massing at Sacketts Harbor in the spring of 1813, Governor General George Prevost appealed to John Sherbrooke, Governor of Nova Scotia to send reinforcements in the form of the 104th.

Project:1812 - The March of the 104th (New Brunswick) Regiment of Foot
Grand Falls, sadly due to lack of rain, they weren’t too grand when I visited. Today they serve to power a hydroelectric station..
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford FP4+ @ ASA-100 – Kodak D-23 (Stock) 6:00 @ 20C

The winter of 1813 was a particularly nasty one; the St. Lawrence River was frozen over so the 104th would need to complete an overland march if they were to be in Upper Canada in time to be of use. Sherbrooke ordered that the headquarters, grenadier, light, and four line battalions make preparations to march. The grenadier and headquarters companies left the military complex at Fredericton, New Brunswick on the 16th of February, 1813. Each successive day a company would depart with the light company leaving last on the 21st of February. The conditions were nothing short of brutal, snowshoes were the order of the day while squads of men would take turns dragging toboggans with their gear, temperatures would reach lows of -31C. They would, according to one officer’s journal, present a most unmilitary like appearance and would often march in single-file to prevent them from sinking into the deep snow. At night they would dig out shelters in the snow, covering the tops with felled trees that offered some shelter from the weather.

Project:1812 - The March of the 104th (New Brunswick) Regiment of Foot
A plaque related to the Temiscouta Portage and the 104th located by the rebuilt Fort Ingall which defended Canada during the Aroostook War of the 1830s.
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford FP4+ @ ASA-100 – Kodak D-23 (Stock) 6:00 @ 20C

The journey would take the regiment past Grand Falls, which you can see still today in Grand Falls, new Brunswick and across the Temiscouta Portage, which today is part of the Trans-Canada highway through Cabano, Quebec. With frostbite affecting almost all the men, they would begin to arrive in Quebec City on the 15th of March 1813 having traveled over five hundred kilometers over the course of twenty-four days. The regiment would rest and resupply for ten days before heading out again for Kingston. The journals of the officers would describe the jubilation when they finally arrived at Kingston and saw the now thawed lake. From Kingston the regiment found itself spread out across Upper Canada by way of Lake Ontario. They would go on to serve at Sacketts Harbor, Lundy’s Lane, Beavers Dam, Fort Erie, and Cook’s Mills. The unit would continue to serve in defense of the Canadas following the end of the War of 1812 and applied to be sent overseas. With the defeat of Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, a sense of peace settled across the world which had been at war for many decades. The 104th would be stood down on the 24th of May 1817.

Project:1812 - The March of the 104th (New Brunswick) Regiment of Foot
A commemorative marker at Officer’s Square in downtown Fredericton, NB for the bicentennial of the march.
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford FP4+ @ ASA-100 – Kodak D-23 (Stock) 6:00 @ 20C

Today the lineage of the 104th is carried on by the Royal New Brunswick Regiment, raised in 1869, and carries the battle honour of NIAGARA for the service of the 104th during the Anglo-American War of 1812. The route of the 104th is drivable today from Kingston to Fredericton will take you a good day’s drive along good highways at good speeds. I have Eamonn O’Keefe to thank for introducing me to the actual march through a video he produced for a contest and a Historica Dominica minute. You can watch his video below.


The Video created by Eamonn O’Keeffe related to the march of the 104th

Written with Files from:
Web: www.warof1812.ca/march.htm
Web: www.warof1812.ca/104th.htm
Collins, Gilbert. Guidebook to the Historic Sites of the War of 1812. Toronto: Dundurn, 2006. Print.

Project:1812 – William McKay

Project:1812 – William McKay

Fur Trader, Loyalist, Indian Agent, and Officer. William McKay was born in the Mohawk Valley of New York State in 1772. The son of former Non-Commissioned Officer Donald McKay. His father had seen service during the French-Indian War and fought during the assault on Quebec City. Remaining loyal to the crown the family moved to Upper Canada’s St. Lawerence Valley during the American Revolution settling in what would become Glengarry County in Ontario. William and his older brother, Alexander, joined the North West Company in 1790. McKay would begin to trade throughout the northwest of British North America spending much of his time in the Mississippi River Valley. Serving the company for over ten years, he retired to Montreal in 1807 as one of their more prominent partners. In Montreal, he was admitted to the illustrious Beaver Club and married Eliza Davidson in 1808. They would go on to have two sons, with only one surviving infancy.

52:320TXP - Week 30 - The Last Blockhouse
The original 1781 LaColle Blockhouse in Quebec.
Modified Anniversary Speed Graphic – Fuji Fujinon-W 1:5.6/125 – Kodak Tri-X Pan (320TXP) – Kodak Xtol (1+1) 8:30 @ 20C

Despite his retirement, McKay answered the call, when the United States declared war on Britain and moved to invade the Canadas in 1812. McKay’s knowledge of the northwest terrain and peoples made him invaluable to Major General Sir Isaac Brock. McKay along with Robert Dickson became agents for the general and ferried messages from the Niagara Region and the colonial capital at York to the northern post at Fort St. Joseph near Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. These early actions allowed the garrison to capture Mackinac Island at the beginning of the war. McKay would see his first combat in November 1812 at LaColle Mill. He was promoted to Captain and assigned to the 5th Select Embodied Militia of Lower Canada and dedicated himself to maintain the supply lines to the northwest specifically the British-allied Native tribes living there. His efforts saw him gain popularity among the natives and the fur traders living there. McKay would go on to command the Michigan Fencibles, a small provincial force raised from volunteers among the citizens of Mackinac Island.

Project:1812 - Fort Mackinac
One of several blockhouses that line the walls of Fort Mackinac
Rolleiflex 2.8F – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Kodak TMax 100 (100TMX) – Kodak Xtol (1+1) 10:00 @ 20C

In the summer of 1814, the Americans under the direction of Governor William Clark established a garrison at the small fur trading post of Praire du Chien. McKay, who had remained popular among the troops, local population, and native warriors, was giving a local promotion to Lieutenant-Colonel and assigned the task of taking the small community to maintain British control of the northwest fur trade. With an irregular force of 650 militia and native warriors, McKay forced the surrender of Fort Shelby taking it as his own in July of 1814 the post was renamed Fort McKay in his honour.

Project:1812 - The Forts of Prairie Du Chien
A reconstruction of one of two blockhouses that stood at Fort Shelby/Fort McKay/Fort Crawford in Praire du Chien
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford FP4+ @ ASA-100 – Photographer’s Formulary Developer 23 (stock) 6:00 @ 20C

McKay would be promoted the position of assistant superintendent for the Northwest in the British Indian Department (BID) and had the unfortunate task following the end of the War of counseling the local tribes that had remained allied to the British that they should seek friendly relation with the American government. McKay would continue to work out of the British outpost on Drumond Island as the regional superintendent for the BID from 1820 to 1828 and oversaw the creation of the reserve system in the region to provide land for the native tribes in the Northwest who wished to remain allies or rather wards of the British Crown. He would move back to Montreal in 1828 and take up the superintendent role for that region in the BID until his death in 1832. Today history barely remembers the efforts of William McKay, his efforts overshadowed by the larger, more public battles of the conflict. His efforts are non-the-less just as important in maintaining British control over the Northwest.

Written with Files from:
Berton, Pierre. Flames across the Border, 1813-1814. Markham, Ont.: Penguin, 1988. Print.
Web: www.biographi.ca/en/bio/mckay_william_6E.html

Project:1812 – Robert Dickson

Project:1812 – Robert Dickson

One of the unsung heroes of the Anglo-American War of 1812, the burly red-haired Robert Dickson was born to a merchant father in Dumfries Scotland in 1765. After his father’s business had failed, Robert along with his two brothers travelled to Upper Canada to work for their uncle, Robert Hamilton. Hamilton was a wealthy gentleman in Upper Canada, and while the two brothers found success with Hamilton’s business the dull clerical work did not appeal to the adventurous Robert. Robert would find his element in the Northwest upon his posting to Mackinac Island. He expanded his trade network among the northern tribes in both Upper Canada and the Mississippi River. His travelled saw him marry the daughter of Sioux Chief Red Thunder in 1797. Robert and his wife Totowin would go on to have four children. Dickson would continue to trade through the early 19th century establishing his post on Lake Traverse in what is Minnesota. Among the native tribes, the Scotsman would earn the name Red Haired Man.

Project:1812 - Fort St. Joseph
Some of the remains of Fort St. Joseph as it stands today.
Rolleiflex 2.8F – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Kodak Tri-X 400 (400TX) – Kodak Xtol (1+1) 9:00 @ 20C

Upon the American declaration of war in 1812, Dickson’s allegiances and knowledge of the northern areas of Upper Canada and the natives who lived there made Dickson an ideal agent for Major General Sir Isaac Brock. Brock would employ Dickson along with other fur traders to ferry messages from his headquarters to Fort St. Joseph. But Dickson also recruited and secured native warriors for the general, ensuring their loyalty in the coming war. Dickson would command a large group of these warriors during the successful capture of Mackinac Island in 1812 and would fight alongside Brock and Tecumseh a few months later at the capture of Fort Detroit.

Project:1812 - Capture of Mackinac Island
The site of the British landing during 1812 that saw the capture of Mackinac Island.
Rolleiflex 2.8F – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Kodak TMax 100 (100TMX) – Kodak D-76 (1+1) 9:30 @ 20C

His actions saw an appointment to the British Indian Department in 1813. The trouble was that 1813 was not a good year for the native allies or the British. Dickson would serve at the successful captures of Fort Meigs and Fort Stephenson that same year and when Procter retreated from Amherstburg, Dickson would head north to attempt to regain and maintain the trust and allegiance of the northern tribes. He managed to hold on to some of the tribes by serving in the successful defence of Mackinac Island and the capture of the two US Schooners Tigress and Scorpion in 1814. During the winter of 1814 he was sent to support the British garrison at Prairie du Chien, this would cause an issue for the fur trader, accused of showing favouritism to the Sioux nation and usurping British military authority. While the case would go to court, Dickson would be cleared of all charges, granted the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel and retired from the Indian Department with a full pension.

The Mighty Mississippi
The Mississippi River at Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, Dickson spent much of his life on this river.
Intrepid – Fuji Fujinon-W 1:5.6/125 (Orange) – Kodak TMax 100 – FA-1027 (1+14) 9:30 @ 20C

The trouble was that Dickson had no desire to retire entirely. But the war had ruined his fur trade business. He did however still have his reputation. He would apply without success to the Indian Department’s vacant superintendent position at Amherstburg but would join up with Lord Selkirk and the Red River Colony. Dickson would try to supply the colony with beef and population, both without success after Lord Selkirk’s death. By 1818 he had returned to the Mississippi trading with Astor’s American Fur Company. He would continue to operate as an agent of Astor’s until his death on Drummond Island in 1823. Dickson like many fur traders are largely unknown in the greater story of the Anglo-American War of 1812, but they are no less important than the major players that history remembers. If it wasn’t for men like William McKay and Robert Dickson, the war might have gone differently for the British than what happened.

Written with files from:
Berton, Pierre. Flames across the Border, 1813-1814. Markham, Ont.: Penguin, 1988. Print.
Web: www.biographi.ca/en/bio/dickson_robert_6E.html