Tag: war

Project:1812 – Last Post

Project:1812 – Last Post

Here we are, a long time coming but, this is the end, and it has been a long and fascinating journey to reach this point. It’s always a bittersweet feeling when such a long and involved project comes to an end. But all things must end, and so must my journey into the War of 1812. At least I can say that I’ve done more than just scratching the surface of the conflict that would go on to define the relations between Canada, England, and the United States still today. When I first started the project way back in March 2012, I had no idea how big it was going to be. And sure as it moved along it suffered from scope creep, but I was able to reign it in.

Project:1812 - End of Part One
The Canadian National War of 1812 Monument outside the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa, Ontario
Pacemaker Crown Graphic – Schneider-Krueznack Symmar-S 1:5.6/210 – Ilford HP5+ @ ASA-400 – PMK Pyro (1+2+100) 12:30 @ 20C

This project has taken me far and wide, I’ve learned a lot more than I was expecting and found a conflict far more complicated than the one I was presented with when I first learned about the War of 1812 in Grade 8. I went from knowing only about Isaac Brock, Laura Secord, the battle of Queenston Heights, and the burning of Washington DC. Now I know of battles out in Wisconsin, to a British Major-General to died fighting in the war. I learned how the events of Europe’s Napoleonic Wars directly influenced the fighting in North America. I heard of legends dispelled myth and patriotism and learned how this small footnote conflict has directly affected how Canada, the US, and Great Britan interact today. And if anything had been only slightly different, how it could directly affect our history today.

Project:1812 - The Treaty of Gent
A sign marking the spot where the American delegation to the treaty negotiations in Ghent, Belgium.
Contax G2 – Carl Zeiss Planar 2/45 T* – Kodak Plus-X 125 – Kodak Xtol (1+1) 7:30 @ 20C

And now you probably want to know who won the war, because in war there always has to be a winner and a loser. And in that sense, you would be right. But the truth is far more complicated than that. As the old phrase says, history is written by the victors. And in this war, three groups claimed victory. The British, the Americans, and now the Canadians. So of course, it depends on who you ask. So let’s break it down. This was a war that the British did not care too much about, the American threat at the time was so minor that London kept on advising Prevost to fight a defensive war, and only after Napoleon was on the run did they start to pour on the pressure. However, the British can claim victory as they repulsed the American invasion and kept them confined to small corners of the colony. The Americans can claim victory for the same reason, but we can also say they lost the war as they failed to achieve their objective, that was the removal of British influence in North America. The Canadians can claim victory for the same reasons as the British can, but in reality, only one battle was won solely by Canadian troops, the Battle of the Chateauguay. So in all this mess, did anyone win? Well not really, both sides barely avoided not losing. Neither side many any significant gains to have anything to hold over the other during treaty negotiations. So when the treaty was finally signed, it was peace with honour and a big giant reset button was pressed. There is one group that completely lost the war, the first nations of both countries; that is still very clear.

Project:1812 - The King's Navy Yards (Amherstburg)
The Forged Peace Memorial in Amherstburg, Ontario dedicated to the peace between the USA, England, and Canada
Pentax 645 – SMC Pentax A 645 35mm 1:3.5 – Kodak Tri-X 400 (400TX) @ ASA-200 – Kodak HC-110 Dil. E 6:30 @ 20C

Of course, if you’ve been following along with this project from the very beginning you know I’ve pumped out a lot of material over the process of these four years. And while being able to access a lot of the material online is great, even online material dies over time. So since 2013 I’ve been working hard to compile everything into book form and I’m happy to announce that the book is now done! I’ve taken four years of work, a little over 600 images captured, many blog posts all boiled down into 152 pages. And you can pick up a copy over at my bookstore on Blurb.com!

52:500c - Week 36 - Castle
The monument to the Rush Baggot Agreement at Fort Niagara, a key piece to the border shared between the Canada and the USA
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Rollei RPX 25 @ ASA-25 – Blazinal (1+25) 6:00 @ 20C

So my dear readers, thank you for coming along on this journey, and I hope I’ve inspired even one of you to explore some aspect of history that you may not know much about.

Project:1812 – The British Invasion Part III – Baltimore

Project:1812 – The British Invasion Part III – Baltimore

With Washington’s destruction, Major General Ross could turn his attention to his primary target, Baltimore. The city was a hotbed of privateer activity and Anti-British sentiments. Capture of Baltimore also would cause a ripple effect in the American economy that was crucial for the continued war effort and might tip the negotiations in Gent to favour the British. Ever since the British blockade began in 1813, General Samuel Smith, tasked with the city’s defense had constructed a ring of redoubts and bastions around the city. General Smith had the support of the state government and called out the militia when Ross landed at Benedict, and now the defenses housed an army of 15,000. The inner harbor would be an equally hard nut to crack with landward batteries and at the Center, Fort McHenry.

Project:1812 - The Battle of Baltimore
A plaque to the British landing site at North Point.
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Kodak Tri-X 400 @ ASA-400 – Kodak D-23 (Stock) 7:30 @ 20C

Project:1812 - The Battle of Baltimore
A memorial to the Battle of North Point near Ross’ Wounding Site, I was unable to locate that plaque.
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Kodak Tri-X 400 @ ASA-400 – Kodak D-23 (Stock) 7:30 @ 20C

To divert American attention away from Ross’s army, Cockburn landed a small force of sailors and Marines on the eastern shore, only to have it forced back in defeat and did little to dissuade the Americans. With his army recovered Ross landed at North Point on 12 September and marched north. General Smith having learned of the British assault, sent a column of troops under General John Strickler to intercept. Strickler, having learned from the mistakes at Bladensburg, Strickler deployed his men at a choke point, a series of tidal basins and swamps would force Ross to fight on a front only a mile wide, and he hoped to prevent a flanking maneuver. Much to the annoyance of Strickler, the British made camp a short three miles distance for a midday meal. He would have to force the issue. While Strickler held the main body of men back, sending a vanguard of 250 forward to engage the British pickets. He hoped such an act would rattle the British into action. General Ross, upon hearing the musket fire left his meal and rode forward to direct the troops.

Project:1812 - The Battle of Baltimore
Battle Acre Park where the main Battle of North Point took place.
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Kodak Tri-X 400 @ ASA-400 – Kodak D-23 (Stock) 7:30 @ 20C

Project:1812 - Fort McHenry
The Civil War Era artillery battery at Fort McHenry.
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Kodak Tri-X 400 @ ASA-400 – Kodak D-23 (Stock) 7:30 @ 20C

Such an action was typical for the general; Ross was well liked by men and officers under his command for leading from the front. By the time Ross and Cockburn arrived both sides were equally matched and had each other pinned, neither willing to move. Cockburn in a strange turn suggested caution and wait until the main army could be brought up. Ross agreed and made to wheel around to ride back and lead the men forward. An American sharpshooter had taken aim against the General, and a bullet caught Ross and dropped the general. Local legend attributed the death to Daniel Wells or Henry McComas. However, there’s no evidence to support it was either of them. Ross’s final action was to turn over the army’s command to Colonel Arthur Brooke. Brooke pushed forward, engaging Strickler’s main force at Battle Acre. By 3 pm, the 4th had fought around and managed to flank the American line; Strickler ordered a retreat. Unlike Bladensburg, the Americans fell back in good order to the main line at Roger’s Bastion. Knowing that such an assault would be suicide Brooke held a few miles south and sent word to the main British fleet that they would need help if they were to break through. And for the British fleet they knew they had to take out Fort McHenry.

Project:1812 - The Battle of Baltimore
The Young Marter’s Monument in Baltimore Maryland to the two young men who are attributed to shooting General Ross.
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Kodak Tri-X 400 @ ASA-400 – Kodak D-23 (Stock) 7:30 @ 20C

CCR Review 49 - Minolta Maxxum 700si
A Plaque mounted on a cannon marking the spot of Roger’s Bastion, now part of Patterson Park in Baltimore, Maryland.
Minolta Maxxum 700si – Maxxum Zoom AF 35-70mm 1:4 – Eastman Double-X (5222) @ ASA-200 – FA-1027 (1+19) 10:00 @ 20C

Vice Admiral Alexander Cochrane having arrived from a successful capture of eastern Maine ordered a squadron of ships to bombard the American fort. The squadron consisted of HM Rocketship Erebus (26), HM Bombship Terror (2), HM Bombship Volcano (16), HM Bombship Meteor (12), HM Bombship Devastation (8), and HM Bombship Atena (10). And in the early hours of the 13th began a devastating bombardment in a hope to the fort up to a land assault by Royal Marines. The fort’s commander, Major George Armistead, worked hard to ensure the fort’s protection. He had the powder stores moved to a secure location at the far end of the fort. He also ordered that the small storm flag remains flying all through the night. From the harbor, an American Lawyer, Francis Scott Key, would observe the bombardment from a British Ship. He had been sent to secure the release of some American prisoners.

Project:1812 - The Battle of Baltimore
The Battle of Baltimore Monument in downtown Baltimore, Maryland.
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Kodak Tri-X 400 @ ASA-400 – Kodak D-23 (Stock) 7:30 @ 20C

Project:1812 - Fort McHenry
Looking out into the Harbor from Fort McHenry in the direction which the British assault fleet would have been.
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Kodak Tri-X 400 @ ASA-400 – Kodak D-23 (Stock) 7:30 @ 20C

Major Armistead efforts were not in vain, during the devastating bombardment did little against Fort McHenry. Expanded defenses and the range of the ship limited American casualties to 4 dead and over 20 wounded. Out of 2,000 projectiles fired only 400 hit the target. As dawn rose on the 14th, twenty-five hours later, Armistead ordered the massive 30-foot by 40-foot garrison flag hoisted. Francis Scott Key moved by what he had witness began working on a poem. Having failed to break through, Cochrane sent word to Brooke and left the final choice in the next move up to the colonel. Brooke ordered a general retreat and pulled the troops back and reembarked. The Americans had prevailed. For the British, the loss of General Ross was devastating, and would only create more problems as the fleet headed south to disrupt American trade in the Gulf of Mexico. In the days that followed, Francis Scott Key’s poem, the Defense of Fort M’Henry, began to circulate in local newspapers. The bombardment had one final casualty, three years later, George Armistead, now a Lieutenant-Colonel, passed away due to the stress the bombardment took on his mind and body, today it would be considered post-traumatic stress disorder.

Project:1812 - The Battle of Baltimore
The Francis Scott Key monument portrays a rather patriotically correct scene of Scott penning his famous poem.
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Kodak Tri-X 400 @ ASA-400 – Kodak D-23 (Stock) 7:30 @ 20C

CCR Review 49 - Minolta Maxxum 700si
A Shell on display at Fort McHenry that was fired during the bombardment.
Minolta Maxxum 700si – Minolta Maxxum AF 35-70mm 1:4 – Eastman Double-X (5222) @ ASA-200 – FA-1027 (1+19) 10:00 @ 20C

The bombardment of Fort McHenry and the repulse of the British at Baltimore was one of two battles that created the American mythos that surrounds the war, the other being the Battle of New Orleans. Just as the Battle of Queenston Heights and the Battle of Beaver Dams forms the Canadian mythos of the war. Both sides maintain their victory over the other because of these actions. Key’s poem was set to music and in 1931 was declared the national anthem of the United States of America. A national anthem that today has become a center of controversy among athletes. Fort McHenry stands today as a historical monument and national shrine and has the honour of flying the first of every modern version of the American flag. Armistead’s ‘star-spangled banner’ would stay in his family for many years before becoming a part of the Smithsonian collection in 1912 and can be viewed in fully restored glory in the Museum of American history. Markers at North Point (now Fort Howard) and along the route mark the spot of the British Landing, Ross’s death, and the battle. Roger’s bastion is marked by a plaque in Point Plesant Park. Three additional monuments stand in Baltimore related to the battle. General Ross would be carried back to Halifax where he remains in the old Burrying Ground, Armistead was burried in Baltimore at St. Paul’s Cemetary.

Special thanks to Christopher T. George for helping me out in pinpointing some of the locations for this post.

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.

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

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 – The British Invasion Part I – Bladensburg

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 – 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 – 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 – Siege of Prairie du Chien

Project:1812 – Siege of Prairie du Chien

While one of the least known engagements during the War of 1812, the siege of Prarie du Chien, was part of the drama that happened during the entire span of the war and sealed British dominance in the northwest until the signing of the Treaty of Gent that ended the way. The battle was the only one fought on the soil of what would become the state of Wisconsin. Two hundred years ago the small fur trading post of Prarie du Chien was a part of the Illinois Territory. Founded by the French in the late 1600s, turned over to British control following the French-Indian War of the mid-1700s and became a part of the new United States of America until the Treaty of Paris in 1783. While officially the post and the small population of fewer than one hundred people were American citizens the post was British in all but name, and the population was mostly French.

The Mighty Mississippi
The Mississippi River as it stands today near the battlesite
Intrepid – Fuji Fujinon-W 1:5.6/125 (Orange) – Kodak TMax 100 – FA-1027 (1+14) 9:30 @ 20C

But the United States did see the value in the small settlement, but the start of the War of 1812 saw their energies focused elsewhere. But when William Clark (of Lewis & Clark Fame) became governor of the Missouri Territory in 1813 he started to see a problem with a very pro-British settlement to his north. Should the British decide to enforce their influence at Prarie du Chien there would be little to stop them from sailing south on the Mississippi and capturing St. Louis and gaining an even bigger foothold. Governor Clark became annoyed as the far-flung outpost received little support from Washington. Using his authority he spoke with two local leaders, Fredrick Yeizer and John Sullivan both captains in the local militia. Together they raised a volunteer force of 150 men on a sixty-day enlistment. The volunteer army gained strength by the arrival of 61 men of the 7th US Infantry under the command of Brevet Major Zachary Taylor (who would become President of the United States). Though destined for Fort Clark, Governor Clark presented his case, and Major Taylor agreed to head north to establish a garrison at Prarie du Chien. Three gunboats would provide transport north. Just as the expedition was to start, Taylor was recalled to Kentucky to attend a family member who was ill, in his place Lieutenant Joseph Perkins, who was in St. Louis recruiting for the 24th US Infantry was installed as the commander of the regulars. The expedition departed St. Louis on the 1st of May, with Governor Clark joining them a few days up-river. The flotilla saw minor action along the route but landed without resistance by early June. Using a local warehouse of the Mackinac Trading Company, Clark realized they would have to work fast as his volunteer force was already half-way through their enlistment period. Soon a wooden palisade fort with a pair of blockhouses rose on a mound to the north of the village proper. Governor Clark named the post, Fort Shelby, after Governor Isaac Shelby, the governor of his native territory of Kentucky. With the post’s construction well in hand, Governor Clark returned to St. Louis with much fanfare upon his return. But in the North Perkins realized that if he didn’t have the post done soon, he would lose a majority of his force. But by the 19th, the post was nearly complete.

Project:1812 - The Forts of Prairie Du Chien
A reconstruction of a blockhouse that would have stood over Fort Shelby and later the first Fort Crawford.
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford FP4+ @ ASA-100 – Photographer’s Formulary Developer 23 (stock) 6:00 @ 20C

The local population was not too pleased with the arrival of the Americans and three days later two men showed up at Mackinac Island with news for the commandant of the post, Lieutenant-Colonel Robert McDouall. McDouall was disturbed at the news of the American garrison and was even more troubled with natives brought rumors of violence against their tribes at the hands of the Americans at Prarie du Chien. These rumors reached McDouall as the native allies cried out for revenge. The main reason that McDouall was concerned was for the extensive fur trade network, and without Prarie du Chien it would be difficult to maintain the supply lines. McDouall had his problems with a limited force and word of an American attack against Mackinac, but he could not ignore his allies. Giving local militia captain a field promotion to Lieutenant-Colonel, William McKay, would take a force from his unit, the Michigan Fencibles along with local traders that formed a group called the Mississippi Volunteers, a single 3-pound field gun with a Royal Artillery crew was attached to McKay’s force as well. The local tribes provided warriors from the Sioux and Winnebago tribes commanded by two captains from the British Indian Department Thomas Anderson and Joseph Rolette. Departing on the 28th of June, McKay would gather more militia and native troops at Green Bay. When McKay’s force landed at Prarie du Chien on the 17th of July it numbered 650 troops. For Perkins he only saw his numbers drop as a majority of his volunteer force left with Captain Sullivan, Captain Yeizer was willing to stay with forty volunteers to man the gunboat Governor Clark. But the sudden arrival of McKay gave the American garrison a start when Captain Anderson approached Lieutenant Perkins, who was out on a ride with the order of surrender. The garrison refused the surrender order promising to fight to the last man.

Project:1812 - The Forts of Prairie Du Chien
The historic plaque on site outlining the battle.
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford FP4+ @ ASA-100 – Photographer’s Formulary Developer 23 (stock) 6:00 @ 20C

McKay realizing that his biggest threat was the gunboat on the river ordered his lone artillery piece to fire on it first. The Royal Artillery crew worked fast, moving the gun around to give the crew aboard the gunboat the impression they were under attack by multiple guns and after a few hours had taken massive damage. Rather than risk the boat and the crew Captain Yeizer cut his moorings and headed south. The fort’s garrison watched in dismay, trying to call them back, as most of their supplies and ammunition were aboard the gunboat still. Both sides managed to fight to a stalemate, with both McKay and Perkins running low on ammunition, McKay going as far as to collect the American round shots and fire them back, of course, neither side realized this of the other. Inside the fort was another story, the well had run dry, and in an attempt to deepen it, the whole thing had collapsed. And while McKay was preparing heated shots to set Fort Shelby on fire, Lieutenant Perkins raises the white flag of truce, after two days of solid resistance. Both Perkins and McKay agree to delay a formal surrender for fear of retaliation against the Americans by the native warriors in light of the rumors. McKay would use his Michigan Fencibles to guard both the American prisoners and the native troops before the formal surrender the next day and then has the Americans escorted down-river without any incident. With a British flag flying over the fort, now named Fort McKay the northwest was firmly in British hands. The Americans would twice send a force to attempt to retake Prarie du Chien both would be stopped first at the Rock Island Rapids and again at the Battle of Credit Island. The British maintained the post at Prairie du Chien throughout the remainder of the war, destroying it in 1815 when they marched out to conform to the terms of the Treaty of Gent.

Project:1812 - The Forts of Prairie Du Chien
Probably not the original well from the battle, but I figured it would be good to have a photo of one anyways.
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford FP4+ @ ASA-100 – Photographer’s Formulary Developer 23 (stock) 6:00 @ 20C

Today you can still visit the site of the battle, and while the town has moved over to the mainland, the battle site is open to the public as part of the Historic Villa Louis, a historic home built in the 1840s after the American Army abandoned the site completely for a mainland fort in 1832. But visitors can see the footings from the 1816 American fort (Fort Crawford) and a rebuilt blockhouse. The site also hosts a reenactment of the siege in July.

A special thanks to the volunteers at Villa Louis for helping me out and letting me freely wander the site for photographic purposes.

Written with files from:
Berton, Pierre. Flames across the Border, 1813-1814. Markham, Ont.: Penguin, 1988. Print.
Ferguson, Gillum. Illinois in the War of 1812. Champaign, IL.: University of Illinois Press, 2012. Print.
Collins, Gilbert. Guidebook to the Historic Sites of the War of 1812. Toronto: Dundurn, 2006. Print.
Web: villalouis.wisconsinhistory.org/About/History.aspx