Page 15

would interrupr his supply lines. He was well aware of rhe large numbers of borh regulars and miliria pouring into rhe area and now, of course, American ships could sa il unimpeded on rhe lake. According ro one of Prevosr's generals, rhe Brirish wirhdrawal was conducred in rhe "mosr precipirare and disgraceful m anner." As so ofren happens in such a siruarion, Prevosr's wirhdrawal became his undoing; he was vilified by his officers a nd hi s rroops were close ro muriny. Macdonough, on rhe orher hand, became a celebriry, honored by Congress wirh a gold medal (usual in such circumstances), a rhousand acres of land in Cayuga County from rhe Srare of New York, and another hundred acres of land from Vermont. C iries surrounding the lake gave him and his officers memenros and orher honors in recognirion of his brilliant vicrory. While Brirain continued ro srren grhen irs forces in Canada, rhere would be no more fighrin g save for an occasional ski rmi sh rhar a mo unted ro norhing of consequence. 1he Bardes of Plarrsburgh a nd Lake Champlain rurned our robe rhe final engagements on rhe norrhern fronrier and, afrer rhreeyears offighring, rhe border dispute ended in a sralemate. To rhe sourh, on the Chesapeake Bay, British acrions were reprising rhose of the previous year and served ro demo ralize much of rhe popularion. Brirish wars hips had rerurned during rhe spring and esrablished a base on Tangier Island. They fo und very lirde resisrance from the local populace, who remembered the cruelry rhey suffered when rhey resis ted the year before. The only bright nore wo uld be found in Joshua Barney, who had convinced rhe W ar D eparrmenr rhar a fleer of gunboars would be rhe mosr efficacious form of defense and personally oversaw rheir consrrucrion. His squadron sa iled rhe shallow warers of rhe Bay, sheltering in ridal flars and river mouths ro arrack Brirish warships as rhe opporruniry presenred . His efforrs were so successful rhat rhe British larer disparched Caprain Roberr Barrie, whose sole purpose was ro catch and desrroy rhese marauding boars . Unlike in 1813, rhe British now had a specific agenda for rheir return under a new commander, in rhe person of Vice Admiral Sir A lexander Cochrane, who had replaced rhe elderly Admira l War ren . SEA HISTORY 13 7, WINTER 20 11-1 2

Vice Admiral Sir Alexander Cochrane Cochrane held a burning harred of A mericans, rhe reason for which h as never been fully explained; ir could be because his older brorher was killed in 178 1 ar rhe Barde ofYorkrown (rhe concluding batde of rhe A merican Wa r for Independence). This change in commanders m arked a significanr cha nge in rhe original plan. In rhis visir, Cochrane gave Admiral Cockburn free rein ro wreak as much havoc as he could, and Cockburn did his level besr ro comply. In facr, Cochrane suggesred rhat burning the American capiral in Washingron Ciry wo uld be a firrin g reraliarion for rhe previous year's burning of York (now Toronto), rhe capiral of Upper Canada, by rhe Americans. During rhe previous year under Admiral Warren, Cockburn had been Admiral Sir George Cockburn

chasrised by rhe Admiralry for his rampage up and down rhe Bay when he had been assigned simply ro blockade rhe enrrance. Cockburn, an aggressive and proven leader, reveled in rhe change ofcommanders and the resultant change in his mission! Again, rhe Brirish did everyrhing rhey could do ro disrupr life on rhe Bay: liberaring slaves (encouraging rhem ro join ranks wirh rhe British and fighr their former masrers), burning villages, stealing crops, and arracking coasral rrade. Slaves who joined up were trained at Tangier Island and became rhe Coloni al Marines. They saw rheir firsr action on 30 May, when rhey were used ro arrack Pungoreague, Virginia. While Ii rrle ofvalue was desrroyed or taken, Cockburn saw it as a publicity coup and made sure everyone knew rhar his Colonial Marines-former slaves-had risen in armed combar agains r their former owners . Ar rhe time, Cockburn was unawa re ofBarney's squadron, bur prior ro ordering his Colonial Marines ro a second arrack, he did discover rhe squadron's exisrence. Fearing rhar Barney's gun boars might hamper h is efforrs, he ordered Captain Barrie ro take his squadron, led by HMS D ragon, ro find and destroy rhe gunboar Aorilla. A simple matrer, he probably assumed, for a squadron of frigares, brigs, and schooners ro ca tch and decimate a handful of small gunboars armed wirh only one or rwo guns each, especially since rhe squadron was British, commanded and mann ed by well-rrained Brirish sea men, whil e rhe gunboars were m anned by rusric and unskilled Americans. Barney was wa iting at the mourh of rhe Paruxent River for a favo rable wind and a ride change. Barrie's squadron sailed norrh from the mourh of rhe Poromac and caughr sighr of rhe gun boars as rhey lefr rhe shelrer of rhe river, heading for a n attack on Tangier Island. Reali zing Barney's force was sign ificanrly larger rhan rhey anricipared, Barrie ordered his ships ro come abour and run back ro rhe Poromac, now pursued by the gunboars. When a sudden squall came up, rhe driving rain and high winds made rhe gunboats unmanageable, and ir was all Barney's sailors could do ro keep rhem from swamping. Barrie's 74-gun flagship had no such difficulties and prepared ro arrack rhe small g unboars, which had now rurned aro und and were srruggling ro gain rhe Paru xent River once again, 13

Sea History 137 - Winter 2011-2012  

10 The War of 1812: Year Three-1814, by William H. White • 18 Measure of the Earth: Navigation, Science, and the War of Jenkins's Ear, by L...

Sea History 137 - Winter 2011-2012  

10 The War of 1812: Year Three-1814, by William H. White • 18 Measure of the Earth: Navigation, Science, and the War of Jenkins's Ear, by L...

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