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Contrast this relative security with the
experience of the "Ned," cited a few pages back, hunted from headland
to headland on her home coast, and slipping in--a single ship by
dexterous management--past foes from whom no countryman can pretend to
shield her.

Even more mortifying to Americans, because under their very eyes, in
sharp contrast to their sufferings, was the prosperity of Halifax and
Canada. Vexed though British commerce was by the daring activity of
American cruisers, the main streams continued to flow; diminished in
volume, but not interrupted. The closure of American harbors threw
upon the two ports named the business of supplying American products
to the British forces, the British West Indies, and in measure to
Great Britain itself. The same reason fixed in them the deposit of
British goods, to be illicitly conveyed into the United States by the
smuggling that went on actively along the northern seacoast and land
frontier; a revival of the practices under the embargo of 1808. This
underground traffic was of course inadequate to compensate for that
lost by the war and the blockade; but it was quite sufficient to add
immensely to the prosperity of these places, the communications of
which with the sea were held open and free by the British navy, and in
which centred what was left from one of the most important branches of
British trade in the days of peace. Halifax, from its position on the
sea, was the chief gainer. The effects of the war on it were very
marked. Trade was active. Prices rose. Provisions were in great
demand, to the profit of agriculture and fisheries. Rents doubled and
trebled. The frequent arrival of prizes, and of ships of war going and
coming, added to the transactions, and made money plentiful.[35]

Recalling the generalization already made, that the seacoast of the
United States was strictly a defensive frontier, it will be recognized
that the successive institution of the commercial blockades, first of
the Chesapeake and Delaware in March, and afterward of the whole coast
south of Newport, in May, were the offensive operations with which the
British initiated the campaign of 1813. These blockades were
supported, and their effects sustained and intensified, by an
accumulation of naval force entirely beyond the competition of the
American navy. In view of such overwhelming disparity, it was no
longer possible, as in 1812, by assembling a squadron, to impose some
measure of concentration upon the enemy, and thus to facilitate
egress and ingress. The movements of the British had passed wholly
beyond control. Their admiral was free to dispose his fleet as he
would, having care only not to hazard a detachment weaker than that in
the port watched. This was a condition perfectly easy of fulfilment
with the numbers under his command. As a matter of fact, his vessels
were distributed over the entire seacoast; and at every point, with
the possible exception of Boston, the division stationed was so strong
that escape was possible only by evasion, under cover of severe
weather conditions.

Under such circumstances, the larger the ship the more difficult for
her to get out. As early as the middle of April, Captain Jones,
formerly of the "Wasp," and now commanding the "Macedonian" in New
York, reports that "both outlets are at present strongly blocked, but
I believe at dark of the moon we shall be able to pass without much
risk."[36] May 22, when a moon had come and gone, Decatur, still on
board the "United States," in company with which the "Macedonian" was
to sail, thinks it will be better to try the Sound route. "The last
gale, which promised the fairest opportunity for us to get out, ended
in light southerly winds, which continued till the blockading ships
had regained their stations."[37] A few days later, the attempt by the
Sound resulted in the two being driven into New London, where they
remained to the close of the war. The only offensive operation by sea
open to the United States, the destruction of the enemy's commerce,
fell therefore to the smaller cruisers and privateers, the size and
numbers of which combined to make it impossible to restrain them all.

For defensive measures the seaboard depended upon such fortifications
as existed, everywhere inadequate, but which either the laxness or the
policy of the British commander did not attempt to overcome in the
case of the seaports, narrowly so called. The wide-mouthed estuaries
of the Chesapeake and Delaware, entrance to which could not thus be
barred, bore, therefore, the full brunt of hostile occupation and
widespread harassment. In this there may have been deliberate
intention, as well as easy adoption of the readiest means of
annoyance. The war, though fairly supported in the middle section of
the Union, was essentially a Southern and Western measure. Its most
strenuous fomenters came from those parts, and the administration was
Virginian. The President himself had been identified with the entire
course of Jefferson's commercial retaliation, and general policy
toward Great Britain during twelve years past. It is impossible for
land forces alone to defend against naval aggression a region like the
Chesapeake, with its several great, and numerous small, streams
penetrating the country in every direction; and matters are not helped
when the defendants are loosely organized militia. The water in such a
case offers a great central district, with interior lines, in the
hands of a power to which belongs the initiative, with an overpowering
mobile force, able at any moment to appear where it will in superior
strength.

No wonder then that the local journals of the day speak of continual
watchfulness, which from the present organization of the militia is
exceedingly toilsome, and of no little derangement to the private
affairs of the people.[38] The enemy spreads in every direction; and,
although the alarm caused much exceeds the injury done, disquietude is
extreme and universal. "Applications from various quarters are
constantly pouring in upon us," wrote a Governor of Maryland to the
President; "and as far as our very limited means will enable us we are
endeavoring to afford protection. But we have not arms and ammunition
to supply the demands of every section of the State; the unavoidable
expense of calling out the militia for its protection would greatly
exceed the ability of the State government. The capital of the State
[which was three miles from the bay, on a navigable river] has not
sufficient force for its protection. By the Constitution of the United
States, the common defence is committed to the National Government,
which is to protect each State against invasion, and to defray all
necessary expenses of a national war; and to us it is a most painful
reflection that after every effort we have made, or can make, for the
security of our fellow-citizens and of their property, they have
little to rely on but the possible forbearance of the enemy."[39] The
process of reaping what has been sowed is at times extremely
unpleasant.

FOOTNOTES:

[1] Captains' Letters. Navy Department.

[2] Ibid., Bainbridge, Oct. 13, 1812.

[3] Niles' Register, vol. iv. p. 25.

[4] Bainbridge's report is in the Captains' Letters. Navy Department,
Jan. 3, 1813. It will be found also in Niles' Register, vol. iii. p.
410. Both give extracts from Bainbridge's journal, which is very full on
the subject of manoeuvres and times. The British account will be found
in the Naval Chronicle, vol. xxix. pp. 403-408, from which the plan of
the battle is copied.

[5] James' Naval History, edition 1824, vol. v. p. 313.

[6] Bainbridge in a private letter speaks of the men looking forward to
prize money for the "Guerrière" on their return. Niles' Register, vol.
iii. p. 411.

[7] Lawrence's Report of these transactions is in Captains' Letters,
March 19, 1813. It will be found also in Niles' Register, vol. iv. p.
84.

[8] Naval Chronicle, vol. xxviii. p. 305.

[9] Admiralty to Warren, British Records Office.

[10] Niles' Register, vol. iii. p. 383.

[11] Captains' Letters.

[12] Niles' Register, vol. iv. p. 159. The Admiralty's letter to Warren
to institute this blockade is dated March 25. British Records Office.

[13] Niles' Register, vol. v. p. 264.

[14] Naval Chronicle, vol. xxxi. p. 464.

[15] Naval Chronicle, vol. xxxi. p. 475.

[16] Captains' Letters.

[17] American State Papers, Naval Affairs, vol. i. p. 280.

[18] Captain Evans' Report, April 10, 1813. Captains' Letters.

[19] Captains' Letters.

[20] Ibid, Dec. 17, 1812.

[21] Niles' Register, vol. iv. p. 119. Naval Chronicle, vol. xxix. p.
501.

[22] March 17, 1813. Captains' Letters.

[23] March 17, 18, and 21. Ibid.

[24] Niles' Register, vol. iv. p. 222.

[25] Columbian Centinel.

[26] Niles' Register, vol. iv. p. 117.

[27] Captains' Letters.

[28] Message of the Governor of Rhode Island, May 5, 1813.

[29] Niles' Register, vol. iv. pp. 200, 209. There were reported in
Cadiz at this time 160,000 barrels of flour, unsold. The Columbian
Centinel (Feb. 17) speaks of the Lisbon market as deplorable.

[30] Niles' Register, vol. iv. p. 150.

[31] Niles' Register, vol. iv. p. 101.

[32] Ibid., p. 117.

[33] American State Papers, Foreign Relations, vol. iii. p. 584. France
in the same period had seized five hundred and fifty-eight.

[34] Naval Chronicle, vol. xxix. p. 497. The following extract from an
American journal may have interest as indicating the extent of the
British convoy movement. "American brig 'Hazard,' arrived at New York
from Madeira, June 5, reports: 'April 11, arrived at Funchal the outward
bound East India and Brazil fleets, forty sail, under convoy. Sailed
April 12. April 21, arrived outward bound Cork fleet, one hundred and
eighty sail convoyed by a seventy-four, a frigate, and a sloop.' April
30, sailed from Jamaica, three hundred merchantmen, under convoy of a
seventy-four, two frigates and a sloop." (Columbian Centinel, of Boston,
June 9, 1813.)

[35] Murdoch's History of Nova Scotia, vol. iii. p. 351.

[36] Captains' Letters, April 13, 1813.

[37] Ibid., May 22.

[38] Niles' Register, vol.



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