Monday, July 1, 2013

War in the Chesapeake - Dedham Gazette, July 1, 1814

War in the Chesapeake

               A great degree of alarm, and many war movements - on paper at least, - existed, at the last date, on many of the branches of the Chesapeake.

               In these waters there is considerable British naval force, but the exact number has not been ascertained, - At the entrance of the bay, there is a 74, and other vessels, forming a general blockading squadron.

               In the upper water there is a British 74, the Dragon, Capt. Barrie, two frigates, and a considerable number of smaller vessels and craft; who are opposed to the flotilla of gun-boats and launches, which have been fitted out at Baltimore, &c. at an expense of 50,000 dollars (~$516,700), and commanded by Com. Barney.  This force was declared to have been fitted out for the protection of that city and to be competent to its defence [sic]: But, for some unexampled cause, this flotilla has gotten out of its latitude, and having left the Potapsco [sic], has run into the Patuxent, and carried the war from Baltimore, into one of the most federal counties of the Sate. - The Maryland papers think this movement to be one of the pitiful artifices of the administration, to make the federalists feel the pressure of the war they abhor.

               In a creek of the Patuxent Com. Barney was strictly blockaded by a frigate, and some sloops of war.  This flotilla, from which so much was expected, and of which so much has been vapoured [sic]; being thus disposed of, the British boats and barges have been trying, as Mr. Jefferson would say, how "much harm they can do;" and if a twentieth part of the reports circulated of their doings be true, the people of the vicinity of the Capitol where the war was declared, find it a very "unprofitable contest."  The account states, that the barges had proceeded to Benedict (Maryland), about 15 miles from the creek where the blockading force lay; and where they continued for some time.  It was at this place where Mr. Dorsey met the British Commodore.  As that gentleman's accounts of events appear to me the most responsible, we continue his report of events.

               He says, "the British loaded their barges from the schooner which was aground, and conveyed it on board a privateer: - That while waiting events, near Benedict, " he had the mortification to see a brig, and a number of barges coming from St. Leonard's creek, for the evident purpose of saving the American merchants the trouble of looking out for shipping to carry their produce to market, by becoming themselves the carriers of our tobacco to the fine markets which the present state of the continent is likely to produce."  He adds, "if this tobacco is lost, the British will have taken from the public warehouse on this expedition, at least seventeen hundred and fifty hogsheads.  I can form no opinion of the length of time necessary to load their brig, and am convinced from the nature of the county, they can only be resisted by artillery."  He then hopes the President will order some heavy artillery to prevent the brig from regaining St. Leonard's creek. -  He concludes his letter of the 18th June saying, " You have no conception of the universal panic which prevails here.  The regulars who were stationed in Benedict lost a part of their baggage and provisions.  Believing I can be of no further service here, I return home," &c.

               The barges are said to have attempted to take Nottingham (Maryland), where there were large public warehouses with tobacco in them, and which is only 22 miles from the capitol in Washington; but were discharged of some heavy guns then on their way to St. Leonard's creek.  There are other accounts of similar events; but they are all, probably, the fabrications of newsmakers.

               It is added, that barges plundered on both sides of the river, unmolested. - They declared their orders to be to burn every house which was deserted, or where the stock was removed from the farms.  Provisions they said they wanted, and would have by purchase or force.  They burnt the public ware-houses at Lower Marlborough 5 miles from Benedict, &c.  Thus it appears a contemptible force has carried the war to within a few hours march of Mr. Madison's palace (the White House) without any resistance; and this too, in a narrow river and after we have been two years at war!  The people call for the "defence" [sic] which the Constitution declares the General Government shall give them, and for which they have paid scores of millions; they ask for arms, ammunition and provisions; and they are answered that the government troops are gone to take Canada; and if any succor is sent, it arrives after the enemy has retired.

               By the Georgetown and Washington papers it appears, that the British have evacuated the town of Benedict, and returned down the river.  The quantity of tobacco carried away, and destroyed by the British, during their excursion up the Patuxent, is computed at 8000 bdds.

               It is generally believed that they are now about to concentrate all their force for another attack upon Barney's flotilla.

               The people of that part of Maryland which is now the seat of war, are represented as being extremely exasperated at the President for leaving them in the exposed aituation.  A letter from Leonardstown [sic], after mentioning the consternation and sufferings of the people, adds - " But these are only exceeded by the high-state of irritable sensibility discovered by all classes of citizens, of whatever party, with scarcely an exception, whenever Madison's or Barney's name is mentioned.  The dethroned tyrant is scarely [sic] more execrated by the people of Paris, Lyons or Bordeaux, than our President is by the good people of Calvert, Charles, and St. Mary's (counties).  Curses are poured out upon him daily by thousands of mouths, for bringing the enemy upon them without affording protection.  Old Major _______ has spoken his mind fully to Barney, and the language in which he vented his indignation is a fair sample of the general feeling among the people."  - [Centinel. [1]

[1] Dedham Gazette; Date: 07-01-1814; Volume: 1; Issue: 46; Page: [2]; Location: Dedham, Massachusetts.
Transcribed by John Peter Thompson, July 1st, 2013.

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