At Sea and at the Negotiating Table
B y spring of 1814, Srephen Decawr had had abour enough of his squadron being blockaded off New London,
Connecricur, by a pair of Brirish 74-gun line-of-barrle ships. He had pur to sea from New York a year earlier in his flagship,
USS United States, accompan ied by USS (formerly HMS) Macedonian, bur was chased back into Long Island Sound Stephen Decatur (1119-1820)
The War of 1812’s Final Chapter: a powerful Brirish squadron off Monrauk Point.
Running into rhe relarively shallow Thames River, rhey rook shelrer under rhe guns of rhe porr ofNew London.
Realizing rhar rhey needn’r chase rhe American fri gares into rhe river (nor to mention, rhey were too deep-drafr for rhe Thames River),
- He Couldn’t Have Done It Without Her
- Merchandise After The End
- Hell With the Lid Off!-
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rhe Brirish simply srationed rhe 74s at the mourh and waired. Over rhe course of rhe following year,
Decarur used every ruse he could conceive to make his warders leave, including a pre-arranged ship-to-ship duel berween his ships and rheir Royal Navy counterparts, all to no avail.
Finally, in April of 1814, he ordered the dismasring of borh United States and 20 Macedonian and went to New York to persuade the navy to give him another ship.
Afrer a full year of bei ng held caprive by the presence of those two ships,
The War of 1812’s Final Chapter: he was desperare to get back out to sea and into what was lefr of the fi.ghr.
He got his wish; Navy Secrerary William Jones assigned him to take command of USS President, sisrer ship to his flagship and USS Constitution. The President was lying in New York, ready for sea.
With a reputarion as a fast and “fi.ne swimmer,” the President had been highly praised by her two previous commanders,
John Rodgers and William Bainbridge. By December of 1814,
Decarur had a ship, a crew, and sadly, once again, a blockade preventing him from sailing.
The Brirish had successfully closed the port of New York by srationing most of a squadron in rhe warers berween Long Island and Sandy Hook, New Jersey. Of course,
Decatur could nor know rhat the war was within days of irs conclusion, but most likely, even if he had known it,
he would have pushed the secrerary of rhe navy to ger him a ship rhar mighr make it off soundings, even if only fo r a few days.
The entrance to New York Harbor, unlike the mouth of the Thames River at New London, is wide wirh many sand bars outside it, and,
Decarur reasoned, under rhe right circumsrances he mighr be able to slip past rhe blockading ships.
What he hadn’r reckoned wirh was rhe facr that it was only abour eighr miles from the entrance of rhe harbor to rhe tip of Sandy Hook,
and it was around this narrow body of water.
(now Ambrose Channel) thar most of rhe rreacherous sandbars were locared.
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