Location: Stonington, Connecticut
Surnames/tags: War_of_1812 Connecticut US_History
- Stonington Point, was just a slender piece of Connecticut land which extended into the Little Narrangansett Bay, not far from the border of Rhode Island.
1808 The area petitioned the Connecticut General Assembly for permission to hold a lottery to raise $10,000 to build a wharf to make a safe harbor for shipping. Then US Congress passed an Embargo Act, to reduce any conflicts with Britain and France. Trade was forbidden by Americans with foreign ports, which really did not hurt the foreign countries, but it almost destroyed the shipping trade of New England.
June 1813 Connecticut sent two 18-pound cannons for citizens and militia to use to defend of the harbor.
May,1814 Stonington beefed up its defenses, with a tar barrel pole on the north part of town to signal the 41-men militia.
August 9, 1814, four British ships anchored off Stonington Point: H.M.S. Ramillies with 74 guns, Pactolus with 44 guns, Dispatch with 22 guns, and the bombship Terror, all under the command of Captain Thomas M. Hardy. Hardy sent an ultimatum to the town: “Not wishing to destroy the unoffending inhabitants residing in the town of Stonington, one hour is granted them from the receipt of this to remove out of town.” The time on Hardy’s note was 5:30.
Some people did leave, according to Caulkins. Women and children carrying hastily collected possessions fled the village, many of them crying in fear and anxiety. Most took shelter in the neighboring fields, woods, barns, and farmhouses. Some went as far as Montauk Hill, where many stayed in the open. Caulkins noted that the mild August weather allowed the fleeing families to remain nearby, where they anxiously awaited the outcome of the British attack. The timorous may have fled, but according to Haynes, some Stonington men stayed behind and set the tar-barrel signal smoking to alert the militia in nearby towns. What happened next is quite dramatic!
The First Assault
|Battlel of Stonington|
July 30, 1814. According to Haynes, the British ships chased a privateer into Stonington Harbor. the militia fired which drove the British off. A British midshipman, Thomas Powers was killed and was buried with honors in Stonington Cemetery.. As a precaution the citizens who stayed behind, set the tar-barrel signal smoking to alert the militia of other towns nearby. Battle of Stonington
The British attacked the Stonington point two weeks later with the four ships.
Stonington defenders rushed to the breastworks, which was not much protection against the combined firepower of four ships of the British Navy. Town residents William Lord, Asa Lee, George Fellows, and Amos Denison manned the three cannons.
|18 pounder cannons and marker|
Volunteers from Mystic
Sixteen volunteers from Mystic joined the original 4 town residents. One was Captain Jeremiah Holmes. Holmes from Mystic, had been impressed by the British navy in earlier years. After this he proved he was an American with his seaman's papers and was released. During this time Holmes became an expert gunner.
The ship, Terror began bombarding the Point at 8 p.m. Stonginton defenders fired back with the big 18-pounder cannon. Rockets and bombs fell upon the village. Battle of Stonington
Fires in the Night
The volunteers manned the cannons and used the light of fire from the British ships to aim their returning cannonade. The bombardment continued until midnight.
The defenders became a fire crew. Although no one was fighting the fires with organization, sufficient people ran out through bombs and rockets to put out the fires. No buildings were burned to the ground. One man was sleeping on a feather bed, but ran out to help when the bombng started. He noticed some smoke, but his feather bed smothered the bomb which fell onto the feather bed.
Overnight the Dispatch shipmoved close to shore (about 1/2 mile of the coast). Firing upon the small town began again. According to Caulkins with the eyewitness accounts, writes that it appeared impossible to survive the British bombardment. Shells on the flagpole, then shattered the barricade. Still the tiny group of men stayed until they ran out of powder. They rescued their flag, then "spiked the canon" to make them inoperable if the British captured them. Battle of Stonington
August 10 The defenders retreated as the British taunted with words " “We want balls; can’t you spare us a few?” The defenders returned with their own taunts, “When the powder comes, you shall have enough.” Men had lost their hats, their clothes were filthy with powder and faces blackened by powder. Battle of Stonington
Young Defenders Prevail at Great Cost
There was no organized effort to fight any fires that night, enough people dared the shower of bombs and rockets to put out any fires that started. No buildings burned to the ground.
Then the British returned again wi the Ramillies, shore and seemed ready to take up the unfinished job of the Dispatch. The Pactolus also drew nearer and anchored.
With a flag of truce, two men went to meet with Captain Hardy. Under a flag of truce they rowed out to the Pactolus to find out why the British had attacked Stonington, to try to save it. Hardy accused them of of Stonington of providing torpedoes that Americans had used against British ships in Long Island Sound in the past. He also accused them of having the wife of the British vice-consul James Stewart at New London. They replied they had no torpedoes and the woman was not in their town. Hardy threatened to demolish Stonington. War of 1812
Aug 12, 1814 Bombardment began again. The Pactolus and Ramillies had worked their way even closer to the Point overnight.War of 1812
|British ships, Battle of Stonington|
Yet, British bombardment stopped.
- The volunteers managed to damage the Dispatch severely, hitting it below the water line. This killed British sailers, and damaged the rigging. The British ship withdrew out of their range.
- But one volunteer, Frederick Denison was hit in the knee, which became infected and he died.
Aug 13,1814 the British squadron set sail from Stonington without firing another shot, returning to its position at the mouth of the Thames River off New London.War of 1812
|Waymarker fo Battle of Stonington.|
- Most of the British shells landed in fields beyond the town center, but (40 buildings) had some damage, Valued at $3,500. The British suffered more with ( 21 killed) and over fifty wounded.
- War of 1812 Attack on Stonington.
- Stonington battle centennial, August 8, 9, 10, 1914 : official programme, Saturday, Sunday and Monday Publication date c1914] Topics Pageants -- Connecticut Stonington, Stonington (Conn.) -- History Publisher [Stonington, Conn. : Stonington Publishing Company