The Patuxent Naval Campaign in the War of 1812
With the Royal Navy’s offensives in the Chesapeake Bay during the War of 1812 came devastating raids that wreaked havoc on the small villages along its shores and the very economy of the region. American naval forces were incapable of wresting control of the Tidewater from the superior enemy forces. Then in 1814 Captain Joshua Barney, a rare American hero during the struggle, intrepidly led his Chesapeake Flotilla against the invaders, determined to contest their advance on the nation’s capital and drive them from the region.
Donald G. Shomette, director of the archaeological excavation of the flotilla’s flagship, substantially revises the first edition of this captivating history with new information about Barney, his crew, and the mosquito fleet of gunboats and war barges that so valiantly fought the British. He sheds new light on the efforts of the U.S. Flotilla Service to build a viable coastal defense force. Shomette details the construction and manning of the famed Chesapeake Flotilla and recounts the terrifying details of British attacks on the towns, plantations, and farms throughout the bay region.
Doomed from its conception by sparse funds and the natural limitations of the bay’s coastline, the flotilla ultimately suffered defeat. Yet its efforts were not completely in vain. Turning back wave after wave of British attacks, the fleet earned an improbable victory at St. Leonard’s Creek and its men went on to make heroic stands at the battles of Bladensburg and Fort McHenry in 1814.
The thoroughly updated and enlarged edition of Flotilla is the result of impressive research on a forgotten chapter in the development of the young nation’s naval and maritime tradition.
About the Authors
Donald G. Shomette is a marine archaeologist and cultural resource manager in Dunkirk, Maryland. He is the author of many books, including Shipwrecks, Sea Raiders, and Maritime Disasters along the Delmarva Coast, 1632–2004, also published by Johns Hopkins.
"As the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 approaches, Donald Shomette's book, updated from a similar work published by him in 1981, is a most appropriate addition to the literature."
"Flotilla is valuable both to those interested in naval history, and to those focusing on small boat and irregular warfare strategies. I highly recommend it."
"A rare look at the complex nature of the naval war and its impact on the inhabitants of Tidewater Maryland and the nation's capitol at Washington, D.C... Shomette details all of this with meticulous research in archives on both sides of the Atlantic."
"Flotilla is a colorful, detailed history of Barney and his Sailors and the amphibiious war waged in the Chesapeake By in the summers of 1813 and 1814... Shomette makes clear, they provided the only light in one of the darkest periods in American military history."
"Flotilla offers considered treatment of both the British and American sides of the Patuxtent campaign... an invaluable resource: a mine of information for scholars of the war, and more-than-penetrable for the casual reader."
"It is well written, and filled with details and facts that bring the story of this campaign to life."
"Shomette is a scholar and a gifted writer, and his work is eminently readable as human drama... I heartily recommend Flotilla as essential to students of this war and to general readers of fine military history."
"The scholarship and breadth of understanding demonstrated in the new edition of Flotilla shine a bright light on this important part of our history, and make this an indispensable resource for students of the era."
"Flotilla is a delight to read, carefully crafted and nicely paced, mixing telling human interventions from key players with analysis of the unfolding drama. The illustrations, contemporary drawings, portraits and modern maps are ideally placed... This will be an essential text for students of war, and of maritime strategy."
"Flotilla is a highly readable account for layman and scholar alike, and presents a much-needed examination of an aspect of this often overlooked war that is essential to any collection concerning the War of 1812 and naval history."
"Not simply a day-to-day history of the inception, fielding, fighting, and ultimate destruction of the Chesapeake Flotilla, but also a comprehensive view of the complex nature and incredible impact of the naval war of 1812 as it was played out on the turbid waters of the Patuxent River."
"All scholars of the War of 1812 will be happy to have an updated version of this valuable tome available. Shomette is the leading authority on the subject, and his book is indispensable for understanding the war in the Chesapeake."
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