Tag Archives: Memorial Day

CONCLUSION: AMERICA’S QUASI-NAVAL WAR WITH FRANCE (1798-1801)

HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY! Ending this holiday weekend’s dose of seasonal posts is this concluding part of Balladeer’s Blog’s look at America’s undeclared naval war with France from 1798 to 1801. FOR PART ONE CLICK HERE  . 

Enterprise

MAY ?, 1800: (Some sources place this action in late April) The USS Boston, commanded by “the American Horatio Nelson” himself, Captain George Little, was in the Bight of Leogane, where it fought and sank a force of six French-allied ships in the navy of Hyacinth Rigaud. (Rigaud’s infamy was covered in Part One)

MAY ??, 1800: The Adams recaptured an unidentified vessel which had previously been taken by the French and converted for its navy’s use.

MAY ??, 1800: The Insurgent and the Adams teamed up to liberate an unidentified British privateer ship from the French craft which had captured it.

MAY ??, 1800: The Adams recaptured the Nancy (one of many vessels with that name), a ship previously seized by the French for their own navy.

MAY ??, 1800: The Adams defeated and captured the French ship Grinder

MAY ??, 1800: A very busy month for the Adams came to an end as the feisty vessel overcame three to one odds to defeat and capture the French ships the Dove, the Renommee and a third ship whose name has not come down to us.   

MAY 31st, 1800: The John Adams (separate vessel from the Adams) recaptured the American brig Olive from the French.  

JUNE 6th, 1800: The Merrimack battled the French vessel L’Hazard in order to free the French ship’s latest capture – the American Ceres.  The Merrimack succeeded in liberating the Ceres. Continue reading

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AMERICA’S QUASI- NAVAL WAR WITH FRANCE: 1798-1801

USS ConstellationMemorial Day Weekend rolls along with another topical post from Balladeer’s Blog. This one covers some naval actions from America’s undeclared, neither fish nor fowl, quasi-Naval War with France. Often called Stoddert’s War in reference to Benjamin Stoddert, America’s first Secretary of the Navy, this conflict was waged largely in the West Indies.

John Adams

John Adams

President John Adams wanted the infant United States Navy to protect American shipping in the West Indies from French vessels seizing our ships and sailors. The French Revolutionary government had adopted this policy to (in their view) “punish” the U.S. for not declaring war on France’s side in the Wars of the French Revolution.

Thus far America had remained neutral due to divided public opinion on the matter. Some voters felt the U.S. should join the war on the side of France but others felt that the current French Revolutionary government had overthrown, imprisoned and slain virtually all of the French figures who had aided America during our war against England, therefore negating any obligation on our part. (The paranoid French government had even jailed Thomas Paine when he visited the country.)

President John Adams later took great pride in keeping America out of an all-out land war. (Sentiment against France grew so strong that 80,000 men volunteered to serve against her. And don’t forget the rallying cry of “Millions for defense but not one cent for tribute!” following the X, Y and Z Affair.) Adams chose instead to act largely on defense by protecting our coastline, safeguarding U.S. shipping and expanding our Navy from three whole vessels (WOW!) to FIFTEEN.

Here are a few of the battles from this virtually unclassifiable conflict:

Stephen Decatur

U.S. Naval hero Stephen Decatur

JULY 7th, 1798: Off the New Jersey Coast, Captain Stephen Decatur, Sr led his 20-cannon Delaware against the 10-cannon French privateer craft La Croyable. The French vessel had just plundered the American merchant ship Alexander Hamilton. After a long chase and running fight La Croyable was seized by the Delaware. The French ship was renamed Retaliation and joined the growing U.S. Navy.

NOVEMBER 20th, 1798: Off Guadeloupe, the Retaliation (commanded now by William Bainbridge) ran afoul of two French vessels: the 40-cannon L’Insurgente and the 44-cannon Volontaire. The French opened fire and soon captured Retaliation, then imprisoned the crew in the hellish Basseterre Prison on St Kitts.   

FEBRUARY 9th, 1799: Nearly fifteen miles off the coast of the island of Nevis, American Captain Thomas “Terrible Tom” Truxton took his kickass nickname and his 36-cannon ship the Constellation into battle with the 40-cannon French vessel L’Insurgente. The battle began shortly after Noon and roughly two and a half hours later the French surrendered.     Continue reading

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FOUR NEGLECTED MILITARY UNITS FROM AMERICAN WARS

As part of this Memorial Day weekend Balladeer’s Blog offers an examination of neglected areas of United States military history.

Oneida Nation's First Allies Unit

Oneida Nation’s First Allies Unit

4. THE ONEIDA NATION’S FIRST ALLIES UNIT 

Conflict: Revolutionary War

Comment: The Oneida Nation of Native Americans were America’s first allies. During the Revolutionary War most Native American tribes sided with the British but the Oneida Nation’s Chief Shenendoah (sic), led his people to ally themselves with the emerging United States instead. The Oneida alliance with the U.S. therefore PREDATED France’s recognition of an independent America.

The Oneida warriors fought alongside American forces throughout upstate New York, most notably at the Battles of Oriskany and Saratoga. They also provided desperately needed food and medical supplies for the Continental Army during the terrible winter at Valley Forge. Two treaties were signed and honored to this very day regarding Oneida sovereignty, retention of their land and a yearly ceremonial delivery of bolts of cloth to the Oneida leaders. That ceremony continues once a  year.    Continue reading

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EVEN MORE MEDAL OF HONOR WINNERS FROM THE PHILIPPINE WAR (1899-1902)

With the Memorial Day Weekend coming up, here’s another seasonal post looking at Medal of Honor Winners in the overlooked Philippine War from 1899-1902.

Medal of Honor picFRANK C HIGH

Branch of Service: Army

Rank: Private First Class 

Citation: May 16th, 1899. Near San Ysidro in the Philippines. PFC High was yet another member of the legendary unit Young’s Scouts to receive a Medal of Honor during the Philippine War.

Along with 21 other members of Young’s Scouts, Frank charged across a bridge that the Filipino forces had set fire to. The 22 men rushed under heavy fire to cross the burning bridge before it collapsed. In one of those “Truth is Stranger Than Fiction” moments the soldiers routed roughly 600 Filipinos from their entrenched position.

George W MathewsGEORGE W MATHEWS

Branch of Service: Army

Rank: Captain

Citation: October 29th, 1899. Near Labo, Luzon. Captain Mathews, an Assistant Surgeon, was tending to officers and wounded of his unit when he came under severe fire from the enemy. Grabbing a carbine he returned fire and drove off the enemy soldiers attacking the patients under his care.

I like to think he shouted “Say hello to my little friend Hippocrates,” but I’m kind of weird.

WILLIAM REMSBURG GROVE

Branch of Service: Army

Rank: Lieutenant-Colonel Continue reading

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MEDALS OF HONOR FOR THE 1871 KOREAN EXPEDITION

Medal of HonorHAPPY MEMORIAL DAY! As always Balladeer’s Blog marks the event with a few looks at neglected conflicts from America’s past. The servicemen who fought in those actions are just as deserving of being memorialized as those who fought in more familiar wars.  

KOREAN EXPEDITION OF 1871 – A Diplomatic Mission was sent to Korea that year, with the time period’s usual military escort of war ships on such ventures. The U.S. expedition was snubbed on the diplomatic side and then Korean shore batteries opened fire upon the military escort. The Americans launched reprisal raids for a few days then departed, leaving U.S. – Korean relations somewhat cold for years afterward. Medal of Honor Winners:

William F LukesWILLIAM F LUKES

Navy Rank: Landsman 

Citation: June 9th – 10th, 1871 – During the assault on the Han River Forts on Ganghwa Island, Lukes came to the assistance of injured Lieutenant Hugh McKee. The Landsman fought his way through heavy resistance to the fallen McKee’s location and refused to abandon his comrade.

Through swordplay, bayonet charges and hand-to-hand combat William received a severe sword cut to the head, a wound which would cause him to suffer convulsions for the rest of his life from the brain damage. When American reinforcements arrived they found the unconscious Lukes had suffered 18 bayonet wounds in the fighting.   

JOHN ANDREWS Continue reading

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MORE MEDAL OF HONOR WINNERS FROM THE PHILIPPINE WAR (1899-1902)

Medals of HonorMemorial Day is fast approaching! In keeping with my blog’s theme of addressing items that slip through the cultural cracks I’m showcasing a few of the Congressional Medal of Honor winners from the neglected war the U.S. fought in the Philippines from 1899 to 1902.

Arthur M Ferguson

Arthur M Ferguson

ARTHUR M FERGUSON – Lieutenant Ferguson won the Medal for his actions on September 28th, 1899 near Porac on Luzon. Back in April of the same year Ferguson had won the Distinguished Service Cross for dangerous recon work he did against some Philippine forces at Calumpit. For the Medal of Honor Arthur had charged a body of the enemy, inflicting injuries and possible deaths all while capturing a Philippine Captain and returning with the prisoner to American lines.

WILLIS H DOWNS – Yet another member of Young’s Scouts, one of the most famous units of the Philippine War! Private Downs won the Medal for his actions on May 13th, 1899 at San Miguel de Mayumo on Luzon. Continue reading

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THE TEXAS NAVY: NEGLECTED MILITARY UNIT

Texas NavyThe Memorial Day Holiday is marked here at Balladeer’s Blog with items about neglected conflicts and neglected military units from American history. The latest unit to be examined is the Navy of the Republic of Texas. I’ll examine the period from the Texas Revolution against the tyrannical Mexican government up through the Texas Republic joining the U.S. as the State of Texas.

During the Fall Season of 1835 Texas rebelled against Mexico’s despotism and in March of 1836 officially declared their independence. On September 1st, 1835 two Texas ships – the San Felipe and Laura – clashed with the Mexican vessel Correo de Mejico. Maritime fallout from the incident severely limited Mexico’s efforts to prevent the rebellious Texans from importing arms and supplies for the conflict.

By November of 1835 the Texas government established an official navy to serve at sea and along the Rio Grande. Commodore Charles E Hawkins was in command. During the Texas Revolution their navy prevented the Mexican Navy from establishing a blockade of the new Republic’s coast and its port cities. Those naval forces simultaneously raided Mexican merchant ships, plundering supplies for the Texan land forces.  Continue reading

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