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Trumbull, J. Hammond (James Hammond) / The Defence of Stonington (Connecticut) Against a British Squadron, August 9th to 12th, 1814
(This file was
produced from images generously made available by The
Internet Archive/American Libraries.)


Defence of Stonington



AUGUST 9TH TO 12TH, 1814.

"Vixere fortes ante Agamemnona."




[Transcriber's Note: the various spellings of Ramilies have been retained
in the text. Similarly, some opening quotes are not always matched with
closing quotes.]













The repulse of a British squadron, at Stonington, by a few undisciplined
volunteers, having only two effective guns, imperfectly protected by a
low earth-work,--and this repulse accomplished without the loss of a
single life,--was not the least glorious achievement of the War of
1812-14. The fiftieth anniversary of the action is close at hand. Few
who witnessed,--only three or four who participated in it, survive. In
this day of great events, when armies and navies are gathered on a scale
of magnitude of which our fathers never dreamed,--when from the heights
of modern science, we look back to the guns and the ships of war of the
last generation, as to the toys of childhood,--when we are in the very
crisis of a war greater in itself, and waged for a grander issue, than
the world has hitherto witnessed,--it is not surprising that so few find
leisure or inclination to look from the present to the past, or to
recall to memory the heroism of their fathers.

Yet there are some for whom the story of _The Attack_ has not yet lost
its interest. They learned it in childhood, from the lips of those who
shared the perils and the glory of the action. They grew up, amid
associations which could hardly fail to kindle an honest pride in their
birth-place. To them, the "Tenth of August" was not merely a
school-holiday, but an anniversary entitled to equal honors with
Independence Day itself. They have helped draw the "old Eighteens,"
through the streets of the Borough, in solemn procession to the site of
the demolished Battery. They have seen the cherished Flag--pierced and
torn in a dozen places by the enemy's shot,--float again from the
flag-staff, in honor of the day: and some of them were standing by when
"Old Hickory" bared his head to salute it, and bade the citizens
preserve, with all care, this precious memorial of the courage and
patriotism of their townsmen.

It is for these--the companions of my own school-days,--and in honor of
the volunteers of 1814, that I have reproduced some of the contemporary
accounts of the attack and defence of Stonington. The first (pp. 9-20)
was written by Col. Samuel Green, the publisher of the _Connecticut
Gazette_, who visited the Borough during the action, and obtained his
knowledge of facts of which he was not an eye-witness, from the actors
themselves and from official sources. This account, printed in the
_Gazette_, of August 17th, was copied into many of the newspapers in the
northern states, and appeared in Niles's _Weekly Register_, November
5th, with some additional particulars.

Following this, are copies of the muster-roll of the Borough company of
militia; the official account furnished for publication by the
magistrates, warden and burgesses (pp. 24-32); and a letter from Capt.
Amos Palmer, chairman of the citizens' committee of defence, to Mr.
Crawford, secretary of war, containing a concise narrative of the
action. Philip Freneau's _Battle of Stonington_,--though not of the
highest order of lyric excellence,--challenges favorable comparison with
many of the loyal effusions which have found their way to the public,
during the present war; and will be welcomed as an old friend by some
who value patriotism more than poetry. T.

_Hartford, Conn., July 28th, 1864._


[From the Conn. Gazette, Aug. 17th, 1814.]



On Tuesday the 9th instant, at 5 P. M. the _Ramilies_, 74, _Pactolus_,
38, a bomb ship, and the _Dispatch_, 22 gun brig, arrived off
Stonington, and a flag was sent on shore with the following note--

"_On board his Majesty's Ship, Ramilies,
Stonington, Aug. 9._

Gentlemen--One hour is allowed you from the receipt of this
communication, for the removal of the unoffending inhabitants.


This notification was received by two magistrates[3] and Lieutenant
Hough of the drafted militia, who went off to meet the flag. The officer
was asked whether a flag would not be received on board. He said no
arrangements could be made. They inquired whether Com. Hardy had
determined to destroy the town. He replied that such were his orders
from the Admiral, and that it would be done most effectually.

When the gentlemen reached the shore, a crowd waited with great anxiety
for the news; which being stated, consternation flew through the town.
An express was despatched to General Cushing,[4] at New London. A number
of volunteers hastened to collect ammunition; others ran to the battery,
which consisted of two 18 pounders and a 4 pounder, on field carriages,
with a slight breast work, 4 feet high. The sick and the aged were
removed with haste: the women and children, with loud cries, were seen
running in every direction. Some of the most valuable articles were
hastily got off by hand, others placed in the gardens and lots, or
thrown into wells, to save them from the impending conflagration. The
sixty minutes expired, but the dreaded moment did not bring the attack.
Nelson's favorite hero and friend was seized with the compunctions of
magnanimity;--he remembered what ancient Britons were; he remembered
that something was due to the character of Sir Thomas M. Hardy. Three
hours in fact elapsed, when at 8 in the evening the attack was commenced
by a discharge of shells from the bomb ship. Several barges and
launches had taken their stations in different points, from whence they
threw Congreve rockets, and carcasses. This mode of attack was continued
incessantly till midnight; and the fire was returned occasionally from
the battery, as the light of the rockets gave opportunity with any
chance of success.

The few drafted militia which had been sometime stationed there, under
command of Lieutenant Hough, were placed in the best directions to give
an alarm in case a landing should be attempted. During the night the
volunteers and militia had assembled in considerable numbers; and the
non-combatant inhabitants had generally removed to the neighboring
farm-houses, in the momentary expectation of seeing their abandoned
dwellings in flames. It was a night of inexpressible anguish to many a
widow and orphan, to many aged and infirm, whose little pittance they
were now apparently to lose forever. But Providence directed otherwise.
This compact little village of 100 buildings had been for four hours
covered with flames of fire and bomb shells, and not a single building
was consumed nor a person injured.

At the dawn of day on the 10th, the approach of the enemy was announced
by a discharge of Congreve rockets from several barges and a launch,
which had taken their station, on the east side of the town, and out of
reach of the battery. Several volunteers, with small arms and the four
pounder, hastened across the point, supposing the enemy were attempting
a landing. Colonel Randall of the 13th regiment, who at the time was
moving towards the battery with a detachment of militia, ordered them to
assist the volunteers in drawing over one of the 18 pounders to the
extreme end of the point; the fire of which in a few minutes compelled
the barges to seek safety in flight. During this time the brig was
working up towards the Point, and soon after sunrise came to anchor,
short of half a mile from the battery, (or more correctly, the
breastwork). Our ammunition being soon exhausted, the guns were spiked,
and the men who fought them, being only about 15 or 20,[5] retired,
leaving them behind for want of strength to drag them off.

The brig now continued deliberately to pour her 32 pound shot and grape
into the Village, without our having the power of returning a shot, for
an hour, and the bomb ketch occasionally threw in shells. A fresh supply
of ammunition being obtained, the 18 pounder was withdrawn from the
breastwork, the vent drilled, and the piece taken back again, when such
an animated and well directed fire was kept up, that at 3 o'clock the
brig slipped her cable and hauled off, with her pumps going, having
received several shots below her water line, and considerable damage in
her spars, &c. During this action between the eighteen pounder and the
brig, Mr. Frederick Denison was slightly wounded in the knee,[6] by a
fragment of a rock, and Mr. John Miner, badly burnt in his face by the
premature discharge of the gun. The flag, which was nailed to the mast,
was pierced with seven shot holes,[7] the breast-work somewhat injured,
and 6 or 8 of the dwelling-houses in the vicinity essentially injured.
At this time a considerable body of militia had arrived, and
Brigadier-General Isham[8] had taken the command; the inhabitants had
recovered from the consternation of the first moments; and were
deliberately moving off their furniture and goods. At 1 o'clock the
Ramilies and Pactolus had taken stations about two and a half miles from
the town, when resistance appearing hopeless, the Magistrates as a last
resort applied to the General for permission to send a flag off, being
impressed with the opinion that there must exist some latent cause of a
peculiar nature to induce a commander who had heretofore distinguished
himself for a scrupulous regard to the claims of honorable warfare,--to
induce him to commit an act so repugnant to sound policy, so abhorrent
to his nature, so flagrant an outrage on humanity. The General, we
understand, would not sanction, nor did he absolutely prohibit, a flag
being sent. They, therefore, on their own responsibility, sent on board
the Ramilies, Isaac Williams and Wm. Lord, Esquires, with the following

Copy.) _Stonington August 10, 1814._

SIR--Agreeable to notice received from you yesterday, this town is now
cleared of "unoffending inhabitants," and they feeling anxious about the
fate of their village, are desirous to know from you, your determination
respecting it. Yours, &c.

_Amos Denison_, Burgess.
_William Lord_, Magistrate.

The deputation proceeded on board the Ramilies, and shortly after an
officer informed the boatmen that they might return to the shore, as the
gentlemen would be landed in a boat from the ship; and that Captain
Hardy had declared that no further hostilities would be committed
against the town. After remaining on board an hour, or more, the
deputation were conveyed in a flag from the ship, which was met by one
from the shore. They brought with them a very singular and extraordinary
communication. An exact copy cannot at present be obtained, as official
etiquette will not permit; but having read it when it was received on
shore, as far as memory serves us, it was as follows:

_On board H. M. Ship Ramilies, off Stonington, Aug. 10._

GENTLEMEN--You having given assurances that no torpedoes have been
fitted out from Stonington; and having engaged to exert your influence
to prevent any from being fitted out or receiving any aid from your
town: If you send on board this ship tomorrow at eight o'clock, Mrs.
Stewart, wife of James Stewart esq. late His Majesty's Consul at New
London, and their children, I engage that no further hostilities shall
be committed against Stonington; otherwise I shall proceed to destroy it
effectually.--For which purpose I possess ample means.

T. M. HARDY, Capt.

This letter was received indignantly. No answer was given. It was a fact
well known that no torpedoes have been fitted out at Stonington, and
that the inhabitants are unfriendly to the system; but neither
individuals nor the town have power to prevent their resorting to that
place. The condition _sine qua non_, is truly _tragi-farcical_. Neither
the town of Stonington or the State of Connecticut, had any legal power
to comply with it, which Capt. Hardy well knew. And if Stonington Point
with its rocky foundations had been in danger of being blown up,
scarcely a voice would have been raised to have saved it on such
disgraceful terms. The first duty of a citizen we are taught in
Connecticut, is to obey the laws. Mrs. Stewart is under the protection
of the government of the United States, and the petition of her husband
for a permission for a departure is in the hands of a proper authority,
who will undoubtedly decide correctly in the case.[9]

Our countrymen at a distance, from the importance Capt. Hardy has
attached to the circumstance of Mrs. Stewart's being sent off to the
British squadron, may possibly apprehend that she has received insult,
or signified some fears for the personal safety of herself and
children.--So far from this being the fact, no lady ever experienced
greater civilities from the citizens; as no one has better deserved
them. And her feelings during the proceedings at Stonington, demanded
the sympathy of her friends.

By the terms offered by Capt. Hardy, it was impossible to discover
whether he was most doubtful of his ability to accomplish the
destruction of the town, or desirous of a pretext to save it. He assured
the gentlemen who accompanied the flag that this was the most unpleasant
expedition he had undertaken.

The truce on the part of the enemy having expired at 8 o'clock on
Thursday morning, a flag was soon after observed at the battery to be
coming on shore, and there not being sufficient time to give information
of the fact at head quarters and receive instructions, it was determined
by the officer then commanding to send a boat off to receive the
communication. Mr. Faxon, of Stonington, took charge of the boat, met
the flag, and offered to convey the dispatch agreeable to its
directions. The British officer, Lieut. Claxton, questioned his
authority to receive it; enquired whether Mrs. Stewart would be sent
off; and said he would go on shore. Mr. Faxon replied, that he knew
nothing of Mrs. Stewart; and that if he attempted to proceed for the
shore, he would undoubtedly be fired on. He continued his course, when
a centinel was directed to fire forward of the boat, but the ball passed
through the after sail. They immediately put about and steered for the
ship; the lieutenant swearing revenge, for what he termed an insult to
his flag.

An explanation of the circumstance was immediately transmitted by
General Isham to Capt. Hardy, which he received as satisfactory.

At the moment, a flag had started for the Ramilies,[10] from the civil
authority of the town, which was received on board; by which was sent
the following letter:--

_Stonington Boro', Aug. 14, 1814._
TO THOMAS M. HARDY, _Commander of H.B.M. Ship Ramilies_.

Sir--Since the flag went into New London for Mrs. Stewart, and family,
General Cushing, who commands at New London, has written, we are
informed, to the Secretary of War on the subject, and it is our opinion
that the request will be complied with. But whatever may be the result
of the communication from Gen. Cushing, you will be satisfied it is not
in our power to enter into any arrangement with you respecting her.

From yours, &c.

Isaac Williams, }
William Lord, } _Magistrates._
Alexander G. Smith, }
Joseph Smith, _Warden._
Geo. Hubbard,} _Burgesses._
Amos Denison,}

To this letter, Capt. Hardy replied verbally, that he should allow till
12 o'clock for Mrs. Stewart to be brought on board.[11] At this time the
principal part of three regiments of militia had arrived, and the town
was perfectly secure against a landing.

At 3 o'clock, the bomb ship commenced throwing shells into the town; and
being out of reach of our cannon, the General withdrew the militia,
excepting a guard of 50 men who were ordered to patrol the streets for
the extinguishment of fire, should any happen. The bombardment continued
till evening.

On Friday morning the bomb ship renewed her operations a little before
sunrise, while the Ramilies and Pactolus were warping in. At eight
o'clock the frigate opened her fire and was soon followed by the
Ramilies. At this time the cannon were ordered to be moved to the north
end of the town, where they would have been serviceable if an attempt
had been made to land under cover of the ships. This was a very
hazardous service, as the party would be entirely exposed to the fire of
the enemy. Volunteers in sufficient numbers instantly offered their
services; among whom were upwards of twenty of the Norwich artillery.
The command of the party was entrusted to Lieutenant Lathrop,[12] of
that corps. They marched to the battery and brought off the pieces
without the smallest accident; exhibiting all the steadiness which
characterises veteran soldiers.

This tremendous cannonade and bombardment continued till nearly noon,
when it ceased; and about four o'clock the ships hauled off to their
former anchorage.

During the succeeding night a large force was kept on guard, in the
expectation and hope that a landing would be attempted. The militia
during this afflicting scene discovered the very best disposition, and
were eager to take revenge of the enemy or sacrifice their lives in the

It may be considered miraculous that during the several attacks, while
so many were exposed to this terrible and protracted bombardment and
cannonade, not a person was killed, and but five or six wounded, and
those but slightly. Among the wounded is Lieutenant Hough[13] of the
drafted militia.

On Saturday morning the enemy relinquished the hope of burning the town,
weighed anchor, and proceeded up Fisher's Island sound.

The volunteers who so gloriously fought in the battery, deserve the
thanks of their country. No men could have done better. Their example
will have the happiest influence.

About forty buildings are more or less injured, 8 or 10 essentially so;
and two or three may be considered as ruined. The damage was principally
done by the brig. Many shells did not explode, several were
extinguished. The Congreve Rockets which were frightful at first, lost
their terrors, and effected little.

The inhabitants, fearing another attack, have not returned to their
dwellings, and their desolate situation calls loudly upon the
philanthropy of their fellow citizens. If a brief should be granted for
collections in the churches of the State we trust very essential aid
will be furnished. Nineteen-twentieths of the inhabitants, it is said,
have no other property than their dwellings.

A Nantucket man has been on board the British fleet to redeem his boat,
and learned that the Dispatch had 2 men killed and 12 wounded; her loss
was undoubtedly much greater.

* * * * *


[From the Conn. Gazette, Aug. 24th.]

The following is handed us as a list of the volunteers (tho' presumed
not entirely perfect,) of those who so bravely stood the brunt of the
attack of Stonington Point:--

Of _Stonington_:--

Capt. George Fellows, Gurdon Trumbull,
Capt. Wm. Potter, Alex. G. Smith,
Dr. Wm. Lord, Amos Denison jun.,
Lieut. H. G. Lewis, Stanton Gallup,
Ensign D. Frink, Eb. Morgan,
John Miner.

Of _Mystic_:--

Jesse Deane, Jeremiah Holmes,
Deane Gallup, N. Cleft,
Fred. Haley, Jedediah Reed.

Of _Groton_:--

Alfred White, Frank Daniels,
Ebenezer Morgan, Giles Moran.

Of _New London_:--

Major Simeon Smith,
Capt. Noah Lester (formerly of the Army),
Major N. Frink, Lambert Williams.

From _Massachusetts_:--

Capt. Leonard, and Mr. Dunham.

[From the Conn. Gazette, Aug. 31st.]

By an error of the compositor, the following names were omitted in the
list published in our last paper, of volunteers who so greatly
contributed to the glorious defence and preservation of Stonington,

Simeon Haley, Thomas Wilcox,
Jeremiah Haley, Luke Palmer,
Frederick Denison, George Palmer,
John Miner, Wm. G. Bush,
Asa Lee.

There were probably others, whom we have not learnt.

[From the original in the Comptroller's office, at Hartford.]

MUSTER ROLL of the 8th Company of Infantry under the command of CAPTAIN
WM. POTTER in the Thirtieth Regiment of Con. Militia in service of the
United States, at Stonington, commanded by Lieut. Col. WM. RANDALL, from
the 9th of August when last mustered, to the 27th of August 1814.--

_Names and Rank. Commencement Expiration Alterations and Remarks
of service. of service. Remarks since last

_Captain_, William Potter, Aug. 9 Aug. 27
_Lieut._ Horatio G. Lewis, " 9 " 27
{detached for service
_Ensign_, Daniel Frink, " 9 " 23 { and ordered to N.
{ London, Aug. 22.
Francis Amy, " 19 " 27
Charles H. Smith, " 9 " 27
Peleg Hancox, " 22 " 27
Gurdon Trumbull, " 9 " 27
Azariah Stanton jr., " 16 " 27
Junia Cheesebrough, " 9 " 27
Joshua Swan jr., " 22 " 27
{detached for service
Phineas Wilcox, " 9 " 23 { and ordered to N.
{ London, Aug. 23.
Hamilton White, " 9 " 27
{detached for service
Henry Wilcox, " 9 " 23 { and ordered to N.
{ London, Aug. 23.
Nathan Wilcox, " 9 " 27
Samuel Burtch, " 9 " 27
Jonathan Palmer, " 9 " 27
Andrew P. Stanton, " 9 " 27
James Stanton, Aug. 9 Aug. 27
Thomas Breed, " 9 " {Volunteer exempt,
{discharg., Aug. 17.
Amos Loper, " 9 " {Volunteer exempt,
{discharg., Aug. 20.
Samuel Bottum, Jr., " 9 " 27
{Produced certificate
Benj. Merritt, " 9 " {of parole on 15th
{Aug. & discharged.
Elisha Cheesebrough Jr., " 9 " 27
{detached for service
Christopr. Wheeler, " 9 " 23 { & ordered to New
{ London, Aug. 23.
Amos Hancox, " 9 " 27
Zebadiah Palmer, " 15 " 27
Nathl. Waldron, " 15 " 27
Thomas Spencer, " 19 " 27
Nathl. M. Pendleton, " 20 " 27
Simon Carew, " 22 " 27
Elisha Faxon Jun., " 22 " 27
{detached for service
Ebenezer Halpin, " 22 " 23 { & ordered to New
{ London, Aug. 23.
{detached for service
Asa Wilcox Jun., " 22 " 23 { & ordered to New
{ London, 23 Aug.
Warren Palmer, " 22 " 27
{Waiter to Capt.
Joseph Bailey Jun. } " 9 " 27 {Wm. Potter.
}_Waiters_, " " 23 {Waiter to Lieut.
Nathl. Lewis, } {G. Lewis

I certify, upon honor, that this Muster Roll exhibits a true statement
of the 8th Company; and that the remarks set opposite the men's names
are accurate and just.


We certify upon honor, that the foregoing Muster Roll exhibits a true
statement of Captain William Potter's Company; and that the remarks set
opposite the men's names are accurate and just.

JOHN JAMIESON JR., _Asst. Adjt. Genl. &
Mustering Officer, per order_.

WM LORD, _Regimental Surgeon_.


[From the Conn. Gazette, Sept. 7th,]

_Stonington Borough, Aug. 29, 1814._

_Mr._ Green--In relation to the extraordinary attack of the enemy, of
the 9th inst., on this village, the public have been furnished with
various accounts; and though the circumstantial and generally correct
account given in your paper [of the 7th of August,] precludes the
necessity of a recapitulation of the whole transaction, yet this village
having been the object of the attack and resentment of Sir Thomas, the
Magistrates, Warden and Burgesses residing therein, feeling deeply
interested that some official document comprehending a supply of some
facts not given, and alteration of others, and a general statement
relative to the whole, should be published,--offer the public the
following statement:

On Tuesday afternoon of the 9th inst. anchored off our harbor, the
frigate _Pactolus_, the _Terror_, a bomb ship, and the brig _Dispatch_
of 20 guns. From the difficulty of the navigation in Fisher's Island
Sound, we have been generally impressed that such ships of war dare not
approach us; but the presumption of the enemy has created new fears, and
we think it our duty to say, that further means of defence and
protection ought to be afforded us; this we have often requested.
Various were the opinions respecting the object of the enemy, but soon
all was settled. A flag was discovered to leave the frigate and row
towards the town. The impropriety of suffering them to come on more was
suggested; and a boat was immediately obtained, Capt. Amos Palmer,
William Lord Esq., and Lieut. Hough of the detachment here, selected,
and the flag of the enemy met by ours, when we received the following
unexpected and short notice--(This not having been furnished the public
correctly we give it at length:)

_His Britannic Majesty's ship_ PACTOLUS,
_9th of August, 1814, halfpast 5 o'clock, P. M._

Not wishing to destroy the unoffending inhabitants residing in the town
of Stonington, one hour is given them from the receipt of this, to
remove out of the town.

T. M. HARDY, _Capt. of H. B. M.

_To the Inhabitants of the Town of Stonington._

From the date of this communication it will appear that Commander Hardy
was himself on board the Pactolus to direct the attack; the _Ramilies_
then laying at anchor at the west end of Fisher's Island. The people
assembled in great numbers to hear what was the word from the enemy;
when the above was read aloud. The enemy in the barge lay upon their
oars a few moments, probably to see the crowd and if some consternation
might not prevail. Whatever effect was produced, this we know, that Sir
Thomas's "unoffending inhabitants" did not agree to give up the ship,
though threatened by a force competent, in a human view, to destroy
them, when compared with the present means of defence in their power. It
was exclaimed, from old and young, _We will defend_. The male citizens,
though duly appreciating the humanity of Sir Thomas, in not wishing to
destroy them, thought proper to defend their wives and their children,
and, in many instances, all their property; and we feel a pleasure in
saying that a united spirit of defence prevailed, and, during the short
hour granted us, expresses were sent to Gen. Cushing at New London, and
to Col. Randall,[15] whose regiment resided nearest to the scene of
danger. The detachment stationed here under Lieut. Hough was embodied;
Capt. Potter, residing within the Borough, gave orders to assemble all
the officers and men under his command that could be immediately
collected. They cheerfully and quickly assembled, animated with the true
spirit of patriotism. The ammunition for our two 18-pounders and
4-pounder was collected at the little breast-work erected by ourselves.
The citizens of the Borough, assisted by two strangers from
Massachusetts, manned the 18-pounders at the breast-work, and also the
4-pounder. One cause of discouragement, only, seemed to prevail, which
was the deficiency of ammunition for the cannon. This circumstance,
however, together with the superior force arrayed against us, did not
abate the zeal for resistance. Such guards of musketry as were in our
power to place, were stationed at different points on the shores. In
this state of preparation we waited the attack of the enemy. About 8
o'clock in the evening they commenced by the fire of a shell from the
bomb-ship, which was immediately returned by a shot from our 18-pounder.
This attack of the enemy was immediately succeeded by one from three
launches and four barges, surrounding the point, throwing rockets and
shot into the village. This also was returned as often as, by the light
of the rockets streaming from the barges, we could discover them.
Assisted by the above military force, the inhabitants alone, some
seventy years old, defended the town until about 11 o'clock; and had it
not been for the spirited resistance manifested, a landing no doubt,
would have been effected. At this time Col. Randall had arrived, and
having issued orders to the militia under his command, they began to
assemble, and from the short notice given them were truly prompt and
active in appearing at the post of danger: some volunteers had also
arrived. From this additional strength, the apprehensions of the enemy's
landing, in a measure vanished. Their shells, rockets and carcasses,
having been prevented from spreading the destruction intended, they
ceased firing them about 12 o'clock. All was still from this time until
day-light. A fire of rockets and shot from the launches and barges again
commenced, which was spiritedly returned from our artillery taken from
the breast-work, in open view of the enemy and exposed to their shot, on
the end of the point, and they [were] compelled to recede. This truly
hazardous service was nobly performed. Col. Randall having been prompt
in his appearance, as were all the officers and soldiers of his
regiment, they were now organized, ready and eager to receive our
invaders. From the spirit manifested among the citizens, volunteers and
soldiers, and the judicious arrangements made of the troops assembled,
had a landing been attempted a good account would no doubt have been
given of them. We were now also assisted by numbers of volunteers. The
barges having receded from the fire of our four and eighteen-pounder on
the Point, they were taken back to the breast-work.

About 8 o'clock in the morning of Wednesday, the Brig [_Dispatch_]
hauled within half a mile of our breast-work, and opened a well directed
and animated fire. Our few guns being now well manned by citizens and
volunteers, from Stonington, New London, Mistick and Groton, they were
ready to receive her. Her fire was returned with a spirit and courage
rarely to be equalled,--and of those gallant souls who stood this
conflict, we can only say, they gloriously did their duty. Heroes having
so nobly acted, with ours, will receive the plaudit of their country.
What effect such bravery had on the enemy, will appear from the fact,
that the brig was compelled to cut her cable and retire out of reach of
our shot. Her anchor has since been taken up, with a number of fathoms
of cable. No attack was afterwards made by the brig. This contest with
the brig (called the _Dispatch_), continued on our part from the
breast-work until the ammunition was expended. To this circumstance,
unfortunately for the village and mortifying to those so gallantly
engaged in the defence, may be attributed the principal injury sustained
by the buildings. For two hours or more, she kept up a constant fire
without having it in our power to return a shot: during which time, we
are confident, had there been a supply of ammunition, she would have
been taught the use and meaning of her name.

The further particulars which transpired on Wednesday and Thursday,
having been noticed by you, in the publication above referred to, very
correctly, the public must be satisfied without any comments from us. In
the publication of the transactions of Friday, we have discovered one
error. Amidst the combined fire of the Ramilies, frigate and bomb-ship,
Lieut. Lathrop and volunteers from the Norwich Artillery, in fact did
proceed, to undertake in assisting to get off the cannon from the
breast-work, but they met other brave lads who had accomplished this
hazardous duty. The praise therefore of this performance, however they
may have distinguished themselves in other duties, is not correctly

In passing the proceedings of Thursday and Friday, we would not overlook
the singular communication received from Commodore Hardy, which preceded
the fire on Thursday. Two subjects esteemed very important by Sir Thomas
seem connected, Torpedoes and Mrs. Stewart,--a lady we presume worthy of
the notice even of Commodore Hardy. But a demand made on those with
whom, it was well known, no power existed to comply, is not a little
extraordinary: besides, this communication is totally different from and
unconnected with the one it was sent as an answer to. It would appear
from reading the documents, that assurances were given that no torpedoes
ever did, or ever should, go from this place. This was not the fact; no
promises or confessions of any kind were ever made. To this singular
letter no general reply was given; that part, only, [was] noticed,
relative to Mrs. Stewart.

The enemy left us on Friday, without having accomplished that
destruction which they told us was to be effected. The damage done the
buildings is estimated at about four thousand dollars. This would
undoubtedly have been much greater, had not the volunteer vigilant
firemen[16] from Capt. Potter's company before mentioned, and others,
continued firm at their posts, determined that not a flame kindled by
those fiery engines of the enemy but should be extinguished,--and it was
done. This duty, perhaps, was as important and useful for the salvation
of the village, as any performed during the conflict.

The list of individuals given to the public as distinguishing themselves
during the contest, we esteem very imperfect. To give a correct list of
all those who did distinguish themselves in the various duties that were
performed, is not easy to do; we shall therefore forbear. Having thought
proper to bestow a just tribute of praise on the officers and soldiers
of the 30th Regiment, who first arrived at the scene of action, it
becomes us to express, also, the high sense which we entertain of the
services and judicious and soldier-like conduct of Brigadier-General
Isham, and the officers and soldiers of the 8th and 20th Regiments,
assembled under his command.

During this protracted bombardment, nothing more excites our
astonishment and gratitude than this, that not a man was killed on our
part. We understand from good authority, the enemy had a number killed
and several badly wounded,[17] in this unprovoked attack upon us.

We have made some estimate of the number of shells and fire carcasses
thrown into the village, and we find there has been about three hundred.
The amount of metal fired by the enemy will exceed, we think, fifty
tons. About three or four tons of bombs, carcasses and shot have been

WILLIAM LORD, }_Magistrates._
GEO. HUBBARD, } _Burgesses._


[Footnote A: "Some respectable citizens from motives of curiosity
weighed several shells &c., and found their weight to be as follows.

One of the largest carcasses, partly full of the combustible, 216 lb.
One of the smallest sort do. 103
One of the largest kind empty, 189
One of the largest bomb shells, 189
One of the smallest do. 90
One, marked on it (fire 16 lb) 16

One of the largest carcasses partly full, was set on fire, which burnt
half an hour, emitting a horrid stench; in a calm the flame would rise
ten feet. Some of the rockets were sharp pointed, others not, made of
sheet iron very thick, containing at the lower end some of them a fusee
of grenade, calculated to burst, and if they were taken hold of before
the explosion, might prove dangerous; one or two persons received injury
in this way. They appear to contain a greater variety of combustibles
than the fire carcasses.]


[From Niles's Weekly Register, Oct. 21, 1815.]


The defence of Stonington by a handful of brave citizens was more like
an effusion of feeling, warm from the heart, than a concerted military
movement. The result of it, we all know, and it afforded sincere delight
to every patriot. But the particulars we have never seen so accurately
described as in the following concise narrative from the chairman of the
committee of defence, to the Secretary of War, of which we have been
provided with a copy for publication.--_Nat. Intelligencer._

"Stonington Borough, Aug. 21, 1815.
To the Hon. Wm. H. Crawford,
Secretary of War.


The former Secretary of War put into my hands, as chairman of the
committee of defence, the two 18-pounders and all the munitions of war
that were here, belonging to the general government, to be used for the
defence of the town,--and I gave my receipt for the same.

As there is no military officer here, it becomes my duty to inform you
[of] the use we have made of it. That on the 9th of August last [year],
the _Ramilies_ 74, the _Pactolus_ 44, the _Terror_ bomb-ship, and the
_Despatch_ gun brig, anchored off the harbor. Commodore Hardy sent off a
boat, with a flag; we met him with another from the shore, when the
officer of the flag handed me a note from Commodore Hardy, informing
that one hour was given the unoffending inhabitants, before the town
would be destroyed.

We returned to the shore, where all the male inhabitants were collected,
when I read the note aloud; they all exclaimed, they would defend the
place to the last extremity, and if it was destroyed, they would be
buried in the ruins.

We repaired to a small battery that we had hove up--nailed our colors to
the flag staff--others lined the shore with their muskets.

At about seven in the evening, they put off five barges and a large
launch, carrying from 32 to 9 lb.

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Main -> Trumbull, J. Hammond (James Hammond) -> The Defence of Stonington (Connecticut) Against a British Squadron, August 9th to 12th, 1814