War Of 1812 Thomas Macdonough Battle Of Plattsburgh ~ 1859 Art Print Engraving

War Of 1812 Thomas Macdonough Battle Of Plattsburgh ~ 1859 Art Print Engraving

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War Of 1812 Thomas Macdonough Battle Of Plattsburgh ~ 1859 Art Print Engraving:

McDONOUGH POINTING THE GUN Battle of Lake Champlain

Artist: J. R. Chapin ____________ Engraver: F. F. Walker


PRINT DATE: This engraving was printed in 1859; it is not a modern reproduction in any way.

PRINT SIZE: Overall print size is 7 1/2 x 10 inches, image size is 5 1/2 by 7 1/2 inches.

PRINT CONDITION: Condition is excellent. Bright and clean. Blank on reverse. Heavy rag stock paper.

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The Battle of Plattsburgh, also known as the Battle of Lake Champlain, ended the final invasion of the northern states during the War of 1812. A British army under Lieutenant General Sir George Prévost and a naval squadron under Captain George Downie converged on the lakeside town of Plattsburgh, which was defended by American troops under Brigadier General Alexander Macomb and ships commanded by Master Commandant Thomas MacDonough. Downie's squadron attacked shortly after dawn on 11 September 1814, but was defeated after a hard fight in which Downie was killed. Prévost then abandoned the attack by land against Macomb's defences and retreated to Canada, stating that even if Plattsburgh was captured, it could not be supplied without control of the lake. The battle took place shortly before the signing of the Treaty of Ghent which ended the war. The American victory denied the British negotiators at Ghent leverage to demand any territorial claims against the United States on the basis of Uti possidetis i.e. retaining territory they held at the end of hostilities.

MacDonough had sent some of his gunboats to harass Prévost's advance, but he knew that his fleet was outgunned, particularly in long guns. He therefore withdrew into Plattsburgh Bay, where the British would be forced to engage at close range, at which the American and British squadrons would be roughly even in numbers and weight of short-range carronades. He used the time before Downie arrived to drill his sailors, and make preparations to fight at anchor. The ships were anchored in line from north to south in the order Eagle, Saratoga, Ticonderoga and Preble. They all had both bow and stern anchors, with "springs" attached to the anchor cables to allow the ships to be slewed through a wide arc. MacDonough also laid out extra kedge anchors from the quarters of his Flagship Saratoga, which would allow him to spin the ship completely around. The ten American gunboats were anchored in the intervals between the larger vessels. Although the British sloops and gunboats under Commander Pring were already on the Lake and at anchor near Chazy, and had set up a battery on Isle La Motte, Vermont, it took two days to tow the frigate Confiance up the Sorel River from Ile aux Noix, against both wind and current. Downie finally joined the squadron on 9 September. Carpenters and riggers were still at work on the frigate, and the incomplete crew was augmented by a company of the 39th Foot. To Prévost's fury, Downie was unable to attack on 10 September because the wind was unfavourable. During the night the wind shifted to the north-east, making an attack feasible. The British squadron sailed in the early hours of 11 September, and announced their presence to Prévost's army by "scaling" the guns i.e. firing them without shot to clear scale or rust from the barrels. Shortly after dawn, Downie reconnoitred the American dispositions from a rowing boat, before ordering the British squadron to attack. Addressing his crew, he told them that the British Army would storm Plattsburgh as soon as the ships engaged, "and mind don't let us be behind". At about 9 am, the British squadron rounded Cumberland Head close-hauled in line abreast, with the large ships to the north initially in the order Chubb, Linnet, Confiance and Finch, and the gunboats to the south. It was a fine autumn day, but the wind was light and variable, and Downie was unable to manoeuvre Confiance to the place he intended, across the head of MacDonough's line. As Confiance suffered increasing damage from the American ships, he was forced to drop anchor between 300 and 500 yards from MacDonough's Flagship, the Saratoga. He then proceeded deliberately, securing everything before firing a broadside which killed or wounded one fifth of Saratoga's crew. MacDonough was stunned but quickly recovered; and a few minutes later, Downie was killed. Elsewhere along the British line, the sloop Chubb was badly damaged and drifted into the American line, where her commander surrendered. The brig Linnet, commanded by Pring, reached the head of the American line and opened a raking fire against the USS Eagle. At the tail of the line, the sloop Finch failed to reach station and anchor, and although hardly hit at all, Finch drifted aground on Crab Island, and surrendered under fire from the 6-pounder gun of the battery manned by the invalids from Macomb's hospital. Half the British gunboats were also hotly engaged at this end of the line. Their fire forced the weakest American vessel, the Preble to cut its anchors and drift out of the fight. The Ticonderoga was able to fight them off, although it was engaged too hotly to support MacDonough's Flagship. The rest of the British gunboats apparently held back from action, and their commander later deserted. After about an hour, the USS Eagle had the springs to one of her anchor cables shot away, and was unable to bear to reply to HMS Linnet's raking fire. Eagle's commander cut the remaining anchor cable and drifted down towards the tail of the line, before anchoring again astern of the USS Saratoga and engaging HMS Confiance, but allowing Linnet to rake Saratoga. Both Flagships had fought each other to a standstill. After Downie and several of the other officers had been killed or injured, Confiance's fire had become steadily less effective, but aboard USS Saratoga, almost all the starboard-side guns were dismounted or put out of action. MacDonough ordered the bow anchor cut, and hauled in the kedge anchors he had laid out earlier to spin Saratoga around. This allowed Saratoga to bring its undamaged port battery into action. Confiance was unable to return the fire. The frigate's surviving Lieutenant tried to haul in on the springs to his only anchor to make a similar manoeuvre, but succeeded only in presenting the vulnerable stern to the American fire. Helpless, Confiance could only surrender. MacDonough hauled in further on his kedge anchors to bring his broadside to bear on HMS Linnet. Pring sent a boat to Confiance, to find that Downie was dead and the Confiance had struck its colours. The Linnet also could only surrender, after being battered almost into sinking. The British gunboats withdrew, unmolested. The surviving British officers boarded Saratoga to offer their swords (of surrender) to MacDonough. When he saw the officers, MacDonough replied, "Gentlemen, return your swords to your scabbards, you are worthy of them". Commander Pring and the other surviving British officers later testified that MacDonough showed every consideration to the British wounded and prisoners. Many of the British dead, not including the officers, were buried in an unmarked mass grave on nearby Crab Island, which was the site of the military hospital during the battle, where they remain today.



War Of 1812 Thomas Macdonough Battle Of Plattsburgh ~ 1859 Art Print Engraving:

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