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Go Back   Armchair General and HistoryNet >> The Best Forums in History > Historical Events & Eras > American Age of Discovery, Colonization, Revolution, & Expansion > American Age of Formative Expansion

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American Age of Formative Expansion 1789-1830 To begin with the 1st US President & extend through the Whiskey Rebellion, Quasi War with France, War of 1812, & southeastern Indian wars,

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Old 12 Aug 16, 08:57
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Jefferson's Army in Madison's War

I saw this thesis listed on another website and thought some may be interested in it. I have not read it yet.

Mr. Jefferson's Army in Mr. Madison's War: Atrophy, Policy, and Legacy in the War of 1812
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Old 12 Aug 16, 21:22
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I just glanced through it, but the army that fought in 1812 was not "Jefferson's Army," but "Madison's Army." The former could be at best applied to the Peace Establishment, which was then the First and Second Infantry Regiments, and the Corps of Artillerists. Everything after that, the Additional Army of 1808 (which was indeed authorized during the last year of Jefferson's 2nd Administration) really belonged to Madison.

The plan was not actually to rely on militia for offensive operations, but rather regulars bolstered by volunteers (the way the U.S. was to fight the Mexican, Civil, and Spanish-American Wars (as well as the Philippine Insurrection-after that the Dick Act essentially changed the meaning of "militia").

Madison wanted a 10,000 man addition to the existing Peace and 1808 establishments (the existing establishments would be brought up to their 10,000 man authorization). Basically some more artillerymen and a second battalion for each of the infantry regiments. These would be reinforced by 50,000 volunteers. The militia was essentially to act as a defensive force (Madison well knew that militia could not act outside of the U.S., while volunteers were under no such restriction).

Congress, however, decided 10,000 was too few new regulars, and took two months in finally establishing the 1812 Additional Army, and even gave it a different French style organization (which the Administration was able to do away with after War was declared).

What Madison feared was that 25,000 new troops all at once would slow the mobilization and overwhelm the manufacturing base...which it did. (The U.S. still very much relied upon imports for manufactured goods...especially cloth). However, the volunteers simply did not show up in the numbers required/desired/hoped for. They did in the West, but not the North East. Not surprising, because it (mostly) politically opposed the administration.

Very few of "Jefferson's Army" actually made it to the primary northern theaters. Only the 1st and 4th regiments (in the northwest with the former scattered in company sized posts along the frontier) were available. The 5th and 6th Regiments were completely new units (but with mostly old officers-the enlisted men having been drafted into the 2nd, 3rd, and 7th Regiments. Much of the Rifle Corps was newly recruited as well as the 1st Dragoon Regiment (whose southern companies were also drafted as were most of the light artillery companies). The Light Artillery Regiment was largely recruited (and equipped) anew. The Madison Administration also spent most of the mobilization period revamping the quartermaster's department (i.e. actually establishing one) that it had been trying for several years to get Congress to go along with.

In short, the Army that went to war in 1812 did not much at all resemble the Army of the Jefferson Administration, but since Henry Adams' hatchet job, many historians have tried to "sock it to" Jefferson.

Now the Navy is entirely different matter, but even in that, except for those awful gunboats, the war more or less proved him correct. The U.S. was too small to adopt a Mahanian naval policy.

Tuebor

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Old 13 Aug 16, 06:25
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The Jefferson administration did its utmost to hobble the US Army and US Navy when it came to power.

Neither were prepared for war in 1812 and Madison, Jefferson's protégé, did nothing to help in the preparations for war.

Jefferson was one of the worst presidents, as was Madison, the US has ever had.
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Old 16 Aug 16, 02:34
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The Jefferson administration did its utmost to hobble the US Army and US Navy when it came to power.

Neither were prepared for war in 1812 and Madison, Jefferson's protégé, did nothing to help in the preparations for war.

Jefferson was one of the worst presidents, as was Madison, the US has ever had.
Name one war in which the United States was prepared for war at entry? Gulf War? Yes. Afghanistan and Iraq? We were not prepared for the war that was to be fought.

Madison was certainly not Jefferson's "protege" by any means, though politically they were similar. Madison was truly one of the principle founding fathers of the Republic under the Constitution; not Jefferson. It was Madison (along with Hamilton) who put forth their political theories in the Federalist Papers. Again, not Jefferson. These accomplishments alone are enough to show that Madison was his own man. Madison certainly went his own way during his administration. If anyone had much influence on him it was James Monroe.

What do you mean "did nothing to help in the preparations for war?" When war threatened in 1808, the army was expanded three fold. Number of graduates of West Point increased. The Militia Law of 1808 giving $200,000 per year (a good sum in those days-- ironically it stayed at that funding level until 1898) to states and territories for arming and equipping the militia. The Second System of fortifications were put under construction. Large numbers of seacoast cannon were produced. Beginning in 1810 the War Department began shifting to a new set of French based tactics for all branches of the service. Madison tried, but was refused by Congress to create a more efficient quartermaster's department. It was unable to do so until March of 1812 when the pressure of threat of war finally got Congress to act.

How big of an army do think the U.S. required in peace time in the 1802-1812 time frame? What majority in Congress would have supported it? How was it to be funded? How was it to be recruited when the bulk of the population saw soldiers as nothing but (in their words) slaves?

The same questions apply to the Navy? How big of a Navy could the U.S. have had to challenge the RN? How was it to be created with a Congress and populous completely against a large blue water navy? These questions need to be answered before one can pass judgment on Jefferson and Madison on military and naval issues.

"Worst, best, average" are self-stated opinions, which we are all entitled to, but are just that; opinions. They hold no real intrinsic value historically.

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Tuebor
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Old 16 Aug 16, 06:02
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The question is actually why declare war on the greatest naval power of the time?

It was both stupid and untimely. And that is the problem with both Jefferson and Madison.

Jefferson did not care for a regular army and navy. He believed, wrongly, that the militia could fill the role, along with privateers and his ridiculous idea of a gunboat navy.

And neither Jefferson nor Madison had served in uniform and there was an excellent case for Jefferson being a coward, based on his execrable record as governor of Virginia during the War of the Revolution.

If you are not prepared for war, it is best not to attempt to enter it against the greatest naval power of the age.

And Jefferson's ignorant comment that taking Canada would not be anything but a matter of marching says it all.

And there was no excuse for what Jefferson did to the US Navy during his administration. Ships put in ordinary were not taken care of properly, the shore establishment was cut back to be practically useless and naval stores which had been carefully built up were allowed to rot.

Neither men were good presidents and both put the republic in danger for no good reason.
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Old 16 Aug 16, 06:19
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For the hardcore detail fan, the American State Papers covers this era with primary sources. The Annual Reports of the Secretary of the Navy and the Secretary of the Army, intended to be presented to Congress when the President gave his State of the Union address, is a good starting point.
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Old 20 Aug 16, 07:52
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A good summary of the situation can be found in Amateurs, To Arms! by John Elting, 1-10 for the US Army and 67-69 for the US Navy.

The US Army numbered 4,000 all ranks in 1801 when Jefferson assumed office. He had it reduced almost immediately to 3,200 composed of two infantry regiments an artillery regiment and a small corps of engineers (7 officers and 10 cadets). He did have the sense to found the US Military Academy in 1802, LtCol Louis de Tousard being instrumental in the founding.

About a third of the officers were dismissed, but the traitorous general, James Wilkinson, was retained.

The army's strength fell below 2,400 by 1807.

The Leopard-Chesapeake incident prompted Jefferson and Congress to authorize five new infantry regiments, one of riflemen, one of light dragoons, and one of light artillery. However, by 1812 the army numbered 6,750 out of the 10,000 authorized. The Secretary of War, Henry Dearborn, did his best to modernize the army, making sensible corrections, but he was also economy-minded which greatly hindered any long-term improvements.

Madison's new Secretary of War was William Eustis who sold the army's horses and Wilkinson's moved a large portion of the army to the 'pesthole' of Terre aux Boefs south of New Orleans Eustis would not allow the purchase of 'mosquito nets, chickens, eggs, or wine for the hospital.' 900 men died of disease and 166 deserted. 40 officers died or resigned. And this was out of a strength in Louisiana of 2,000. Where Dearborn was competent, Eustis was not.

In January 1812 Congress authorized authorized ten new infantry regiments, two artillery regiments, and another regiment of light dragoons. There was also 6 companies of rangers included. Madison also requested 50,000 volunteers to be authorized for call-up; Congress authorized 30,000.

The Jefferson and Madison administrations also 'favored' politically reliable officers, belonging to their own political party and competent Federalists found themselves out of a job too many times. This led to more problems as the 'new', politically correct officers usually had no idea of leadership, recruiting (officers were responsible for recruiting their own units), and training.

The US Navy in 1801 consisted of a first-class organization both afloat and the shore establishment. There were 34 frigates, sloops, brigs, and schooners and the Navy had 6 ships-of-the-line under construction. The naval support establishment ashore was in excellent shape to support the fleet.

Jefferson wanted a small navy that would be supplemented in wartime by privateers and Congress wanted less than that. All but 13 frigates and one schooner were sold off and seven of the retained frigates were laid up in ordinary and were left with only a caretaker or two for a crew. The remaining active ships had their crews reduced to two-thirds the usual complement.

Most of the naval officers and all of the naval construction personnel were discharged and work on the ships-of-the-line was stopped. The material that had been carefully gathered for their construction was carelessly stored and eventually rotted. Repairs and maintenance on all ships was postponed and neglected.

Jefferson had 278 gunboats of dubious value constructed to guard US harbors and when Madison took office he ignored the navy. By 1812, two out of three frigates in ordinary at the Washington Navy Yard had been allowed to rot beyond repair and the third was converted into a hulk. When war was declated three frigates needed extensive work to be seaworthy; one was being refitted and had no crew nor stores; three were ready for service but were not in good condition, and one was being converted into a sloop-of-war. The Washington Navy Yard was active, but it was the only one that was. There was neither reserve ammunition nor ordinary naval stores available for immediate use.

Jefferson and Madison had effectively crippled the armed forces of the United States and then encouraged and led the US into a war against the major naval power in the world.
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Old 22 Aug 16, 07:54
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I have to go to work in a few minutes so this will be brief. Sorry.

I would not use Elting's AtA for anything greater than a prop for a table leg. The book is dreadful history...and damned unprofessional IMHO.

Congress did in fact authorize 50,000 volunteers. IIRC, the 30,000 was for 1808.

Wilkinson was retained because he was senior. He was also retained by Washington and Adams. Despite that the so called incompetent Eustis made sure to get two men promoted over his head in 1812 (on of which was a Federalist (Pinckney) I believe). It was Armstrong who brought him north in 1813.

The peace establishment of 1802 did reduce the number of infantry regiments from four to two, but increased the number of companies from eight to ten and moreover increased the size of the company by around 25 percent. More artillery also. In real terms it did not matter much as the army never could recruit to authorized levels in the first place.

Most of that "large" navy from the Quasi-French War were purchased merchantman of low value and were actually sold off by Adams. It was normal for all navies to put ships into ordinary in peace time, and reduced crews for non-cruising ships was the norm until after WWI. Gunboats were for crap, but given the only experience the U.S. had in a major conflict, it was the gunboats that out performed the blue water navy in the Revolutionary War. So, at the time, it did make some sense. Jefferson's theory on a naval war against a large maritime power (in this case Great Britain) turned out to be correct. It was the privateers which cause the RN (and the British economy) the most grief. After its little run of victories in 1812, the RN effectively bottled up the rest of the USN in harbor. They couldn't stop the privateers though. Jefferson's mistake was in retaining all those frigates. He should have built many more brigs and sloops-of-war.

The entire bit on "politically reliable officers" was a load of crap. Many Federalists were appointed, but they usually turned down the appointments. This whole line of argument seems to have been an invention of one Mr. Henry Adams.

How is it Eustis' fault that Wilkinson effed up at New Orleans? Especially as he relieved him of his command and had him court martialed?

Most of the reforms in the army in that period actually occurred under Eustis, and not Dearborn. Congress was a real issue. Hell, Madison had a hard time getting the war hawks in 1812 to accept the taxes needed to raise the Additional Force of 1812.

Gotta go

Tuebor
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Old 22 Aug 16, 10:55
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tuebor View Post
I have to go to work in a few minutes so this will be brief. Sorry.

I would not use Elting's AtA for anything greater than a prop for a table leg. The book is dreadful history...and damned unprofessional IMHO.

Congress did in fact authorize 50,000 volunteers. IIRC, the 30,000 was for 1808.

Wilkinson was retained because he was senior. He was also retained by Washington and Adams. Despite that the so called incompetent Eustis made sure to get two men promoted over his head in 1812 (on of which was a Federalist (Pinckney) I believe). It was Armstrong who brought him north in 1813.

The peace establishment of 1802 did reduce the number of infantry regiments from four to two, but increased the number of companies from eight to ten and moreover increased the size of the company by around 25 percent. More artillery also. In real terms it did not matter much as the army never could recruit to authorized levels in the first place.

Most of that "large" navy from the Quasi-French War were purchased merchantman of low value and were actually sold off by Adams. It was normal for all navies to put ships into ordinary in peace time, and reduced crews for non-cruising ships was the norm until after WWI. Gunboats were for crap, but given the only experience the U.S. had in a major conflict, it was the gunboats that out performed the blue water navy in the Revolutionary War. So, at the time, it did make some sense. Jefferson's theory on a naval war against a large maritime power (in this case Great Britain) turned out to be correct. It was the privateers which cause the RN (and the British economy) the most grief. After its little run of victories in 1812, the RN effectively bottled up the rest of the USN in harbor. They couldn't stop the privateers though. Jefferson's mistake was in retaining all those frigates. He should have built many more brigs and sloops-of-war.

The entire bit on "politically reliable officers" was a load of crap. Many Federalists were appointed, but they usually turned down the appointments. This whole line of argument seems to have been an invention of one Mr. Henry Adams.

How is it Eustis' fault that Wilkinson effed up at New Orleans? Especially as he relieved him of his command and had him court martialed?

Most of the reforms in the army in that period actually occurred under Eustis, and not Dearborn. Congress was a real issue. Hell, Madison had a hard time getting the war hawks in 1812 to accept the taxes needed to raise the Additional Force of 1812.

Gotta go

Tuebor
I will respectfully disagree with your 'assessment' of Col Elting's book

I will also respectfully disagree with your assessment of Henry Adams' work.

It is interesting to note that you have not sourced any of your comments.

Wilkinson was an acknowledged traitor and was called out on that subject by Captain Winfield Scott, who was court-martialed for his opinions.

The bottom line is that neither Jefferson nor Madison did anything constructive to get the US ready for a war with Great Britain, and, in fact, did their best to ensure the US was not ready to go to war.

I have seen little or nothing to negate either what Col Elting or Henry Adams wrote, and while I am not an authority on the War of 1812 by any means, I have read enough on the early history of the US Army and US Navy to see that both Col Elting and Adams are correct in their assumptions.

The following references might help:

-Citizens in Arms: The Army and the Militia in American Society to the War of 1812 Lawrence Cress.

-The US Army in the War of 1812 by Robert Quimby, Volume I, 1-12. This supports Col Elting's viewpoint on the situation of the US Army at the beginning of the War of 1812 and was published after Amateurs, To Arms!

-History of the US Army by Russell Weigley, 97-117. This volume also supports Col Elting's position on the US army during the Jefferson and Madison administrations.

-Eagle and Sword by Richard Kohn, excellent background information up to 1801.

-The Rise of American Naval Power by Harold and Margaret Sprout, 71-107. This volume also supports Col Elting's material on the US Navy of the Jefferson and Madison administrations. One of the most telling comments on page 76 as to the Jefferson Administration's view of the US Navy is 'Liquidation of the Navy was begun at once and vigorously prosecuted' at the beginning of Jefferson's first term of office.
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Old 22 Aug 16, 11:42
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tuebor View Post
Most of that "large" navy from the Quasi-French War were purchased merchantman of low value and were actually sold off by Adams. It was normal for all navies to put ships into ordinary in peace time, and reduced crews for non-cruising ships was the norm until after WWI. Gunboats were for crap, but given the only experience the U.S. had in a major conflict, it was the gunboats that out performed the blue water navy in the Revolutionary War. So, at the time, it did make some sense. Jefferson's theory on a naval war against a large maritime power (in this case Great Britain) turned out to be correct. It was the privateers which cause the RN (and the British economy) the most grief. After its little run of victories in 1812, the RN effectively bottled up the rest of the USN in harbor. They couldn't stop the privateers though. Jefferson's mistake was in retaining all those frigates. He should have built many more brigs and sloops-of-war.
Source(s)?

The US Navy won the overwhelming majority of single ship actions during the war, which continued through 1814. And of the two fleet actions on the Lakes, the US Navy won both by annihilating the opposition's fleets.
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Old 22 Aug 16, 11:48
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How is it Eustis' fault that Wilkinson effed up at New Orleans? Especially as he relieved him of his command and had him court martialed?
Eustis failed to support the army in Louisiana logistically which helped cause the sickness and death. He was also Wilkinson's superior who could have ordered him to take the command to a more healthier climate.
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Old 22 Aug 16, 12:30
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Most of that "large" navy from the Quasi-French War were purchased merchantman of low value and were actually sold off by Adams. It was normal for all navies to put ships into ordinary in peace time, and reduced crews for non-cruising ships was the norm until after WWI.
Of the 34 warships on the Navy list in 1800 how many were of 'low value'?

And you neglected to mention that President Adams' Secretary of the Navy, Benjamin Stoddert, submitted a definite plan to strengthen the Navy at the end of the Quasi-War with France.

He 'had an equally far-sighted view [along with his personnel plan] of the ship problem. He had commenced work on the six seventy-fours authorized in 1799. To clear the way for a sound future development, he had recommended selling all the jury-built and improvised men-of-war acquired during the hostilities with France, and retaining only thirteen vessels whose size and condition gave promise of continuing usefulness. At the same time, he had recommended new construction sufficient to bring up the Navy's strength to twelve ships-of-the-line and twenty-four heavy frigates, and additional purchases of timber and timber lands to provide for a still greater expansion in an emergency.'

Unfortunately for the US Navy and the United States, only the first half of the recommendations, that of retaining only thirteen warships, was approved. The new construction recommended was squashed.

And, yes, ships were put in ordinary after a war. But they were usually taken care of so that they could be brought back into service quickly and put to sea. That did not happen during the Jefferson and Madison administrations. Ships in ordinary were allowed to rot into uselessness and the shore establishment to support the navy was all but abolished.
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Old 22 Aug 16, 17:52
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Most of that "large" navy from the Quasi-French War were purchased merchantman of low value and were actually sold off by Adams.
That is incorrect as the following information will clearly demonstrate. And the ships were not sold off by Adams, but by the Jefferson administration.

The US Navy in the Federalist Period 1794-1801

The following warship listing is taken from The Sailing Navy 1775-1854 by Paul Silverstone and published by the Naval Institute Press, 26-51.

The listing consists of 34 warships commissioned and in service before the naval reduction of the Jefferson administration. 22 were ordered and built as warships by the United States Government or were ‘subscription warships’ built by various cities, etc, and presented to the US Navy. 10 were purchased and were usually converted merchantmen. Two were prizes taken from the French. So by a ratio of over two-to-one the US Navy from 1794-1801 consisted of ships built from their design forward as warships.

Frigates:
Constitution
President
United States
Congress
Constellation
Chesapeake
Ganges *
Philadelphia
New York
Boston
General Greene
Adams
John Adams
Portsmouth
Merrimack
Connecticut
Trumbull
Warren
Essex
George Washington *
Baltimore *
Montezuma *
Delaware *
Herald *
Insurgent **

Sloops:
Maryland
Patapsco

Brigs:
Norfolk *
Richmond *
Pinckney *
Augusta *

Schooners:
Retaliation **
Enterprise
Experiment
*Either purchased or converted from a merchantman.
**French prizes, the Retaliation being captured, lost, and then recaptured during the Quasi-War.
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Old 23 Aug 16, 03:59
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Massena View Post

The US Navy in 1801 consisted of a first-class organization both afloat and the shore establishment. There were 34 frigates, sloops, brigs, and schooners and the Navy had 6 ships-of-the-line under construction. The naval support establishment ashore was in excellent shape to support the fleet.

Jefferson wanted a small navy that would be supplemented in wartime by privateers and Congress wanted less than that. All but 13 frigates and one schooner were sold off and seven of the retained frigates were laid up in ordinary and were left with only a caretaker or two for a crew. The remaining active ships had their crews reduced to two-thirds the usual complement.

Most of the naval officers and all of the naval construction personnel were discharged and work on the ships-of-the-line was stopped. The material that had been carefully gathered for their construction was carelessly stored and eventually rotted. Repairs and maintenance on all ships was postponed and neglected.
Except it was not Jefferson who did it. The "Peace Establishment" of the Navy that ordered the reduction, the sell off the ships, shore establishments, putting up seven of the frigates in ordinary, etc. was signed into law on March 1st, 1801 by none other than one John Adams. It was the Federalist controlled Sixth Congress which passed the law, and was one of the very last pieces of legislation passed by that Congress before the Seventh Congress and Thomas Jefferson took the oath of office three days later. It was Adams, not Jefferson who so reduced the Navy. (Same law also proscribed the number of officers etc).

Now, one could blame the Republicans in Congress and Jefferson (and Madison) for not doing enough to keep the ships in ordinary in better condition, but only two of the frigates (BOSTON and NEW YORK) were so far rotted as to be complete write offs. PHILADELPHIA was lost in combat during the Tripolitanian War, and GENERAL GREENE was converted to a sheer hulk (i.e. crane ship) in 1805.

As for the efficacy of the other frigates, UNITED STATES, PRESIDENT, ESSEX, and CHESAPEAKE were all captured during the War of 1812. ADAMS (since converted to a sloop-of-war) was burned to prevent capture, and JOHN ADAMS was never able to break free of the blockade. Of the eight available frigates at the beginning of the war four were captured, and one bottled up for the duration. Moreover, the remaining three (CONSTITUTION, CONGRESS, and CONSTELLATION) also spent much of the war blockaded. Would the addition of NEW YORK and BOSTON, therefore, made much of a difference?

Tuebor
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Old 23 Aug 16, 05:01
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The USS United States was not captured during the War of 1812.

There were at least 16 ship-to-ship engagements during the War of 1812 and of those the Royal Navy won 4, which included the British capturing the Chesapeake, Essex, and President and the US sinking the Guerierre and Java and capturing the Macedonian.

The last engagement was the Constitution fighting and defeating HMS Cyane and HMS Levant in a single engagement against both in January 1815.

Again, what sources are you using?
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Last edited by Massena; 23 Aug 16 at 07:47..
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