On June 13-14th, 1814, war came to the South Coast.
On June 13th, Her Majesty's Ship Nimrod came within sight of Fort Phoenix in Fairhaven. Residents of New Bedford and Fairhaven began to flee to the countryside as the militia began to gather. This may have been a feint meant to send militia to the wrong place. A sizable militia gathered and Fort Phoenix let off some shots (more to summon militia than to sink Nimrod), but the British moved past it. Militia headed to Mattapoisett as well, but the British kept heading up Buzzards Bay to Wareham.
The Nimrod then dispatched barges carrying 225 soldiers up the Wareham River, and they landed where the Narrows Bridge is now, near Tobey Hospital. Risking gunfire from both sides of the river, they came ashore and invaded Wareham.
They sent sentries to inhabit the high ground, and then fired a Cosgreve rocket (a British incendiary weapon, known for it's songworthy Red Glare) into a cotton factory that had been built by a consortium of 60 Boston businesses. The locals managed to put the fire out, but much damage was done.
The Brits took Captain Bumpus (who may have been the Bumpas kidnapped from Westport, most likely set up by the spy who relayed the news of a privateer at Wareham) to his home, where they destroyed/confiscated military supplies.
A party of Wareham man arrived to see how we could get out of this, and the Brits said they were here to find men and ships related to privateering, and that they would not fire on inhabitants or destroy private property. They were very interested in ships belonging to Falmouth, which they had attacked 6 months before.
We lost a lot of good boats that day. The Fair Trader, 44 tons and able to hold 18 guns, was burned down to the hull. The brig Independent suffered the same fate at 300 tons. She was in the stocks, ready to launch. We also lost brand new schooners Fancy, Elizabeth, and Nancy. All told, a total of four schooners, five sloops, a ship, a brig, and a brig-under-assembly at William Fearing's shipyard were put to flame. Read the rest of the story here.
A major embarrassment for Commodore Howell who was on board
On this day in 1898, the flagship of the Atlantic Naval Fleet, the USS San Francisco, went aground off Truro. With Commodore Howell on board, the flagship while attempting to round Cape Cod in a heavy fog, went ashore near High Head Life Saving Station at 7 o'clock in the morning, but by the hard work of the crew, who threw over a large quantity of coal and ballast, and with the assistance of four tugs from Boston, she came off at 6 o'clock the same night, apparently undamaged.
Read the story below.
USS San Francisco (Cruiser # 5, C-5, later CM-2), 1890-1939, was later renamed Yosemite. She was a 4,088-ton protected cruiser, was built at San Francisco, California, and commissioned in November 1890. She served in the Pacific until 1893, then steamed to the Atlantic. Operations followed in the North and South Atlantic, and in European waters. During the Spanish-American War, in 1898, the San Francisco was stationed off Cuba.
The cruiser had two additional tours of European duty in 1902-04, plus spending some time in the Caribbean area. In 1908-1911, she was converted into a mine planter, one of the Navy's first specialized mine vessels. San Francisco assisted in laying the North Sea Mine Barrage during World War I. She was designated CM-2 in 1920, and decommissioned in December 1921. In reserve at Philadelphia Navy Yard for many years thereafter, the ship was renamed Yosemite in 1931 and was sold for scrapping in April 1939.
This vignette was written by Alexander Theroux who spends part of each year on Cape Cod. His writing is the soul of anachronism, a backwards literary history: unconcerned with modern markets, romantic in sensibility, neoclassical in aesthetic judgments, renaissance in learning and style, medieval in spirit.
Cape Cod - a gull's view instantly shows it a patchwork quilt of marshes, beaches, heather, forest, bog, salt pond and sea - means many things to many people. Throughout the length of that sickleshaped peninsula of Massachusetts, there is a marked difference - in style, if you will -between one town and another, between one community and another and between sub-groups even within these. These distinctions are sociologically diagnostic, and even the most casual visitor - even the day-tripper -will soon come to know them... NY Times.