Defense of Stonington Notes

NOTE 1, page 9.

Stonington Borough, incorporated by the Legislature [of Connecticut,] in 1801, is situated on a narrow point of land about half a mile in length, at the eastern extremity of Long Island sound. On its eastern side lies Paucatuck bay, and on its west the harbour, terminating in Lambert’s Cove. It has four [two] principal streets running north and south, intersected at right angles by nine cross streets, and contains about one hundred and twenty dwelling houses and stores. It has also two houses for public worship, an academy, where the languages are taught, and two common schools; two rope-walks, commodious wharves, and ware houses for storage…. In the census of 1810, the “town” contained 3043 inhabitants, and there are now [1819], 335 qualified electors.–“Pease & Niles’s Gazetteer of Connecticut.”

NOTE 2, page 9.

Sir Thomas Masterman Hardy, Bart.–afterwards Vice-Admiral, and G. C. B.,–was at this time not far from thirty-five years of age. He entered the British navy, as a midshipman, at twelve; and was promoted to the rank of commander in 1797, for distinguished gallantry in the capture of a French brig, under the walls of Vera Cruz. He commanded the “Mutine” brig, in the battle of the Nile,–became the favorite of Nelson, and was appointed to the command of his flag-ship, serving with him, successively, in the “Vanguard”, the “Namur”, the “St. George”, (at the battle of Copenhagen), the “Iris” and “Amphitrion”, and the “Victory”, on board which Nelson conquered and fell at Trafalgar. Capt. Hardy was created a baronet, in February, 1806; from which period, until 1824, he was almost constantly on active duty in the West Indies and on American stations. He was made a knight commander of the Bath, Jan. 1815, and knight grand cross, in 1831. In October, 1827, he retired from the service; was appointed a lord of the admiralty in 1830; and governor of Greenwich Hospital, in 1834, retaining that office until his death, Sept. 20th, 1839.–“Annual Register”, vol. LXXXI, p. 363. “Dispatches & Letters of Nelson.”

[Col. Green gave the “substance” of this note, from memory. A correct copy of it was published with the official account, in the “Gazette” of Sept. 7th. Commodore Hardy wrote from on board the “Pactolus”,–his own ship, the “Ramilies”, then lying at anchor off the west end of Fisher’s Island.]

NOTE 3, page 10.

Capt. Amos Palmer, and Dr. Wm. Lord. The former was the senior warden of the Borough, and chairman of the committee of citizens who had been entrusted, some months previously, with the preparations for defence. “He was distinguished for his integrity, his republican principles, and his patriotism.”–“Pease & Niles’s Gazetteer, 1819.” Capt. Palmer’s own account of the attack (in a letter to the Secretary of War,) will be found on pages 33-36. He died at Stonington, March 1, 1816, æt. 69.

NOTE 4, page 10.

Brigadier-General Thomas H. Cushing, who commanded at New London. After the ratification of peace, in 1815, General Cushing received the appointment of collector of the port of New London, and retained the office till his death, Oct. 19th, 1822, æt. 67.–“Hist. of New London”, p. 649.

NOTE 5, page 12.

An account of the “Bombardment of Stonington” [by the Rev. Frederick Denison] printed in the “Mystic Pioneer” of July 2d, 1859, contains many interesting particulars, “gathered from the lips of prominent actors in the battle.” This account says, “The first men, so far as remembered, that took stations in the battery, were four, William Lord, Asa Lee, George Fellows, and Amos Denison. Just before six o’clock, six volunteers from Mystic, Jeremiah Holmes, Jeremiah Haley, Ebenezer Denison, Isaac Denison, and Nathaniel Clift, reached the place, on foot, and ran immediately to help to operate the gun in the battery.”…

… “The battery being small, but few men could work in it, and at this time [later in the morning of the 10th,] it was operated, as nearly as remembered, by Jeremiah Holmes, Simeon Haley, Jeremiah Haley, Isaac Denison, Isaac Miner, George Fellows, and Asa Lee.” This list is not “complete”, but is doubtless correct so far as it relates to the “Mystic” volunteers.

NOTE 6, page 12.

The wound proved mortal. Mr. Denison died November 1st, 1814. He was the fourth son of Isaac and Eunice [Williams] Denison, of Mystic, born Dec. 27th, 1795. On the morning of the attack, Frederick,–a youth not yet nineteen years old,–hastened, on foot, to the Borough, to join the little band of volunteers, with whom were already his two elder brothers, Ebenezer and Isaac, and his brothers-in-law, Capt. Jer. Holmes and Capt. Nath. Clift. He went immediately to the battery, where he helped to work the guns, and during the heat of the action, when the match-rope proved unserviceable, volunteered to go out to procure a new supply. While on this dangerous errand, he was struck by a shot from the brig, or, as other accounts say, by a fragment scaled from a rock by a passing ball. The wound was not considered dangerous, and if surgical aid could have been promptly obtained, Mr. Denison’s life might have been spared.

In May, 1856, the Legislature of Connecticut made an appropriation for a suitable monument to his memory, which was erected in Elm Grove Cemetery, at Mystic.–F. D. [“Rev. Fred. Denison”,] in “Mystic Pioneer”, Aug. 27th, 1859.

NOTE 7, page 13.

“The colors on the flag staff were shot through nine times. A fence near by was pierced by “sixty-three” balls.”–“Mystic Pioneer.” The flag has been carefully preserved, and was in the keeping of Francis Amy, Esq.,–orderly sergeant of Capt. Potter’s Company, at the time of the attack,–until his death in 1863. Its future preservation should be insured by depositing it with the Connecticut History Society.

NOTE 8, page 13.

Jirah Isham, Esq., commanding the 3d Brigade of the State Militia,–in the 3d Division, (William Williams, Esq., Major General.)

NOTE 9, page 15.

“On Sunday [Aug. 7] a flag came up [to New London] from the frigate “Forth”, Com. Hotham. The object was to obtain permission for James Stewart, Esq., formerly consul here, to take off his family. Mr. Stewart was on board. General Cushing, we understand, replied that the request would be forwarded to Washington.”–“Conn. Gazette”, Aug. 10th.

NOTE 10, page 17.

Mr. Gurdon Trumbull was the bearer of this flag, and was accompanied by Dr. Wm. Lord. The boat was rowed to the “Ramillies” by Noyes Brown and Jabez Holmes. Gen. Isham’s explanation of the firing on Lieut. Claxton, under a flag of truce, had not been received by Com. Hardy when the boat with this letter from the civil authority came along side. The bearer of the letter was met, at the head of the gang-ladder by a lieutenant, and informed that the Commodore was much incensed at the insult offered to the flag, and would not receive any communication from the shore until it should be explained. Mr. Trumbull replied that he came as a messenger from the “civil” and not the “military” authorities, and was not instructed to offer any explanation: but, as an eye-witness of the transaction, he would state the circumstances, as they occurred. The lieutenant reported these to the Commodore, and returned with a message that the latter was “perfectly satisfied;” that the defenders of the place were fully authorized to prevent the nearer approach of the flag-boat; and that his officer [Lieut. Claxton] was in the wrong. Mr. Trumbull was then conducted to the cabin, where he found the Commodore, in consultation with all the other commanders of the squadron, and delivered the letter from the Borough authorities.

NOTE 11, page 18.

This is not exactly correct. He said nothing of Mrs. Stewart; but, after reading the letter, remarked, “I learn from this, Sir, that I am under the necessity of resuming hostilities,–which I shall do, at one o’clock.”

NOTE 12, page 18.

Lieut. John Lathrop, of the Norwich Artillery or “Matross Company” (Capt. Charles Thomas). It will be seen, by the narrative of the magistrates, that Lieut. Lathrop was anticipated in the execution of this service, by a party of volunteers.

NOTE 13, page 19.

Lieut. Samuel L. Hough, of Canterbury, Lieutenant of the L. Infantry Company (Capt. James Aspinwall), detached from the 21st regiment of militia,–in the service of the U. States. Lieut. Hough’s wound was not serious. He is still living (June, 1864),–and in receipt of a pension from the U. States.

NOTE 14, page 24.

This account was written by Alex. G. Smith, Esq.

NOTE 15, page 26.

Col. Wm. Randall, of Stonington, commanding the 30th Regiment of State Militia.

NOTE 16, page 31.

Too much praise can hardly be awarded to the volunteer firemen, who, during the whole of the engagement, continued to patrol the streets, watching the fall of every rocket and shell, and extinguishing fires as soon as lighted. Two of this band may be named without injustice to others, as having rendered efficient and constant service,–Capt. CHARLES H. SMITH and FRANCIS AMY, Esq., both serjeants in Capt. Potter’s company. Capt. THOMAS SWAN was not less active or persevering. He remained in the Borough, (except for an hour’s visit to his family, placed in safety at a farm house, a mile distant,) from the beginning of the attack till the departure of the ships; serving, as necessity required, with the volunteer firemen, and with the guard stationed on the east side of the Point to prevent a landing of the enemy from their boats.

NOTE 17, page 32.

See Capt. Palmer’s letter to the Secretary of War, next following.

NOTE 18, page 36.

The anchor left by the “Dispatch” brig, at Stonington, when she ‘cut and run,’ has been got up and brought to New London. It weighs upwards of 20 “cwt.”–“Niles’s Weekly Register, Sept. 10, 1814.”

“Mr. Chalmers, late master of the “Terror”, bomb-vessel, employed in the attack on Stonington, has been captured in a British barge and sent to Providence. He says 170 bombs were discharged from that ship in the attack on Stonington, which were found to weigh 80 lb. each; the charge of powder for the mortar was 9 lbs.; adding to this the wadding, that vessel must have disgorged eight tons weight.”–“Ibid.”

* * * * *

“The following appears in a New York paper, in the shape of an advertisement:

“English Manufacture, and Memento of the “Magnanimity” of Commodore Hardy.”

Just received, and offered for sale, about


consisting of 6, 9, 12, 18, 24, and 32 lbs., very handsome, being a “small” proportion of those which were fired from his Britannic Majesty’s ships, on the unoffending inhabitants of Stonington, in the recent “brilliant” attack on that place.

LIKEWISE, a few “Carcasses”, in good order, weighing about 200 lbs. each.

Apply to S. TRUMBULL, 41 “Peck-slip”.

N. B. The purchaser of the above can be supplied with about “two tons more”, if required.

New York, November 19th, [1814.]” “Niles’s Weekly Register, Dec. 3d, 1815.”

* * * * *

INDUSTRY.–Many of our readers will recollect the anecdote of the thrifty American who asked Commodore “Hardy”, when he would attack “Stonington” again? so that he might have his cart ready to carry off the shot; and also the accounts we have had of the mighty mass of metal collected there and sold at New York, &c. It seems, however, that the “iron mine” is not yet exhausted, for certain persons with a diving machine have raised no less than 11,209 lbs. of shot, which was thrown overboard from the “Pactolus”, when she was in such a hurry to get away from the two guns of Stonington! They have also picked up a quantity of copper.–Niles’s “Weekly Register, June 3, 1815.”

NOTE 19, page 38.

Capt. Coote, of H. B. M. brig “Borer”, landed two hundred men at Pettipaug, (Saybrook,) in barges and launches, on the 8th of April, 1814, and destroyed upwards of twenty sail of vessels, without meeting any opposition (until after they had re-embarked,) and without the loss of a man.–“Conn. Gazette, April 13, 1814.”

Trumbull, J. Hammond. The Defence of Stonington (Connecticut) Against a British Squadron, August 9th to 12th, 1814. Hartford. 1864.

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