Barney, Joshua

Undated ALS of the Chesapeake Bay hero, noted for his role at the Battle of Bladensburg in the War of 1812

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Description:
1759-1818) Baltimore-born Continental Navy officer in the Revolutionary War, later US Navy commodore and served in the War of 1812. Entered the Navy February 1776, as master's mate of Hornet. He later served on the Wasp and was promoted to lieutenant for gallantry in action and had a prominent part in the defense of the Delaware River. Captured and exchanged several times, in 1779 he was again taken imprisoned in Old Mill Prison, Plymouth, England, until his escape in 1781. He wrote an account of this in The Memoirs of Commodore Barney, published in Boston, 1832. In 1782, he commanded the Pennsylvania ship, Hyder Ally, and in April captured HMS General Monk, a more heavily armed warship. He the Monk to France with dispatches for Benjamin Franklin, returning with news that peace had been declared. After the Revolution, he joined the French Navy and was made commander of a squadron. At the outbreak of the War of 1812, Barney entered the US Navy as a captain, commanding a fleet of gunboats, the Chesapeake Bay Flotilla. He was commissioned a captain in the US Navy on April 25, 1814. On June 1, his flotilla, led by his flagship, the 49' sloop-rigged, self-propelled floating battery USS Scorpion, were coming down the Bay when they encountered the 12-gun schooner HMS St. Lawrence and boats from the 74-gun Third Rates HMS Dragon and HMS Albion near St. Jerome Creek. The American flotilla retreated into the Patuxent River where the British blockaded it. The British outnumbered Barney by 7:1, forcing the flotilla on 7 June to retreat into St. Leonard's Creek. 3 British ships blockaded the mouth of the creek which was too shallow for the British warships to enter, and the flotilla fended them off. Battles continued through June 10. The British then laid waste to Calverton, Huntingtown, Prince Frederick, Benedict, and Lower Marlboro. On June 26, after the arrival of American troops, Barney attempted a breakout. A simultaneous attack from land and sea on the blockading frigates allowed the flotilla to move up-river to Benedict, Maryland. The British burned the town of St. Leonard, Maryland and moved up the Patuxent, preparing to land at Benedict. Navy Secretary Jones ordered Barney to scuttle the squadron if the British appeared. Leaving his barges with a skeleton crew to destroy the craft, Barney took the majority of his men to join the American Army under General William Winder where they participated in the Battle of Bladensburg. All but one (which the British captured) of the vessels of the Chesapeake Bay Flotilla were scuttled. During the Battle of Bladensburg, Barney and 360 sailors & 120 Marines heroically defended Washington, fighting hand to hand for 4 hours, but the British defeated the outnumbered Americans and went on to burn the Capitol and White House. Barney was severely wounded in the battle in which President Madison personally directed the Marines led by Barney, one of only 2 instances of a sitting president with direct battlefield authority as Commander-in-Chief (the other, George Washington who rode out and crushed the Whiskey Rebellion). 9 1/4 x 7 1/2 rare ALS, no place, no date, to Brian Valck, Esq., regarding their partnership in purchasing land (including a town).

Condition: Good, possibly trimmed at top edge, chipped lower left corner, mount remnants verso cause some toning see-thru
Type:Letter






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