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Upper Mississippi Brigade articles; photo is UMB at Ft. Osage

U. S. Naval Squadron—New Orleans, 1814

by Richard Williams

In over all command of the U. S. Navy in the New Orleans theater was 29 year-old Master Commandant Daniel T. Patterson. Commodore Patterson was originally appointed Midshipman on August 20, 1800. Promoted to Lieutenant on January 24, 1807, he attained his rank on July 24, 1813. As a result of his competency and heroism during the New Orleans campaign he was promoted to Captain as of February 28, 1815.

The Fleet at New Orleans.
There were fifteen vessels in the squadron stationed at New Orleans. The best known is the schooner Carolina built in Charleston, South Carolina in 1812 at a cost of $8,743. She displaced 230 tons and was rated at 14 guns. She was 89 feet, 6 inches long on the deck, a beam of 24 feet, 4 inches, and a hold of 11 feet, 4 inches in depth. Her original armament was twelve 12-pounder carronades and three long nine-pounders. However, other sources indicate that at New Orleans the Carolina mounted ten 6-pounders and two 12-pounders mounted on swivel bases, one each on the bow and stern. Or, she may have had twelve 12-pounder carronades and two long 12-pounders. Her compliment was 70, all regular navy and mainly from New England. The Carolina was under the command of John D. Henley, who actually outranked Commodore Patterson. Henley was commissioned a midshipman October 14, 1799, lieutenant on January 3, 1807, and commander on July 24, 1813. In command of the Carolina Henley held the local rank of Captain, though he did not attain that until March 5, 1817. The Carolina was burned and sunk in the battle, December 27, 1814.

Originally a merchant sloop built in New Orleans in 1812 at a cost of $15,500, the USS Louisiana displaced 341 tons, and rated 16 guns (which were to be 24-pounders). She measured 99 feet, 6 inches on the deck, beam of 28 feet, and a 14 foot deep hold. Louisiana was unmanned at the start of the campaign, and commanded by Captain Charles C. B. Thompson. He entered the navy as a midshipman December 22, 1802, and promoted to lieutenant as of February 15, 1809. After the war he continued to serve, and achieved the rank of captain by 1825.

There were six of President Jefferson's gunboats attached to the squadron. No. 5 was built in Baltimore by William Price. It was launched March 1, 1805. Its crew of 36 manned the long 24-pounder and four 12-pounder carronades. No. 23 was built by John Connel and Peter Miles at Charleston, (West) Virginia during 1807-1808. She was armed with a long 32-pounder and four 6-pounders, crewed by 39 men. No. 65 was built in Matthews County, Virginia by John Patterson and Hunley Gayle in 1807-1808. It had an unknown compliment and armament. No. 65 was sold after the war. Numbers 156, 162 and 163 were either built by James Marsh in Charleston, South Carolina or by Francis Saltus in Beaufort, North Carolina in 1807-1808. 156 was armed with a long 24-pounder and four 12-pounder carronades. It was crewed by 41 men. 162 was armed with a long 24-pounder and four 6-pounders. It had a crew of 35. No. 163 was armed with a long 24-pounder and two 12-pounder carronades. All of the gunboats were captured in the battle of Lake Borgne on December 14, 1814, except No. 65 which was patrolling the Mississippi near Fort St. Philip.

USS Alligator was a sloop that was used as a tender. Its builder and dimensions are unknown. It was purchased in New Orleans in 1812, and armed with a 4-pounder. It had a crew of 8. It was captured along with the gunboats on Lake Borgne. USS Seahorse was a sloop used as a tender on Lake Borgne. Its builder and dimensions are unknown. It was purchased in 1812 in New Orleans. It mounted a single 6-pounder. Its crew of 14 burned her to prevent capture by the British on the night of December 13, 1814. USS Tickler was a dispatch sloop used as a bomb ketch, purchased in August 1812. It was 50 tons, but further dimensions and its builder are not known. It was sold in New Orleans in 1818. Four other vessels were in the area, but their use in the campaign is unknown. USS Etna or Aetna was a 220 ton ketch purchased in New Orleans in 1813 to replace a vessel of the same name lost the year before. It was rated for eleven guns, and in 1816 was armed with two long 6-pounders and two 7¼ inch howitzers. It was condemned in New Orleans in 1817. USS Bulldog was a two gun felucca purchased in New Orleans in 1814. She was sold in New Orleans in 1821. USS Eagle was a twelve gun schooner purchased in 1814, one of three so-named vessels during the war. It was sold in 1820. USS Tchefonta was a block ship started in New Orleans in 1813. It was 152 feet, 9 inches on deck, drew 8 feet, 6 inches, and was rated for 22 guns. She was armed with 32-pounder long guns and 42-pounder carronades. Work ceased on her during the summer of 1814, and was in the dock during the battle. It was later sold while still on the stocks.

The Campaign.
During the first two years of the war the squadron basically consisted of the gunboats, although others were soon acquired. The squadron dealt mostly with pirates and did what it could to lift the growing blockade of New Orleans by British ships. In July 1814, the Carolina was sent to bolster the squadron and to help deal with the Baratarians. On September 16 Patterson, the Carolina and the six gunboats raided Barataria. They captured 80 men, six schooners, 8 other vessels, and a quantity of booty. Sensing that New Orleans was becoming more a target in early December, Andrew Jackson wanted to impress sailors to man the Louisiana since enlistment was slow due to a lack of bounty money. Commodore Patterson dispatched gunboats Nos. 5, 23, 156, 162 and 163 accompanied by two tenders and a dispatch boat to patrol the entrance to Lake Borgne. Gunboat 65 was sent down the Mississippi to patrol near Fort St. Philip.

On December 13 the gunboat flotilla spotted the British fleet, withdrawing up Lake Borgne. The lake is very shallow, and does not allow for large, deep drafted ships. The British sent 42 armed launches filled with 980 to 1200 sailors and marines against the flotilla's 183 men and 23 guns. The tender Seahorse was sent to protect stores on the shore of the lake. She fought seven British launches for one-half hour before the crew burned both ship and stores to prevent capture.

The commander of the Lake Borgne flotilla was Lieutenant Thomas ap Catesby Jones. He had entered the navy as a midshipman November 22, 1805, and promoted to his rank May 24, 1812. After the war he made captain March 11, 1829, and continued to serve the navy until he was placed on the Reserve List in September 1855.

On December 14, Lt. Catesby Jones lined up his gunboat flotilla between two islands, virtually grounded in the shallows of Lake Borgne in a still wind. The lighter launches of the British were gaining. At 10:50 am the Battle of Lake Borgne commenced. The tender Alligator was first captured. Lt. Jones' gunboat was assailed by Captain Lockyer, the Royal Navy commander of the launches. The gunboats quickly sunk two of the launches and repulsed the attack twice, before British sailors climbed aboard Jones' gunboat and used it against the other gunboats. Casualties amounted to 17 British dead and 77 wounded; and 6 Americans dead and 35 wounded. Among the wounded were both Captain Lockyer and Lt. Jones. The remaining 142 American prisoners and their vessels were added to the British fleet. The battle ended at 12:30 p.m. The next day when word of the defeat reached New Orleans, the Louisiana Legislature authorized a $6000 bounty for Patterson, and $24 bounties for anyone enlisting for three months service in the Navy. 80 volunteer for service aboard the Louisiana, mostly merchant men from the docks of New Orleans—Yankees, Portuguese, Norwegians, Spanish, Greeks, Italians, Germans, Arabs, Hindus and Swedes. Some were induced to enlist by threats of arrest (Jackson had declared martial law and was exercising supreme power).

When Andrew Jackson attacked the British camp during the night of December 23, the Carolina began the battle by drifting down stream into position, anchoring by the bow 160 yards off the British flank. At 7:30 p.m. the command, "Now boys, give it to them, damn their eyes!" commenced the broadsides into the British camp. The grapeshot continued until Jackson's troops mixed into the British. Over the next three days Carolina continued to periodically shell the British encampment, striking the field hospital in the process. She cannot move back upriver because of lack of favorable winds and the strong current. Louisiana was then brought down to support Jackson's line.

On December 27, the British complete a levee battery of two 9-pounders, four 6-pounders, two 5½ inch howitzers, and a 5½ inch mortar. Using a furnace, they fire hot shot into the Carolina, which ignited the magazine in a magnificent explosion 800 yards off shore. Her crew escaped, and some of the guns were later salvaged. Louisiana was towed and dragged further upstream. Carolina crew were then assigned to a land battery under Lt. Charles E. Crawley. The next day a British reconnaissance force probed Jackson's line. Louisiana broadsided the British advance, knocked out the levee battery and stopped the British advance. She fired 800 rounds during the battle.

Louisiana landed two 12-pounders and a 24-pounder on the right bank of the Mississippi on December 29. Patterson commenced building a land battery manned by sailors. The next day, while Louisiana was moored a depot for ammunition and gunpowder near the battery, additional guns were taken ashore. Patterson's battery covered a mile of the river. Captain John D. Henley was assigned to command the battery opposite New Orleans. By New Year's Day Patterson's right bank battery consisted of three long 24-pounders, six long 12-pounders, and three field pieces pointed down range; all manned by 106 sailors. Carolina sailors man Battery No. 2 under Lt. Otho Norris, 17 men and one iron 24-pounder. Norris entered the navy as a midshipman January 16, 1809. He was promoted to Lieutenant July 24, 1813. After the war he made master commandant March 3, 1827, and was lost when the USS Hornet sunk on September 10, 1829 off Tampico. Other sailors from the Carolina served Battery No. 4 or No. 5 (depending on how they are counted.) Lt. Crawley commanded 16 men and one iron 32-pounder. The 32-pounder was struck and silenced during the attack.

The main battle occurred on January 8, 1815. Carolina soldiers manned the same batteries as on the first of the year. As there were no round shot for the 32-pounder, it fired grape and landidage. The 24-pounders were also low on round shot. The British infantry broke against the batteries. On the right bank Patterson's battery was overrun when Kentucky and Louisiana militia broke and ran. Patterson spiked the guns. Louisiana did not fire a round until the British began to retreat.

Patterson's sailors reoccupy the guns of the right bank on the tenth, and through the thirteenth they harassed the British encampment. From the ninth through the seventeenth the British fleet shelled Fort St. Philip, before withdrawing. The campaign for New Orleans was over.

Miscellaneous Notes on the Navy.
Sailors signed on for the cruise, not for set enlistments. Sailors were awarded prize money, of which the government receives half and the ship half. Of the ship's portion, it was divided into shares, with the petty officers receiving three and the rest of the crew getting three. Work on the ship began at 4:00 a.m. with the command "All Hands!" 7:00 a.m. was breakfast, eight men to a mess. Mornings were spent on gun drill and sailing evolutions. Noon was dinner, followed by a grog ration at 12:30. Ship duty was from 1 until 4:00 p.m. Supper was later, followed by another grog ration. Rum was issued until 1806 and whiskey was used thereafter. The crew was divided into two watches, starboard and larboard.

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