|Fort Macinack by Seth Eastman|
A shaky start to the war did not mean all hope was lost. "Old Ironsides" takes British frigate the H.M.S. Guerrière in the epic battle depicted in this print. 600 miles east of Boston, the USS Constitution meets the British vessel and delivers its first broadside. The battle went on for 20 minutes' bombardment until the British man-of-war lost its mast. The Constitution by contrast incurred little damage. The victory galvanized the new country and made Commander Hull a household name. Old Ironsides earned its name, going on to defeat or capture seven more British vessels. It also ran the British blockade of Boston twice.
New York State would play a vital role in the war, as naval battles on the Great Lakes would be launched from several points along the New York/Canadian border. In this war, Watervliet, NY became the site of America's oldest continuously used arsenal, positioned along the Mohawk and Hudson Rivers and able to supply both the northern and western fronts. The Niagara Frontier increases in importance and stages some of the worst fighting in the War. New York Harbor and the St Lawrence River also set the stage of wartime drama. In future posts I hope to explore each of these a little closer.
Kathleen L. Maher writes about NY history. Her novella Bachelor Buttons is part of a Civil War sesquicentennial collection released through Helping Hands Press. She won the 2012 ACFW Genesis contest, and is represented by Terry Burns of Hartline Literary Agency. She and her husband live in a 100-year-old farmhouse in upstate NY with their three children, two Newfoundland dogs and a tuxedo cat.