Chesapeake Bay under Blockade: February 5, 1813

On October 1812 the London Times published the following:

“The American navy must be annihilated – her arsenals and dockyards must be consumed; and the turbulent inhabitants of Baltimore must be tamed with the weapons [bombs and rockets] which shook the wooden turrets of Copenhagen…All the prating about maritime rights, with which the Americans have recently nauseated the ears of every cabinet minister in Europe must be silenced by the strong and manly voice of reason- America must be BEATEN INTO SUBMISSION!”

Following the declaration of war against England on June 18, 1812, the effect of Maryland privateers on British trade, the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty issued a directive on December 26, 1812 for a blockade of the Chesapeake and Delaware Bays. To enforce the blockade fifty-six year old Admiral Sir John Borlase Warren was appointed to command the North American Station, consisting of five naval districts; Newfoundland, Halifax, Leeward Islands, Jamaica, and Bermuda, with one hundred and forty-two warships under his command.

The blockade of the Chesapeake was effected by His Majesty’s frigates Junon, Belvidera, Statira, and the schooner Sophie all under Captain George Burdett onboard H.M. frigate Maidstone. They were to destroy the naval resources and arsenals of tidewater Virginia and Maryland. Burdett’s squadron was smaller than anticipated and was restricted to blockading duties. On Feb. 4, accompanying the squadron was Admiral Warren onboard H.M. ship-of-the-line San Domingo, flying his broad blue pennant from the main mast. On February 5, 1813 the following notice of the enforcement of the blockade proclamation of December 26 was issued:

I do hereby certify to all of whom it may concern, that the ports and harbors of the Bay of the Chesapeake are this day put in a state of strict and rigorous blockade. Given under my hand, on board the San Domingo, in Lynnhaven Bay in the Chesapeake, this 5th day of February, 1813, Captain George Burdett, R.N.”

Private armed vessels (privateers) who had been leaving the bay since last July 1812 to scour the seas for British merchantmen and achieving their prizes, were now forced to wait for the cover of night or a snowstorm. American merchant vessels, if detected were either captured or, if lucky turned about and returned to their port of origin. For the next twenty-five months the great estuary of the Chesapeake was blockaded by the Royal Navy.

Sources: Daily National Intelligencer, April 2, 1813; Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty to Admiral John Warren, December 26, 1812. The Naval War of 1812: A Documentary History, vol.1, (Washington: GPO, 1985), 633-634; Baltimore American and Commercial Daily Advertiser, February 13, 1813 and Baltimore Patriot and Evening Advertiser, February 11, 12, 1813.

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Published in: on March 31, 2011 at 8:45 pm  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I believe the frigate you mention as one of four stationed at the mouth of the Bay at the beginning of the blockade was the “Statira,” not the “Staira,” as you have it spelled here.

    • Timothy

      Youy are correct. I have made the changes. Thanks for the edit. A writter always needs a good editor.

      Scott Sheads


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