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Login Name Post: American Riflemen silenced British Naval Cannon?        (Topic#305201)
Artificer 
Cannon
Posts: 7378
10-18-17 01:01 AM - Post#1648404    

    In response to tenngun

The Riflemen did not show up until after the landing parties were sent ashore, so it seems they had time to lay anchors, cable tows and lines.

If they had set "springs," would that allow them to turn the ships enough to get them going downstream with the current?

Also, I don't know if the "Tender" Ships would have set springs, as they were not War Ships?

Gus

 
tenngun 
Cannon
Posts: 7575
tenngun
10-18-17 10:05 AM - Post#1648433    

    In response to Artificer

Honestly I don’t know if tenders were ever fitted with spring lines as they would not have been needed. The tenders should have had swivel guns maybe some light deck guns.
As they were not defending against any cannon fire from the shore Otter may have forgone springs, hey didn’t have an SOP for anchoring ships in harms way. Naval history at that time is full of times when normal precautions known at the time could have prevented loss. I really think this was a case of arrogance and sloppiness. Jr captains wanted to take bold action. A captain was always thinking about the next war, and every Lt. had a admirals flag folded in his kits.

 
Artificer 
Cannon
Posts: 7378
10-19-17 04:20 AM - Post#1648529    

    In response to tenngun

Well, it seems from the information I've been able to find over the years, Captain Squire of the Otter at least took the precaution of lining up the fighting ships of his small flotilla at anchor so their broadsides could protect the shore parties. Never been able to find information on where the Tender Ships were anchored.

Now it is easy to say nowadays that Captain Squire anchored his line of ships too close to shore, but to be fair, no Whigs/Patriots had cannon in the area and a British Naval Officer could not have foreseen so many Riflemen coming up to oppose him and the damage they could have and actually wrought against his ships.

Military History from ancient to modern times is replete with examples of how new weapons and tactics changed the course of warfare until the opposing side figured out how to counter them, if possible and usually only after they had come up against those with new weapons and/or tactics.

So while Captain Squire was surprised by the effectiveness of American Riflemen in that engagement, it is difficult to imagine how he could have foreseen it.

Gus



 
tenngun 
Cannon
Posts: 7575
tenngun
10-19-17 05:16 PM - Post#1648582    

    In response to Artificer

Yup

 
Rifleman1776 
Cannon
Posts: 14421
Rifleman1776
11-05-17 12:37 PM - Post#1650468    

    In response to Artificer

A great and informative post. I have long been puzzled as to why the Revolutionary rifleman is, essentially, an unknown figure in American history. I feel proud of the many speeches and presentations I have made over the year representing the persona I believe made the difference in gaining American independence.

 
Artificer 
Cannon
Posts: 7378
11-05-17 02:26 PM - Post#1650482    

    In response to Rifleman1776

Thank you, Rifleman.

This is one of two events in the AWI, that I am aware of, where Riflemen and Ocean Going Ships were involved.

The second included Marines armed with Rifles, instead of the "normal" muskets, but that is for another thread.

Gus

 
Spence10 
Cannon
Posts: 6908
11-05-17 03:14 PM - Post#1650488    

    In response to Artificer

  • Artificer Said:
This is one of two events in the AWI, that I am aware of, where Riflemen and Ocean Going Ships were involved.


I found it interesting that in one of the first reenactments of an AWI battle, to honor George Washington in 1799, the newspaper account specifically mentioned riflemen "endeavouring to pick the men off the shrouds".

Spence


 
Artificer 
Cannon
Posts: 7378
11-05-17 08:14 PM - Post#1650533    

    In response to Spence10

Now, THAT is interesting. Do you have any more information on that? Could it have been a reenactment of the battle discussed in this thread?

Gus

 
Spence10 
Cannon
Posts: 6908
11-05-17 08:29 PM - Post#1650537    

    In response to Artificer

  • Artificer Said:
Now, THAT is interesting. Do you have any more information on that? Could it have been a reenactment of the battle discussed in this thread?


I would guess it was a generic battle reenactment, but who knows what real battles might have influenced the script. It's a bit long.

  • Quote:
February 20, 1799
The Pennsylvania Gazette

                                ALEXANDRIA, February 11.
                                 WASHINGTON'S BIRTHDAY.

      This day, so justly dear to all true Americans, was celebrated in this town in a style heretofore unprecedented. The editor regrets that he does not possess talents to describe the proceedings in the manner which they deserve. The public will, however, pass by any defects in style; and do him the justice to believe, that, did he possess the chaste language of Addison, combined with the creative imagination of a Shakespeare, he would feel himself honoured and happy in using them on this occasion.
      Aurora rose with more than common splendor, as if wishing to assist in the tribute of respect paid to our hoary Chief. - She was ushered in by a discharge from the Alexandria, artillery, and a federal salute from the armed schooner Neptune, under the command of Abel Willis. - About ten o'clock the following corps met in the Court-house square, under the respective commanders, whose names are attached to them; George Deneale, esquire, being the officer of the day, and Mr. John Winterbury, adjutant. Alexandria artillery, Captain W. Harper, 1st company of militia, Ensign R. Stewart, 2d do. do. Captain Charles Turner, 3d do. do. Captain J. Muncaster, 4th do. do. Captain Thomas Rogerson, Silver Greys, Lieut. P. Marsteller, Alexandria Blues, Lieut. G. Chapin, Riflemen, Captain Alexander Smith.
      After going through the manual exercise, &c. at 11 o'clock the line was formed in Fairfax-street, where they were joined by the following troops or horse, who had escorted the General into town.
      Alexandria Dragoons, Captain R. Young,
      Fairfax do. Captain John Simpson,
      Volunteer do. Captain John Fitzgerald.
      Shortly after the General came into town, he passed the line in review, accompanied by several gentlemen. Agreeable to arrangements previously made, three companies of infantry were embarked on board the Neptune, the Trial and Mercury, in order to act as an invading enemy. The remaining troops marched to the Mall, when the riflemen and a detachment of artillery were dispatched to protect the fort and act against the foe. When the Neptune came abreast of the fort, she received three rounds, which she returned, silenced the guns, and passed up the river in order to effect a landing -the riflemen in the mean time running along ashore endeavouring to pick the men off the shrouds, and the artillery keeping up a fire at her. When she came opposite to Keith's wharf, the troops were landed on it, the Neptune covering the debarkation, where they were opposed by those on shore, and were eventually obliged to take to their boats. A landing was afterwards effected on Ramsay's wharf, and the supposed enemy marched up King-street, in which street, at the intersection of Fairfax-street, they were again opposed; and a heavy and continued street-firing kept up; until by an excellent maneuver of the horse, who came upon their rear, they were obliged to surrender.
      The editor does not conceive it necessary for him to praise the performances of the day. It is quite sufficient to say, that they met the entire approbation of the man, whom they were intended to honour, who attended closely to every evolution; and when they were closed, presented his highest respects to all the parties engaged in them, and said that they had surpassed his expectations.
      The companies then adjourned to dinner. The Marine officers and several respectable citizens at Mr. Hilton's - The Artillery company at Mr. Macleod's - Capt. Deneale's, Capt. Turner's, and Capt. Muncaster's companies at Mr. M'Knight's - Captain Young's troop of Horse, and Capt. Rogerson's company of Infantry, at Mr. Renoe's, and the Silver Greys at Mr. George Rutter's. The dinners and wines were such as did honour to the preparers, and were perfectly satisfactory to the guests. (A number of toasts were drank by each party on the occasion.)
      The evening was concluded by a ball and supper, given at Mr. Gadsby's, which was much superior to anything of the kind known here. The company was numerous and brilliant; and beauty of person and excellency of taste, in the ladies, seemed to view for a preference. The house was elegantly illuminated; and the ball-room was adorned with a transparent likeness of Gen. Washington, executed in a masterly style.
      Thus have the citizens of Alexandria, in doing honour to their illustrious neighbour, done the highest honour to themselves, and proved to the Union that their federalism and gratitude keep pace with each other.



Spence




 
Artificer 
Cannon
Posts: 7378
11-06-17 02:47 AM - Post#1650553    

    In response to Spence10

That was very interesting, especially as I had never read that before. So it seems there is a long history of reenacting the "Battle That Never Was" in Alexandria, after all.

So our much more current reenactments of "The Battle that Never Was at Fort Ward to Celebrate Washington's Birthday" has a much longer history than we ever imagined.

Gus

 
Spence10 
Cannon
Posts: 6908
11-06-17 09:25 AM - Post#1650585    

    In response to Artificer

The Pennsylvania Gazette
April 10, 1776
"Yesterday the Viperboat went ashore on Statten Island to get water; a party of the riflemen who were posted there attacked her, and took all hands prisoners, some say 8, others 14. The man of war fired; the riflemen returned it. They were at it all day. The man of war obliged to cut her cables and run. It is said she fell down with her sails furled; and when the men went up to loose them, the riflemen popped them off. Cannot get at particulars yet. Our people have since taken up the anchor and 80 fathom of cable."

Spence


 
Artificer 
Cannon
Posts: 7378
11-07-17 07:19 AM - Post#1650696    

    In response to Spence10

WOW, that's another one I haven't seen. Great quote! Thank you.

That quote rather mirrors the original subject of this thread.

Gus

 
Artificer 
Cannon
Posts: 7378
01-22-18 02:12 PM - Post#1665225    

    In response to Artificer

OK, I FINALLY had a chance to speak with the Virginia Ship Pilot I mentioned earlier. I was a bit surprised he knew a lot about the Battles of Norfolk and Hampton, including the British Ships that were there and he named a few ships I had not found.

He informed me what really silted up the Virginia Rivers closer to the Ocean were the 1898/99 Hurricanes.

He had seen charts a little later than these battles where the water dropped very quickly from shore to a depth of 38 feet. So the line of ships of the Otter and the small fleet could have been VERY close to the shore, making it much easier for the Riflemen to be so effective.

He did not know in which direction the British line of Ships were pointed either upstream or downstream and that information may be lost to time.

Gus

 
Loyalist Dave 
Cannon
Posts: 6679
Loyalist Dave
01-25-18 09:34 AM - Post#1665711    

    In response to Artificer

AND there is "effective" and "EFFECTIVE"..., the former meaning rifle ball whizzing past and thunking into the wood near the sailor or marine, and the latter dropping men. EITHER works, as it would be quite discouraging to try to go aloft or move in the open or even to man a cannon at a cannon port, with bits of round lead zipping about one's person, if not into one's friends. Perhaps even close enough to hear the jeers, laughter, and cheers as the Continentals with the rifles laugh at men scampering on board the ships, trying to be missed, and cheered as they see the British fellow who got hit. (privates are privates, then and now eh?)

LD

 
Artificer 
Cannon
Posts: 7378
01-25-18 03:57 PM - Post#1665802    

    In response to Loyalist Dave

Great points, Dave.

Since the Ship's Pilot knew so much about the period charts, period ships that were there and travels so much on the rivers near there; I asked him if the ships could have been anchored 50 yards from shore and his answer was, "Yes and even a bit closer than that and not run into any problems with grounding of even the largest ship."

Now of course there is no reference to how close the ships in line were anchored, but had they been 50 to 100 yards from shore and add in say 30 yards from the water's edge to where the Riflemen were or could have been shooting from, then they could have been both effective and EFFECTIVE, as you put it.

I'm sure rifle balls even whizzing past the sailors' heads as they tried to climb up and loose the sails, was of great concern to those sailors, even the ones who were not actually hit.

There certainly was an element of "extreme distress" if not downright panic shown from being shot at so effectively, at least by the civilian "tender" ships that wound up colliding and in one case grounding a ship.

I bet the way the British Ships had to get out of there, was the cause of much amusement to the Riflemen and others on shore.

Gus

 
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