Sunday, April 10, 2011

“The Rockets’ Red Glare,” - The 1813 Bombardment of Lewes

This past week the Bombardment of Lewes occurred in 1813

In March of 1813, the Royal Navy established a blockade of the Delaware Bay and River. The British squadron, under the command of Commodore John P. Beresford, RN, took up stations off Lewes and the Delaware Capes, and began to conduct raids along the coast in an effort to disrupt maritime commerce and shipping. Many small actions resulted with numerous vessels being captured and destroyed. On this location was one of two fortifications that were built to protect the town of Lewes. These earthworks mounted several cannon, and were manned by militia under the command of Colonel Samuel Boyer Davis. After Delaware authorities refused a demand to provide supplies, the British ships took up bombardment positions off the town. From April 6th into the 7th, Lewes was shelled for twenty-two hours, with the British firing as many as 800 projectiles into the town. This was the first use of the Congreve rocket against the Americans during the War of 1812. Naval fire was successful in striking and damaging the fortifications and many buildings in the town. Although short of ammunition, the American batteries were able to effectively reply and cause damage to enemy vessels. On April 7th the British withdrew to more distant positions. They continued to maintain the blockade until 1815.

Known today as the Cannonball House, this structure still bears visible traces of the engagement including an iron cannonball that is lodged in its foundation. Built circa 1760 and enlarged in the 1790s, the house was then the residence of the McCracken family. Owner Gilbert McCracken and his son Henry were among the many bay and river pilots who served in Delaware militia companies that provided important service in the successful defense of Lewes during the war.

1 comment:

Bill D. said...

there used to be a house on 611 in md with a cannon ball hole in it .