Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Looted Ships in the Navy Docks

Pam Keyes has just published a very interesting article about the Battle of Lake Borgne.


The article describes a number of tactical and strategic mistakes made by Commodore Daniel T. Patterson and those under his command that not only lost the United States Navy some badly needed gun boats but also made those same gun boats available to the British to use against the American forces.

The article also touched obliquely on the fate of the ships confiscated at Barataria during the Patterson-Ross raid.

Patterson’s small navy had been reduced to the Carolina schooner and Louisiana sloop, both at New Orleans, and one gunboat at Ft. St. Phillip on the Mississippi River. Six fast armed schooners taken in the Patterson-Ross raid of Jean Laffite’s Barataria sat idle at the Navy yard in New Orleans, but couldn’t be used for two reasons: there were no sailors to man them, and they were still awaiting judgment in admiralty court, so it was like they weren’t even there. The Louisiana also couldn’t be used initially due to a lack of men. Only the Carolina boasted a full crew of New Englanders who had arrived with the ship in August 1814. Patterson’s unpopularity with sometime privateer crews made him anathema for them to want to work for his navy.
 One wonders, since Andrew Jackson had declared martial law and was conscripting men and impressing sailors and confiscating property and ignoring court orders, according to the book by Matthew Warshauer, why Jackson could not simply take over the Baratarian ships in the Navy dockyard and assign Baratarian volunteers under his command to man them.

Could it be because the Navy and the Army were separate entities, and there was no Secretary of the Navy in office, and Jackson was not sure he could make his martial law stick against Daniel T. Patterson?

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