The Napoleonic Wars and the War of 1812

The War at Sea

British Blockade the American Coast

Rifleman, 60th (Royal American) Regiment of Foot, circa 1814-1815

Caption: Rifleman, 60th (Royal American) Regiment of Foot, circa 1814-1815

The British ordered a blockade of the American coasts on November 27, 1812. At the beginning, the measure affected only the coastline between Delaware and Chesapeake bays. But on March 30, 1813, the Royal Navy extended it from Savannah, Georgia, to north of the city of New York, and then all the way to Louisiana. Then, on November 16, the blockade became broader still, from Connecticut to Florida, which was then a Spanish possession. Finally, in May 1814 the ships of the Royal Navy began to patrol offshore from Rhode Island to New Brunswick. From that point on, the entire United States Atlantic coastline from New Brunswick to Mexico was subjected to a blockade that cut off American international trade.

But the British were not content to blockade the coastlines; they also launched increasingly ambitious raids on American coastal towns, including Washington and Baltimore. 69 In August and September 1814 they took Castine (in Maine) and occupied it until the end of hostilities.