The War Of 1812 And The Chesapeake Bay

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The War of 1812 and the Chesapeake Bay On March 3rd, 1813, the first British ships of war appeared on the Chesapeake Bay. For two years the Chesapeake would be the scene of numerous amounts of battles. Some would be lost in anonymity, but others would make history. But first, why did the British come? We were at war almost thirty years before, so how did it come upon these two superpower nations to collide once again? A few answers to these questions will put the war of 1812 and the Battle of the Chesapeake Bay in its proper context. Shortly following the Revolutionary War, America built one of the strongest merchant fleets the world had ever seen. Overseas trade flourished America’s economy, with its peak specifically in 1807 with exports ranging around $100 million (Hickey). Throughout this period of growth for America, Great Britain’s Royal Navy was without a doubt the master of the high seas. Not helping the future war, Thomas Jefferson was elected into office in 1801 and one of his most notable actions was to shrink the Navy and Military significantly. The homelands defense now laid in the hands of a small fleet of mainly gunboats. They did have a few capital ships, however their primary tasks were to remain as the “floating fortress” of vital eastern seaboard ports. Only quite rarely did they ever see open water conflict. British and French ships, however, took advantage of the weaker merchant ships of the US navy and began to prey on them. The British continuously
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