The Battle of Penobscot Bay - 1779
To avoid finally killing off any remaining enthusiasm for my blogging by filling a daily entry with details of the Battle that took place at Castine in July and August 1779 I have included this summary as a separate diary entry.
In brief, Castine had great strategic importance as a secure harbour controlling
The three British ships were anchored bow to stern across and blocking
the harbour. The British Commander had started to construct an earthen work fort,
named Fort George but had not got the walls up to more than waist height and
was definitely work in progress when the US forces appeared. The US Naval
commander started as he went on by not getting stuck in for fear of losing his
ships. The Marines with Militia assistance stormed and took Dyce Head in their
one successful action of the campaign and the British Commander prepared for an
10 out of 10 for the British commander Brig Gen Francis MacLean, a veteran of some 20 victorious campaigns; this made the score 21 not out.
10 out of 10 to Captain Henry Mowatt RN commander of the three Royal Navy ships
10 out of 10 to a young British subaltern facing his first action, one Lieutenant
1 out of 10 to the
7 out of 10 to the US Second in Command Brig Gen Peleg Wadsworth – the only senior bright spark amongst the senior US commanders and the grandfather of the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow who a hundred years after the event wrote his poem about the ride of Paul Revere, conveniently forgetting his part in the Penobscot fiasco.
0 out of 10 to Commander Dudley Saltonstall whose intransigence and refusal to engage the enemy ships was a major contribution to the outcome and who was subsequently court-martialled and dismissed the service.
0 out of 10 to Lt Col Paul Revere an effete officer more concerned with his personal comfort than the conduct of a battle and whose reputation owes far more to the poem by Longfellow than to historical accuracy. He was court-martialled but for political and PR reasons was effectively exonerated.
A fictional account of the battle is given in the book ‘The Fort’ by Bernard Cornwell. It matches well with the accounts available from the Castine Bookshop.