joelAbbot"He was commissioned by McDonough and then ordered to destroy a cache of masts and spars that were to be used by the British in fitting out their naval force. When McDonough asked Abbot if he were ready to die for his country, he received the reply "Certainly, sir; that is what I came into the service for."  Dressed as a British officer and risking summary execution as a spy, Abbot destroyed the gear."

"Go along to get along" was not the credo of Joel Abbot of the United States Navy.  Distinguished in combat, he risked his career to to what he thought was right, challenging one of the great naval heroes of the republic.  His story proves that you might be down, but never out.

Great Britain, with a large contempt for the naval weakness of the United States, assumed, rather than claimed, the right to stop our merchant vessels on the high seas, to examine the crews, and to claim as her own any British sailors among them.  This was bad enough in itself, but the way in which the search was carried out was worse.  Every form of insolence and overbearing was exhibited.  The pretense of claiming British deserters covered what was sometimes barefaced and outrageous kidnapping of  Americans.
Relations between the United States and Great Britain were not good until World War I.  Obviously, they were not happy with losing their colonies, and the competition for the remainder of North America after the Revolution was an ongoing contest.  The boundary between the US and British Canada was not finalized until 1872.  Britain viewed the United States as independent, for the time being, but certainly not to be treated as an equal of their mighty empire.

"When within sure distance the Constitution opened her battery with round and grape-shot upon the thirteen gun-boats and galleys which had engaged the Americans' small craft.  This storm of shot sunk one of the gun-boats, disabled two and put the rest to flight.  Commodore Preble then ran in along the batteries, within musket-shot distance and fired three hundred round shot besides grape and canister into the Bashaw's castle, the town, and the batteries.  He silenced the castle and two of the batteries and then hauled off. No lives were lost on the American fleet."

"Millions for defense, but not one cent for tribute."  In 1794 Congress commissioned the construction of six frigates to give teeth to that bold declaration.  One of the new navy's first tasks was to protect American shipping from the Barbary States, what is now Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya.  We sent Preble.

“The defenders resolved, like the heroes of the Alamo in a similar emergency, to rely on their own stalwart arms and unerring aim, rather than on the word of a treacherous enemy, choosing to perish, if death must be their fate, in the noble effort to defend their flag, and not unresistingly under the scalping knife and tomahawk of the savage.”

The War of 1812 didn't produce a bumper crop of heroes on the American side, but young George Croghan was the real deal.  His heroics continued throughout his life.  During the Mexican War, when a Tennessee regiment shook under a tremendous fire, Croghan, rushed to the front, and taking off his hat, the wind tossing his grey hairs, chanelling Braveheart's Robert the Bruce shouted: "Men of Tennessee, your fathers conquered with Jackson at New Orleans—follow me!" 

“In this by-place of nature, there abode, in a remote period of American history, that is to say, some thirty years since, a worthy wight of the name of Ichabod Crane; who sojourned, or, as he expressed it, ‘tarried,’ in Sleepy Hollow, for the purpose of instructing the children of the vicinity.” --From Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”

Far from being the tall, exceedingly lank, narrow-shouldered, small-eared, spindle-necked character of Washington Irving’s story, the real Ichabod Crane was a robust and energetic career soldier, eventually a 48-year veteran of the United States Officer Corps.  He began his career as a Marine in 1809, resigning that commission to join the Army as a captain of artillery in 1812, and he spent the next 46 years in military assignments from coast to coast.

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