Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Battle of Lake Borgne, War of 1812

After the British failure to take Fort Bowyer at Mobile, Alabama they decided to attack New Orleans hoping to cut off U.S. trade via land towards the Mississippi River. When the Americans began receiving warnings of a British fleet approaching Louisiana they set up a gunboat blockade at Lake Borgne. Lake Borgne is a lagoon of the Gulf of Mexico which would be the British doorstep to New Orleans. 

Anchored outside of the lagoon the British deployed some 1200 sailors and Royal Marines in forty-two longboats, launches and barges with one 12, 18 or 24 pounder carronade each, as well as three gigs, each mounting a long brass 12 pounder cannon.

At night on December 12, the British boats set off to enter Lake Borgne.

After rowing for about thirty-six hours, the British located the American vessels drawn up in line abreast to block the lagoon channel. The Americans in the gunboats saw the British rowing towards them and opened fire while the boats were still out of reach. The British were rowing against a strong current and under a heavy fire of round and grapeshot.
The Americans fired as many times as possible before the range closed. They were able to sink two of the attacking longboats and damaged many others. Eventually the range closed and the British sailors and marines began to board the American vessels. In the close quarters combat the two sides used cutlasses, pikes, bayonets and muskets. The British captured Gunboat No. 156 and turned her guns against her sister ships. The gunboat fired her broadsides and assisted the capture of the remaining American craft. One by one, the British took the other gunboats. Boarding and capturing the entire American flotilla.
Lake Borgne would become the landing zone for British forces preparing to attack New Orleans.


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