Men of Harlech (Rhyfelgyrch Gwŷr Harlech), a Welsh Military March


Thomas Oliphant’s words as they appear in “Welsh Melodies With Welsh and English Poetry” (volume 2), published during 1862. The lyrics are the same as the ca.1830 broadside.

 “Men of Harlech” (Rhyfelgyrch Gwŷr Harlech) is a traditional military march and is said to chronicle the seven-year long siege of Harlech Castle in the 1460s. The incident is considered the longest known siege in British history. The garrison was commanded by Constable Dafydd ap Ieuan. The tune is also called “Through Seven Years.”  Zuluwar tells us, “It is the regimental march of several regiments historically associated with Wales. The Royal Regiment of Wales, now the Royal Welsh (UK), the Royal Canadian Hussars (Montreal) and the Governor General’s Horse Guards, Canadian Forces are three examples. It is also the regimental march for two Australian Army Reserve units, the 8th/7th Battalion of The Royal Victoria Regiment and Sydney University Regiment where it is played as a quick march” .There are others that associate the song with the earlier shorter siege of Harlech Castle around 1408, which pitted the forces of Owain Glyndŵr against the future Henry V of England. “Men of Harlech” is important for Welsh national culture. The song gained international recognition when it was featured in the 1941 movie How Green Was My Valley  and 1964 movie Zulu. It was also featured in a 1950 Western, Apache Drums, at the conclusion of the 1945 film The Corn is Green, starring Bette Davis, and at the conclusion of the 1995 film The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain starring Hugh Grant.

Harlech Castle - A general view of the castle

Harlech Castle – A general view of the castle ~ via Wikipedia

Wikipedia speaks to the history of the song: “The music was first published without words during 1794 as Gorhoffedd Gwŷr Harlech—March of the Men of Harlech in the second edition of The Musical and Poetical Relicks of the Welsh Bards but it is said to be a much earlier folk song. The earliest version of the tune to appear with lyrics, found thus far, comes from a broadside printed c. 1830. Since then, many different versions of the English lyrics have been published. It was published first with Welsh lyrics in Gems of Welsh Melody, edited by the Welsh poet, John Owen (Owain Alaw), published in London,  England and Wrexham, Wales during 1860. An edition containing Welsh and English lyrics was published in  Ruthin, Wales, during 1862. The song was published in Volume II of the 1862 collection Welsh Melodies with the Welsh lyrics by the Welsh poet John Jones (Talhaiarn), and the English lyrics by  Thomas Oliphant, President of the Madrigal Society. Another source attributes the Welsh words to the poet John Ceiriog Hughes, first published during 1890, and says that English words were first published during 1893, but this is clearly predated by the earlier publications.

Some people assume this song is the Welsh national anthem, but that song is called “Hen Wlad fy Nhadau” (“Land of my Fathers”).

In addition to listening to this haunting tune on two You Tube links below, please read this story of survival where the song played a part in the evacuation of the South Tower of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2003.  Awesome Stories 

Men of Harlech ~ You Tube 

Modern Words used by Regimental Band

Tongues of fire on Idris flaring,
news of foe-men near declaring,
to heroic deeds of daring,
calls you Harlech men

Groans of wounded peasants dying,
wails of wives and children flying,
for the distant succour crying,
calls you Harlech men.

Shall the voice of wailing,
now be unavailing,
You to rouse who never yet
in battles hour were failing,

His our answer crowds down pouring
swift as winter torrents roaring,
Not in vain the voice imploring,
calls on Harlech men

Loud the martial pipes are sounding
every manly heart is bounding
As our trusted chief surrounding,
march we Harlech men.

Short the sleep the foe is taking,
ere the morrows morn is breaking,
They shall have a rude awakening,
roused by Harlech men.

Mothers cease your weeping,
calm may be your sleeping,
you and yours in safety now
the Harlech men are keeping,

ere the sun is high in heaven
they you fear by panic riven
shall like frightened sheep be driven,
far by Harlech men.

2-officers.jpgMen of Harlech (from the film Zulu) You Tube 

John Oxenford version (published 1873)

Verse 1
Men of Harlech, march to glory,
Victory is hov’ring o’er ye,
Bright-eyed freedom stands before ye,
Hear ye not her call?
At your sloth she seems to wonder;
Rend the sluggish bonds asunder,
Let the war-cry’s deaf’ning thunder
Every foe appall.
Echoes loudly waking,
Hill and valley shaking;
‘Till the sound spreads wide around,
The Saxon’s courage breaking;
Your foes on every side assailing,
Forward press with heart unfailing,
‘Till invaders learn with quailing,
Cambria ne’er can yield!
Verse 2
Thou, who noble Cambria wrongest,
Know that freedom’s cause is strongest,
Freedom’s courage lasts the longest,
Ending but with death!
Freedom countless hosts can scatter,
Freedom stoutest mail can shatter,
Freedom thickest walls can batter,
Fate is in her breath.
See, they now are flying!
Dead are heap’d with dying!
Over might hath triumph’d right,
Our land to foes denying;
Upon their soil we never sought them,
Love of conquest hither brought them,
But this lesson we have taught them,
“Cambria ne’er can yield!”


Posted in ballads, British history, film, legends, military, music, Wales | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Calling Card Etiquette, a Guest Post from Sue Barr

(This post originally appeared on the Austen Authors’ blog on December 30, 2020. Enjoy!)

To the unrefined or underbred, the visiting card is but a trifling and insignificant bit of paper; but to the cultured disciple of social law, it conveys a subtle and unmistakable intelligence. Its texture, style of engraving, and even the hour of leaving it combine to place the stranger, whose name it bears, in a pleasant or a disagreeable attitude, even before his manners, conversation and face have been able to explain his social position. The higher the civilization of a community, the more careful it is to preserve the elegance of its social forms. It is quite as easy to express a perfect breeding in the fashionable formalities of cards, as by any other method, and perhaps, indeed, it is the safest herald of an introduction for a stranger. Its texture should be fine, its engraving a plain script, its size neither too small, so that its recipients shall say to themselves, ‘A whimsical person,’ nor too large to suggest ostentation. Refinement seldom touches extremes in anything.

From “Our Deportment” by John H. Young, 1879 & 1881, p. 76.

Calling cards were a necessary accessory for a gentleman or lady when calling upon friends or acquaintances, or wished to announce their presence in Town. They also were a handy way to recall who had come to visit and which calls needed to be returned – or not. Cards were placed on a silver salver in the entry hall. A lady’s card would have her name, sometimes her address, and the day that she received visitors in the bottom left corner.

A turned down upper right corner indicated the card had been delivered in person, rather than by a servant. More elaborate cards had the words Visite (right upper hand)  Felicitation (left upper hand) Condolence (lower left hand) and P.P.C. – pour prendage conde (right lower hand) imprinted on the corresponding corners of the reverse side. That way, whichever corner was turned over, the reason for the visit was readily apparent. P.P.C. meant the family was temporarily leaving the area. Also, Adieu could be used in this instance.

Until a formal acquaintance was recognized, members of the families could not socialize with one another. Which explains Mrs. Bennet’s frustration that her husband has not called upon Mr. Bingley. She has visions of his $5000 a year flying toward another family’s daughter. It was the expected practice of the day for established members of the community to call upon new arrivals. Unlike the social restrictions in Town. There, a socially inferior family was expected to wait for the call from someone of higher social standing. Acceptance by those of higher status was the key to social mobility in Regency society, which explains the reason behind much of Caroline Bingley’s behavior. Mr. Darcy’s friendship with Charles opened doors to places the Bingley siblings would never attain on their own.

Only men called upon men. Women did not initiate the relationship themselves. However, once the man of the house performed introductions, or, in the case of the Meryton Assembly the Master of Ceremony (Sir William Lucas) performed introductions, then the ladies could interact socially with them. Visits were most often made in the afternoon. As a general rule, new acquaintances attended between 3-4 pm, frequent acquaintances between 4-5 pm, and close friends would come after 5 pm, often staying for dinner.

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Picking One’s Teeth, or Getting the Research Correct + the Release of “Captain Stanwick’s Bride”

If one has never written an historical book, be it fiction or nonfiction, he/she likely does not quite grasp the idea that having accuracy, even in the smallest of details, is essential.

In my latest release, Captain Stanwick’s Bride: A Tragic Characters in Classic Lit Series Novel, there is a short scene in an operating tent upon a battlefield. The hero, Captain Whittaker Stanwick is a British army prisoner being held with others in tents outside Fort McHenry, near Baltimore, Maryland.

The heroine is the daughter of a Scottish born and trained surgeon and a Powhatan Indian princess. Being an uncouth “Injun,” Beatrice assists her father during the surgery. Whit has been recruited also to assist, but his stomach nearly does him in and provide him shame, when a soldier suffering with dysentery vomits all over the ground, right in front of Whit.

Personally, I understand Whit’s reaction. Even with my own child, I could clean up every mess — and there many such occasions — but I had to find air quickly if my son decided to expel the contents of his stomach into the toilet or on the floor. One thing that always made me feel better was a toothpick, which had been dipped in mint oil, held between my teeth. [As a side note, when I was in junior high school, clove, cinnamon, and mint flavored toothpicks were all the rage. We kept them in our mouths during class until the teachers and administration banned them.] Therefore, I thought to provide Whit a ready solution to his queasy reaction. Unfortunately, in an afterthought, I realized toothpicks were not mass manufactured in America, where the story takes place during the War of 1812, until the 1860s. Even so, the keywords in that sentence were “mass manufactured.” With a twist of the idea and a some research, the scene still worked.

In truth, early Neanderthals used some sort of tool to pick their teeth. We know this because scientists have identified tooth indentations, assumed to be indicative of picking one’s teeth, among Australian Aborigines, prehistoric Native Americans, and even the earliest finds of the Egyptians. “Mesopotamians used instruments to keep dental crevices clear and artifacts such as toothpicks made out of silver, bronze and various other precious metals that date back to antiquity have also been unearthed. By the Medieval period, carrying a gold or silver toothpick in a fancy case became a way for privileged Europeans to distinguish themselves from commoners.” [A Short History of the Toothpick]

It is said that Queen Elizabeth I received six gold toothpicks as a gift from an admirer. She was known to show them off at gatherings at the palace. Supposedly, there is a portrait of an elderly Queen Elizabeth wearing a chain around her neck with a gold toothpick in a case, similar to the one pictured below.

Others made toothpicks from whatever was available. The Romans used bird feathers, chopping off the quill and sharpening the tip. Native Americans carved deer bone to form toothpicks. Eskimos used walrus whiskers. Wooden toothpicks can splinter and cause injuries.

The American Charles Forster had lived and worked in Brazil. It was there that he noticed the excellent condition of the people in the area. The Brazilians credited the imported toothpicks available from Portugal. Inspired, Forster developed a machine that would mass produce toothpicks. Regrettably, Americans were not buying something they could create for themselves with a piece of wood and a whittling knife.

Forster was not abandoning the idea; therefore, he created an unusual marketing campaign. “Some of the unusual marketing tactics he employed included hiring students to pose as store customers seeking toothpicks and instructing Harvard students to ask for them whenever they dined at restaurants. Soon enough, many local eateries would make sure toothpicks were available for patrons who somehow developed a habit of reaching for them as they’re about to leave.”

“In 1869, Alphons Krizek, of Philadelphia, received a patent for an ‘improvement in toothpicks,’ which featured a hooked end with spoon-shaped mechanism designed to clean out hollow and sensitive teeth. Other attempted ‘improvements’ include a case for a retractable toothpick and a scented coating meant to freshen one’s breath. Towards the end of the 19th century, there were literally billions of toothpicks made each year. In 1887, the count got as high as five billion toothpicks, with Forster accounting for more than half of them. And by the end of the century, there was one factory in Maine that was already making that many.”

Other Sources:

A Brief History of the Toothpick

Digging into the History of the Humble Toothpick

History of Toothpicks

Strange History of the Toothpick

Teaching History with 100 Objects

Enjoy this excerpt from Chapter Three of Captain Stanwick’s Bride.

When he entered the area set aside for the surgical services, Miss Spurlock was separating the injured based on the degree of seriousness of the injuries. Whit had witnessed more than one field hospital and the horrors the surgeons faced, often in a feeble attempt to save the wounded. 

She motioned him deeper into the large tented area. Stepping over the legs of a man who had collapsed from exhaustion or injury, Whit was uncertain of which, he turned to haul the fellow up onto a cot. A sourness clung to the soldier, the distinct smell of a man suffering from dysentery. 

Whit found himself holding his breath while he assisted in removing the man’s boots. “Someone will be with you soon. Can you tell me if you have an injury?” 

The man shook his head in the negative, rolled to his side, and retched. Whit quickly turned away, his stomach churning violently as he heard the man dump the contents of his stomach on the ground. He slapped his hand across his mouth to prevent his own humiliation.

“Are you well, Captain?” Miss Spurlock asked softly. “Should we discover another to assist my father? There is no shame. This work is not for everyone.” 

Whit fought hard to swallow a quick intake of fresh air, but the fetid smell was too strong. He rasped, “I can assist with the blood, seen more than my share of blood, but not—”

“I understand.” She turned his shoulders toward where her father examined a man’s bloody wound. “Make yourself useful to my father.” 

He forced the lead in his feet into movement, finally claiming a bit of air not laced with miasmic odors, but rather with the metallic scent of blood, something too familiar to every soldier. 

“Good to have your strong arm, Captain,” Spurlock said as Whit approached. He had no doubt the surgeon had observed his reaction to the soldier’s vomiting. “I have presented the sergeant, here, laudanum, but, if I can claim any chance to save it, I cannot wait until it completely takes affect to start on the man’s hand. I ask you hold him still so I may begin.” 

“Just position me where you think best.”

Spurlock maneuvered Whit to lie across the man’s chest and down on the shoulder to hold the arm in place. The injured man’s shoulders flexed, but quickly slumped back against the wood table, covered with a sheet. Whit was beginning to understand that Spurlock was one who believed in cleanliness. 

“Water, Beatrice,” Spurlock ordered as he unwrapped a cloth holding several sharp instruments.

In less than a minute, Miss Spurlock brought over a bowl of water, a bar of soap, and a clean rag. She positioned a small metal tray on the table’s edge and filled it with some sort of alcohol. Then she circled to where Whit laid across the injured man. “Open your mouth,” she ordered. 

“Pardon?” he asked. 

“Open your mouth,” she repeated. When he did as she asked, she popped a toothpick in between his teeth. “Bite down.” She tapped his cheek, and he closed his lips around the toothpick, using his tongue to position it in the corner of his mouth. Before he could ask, she explained. “Made of wood, not like the deer bone ones my Indian relations would use, and dipped in oil of mint. The scent shall assist in disguising the more disgusting odors, and the taste will assist in settling your stomach.” She wicked at him. “Just do not permit the sergeant to punch you in the mouth while you hold him down. I understand passing a toothpick in your stool can be quite painful.” 

A chuckle escaped his lips as she walked away. “Your daughter possesses an unusual sense of humor, sir.” 

Spurlock glanced to where Miss Spurlock had returned to the other side of the tent. “My Beatrice be of her mother’s temperament.” The doctor sighed in what appeared to be melancholy. “There are so many nuisances of a woman’s nature a man must learn to appreciate. I miss Elizabeth’s sharp wit.” Spurlock smiled knowingly. “Among many of her other finer qualities. You are married, Stanwick. Surely you know what I mean.” 

Whit fought the blush of embarrassment rushing up his chest to his cheeks. “I am no longer married. Mrs. Stanwick passed some sixteen months prior.” He nodded to the faint line where his ring had been, surprised how quickly both the line and his memories of Ruth had faded. “I traded my wedding ring for blankets and food for my men on our journey from Buffalo.” 

“Then President Madison’s declaration of war precipitated your arrival in America,” Spurlock observed as he arranged his tools upon the cloth before him. 

“I had been presented leave from my time upon the Continent, for I had been with Wellington for some two years upon the Spanish Peninsula. I had been in England, perhaps, two months, when I received orders to the Canadian front. At the time, I did not expect to be doing more than attempting to keep the Indian fears over American encroachment at a minimum. I was not expecting how deep the resentment between the competing parties was until I arrived in Upper Canada.”

Ready to begin the operation, Spurlock, lost in his duties, simply presented Whit a curt nod: Whit was uncertain the man had heard anything of his response, but it did not matter. Whit looked on as Spurlock unwrapped the sergeant’s hand to expose the torn flesh hanging on the white bone, which was covered in dried blood and mud. Spurlock grumbled, “I wish the army would ban muskets. Damn gun explodes nearly as often as it fires.” 

Whit glanced to the wound while he sucked on the mint toothpick. He could learn to enjoy the flavor. “Can you save the fingers?”

“Probably not the small one or the ring finger, but the rest.” Spurlock began to clean away the blood and dirt from the wound. “I must remove the bone fragments. Keep him still. This can be time consuming, but necessary. If I do not remove all the fragments, infection will set in.” 

“I have nothing on my social calendar,” Whit said with a grin. 

“Excellent news,” Spurlock murmured with an answering smile. “You do realize the man beneath you is an American soldier.” 

“The war is between our countries,” Whit responded with a shrug. 

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The Battle for Fort McHenry and Its Role in “Captain Stanwick’s Bride”

On Friday, I welcomed another Book Baby. Captain Stanwick’s Bride: A Tragic Characters in Classic Lit Series Novel is a Regency romance that is set against the fiercest battles of the War of 1812 between England and the United States. My hero, Captain Whittaker Stanwick, is a captain in the British army. My heroine, Miss Beatrice Spurlock, is half Native American and half Scottish. Her father is a Scot practicing medicine in America. Her mother is modeled on my sixth great-grandmother, a Powhatan Indian “princess” named Elizabeth by her white father.

It was not uncommon during the War of 1812 for British citizens in America to be held by the U.S. government. They were not “exactly” prisoners, but many were forced to abandon their homes and places of business, especially if they were not naturalized citizens, and move into an area where they could be “watched,” so to speak. Therefore, in my story, Beatrice’s father has been “encouraged” to abandon his surgery practice in Richmond, Virginia, and serve as the physician/surgeon for the American forces at Fort McHenry and Fort Babcock.

Whittaker and Beatrice meet at the fort when he arrives in a wagon filled with prisoners from a battle along the Canadian front. Whit is only at the fort for a matter of weeks before he is traded for an American captain and sent back to England. [Because neither country could withstand the cost of feeding and clothing prisoners, during the War of 1812, the Americans and the British made “equal” trades: an American captain for a British captain, etc.] Those weeks were enough to convince Whit that Beatrice held his heart. Once Whit learns of the British turning their full force on the United States, he races against time and circumstances to reach Beatrice before she is killed at Fort McHenry, a prime target for the British forces in its quest to squash the Americans.

Map of the bombardment on September 13-14, 1814 at Fort McHenry, Maryland.  The American forces withstood the British bombardment on Fort McHenry, forcing the British to abandon their land assault on the crucial port city of Baltimore and inspiring the lyrics to the Star Spangled Banner.  ~

What of Fort McHenry’s significance in turning the war?

“And the rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air” are part of the lyrics of the “Star-Spangled Banner,” the national anthem of the United States. “These few words . . . are some of the most recognizable in American history. . .. Nearly every [American] school child in America knows that Francis Scott Key wrote the anthem as a poem after observing the British bombardment of Fort McHenry in Baltimore Harbor throughout the night of 13 September and into the morning of 14 September 1814. From his vantage point on a British ship, he watched through the rainy night as British guns pummeled the fort. As dawn broke, Key saw a massive American flag defiantly flying over the fort signaling that the British attack had failed. Had the British captured and burned Baltimore, as they had Washington the month before, Philadelphia and New York City would have been the next likely targets.” [Battles that Saved America]

Unbeknown to the British, Baltimore had been preparing for an attack by the British for more than a year. Ordered by the Maryland governor at the time, Levin Winder, the commander of the state militia, Major General Samuel Smith he built a line of defense of the city. Using what funds the federal government provided, along with donations from the local citizenry, Smith managed to place 56 long-range cannons at Fort McHenry. He also ordered the installing of several other lesser-sized forts, Fort Babcock, Fort Covington, and Fort Lookout around the Baltimore Harbor. Fort McHenry also sported a 32-pound cannon battery along the water’s edge, as well as fortifications at Lazaretto Point and other points along the Patapsco Rivers. The Americans had lined up barges across the approach on the Fort Babcock and Fort Covington side. They left the channels open to lure the British fleet into the “kill zone.”

The Americans knew the British were better armed force. Therefore, volunteers dug large trenches east of Baltimore itself. The Baltimore militia drilled regularly and, in many ways, were better prepared than the British. As expected, the British began their attack by land at the North Point Peninsula. The Americans were prepared for the onslaught—squeezing Baltimore between a land and sea advancement. 5,000 infantry troops landed at North Point and marched in an arc toward the city from the east. The British had won an easy battle when they overran Washington City weeks prior. They expected the same at Baltimore. The Battle of North Point began at predawn on September 12, 1814. Major General Robert Ross had three brigades of infantry, plus a company of Royal Sappers and a contingent of Royal Marines at his command, but the battle was not to turn in the favor of the British. [Battle of North Point]

Expecting success from their ground troops, the British Royal Navy moved into place at 0630 on September 13, 1814. The British had 5 bomb ships, a rocket ship, and 10 other war ships in place. “British troops outside Baltimore were probably heartened by the sound, but what they saw must have shocked them. They believed that the day before they had defeated the entirety of the American defenders and expected to march easily into the city. The rising sun revealed the spectacle of 12,000 soldiers facing them. Among the defenders were militia units from the city and surrounding counties; some units came from as far away as Pennsylvania. Furthermore, the Americans possessed 100 cannon, giving the Americans a three-to-one advantage over their British foes. The land between the American and British lines had been largely cleared, offering little in the way of cover of concealment, and the heavy rains from the night before turned much of it into a quagmire. [British] Colonel Brooke sent patrols out to probe for weaknesses in the American lines, but none were discovered. All Brooke could do was wait for support from the heavy naval guns of the British fleet. Before it could get within supporting range of the troops in Baltimore, however, it would have to reduce Fort McHenry.” [Battles that Saved America]

Major George Armistead was the commander at Fort McHenry. He had only a few days’ notice to prepare for the British attack. He had 527 men from the 12th, 36th, and 38th, U. S. Infantry Regiments, along with a contingent of regular and militia artillery units at his disposal. McHenry’s major weakness was its massive munitions structure. It was a brick structure and vulnerable if it took a direct hit from the British. One bomb actually struck the ammunition magazine, but, fortunately, for the Americans, it did not explode. Armistead ordered the 300 barrels of powder redistributed throughout the fort so it would not explode and cause massive destruction to the fort or the loss of lives.

The British began their assault with Congreve rockets, mortars and cannon balls. This went on for hours. Surprisingly though, at the end only 4 men had lost their lives and 24 had been wounded. Few guns were put out of action by the engagement. After some six hours of constant bombing of the fort, Rear Admiral Cockburn, moved his ships closer, thinking they would do better with a close range. However, the 32-pound cannon battery, a French style cannon, forced them to retreat. The French battery was smaller and could not reach the British when so far removed, but up close, they were “deadly,” for they were more accurate than the larger cannons.

“After dark, with the rain falling and their army still menacing the outskirts of Baltimore, the British attempted to bypass the guns of Fort McHenry. Just before midnight on 13 September, boats carrying 1,200 soldiers slid under the guns of Fort McHenry making their way into the middle branch of the Patapsco River. The British obviously intended to mount a ground attack on the rear of the fort. Thinking that they were out of danger from the fort’s guns, they sent up rockets. Perhaps the firing of the rockets was an ill-advised celebration of their having bypassed Fort McHenry, or perhaps it was meant as a signal. In either case, it gave away their position and pinpointed them as targets for the guns at Forts Babcock and Covington. Many of the 1,200 unfortunate British troops were killed or drowned in the ensuing crossfire. Most of those who survived were taken prisoner.” [Battles that Saved America]

Despite having filled the air with close to 1700 rounds of mortar and bombs, on the morning of September 14, 1814, Fort McHenry still stood and was very much intact. Major Armistead ordered the raising of a special American flag over the fort as a signal they would continue to fight. Reportedly, the fort’s musicians played “Yankee Doodle” [“Yankee Doodle”is a well-known American song“, the early versions of which date to before the Revolutionary War. It was sung by British military officers to mock the disheveled, disorganized colonial “Yankees” with whom they served in the French and Indian War. It was also popular among the Americans as a song of defiance, and it mocked the British, who could not defeat George Washington. By 1781, instead of an insult, it became a song of pride.] as the flag was raised. The flag was 42 ft x 30 ft and could be seen easily. The fact the British had thrown all they had at Fort McHenry and it still stood convinced them to withdraw. The war was not to end until December 24, 1814, but, for a moment in time, the Americans could celebrate.


Captain Stanwick’s Bride: Tragic Characters in Classic Lit Series Novel

[Released February 19, 2021]

“Happiness consists more in conveniences of pleasure that occur everyday than in great pieces of good fortune that happen but seldom.” – Benjamin Franklin

Captain Whittaker Stanwick has a successful military career and a respectable home farm in Lancashire. What he does not have in his life is felicity. Therefore, when the opportunity arrives, following his wife’s death, Stanwick sets out to know a bit of happiness, at last—finally to claim a woman who stirs his soul. Yet, he foolishly commits himself to one woman only weeks before he has found a woman, though shunned by her people and his, who touches his heart. Will he deny the strictures placed upon him by society in order learn the secret of happiness is freedom: Freedom to love and freedom to know courage?

Loosely based on Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “The Courtship of Miles Standish” and set against the final battles of the War of 1812, this tale shows the length a man will go to in order to claim a remarkable woman as his.

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“Captain Stanwick’s Bride” Has Arrived!

Today is release day for Captain Stanwick’s Bride: A Tragic Characters in Classic Lit Series Novel. It is loosely based on Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “The Courtship of Myles Standish.” However in this project, we bring the “tragic characters” into the late Georgian through early Victorian era.

Foundation Behind The Tragic Characters in Classic Lit Series 

Nearly a dozen authors are involved in this series where the reader will encounter some of their “favorite,” or should I say, “least favorite” characters found in classic literature. The parameters of the project were quite simple. (1) The story must be, at least, 40,000 words. (2) Instead of the original setting for the tale, all the stories in this series take place between the late Georgian period and early Victorian, meaning late 1700s into about 1840. (3) Each novel is based on a different tragic character from a public domain novel, story, or poem. 

The idea is to provide the tragic character a “happily ever after.” It does not matter if he/she was the protagonist or the antagonist in the original tale, in these new renderings he/she will be the hero/heroine. 

In the series, one could meet fallen heroes who have succumbed to vice, greed, etc. He/She could originally have been detested for what values he accepted, but, in these new tales, he redeems himself: His fate changes. He will find the fortitude to change his stars, learn to accept what cannot be changed, and move beyond the impossible to discover “Love After All.” 

Characters Found in “Captain Stanwick’s Bride: Love After All” 

This story is inspired by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “The Courtship of Miles Standish.” Truth first, the “hero” and “heroine” of Longfellow’s narrative poem are John Alden and Priscilla Mullins of the Mayflower and Plymouth Rock fame. The Aldens are my tenth great-grandparents through their daughter Rebecca. However, I am well aware that Longfellow’s (who is also related to the Aldens through their daughter Elizabeth) tale is not necessarily based in history. There is no proof that Captain Standish wished to court Priscilla Mullins and sent Alden as his spokesman, with Priscilla supposedly telling Alden, “Why don’t you speak for yourself, John.” 

Captain Whittaker Myles Stanwick

Myles Standish has many fine qualities that I attempted to display in my tale, with the exception of Standish’s renowned quick temper. I have moved my story from 1620 America to the War of 1812 as its backdrop. My Captain Whittaker Myles Stanwick (notice the purposeful change in the spelling) is on the Canadian front when the story begins, fighting alongside the Indian Confederation at the Battle of the Thames. The real Myles Standish was a fierce opponent, who stood against the Native Americans encountered by the Plymouth settlers, but he was respected by them, as well. I wanted to show my Captain Stanwick as a leader of men, one displaying reason and fortitude and being deeply devoted to his duties. 

Ruth Stanwick 

Ruth Standish was Captain Standish’s first wife. Unfortunately, we know little of the woman, including anything of her family, for she died during that first winter for the Pilgrims at Plymouth, Massachusetts. For my purposes, Ruth Stanwick dies at home in Lancashire, England, while my hero is away at war. 

Beatrice Spurlock 

Standish’s second wife, Barbara, arrived at Plymouth, Massachusetts, on the second ship to land there, the Anne. We also know little about the second Mrs. Standish, not even her maiden name. 

For this story, instead of “Barbara,” I chose the name “Beatrice.” Beatrice is based on some of my family. My sixth great-grandmother was actually a Powhatan Indian Princess named “Elizabeth.” In the story, my great-grandmother serves as the basis for Beatrice’s mother, Elizabeth, who, in real life, married a Scot, named Charles Spurlock, and faced much criticism and repudiation until they moved to the backwoods of what was then Virginia and helped found a settlement called “Spurlock Creek.” Even then, “Princess” Elizabeth did not acclimate well, but it is said her daughter proved to be a leader in the community. Also note, in real life, Charles Spurlock from my family tree was not a surgeon, but his grandson was. You will see how those facts play out in the story.

Jonas Alderson and Portia Miller 

I did not totally abandon Longfellow’s poem for inspiration. These two are my John Alden and Priscilla Mullins characters. Stanwick has a friendship with Alderson, who is a cooper, a man who makes casks, buckets, barrels, etc., in which to store food stuffs, whale oil, fresh water, and the like, as was the real John Alden. 

History shows that Standish and Alden founded the settlement of Duxbury, Massachusetts. They each served in several positions to both the original colony and that particular town. 

Duxbury Hall

Myles Standish’s origins are not clear. In his last will and testament, he did claim to be part of the Standish family of Duxbury Hall in Lancashire, England. I did not go so far as to claim the same in my tale, but I do present my Captain Stanwick with a sizable farm in the shire. 


Before anyone chooses to send me a nasty email about how I bent history for my own device, I will remind the reader that this book is FICTION. I did my research, and, I admit, I did NOT find information that said British prisoners were held in tents outside of Fort McHenry, but then again, I found nothing that said they were not. I took artistic liberty, for the setting of Fort McHenry allowed me to place my main characters in a position of uncertainty with the backdrop of one of the last great battles of the War of 1812 raging around them. 

Captain Stanwick’s Bride: Tragic Characters in Classic Lit Series Novel

[Arriving February 19, 2021]

“Happiness consists more in conveniences of pleasure that occur everyday than in great pieces of good fortune that happen but seldom.” – Benjamin Franklin

Captain Whittaker Stanwick has a successful military career and a respectable home farm in Lancashire. What he does not have in his life is felicity. Therefore, when the opportunity arrives, following his wife’s death, Stanwick sets out to know a bit of happiness, at last—finally to claim a woman who stirs his soul. Yet, he foolishly commits himself to one woman only weeks before he has found a woman, though shunned by her people and his, who touches his heart. Will he deny the strictures placed upon him by society in order learn the secret of happiness is freedom: Freedom to love and freedom to know courage?

Loosely based on Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “The Courtship of Miles Standish” and set against the final battles of the War of 1812, this tale shows the length a man will go to in order to claim a remarkable woman as his.

Enjoy Whit and Beatrice’s first meeting during Chapter Two:

15 November 1813

Fort McHenry, Maryland 

It had taken his party eighteen days of hard travel to reach Fort McHenry. Whit pitied those who would follow, for the nights, and even some of the days, in the mountains had been bitterly cold, but, thankfully, snow free. He and his men and numerous officers from other units had huddled together, sharing blankets and body heat, even though cleanliness had long since left their persons. They had worn the same clothes for nearly seven weeks, and body odor would make them easy prey for predators in the wild. 

“Line up,” an American soldier ordered as Whit and his men stepped gingerly down from the wagons. “Most seriously injured at the front. Sort yerselves out.” The soldier waited while Whit and the other officers arranged some fifty plus British soldiers in some sort of order. At length, the American shouted, “Listen. I shan’t repeat meself. You’ll stand before the clerk presentin’ him yern name, rank, next of kin, and the location of yer home. Then you’ll be seen by the camp doctor—some of you may be sent for treatment. You’ll be given new clothes to wear, meaning shirts, socks, and the like, and then assigned to quarters, meaning the tents you see before you. Some of you will be released immediately in an exchange for arn soldiers. Others will be here until . . . well until yer not.”

* * * 

“Your name?” an American sergeant asked. 

“Whittaker Stanwick,” he replied. 

It had taken more than an hour for him to reach this critical point in the line. They had been brought into the fort itself, three at a time, to be treated by the physician. Like everything else dealing with the military during a war, organization was patchwork at best. Decisions were fluid. He watched as the sergeant scribbled his name into a log book. 

“Rank?” The American did not look up from his task. 


“Place of birth?” 

“Lancashire, England.” 

“Any injuries?”

Whit sighed heavily. He had to remember to break the habit as quickly as possible, for he feared it betrayed his thinking to perfect strangers. He said quickly, “Nothing that a good meal and a bath would not cure. Perhaps some liniment for my knee.” 

The sergeant finally looked up long enough to frown his displeasure with Whit’s response. “Speak to Doctor Spurlock for the liniment. Go to the end of the L-shaped hall and wait until they come for you. You’ll see the doc, and he’ll send you on to yer quarters afterwards.” He gestured to the passage behind him. 

Whit nodded his understanding and ambled down the long hall, lined with a row of doors on both sides. He had just taken up a stance against the wall where he studied the posted notices when a sound at the other end of the “L” drew his notice. A woman struggled with a soldier. A woman? When was the last time he looked upon a woman not part of the camp whores who followed the army wherever they went. Abandoning his position, despite his ailing knee, Whit took off at a hastened pace to reach the lady. “Halt! None of that!” he declared in his best “captain’s” voice. 

The man stiffened, for the passing of perhaps three heartbeats, which was long enough for Whit to step between the American and the woman, shoving her behind him to protect her. 

The American attempted to reach around him, but Whit easily blocked the man’s hand. “Ladies are not to be mauled,” he hissed. 

“She ain’t being no lady, so tell the Injun to keep her filthy hands off me,” the man protested. “I don’t need none of her potions and elixirs.” 

“It is only a bottle of liniment,” the lady responded, anger underlining her tone. 

Whittaker eyed the American soldier with disdain and received a like form of contempt in return. 

The man pointed an accusing finger at the woman. “Just stay away from me. I know what your type do to the likes of honest men.” The American stalked away, mumbling a series of complaints along the way. 

It was then that Whit turned to look upon the woman. Eyes the color of storm clouds met his. A wealth of hair, as dark as coal soot marked with strands of red, wrapped in a tight braid at the nape of her neck, framed an oval-shaped face that displayed both relief and frustration at the same time.

“I beg your pardon, ma’am. I did not mean to handle you so roughly.” Whit thought to offer her a bow, but he knew the Americans did not customarily bow and curtsey, as did those in Great Britain. “I am Captain Stanwick.” 

“Miss Spurlock,” she murmured. 

“As in Doctor Spurlock?” he questioned. Surely the Americans had not employed a female to treat the prisoners. 

“My father,” she responded softly. 

Ah, he thought. That makes more sense. Whit tilted his head to the side to study her. “Pardon my forwardness, miss,” he said. “Your accent is laced with bits of the Brit.” 

She smiled up at him, doing something to his heart, but he could not name the emotion. “Most Americans maintain the language they learned at their mother’s knees. That is accept those from France, Germany, and various other countries on the Continent.” 

Whit frowned. “Yet, you are not part of the majority, miss. Am I correct?”

“In truth, sir, I speak my mother’s language quite fluently.” She sounded as if she were teasing him, and Whit did not know exactly what to think of the young woman. Her eyebrow rose in challenge. “Even though ‘most’ Americans do not understand my mother’s language.” 

A new reality arrived. He surmised, “Ah, the private’s reference to ‘Injun.’”

She stiffened as if expecting his disdain, but the woman did not look away from his countenance, indicating her strength of character. Whit found he admired her determination. “Yes, my mother was the equivalent of your British term ‘princess’ of the Powhatan tribe, just as was her mother.” She did not say, just as I am, but the woman’s meaning was implied. “From my last name, you might determine my father is a Scot,” she observed in what appeared to be mild amusement. 

“Or someone from Germany,” he countered. Whit discovered his lips twitched in hopes of a smile, which he denied. “I must confess, other than Tecumseh and his braves, and Roundhead and his warriors, I have encountered few Indians upon the American continent. Certainly, none of the Powhatan tribe.” He knew he blushed in awkwardness. “I fear it is very telling of my character that I never bothered to learn more than a few words of Tecumseh’s language.” 

Before either of them could say more, a red-headed man in the coat of a gentleman stepped into the hall. “Stanwick.” 

“Here,” Whit and Miss Spurlock said together.

Whit presented a nod of farewell to the lady and turned to where the man waited. 

“Come in,” the man looked down again to the paper he held in his hand. “Captain Stanwick.” 

Whit stepped around the man to enter the small office. Meanwhile, the doctor looked to his daughter. “Are you well, my dear?”

“Perfectly, sir,” Miss Spurlock answered. “Captain Stanwick simply admitted he knew nothing of the Powhatan language.” 

“Rightly so,” the doctor announced. “Did you explain to the good captain the Algonquian language of tidewater Virginia has been considered extinct for five and twenty years?”

“Our conversation was interrupted, sir.” Whit could hear the childlike perversity in her tone, and he smiled, despite the inappropriateness of the act. 

“No mischief, Beatrice,” the doctor warned as he turned to enter the office, pointedly closing the door behind him and offering a slight bow. “I must apologize, Captain, if my daughter attempted to bam you.” 

Whit returned the man’s bow. “Nothing of the sort, Spurlock. I simply stepped in when another refused Miss Spurlock’s offer of liniment.” 

“Bloody idiots!” Spurlock growled in frustration. “They distrust me because I am a British subject, who was ‘foolish,’ their word, not mine, enough to marry the most beautiful woman I had ever encountered. They distrust my daughter because they fear all Indian tribes. Think them ‘savages.’” 

Whit sat in the chair the man indicated. “Then you have always lived in America? Odd as it may sound, although I know those who founded this country were, customarily British citizens or the descendants of British citizens, when ordered to Canada for the war, I never considered I could be fighting my own. I fought the French on the Continent with Wellington. I suppose I assumed everyone to be of the like of the Frenchies. It is not as if I encountered many French descendants in America, despite your daughter mentioning something to that effect. However, until this journey, I have not been a part of the British forces that occupied strongholds in the ‘States’ proper” He did not know why such an admission was disconcerting, but he found a distinct tightening of his chest as he said the words.

Spurlock commented as he sat, “I suppose you ignored those in French Canada.” 

Whit chuckled at his own expense. “Yes, I did not consider the French who aided the Indians across the border as enemies of the British.” 

“It sounds as if you have spent more than a few years in the army,” Spurlock observed. 

Whit shrugged, embarrassment creeping up the back of his neck. “I should likely have found other employment by now; yet, you know men do not enjoy change. A woman embraces it, but we prefer constancy.”

“My late wife would have disagreed with you,” Spurlock countered. “It was my Elizabeth who did not want our family to live in Great Britain. I should never have taken her and Beatrice there. I foolishly missed my home in the lowlands when I should have realized Elizabeth was all the ‘home’ I required.” 

Whit felt continuing this conversation would be too personal. Therefore, he asked, “How did you come to serve at Fort McHenry?”

“I returned to America when Beatrice was but ten. We thought to settle again in New York, but Elizabeth was ill and wanted to spend her final days with her family close at hand; therefore, we came to Virginia. When she passed, we moved, and I opened my office in Richmond. However, with the hostilities, I lost patients who feared to have a British-trained surgeon tending them.” Spurlock scowled in apparent frustration. “I have been assigned to ‘duties’ here by the American government. I serve Fort McHenry and Fort Babcock, an earthen gun battery about two miles removed to the west. It was only recently constructed. The Americans do not exactly trust me, but they require my skills, for physicians and surgeons with experience are in short supply.” 

“Your tale is unexpected,” Whit remarked. 

“In many ways, I fared better than most of my acquaintances in New York, so it is probably best that my wife and I did not return there. The American Marshal for the District of New York initially required several hundred British citizens to register as such. Later, British heads of households who lived in New York and had applied to be naturalized American citizens, also were required to report to the marshal, a man called Peter Curtenius. The number quickly rose to fifteen hundred. 

“As the war progressed, those citizens in the larger towns and cities were removed to the rural areas of the state. They were simply made to quit their homes and their livelihoods for no reason except the matter of their birth. The Army has provided me and my daughter a small cottage along the main road from Baltimore, but, as you can imagine, I spend a great deal of my time in this small office and the surgical tents set up outside the actual fort. I treat both the American wounded and the captured British soldiers.” 

“I had no idea,” Whittaker admitted. 

Spurlock shrugged his response. “I am grieved to have spoken so bluntly to a stranger. Such is truly not my nature, nor is it a concern of yours. I simply become so annoyed by all these questions of loyalty. I am a surgeon. Dear God, I have sworn to do my best by my patients! I would treat any man who came before me, foe or enemy, with as much care as I would treat my own daughter, if she required it.” He paused briefly to compose himself. “Thank you for tolerating my rant; however, you did not deserve to know my dudgeon.” 

“I am not offended, Spurlock,” Whit said in honest tones. “I would prefer to know what to expect. This is all very new to each of us.” 

The surgeon nodded his acceptance. “Tell me of your ailments, Stanwick.” 

“My knee pains me when I stand too long, and, if I was to speak the truth, my feet are in poor shape,” Whit explained. 

Spurlock chuckled, “Most men I see would be happy to own the boots I noted on your feet. They do not realize how uncomfortable Hessians can be. Terrible when they become wet.” He made notations on the paper before him. “Allow me to examine your knee for any major injury, and then we will go from there.” 

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The Battle of North Point, Prelude to the End of the War of 1812 + the Release of “Captain Stanwick’s Bride”

Although the battle proved to be a success for the British, it came at a high cost, and, in truth, did little to change the course of the war, which was the British hope at the time.

North Point is a peninsula leading to the Chesapeake Bay. It was to serve as the landing point for the British forces following the burning of Washington City, the U. S. Capitol. The idea was to send British troops toward Baltimore, a major port city at the time. In that manner, the British would be in a position to attack Fort McHenry, Fort Babcock, and Fort Covington, all protecting the Chesapeake Bay. A fleet of British warships sat in the bay, and they were to attack Fort McHenry on 13 September 1814. Therefore, the British landed on North Point on September 12. The advance proved to be a limited victory for the British, the battle allowed the Americans to bolster their defences in the region to ultimately thwart the larger British advance into Maryland.

For several months, British naval forces under the command of Rear Admiral George Cockburn had taken up position in the Chesapeake Bay. The idea was to draw the U.S. forces back toward a defense of their Capitol and prevent more attacks along the Canadian front, which is where the Americans had excelled during the war. Along with Cockburn’s efforts, the British employed the talents of Major General Robert Ross, a veteran of the conflict on the Continent with Napoleon, to engage the American forces, which the British considered far inferior to their own. Ross had known success up until the Battle of North Point. He had defeated the hastily assembled forces raised in Maryland and the District of Columbia, and after victory in the Battle of Bladensburg, had burned Washington. After a great storm had put out the fires set in Washington City, he retired to the Royal Navy ships to regroup and make repairs. Afterwards, Ross and his men then made their way to Chesapeake and the strategically valuable port of Baltimore. On 11 September, Ross and forces of close to 5000 men landed at North Point, at the end of the peninsula. From here, they marched hard toward Baltimore. Little did they know, the Americans had been preparing for such a possibility for more than a year. They had built a defensive “wall” around the city, and they laid in wait for the British to appear.

The Canadian Encyclopedia tells us, Major General Samuel Smith, the commander of the Baltimore militia, sent American Brigadier General John Stricker’s 3rd Brigade to defend the city. Stricker prepared his defense, setting up his men between Bear Creek and Bread and Cheese Creek. “With 2 regiments in front with 6 cannon, 2 regiments in support, and 1 in reserve, Sticker made excellent use of the terrain, with the woods providing cover and swamp and muskeg on his left that would make any British flank attack difficult.

“On 12 September, the British stopped for a meal, while Stricker pressed for a skirmish attack to draw them out into a better position. With 250 men, Major Richard Heath raised havoc with the British. Major General Ross, when he heard of the attack, rushed to order his men to hold ground instead of follow until they could get more support for the advance. Before he could command his men in battle, however, Ross was shot in the chest by a sniper’s bullet. He handed command to Colonel Arthur Brooke, and died before the battle had truly begun.

“Brooke wasted no time in preparing his men for an attack on the American position. The first stage was a rain of artillery fire and rockets launched to provide cover for the 44th Regiment to attempt a flank attack. Meanwhile, the main front of British soldiers held the line against a deadly and constant American artillery fire. This included cannon shot made up of broken metal, nails and scraps, a viciously improvised grapeshot. British artillery also hammered the American line. While the casualties grew, the 44th Regiment attacked on the flank, disrupting the American line and forcing them to break up. Stricker reorganized his men and maintained a line to fight muzzle to muzzle with the British for an hour as casualties mounted. As his men broke up, he commanded them in a fighting retreat and returned to Baltimore.”

Unfortunately, for the British, Brooke did not continue to advance. As night fell, he planned to wait until the attack on Fort McHenry in the Baltimore Harbor began. No one foresaw the idea that the Royal Navy would not know success against the fort, which had 32-pound cannon batteries in place. The French made cannons were not as powerful as the ones on the British ships, but they were more accurate. They forced the British to stay, essentially, out of rage of destroying the fort, although the British rained down cannonballs and missiles on the fort for more than 24 straight hours. 

The lack of success in destroying Fort McHenry, which, even after all it had sustained, had replaced its customary flag with the one Major George Armistead, the Fort’s commanding officer, had commissioned the previous year. Armistead had desired “to have a flag so large that the British will have no difficulty in seeing it from a distance.” The 17 x 25 foot flag was replaced by the one made by Mary Pickersgill. It was 30 x 42 feet and sported 15 stars and 15 stripes, which was the custom at that time for each state to be represented by a star and a stripe on the flag. The larger flag inspired Francis Scott Key, who watched the bombardment from a ship in the bay, to pen his poem, which would later become “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

The failure of the Royal Navy to bring down Fort McHenry, along with the death of Ross, wore down the resolve of the British forces. Brooke attempted to rally his men for a second push to overtake Baltimore, but when they realized the Americans had amassed more than 20,000 men and 100 pieces of artillery, the idea of losing so many men had Brooke and his troops second guessing their choices. Still, Brooke prepared for a daring night attack against the defences at Loudenslager Hill, but required naval support to quiet the battery of guns at Roger’s Bastion on the flank of his proposed attack. Rear Admiral Cochrane provided the support, but failed to silence the guns, and Brooke called off his attack. He and his remaining men withdrew.

The Battle of North Point was technically a British victory, since they forced the Americans to retreat. But the cost and failure to capitalize on Brooke’s success made it a hollow victory. The British suffered 39 dead, and nearly 300 wounded, compared to the Americans’ 24 dead and 130 wounded.

Other Sources:

Battles That Saved America

Fort McHenry

The Great Garrison Flag

North Point – September 12, 1814

War of 1812 Website


Captain Stanwick’s Bride: Tragic Characters in Classic Lit Series Novel

[Arriving February 19, 2021]

“Happiness consists more in conveniences of pleasure that occur everyday than in great pieces of good fortune that happen but seldom.” – Benjamin Franklin

Captain Whittaker Stanwick has a successful military career and a respectable home farm in Lancashire. What he does not have in his life is felicity. Therefore, when the opportunity arrives, following his wife’s death, Stanwick sets out to know a bit of happiness, at last—finally to claim a woman who stirs his soul. Yet, he foolishly commits himself to one woman only weeks before he has found a woman, though shunned by her people and his, who touches his heart. Will he deny the strictures placed upon him by society in order learn the secret of happiness is freedom: Freedom to love and freedom to know courage?

Loosely based on Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “The Courtship of Miles Standish” and set against the final battles of the War of 1812, this tale shows the length a man will go to in order to claim a remarkable woman as his.


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The Burning of Washington City in 1814 by the British + the Release of “Captain Stanwick’s Bride”

After their first capture of Napoleon, the British turned their sights on the American front and what was known as the War of 1812. Up until that time, the British had been too busy with Napoleon to address fully the goings on in the United States. However, thinking the war on the Continent was finished, the British had more than enough time and men to do the job proper.

The Smithsonian Magazine tells us, “In the 19th century, the Canadian historian William Kingsford was only half-joking when he commented, ‘The events of the War of 1812 have not been forgotten in England for they have never been known there.'” This was not exactly true. [War of Words] “In the 20th, another Canadian historian remarked that the War of 1812 is ‘an episode in history that makes everybody happy, because everybody interprets it differently…the English are happiest of all, because they don’t even know it happened.’

“The truth is, the British were never happy. In fact, their feelings ranged from disbelief and betrayal at the beginning of the war to outright fury and resentment at the end. They regarded the U.S. protests against Royal Navy impressment of American seamen as exaggerated whining at best, and a transparent pretext for an attempt on Canada at worst. It was widely known that Thomas Jefferson coveted all of North America for the United States. When the war started, he wrote to a friend: ‘The acquisition of Canada this year, as far as the neighborhood of Quebec, will be a mere matter of marching, and will give us experience for the attack of Halifax the next, and the final expulsion of England from the American continent.’ Moreover, British critics interpreted Washington’s willingness to go to war as proof that America only paid lip service to the ideals of freedom, civil rights and constitutional government. In short, the British dismissed the United States as a haven for blackguards and hypocrites.”

Therefore, as the British Navy took up positions along the Eastern seaboard of the United States, on 24 August 1814, British troops marched on Washington City (now referred to as Washington, D. C.).

Prior to the British entrance into the U. S.’s center of government, the Battle of Bladensburg was fought in Maryland on August 24, 1814, and this British victory left Washington City perilously unguarded. The embarrassing defeat of American forces under General William Winder allowed British Army Officer Robert Ross’s men to march into nearby Washington City and set fire to public buildings, including the presidential mansion (later to be rebuilt and renamed as the White House) over August 24th and 25th. This British success, at first, devastated American morale by destroying the very symbols of American democracy and spirit, and the British sought to swiftly end an increasingly unpopular war.

As the American militia left Washington City without protection, the British entered the city with little resistance. However, they found that the American President James Madison and his wife, along with key members of government had fled to safety in Maryland. The British supposed ate the meal meant for those who lived and worked in the Presidential Mansion (now called the “White House”). The British ransacked the mansion and set it on fire.

From, we learn, “According to the White House Historical Society and Dolley [Madison]’s personal letters, President James Madison had left the White House on August 22 to meet with his generals on the battlefield, just as British troops threatened to enter the capitol. Before leaving, he asked his wife Dolley if she had the ‘courage or firmness’ to wait for his intended return the next day. He asked her to gather important state papers and be prepared to abandon the White House at any moment.

“The next day, Dolley and a few servants scanned the horizon with spyglasses waiting for either Madison or the British army to show up. As British troops gathered in the distance, Dolley decided to abandon the couple’s personal belongings and instead saved a full-length portrait of former President George Washington from desecration. Dolley wrote to her sister on the night of August 23 of the difficulty involved in saving the painting. Since the portrait was screwed to the wall, she ordered the frame to be broken and the canvas pulled out and rolled up. Two unidentified ‘gentlemen from New York’ hustled it away for safe-keeping. (Unbeknownst to Dolley the portrait was actually a copy of Gilbert Stuart’s original). The task complete, Dolley wrote ‘and now, dear sister, I must leave this house, or the retreating army will make me a prisoner in it by filling up the road I am directed to take. Dolley left the White House and found her husband at their predetermined meeting place in the middle of a thunderstorm.”

They eventually found refuge for the night in Brookeville, a small town in Montgomery County, Maryland, which is known today as the ”United States’ Capital for a Day.” President Madison spent the night in the house of Caleb Bentley, a Quaker, who lived and worked in Brookeville. Bentley’s house, known today as the Madison House, still stands in Brookeville. [“Brookeville 1814”. Maryland State Archives.]

The sappers and miners of the Corps of Royal Engineers, under Captain Blanshard, were employed in burning the principal buildings. The soldiers burned the president’s house, and fuel was added to the fires that night to ensure they would continue burning into the next day.

The Blodget Hotel which housed the US Patent Office; spared during the burning of Washington in 1814. The Patent Office later burned in 1836. ~’s_Hotel,_built_1793.tif

The following day, Rear Admiral Cockburn had the building housing the National Intelligencer, a newspaper that regularly criticized Cockburn, destroyed brick-by-brick. He also ordered all “C” type buildings burnt to the ground. The British had hoped to find money in the U.S. Treasury Building, but all they found was old records. The Treasury Building, the Blodget Hotel, which housed the U.S. Patent Office, the U.S. Department of War building, etc. were ordered burned, although some records and buildings were saved.

Rear-Admiral George Cockburn (1772-1853) *oil on canvas *239 x 148.5 cm *ca. 1817 ~
Portrait of Admiral Cockburn at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, with Washington burning in the background. The U.S. Capitol and Treasury Building are at far right. ~,_by_John_James_Halls.jpg

In order to prevent capture of stores and ammunition, itheir retreat, the Americans had already burned the Washington Navy Yard, which had been founded by Thomas Jefferson. They also burned the 44-gun frigate, USS Columbia, and the 22-gun USS Argus, which were being built at the time.

On August 25, General Ross sent 200 hundred men to secure a fort a Greenleaf Point (later known as Fort McNair), only to discover the fort had been destroyed by the Americans. The British discovered 150 barrels of gunpowder, however. Unfortunately, they tried to destroy the ammunition by dropping the barrels into a well. The powder ignited and 30 British soldiers were killed. Many more were maimed and injured.

Four days after the attack on Washington City began, a sudden, but providential storm (possibly a hurricane) arrived in the area, putting out the fires. It spun off a tornado that made its way down what is now Constitution Avenue, supposably lifting two cannons into the air and dropping them down again several yards away. It also killed several dozen British soldiers and American civilians alike.

The storm drove the British from the city and back to their waiting ships, which had suffered a good deal of damage. “There is some debate regarding the effect of this storm on the occupation. While some assert that the storm forced their retreat, [The War of 1812, Scene 5 “An Act of Nature”, History Channel, 2005] it seems likely from their destructive and arsonous actions before the storm, and their written orders from Cochrane to “destroy and lay waste”, [Cruikshank, Ernest (2006) [1814]. The Documentary History of the campaign upon the Niagara frontier. (Part 1-2). University of Calgary. Archived from the original on May 27, 2011.] that their intention was merely to raze the city, rather than occupy it for an extended period. Whatever the case, the British occupation of Washington lasted only about 26 hours. Despite this, the ‘Storm that saved Washington,’ as it became known, did the opposite according to some. The rains sizzled and cracked the already charred walls of the White House and ripped away at structures the British had no plans to destroy (such as the Patent Office).

“An encounter was noted between Sir George Cockburn and a female resident of Washington.

“Dear God! Is this the weather to which you are accustomed in this infernal country?” enquired the Admiral.

“This is a special interposition of Providence to drive our enemies from our city”, the woman allegedly called out to Cockburn.

“Not so, Madam”, Cockburn retorted. “It is rather to aid your enemies in the destruction of your city”, before riding off on horseback. 

“Yet, the British left right after the storm completely unopposed by any American military forces. What makes this event even more serendipitous for the Americans is that, as the Smithsonian reports, there have only been seven other tornadoes recorded in Washington, D.C. in the 204 years since with probably a similar rare occurrence in the years prior to this event.” [Peter Snow. “When Britain Burned the White House” 2012]

Although President Madison and his wife were able to return to Washington only three days later when British troops had moved on, they never again lived in the White House. Madison served the rest of his term residing at the city’s Octagon House. It was not until 1817 that newly elected president James Monroe moved back into the reconstructed building.

Other Sources:

Allen, William C. (2001). “Destruction and Restoration, 1814–1817”. History of the United States Capitol: A Chronicle of Design, Construction, and Politics. Washington, DC: United States Government Publishing Office. p. 99.

History of Washington, D. C.

Pitch, Anthony S. (1998). The Burning of Washington: The British Invasion of 1814. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. pp. 49-50.

Smithsonian Magazine


Captain Stanwick’s Bride: A Tragic Characters in Classic Lit Series Novel

[Arriving February 19, 2021]

“Happiness consists more in conveniences of pleasure that occur everyday than in great pieces of good fortune that happen but seldom.” – Benjamin Franklin

Captain Whittaker Stanwick has a successful military career and a respectable home farm in Lancashire. What he does not have in his life is felicity. Therefore, when the opportunity arrives, following his wife’s death, Stanwick sets out to know a bit of happiness, at last—finally to claim a woman who stirs his soul. Yet, he foolishly commits himself to one woman only weeks before he has found a woman, though shunned by her people and his, who touches his heart. Will he deny the strictures placed upon him by society in order learn the secret of happiness is freedom: Freedom to love and freedom to know courage?

Loosely based on Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “The Courtship of Miles Standish” and set against the final battles of the War of 1812, this tale shows the length a man will go to in order to claim a remarkable woman as his.


Kindle Unlimited


Posted in American History, book release, British history, British Navy, Georgian England, Georgian Era, Great Britain, history, Living in the Regency, military, Regency era, War of 1812 | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on The Burning of Washington City in 1814 by the British + the Release of “Captain Stanwick’s Bride”

A War of Words Preceded the Treaty of Ghent, Marking the End of the War of 1812 between the U.S. and Great Britain

During April of 1814, American representatives were permitted to come to England to continue negotiations with their British counterparts in hopes of coming to a resolution of the issues upon which the War of 1812 were based. However, the attempt proved futile, for, by that time, England had brought Napoleon to heel for the first time, and the British were in no mood to negotiate with the Americans, who they thought to be nothing more than a nuisance.

One can have a look at the newsprints of the day to determine some of what the general populace thought of Lord Castlereagh extending a hand to support the negotiations. The British ministers publicly declared a “wish for peace,” but, privately, they were very wishy-washy, allowing the London Times, which was not a ministerial journal, rather being an independent newspaper, to take its own course and to demand an annihilation of the United States in war. The Times had not previously presented its opinions as such, but, when it came to the United States, they displayed a Federalist position.

Therefore, in addition to a hatred for Napoleon, one formed for the American President James Madison. In truth, although Madison, upon appearances, had a calm demeanor, he was known to rub people the wrong way. The American press often criticized their President, but the Times carried the cries of disdain to new levels. For example, they wrote, “The lunatic ravings of the philosophic statesman of Washington,” (The Times, Feb. 4 and 10, 1814) which could be ranked along side of “his spaniel-like fawning on the Emperor of Russia . . . The most abject of the tools of the deposed tyrant; . . . doubtless he expected to be named Prince of the Potomack or Grand Duke of Virginia.” (The Times, April 23, 1814) With some regularity, the Times spoke of Madison as a liar and an imposter.

The Times went on to say on April 15, 1814: “Let us have no cant of moderation. . . There is no public feeling in the country stronger than that of indignation against the Americans; . . . conduct so base, so loathsome, so hateful . . . As we urged the principle, No peace with Bonaparte! so we must maintain the doctrine of, No peace with James Madison!” Later, on April 27 of the same year, they would continue their campaign of criticism: “Mr. Madison’s dirty, swindling manœuvres in respect to Louisiana and the Floridas remain to be published.”

Then on May 17, 1814, the Times declared, “He must fall a victim to the just vengeance of the Federalists. Let us persevere. Let us unmask the imposter. . . . Who cares about the impudence which they call a doctrine? . . . We shall demand indemnity. . . . We shall insist on the security for Canada . . . We shall inquire a little into the American title to Louisiana; and we shall not permit the base attack on Florida to go unpunished.” [Remember, at the time, British West Florida, which was comprised of the modern U. S. states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida, was a colony of Kingdom of Great Britain from 1763 to 1783, when it was ceded to Spain as part of the Peace of Paris. The territory subsequently became a colony of Spain, parts of which were gradually annexed piecemeal by the United States, beginning in 1810.]

On May 18, the Times called Madison a “liar in the cause of his Corsican master.” The went on to say, “He has lived as an imposter, and he deserves to meet the fate of a traitor. That fate now stares him in the face.”

May 24 saw the smear campaign continuing. “They are struck to the heart with terror for their impending punishment; and oh, may no false liberality, no mistaken lenity, no weak and cowardly policy, interpose to save them from the blow! Strike! chastise the savages, for such they are! . . . With Madison and his perjured set no treaty can be made, for no oath can bind them.”

On June 2, 1814, British ambassadors left England for Ghent to begin negotiations with the U.S. The Times proclaimed, “Our demands may be couched in a single word, — Submission!”

Meanwhile, the Sun, which was never quite as abusive as the Times said of Madison, “that contemptible wretch Madison and his gang . . ..” (The Sun, August 4, 1814)

Yet, the Morning Post, also an independent papter, took up the cause purported by the Times. As early as 18 January 1814, they said to have discovered more damaging evidence against Madison. “. . . a new trait in the character of the American government. Enjoying the reputation of being the most unprincipled and the most contemptible on the face of the earth, they were already known to be impervious to any noble sentiment; but it is only of late that we find them insensible of the shame of defeat even of the brutish quality of becoming beaten into a sense of their unworthiness and their incapacity.” Of Madison himself, the Morning Post (1 February 1814) called the American President “a despot in disguise; a miniature imitation” and tool of Bonaparte.

The Courier, on the other hand, was seen as a “voice” of the government and customarily received information directly from the ministers. On 31 March 1814, with the surrender of Paris, the Ministry decided to turn the full brunt of the British forces on America. The Courier, therefore, on 15 April, announced that 20,000 men were being sent from Europe to the American front. That number of men was equal to two-thirds of Wellington’s forces. The natural assumption was made that such a force would make easy pickings of the Americans.

Beyond the Times’ call for Submission, the Courier listed the terms for agreement as: (1) The right of impressment must be expressly conceded, anything short of this would be unwise and a disappointment. (2) The U. S. were to be interdicted the fisheries. (3) Spain was to be supported in recovering Louisiana.

Information for this piece is chiefly derived from History of the United States of America: The second administration of James Madison 1813-1817 by Henry James.

Captain Stanwick’s Bride: Tragic Characters in Classic Lit Series Novel [Arriving February 19, 2021]

“Happiness consists more in conveniences of pleasure that occur everyday than in great pieces of good fortune that happen but seldom.” – Benjamin Franklin

Captain Whittaker Stanwick has a successful military career and a respectable home farm in Lancashire. What he does not have in his life is felicity. Therefore, when the opportunity arrives, following his wife’s death, Stanwick sets out to know a bit of happiness, at last—finally to claim a woman who stirs his soul. Yet, he foolishly commits himself to one woman only weeks before he has found a woman, though shunned by her people and his, who touches his heart. Will he deny the strictures placed upon him by society in order learn the secret of happiness is freedom: Freedom to love and freedom to know courage?

Loosely based on Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “The Courtship of Miles Standish” and set against the final battles of the War of 1812, this tale shows the length a man will go to in order to claim a remarkable woman as his.


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Celebrating the Release of “Captain Stanwick’s Bride” with The Real Myles Standish

What do we know of the real Myles Standish of Mayflower fame? In truth, not as much as one might think. Much of his life before he traveled to America with the Pilgrims is laced with speculation. For example, where was Standish born? We believe he was born somewhere between 1584 and 1587 and likely in Lancashire, England, (OR) on the Isle of Man. We make the assumption he had at least a basic education, for he signed several documents sent to the Bay and must have been conversant with figures to be colony treasurer. His inventory included several dozen books, valued at £9 3s.; although there were three Bibles and a number of other theological volumes, Standish also owned such titles as Homer’s Iliad and Caesar’s Commentaries. ~ This modern portrait of Myles Standish by Mike Haywood. It is based off a portrait that was purported to have been done in London in 1626. Prints of this portrait can be obtained in the Store.

Those who purport the idea he was from Lancashire point to Nathaniel Morton’s book New England’s Memorial (1669), which lists Lancashire as Standish’s birthplace. Morton claims Standish owned a book from the head of the Rivington Grammar School in Lancashire. He also logically claims that the town that Standish help found and his residence there was named “Duxbury” because Standish was part of the Standishes of Duxbury Hall in Lancashire. According to the tales told, Standish was an heir to a fairly sizable estate in Lancashire, but his lands were lost during the English Civil War, and neither he nor his son Alexander were ever able legally to regain control of the estate.

Yet, his last will and testament speaks of lands “surreptitiously detained” from him. These lands were on the Isle of Man and, at one time, were owned by Thomas Standish, of the Standishes of the Isle of Man.

“In his will, dated 7 March 1655[/6] and proved 4 May 1657, “Myles Standish Senior of Duxburrow” asked that “if I die at Duxburrow my body to be laid as near as conveniently may be to my two daughters Lora Standish my daughter and Mary Standish my daughter-in-law” and bequeathed to “my dear and loving wife Barbara Standish” one-third of his estate after all debts are paid; to “my son Josias Standish upon his marriage” cattle to the value of £40 (if possible), and “that every one of my four sons viz: Allexander Standish, Myles Standish, Josias Standish and Charles Standish may have forty pounds apiece,” to “my eldest son Allexaner … a double share in land,” and “so long as they live single that the whole be in partnership betwixt them”; “my dearly beloved wife Bar­bara Standish, Allexander Standish, Myles Standish and Josias Standish” to be joint executors; “my loving friends Mr. Timothy Hatherley and Capt. James Cudworth” to be supervisors; to “Marcye Robinson whom I tenderly love for her grandfather’s sake” £3; to “my servant John Irish Jr.” 40s. beyond what is due him by covenant; and to “my son & heir apparent Allexander Standish all my lands as heir apparent by lawful descent in Ormistick, Borsconge, Wrightington, Maudsley, Newburrow, Crawston and the Isle of Man and given to me as right heir by lawful descent but surruptuously [sic] detained from me my great-grandfather being a second or younger brother from the house of Standish of Standish” [MD 3:153-55, citing PCPR 2:1:37-38].” [Miles Standish Biography]

Unfortunately, a document that recorded something of his military career was lost in the 1920s and never stood up for accuracy. We do know he was part of Queen Elizabeth’s army and was stationed in Holland, where he became acquainted with John Robinson and the Pilgrims living in Leiden. The Pilgrims hired him to be their military “captain” and establish the defensive lines to protect the colony against the French, Dutch, and Spanish, as well as the Native Americans.

It was Standish’s job to lead exploratory missions of the area about the Pilgrims’ settlement. He oversaw the construction of the fort at Plymouth and the placement of the cannons brought along for a defense in a “savage” country. Along with his military duties, he was charged with trading expeditions, for the Pilgrims required supplies and food. “He made several trips to England to bring trading goods back and to negotiate with the Merchant Adventurers who had financially sponsored the joint-stock company that funded the Pilgrims’ voyage.” [Mayflower History]

During the first winter at Plymouth, many of the Pilgrims took sick and died, including his wife Ruth, who had traveled to America with him. It is said he assisted in tending many of the sick and won praise for his kindness.

Yet, Standish was not known to be exceptionally kind. He led attacks on the Indians in the Massachusetts Bay area after learning they planned to attack and destroy the Plymouth and the Wessagussett colonies. Those captured were executed in what was termed “heavy-handed” ways.

He was charged with assisting to keep the law of the community. “He was on the receiving end of John Billington’s verbal wrath in 1621 (Billington refused to follow the captain’s orders), and was called a ‘silly boy’ in a letter that was sent out during the Oldham-Lyford scandal of 1624, and was noted for his short stature and for his quick temper. He was sent to arrest Thomas Morton in 1628, for which he received the nickname ‘Captain Shrimp’ from Morton. William Hubbard reported Standish’s temper was like a ‘chimney soon fired.'” [Mayflower History]

17th century image of a man in armor with musket. Myles Standish would have worn similar armor, clothing and used similar weapons to those seen here.
17th century image of a man in armor with musket. Myles Standish would have worn similar armor, clothing and used similar weapons to those seen here. ~

Even so, he held many positions of authority over the years. He married Barbara, a woman who arrived on the second ship to land at Plymouth Rock the Anne, in 1623, Together they helped to found the town of Duxbury. They had seven children:

  1. CHARLES, b. say 1624; living 1627; d. by about 1635.
  2. ALEXANDER, b. say 1626 (died 6 July 1702 “being about 76 years of age” [NEHGR 87:153]); m. (1) by about 1660 Sarah Alden, daughter of JOHN ALDEN; m. (2) by 1689 as her third husband Desire (Doty) (Sherman) Holmes, daughter of EDWARD DOTY [PM 177].
  3. JOHN, b. say 1627; no further record.
  4. MYLES, b. say 1629; m. Boston 19 July 1660 Sarah Winslow, daughter of JOHN WINSLOW [PM 511; BVR 76].
  5. LORA, b. say 1631; d. by 7 March 1655[/6], unm. (from father’s will).
  6. JOSIAS, b. say 1633; m. (1) Marshfield 19 December 1654 Mary Dingley [MarVR l]; m. (2) after 1655 Sarah Allen, daughter of Samuel Allen (in his will of 2 August 1669 Samuel Allen bequeathed to “my son-in-law Josiah Standish” [SPR 6:27]).
  7. CHARLES, b. say 1635; living 7 March 1655[/6] (named in father’s will); no further record.

“On 1 July 1633 through 20 March 1636/7 Captain Standish was allowed to mow land he had formerly mowed [PCR 1:14, 40, 56]. On 4 December 1637 Captain Myles Standish was granted the surplusage of land on “Ducksborrow side” in consideration of the “want of lands he should have had to his proportion [PCR 1:70]. On 2 July 1638 Captain Myles Standish received three hundred acres of uplands [PCR 1:91]. On 1 October 1638 he was granted a garden place at Duxborrow side, which was formerly laid forth for him [PCR 1 :99]. On 4 March 1650/1 “whereas Captain Miles Standish hath been at much trouble and pains, and hath gone sundry journeys into Yarmouth aforesaid in the said town’s business, and likely to have more in that behalf, in respect whereunto the Court have granted unto the said Captain Standish” about forty or fifty acres [PCR 2:164].” [Miles Standish Biography]

Standish lived out his later years in Duxbury, dying in 1656 “after his suffering of much dolorous pain,” apparently from kidney stones.



Miles Standish Biography

“Myles Standish, Born Where?”, Mayflower Quarterly 72:133-159.


Captain Stanwick’s Bride: Tragic Characters in Classic Lit Series Novel [Arriving February 19, 2021]

“Happiness consists more in conveniences of pleasure that occur everyday than in great pieces of good fortune that happen but seldom.” – Benjamin Franklin

Captain Whittaker Stanwick has a successful military career and a respectable home farm in Lancashire. What he does not have in his life is felicity. Therefore, when the opportunity arrives, following his wife’s death, Stanwick sets out to know a bit of happiness, at last—finally to claim a woman who stirs his soul. Yet, he foolishly commits himself to one woman only weeks before he has found a woman, though shunned by her people and his, who touches his heart. Will he deny the strictures placed upon him by society in order learn the secret of happiness is freedom: Freedom to love and freedom to know courage?

Loosely based on Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “The Courtship of Miles Standish” and set against the final battles of the War of 1812, this tale shows the length a man will go to in order to claim a remarkable woman as his.

Purchase Links:


Kindle Unlimited


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The Battle of the Thames’s Role in “Captain Stanwick’s Bride”

Engraved portrait of William Henry Harrison, by R.W. Dodson from an original portrait by J.R. Lambdin painted for the National Portrait Gallery. ~

The Battle of the Thames during the War of 1812 proved to be an important American victory in what was known, at the time, as Upper Canada, for it allowed the Americans to combine its control of the Northwest territory.

General William Henry Harrison, governor of the Indiana Territory and later President of the United States, led an army of 3500 American troops and militia men against a British force of one-hald their size at Moraviantown, along the Thames River in what is now Ontario, Canada. The British forces were joined by an “Indian Confederation” led by the Shawnee war chief Tecumseh. Major General Henry Procter, who had made several mistakes leading up to the battle that greatly influenced the British forces ability to win directed the British response. This fact plays out repeatedly in my new novel, Captain Stanwick’s Bride. The mention of a real person in the book is rare on my part, and I do not mean the tale as a condemnation of Procter’s choices. However, the mistakes made do assist in enriching the tale and are part of the history of The Battle of the Thames. Procter is regarded by many as an inept leader who relied heavily on textbook procedure. His “going by the book” is attributed to his lack of any combat experience before coming to Canada.

According to sources, “Procter was born in Ireland. His father, Richard Procter, was a surgeon in the British Army. Henry Procter began his military career at the age of 18 as an ensign in the 43rd Regiment of Foot in April 1781. He served as a lieutenant in New York in the final months of the American War of Independence. His promotion was slow, probably indicating a lack of means, since commissions were usually obtained by purchase [rather than ability]. Procter became a captain in November 1792. He was promoted to major three years later in May 1795, and on 9 October 1800 became a lieutenant colonel in command of the 1st battalion of the 41st Regiment of Foot. Procter joined his new regiment in Lower Canada in 1802. He served in Canada for the next ten years. Inspecting officers, including Major-General Isaac Brock, noted that Procter’s regiment was ‘very sharp’, indicating a good standard of drill and discipline, and that this was due to Procter’s ‘indefatigable industry.'” [Hyatt, A. M. J. (1987). “Procter, Henry”. In Halpenny, Francess G (ed.). Dictionary of Canadian Biography. VI (1821–1835) (online ed.). University of Toronto Press.]

At the time of the battle the British army was retreating from Fort Malden, Ontario, after Oliver Hazard Perry’s victory in the Battle of Lake Erie in September 1813. The British, faced with the lack of any naval support, abandoned Fort Detroit and retreated back across Burlington Heights in Upper Canada.

Johnson, Col. Richard; TecumsehArtist’s re-creation of the death of Shawnee Chief Tecumseh at the Battle of the Thames, Oct. 5, 1813, lithograph 1833.
Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. ~

The British Army, meaning Procter thought to leave their Native American allies behind. Tecumseh considered Procter’s actions and the army’s hasty retreat as an act of cowardice and of betrayal. Although he had one thousand warriors, the Indian Confederation was not as well supplied as were the American forces. Procter’s orders to abandon Fort Detroit very much announced the campaign’s doom. The retreat was poorly organized, with the British leaving their breakfasts on the fire in order to meet Harrison’s forces. Much of their equipment was left behind in their rush inward from Fort Detroit, and, supposedly, they had but one cannon when Harrison arrived to face them. Moreover, the area into which they retreated had a sparse population and not enough food supplies to fee an army of 1800. The British were put on half rations, and morale was low. Tecumseh attempted to rally both his men and the British officers, but to no avail, for an American raiding party managed to capture the last supply boat of ammunition and food rations spelling the British forces’ doom along the Thames River.



“Happiness consists more in conveniences of pleasure that occur everyday than in great pieces of good fortune that happen but seldom.” – Benjamin Franklin

Captain Whittaker Stanwick has a successful military career and a respectable home farm in Lancashire. What he does not have in his life is felicity. Therefore, when the opportunity arrives, following his wife’s death, Stanwick sets out to know a bit of happiness, at last—finally to claim a woman who stirs his soul. Yet, he foolishly commits himself to one woman only weeks before he has found a woman, though shunned by her people and his, who touches his heart. Will he deny the strictures placed upon him by society in order learn the secret of happiness is freedom: Freedom to love and freedom to know courage?

Loosely based on Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “The Courtship of Miles Standish” and set against the final battles of the War of 1812, this tale shows the length a man will go to in order to claim a remarkable woman as his.


How does this battle play out in Captain Stanwick’s Bride? First, a reader should know this book is one in the Tragic Characters in Classic Lit Series and is inspired by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s narrative poem, “The Courtship of Miles Standish.” In Longfellow’s tale, Captain Miles Standish of Mayflower fame asks his friend, John Alden, to court Miss Priscilla Mullins for him. Standish was the Plymouth Colony’s military leader, and he had lost his wife during the first hard winter at Plymouth, Massachusetts. Priscilla prefers Alden to Standish, meaning the “good captain” does not achieve his Happily Ever After.

The purpose of the series is to take such “tragic characters” and move them into Regency England and provide them a happier ending.

Here is the opening scene that takes place at the Battle of the Thames. Captain Stanwick (purposeful change in the spelling of the name) is serving under Procter.

Chapter One 

5 October 1813

Upper Canada, near Chatham 

“Hold your ground!” Captain Whittaker Myles Stanwick ordered his men. The British forces of which he was a part had been pursued by some thirty-five hundred American militia and regular army across the Ontario peninsula. This action was certainly not what Stanwick had thought he would be doing when he had joined the British Army some fifteen years prior. He most assuredly had not expected to be serving shoulder-to-shoulder with allies from a confederation of Indian tribes, lead by a Shawnee war chief by the name of Tecumseh and a Wyandott war chief called Roundhead.

Stankwick instinctively knew when the British had “drawn cuts” regarding the upcoming battle, the British had chosen the shorter straw. Therefore, he had decided, if push came to shove, he would order his men to surrender rather than to view another massacre. 

“Keep your eyes trained on the road,” he instructed. 

From his vantage point, Whit studied where Chief Tecumseh made his way along the line of British soldiers, shaking hands with each British officer. Even so, Stanwick wondered how loyal their Indian colleagues would be once this war of American aggression was over. The Shawnee warrior chief had worked miracles in organizing an Indian confederacy, but, essentially, the Indians had only agreed to join forces with the British so they could stop white settlements in what was called the “Northwest Territory.” Whit wondered what would happen if the British interests prevailed in this matter. Would the tribes expect the British to walk away from such vast resources? They would be sorely disappointed if that were the case.

He sighed heavily, a habit of which he came been made aware of late. He was not certain he could break the gesture as long as he was asked to follow the orders of an incompetent, as he was just now. 

His country had not sent him to the Canadian front to be a diplomat: Rather he was a soldier, the only occupation he had known for more than a decade. “I am the fighter of battles, a lover and wooer of dangers,” he thought. He owned a farm, had inherited it from his father, but he had been a soldier since he was nineteen years of age. He swallowed another deep breath as he took in the scene forming before his eyes. Whit supposed it was important for Tecumseh to boost morale, but even with one thousand Indian warriors and six hundred British troops, their alliance was outnumbered more than two to one. 

He reflected on his first impressions of the Indian tribes when he had arrived in Canada. The Indian encampment, which was pitched on the edge of a meadow, between the lake and the forest, set close to one of the villages in this part of Upper Canada. Women worked by the tents, and the warriors, some of them quite frightening to behold, sat beside a fire and smoked and talked together. Odd as it would sound to some of his fellow Englishman, Whit thought the scene, though primitive in its own right, could have been found in the history of England. He knew something of the Carvetii, the Brigantes, and the Novantae who ruled parts of Celtic Britain, and these so-called “savages” reminded him of those. Braves of the tribes were those who marched with the British Army. Some were quite spectacular specimens: gigantic in stature. Whit’s father would have called them “huge as Goliath of Gath, or the terrible Og, king of Bashan.” One he recognized on sight was called Pecksout, who worked his knives in scabbards of wampum suspended about his neck. Two-edged trenchant knives, with points as sharp as a needle.

“Might have had a chance,” he murmured, “if Procter had held Detroit.” In truth, Whit possessed little respect for Major General Henry Procter. “Untenable position,” he grumbled. If he could prevent it, he would not see his men shot down to protect Procter’s reputation. 

Whit was well aware, despite what his superiors declared, the British loss of Detroit had pronounced their doom. William Henry Harrison’s forces and the American navy had, most assuredly, outmaneuvered Procter. The British position had depended upon maintaining command of Lake Erie, for the area, which they now occupied was sparsely populated, with insufficient crops and livestock to feed Procter’s troops, the British sailors on the lake, and the Indians and their families gathered at Amherstburg under Tecumseh. Supplies could only reach them by ship, and with the Americans in control of the lake and its tributaries, Stanwick and his men were quite literally starving. 

“Of all the idiocy,” Whit continued to grumble. “One small oversight after another. Now we are ducks lined up for the easy shot.” 

Previously, British Commander Robert Barclay had failed to maintain the defense of Preque Isle while British forces received supplies. Therefore, the Americans had had a relatively easy means to capture control of the lake, leading to their current situation. 

“One demme mistake after another,” he had told the junior officers serving under him. “Could not believe Procter meant to defend Fort Amhertsburg without guns.” When they had reached the fortification, thinking they had achieved a strong defense against their enemy, they had learned the fort’s guns had been removed and mounted on Robert Heriot Barclay’s ships. “Guns the British commander of the lake had failed to use against the Americans.” The irony of their situation drove Whit a bit crazy with disgust. 

“You do not believe we will know success?” Lieutenant Persile had asked in a shaky voice.

On this particular morning, shortly after daybreak, Procter had ordered Stanwick and the other troops to abandon their half-cooked meals and retreat another two miles to form a line of defense with only a single six-pounder cannon available to them. Procter planned to trap Harrison on the banks of the Thames to drive the Americans off the road with cannon fire, but the fool had made no attempt to fortify their position by creating an abatis with fallen trees or throwing up earthworks. Even a halfwit, and Stanwick was no dolt, would realize the area they were to defend would prove no obstacle to the Americans. Major General Harrison, an artful strategist, had brought together a group of men who had proven themselves excellent horsemen and willful fighters.

“I suppose anything is possible,” Whit told Persile. “Stranger things have happened. All we can do is our best. God will decide the rest.” 


American Battlefield Trust


The Canadian Encyclopedia

Ohio History Central

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Posted in American History, book release, British history, excerpt, Georgian England, Georgian Era, Great Britain, historical fiction, Living in the Regency, military, reading habits, real life tales, Regency romance, research, War of 1812, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on The Battle of the Thames’s Role in “Captain Stanwick’s Bride”