New Haven and the War of 1812

Philip S Galpin's canteen, 1814. On Display at the New Haven Museum, Connecticut

During the Napoleonic Wars, the British declared the whole of the French coast blockaded and the French declared the same for the whole of Britain. Neutral American merchant ships and their cargoes were seized and sold by the British and French for supposedly violating these blockades. In 1807, Congress reacted by laying an Embargo, which prevented cargoes bound for foreign destinations from leaving American ports. This greatly affected New England farmers who were now unable to export their surpluses. Restrictions were also placed on British imports and New Haven’s once thriving seaport collapsed as much of its trade involved the British and French West Indies. [1]

British-American relations deteriorated further when attempts were made to take English born American citizens from American ships and impress them into the Royal Navy and when Britain was seen hindering America’s Northwest expansion. Ultimately war was declared against Britain in 1812.[2]

Underside of canteen.

“New England States were against the war” and did not “allow their militia to join in the forces intended to invade Canada”. They were also willing to trade with the British, thus postponing a blockade of the New England coast. In November 1813 however, the Long Island Sound was blocked destroying all trade. The patrolling of this waterway even interrupted the building of the United Church (North Church) on the New Haven Green, since permission had to be obtained from the British Commander (whose ship was situated off New London) to transport lumber down the Connecticut River. [3]

The British raided Saybrook and made an attempt near Stratford, causing great concern in New Haven. The Connecticut Herald stated that “Many towns of considerable importance and wealth are entirely exposed, and liable at any moment to be laid in ashes by a single gun-brig” and the Columbian Register reported that “Preparation to repel invasion cannot too speedily be made.” Believing that Fort Hale (Black Rock Fort) alone could not provide the necessary protection New Haven needed, Fort Wooster (Beacon Hill) was built in 1814. In early October the newspapers reported that “A British frigate and brig have been hovering between Guilford and Fairfield for three or four days” and “where the next blow will be attempted no one can tell”. With no regular troops, Connecticut looked towards her militia for protection and Fort Wooster was ready for her garrison by late October. [4]

Philip S Galpin. Photograph in New Haven Museum's collection

Philip S. Galpin was born in Berlin, Connecticut around 1795 and moved to New Haven as a young man, where he worked as a clerk in a store. Galpin served in the 1st Battalion Connecticut Artillery and was a private under commander Joseph A. Bishop from 8 September to 21 October 1814. During this time he likely used the canteen shown above to keep hydrated. Fortunately the British never attacked New Haven and peace was declared in December 1814. [5]

Following the war, militia and new recruits formed the New Haven Grays and were called on when trouble arose in the city. In 1824, they had to deal with “an incensed and indignant gathering of townspeople”, who were in uproar after a deceased female was exhumed by the Yale medical school with the intention of being used for research. Galpin served as captain of the Grays from 1823-1826 and was a prominent New Havener, in which he was a state senator and served as the mayor of New Haven for 8 years. He was also involved in establishing the first carpet factory in the city and from 1841 until his death in 1872 was the secretary and manager of the “Mutual Security Insurance Company”.[6]

***The canteen is on display in the main gallery at the New Haven Museum.

 


[1]Albert Bushnell Hart, “The War of 1812”, The Mentor, Vol. 4, No. 3 (March 1916): [2]; online archives, Internet Archive (http://www.archive.org : accessed 1 June 2012). Also, “The War of 1812”, American Military History: Army Historical Series (extracted) (Office of the Chief of Military History, United States Army, 1988); online version, American Military History (http://www.history.army.mil/books/AMH/amh-toc.htm : accessed 1 June 2012), para 2. Also, Britannica Academic Edition  (http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/185515/Embargo-Act :accessed 1 June 2012), “Embargo Act (1807)”. Also, Rollin G. Osterweis, Three Centuries of New Haven 1638-1938 (New Haven, Ct.: Yale University Press, 1953), 201.
[2] “The War of 1812”, American Military History: Army Historical Series (extracted), 123. Also, Albert Bushnell Hart, “The War of 1812”, The Mentor, [3].
[3] Albert Bushnell Hart, “The War of 1812”, The Mentor, [8-9]. Also, “The War of 1812”, American Military History: Army Historical Series (extracted), 130. Also, Carolyn C. Smith, “Gateway to New Haven: The New Haven Harbor”, Essay, Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute (http://www.yale.edu/ynhti/curriculum/units/1984/6/84.06.10.x.html: accessed 2 June 2012), “Breakwaters”. Also, George Dudley Seymour, New Haven (New Haven, Ct.: The Tuttle, Morehouse & Taylor Company, 1942), 619-621.
[4] Rollin G. Osterweis, Three Centuries of New Haven 1638-1938 (New Haven, Ct.: Yale University Press, 1953), 203. Also, “Connecticut Herald. New Haven, Oct. 25.”, Connecticut Herald ,  25 October 1814, p. 2, col. 4. Also, “New-Haven: Tuesday, October 4, 1814. Communication. Fort on Prospect-Hill, Near New-Haven.”, Columbian Register, 4 October 1814, p.3, col.4. Also, “Connecticut Herald. New Haven, Oct. 4.”, Connecticut Herald ,  4 October 1814, p. 3, col. 2.
[5] “Death of Philip S Galpin”, Columbian Register, 1 June 1872, p.2, col.4. Also, “Artillery”, Connecticut Herald, 18 July 1815, p. 3, col. 3. Also, P. S. Galpin Canteen, ca.1814; New Haven Museum, New Haven, Ct. Also, Record of Service of Connecticut Men in the I- War of the Revolution, II War of 1812, III Mexican War, (Hartford: The Case, Lockwood & Brainard Company,1889), Connecticut Militia, War of 1812 section, p.56; digital images, Internet Archive (http://www.archive.org : accessed 2 June 2012). Also, Rollin G. Osterweis, Three Centuries of New Haven 1638-1938, 203. Also, Jerome B. Lucke, “History of the New Haven Grays from Sept. 13, 1816, to Sept. 13, 1876.” (New Haven, Ct.: Tuttle, Morehouse & Taylor, 1876), 48.
[6] Global Security (http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/agency/army/1-102in.htm : accessed 2 June 2012), “1st Battalion-102nd Infantry Regiment”. Also, Jerome B. Lucke, “History of the New Haven Grays from Sept. 13, 1816, to Sept. 13, 1876.”, 36, 38-39. Also, J. L. Rockey, editor, History of New Haven County, Connecticut (New York: W. W Preston & Co., 1892), 1: 81, 119. Also, Edward E. Atwater, Editor, “History of The City of New Haven to The Present Time.” (New York: W.W. Munsell & Co., 1887), 339-340. Also, “Death of Philip S Galpin”, Columbian Register, 1 June 1872, p.2, col.4.

*The photos of the canteen and Philip S Galpin were taken by Claire Ammon with the cooperation of the New Haven Museum. The Galpin photo was found in the Photographic Album of New Haven notables; MSS C1 Box 87.T; held by New Haven Museum, Connecticut.

 

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