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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORY ND HERITAGE COMMAND


Scorpion

 

An order of arachnids having an elongated body and a narrow segmented tail bearing a venomous sting at the tip.

 

I

 

(Sloop: length 48'8"; beam18'2"; draft 4'6"; complement 25; armament 1 24-pounder, 1 18-pounder, 2 12-pounder carronades)

The first Scorpion, a sloop-rigged floating battery which could also be propelled by oars, was probably built under contract for the United States Navy in 1812 for service during the war with England. Lt. Edmond P. Kennedy assumed command of the ship at Norfolk in September of 1812. On 29 March 1813, Scorpion was ordered to the Potomac Flotilla which was to protect Washington, D.C. Since Lt. Kennedy was to command the flotilla, Lt. George C. Read became the commanding officer of Scorpion on 4 May 1813.

On 18 February 1814, Scorpion reported for duty at Baltimore in Commodore Joshua Barney’s Chesapeake Flotilla and became the Commodore's flagship. On 24 May 1814, with Major Wm. B. Barney, Joshua's son, acting as captain of Scorpion, the flotilla sailed for the lower Chesapeake Bay in an attempt to stop the enemy from advancing toward Washington. On 1 June 1814, a British squadron was encountered at the mouth of the Patuxent River and the flotilla was forced to retreat up the river. During the following weeks, Commodore Barney’s flotilla engaged the enemy on several occasions but proved unable to delay the British advance.

Finally, on 21 August 1814, facing overwhelming odds, Barney was forced to retreat and landed his men at Pig Point, near Upper Marlboro. Barney and his men then marched to assist in the defense of Washington, leaving Scorpion and the rest of the flotilla to be burned by a detail of men under Lt. Solomon Frazier.