Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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1813 in the Chesapeake

In addition to blockading the major ports of the eastern seaboard, the British Admiralty dispatched Rear Admiral Sir George Cockburn and a squadron of ships to blockade and carry out raids against American shipping in the Chesapeake.  U.S.S. Constellation, blockaded into Norfolk, Virginia, was an attractive target. 

Together, John Cassin, the commander of the Gosport Navy Yard and Charles Stewart, Captain of U.S.S. Constitution, prepared the defenses of Norfolk and the Elizabeth River, sinking gunboats and block ships in the channel.  These measures prevented the British from capturing U.S.S. Constellation and Cockburn turned his attention toward raiding the Chesapeake estuaries.