Surrender!

It is funny how things seem to come in batches. Recently, as part of our NHPRC grant, I cataloged several documents related to the War of 1812, one right after the other.  The most interesting document, at least to me, was what appeared to be a draft of a message written by Marsh Ely, commander of American forces at Lyme, Connecticut. He wrote  “To the officer commanding the detachment of his Britanick [sic] Majestys Marine Forces now gone against the shiping [sic] lying near the mouth of Connecticut River.” Ely appealed to the British commander’s honor to “avoid the effusion of human blood” a battle would surely cause.  Since the American forces are superior in number (which they were not), Ely suggested “to you[the British commander] the propriety of surrendering your selves as prisoners of war”. The letter is dated April 8, 1814. That same day, the British fleet sailed up the Connecticut River to Essex and destroyed 20 vessels. I guess the British commander did not take the surrender suggestion seriously.

Marsh Ely calling for the British to surrender, 1814. Ms 37848.

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