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Hampden, action at.

When the British had taken possession of Castine, Me., a land and naval force was sent up the Penobscot River to capture or destroy the corvette John Adams, which had fled up the river to the town of Hampden. The commander of the John Adams, Capt. C. Morris, was warned of his danger, and he notified Gen. John Blake, commander of the 10th division of Massachusetts militia. The British force consisted of two sloopsof-war, a tender, a large transport, and nine launches, commanded by Commodore Barrie, and 700 soldiers, led by Lieutenant-Colonel St. John. The expedition sailed on Sept. 1, 1814, and the next morning General Gosselin took possession of Belfast, on the western shore of Penobscot Bay, at the head of 600 troops. The expedition landed some troops at Frankfort, which marched up the western side of the river. The flotilla, with the remainder, sailed on, and arrived near Hampden at five o'clock in the evening, when the troops and about eighty mariners were landed and bivouacked. They found the militia assembling to resist them. Meanwhile Captain Morris had taken out of the John Adams nine short 18-pounders, and mounted them on a high bank, in charge of Lieutenant Wadsworth. With the remainder of his guns, he took position on the wharf with about 200 seamen and marines, prepared to defend his crippled ship to the last extremity. She had been much damaged by striking a rock when she entered Penobscot Bay, and had run up to Hampden to avoid capture. The British detachment landed at Frankfort, and moved forward cautiously, in a dense fog, to join the other invaders, with a vanguard of riflemen. Blake had sent a body of militia to confront the invaders. These were suddenly attacked, when they broke and fled in every direction, leaving Blake and his officers alone. This panic imperilled the force that was to defend the John Adams, when Morris, seeing no other means for the salvation of his troops but in flight, ordered his guns to be spiked and the vessel set on fire. This was done, and the men under Morris fled northward.

With Blake and his officers and a bare remnant of his command, Morris retreated to Bangor, and thence made his way overland to Portland. The British took possession of Hampden, and a part of their force, 500 strong, pushed on to Bangor with their vessels. They met a flag of truce with a message from the magistrates of Bangor asking terms of capitulation. Nothing was granted excepting respect for private property. They entered the town, when Commodore Barrie gave notice that persons and property should be protected if supplies were cheerfully furnished. This promise was speedily broken. The sailors were given license to plunder as much as they pleased. Many stores were robbed of everything valuable. The leader of the land troops tried to protect private property. The British remained in Bangor thirty-one hours, quartered on the inhabitants, [234] who were compelled to sign a parole as prisoners of war. General Blake was compelled to sign the same, and 190 citizens were thus bound. Having despoiled

Old meeting-house, Hampden.

the inhabitants of property valued at over $20,000, and burned several vessels, the marauders departed, to engage in similar work at Hampden (Sept. 5). Barrie allowed the sailors to commit the most wanton acts of destruction. They desolated the village meeting-house, tore up the Bible and psalm-books in it, and demolished the pulpit and pews. As at Havrede-Grace, they wantonly butchered cattle and hogs, and compelled the selectmen to sign a bond to guarantee the delivery of vessels then at Hampden at Castine. The speedy return of peace cancelled the bond. The total loss of property at Hampden by the hands of the marauders, exclusive of a very valuable cargo on board the schooner Commodore Decatur, was estimated at $44,000. When a committee at Hampden waited upon Barrie and asked for the common safeguards of humanity, he replied: “I have none for you: my business is to burn, sink, and destroy” —the cruel order issued by Admiral Cohrane.

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John Blake (5)
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