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Otsego Herald

April 4, 2013

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“Lt. [David] Conner, Midshipman [Benjamin] Cooper [NOT the author], and the remainder of our crew employed in getting out the prisoners, with difficulty saved themselves by jumping into one of her boats stowed on the booms. Four men were taken from the foretop by our boats.

“We had one man killed, & two slightly wounded. The enemy had eight killed, and twenty-seven wounded.”

COMMENT: Heavily crowded with the prisoners, the Hornet came home from the northern coast of South America, reaching the island of Holmes Hole (renamed Martha’s Vineyard in 1871) on March 19. The victory of the American in single combat over the British warship, one of a number during the War of 1812, helped to boost American morale in a largely unsuccessful war, especially as the British warship was technically more powerful. In fact the Hornet was considerably larger (450 to 386 tons), had a larger crew (162 to 110), and fired a heavier broadside (297 to 192 pounds) than her adversary.

James Lawrence was promoted to Captain, and given command of the US Frigate Chesapeake, only to die when that ship was defeated and captured by HM Frigate Shannon on June 1, 1813 – he remained famous for his ringing, but as it turned out futile, declaration of “Don’t Give Up the Ship.”


DIED – On the 24th ult. [March] in the prime of life Miss Martha Dewey, daughter of Eliphalet Dewey, Esq. of the town of Hartwick, after a short and severe attack of the prevailing disease, which she bore with a fortitude characteristic of a virtuous mind. She was a dutiful daughter, and affectionate sister, and an agreeable friend. Her loss is deeply deplored by all who had the happiness of her acquaintance.

COMMENT: Eliphalet Dewey (1762-1836) had been a farmer in Lebanon, Conn., but shortly after his second marriage in 1793 to Rachel Ann Hyde (1761-1847), he moved to Hartwick, NY, and became a staunch supporter of Hartwick Seminary where his sons were educated. He also served as Justice of the Peace. In 1835 he moved to Cadiz, Ohio to live with his son Chauncey. Martha was born in Cooperstown in 1794. The “prevailing disease” from which she died was undoubtedly Cerebro-Spinal Fever, then known as “Spotted Fever,” which afflicted New York and New England during the War of 1812. Ironically, the same issue of the Otsego Herald which carried her obituary also listed her name among those for whom there was mail waiting at the post office. Eliphalet’s brother Joshua Dewey (1767-1864) taught school in Cooperstown, where young James Fenimore Cooper was one of his pupils.

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Otsego Herald
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