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July 25, 2013

Submarine Attack

Cooperstown Crier


From the Otsego Herald

for Saturday, July 24, 1813

Compiled, with comments


British Warship Attacked

Bushnell the second — We understand a gentleman at Norwich has invented a diving boat, which by means of paddles he can propel under water at the rate of three miles an hour, and ascend and descend at pleasure. He has made a number of experiments, and been three times under the bottom of the Ramillies, off New-London.

In the first attempt, after remaining under some time, he came to the top of the water like the porpoise for air, & as luck would have it came up but a few yards from the stern of the Ramillies, and was observed by the centinels on deck, who sung out — “boat ahoy”— immediately on hearing which, the boat descended without making a reply....

In the third attempt he came up directly under the Ramillies, and fastened himself and his boat to her keel, where he remained half an hour, and succeeded in perforating a hole through her copper, and while engaged in screwing a torpedo to her bottom, the screw broke and defeated his object for that time.

So great is the alarm and fear on board of the Ramillies of some such stratagem being played off upon them, that Com. Hardy has withdrawn his force from before New-London, and keeps his ship under way all the time, instead of lying at anchor as formerly.

COMMENT: During the American Revolution, David Bushnell (1740-1824) had constructed the first naval submarine, the Turtle, a hand-powered device intended to sneak under the hulls of enemy warships and attach a torpedo (bomb) to their hulls. It failed in its only attempt. The operator of this similar War of 1812 device (whose identity remains unknown) was trying to sink HMS Ramillies, a 74-gun ship-of-the-line and flagship of Admiral Sir Thomas Masterman Hardy (1769-1839). He was directing the British naval blockade at New London, Connecticut — a blockade primarily intended to prevent the “escape” of two US Navy frigates bottled up in the Thames River.

Ambrose Jordan

NOTICE: The Co-partnership between the subscribers as attorneys at law, has this day been dissolved by mutual consent; all their unsettled business is left with Ambrose L. Jordan, who will transact the same, at his office in the village of Cooperstown. AMBROSE L. JORDAN, SAMUEL BIRDSALL. Dated July 14, 1813.

A. L. JORDAN has removed to the office heretofore occupied by Farrand Stranahan, Esq. with whom he has commenced business in connection.

COMMENT: Ambrose L. Jordan (1791-1865) and Samuel Birdsall (1782-1872) had formed their partnership in November 1812. Jordan lived in Cooperstown until 1820, in the yellow building still called Jordan Cottage at the corner of Main and Chestnut Streets. He then moved to Hudson, NY, and in later life he served as State Assemblyman, State Senator, and Attorney-General.

and was noted for his defense of the so-called “anti-rent war” leaders in 1845. From 1830-1833 Jordan had as a law pupil Edward C. Clark (1811-1882), partner of Isaac Singer and founder of Cooperstown’s Clark Family. In 1835 Clark married Jordan’s daughter Caroline, and visited (and fell in love with) our village.

On Jordan’s death in 1865 an old friend remembered “his honest simplicity of heart as exhibited in his daily life; his uprightness of purpose, as manifested in his dealings with his clients, and his uniform kindness and urbanity as displayed toward his opponents during the heat of debate and during protracted trials.” Another said: “Mr. Jordan was distinguished for his manly beauty. With an erect, commanding form, an expressive face, and an eye which, in moments of excitement, flashed like the eagle’s, his appearance never failed to attract attention and to create a most favorable the prime of his life, he was the perfection of physical and intellectual manhood.”

Farrand Stranahan (1778-1826) was a prominent Jeffersonian attorney in Cooperstown, best known perhaps for having on May 21, 1807 publicly assaulted William Cooper with a cane (for which he was fined $30).

War Society Formed

We observe with pleasure that a “Society for promoting the success of the War against Great Britain,” has been instituted in the capital of Virginia and that WILLIAM MARSHALL, esq., a federalist, and a brother of the Chief Justice of the United States, acts as its chairman. The northern factionalists will deem this treason, against them and their British allies. —Baltimore American.

COMMENT: William Marshall (1765-1845) was the brother of John Marshall, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (1755-1835). The point here (as made by an anti-Federalist paper in Baltimore) is that the Federalist-dominated States in New England, often considered by Republicans to be traitors, would not appreciate a Federalist heading a patriotic society.


The following choice liquors selected for the use of the SICK, and connoisseurs, are for sale by GEORGE POMEROY.

Old Madeira, Sicily Madeira, London particular Teneriffe, Port, Sherry, & Malaga WINES. COGNAC BRANDY, & HOLLAND GIN. July 24, 1813

COMMENT: George Pomeroy (1779-1870) was a druggist — whose wares were broader than that of modern pharmacies — who came to Cooperstown in 1801 and in 1804 married Ann Cooper Pomeroy (1784-1870), daughter of William Cooper, who had built for them the stone Pomeroy Place at the corner of Main and River Streets. Owing, apparently, to the financial “problems” of a banker son, George Quartus Pomeroy (1815-1878) they ended their lives in poverty and spent their last years with their nephew George Pomeroy Keese (1828-1910) at Edgewater. A granddaughter, Constance Fenimore Woolson (1840-1894) was a famous writer.