British Bombardment Ceases
Wilmington [Delaware], April 10. Lewiston [Lewes] is free from the British cannon, after 22 hours incessant attack with 18 and 32-pound balls only a few houses were injured.
The enemy made an attempt to land, but gave up their design and left their station and anchored outside of the light-house. It was supposed to be their design to destroy the light or procure water from a pond a quarter of a mile from the shore. The militia went down to oppose their landing on the 8th inst. [April].
COMMENT: Thus ended the 22 hour bombardment of the Delaware town of Lewiston (today called Lewes), in which 800 projectiles rained down on the town, killing nobody (but causing some destruction). Townsfolk later composed a ditty to the effect that “The captain and all his men, shot a dog and killed a hen.”
It marked the first time in the War of 1812 in which the British employed the Congreve Rocket, a device made famous by “The Star Spangled Banner” (“The rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air.”)
Military rockets were first used by native troops fighting against the British in India at the end of the 1700s. In England Sir William Congreve (1772-1828) began a program to develop a rocket (i.e., a self-propelled explosive device) about 1804, and they were first used by the British around 1809. As at the later attack on Fort McHenry outside Baltimore, these rockets were virtually impossible to aim accurately, and were of more use in frightening civilians and inexperienced soldiers than in causing real damage. The British Army continued to use them until the 1850s.
American Sailors in England
London, Jan. 1. Yesterday two seafaring men, natives of America, were brought up, and who represented themselves to be in a state of absolute starvation, besides being compelled to sleep in the street for several nights; and, in addition to this, their being afflicted with almost incurable diseases, one with the scurvy, and the other with an ulcer in his leg.