Thompson's War was an early American Revolutionary War confrontation between Samuel Thompson's patriot militia and loyalists supported by HMS Canceaux. The confrontation ended without fatalities, but provoked the retaliatory Burning of Falmouth five months later. Falmouth is now known as Portland, Maine, but Maine was part of Massachusetts at the time.
The American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), also known as the American War of Independence, was an 18th-century war between Great Britain and its Thirteen Colonies which declared independence as the United States of America.
Patriots were those colonists of the Thirteen Colonies who rejected British rule during the American Revolution and declared the United States of America as an independent nation in July 1776. Their decision was based on the political philosophy of republicanism as expressed by spokesmen such as Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Thomas Paine. They were opposed by the Loyalists who supported continued British rule.
Loyalists were American colonists who stayed loyal to the British Crown during the American Revolutionary War, often called Tories, Royalists, or King's Men at the time. They were opposed by the Patriots, who supported the revolution, and called them "persons inimical to the liberties of America". Prominent Loyalists repeatedly assured the British government that many thousands of them would spring to arms and fight for the crown. The British government acted in expectation of that, especially in the southern campaigns in 1780-81. In practice, the number of Loyalists in military service was far lower than expected since Britain could not effectively protect them except in those areas where Britain had military control. The British were often suspicious of them, not knowing whom they could fully trust in such a conflicted situation; they were often looked down upon. Patriots watched suspected Loyalists very closely and would not tolerate any organized Loyalist opposition. Many outspoken or militarily active Loyalists were forced to flee, especially to their stronghold of New York City. William Franklin, the royal governor of New Jersey and son of Patriot leader Benjamin Franklin, became the leader of the Loyalists after his release from a Patriot prison in 1778. He worked to build Loyalist military units to fight in the war, but the number of volunteers was much fewer than London expected.
Brunswick, Maine tavern owner Samuel Thompson had been elected to the Brunswick Board of selectmen in 1768, 1770, and 1771. He was elected commander of the Brunswick militia in 1774 and headed the local enforcement committee for the Continental Association created by the First Continental Congress to boycott all goods from Great Britain. The Continental Association attempted to enforce the boycott on 2 March 1775 against a shipload of sail, rope, and rigging for loyalist shipbuilder Captain Samuel Coulson of Portland by demanding the delivery ship leave port. Coulson requested delay while the English sloop completed needed repairs after its trans-Atlantic voyage. HMS Canceaux was dispatched from Boston while the repairs were in progress; and, following its arrival on March 29, Coulson proceeded to offload his British goods under the protection of the British warship. The battles of Lexington and Concord took place 90 miles (150 km) to the south while Canceaux lay at anchor in Casco Bay. When news of the battle reached Brunswick on April 21, the Brunswick militia laid plans to capture Canceaux.
Brunswick is a town in Cumberland County, Maine, United States. The population was 20,278 at the 2010 United States Census. Part of the Portland-South Portland-Biddeford metropolitan area, Brunswick is home to Bowdoin College, the Bowdoin College Museum of Art, the Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum, and the Maine State Music Theatre. It was formerly home to the U.S. Naval Air Station Brunswick, which was permanently closed on May 31, 2011.
The board of selectmen or select board is commonly the executive arm of the government of New England towns in the United States. The board typically consists of three or five members, with or without staggered terms. Three is the most common number, historically. In some places, a first selectman is appointed to head the board, often by election.
A militia is generally an army or some other fighting organization of non-professional soldiers, citizens of a nation, or subjects of a state, who can be called upon for military service during a time of need, as opposed to a professional force of regular, full-time military personnel, or historically, members of a warrior nobility class. Generally unable to hold ground against regular forces, it is common for militias to be used for aiding regular troops by skirmishing, holding fortifications, or irregular warfare, instead of being used in offensive campaigns by themselves. Militia are often limited by local civilian laws to serve only in their home region, and to serve only for a limited time; this further reduces their use in long military campaigns.
Fifty Brunswick militiamen wearing a sprig of spruce in their hats as a uniform arrived in Portland secretly aboard small boats carrying a spruce tree with the lower branches cleared away as a battle ensign. Canceaux was prepared to prevent the small boats from boarding; but Thompson's militia captured the warship's captain, Lieutenant Henry Mowat, on 9 May 1775 while he was ashore arranging church services for his crew. The first lieutenant aboard Canceaux discharged two cannon salutes (gunpowder charges without shot) toward Portland and threatened to shell Portland unless the captain was released. Six hundred militiamen from surrounding communities gathered as Portland residents negotiated to prevent their community from becoming a battleground. Mowat was allowed to return to his ship, but his demand to arrest Thompson was refused, and the assembled militia forced Canceaux to leave port on May 15.
A spruce is a tree of the genus Picea, a genus of about 35 species of coniferous evergreen trees in the family Pinaceae, found in the northern temperate and boreal (taiga) regions of the Earth. Spruces are large trees, from about 20–60 m tall when mature, and have whorled branches and conical form. They can be distinguished from other members of the pine family by their needles (leaves), which are four-sided and attached singly to small persistent peg-like structures (pulvini) on the branches, and by their cones, which hang downwards after they are pollinated. The needles are shed when 4–10 years old, leaving the branches rough with the retained pegs. In other similar genera, the branches are fairly smooth.
Henry Mowat (1734–1798) was an officer of the Royal Navy commanding ships in northern New England during the American Revolutionary War. He was the son of Captain Patrick Mowat of the post ship HMS Dolphin. He was born in Scotland and went to sea at the age of 18.
Gunpowder, also known as black powder to distinguish it from modern smokeless powder, is the earliest known chemical explosive. It consists of a mixture of sulfur (S), charcoal (C), and potassium nitrate (saltpeter, KNO3). The sulfur and charcoal act as fuels while the saltpeter is an oxidizer. Because of its incendiary properties and the amount of heat and gas volume that it generates, gunpowder has been widely used as a propellant in firearms, artillery, rockets, and fireworks, and as a blasting powder in quarrying, mining, and road building.
Disappointed militiamen vented their frustration by looting the homes of Coulson and loyalist Sheriff Tyng before returning to their inland communities. News of Thompson's attempt encouraged Machias, Maine militiamen to capture the British armed schooner Margaretta a month later in the battle of Machias. Mowat brought Canceaux back to Portland in October to set fires which left Portland's population homeless as winter approached. The Massachusetts House of Representatives promoted Samuel Thompson to Brigadier of the Cumberland County, Maine militia on 8 February 1776 in recognition of his initiative following the battles of Lexington and Concord; and the spruce trees his men carried provided inspiration for adoption of the Pine Tree Flag as the Massachusetts naval ensign in April 1776.
Looting, also referred to as sacking, ransacking, plundering, despoiling, despoliation, and pillaging, is the indiscriminate taking of goods by force as part of a military or political victory, or during a catastrophe, such as war, natural disaster, or rioting.
Machias is a town in and the county seat of Washington County in downeast Maine, United States. As of the 2010 census, the town population was 2,221. It is home to the University of Maine at Machias and Machias Valley Airport, a small public airport owned by the town. The word Machias roughly translates in Passamaquoddy as "bad little falls", a reference to the Machias River. Machias is best known as the site of the first naval battle of the American Revolution.
The Battle of Machias was the first naval engagement of the American Revolutionary War, also known as the Battle of the Margaretta, fought around the port of Machias, Maine.
Thompson moved to Topsham, Maine in 1783, and was regularly elected to the Massachusetts General Court until his death in 1798 at the age of 63. Thompson donated part of his significant real estate holdings to Bowdoin College when the school was chartered in 1794.
Topsham is a town in Sagadahoc County, Maine, United States. The population was 8,784 at the 2010 census. It is part of the Portland–South Portland–Biddeford, Maine metropolitan statistical area. The town is home to the annual Topsham Fair.
The Massachusetts General Court is the state legislature of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The name "General Court" is a hold-over from the earliest days of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, when the colonial assembly, in addition to making laws, sat as a judicial court of appeals. Before the adoption of the state constitution in 1780, it was called the Great and General Court, but the official title was shortened by John Adams, author of the state constitution. It is a bicameral body. The upper house is the Massachusetts Senate which is composed of 40 members. The lower body, the Massachusetts House of Representatives, has 160 members. It meets in the Massachusetts State House on Beacon Hill in Boston.
Bowdoin College is a private liberal arts college located in Brunswick, Maine. At the time Bowdoin was chartered, in 1794, Maine was still a part of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The college offers 34 majors and 36 minors, as well as several joint engineering programs with Columbia, Caltech, Dartmouth College, and The University of Maine.
The Siege of Boston was the opening phase of the American Revolutionary War. New England militiamen prevented the movement by land of the British Army, which was garrisoned in what was then the peninsular city of Boston, Massachusetts. Both sides had to deal with resource supply and personnel issues over the course of the siege. British resupply and reinforcement activities were limited to sea access. After eleven months of the siege, the British abandoned Boston by sailing to Nova Scotia.
Samuel Prescott was a Massachusetts Patriot during the American Revolutionary War. He is best remembered for his role in Paul Revere's "midnight ride" to warn the townspeople of Concord of the impending British army move to capture guns and gunpowder kept there at the beginning of the American Revolution. He was the only participant in the ride to reach Concord.
The Penobscot Expedition was a 44-ship American naval task force mounted during the Revolutionary War by the Provincial Congress of the Province of Massachusetts Bay. The flotilla of 19 warships and 25 smaller support vessels sailed from Boston on July 19, 1779 for the upper Penobscot Bay in the District of Maine carrying a ground expeditionary force of more than 1,000 colonial Marines and militiamen. Also included was a 100-man artillery detachment under the command of Lt. Colonel Paul Revere. The Expedition's goal was to reclaim control of what is now mid-coast Maine from the British who had seized it a month earlier and renamed it New Ireland. It was the largest American naval expedition of the war. The fighting took place both on land and at sea in and around the mouth of the Penobscot and Bagaduce Rivers at what is today Castine, Maine over a period of three weeks in July and August of 1779. One of its greatest victories of the war for the British, the Expedition was also the United States' worst naval defeat until Pearl Harbor 162 years later in 1941.
Peleg Wadsworth was an American officer during the American Revolutionary War and a Congressman from Massachusetts representing the District of Maine. He was also grandfather of noted American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
Captain Jeremiah O’Brien (1744–1818) was a captain in the Massachusetts State Navy. Prior to its existence, he commanded the sloop Unity when he captured the British armed schooner HMS Margaretta in the Battle of Machias, the first naval battle of the American Revolutionary War. He also led the first American attack on Nova Scotia in the Raid on St. John (1775).
The Boston campaign was the opening campaign of the American Revolutionary War, taking place primarily in the Province of Massachusetts Bay. The campaign began with the Battles of Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775, in which the local colonial militias interdicted a British government attempt to seize military stores and leaders in Concord, Massachusetts. The entire British expedition suffered significant casualties during a running battle back to Charlestown against an ever-growing number of militia.
The Battles of Lexington and Concord were the first military engagements of the American Revolutionary War. The battles were fought on April 19, 1775 in Middlesex County, Province of Massachusetts Bay, within the towns of Lexington, Concord, Lincoln, Menotomy, and Cambridge. They marked the outbreak of armed conflict between the Kingdom of Great Britain and its thirteen colonies in America.
John Nixon was an American brigadier general in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War.
The Massachusetts Naval Militia, was a naval militia active during the American Revolutionary War was founded December 29, 1775, to defend the interests of Massachusetts from Great Britain's forces.
Jonathan Eddy was a British-American soldier, who fought for the British in the French and Indian War and for the Americans in the American Revolution. After the French and Indian War, he settled in Nova Scotia as a New England Planter, becoming a member of the General Assembly of Nova Scotia. During the American Revolutionary War, he was strongly supportive of the rebellion against the Crown. He encouraged the residents of Nova Scotia to join in open revolt against King George III and England. He led a failed attempt to capture Fort Cumberland in 1776 and was forced to retreat to Massachusetts, the place of his birth. The following year, he led the defense of Machias, Maine during the Battle of Machias (1777). After the war, he established the community now known as Eddington, Maine in 1784, where he died.
The Burning of Falmouth was an attack by a fleet of Royal Navy vessels on the town of Falmouth, Massachusetts. The fleet was commanded by Captain Henry Mowat. The attack began with a naval bombardment which included incendiary shot, followed by a landing party meant to complete the town's destruction. The attack was the only major event in what was supposed to be a campaign of retaliation against ports that supported Patriot activities in the early stages of the American Revolutionary War.
The Battle of Gloucester was a skirmish fought early in the American Revolutionary War at Gloucester, Massachusetts on August 8 or 9, 1775. Royal Navy Captain John Linzee, commanding the sloop-of-war HMS Falcon, spotted two schooners that were returning from the West Indies. After capturing one schooner, Linzee chased the second one into Gloucester Harbor, where it was grounded. The townspeople called out their militia, captured British seamen sent to seize the grounded schooner, and recovered the captured ship as well.
The historical battles of Lexington and Concord in Massachusetts sparked the beginning of the American War for Independence on 19 April 1775; soon after, the rest of the thirteen American colonies were pulled into the conflict. Many of the leaders in the rebellion recognized that a naval engagement against the British was the primary option to prevent the British from restoring Crown rule by military occupation.
Minutemen were civilian colonists who independently organized to form well-prepared militia companies self-trained in weaponry, tactics, and military strategies from the American colonial partisan militia during the American Revolutionary War. They were also known for being ready at a minute's notice, hence the name. They provided a highly mobile, rapidly deployed force that allowed the colonies to respond immediately to war threats.
The Battle of Machias was an amphibious assault on the Massachusetts town of Machias by British forces during the American Revolutionary War. Local militia aided by Indian allies successfully prevented British troops from landing. The raid, led by Commodore Sir George Collier, was executed in an attempt to head off a planned second assault on Fort Cumberland, which had been besieged in November 1776. The British forces landed below Machias, seized a ship, and raided a storehouse.
The St. John River expedition was an attempt by a small number of militia commanded by John Allan to bring the American Revolutionary War to Nova Scotia in late 1777. With minimal logistical support from Massachusetts and approximately 100 volunteer militia and Natives, Allan's forces occupied the small settlement at the mouth of the Saint John River in June 1777.
HMS Canceaux was a sloop active in both the hydrographic exploration of the Atlantic Canada and New England coastline and in the American Revolutionary War. She played an integral role in the battle for control of Maine, in particular at the Burning of Falmouth. She began her life as a merchant vessel and would eventually be transformed to a military vessel for the Royal Navy, equipped to command the razing of major settlements. After leaving the Saint Lawrence River estuary in 1771, Canceaux actively shaped the maritime history of the American Revolution.
The Raid on St. John took place on 27 August 1775 during the American Revolutionary War. The raid involved American privateers from Machias, Maine attacking St. John, Nova Scotia. The privateers intended to stop the export of supplies being sent to the loyalists in Boston. This raid was the first hostile act committed against Nova Scotia and it resulted in raising the militia across the colony.