Joshua Barney : hero of the Revolution and 1812 Louis Arthur Norton Annapolis, Md. : Naval Institute Press, c 2000 Hardcover. 1st ed. and printing. xxiv, 227 p. : ill. ; 24 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. 211-220) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG
When the U.S. Congress, in response to continuing interference with American seaborne trade, declared war on Great Britain in June 1812, Joshua Barney leapt at the opportunity to serve his country once more. In the darkest hour of the War of 1812, Joshua Barney and his Chesapeake flotilla men valiantly attempted to forestall British forces descending on Washington; it marked a gallant comeback for the erstwhile naval hero.
A naval hero of the Revolution, Barney had fought in coastal and blue waters, on board small craft, privateers, and frigates, learning seamanship, gunnery, and tactics in the hardest possible school. Sadly, Barney squandered his reputation by giving vent to his less admirable qualities: a prickly pride and a hunger for honors.
In 1794, with its shipping harassed by the Royal Navy, the French fleet, and Algerian corsairs, the United States had finally resolved to resurrect a fighting navy, laying the keels for six new frigates. Barney placed fourth in seniority among the six captains offered commissions, but he believed that by rights he should be ranked third among his peers. He appealed for a correction to the list; when it was not forthcoming, he felt compelled to turn down the offer of command.
Eventually, he sought a place with the French navy; by 1796, he was a French commodore happily skirmishing with the Royal Navy in the Caribbean. Unfortunately, the Quasi-War between America and France erupted in 1798, a strictly naval affair that sputtered along in the Atlantic until the fall of 1800. Though Barney refused to attack American shipping, he was tarred by his service with America’s enemy, referred to as a pirate and traitor, and compared frequently with Benedict Arnold in the press.
Hurt by the imputations of disloyalty, Barney resigned his commission and returned to the United States in 1802. Rejected by the government and the voters in several efforts to return to public service, Barney took to the sea as a merchantman. By 1812 he had established himself as a man of moderate means and, at least in his hometown of Baltimore, refurbished his standing as a loyal American. Still, he must have felt some disappointment: The young hero of 1782, with unlimited prospects for fame and fortune, had somehow become a middle-aged tradesman. The outbreak of war offered him one last chance for glory.