Sailing Navies 1650-1850
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US Sea Fencibles
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Author:  PT [ Wed Oct 26, 2005 11:14 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Sea Fencibles

The only information I have available on the sea fencibles in New York is found in the 2 volumes of New York City and vicinity during the war of 1812-'15 RS Guernsey.
It says that the Sea Fencibles were organized in 1812 in New York and numbered about a 1000 men. There are two other citations in the second volume to small groups of Sea Fencibles in 1814. I doubt that there were 5000 available anywhere in the US at the time. I've been reading the Social History of the Navy 1793-1815 about the British Navy at the time. Michael Lewis makes a case for there being only about 30,000 American sailors in all in an appendix on the impressment controversy.
I doubt that the NY Sea Fencibles embarked as they were meant to man some of the gunboats in New York harbor.
The Guernsey books are available through a online database - HeritageQuest Online that I found in a connection on my local library webpage.
That's all I could find with a cursory search.
PT

Author:  CAPTCaltrop [ Thu Oct 27, 2005 2:05 am ]
Post subject: 

*

Author:  CAPTCaltrop [ Thu Oct 27, 2005 2:06 am ]
Post subject: 

Apparently there is a book by a fellow named Brady that chronicles affairs during this period. His book makes it sound as if Decaturs entire force was 5,000 men. He describes it as the "largest landing force, if it can so be characterized, ever assembled ever assembled under the authority of an American naval officer."

The trouble with working from secondary sources is they may be fooling or confusing each other.

On the other hand, sea fencibles in New York were federally financed and their skills were similar to those of Marines of the period.

Author:  Albert Parker [ Fri Oct 28, 2005 12:14 am ]
Post subject: 

"Sea Fencibles" is an English, not an American, term. While it is possible that a comparable force was constituted in New York under that name, it seems unlikely that an English term would have been used during a war with Great Britain, to defend against attacks by the British navy. It sounds like that term is being used as a description for English readers. In the United States, the term "naval militia" has been used for emergency sea forces manned on a temporary basis by personnel with civilian occupations. Without the "naval" qualification, the "militia" in the U.S. was a force of trained civilians (theoretically consisting of the entire male population under the age of 45) who could be called into military service by state governors or the President in cases of insurrection or invasion. This would, I believe, be comparable to the later British "territorial army." It was the predecessor of the National Guard. Although the U.S. Air Force has a comparable Air National Guard, there is no Naval or Sea National Guard, and thus no modern equivalent to a "naval militia" or "sea fencibles." (Like the Army, Air Force, and Coast Guard, the U.S. Navy [and its Marine Corps] has a "Reserve" of trained civilians who can be called into service by the President but not by state governors.)

Author:  CAPTCaltrop [ Fri Oct 28, 2005 4:16 am ]
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On July 26, 1813 Congress established the "United States Sea Fencibles" with units in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Norfolk. During that time period there were sea fencibles units in several other states.

See 13 Cong. Ch. 27; 3 Stat. 47, PUBLIC LAW, SEA FENCIBLES, JULY 26, 1813, UNITED STATES STATUTES AT LARGE 13RD CONGRESS - 1ST SESSION Copyright 2003, Potomac Publishing Company, Inc.

I believe 1813 was one of those years we were at war with Britain.

United States Sea Fencibles formed part of the garrison of Fort McHenry during the Battle of Baltimore (an event memorialized in the Star Spangled Banner) in which we engaged a forgotten foe.

"Naval militia" did not become a popular term until about 1880.

Author:  CAPTCaltrop [ Fri Oct 28, 2005 3:24 pm ]
Post subject: 

Albert Parker wrote:
"...there is no Naval or Sea National Guard, and thus no modern equivalent to a "naval militia" or "sea fencibles." (Like the Army, Air Force, and Coast Guard, the U.S. Navy [and its Marine Corps] has a "Reserve" of trained civilians who can be called into service by the President but not by state governors.)


I beg to differ.

New York, New Jersey, Alaska, and Ohio maintain naval militia units as part of their state national guard. California is currently toying with the idea of reactivating its naval militia. Connecticut, Virginia, and several other states have naval militia laws on the books, but their programs are currently dormant.

Author:  Albert Parker [ Sat Oct 29, 2005 5:10 am ]
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CAPTCaltrop wrote:
New York, New Jersey, Alaska, and Ohio maintain naval militia units as part of their state national guard. California is currently toying with the idea of reactivating its naval militia. Connecticut, Virginia, and several other states have naval militia laws on the books, but their programs are currently dormant.


That's interesting. The United States military establishment consists of regular forces, reserve components, and, when called into national service, the National Guard. The "National Guard" refers to units equipped and trained by the U.S. Army and under its command when in Federal service. Likewise, the "Air National Guard" consists of units equipped and trained by the U.S. Air Force and under its command when in Federal service. As far as I know, the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Marine Corps do not equip and train state-controlled "National Guard" units and consist only of regular and reserve forces. For instance, in the two recent wars with Iraq, National Guard and Air National Guard units were called into Federal service, but I can not recall ever hearing or reading about "Navy National Guard" or "Naval National Guard" ships being Federalized or about "Marine National Guard" units. The (Army) National Guard could have boats manned by military, not naval, personnel, as the U.S. Army did during World War II (when by hull count it either had more watercraft than the U.S. Navy, or more than any other navy). The U.S. Army has more aircraft than most national air forces (and the U.S. Navy has two air forces). I don't have any idea whether the Army, including the National Guard, also has units that operate afloat, on rivers or at sea. The Webster-Ashburton Treaty prohibits navy combat units on any of the Great Lakes, including Lake Erie. The Coast Guard can patrol the lakes against smugglers; there must be an agreement with Canada that permits some weapons; and the U.S. navy did train on the Great Lakes during World War II, even having aircraft carriers on Lake Michigan. But there aren't supposed to be any combat units of the U.S. Navy on the Great Lakes.

I stand corrected on the "Sea Fencibles" issue. I've read about them in relation to the British navy, but not in relation to the U.S.

Author:  susan [ Sat Oct 29, 2005 6:09 am ]
Post subject: 

I realize that the information regarding the modern US National Guard is related to the sea fencibles topic in a way. However, I do ask that you try to keep posts focused on the time period 1650-1850ish. If you would like to discuss modern day forces in depth, please take it to the Scuttle-Butt section, email, or personal message.

Thank you for your cooperation.

Author:  CAPTCaltrop [ Fri Apr 21, 2006 5:19 pm ]
Post subject: 

Albert Parker wrote:

...but I can not recall ever hearing or reading about "Navy National Guard" or "Naval National Guard" ships being Federalized or about "Marine National Guard" units.


That is because you will not find any units known as "Navy National Guard" or "Marine National Guard."

The New York Naval Militia and the New Jersey Naval Militia patrol New York Harbor on a daily basis. They have since 9/11.

Numerous members of the New York Naval Militia are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is however because they are also members of the Naval Reserve and the Marine Reserve. In March of 2002 I was one of the first members of the NYNM to serve in Afghanistan. I was recalled, however, as a naval reservist.

During WWII all or most state Naval Militia units were federalized.

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