Writer's Guide to Government Information

Resources to inject real life detail into your fiction

Against all odds: U.S. sailors in the War of 1812

Brodine, Charles E., Michael J. Crawford, and Christine F. Hughes. 2004. Against all odds: U.S. sailors in the War of 1812. Washington, D.C.: Naval Historical Center.
(Find in a library: http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/52937388)

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • How did American sailors commemorate crossing the Equator?
  • What were the disposition of US and British ships during the Battle of Cedar Point?
  • What did Cosgrove Rockets have to do with the National Anthem?
  • What prayer did Macdonough offer to his crew before meeting British forces on Lake Champlain on September 11, 1814?


This 76 page work is illustrated with many charts, diagrams and portraits. The book reviews three American naval campaigns and provides background on their commanders:

  • Pacific cruise of the Frigate Essex (Captain David Porter)
  • River defense of Washington DC/Chesapeake Campaign (Commodore Joshua Barney)
  • Battle of Lake Champlain (Commodore Thomas Macdonough)

Here’s how the introduction characterizes the campaigns:

Thomas Macdonough triumphed over the British, at high cost. While Captain Porter and Commodore Barney were defeated, their stories are given examples of determined resistance worthy of emulation by others. The men of the Essex were only taken after two and a half hours of bombardment that resulted in a loss of 155 lives. The men of Commodore Barney’s Chesapeake Flotilla burned their ships to keep them out of British hands and continued their resistance as foot soldiers until captured.

Each of the chapters offers detailed battle diagrams and short biographers of the commanders involved. The book concludes with a list of suggested readings and illustration credits that may be of further use to the researcher.



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