Second Naval Battle of the American Revolution - Machiasport, ME
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member T0SHEA
N 44° 41.366 W 067° 23.736
19T E 627132 N 4949703
Fort Machias was built in 1775 on Machias Bay at the mouth of Machias River, shortly after the beginning of the American Revolutionary War.
Waymark Code: WMQ6WR
Location: Maine, United States
Date Posted: 12/31/2015
Published By:Groundspeak Premium Member tmob
Views: 2

About two miles offshore from Fort Machias/O'Brien, near Round Island, is the site of what is locally claimed to be the First Naval Battle of the American Revolutionary War, the Battle of Machias, fought between citizens of Machiasport and a British warship, the Margaretta. Unfortunately, the Battle of Machias was actually the second naval battle of the war, the first taking place on May 14, 1775 at Fairhaven, Massachusetts, the Battle of Fairhaven, in which the Dartmouth whaling sloop Success captured a pair of vessels previously captured by the British.

The Battle of Machias took place on June 11-12, 1775 with the British sloop tender Margaretta being captured by the townspeople at the cost of one man killed and six wounded, one of which later died of his wounds. Below is a recounting of the battle, taken from informational plaques at the fort.

The fort is one of a very few in Maine which were active in the American Revolution, the War of 1812 and the Civil War. Captured and burned by the British in 1814, the fort was returned in 1818. Rebuilt in 1863, the fort was renamed Fort O'Brien. More detail on the fort is to be found further below.

In the two larger photos below one may see Round Island and the battle scene which is easily seen from the earthworks at the fort.

On June 12, 1775, about two miles off-shore near Round Island, the first naval battle of the American Revolution took place. This was the first instance of armed naval combat between Americans and a foreign power, and as such, the United States Navy considers Machias one of the "Birthplaces of the U.S. Navy."

Captain Ichabod Jones, a leading citizen of the town, had been allowed by British Admiral Graves to bring provisions from Boston in his vessel, the Unity, on condition that he return with lumber which was much needed by the British army for the construction of barracks. To ensure the arrangement being carried out, he was accompanied by a small tender, the Margaretta, commanded by Midshipman Moore.

The town, being in great need of provisions and under the guns of the tender, agreed to the terms, but Captain Jones refused to sell provisions to those who had voted against allowing him to carry off the lumber. Angered at his conduct, some of the leading patriots sent to the neighboring settlements for help, and after an unsuccessful attempt to capture Jones and Moore while attending church, attacked the tender. There was some shooting without injury on either side, and next morning the Margaretta made off.

What followed is thus described in a letter written two days later to the Massachusetts Congress by the Machias committee of correspondence:

About forty men, armed with guns, swords, axes, & pitch forks, went in Capt. Jones's sloop [Unity], under the command of Capt. Jeremiah O'Brien; about twenty, armed in the same manner & under the command of Capt. Benjamin Foster, went in a small schooner. During the Chase, our people built them breastworks of pine boards, and anything they could find in the Vessels, that would screen them from the enemy's fire. The Tender, upon the first appearance of our people, cut her boats from the stern, & made all the sail she could-but being a very dull sailor, they soon came up with her, and a most obstinate engagement ensued, both sides determined to conquer or die; but the tender was obliged to yield, her Captain was wounded in the breast with two balls, of which he died next morning; poor Avery was killed, and one of the marines, and five wounded. Only one of our men was killed and six wounded, one of which is since dead of his wounds.

Since 1775, the Unites States Navy has named five different ships the "Jeremiah O'Brien" in honor of the leader of this first naval victory.

Maine Department of Conservation Bureau of Parks and Lands
This display created with the aid of the Machiasport Historical Society

From informational plaques at the fort
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Historic Fort Machias

Built in 1775 immediately after the first naval battle of the American Revolution took place offshore, Fort Machias was a four-gun battery that guarded the mouth of the Machias River in cooperation with Fort Foster, located a mile or so upriver. The British destroyed the fort in the same year. This state historic site is one of few Maine forts active during three wars - the American Revolution, War of 1812 and Civil War. The fort's layout was altered several times over the 90 years it was active on this site, but the fort's important role in protecting the Machias River and its towns remained unchanged. It was refortified in 1777.

From 1808 - 1818, this was a four-gun crescent-shaped earthwork fort. In 1814 the British captured the fort and burned the barracks. It was returned in 1818.

The Cannon
In the middle of the earthworks of the Civil War era battery is a bronze cannon known as a "Napoleon" or 12-pounder. It fired 12 pound cannonballs, spherical case shot, or cannister, the latter being made up of numerous small pieces of iron that tore through infantry formations or a ship's rigging at close range. This cannon tube weighs 1216 pounds and was made at the Ames Manufacturing Company of Chicopee, Massachusetts in 1862. It originally sat on a wooden carriage that weighed an additional 1128 pounds. In optimal conditions, this gun could fire a ball 1600 yards, just enough to reach across the mouth of the Machias River.

Fort O'Brien
Fort O'Brien (1863 - 1865) was a Civil War five-gun earthworks fort built next to the ruins of Fort Machias. Well-preserved earthworks which overlook Machias Bay were erected fora battery of guns in 1863. In 1923, the United States Government deeded the site of both forts to the State of Maine.

The Foster Rubicon
A bronze tablet, mounted on a stone on the east side of Route 92 between here and Machias, reads:

Photo goes Here

Near this spot, in June 1775, the men of Machias, confronted by a peremptory demand backed by armed force that they should furnish necessary supplies to their country's enemies, met in open air council to choose between ignoble peace and all but hopeless war. The question was momentous and the debate was long. After some hours of fruitless discussion, Benjamin Foster, a man of action rather than words, leaped across this brook and called all those to follow him who would, whatever the risk, stand by their countrymen and their country's cause. Almost to a man the assembly followed and, without further formality, the settlement was committed to the Revolution.
From informational plaques at the fort
Name of the revolution that the waymark is related to:
American Revolution

Adress of the monument:
506 Port Road,
Machiasport, ME USA

What was the role of this site in revolution?:
It is the site of the second naval battle of the war.

Link that comprove that role: [Web Link]

Who placed this monument?: Maine Department of Conservation Bureau of Parks and Lands & Machiasport Historical Society

When was this memorial placed?: Not listed

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