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FC 95 The British Raid on Essex with Jerry Roberts

This week on Fieldstone Common our featured guest is Jerry Roberts, the author of the book The British Raid on Essex: The Forgotten Battle of the War of 1812. This book re-introduces a part of the War of 1812 that was erased from American history.

Bio – Jerry Roberts

Jerry Roberts has been in the history business for over 30 years. He has served as Vice President in charge of Exhibits at the Intrepid Sea Air Space Museum in New York City, Executive Director of Connecticut River Museum in Essex CT, and Battlefield Historian for The British Raid on Essex with Jerry Roberts on Fieldstone Commonthe British Raid on Essex Project. He has designed and built over forty exhibits, has written or co-written several books and documentaries and has published dozens of newspaper and magazine articles.

Roberts is an avid sailor and merchant marine master and has navigated the eastern seaboard in small boats and historic vessels from The Gulf Coast to Nova Scotia.

He now lives overlooking the Connecticut River with his wife and two children where he continues to write about adventures large and small while designing exhibits and public programs.

Book Summary

This is the dynamic account of one of the most destructive maritime actions to take place in Connecticut history: the 1814 British attack on the privateers of Pettipaug, known today as the British Raid on Essex. During the height of the War of 1812, 136 Royal marines and sailors made their way up the Connecticut River from warships anchored in Long Island Sound. Guided by a well-paid American traitor the British navigated the Saybrook shoals and advanced up the river under cover of darkness. By the time it was over, the British had burned twenty-seven American vessels, including six newly built privateers. It was the largest single maritime loss of the war. Yet this story has been virtually left out of the history books—the forgotten battle of the forgotten war. This new account from author and historian Jerry Roberts is the definitive overview of this event and includes a wealth of new information drawn from recent research and archaeological finds. Illustrations and detailed maps bring the battle to life.

Publication Info The British Raid on Essex with Jerry Roberts on Fieldstone Common

Title: The British Raid on Essex: The Forgotten Battle of the War of 1812

Publisher: Wesleyan University Press (2014)

Hard cover; 197 pages with appendices including transcriptions of original documents, a chronology, end notes and an index.

The British Raid on Essex is available for purchase from Amazon.com and other booksellers.

The Interview

In this interview Jerry Roberts captivates us with the riveting story of a long forgotten but dramatic raid on the town of Essex, Connecticut during the War of 1812. The casualties during the raid were minor but the devastation was great with the destruction of over 25 vessels being built in Essex. Learn about the traitor who helped the British navigate their way up the Connecticut River and how the British escaped despite being surrounded by American troops.

Links mentioned during the interview:

Prize Winner

One copy of The British Raid on Essex: The Forgotten Battle of the War of 1812 is given out to the Fieldstone Common audience courtesy of Wesleyan University Press.

The winner is:

  • To be announced next week

Congratulations to our winner and thanks to Wesleyan University Press for their generosity in donating the book!

Make sure you qualify to win the giveaway next week by signing up for the Bonus List! Once you sign up your are in the running each week!

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Question: What’s that’s new stuff in the Fieldstone Common title (FC 95)?

Answer: That makes it easier, especially for iTunes and other podcast listeners, to keep track of which episode they are listening to. FC stands for Fieldstone Common and 95 is the number of the episode.


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  1. This was a great episode of Fieldstone Commons! While I am not really much of a Connecticut historian nor even a maritime historian per se, I am a great fan of the War of 1812. Many have called this America’s second revolution.

    My 4th Great Grandfather, Charles Wesley Flowers from Buckingham County, Virginia fought in the “Redstick War” in Tennessee. Redsticks was the colloquial name for the Creek Indian Nation. While far removed from the major battles in New England and on the Great Lakes, the British tried to distract the Americans from their battles in the Northeast by arming and encouraging the Creek Indians to attack American frontier settlements and halt American expansionism. The Americans sent Andrew Jackson to Tennessee to build forts and put down these attacks. Since the British promulgated these attacks, this was considered part of the War of 1812.

    Most students of the War of 1812 know that Jackson eventually fought his way westward, across Tennessee to the Mississippi River and down the river to New Orleans where he fought the decisive battle that ended the war.

    My ancestor, left the service before the Battle of New Orleans and returned to Virginia where he married Evilina Coffee, the niece of one of Andrew Jackson’s commanders, “Tennessee John” Coffee. They migrated back into Tennessee and eventually to the bounty land in Alabama that Charles Wesley Flowers received for his War of 1812 service.

    Because of my connection, I have read a few books on the War of 1812, but I never knew about the Raid on Essex. Thanks to your guest, Jerry Roberts, for restoring this important battle to the American consciousness.

    Charles R. Livermore

  2. Marion & Jerry, Thanks for the great episode on the Battle of Essex. It gave me a new perspective of this interesting time of New England history. Great timing too, in two weeks I head back to CT for our annual family reunion at The Griswold Inn in Essex.

  3. Just listen to Raid on Essex show. Never heard of this battle, even as a former Naval Officer who studied Naval Warfare. Mr Robert was fascinating.

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