ISS1 2015

Reservist Magazine is the award-winning official publication of the United States Coast Guard Reserve. Quarterly issues include news and feature articles about the men and women who comprise America's premier national maritime safety and security

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Revenue Marine Contributions During War of 1812 Sets Course For Service's Role in national Defense Story by William H. Thiesen, Ph.D., Atlantic Area Historian "Before the war the Revenue Marine fleet served primarily as a maritime police force, enforcing U.S. trade laws and tariffs and interdicting maritime smuggling. However, the War of 1812 solidified the cutters' naval role and new wartime missions, including high seas combat, port and coastal security, reconnaissance, commerce protection and shallow-water combat operations." On June 18, 1812, President James Madison signed a declaration of war against Great Britain, officially starting the War of 1812. At that time, the United States government faced the Royal Navy's 600 ships with sixteen navy vessels, a fleet of small U.S. Navy gunboats, fourteen cutters and several smaller revenue vessels. While heavily armed American privateers and navy warships carried out a war against British ships on the high seas, the domestic maritime force of Revenue Marine cutters (the precursor to the modern day U.S. Coast Guard), navy gunboats and a few trapped American warships waged war against British ships stationed off the East Coast. Throughout the war, the Revenue Marine cutters served as frontline units protecting American coastal shipping and combating British privateers, British warships and the Royal Navy barges deployed for shallow water operations. As they would in future American conflicts, the revenue cutters went in harm's way and participated in the first naval encounters of the war. On June 25, 1812, Norfolk-based cutter Thomas Jefferson captured the British schooner Patriot bound from Guadeloupe to Halifax with a cargo of sugar. This was the first maritime capture of the war. A Light on Yesteryear Revenue Cutter James Madison capturing the armed British brig Shamrock on July 23, 1812. (Painting by Peter Rindlisbacher, USCG Collection) 44 RESERVIST � Issue 1 • 2015

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