The War of 1812: Objects from the Collection
The War of 1812 had a direct impact on Alexandria, when British forces occupied the city for five days, from August 29 through September 2, 1814. A few days earlier, on August 23, the British troops had set fire to Washington. Learn more...
This Carronade was apparently used in Alexandria on an American gunboat during the War of 1812. It was recovered from the muddy shoreline in the vicinity of where Hunting Creek and the Potomac River converge, and is believed to have been scuttled by Americans in 1814 when British forces seized Alexandria.
Carronades were first introduced and manufactured in Scotland by the Carron Company, in 1779. They were designed specifically to require minimal effort in moving, loading and firing. Their light weight and short barrels made them immediately practical on board ships. Although the firing range was very short, they were particularly effective in destroying the rigging of enemy ships. With the versatility of long range guns and continued sophistication of naval weaponry, the carronades were soon restricted to augmenting a ship’s artillery. By 1860, most carronades became virtually obsolete.
Alexandria History Museum at the Lyceum, purchased with a donation from Interarms North American Group of Alexandria.
Sword and Scabbard
Sword and Scabbard, 1814, Mark: J. Gaither for Alexandria silversmith John Gaither, Silver, Ivory, Iron, Leather. The initials and infantry number for Lieutenant C.I. Queen of the 36th Infantry are scratched on the sword’s knuckle guard. During the War of 1812, this unit participated in the Battle of Bladensburg and the defense of Fort McHenry in Baltimore.
Alexandria History Museum at The Lyceum, gift in memory of Charles Cecil Williams by the American Silver Guild and Friends, July 4, 1998.
A number of ceramics celebrating the end of the war and honoring its heroes were found on archaeological sites in Alexandria, and are in the collection of the Alexandria Archaeology Museum. Alexandria's taverns, in particular, had many patriotic pieces, including a set of small shell-edged plates depicting the American Eagle (the Great Seal of the United States). Both Arell’s Tavern and Gadsby’s Tavern had creamware pitchers depicting Peace, Plenty and Independence and McKnight’s Tavern had a creamware pitcher depicting a ship under sail. These designs celebrated the resumption of trade following the Treaty of Ghent. From nearby residential sites, archaeologists recovered pitchers celebrating “Peace and Plenty,” "Peace, Plenty and Independence," and “Virtue and Valour,” and honoring war heroes General Zebulon Pike and Captain Jacob Jones.
Pearlware plate, England, ca. 1815–1830. A number of ceramics celebrating the end of the war and honoring its heroes have been found at archaeological excavations in Alexandria, many at tavern sites. Arell’s Tavern, in particular, used many patriotic pieces, including a set of small shell-edged plates with an “even scallop” pattern and depicting the American eagle. While this motif appears on wares made before the Embargo of 1807, it was commonly used following the end of the War of 1812. These dishes were popular among the lower and middle classes, and therefore were appropriate for Arell’s, a working-class tavern. Another blue shell-edged eagle plate was found at McKnight’s Tavern, which was known by its sign of the spread eagle.
Alexandria Archaeology Museum, excavated from the site of Arell's Tavern on Market Square. Site 44AX94, MB-B, 67.1578. Photo by Gavin Ashworth, Courtesy Ceramics in America.
Peace and Plenty Pitcher
“Cameo jasper” refined stoneware pitcher, England, ca. 1815. The Great Seal is depicted on one side, and Miss Liberty on the other. Peace is represented by the caduceus and hands clasped in friendship, Plenty by the overflowing cornucopia. This pitcher celebrates the Treaty of Ghent, which was signed on Christmas Day 1814.
Alexandria Archaeology Museum, excavated from the 400 block of King Street, north side. Site 44AX93 GB-3, 67.978. Photo by Gavin Ashworth, Courtesy Ceramics in America.
Peace, Plenty and Independence
Many variations of the popular print Peace, Plenty and Independence appeared on creamware and pearlware pitchers made for the American market by the Staffordshire potters Enoch Wood and Sons, Herculaneum, and others. The print depicts the spread eagle perched atop a cannon, beneath which is a circle with the slogan “Peace, Plenty and Independence.” There is a female figure at right, Peace, who torches the tools of war; a figure at left, Plenty, holds a sheaf of wheat and a cornucopia. These creamware fragments are from two different pitchers, found at the sites of Arell's Tavern (depicting the eagle) and Gadsby's tavern (with the slogan).
Alexandria Archaeology Museum, excavated from Arell's Tavern, Site 44AX94, MB-D 67.1850 and Gadsby's Tavern, Site 44AX93 GB11 67.1429. Photos by Gavin Ashworth, Courtesy Ceramics in America.
By Virtue and Valor
This creamware pitcher commemorating the end of the War of 1812 depicts a soldier standing on a lion—representing Britain—and gesturing toward a merchant ship under sail. American flags and weapons of war ornament the cartouche. Many different versions of this print appear on pitchers, bowls, and plates, and each usually includes the words “By Virtue and Valour We Have F reed Our Country, Extended Our Commerce, and Laid the Foundation of a Great Empire.
Alexandria Archaeology Museum, excavated from a residential site at 414 King Street, Site 44AX91 4KSW-19. Photo by Gavin Ashworth, Courtesy Ceramics in America.