Maine Historical Society

MAINE HISTORICAL SOCIETY

PRESERVING HISTORY
ENGAGING MINDS
CONNECTING MAINE

200th Anniversary of the Battle of the Boxer & the Enterprise

On this page:   Programs & Events  | Maine Memory Network  | Museum  | Library

On September 5, 1813, the HMS Boxer and the USS Enterprise engaged in a naval battle off the coast of Monhegan during the War of 1812. The dominant Royal Navy engaged the developing US Navy in many battles during the war, but the battle of the Boxer and the Enterprise embodied a level of honor and respect not seen in modern warfare. Both Capt. William Burrows of the USS Enterprise and Capt. Samuel Blyth of the HMS Boxer were struck down early in the fighting and neither survived this legendary battle. After a grueling exchange, the Boxer capitulated and the Enterprise towed her prize into the Port of Portland, as witnessed by Capt. Lemuel Moody from the Portland Observatory on Munjoy Hill.

The City of Portland paid its respects not only to the fallen Capt. Burrows, but also to the much admired Capt. Blyth, with a joint funeral procession through the city, culminating with a side-by-side burial in Portland's Eastern Cemetery. It is not only the battle itself, or the immortalization of the event in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem My Lost Youth, but the respect shown to Capt. Samuel Blyth by the city of Portland, honoring him with a proper funeral on equal footing with his fallen foe Capt. William Burrows, that resonates in the modern era.

To commemorate the bicentennial of this historic battle, the Maine Historical Society, in conjunction the Maine Military Historical Society, Great Portland Landmarks, Spirits Alive and the City of Portland will host a series of events starting Tuesday September 3rd through Staurday September 7th , 2013. In addition the exhibit, Thundered Over the Tide: 200th Anniversary of the Battle of the Boxer & the Enterprise, will be exhibited at MHS from August 31st through October 25th, 2013.

PROGRAMS & EVENTS

The

Boxer and Enterprise by James Osborne, 1831

Download Calendar of events

The Navy's Role in the War of 1812: A Dual Book Talk
Tuesday, September 3rd , 12:00 – 1:00 pm

Speakers: George Daughan and George Emery

Authors and friends George Daughan (1812: The Navy's War) and Vice Adm. (Ret.) George Emery (In Their Own Words: The Navy Fights the War of 1812) discuss their recent publications in the context of the Battle of the HMS Boxer and USS Enterprise. Both books will be on sale in the MHS museum store, and a book signing will follow the talk.

Daughan is also the author of If By Sea. He holds a Ph.D. in American History and Government from Harvard University, was a professor at Connecticut College, and taught at the Air Force Academy. Sanford native Emery is a retired Vice Admiral with the US Navy. In 1993 he was appointed by President Clinton as the 24th Commander of the Submarine Force US Atlantic Fleet, and Commander of the Submarine Allied Command Atlantic.

Location: Maine Historical Society, Shettleworth Lecture Hall
Free to the Public

War of 1812 Historian's Roundtable
Wednesday, September 4th , 6-8 PM

Four historian-authors discuss the causes and effects of the Battle of the HMS Boxer and USS Enterprise within the context of the War of 1812. David Hanna (Knights of the Sea) moderates a panel that includes Vice Adm. (Ret.) George Emery (In Their Own Words), James Nelson, of the Maine Maritime Museum (George Washington's Secret Navy), and Joshua M. Smith (Battle for the Bay: The Naval War of 1812).

Location: Maine Historical Society, Shettleworth Lecture Hall
Free to the Public

 

Graves of the Captains, 1876

Graves of the Captains by Charles Frederick Kimball, 1876

Graveside Memorial Service Honoring Capt. Burrows, Capt. Blyth and Lieut. Kervin Waters
Thursday, September 5th, 1 PM

The Maine Historical Society and Maine Military Historical Society will host a grave side service with military honors at Portland's Eastern Cemetery. Members of the public are welcome to observe the graveside commemoration from Mountfort St., but are asked to be respectful of the historic cemetery by remaining outside of the fenced area or along the path.

Location: Eastern Cemetery, Mountfort & Congress St., Portland
Free to the Public

 

Portland Observatory, ca. 1907

Portland Observatory, ca. 1907

Sunset Tours at the Portland Observatory
Thursday, September 5th, 5-8PM

Greater Portland Landmarks hosts evening tours of this historic landmark, where Capt. Lemuel Moody saw the Enterprise towing the Boxer into port. Take advantage of the last evening tour of the season, and experience spectacular views of Casco Bay.

Location: Portland Observatory, 138 Congress St., Portland
Admission fees apply
Visit portlandlandmarks.org/observatory/ for more information.

 

Boxer & Enterprise Lecture with Herb Adams
Thursday, September 5th, 7-9PM

Friends of the Eastern Promenade host an evening with historian Herb Adams. Journey back 200 years to the famous sea battle. Learn about the role the City of Portland and the Eastern Prom Neighborhood played in this historical event. Roll & Go will be on hand to perform sea shanties.

Location: EastEnd  Community School, Community Room, Portland
Admission fees apply
Visit http://easternpromenade.org for more information.

 

Receipt for Capt. Blyth coffin, 1813

Benjamin Radford Receipt for Capt. Blyth's Coffin, 1813

First Friday, Thundered Over the Tide Exhibit Opening
Friday, September 6th, 5-8PM

MHS hosts an exhibit of documents and objects related to the naval battle and the joint funeral procession which followed. This exhibit, taking its title from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem My Lost Youth which references the battle, will remain up through October 25th. As part of the First Friday exhibit opening, also enjoy free admission to the Society's Civil War Exhibit, This Rebellion.

Location: Maine Historical Society, Shettleworth Lecture Hall Gallery
Free to the Public, Friday only.

Eastern Cemetery Tours
Saturday, September 7th, 10:30AM

Spirits Alive hosts a guided walking tour of Portland's historic Eastern Cemetery. This burial ground, dating back to 1668, is steeped in Portland history and is the final resting place of both Capt. Burrows and Capt. Blyth. Learn about the history of the cemetery, types of stones, mortuary art, and the lives of those interred within these sacred grounds.

Location: Eastern Cemetery
Adults $7; Seniors and Students-$4; children under 12-Free
Visit www.spiritsalive.org for more information.

The Portland Observatory will also offer guided tours during its regular business hours, 10AM-5PM. Admission rates apply.

 

MAINE MEMORY NETWORK

Visit Maine Memory Network to explore numerous items relating to the Battle of the Boxer & the Enterprise, such as:

Enemies At Sea, Companions in Death

An online exhibit about Capt. Burrows, Capt. Blyth and the battle itself, authored by MHS Historian, Candace Kanes.

Historical Items related to War of 1812

Auction record of 'Boxer,' Portland, 1813

Auction Records of Goods from the HMS Boxer, Portland, 1813

Expenses for Capt. Blyth burial, Portland, 1813

Expenses for Capt. Blyth Burial, Portland, 1813

 

Click to see more related items

MUSEUM

Graphic for exhibit

Thundered Over the Tide: 200th Anniversary of the Battle of the Boxer & the Enterprise
Exhibit Dates: August 31 – October 25, 2013

This exhibit, taking its title from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem My Lost Youth showcases selected items from the collections of the Maine Historical Society related to the naval battle, as well as the joint funeral which followed. On September 5, 1813, the HMS Boxer and the USS Enterprise engaged in a naval battle off the coast of Monhegan during the War of 1812. Both Capt. William Burrows of the Enterprise and Capt. Samuel Blyth of the Boxer were struck down early in the fighting and neither survived this historic battle.

The selected items, including a James Osborne watercolor, Charles Kimball painting, commemorative medals and correspondence, illuminate the battle itself through imagery but also to tell the story of the lives lost as a result of this naval engagement. An interpretive map panel highlights the funeral procession, with interesting facts about the preparations, all within the context of juxtaposing 1813 Portland with 2013 Portland.

LIBRARY

Cmdr. Samuel Blyth, ca. 1812

Cmdr. Samuel Blyth, ca. 1812

The Brown Research Library is home to numerous collections related to the War of 1812, including Coll. 21, Thomas G. Thornton Papers.

Read more about Dr. Thomas G. Thornton, US Marshal for the District of Maine during the War of 1812 by visiting a June 2013 MHS Blog Post, From The Collections: The Thomas G. Thornton Papers authored by MHS Research Librarian, Jamie Rice.

Dr. Thornton was responsible for auctioning off prizes captured by the US Navy and Privateers during the war, including goods from the HMS Boxer.

Explore additional War of 1812 holdings by visiting the library's catalog and the museum collections catalog.

 

Support for the Bicentennial Celebration Funded by the Maine Humanities Council.
Maine Humanities Council logo