On September 5, 1813, during the War of 1812, the British HMS Boxer and the American USS Enterprise engaged in a naval battle off the coast of Monhegan, near Pemaquid Point.
The 200th anniversary of the historic battle will be the subject of a series of programs in Portland from September 3-7 hosted by Maine Historical Society, in conjunction with the Maine Military Historical Society, Greater Portland Landmarks, Spirits Alive, and the City of Portland. Support for the Bicentennial Celebration is provided by the Maine Humanities Council.
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 Enterprise and Capt. Samuel Blyth of the Boxer were struck down early in the fighting and neither survived the battle. The Enterprise prevailed, and after towing her prize, the Boxer, into the Port of Portland, the two captains were honored with a joint funeral procession and laid to rest, side by side, in Portland’s Eastern Cemetery.
Programs and Events:
Saturday, August 31 – Friday, October 25. Thundered Over the Tide: 200th Anniversary of the Battle of the Boxer & the Enterprise will be on display in Maine Historical Society’s Shettleworth Lecture Hall. The exhibit takes its title from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem “My Lost Youth,” which references the battle. The exhibit features documents and objects related to both the battle itself and the joint funeral procession which followed; it will remain up through October 25th. Free with standard museum admission.
Tuesday, September 3, 12-1PM: The Navy’s Role in the War of 1812. This double-header book talk features authors and friends George Daughan (1812: The Navy’s War) and Vice Admiral (Ret.) George Emery (In Their Own Words: The Navy Fights the War of 1812). Free and open to the public. Location: Maine Historical Society.
Wednesday, September 4, 6-8PM: War of 1812 Historian’s Roundtable. Historians discuss the causes and effects of the battle within the context of the War of 1812, featuring David Hanna (Knights of the Sea), George Emery (In Their Own Words), James Nelson (George Washington’s Secret Navy), and Joshua M. Smith (Battle for the Bay: The Naval War of 1812). Free and open to the public. Location: Maine Historical Society.
Thursday, September 5, 1PM: Graveside Memorial Service Honoring Capt. Burrows, Capt. Blyth, and Lieut. Kervin Waters. The Maine Historical Society and Maine Military Historical Society hosts a grave side service with military honors at Portland’s Eastern Cemetery. Location: Eastern Cemetery, Congress & Mountfort Streets, Portland. (This is an invitation-only event.)
Thursday, Sept. 5th, 5-8PM: Sunset Tours at the Portland Observatory. Greater Portland Landmarks hosts evening tours of this historic landmark, where Capt. Lemuel Moody saw the Enterprise towing the Boxer into port. Regular admission rates apply. Location: Portland Observatory.
Friday, September 6, 5-7PM: First Friday, Thundered Over the Tide Exhibit Grand Opening. Free during First Friday. Location: Maine Historical Society.
Saturday, September 7, 10:30AM: Eastern Cemetery Tour. Spirits Alive hosts a guided walking tour of Portland’s historic Eastern Cemetery. This burial ground is the final resting place of Burrows and Blyth. Admission fees apply. Location: Eastern Cemetery. The Portland Observatory will also offer guided tours during its regular business hours, 10AM-5PM. Admission rates apply.
For more information, visit the Boxer & Enterprise programs page on the MHS website.