Zac McDorrMy uncle Gene Reynolds, author of “Georgetown” from the “Images of America” series, is probably Georgetown’s biggest history buff. His favorite story is one he calls “The Battle of the Barges,” which is about the day Georgetown residents stood up to a British ship during the War of 1812. Gene claims to own one of the actual cannon involved.

New England was suffering from a British blockade in 1814. Captain Richard Hagan and the Georgetown militia repelled several landing attempts by British soldiers in June that year, and built fortifications at Cox’s Head. On June 20, the 74-gun British ship Bulwark appeared off Seguin, along with a smaller ship called Tenados.

The ship captains decided to sail to Wiscasset and land troops. The Americans followed their progress and fired upon the ships from the beach at Reid State Park. The British fired back, and at least two of their cannonballs have been discovered in the sand. One can be seen at the Georgetown Historical Society. Private Joseph Glover of the Boothbay militia was the only casualty.

Scouts continued to follow the ships to the far end of Five Islands, where they stopped and waited for the British to return. A few cannon were moved there from Cox’s Head.

When the Brits failed to land at Wiscasset, they returned to Five Islands and attacked the American position with troops in wooden barges. Each barge held 30 marines and 12 rowers. The barges bottomed out on the mudflats and the marines charged. Capt. Hagan’s militia drove them back with gunfire and another British landing was foiled. Nobody was killed on either side, but the British suffered a few wounded.

Thus, the brave men of Georgetown, Phippsburg, Boothbay, and more took on a powerful British warship and won the day.

Source: “The Battle of the Barges,” by Eugene Reynolds, The Georgetown Tide, September 2009