Stonington Lighthouse archive

A late 19th century photo of Stonington Lighthouse. In 1927, the Stonington Historical Society purchased the property and opened it as a museum, the nation’s first lighthouse museum.

Though Stonington Lighthouse did not exist prior to 1840, the land it now sits on was battleground in August 1814 during the War of 1812. A British fleet led by the warship, Ramillies, sailed in to the small Connecticut town of Stonington, attempting to destroy any portion of the United States, as there were still unresolved issues between the two countries left over from the American Revolution. The British were eventually driven away after a 3-day conflict. The battle inspired American poet Philip Freneau to pen the following poem titled “The Battle of Stonington”.

Four gallant ships from England came
Freighted deep with fire and flame,
And other things we need not name,
To have a dash at Stonington.

Now safely moor’d, their work begun,
They thought to make the Yankees run,
And have a mighty deal of fun
In stealing sheep at Stonington.

A deacon then popp’d up his head,
And Parson Jones’s sermon read,
In which the reverend doctor said
That they must fight for Stonington.

A townsman bade them, next, attend
To sundry resolutions penn’d,
By which they promised to defend
With sword and gun old Stonington.

The ships advancing different ways,
The Britons soon began to blaze,
And put th’ old women in amaze,
Who feared the loss of Stonington.

The Yankees to their fort repair’d,
And made as though they little cared
For all that came–though very hard
The cannon play’d on Stonington.

The _Ramillies_ began the attack,                                                                                                                   An original flag which survived the “Battle of Stonington”
_Despatch_ came forward–bold and black–
And none can tell what kept them back
From setting fire to Stonington.

The bombardiers with bomb and ball
Soon made a farmer’s barrack fall,
And did a cow-house sadly maul
That stood a mile from Stonington.

They kill’d a goose, they kill’d a hen,
Three hogs they wounded in a pen–
They dash’d away,–and pray what then?
_This_ was not taking Stonington.

The shells were thrown, the rockets flew,
But not a shell, of all they threw,
Though every house was full in view,
Could burn a house at Stonington.

To have _their_ turn, they thought but fair;–
The Yankees brought two guns to bear,
And, sir, it would have made you stare,
This smoke of smokes at Stonington.

They bor’d _Pactolus_ through and through,
And kill’d and wounded of her crew
So many, that she bade adieu
T’ the gallant boys of Stonington.

The brig _Despatch_ was hull’d and torn–
So crippled, riddled, so forlorn–
No more she cast an eye of scorn
On the little fort at Stonington.

The _Ramillies_ gave up th’ affray,
And, with her comrades sneaked away.
Such was the valor on that day,
Of British tars, near Stonington.

But some assert, on certain grounds,
(Besides the damage and the wounds,)
It cost the King ten thousand pounds
To have a dash at Stonington.