Sunday, April 22, 2018

Where is the Sword of the Gallant Captain Reid at the Smithsonian Institute?

The Sword of the Gallant Captain Reid was deposited at the National Museum (Smithsonian) with a Sketch of the Hero. Is it Lost?

It is interesting to note that a search for Capt. Reid's sword at the Smithsonian was not found.

"There has lain upon the desk of the president for some time a plain, steel scabbarded sword, old fashioned in style and servicable rather than elegant, slightly curved, somewhat battered and generally a weapon that looks as though it had seen service. And it has; and service too, in one of the most heroic actions described in American history."

"A day or two ago the president sent this sword to Congress, and it will probably become the duty of the National museum, in which as many valuable relics are deposited, to give it a place in which it may be seen in company with a sketch of the hero and the herioc contest that make it sacred."

The battle saber was given to the president by Colonel Samuel C. Reid, the son of the late Captain Samuel Chester Reid who commanded the United States prvate armed brig of war General Armstrong at the battle of Fayal, in September, 1814.  The Armstrong was a little brig of but 240 tons, carrying but seven-guns and ninety men. She was attacked in the neutral waters of Azore islands by a British squadron, the frigate rota and the sloop of war Carnation, with a total amount of 136 guns and 2,000 men!   During the battle, the British lost over 300 (killed and wounded) of their picked men and officers, while the Armstrong lost but two killed and seven wounded.

The action was called the "Thermopylae of the Ocean".

"The height of heroism and romantic chivalry were displayed by Capt. Reid and his crew in the last act of this extraordinary naval drama.  After scuttling his vesse to save her from capture he went ashore with his men and arms when the commander of the squadron, Admiral Llod, demanded their surrender and threatened to send 500 men to take them.  Reid retired with his men to an old gothic convent, which he fortified, knocked away the drawbridge, ran up the American flag, and bade the enemy defiance. Lloyd quailed under this last exhibition of heroic courage, saying they were demons and not men."

The Conquest to Capture Louisiana. The sqadron under Lloyd was on its way to the island of Jamaica to join the great fleet assembled there under Admiral Lord Cochrane, afterward Earl of Dundonald, who was confidentially entrusted with the secret expedition for the conquest of Louisiana.  The last hope for England to wrest the control of the Mississippi River and the province of Louisiana from France had been foiled by Napoleon, who saw no use for it and ceded it to the United States in 1803. Upon the declaration of war by the United States in 1812, once again England's eyes were upon the coveted possession.  However, the crippled vessel of Lloyd's squadron was delayed over ten days for repairs and in burying their dead.  When Lloyd finally arrived in Jamaica, Admiral Cochrane was furious at Lloyd's disaster.  Too, the fleet did not arrive off Lake Bosque until four days after the arrival of General Jackson with his forces, which barely gave him time to make a defense.  Had Capt. Reid surrendered his vessel to the British, Louisiana might today be under the flag of St. George!
Captain Reid was accredited with the victory, thus saving a domain more than three times larger than the territory of France. Also, it should be remembered that Reid designed the American flag, as adopted by Congress in 1813.

Source: The Atlanta Journal 28 February 1887.

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