Which Side Was the American Navy on in The War of 1812?

Jun 2012
The Missouri Ozarks
I used to think of Daniel Todd Patterson's actions against Jean Laffite as some kind of bureaucratic lunacy. He had standing orders to remove the hellish banditti from Barataria, so he acted as soon as he got word from Laffite that the British fleet was currently making plans to invade Mobile. Noting that the coast was now clear, Commodore Patterson diverted the entire naval force under his command to Barataria, leaving the British free to attack Fort Bowyer. Yes, that attack was not successful, but it was no thanks to the American Navy.

I thought that perhaps Patterson and Ross and Claiborne were all a little too concerned with the Revenue laws, and their interest in taxation blinded them to the defense effort. They thought raising money was more important than winning battles. That is a little crazy, but maybe some people really think it's all about accounting and that money in the till really ensures national security. They go after tax evaders, leaving invaders to do their work.

But what if there was another reason Patterson did this? What if he was acting in concert with the British? What if they were allies?

The War of 1812 did not happen that long after the American revolution. Did Patterson still consider himself a British subject? Was there not enough time for nation formation to kick in?

Recently, Pam Keyes uncovered evidence that suggests that Patterson may have had very close ties with the British. Here is her article:


After reading this article, I was at first convinced that Patterson was a traitor. But if so, why was he never court martialed? It almost seems as if the entire military establishment then in charge of the defense considered what he did appropriate. Patterson was allowed to keep the spoils of his one sided attack on Barataria, and he enjoyed a good reputation throughout his life.

This brings me to the title question: in the War of 1812, which side was the American Navy on?
May 2015
An interesting idea! But there is no doubt which side the US navy was on in the war of 1812 - the American side! In fact the American navy saved America from defeat. In particular I think the Battle of Plattsburg Bay (on Lake Champlain) is really the key battle of the war from the US perspective. And Thomas MacDonough who won the battle is the biggest US hero of the war (or any other US war for that matter). US navy domination of Lakes Erie and Ontario was pretty critical in this war.

Ironically, Plattsburg Bay was fought on Sept 11, 1814 - this Sept 11 was a great victory!