In Old Washington

By James Croggon, The Evening Star, October 30, 1910 [pt. 7, p. 9]

In and about the navy yard, with the signs of the impending war of 1812, activity increased. In the yard much repair work on the vessels was in progress, and stores and ammunition were being assembled. On the outside were houses for the workmen and stores to catch their trade, as well as that of the enlisted force of the yard. A few of the workmen lived at a distance from their work, some across the bridge, some on Buzzard point and a few in Alexandria.

Not far from the yard, on G between 6th and 7th streets, the Episcopalians had erected Christ Church, and the Methodists had built a meeting house on 4th street, north of G street. The Catholics had their nearest church, St. Mary's near South Capitol and N streets, and these were the spiritual homes of many of the officers and employes of the yard.

A volunteer fire company was composed of the navy yard workmen. A Masonic lodge, which had on its rolls many of the officers and employes of the yard, had its meeting place on 7th street, near the navy yard wall. Among the vestry of Christ Church, of which Rev. A.T. McCormick was the rector, were Capt. Thomas Tingey, commandant; Buller Cooke, navy store keeper, and Robert Alexander. In the Masonic lodge were John Davis of Abel, for many years head of the plumber's department, who was the first master of the lodge; Benjamin King, master blacksmith; Dr. A. MacWilliams, surgeon; John Harrison, surgeon's mate; Joseph Cassin, Capt. S. Davis and Thomas Howard.

Brigs Are Overhauled
In 1811-12 three brigs, Vixen, Hornet and Enterprise, were overhauled, and the Constellation, Congress, Constitution and Adams, with several gunboats, were given attention by the working force.

Capt. John Cassin was detached in 1812 in order to command the Norfolk navy yard, and next year Richard Parrott was appointed navy agent, but in a short time resigned and the agent's duties devolved on the commandant.

The war was now on and from the yard in 1813 were sent several nine and twelve guns to individuals and volunteer companies in Baltimore, and to Commodore Barney's flotilla, then harassing the enemy in the Chesapeake, was also sent marines and seamen from the yard with stores. At that time the militia officers of the District were in the habit of taking workmen from their employment at the yard to attend the musters. Capt. Tingey protested against this on the ground that their employment in the yard was more effective for the defense of the city than attending musters. In point of fact, that end of the city could boast of such a well drilled uniformed volunteer military company, the Doughty Rifles, that militia drills were superfluous. When the British approached on August 24, 1814, all was excitement.

Ordered to Destroy Bridge
Commodore Tingey, after the conference between the President, cabinet and Gen. Winder, at the navy yard bridge, the morning of the 24th, received his orders from Secretary Jones to destroy the yard and bridge, in case of the success of the enemy, and he prepared to carry them into execution if necessary. At 4 o'clock Col. Monroe informed him that he could be no longer protected. Arrangements were made to carry out the orders. Capt. Creighton was assigned the destruction of the bridge, and arrangements were made ready for departure. The bridge was blown up and destroyed about 5 o'clock. When the orders as to the burning of the yard became known they caused much protest from residents. The match was withheld till the enemy reached the barracks, about 8 o'clock. Having fired the buildings and vessels, the commodore and others in one boat and Col. Wharton in another rowed to Alexandria. On returning next day he found that the enemy had entered as he had left. The commodore's house and one or two others escaped destruction, as well as a few small vessels.

Loss Was HeavyCommodore Tingey in his reports placed the loss at over $400,000. The guardhouse at the gate, the houses of the commandant, the second officer and an unfinished office building, with the Lynx and two gunboats, escaped destruction. The workmen's loss was about $45,000 in tools and they were reimbursed at the following session of Congress.

Robert Fulton returned here in September, before the British fleet had left the river, with a torpedo boat with which he made experiments, but it was not put into practical use.

In 1815 there was some filling in of land on the west front of the yard, the mechanical force was called in and over $65,000 worth of improvements were made.

At that time Commodore Tingey was commandant, with Lieut. Haraden as second officer. Deblois was purser, E. Barry sailing master, S. Catalona sailing master and gunner George Hodge boatsman, Buller Cocke naval storekeeper, Benjamin Moore clerk of the yard, Mordecai Booth clerk to the cmmandant and William Doughty, naval constructor.

In 1816 Commodore Tingey's force included Lieuts. R.D. Edwards and Joseph Cross, Surgeon Cutbush, Surgeon's Mate John Harrison, Purser Timothy Winn, Chaplain A. Hunter, Midshipman John Creamer and Edward Barry, sail maker.

In 1817 Capt. S. Cassin was attached to the yard. In September, 1819, the frigate Columbus was coissined with Capt. J.H. Elton as commander. At this time there were 400 mechanics in the yard.

From the fact that there was not room for all offices in the yard, numbers lived outside. Dr. Cutbush lived uptown, on the north side of the Aenue between 9th and 10th streets; the surgeon's mate, John Harrison, lived at the corner of 6th and G streets; th chaplain, Mr. Hunter, resided on the west side of New Jersey avenue between B and C streets southeast; Purser Timothy Winn lived on I street between 10th and 11th streets.