Eileen F. Lebow writes [“ The unmentioned tales of war ,” letters, May 11] that my book “apparently” ignored the U.S. Navy’s role during the burning of Washington and the defense of Baltimore in the War of 1812. The very episodes Lebow says are overlooked, including the roles of Commodores Joshua Barney and John Rodgers in the defense of Washington and Baltimore, form an important part of the story I tell about the circumstances behind the writing of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Steve Vogel, Barnesville
Steve Vogel is the author of “ Through the Perilous Fight: Six Weeks That Saved the Nation .” (He also is a reporter on the National Staff for The Post.)
I agree with Eileen F. Lebow that the U.S. Navy was superb in the War of 1812. But she overstated the Navy’s role in the capture of Plattsburgh, N.Y. True, Commodore Thomas Macdonough was instrumental, but the city was taken by U.S. Army units under the command of Gen. Alexander Macomb (a distant relation of mine). Both Macdonough and Macomb received gold medals from Congress for their Plattsburgh operations. Macomb was an expert on Army training and warfare and went on to become chief of the U.S. Army (now, chief of staff); Macomb Street NW is named in his honor.
Eileen F. Lebow’s letter illustrates the calumnies taught about the War of 1812 by the U.S. education system.
The victories by much larger U.S. frigates were balanced by the captures by the Royal Navy of the USS President and USS Chesapeake. Sure, U.S. privateers captured many British merchantmen, but that is because there were so many of them. The ability of the Royal Navy to control the seas soon caused the virtual disappearance of the U.S. mercantile marine, and U.S. international trade collapsed — to such an extent that U.S. currency came under threat. Please, let’s have a little more balance.
Peter A. Ward,