© 2012 Hoʻokuleana LLC
Often overlooked, twenty-nine years after the end of the American Revolution, conflict between the new United States and Britain flared up, again.
The War of 1812 broke out for a variety of reasons, including Britain’s seizure of American ships, forced taking of American sailors into the British navy and restriction of trade between the United States and France.
In June 1812, James Madison became the first US president to ask Congress to declare war (he sent a war message to the Congress on June 1, 1812 and signed the declaration of war on June 18, 1812.) (The conflict ended with the Treaty of Ghent, in 1815.)
The tensions that caused the War of 1812 arose from the French revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars (1792–1815).
During this nearly constant conflict between France and Britain, American interests were injured by each of the two countries’ endeavors to block the United States from trading with the other.
In Hawaiʻi, the issue of interest was the export of sandalwood – the War of 1812 interfered with trade in the Pacific.
Exports were interrupted by the battling nations as warships were sent to protect their own commerce and destroy that of the enemy. Hawaiʻi was blockaded during the war.
In addition, several Hawaiians served with the US in the war, including Humehume (Prince Kaumualiʻi, son of King Kaumualiʻi,) Thomas Hopu and William Kanui (all three were also on the Thaddeus with the first missionary company to Hawaiʻi, in 1820.)
A lasting legacy of the War of 1812 was the lyrics of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” the US national anthem. They were penned by the amateur poet Francis Scott Key after he watched American forces withstand the British siege of Fort McHenry (named for James McHenry, Secretary of War, 1796 – 1800.)
Following the Burning of Washington and the Raid on Alexandria, Key set sail from Baltimore aboard the ship HMS Minden, flying a flag of truce on a mission approved by President James Madison. Their objective was to secure the exchange of prisoners.
On September 13, 1814, nineteen British ships aimed their cannons and guns on the fort. Amazingly, an estimated 1,500 to 1,800 British cannonballs failed to cause any significant damage to a fort which was unable to fire back on the ships because they were positioned just out of range of the American guns.
During the rainy night, Key had witnessed the bombardment and observed that the fort’s smaller “storm flag” continued to fly, but once the shell and rocket barrage had stopped, he would not know how the battle had turned out until dawn. By then, the storm flag had been lowered and the larger flag had been raised.
Key was inspired by the American victory and the sight of the large American flag flying triumphantly above the fort. That morning, we penned the poem that eventually became our country’s National Anthem.
The flag, with fifteen stars and fifteen stripes, came to be known as the Star Spangled Banner Flag and is today on display in the National Museum of American History in the Smithsonian Institution.
The song gained popularity throughout the nineteenth century and bands played it during public events, such as July 4th celebrations.
On July 27, 1889, Secretary of the Navy Benjamin F. Tracy signed General Order #374, making “The Star-Spangled Banner” the official tune to be played at the raising of the flag.
I was fortunate to have attended a Coastal States Organization meeting in Baltimore, Maryland while I served as Director at DLNR. I took the time to visit Fort McHenry to better see and understand what it looked like.
I have added more images related to Fort McHenry and the Star Spangled Banner in the Photos section on my Facebook page.
Ni‘ihau was formed from a single shield volcano approximately 4.89-million years ago, making it slightly younger in age than Kaua‘i.
It is approximately 70-square miles or 44,800-acres, and sea cliffs are a prominent feature of the eastern coast. Approximately 78-percent of the island is below 500-feet in elevation.
Ni‘ihau has no perennial streams. Among Ni‘ihau’s most unique natural features are several intermittent lakes.
Halulu Lake is a natural freshwater lake covering approximately 182 acres and Halāli‘i Lake is an intermittent lake covering approximately 841 acres (considered the largest lake in Hawai‘i.)
These lakes are sometimes called “playa” or “intermittent lakes.” This is because the water comes from rainfall, which only averages between 20 to 40 inches per year on Ni‘ihau. During dry years, the lakes are typically dry.
The lakes provide habitat for ‘alae ke‘oke‘o (Hawaiian coot), ae‘o (Hawaiian stilt) and koloa maoli (Hawaiian duck).
The lakes and island fit into a story about the 1941 Pearl Harbor attacks.
As early as 1924, it was reported that the military had predicted a possible attack by the Japanese on Pearl Harbor.
Back then, they even suggested that the remote and relatively vacant island of Niʻihau might be used as a staging area for the attack.
The obvious concern was that Japanese plans could land their attack planes on the open and level areas on the island.
Niʻihau owner, Alymer Robinson, took it upon himself to take precautions against the Japanese landing on Niʻihau by plowing trenches in the dry lake bed to preventing planes from landing and taking-off.
Plowing using mules began in 1933. In 1937, a small tractor was purchased to expedite the furrowing. Reportedly, they had crisscrossed the island with over 5000 miles of furrows.
The tractor continued to be used as a farm implement until around 1957.
On December 7, 1941 a Zero did crash land on Niʻihau, changing the lives of those who lived there and the lives of thousands of American citizens of Japanese descent. (I summarized that incident in a May 6, 2012 post – http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=3083845418429&set=a.1519996763190.2073258.1332665638&type=3&theater)
In 2004, I had the opportunity to visit Niʻihau (landing at a Navy facility at the top of the pali, as well as circling most of the island by helicopter.)
I saw the still-remaining furrow-work throughout the Niʻihau lakes. The image shows one of the lakes and you can see the patch-work furrows cut into the lake bottom.
The tractor used by the Robinsons is on display at the Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor. (Some photos and portions of this text are from information from pacificaviationmuseum-org newsletter and on flickr-com (WallyGobetz.))
In addition, some other Niʻihau and related photos are included in a folder of like name in the Photos section on my Facebook page.
In January 1905, President Teddy Roosevelt instructed Secretary of War William H. Taft to convene the National Coast Defense Board (Taft Board) “to consider and report upon the coast defenses of the United States and the insular possessions (including Hawai‘i.)”
In 1906 the Taft Board recommended a system of Coast Artillery batteries to protect Pearl Harbor and Honolulu.
Between 1909-1921, the Hawaiian Coast Artillery Command had its headquarters at Fort Ruger and defenses included artillery regiments stationed at Fort Armstrong, Fort Barrette, Fort DeRussy, Diamond Head, Fort Kamehameha, Kuwa‘aohe Military Reservation (Fort Hase – later known as Marine Corps Base Hawaiʻi) and Fort Weaver.
The forts and battery emplacements batteries were dispersed for concealment and to insure that a projectile striking one would not thereby endanger a neighbor.
Fort Ruger Military Reservation was established at Diamond Head (Lēʻahi) in 1906. The Reservation was named in honor of Major General Thomas H. Ruger, who served from 1871 to 1876 as the superintendent of the United States Military Academy at West Point.
The fort included Battery Harlow (1910-1943); Battery Birkhimer (1916-1943); Battery Granger Adams (1935-1946); Battery Dodge (1915-1925); Battery Mills (1916-1925); Battery 407 (1944); Battery Hulings (1915-1925); and Battery Ruger (1937-1943).
According to the specifications called for by the Taft Board and subsequent updates, various guns and mortars were included at the various Batteries. These included 12″ Mortars, 8″ on railway barbette carriages and other gun emplacements.
A network of tunnels was carved into the mountain and cannon emplacements were placed atop the crater rim along with observation posts and bunkers.
The fortifications within the Fort are all made of reinforced concrete and vary in size from the massive Battery Harlow and the four-story fire control station at the top of Leahi, to a dozen more modest six pound gun emplacements along the rim of the crater.
Battery Harlow is a massive reinforced concrete structure imbedded into the rear of Diamond Head. Built in 1910, it has three large bunkers which are separated by “courtyards” that served as platforms from which eight 12-inch mortars were fired.
Batteries Hulings and Dodge were completed in October 1915. These reinforced concrete structures tunnel through the wall of the crater and each contains one small room. The gun platforms with 4.7 inch guns are on the exterior wall of the crater.
Also dating from 1915 are a dozen 6 pound gun emplacements which are located along the rim of the crater. These are simple concrete slabs with eye rings which helped keep the weapons in place. These were installed to protect the batteries against ground attack.
Battery Birkhimer is located on the floor of the crater, near the rear. It also is made of reinforced concrete and primarily lies beneath the ground. Only its concrete portals are visible from the surface. Completed in 1916, this battery originally was armed with four 12-inch mortars.
Battery 407 was started in 1943 and completed near the end of World War II. Located on the front of Diamond Head, it has tunnels which go through the walls of the crater; it was armed with two 8-inch guns.
Battery Mills existed from 1916 to 1925 on the Kupikipikio Point Reservation on the lava point now known as Black Point and has long since been removed. Battery Granger Adams (which replaced Battery Mills) was built there between 1933 and 1935, then decommissioned in 1946. Roads and houses now cover this area.
The four-story fire control tower located at the top of Leahi was built between 1908-1910. It is reached by a trail which terminates at the 560 foot elevation, then up a concrete stairway to a 225 foot long tunnel, finally a long concrete staircase of 99 steps leads to another tunnel which opens out on the south face of Diamond Head (with four levels of fire control stations.)
From this elaborate fire control station all the guns along the leeward coast could be commanded. The lowest level was for Battery Randolph at Fort DeRussy. The next station above served both Randolph and Dudley at DeRussy. The third level commanded Battery Harlow at Fort Ruger and the top level was the battle commander’s station.
From this vantage point, 761 feet above sea level, the battle commander could view the coast from Koko Head to Waianae.
The conclusion of World War II and the advent of nuclear and missile warfare made the coastal batteries obsolete. Thus in December 1955 the majority of the land was turned over to the State of Hawai‘i.
Currently, Fort Ruger is down-scaled and part of the Diamond Head State Monument Park and is utilized for training and various administrative purposes by the Hawaii Army National Guard. Additionally, the installation is the presently home of the Joint Force Headquarters-Hawai‛i.
Battery Birkhimer has been recycled and presently serves as office space for the State Department of Defense. The other Batteries are generally used for storage.
The image shows Lēʻahi with the various Batteries and Fire Control Station of Fort Ruger on a Google Earth image. In addition, I have added other Fort Ruger images in a folder of like name in the Photos section on my Facebook page.
The Spanish-American War was a conflict in 1898 between Spain and the United States, effectively the result of American intervention in the ongoing Cuban War of Independence.
William McKinley was president of the United States, and the causal event was the explosion of the battleship USS Maine in Havana Harbor, Cuba on February 15, 1898.
So, what does that have to do with Hawai‘i?
Well, back then, Spain had interests in the Pacific, particularly in the Guam and Philippines. Although the main issue was Cuban independence, the ten-week war was fought in both the Caribbean and the Pacific.
Likewise, US foreign policy advocated the taking of the Caribbean Islands and the Philippine Islands for bases to protect US commerce.
Meanwhile, Hawai’i, had gained strategic importance because of its geographical position in the Pacific. Honolulu served as a stopover point for the forces heading to the Philippines.
In July 1898, the joint ‘Newlands Resolution’ for annexation was adopted by Congress and signed by President McKinley. At the time, there was no assigned garrison here until August 15, 1898, when the 1st New York Volunteer Infantry regiment and the 3rd Battalion, 2nd US Volunteer Engineers landed in Honolulu for garrison duty.
The two commands were initially camped alongside each other as though they were one regiment in the large infield of the one-mile race track at Kapi‘olani Park. The initial camp in the infield at the race track was unnamed.
As more members of the regiment arrived, the camp was moved about three or four hundred yards from the race track to an area called ‘Irwin Tract.’ The Irwin Tract camp was named “Camp McKinley,” in honor of the president.
The site “was near the only ocean-bathing beach on the Island and the reported site of a proposed Sanitarium selected by the resident physicians in the immediate vicinity of the best residential quarter of the Island. In addition it had shade in the park, a drill and parade ground on the racecourse, city water, and was accessible.”
The troops used the bathing facilities at the Sans Souci Resort which was located on the beach at the southeast corner of the park.
Camp Otis was a short-lived camp of Philippine expeditionary troops who arrived on the troop ship ‘Arizona’ on August 27, 1898 and were left in Honolulu when the ship went on to Manila.
The soldiers camped inside the racetrack at Kapi‘olani Park. The camp was later moved east within the racetrack to a point “nearly opposite Camp McKinley.” The camp was named after Major General Elwell S. Otis, US Volunteers, the commanding officer in the Philippines in 1898-99.
Camp Otis was abandoned about November 7, 1898 when the ‘Arizona’ returned and the troops departed for Manila.
Owing to the prevalence of malarial and typhoid fever, they moved the regiment to a camp to Wai‘alae, on the north side of Diamond Head, about three miles from “Camp McKinley.”
They temporarily occupied the Paul Isenberg estate which stretched from Kapahulu Avenue to Kāhala Beach. A letter from one soldier camped there noted, “The tents are pitched on the sandy beach at Waialie (sic)…”
The 2nd Engineers ultimately built barracks and other buildings for the new Camp McKinley just north of Kapi‘olani Park, between Leahi and Kana‘ina avenues (it is now covered by businesses along Kapahulu Avenue and residences in the area.)
Local hospitals were used for the sick soldiers until Independence Park Hospital was established on August 15, 1898. The Red Cross also established a hospital for soldiers in the Child Garden Building on Beretania Street in June, 1898.
The Independence Park Hospital was located in a dance pavilion at Independence Park, southeast of the corner of Sheridan and King Streets.
In October, 1898, concern over conditions at Independence Park Hospital and the large number of sick soldiers required that additional hospital space be obtained. The Independence Park Hospital was closed in January, 1899.
The Nu‘uanu Valley Military Hospital (also known as “Buena Vista Hospital”) was located at the former John Paty home (known as Buena Vista) on the east side of Nu‘uanu Avenue at Wyllie Street. (That site is now covered by the Nu‘uanu-Pali
Highway interchange, just north of the Community Church of Honolulu.)
Camp McKinley remained in existence until Fort Shafter was opened in late June, 1907. The garrison was either artillery or coast artillery troops during this period.
The image shows the initial encampment in Kapi‘olani Park. In addition, I have included other images relates to Camp McKinley in a Folder of like name in the Photos section on my Facebook page.