Cape Cod never disappoints us on the wealth of its history, and awesome landscape. We have the privilege of living here and running our Cape Cod bed and breakfast as “guests of the U.S.Government”or “Legal Aliens”, and do not miss any opportunity to enjoy our surroundings. Today we had some business to take care of in Orleans, 20 minutes from our inn by car, and as we had time for lunch we thought we would take advantage of the warm sunny spring weather and take a sandwich to Rock Harbor. We knew just the place – a recent find during this past winter – it is on Main Street and lovingly called Cape Cup. In ten minutes we were back in the car with our scrummy panninis, homemade cakes and a couple of lattes, and heading for the Bay a mile or so down the street.
Upon our arrival at the harbor, we noticed that one or two people had the same idea. We spread our lunch out on one of the benches overlooking the beach, small harbor and glistening blue water beyond. Such serene calm and beauty – it was one of those moments in life for us to savour, and hard to imagine this wonderful spot in any other context. However, the events which took place at this very location almost two hundred years ago, would not have made us want to linger long enough to eat our sandwiches.
On December 19th 1814, during the war of 1812, and according to local history at least, the inhabitants of Orleans repelled a small landing party from H.M.S. Newcastle, which had run aground in Cape Cod Bay. Accounts vary dramatically, and the local version talks of the British being massacred in what has become known as the Battle of Orleans, another says the naval force sustained casualties with one Marine killed. It is fairly certain that the British assault appears to have been intended to recover equipment, which had earlier been jettisoned in an effort to refloat the Newcastle. It seems likely there was an additional order to maraud and cause damage to the vessels at anchor in the harbor.
So there we were, tucking into our “sarnies”, as welcome as you could be, and thankful that part of our two nation’s history is firmly behind us! The knowledge of this brief violent chapter in Rock Harbor’s history, made our own moment today all the more treasured.