War and Seaweed

Posted by on Jan 24, 2013 in environment, photos, Unmowed Blog | 5 comments

Sorry, this has absolutely nothing to do with botany.

Several years ago, I wrote a book for young people on a weird and totally obscure topic: a little known historical incident that happened during the weird and totally obscure War of 1812. 057The thing is that this event happened in my hometown of Gloucester on Cape Ann in Massachusetts. (Long ago, Gloucester included the town now called Rockport, then known as the parish of Sandy Bay.)

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I love the rock-bound coast of Cape Ann, and I had always wanted to write something about it. I actually started off writing an article on seaweed and tidepool invertebrates–those wriggly things found in the fascinating little pools that the ocean leaves behind at low tide. But I got interested in the history of the Cape, and before you know it, the folks who lived there so long ago had shoved the tidepool invertebrates right off the page. Brandishing their muskets, they ruthlessly took over the article, which eventually grew into a short novel.BMP_CC_8560_JT.indd

No one was more amazed than I when the thing actually got published by Boyds Mills Press. I love history, but I couldn’t quite bring myself to abandon the barnacles and starfish and crabs–they make cameo appearances in one chapter, where the hero is musing about the nature of war as he gazes into a tidepool. Had to get some seaweed in there somehow.

Anyway, with 2012-14 being the bicentennial of the War of 1812, a Canadian historical blogger wrote a nice article about the book, which is called The Invasion of Sandy Bay.


Here’s the landing point of the British soldiers. Cannonballs once flew over this spot. (Notice the brown rockweed draped on the boulders.)

029Thank you for your kind attention. We will return in our next post to our regularly scheduled programming.IMG_1713


  1. My favorite part of the book is when Lemuel’s mom gives all the British soldiers (“boys”) soup and blankets in the tavern! She was one who was thinking clearly in the fog of war.

    • Yes, I love that the Sandy Bay folks couldn’t resist fishing the Redcoats out of the water.

  2. Can’t wait to go back someday!

  3. fascinating!

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