The War of 1812Impressment of Americans into British service and the violation of American ships were among the causes of America's War of 1812 with the British which lasted until 1815. Virginians suffered from a British naval blockade of the Chesapeake Bay and from British troops plundering the countryside by the Bay and along the James, Rapahannock, and Potomac Rivers. That Virginia militia deflected a British attempt to take Norfolk in 1813, and engaged British forces throughout the war. By the end of the war, more than 2000 enslaved African Americans in Virginia and gained their freedom aboard British ships.
Capture of the DolphinOn 3 April 1813, one of the largest naval engagements in Virginia waters during the War of 1812 took place at the mouth of the Corrotoman River. One hundred five British naval and marine forces under Lt. Polkinghorne managed to subdue four American privateers: Arab, Dolphin, Lynx, and Racer. The largest ship, Dolphin, out of Baltimore, had twelve guns and one hundred men commanded by Capt. W.J. Stafford. Stafford stubbornly refused to give up when the other ships were taken, and defended his ship until he was severely wounded and his ship boarded.