ESSEX — In the darkness of 3 a.m. on the morning of April 8, 1814, British troops attacked and burned 27 American ships in Essex, both on land and in the harbor.
Essex at the time was a major builder of ships, which the British apparently knew, when they planned their attack.
The British attack on the Town of Essex caught Essex residents totally by surprise, to the degree that not a single Essex resident fired a shot as the British burned their ships.
However, when daylight came, as the British ship burners were making their way back down the Connecticut River, Americans started firing at the British from the the shore of the river, and at least two of the attackers were killed.
Fast forward to modern times and for the past 48 years, the Sailing Masters of 1812 have commemorated the “Burning of the Ships” with a parade down Essex’s Main Street. True to form, they were at it again this year last Saturday, May 9.
Over 15 marching fife and drum corps participated in this year’s “Burning of the Ships” parade.
It must be noted, however, that some in Essex, who take the liberty of adding more than a grain of truth, call the event the “Loser’s Day” parade.