WHAT IS THE CHESAPEAKE MILL?
An old U.S. Navy frigate? An old English watermill? A vessel of our common history? Nothing more than re-purposed timbers?
     " . . . one day of this tranquil toil in God's holy name and love would, I think, be infinitely more valued now by Philip Broke than would be the capture of a thousand Chesapeakes." - Rev. George Brighton

                                                     Jack Hartnett
   _______________________________
 

188 named American casualties of the War of    
1812, 
  including 11 sailors of the  USS  Chesapeake, were buried  in this hill on

Deadman's Island, Halifax. A developer saw

the island only as piece of land for

waterfront condominiums, but the land was   
saved by 
the rediscovery and rescue of the
lost 
cemetery in 2000. In that year,

representatives of the US, Canada and UK,

including members of the Tennessee Air

National Guard and citizens of Halifax,

came together in an emotional ceremony

honoring the forgotten dead, and promising

that they would not be forgotten again.

  ____________________________________    
                

"This mill contains one of the best preserved 18th-century warships in the world. The building has protected these timbers in extraordinary condition. When you walk through, you still feel like you're on a ship. And when the wind's blowing, well ..." – Robert Prescott, Maritime Historian, St. Andrews University, Scotland, quoted in the Ottawa Citizen, October 13, 2003. 

Simply a Collection of Pieces of Wood?
“It is hard to know what to make of this information. The already considerable charm of the mill seems intensified in some way. But a plank, if dendrophiles will forgive the heresy, is a plank . . .  If nobody told you about the floor, and you couldn't spot golden American pine by sight, you'd be none the wiser, and mystically communing with objects which have been in interesting places will only get you so far.” – The Telegraph, January 24, 2004

 

 

At the end of the 20th century the mill at Wickham was unused and derelict, “almost an eyesore, many of its windows broken, pigeons flying in and out, using it as a home,” in the view of Barrie Marson of the Wickham History Society. In 1997, an effort was begun to save the old mill as a historic building. The process required a deliberation among historians, public officials and citizens of the United States and Great Britain about what was really represented in the timbers of the Chesapeake Mill. It followed upon the understandings of the mill that had been gleaned over two centuries.

The Plowshare

“On every floor the blithe and mealy men were urging their life-sustaining toil. But, my reader, on one of those planks, on one of these floors, beyond all reasonable doubt, Lawrence fell, in the writhing anguish of his mortal wound . . . and on others Broke lay ensanguined, and his assailants dead . . .” - Adl. P.B.V. Broke: A Memoir, Rev. George Brighton, 1866  
  

 “The metamorphosis of a sanguinary man-of-war into a peaceful flour mill is perhaps as near an approach to the Scriptural prophecy that spears and swords shall be beaten into plows and pruning-hooks as the conditions of modern civilization will allow.” - Edgar Stanton MacLay, A History of the United States Navy, from1775 to 1893
 


The Tale of Two Nations
 
 “ . . . a valuable symbol of the history of our two countries. When you explain it to people, very few people know about it. It comes as an enormous surprise to most people that we were at war with United States in 1812.”  - Barrie Marson, Wickham History Society, 2007.

“There were several American army and navy personnel walking around the mill. And I asked them, you know, ‘Why are you here? What are you looking for?’ And they said ‘Well all of this wood came from one of our ships.’” – account of young Eric Walker of Portsmouth, England upon coming across American sailors of World War II in Wickham, 1943.

Ship or Watermill?
 “But every time I go down there I get the feeling - maybe it’s my identification with the past as a professional historian - I get the impression that there’s still something about the soul of the ship that is there.” – James Thomas, Maritime Historian, University of Portsmouth, England.

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