The Captain Who Burned His Ships
Captain Thomas Tingey, USN, 1750-1829
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This is the first biography of Captain Thomas Tingey, who was a key figure in the development of the early U.S. Navy. Having come to America after a short service in the Royal Navy, Tingey contributed importantly to the growth of the American Navy, but was then obliged to burn the Washington Navy Yard in 1814 to prevent it from falling into the hands of British invaders. This is at the same time a history of the first quarter-century of the Washington Navy Yard, which Tingey commanded for that period, and of the transition of the young Navy from an object of partisan discord to an honored defender of a growing and increasingly self-confident nation. The book looks at Tingey's contributions to navy yard procedures and practices, his civic role in the budding city of Washington, the dramatic events of 1814, and the rebuilding of the yard as a major technical center for the navy.