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As part of my research to answer this question, I came across a mention of the June 30, 1815 battle between the USS Peacock and the East India cruiser Nautilus (in the Indian Ocean) as being officially the last battle of the War of 1812.

Why did this battle occur so long—fully half a year—after the December 24, 1814, Treaty of Ghent, which officially ended the War of 1812?

Did the two ships involved simply not know about the treaty, or did they choose to fight because of some other factor?

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    The most decisive battle of that war also occurred after it had ended, though only by about 3 weeks. Keep in mind that there were no radios in 1815, nor was there a Panama Canal. It took a really long time for word to get from the Eastern U.S. to Indonesia back then. – reirab Jan 4 '17 at 6:38
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From Wikipedia:

On 30 June she [the Peacock] captured the 16-gun brig Nautilus, which was under the command of Lieutenant Charles Boyce of the Bombay Marine of the British East India Company in the Straits of Sunda, in the final naval action of the war. Boyce informed Warrington that the war had ended. Warrington suspected a ruse and ordered Boyce to surrender. When Boyce refused, Warrington opened fire, killing one seaman, two European invalids, and three lascars, wounding Boyce severely, as well as mortally wounding the first lieutenant, and also wounding five lascars. American casualties amounted to some four or five men wounded. When Boyce provided documents proving that the Treaty of Ghent ending the war had been ratified, Warrington released his victims, though at no point did he in any way inquire about Boyce's condition, or that of any of the injured on Nautilus. Peacock returned to New York on 30 October. A court of inquiry in Boston a year later exonerated Warrington of all blame

It sounds like the British commander knew the war had ended and the American commander did not.

  • +1 for reproducing the error in the quotation, allowing correction of Wikipedia! – Kilian Foth Jan 4 '17 at 7:11
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As I remember, the Treaty of Ghent allowed for the time it would take for news to reach different parts of the world and so set different dates for the cession of hostilities in different regions of the oceans.

ARTICLE THE SECOND. Immediately after the ratifications of this Treaty by both parties as hereinafter mentioned, orders shall be sent to the Armies, Squadrons, Officers, Subjects, and Citizens of the two Powers to cease from all hostilities: and to prevent all causes of complaint which might arise on account of the prizes which may be taken at sea after the said Ratifications of this Treaty, it is reciprocally agreed that all vessels and effects which may be taken after the space of twelve days from the said Ratifications upon all parts of the Coast of North America from the Latitude of twenty three degrees North to the Latitude of fifty degrees North, and as far Eastward in the Atlantic Ocean as the thirty sixth degree of West Longitude from the Meridian of Greenwich, shall be restored on each side:-that the time shall be thirty days in all other parts of the Atlantic Ocean North of the Equinoctial Line or Equator:-and the same time for the British and Irish Channels, for the Gulf of Mexico, and all parts of the West Indies:-forty days for the North Seas for the Baltic, and for all parts of the Mediterranean-sixty days for the Atlantic Ocean South of the Equator as far as the Latitude of the Cape of Good Hope.- ninety days for every other part of the world South of the Equator, and one hundred and twenty days for all other parts of the world without exception.

https://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?flash=false&doc=20&page=transcript1

The treaty of Ghent was signed 24 December 1814 and was ratified by the US senate 16 February 1815. President Madison exchanged ratification papers in Washington DC 17 February 1815 and the treaty was proclaimed 18 February 1815.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treaty_of_Ghent2

February 16, 17, and 18 were the 47th, 48th, and 49th days of 1815. 90 days later would be the 137th, 138th and 139th days of 1815 - May 17, 18, 19 - and 120 days later would be the 167th, 168th, and 169th days of 1815 - June 16, 17, and 18. The battle between Peacock and Nautilus on 30 June 1815 was on the 181st day of 1815.

So obviously the course of the Peacock in April, May, and June 1815 would indicate how likely it was to have have heard news of the peace treaty by June 30, 1815, and whether the US government made sufficient effort to inform Warrington of the treaty.

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