In this second war with Great Britain, Hampton suffered more severely than in the first. Under Admiral Cockburn, the British made an attack on Craney Island at the mouth of Elizabeth River. That place was defended by six hundred Virginia militia, recently called into service. With no other aid than a half finished redoubt, and the cooperation of a few volunteers from the shipping in port, they beat back the British, though numbering three thousand men. Foiled in this first attack, the British turned to glut their vengeance on the little hamlet of Hampton, situated on the north side of James River.
On the 25th of June, 1813, he landed a force of 2500 men at what is now "Indian River," and with a small squadron sailed to the mouth of Hampton Creek, from whence he shelled the town. The place was defended by 450 Virginia militia under Col. Crutchfield stationed at "Little England" with seven small cannon. Taken in the flank by the British land force, the small garrison had to abandon the place and retreat up the peninsula. The British occupation was attended with barbarous circumstances, the responsibility of which they afterwards ascribed to some French prisoners, who constituted a part of the British force.
Governor Barbour in his message to the Legislature spoke of the private houses that were plundered, the gray hairs that were exposed to wanton insult, the sick man that was murdered in his bed under circumstances of peculiar aggravation, the females that were publicly borne off to suffer the last degree of unutterable violence, and the house of God given over to sacrilegious outrage.
Religion was at a low ebb in Virginia for many years after the Revolution. The spread of rationalistic ideas and the breaking up of the old establishment affected even the new sects of Baptists and Methodists, while it almost destroyed the Episcopal church. The small congregation, which assembled in the old church in the parish, hobbled along under the ministrations of Rev. William Nixon, Rev. Henry Skyren, who died in 1795, Rev. John Jones Spooner, who died in 1799, Rev. Benjamin Brown, who died January 17, 1806, and Rev. George Halson, who officiated till the war of 1812. It was probably by performing the duties of teachers of the Hampton Academy that these ministers managed to obtain a livelihood.
During the interval between Parson Brown and the war of 1812, the frame work of the tower which stood on the west side of the church became so decayed that the bell had to be taken down and was placed in the angle made by the church and the tower. From that position it was removed by order of Major Crutchfield to the guardhouse of the American Encampment at "Little England," and soon the tongue fell out, and the hours were struck by an ax, till the bell cracked. After the capture of Hampton by the British soon after, the churchyard was used by them for a slaughter pen and the church itself for a barracks.'