Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

I now have the honour of forwarding to you the name of the man who lost his leg in the action ; and shall take the first moment's leisure I have to carry that part of your orders into execution, directing me to make a present to the brave fellow who lashed the flag to the top-mast head.

The name of the man that got his leg shot off is Richard Dunn, he was born near West Chester, Pennsylvania, he was rated seaman on the books. I have collected for him one thousand dollars, which I intend putting into funds that will give him the interest quarterly. I have the honour to be, with great respect, sir, your obedient servant, (Signed)

ISAAC HULL. The Hon. Paul Hamilton, Secretary

of the Navy, Washington.

From the London Gazette.

Admiralty Office, October 10. Copy of a letter from Vice-Admiral Sawyer, to John Wilson

Croker, Esq., dated on board His Majesty's Ship Africa, at Halifax, the 15th Sept. 1812.

Sir, It is with extreme concern I have to request you will be pleased to lay before the lords commissioners of the admiralty, the enclosed copy of a letter from captain Dacres, of his majesty's late ship Guerriere, giving an account of his having sustained a close action of near two hours, on the 19th ultimo, with the American frigate Constitution, of very superior force, both in guns and men (of the latter almost double), when the Guerriere being totally dismasted, she rolled so deep as to render all further

efforts of the guns unavailing, and it become a duty to spare the lives of the remaining part of her valuable crew, by hauling down her colours. The masts fell over the side from which she was about to be engaged, in a very favourable position for raking by the enemy. A few hours after she was in possession of the enemy, it was found impossible to keep her above water; she was therefore set fire to and abandoned, which I hope will satisfy their lordships she was defended to the last. I have the honour to be, &c. (Signed)

H. SAWYER, Vice-Admiral.

Sir,

Boston, Sept. 7, 1812. I am sorry to inform you of the capture of his majesty's late ship Guerriere, by the American frigate Constitution, after a severe action on the 19th August, in latitude 40° 20', N., and longitude 55° W. At 2, P. M., being by the wind on the starboard tack, we saw a sail on our weather beam, bearing down on us. At 3 made her out to be a man of war, beat to quarters and prepared for action. At 4, she closing fast, wore to prevent her raking us. At 10 minutes past 4, hoisted our colours and fired several shot at h-r; at 20 minutes past 4, she hoisted her colours and returned our fire, wore several times to avoid being raked, exchanging broadsides. At five she closed on our starboard-beam, both keeping up a heavy fire and steering free, his intention being evidently to cross our bow. At 20 minutes past 5, our mizen-mast went over the starboard quarter, and brought the ship up in the wind; the enemy then placed himself on our larboard bow, raking us, a few only of our bow guns bearing, and his grape and riflemen sweeping our deck. At 40 minutes past 5, the ship not answering her helm, he attempted to lav us on board; at this time Mr. Grant, who commanded the forecastle, was carried below badly wounded. I immediately ordered the marines and boarders from the maindeck; the master was at this time shot through the knee, and I received a severe wound in the back. Lieutenant King was leading the boarders, when the ship coming to, we brought some of our bow guns to bear on her, and had got clear of our opponent, when at 20 minutes past 6, our fore and main-mast went over the side, leaving the ship'a perfect unmanageable wreck. The frigate shooting ahead I was in hopes to clear the wreck, and get the ship under command to renew the action, but just as we had cleared the wreck, our spritsail-yard went, and the enemy having rove new braces, &c. wore round within pistol shot, to rake us, the ship lying in the trough of the sea, and rolling her main deck guns under water, and all attempts to raise her before the wind being fruitless, when calling my few remaining officers together, they were all of opinion that any further resistance would only be a needless waste of lives, I ordered, though reluctantly, the colours to be struck.

The loss of the ship is to be ascribed to the early fall of her mizen mast, which enabled our opponent to choose his position. I am sorry to say, we suffered considerably in killed and wounded, and mostly while she lay on our bow, from her grape and musquetry ; in all, 15 killed, and 63 wounded, many of them severely; none of the wounded officers quitted the deck until the firing ceaseli.

The frigate proved to be the United States' ship Constitution, of thirty 24 pounders on her main-deck, and twentyfour 32 pounders, and two 189 on her upper deck, and 476 men: her loss in comparison with us is trifling, about 20: the first lieutenant of marines and 8 killed; and first lieutenant and master of the ship and eleven men wounded; her lower masts badly wounded, and stern much shattered, and very much cut up about the rigging.

The Guerriere was so cut up, that all attempts to get her in would have been useless.. As soon as the wounded were got out of her, they set her on fire; and I feel it my duty to state, that the conduct of captain Hull and his officers to our men, has been that of a brave enemy, the greatest care being taken to prevent our men losing the smallest trifle, and the greatest attention being paid to the wounded, who, through the attention and skill of Mr. Irvine, surgeon, I hope will do well.

I hope, though success has not crowned our efforts, you will not think it presumptuous in me to say, the greatest credit is due to the officers and ship’s company for their exertions, particularly when exposed to the heavy raking fire of the enemy. I feel particularly obliged for the exertions of lieutenant Kent, who, though wounded early by a splinter, continued to assist me in the second lieutenant the service has suffered a severe loss; Mr. Scott, the master, though wounded, was particularly attentive, and used every exertion in clearing the wreck, as did the warrant officers. Lieutenant Nicholl of the royal marines, and his party, supported the honourable character of their corps, and they suffered severely. I must recommend Mr. Shaw, the master's mate who commanded the foremast main-deck guns in the absence of lieutenant Pullman, and the whole after the fall of lieutenant Ready, to your protection, he having received a severe contusion from a splinter. I must point out Mr. Garby, acting purser, to your notice, who volunteered his services on deck, and commanded the after quarter-deck guns, and was particularly active, as well as Mr. Bannister, midshipman. I hope in considering the circumstances, you will think the ship entrusted to my charge properly defended the unfortunate loss of our masts, the absence of the third lieutenant, second lieutenant of marines, three midshipmen, and 24 men, considerably weakened our crew, and we only mustered at quarters 244 men, and 19 boys, on coming into action; the enemy had such an advantage from his marines and riflemen, when close, and his superior sailing enabled him to choose his distance,

I enclose herewith a list of killed and wounded on board the Guerriere. And have the honour to be, &c.

JAMES R. DACRES.

A List of Officers, Seamen, and Marines, Killed and Wounded

on board His Majesty's Ship Guerriere, in the action of the 19th of August, 1812. Killed-Henry Ready, second lieutenant, and 14 seamen.

Wounded - James R. Dacres, Esq. captain, severely; Bartholomew Kent, first lieutenant, slightly, and 61 seamen.

CRUIZE OF THE ESSEX.

Copies of Letters received at the Navy Department from Captain

Porter, of the United States' Frigate Essex, of 32 guns. Sir,

At Sea, August 20, 1811. I have the honour to inform you that on the 13th his Britannic majesty's sloop of war Alert, captain T. L. P. Laugharne, ran down on our weather quarter, gave three cheers and commenced an action (if so trilling a skirmish deserves the name), and after eight minutes firing struck her colours, with seven feet water in her hold, much cut to pieces, and three men wounded.

I need not inform you that the officers and crew of the Essex behaved as I trust all Americans will in such cases, and it is only to be regretted that so much zeal and activity could not have been displayed on an occasion that would have done them more honour. The Essex has not received the slightest injury.

The Alert was out for the purpose of taking the Hornet!

I have the honour to be, with great respect, your obedient servant, (Signed)

D. PORTER. Hon. Paul Hamilton, Secretary of the Navy, Washington. Sir,

At Sea, August 20, 1811. Finding myself much embarrassed by the Alert, from the great number of prisoners we have already made about five hundred), I concluded that before our arrival in America the number would be considerably augmented, and as I found my provisions and water getting short, and being well satisfied that a plan had been organized by them for rising on the ship in the event of an engagement; I conceived it to be the interest of my country to get clear of them as speedily as possible, particularly as I was well assured that immediately on their arrival in St. John's, an equal number of

my countrymen would be released, and find a sure and immediate conveyance. I, therefore, drew up written stipulations corresponding with the accompanying letters; threw all the guns

of the Alert overboard ; withdrew from her all the men belonging to the Essex ; appointed lieutenant J. P. Wilmer to command her as a cartel, put all my prisoners on board her, and dispatched her for St. John's, in Newfoundland, with orders to proceed from thence to New-York, with such Americans as he may receive in exchange.

At a more suitable opportunity I shall do myself the honour to lay before you copies of every paper relative to this transaction, and sincerely hope that my conduct in this affair may meet with your approbation.

As the Essex has been so annoying about Bermuda, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland, I expect I shall have to run the gauntlet through their cruizers; you may, however, rest assured, that all a ship of her size can do shall be done, and whatever may

be our fate, our country shall never blush for I have the honour, &c. (Signed)

D. PORTER. Hon. Paul Hamilton, Secretary of the Navy, Washington.

[The following are the papers accompanying the preceding, viz. my two letters to captain Laugharne, with his answer, verbal and written, to the first ; a copy of the passport given to lieutenant Wilmer, and a copy of captain Laugharne's certificate, certifying to the number of prisoners put on board the cartel Alert.]

us.

Sir,

August 18, 1812. An arrangement has suggested itself to me, which, in my opinion, is calculated to advance the interest of the United States as well as that of his Britannic majesty, and if acceded to by you, shall be immediately put in execution : should you object to the terms, they will not, after this, be repeated, and the treatment usual to prisoners of war, will in future be observed towards your crew.

Art. 1. The Alert to be deprived of all her armament, and to proceed under charge of an officer of this ship, as a cartel, to such British port as you may deem most adviseable, and to take your officers and crew, together with the British cap

« ForrigeFortsett »