had flown! From the latitude and longitude in which we saw this vessel, and from her fleetness, which enabled her to disappear so soon, I think it not unlikely it was the Acasta, of 50 guns

and 350 men, sent out with so much parade, accompanied by the Ring Dove of 22 guns, to cruize for the Essex! Perhaps, however, she went to seek her consort.

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

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


At Sea, September 6, 1812. On the 4th instant, off the tail of St. George's Bank, I discovered two ships of war to the southward, and a brig to the northward-the brig in chase of an American merchant ship, and I have not the slightest doubt of their being enemies gave chase to the brig, which attempted to get past us to join the rest of the squadron ; this we prevented, and compelled her to stand to the northward ; continued in chase until we got abreast the American ship, when we gave over chase, as the wind was getting light, and the brig leaving us, with her sweeps out. On showing our colours to the American ship, several signal guns were fired by the ships to the southward, which made all sail in chase of us. At 4, P. M., they had gained our wake, and had come up with us very fast. Calcu. lating on making my escape by some maneuvre in the course of the night, I hoisted American colours and fired a gun to windward; the ships still continuing to gain on us, and the largest being considerably to windward of the other and about five miles astern of us, bearing S. by W., I determined to heave about as soon as it grew dark, and in the event of our not being able to pass him, to fire a broadside into him and lay him on board. With this view, made every arrangement and preparation, the crew in high spirits, and gave three cheers when the plan was proposed to them. At 20 minutes after seven, hove about and stood S. E. by S. (the wind heading us off the moment we hove in stays) until thirty minutes after eight, when we bore away S. W. without seeing any thing more of them, which seems the more extraordinary, as a pistol was fired by accident on board this ship at the moment when we must have been at our shortest distance from them. Finding myself thus cut off from New York and Rhode Island, I made the best of my way for the Delaware.

Considering this escape as a very extraordinary one, I have the honour to enclose you a sketch of the position of the ships at three different periods, by which you will perceive at once the plan of effecting it. I have the honour to be, with great respect, your obedient servant,

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


Mouth of the Delaware, Sept. 7, 1812. In pursuance of your orders of the 24th June, I sailed from Sandy Hook on the 3d July, shaping my course to the southward; in the lat. of 30° 52' N. long. 66° 16' W. I çaptured the brig Lamprey, 21 days from Jamaica ; by her I received certain intelligence that at the time of her departure the Thetis frigate with specie and a large convoy for England was to sail on or about the 26th of June, and that several running ships were on the departure. I consequently made every exertion to get off St. Augustine, in time to fall in with them, without effect, as fresh gales prevailed from the southwest and increased until the 19th July, when we were compelled to scud. I succeeded in getting as far south as St. Augustine, but was baffled in every attempt to get to the westward; as the gales continued to increase, and as there was no probability of getting there in time to meet the convoy, I concluded it best to endeavour to intercept it on the banks of Newfoundland, to which place I proceeded, taking Halifax in my way, and although I have been disappointed in my expectations, I hope that the facts above stated, and the ser. vices rendered by the Essex may be considered a sufficient apology for departing from the letter of your instructions.

It is much to be regretted that I had not with me a sloop of war at the time I fell in with the convoy of the Minerva, (as well as on all other important occasions) that the ships of the convoy might be kept in play while I engaged the frigate. Had this been the case, instead of taking only 200 prisoners, including the transports' crew, I have not a doubt that we should have made prisoners of the whole of the troops, as well as the frigates and transports' crews, which would have exceeded 2000 men. I have the honour to be, with great respect, &c.

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

Copy of a letter from Admiral Sir 4. T. Duckworth, command

ing his Britannic Majesty's Naval Forces at Newfoundland,

to D. Porter, Esq. commanding the U. S. Frigate Essex. Sir,

St. John's, Newfoundland, Aug. 5, 1812. Your letter of the 2d instant was delivered to me yesterday, by Mr. M‘Knight, midshipman of the United States' frigate Essex, under your command.

I am sensible of the good disposition you have evinced to alleviate the distresses of war, and would gladly have embraced your proposal for an exchange of the prisoners that we have respectively made; but I am sorry to say that at the present moment, and under the peculiar circumstances of the case, it is not in my power to do so.

In the first place, I have not yet received those instructions from my government which I considered necessary for the guidance of my conduct in respect to any


arrangement; and in the next, the officer whom you charged with the British prisoners has only delivered to me a list of their names, without producing any of their persons, acquainting me that they had taken the vessel from him, and put into another


of this island. I can only therefore assure you, that I shall report the matter fully to his majesty's government, transmitting a copy of your letter, and of the list of British prisoners by which it is accompanied.

I have had the pleasure of forwarding to Halifax the young gentleman whom you sent to me; an opportunity having already occurred. And I have written to the commander in chief on that station, requesting that he will endeavour to provide the means of his conveyance to the United States.

I have the honour to be, sir, your most obedient humble servant, (Signed)

J. T. DUCKWOTRH. To Captain Porter, Commandant of the United States' Frigate the Essex.

Extract of a letter from Admiral Sir 4. T. Duckworth, to

the Honourable Secretary of the Navy of the United States, dated

St. John's, Newfoundland, August 31. A vessel captured as the Alert has been, could not have been vested with the character of a cartel, until she had entered a port of the nation by which she had been captured and been regularly fitted out from thence. For every prize might otherwise be provided with a flag of truce, and proposals for an exchange of prisoners; and rendered thus effectually secure against the possibility of re-capture, while the cruising ship would be enabled to keep at sea with an undiminished crew; the cartels being always navigable by the prisoners of war.

Nevertheless, I am willing to give proof at once of my respect for the liberality with which the captain of the Essex has acted, in more than one instance, towards the British subjects who have fallen into his hands; of the sacred obligation that is always felt to fulfil the engagements of a British officer; and of my confidence in the disposition of his royal highness the prince regent to allay the violence of war, by encouraging a reciprocation of that courtesy by which its pressure upon individuals may be so essentially diminished.

On the 4th of this month, a midshipman of the Essex arrived, and presented to me a letter from his captain, proposing an exchange for 86 British prisoners. The midshipman had however been placed alone in the charge of one of the captured vessels, with 86 prisoners, to conduct them to this port. A list of 40 prisoners of the same description, disposed of in the same manner, has been sent to me by the commander of the American private armed schooner the Rossie.

It is incumbent upon me to protest in the strongest manner against the practice of conducting exchanges upon terms like these ; and to signify to you that it will be utterly impossible for me to incur, in future, the responsibility of assenting to them.



Halifax, July 29th, 1812. I am under the unpleasant necessity of acquainting you with the loss of the United States' brig Nautilus, late under my command.

I sailed, in obedience to your order of the 11th instant, on the 15th, and passed Sandy Hook at 6, P. M., with the wind fresh and squally at N. by E., standing E. by S. At 4, A. M., we had cleared the Hook about 75 miles, under reefed topsails and fore course ; at a quarter past four discovered five large sails about two points before our weather beam.-Immediately wore ship, turned out the reefs, and made all sail the vessel would bear. The ships bore up, and made sail in

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chase, displaying signals which were not understood, and hoisted American colours. I also hoisted my private signal and ensign, which not being answered, continued to carry a press of sail to the westward.

There was a heavy swell from the northward, and it was impossible to gain the wind from our pursuers. We had many times to take in sail to preserve spars, and finally carried away our topmast steering-sail boom, which was immediately replaced. It was soon evident that they were drawing up with us. Every manœuvre in trimming ship was tried, but this not having the desired effect, I ordered the anchors to be cut from the bows, when we appeared to hold way with them. At 9 the wind became lighter, and the brig laboured excessively in the swell. I then ordered a part of the water to be sta ed, threw over her lee guns, and a part of the round shot. She was instantly relieved, and bore her canvas with much greater ease. The wedges were then driven out from the masts, and the standing rigging slackened up. At 10 the squadron hoisted French colours, and we saw they neared us fast. At 11 the leading ship was within grape distance, but owing to the construction of the Nautilus, she can fire no guns abaft.

There was now no chance of escape if the chasing vessels were enemies, of which we were not certain, as they still kept French colours flying. At 12 the leading ship was within musket shot, when I destroyed the signals, signal books, and the despatches with which I was entrusted.

At half past twelve I consulted with my principal officers. All were of opinion that every thing had been done to preserve the vessel, and that no hopes of escape were left. I then took in studding-sails and light sails, trained the weather guns aft, and put the helm a-lee. The chasing ship put her helm up, hoisted a broad pendant and English colours, and ranged under my lee quarter. Unable to resist, I was compelled to strike the flag of the United States.

I have been particular in detailing to you, sir, circumstances as they occurred, in order to prove to you that no efforts were wanting to effect our escape. It is but justice to my officers and crew to add, that they executed my orders with promptness, and rendered me every possible assistance; and I feel persuaded, had an opportunity offered of engaging any thing of equal force, they would have distinguished themselves.

The frigate hoisted out her boats and sent for me on board. She proved to be the Shannon of 38 guns, commodore Broke.

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