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Suitable signals were established, and each boat had her particular station pointed out for the attack, and every other previous arrangement was made to prevent confusion. The boats, seven in number, rowed off in admirable order. Guns were fired from the enemy to terrify them; they rowed up under the muzzles of the guns and took their stations for attacking the first ship, and no sooner was the American flag displayed by lieutenant Downes, as the signal for boarding, and the intention was discovered by the enemy, than the colours were struck, without a shot being fired; so much were they daunted by the intrepidity of our brave officers and men. They then left a crew on board the prize and took their stations for attacking the other vessel, when her flag was also struck, on the first call to surrender. Thus were two fine British ships, each pierced for 20 guns, worth near half a million of dollars, mounting between them 16 guns and manned with 55 men, well supplied with ammunition and small arms, surrendered, without the slightest resistance, to seven small open boats, with fifty men, armed only with muskets, pistols, boarding-axes, and cutlasses ! Be assured, sir, that Britons have either learned to respect the courage of Americans, or they are not so courageous themselves as they would wish us to believe. I have the honour to be yours,
D. PORTER, The Secretary of the Navy, at Washington.
U.S. FRIGATE ESSEX, AT SEA,
Pacific Occan, July 20, 1813. SIR, On the 230 March last, I sailed from
shaping my course to the northward, and on the 26th of the same month fell in with the Peruvian corsair ship Nereyda, mounting 15 guns. She had, a few days before, captured two American whale ships, the crews of which (amounting in number to twenty-four men) were then detained prisoners on board her; and they could assign no other motive for the capture, than that they were the allies ot Great Britain, and as such should capture all American vessels they could fall in with ; therefore, to prevent in future such vexatious proceedings, I threw all her armament into the sea, liberated the Americans, and dismissed the Nereyda. I then proceeded with all possible despatch for Lima, to intercept one of the detained vessels, which had parted with the Nereyda only three days before, and I was so fortunate as to arrive there and re-capture her on the 5th of April, at the moment she was entering the port.
This vessel (the ship Barclay, captain Gideon Randall, of New Bedford) I took under my protection, and have had her with me ever since:
From Lima I proceeded to the Gallapagos Islands, where I captured the following British ships, viz:
Letters of Marque.
25 The Georgiana being reputed a very fast sailer, and apparently well calculated for a cruiser, I mounted 16 guns on her, and gave the command of her to that excellent officer, lieutenant John Downes, with a complement of 42 men; appointing midshipman W. H. Hadaway acting lieutenant on board her, and sent her on a cruize. Lieutenant Downes joined me at Tumbez, near Guyaquil, on the coast of Peru, on the 24th June, after capturing 3 prizes, to wit:
Letters of Marque ships.
8 Rose, 220
8 The 1st had two men killed and six badly wounded in her rencontre with the Georgiana ; and the Rose was discharged (after being deprived of her armament) with all the prisoners captured by the Georgiana, as they amounted to nearly double her crew; she was furnished with a passport to proceed to St. Helena.
My own prisoners I liberated on parole at Tumbez. I foand by experience that the Georgiana did not deserve the character given
of her sailing. I therefore shipped her officers and crew to the Atlantic, and mounted on her 20 guns, with a complement of 60 men, and appointed midshipman R. Dashiell acting sailing master on board of her. To this vessel I gave the name of the Essex Junior. I also fitted up the ship Greenwich, as a store-ship, and mounted on her 20 guns, placing her under the command of lieutenant Gamble, of the marines. On board her I have put all the provisions and stores of my other prizes, except a supply of three and a half months for each, and have by this means secured myself a full supply of every necessary article for seven months. 'I had hoped to dispose of my other prizes at Guyaquil: the governors in Peru, however, are excessively alarmed at my appearance on the coast, as my fleet amounts now to nine sail of vessels, all formidable in their appearance, and they would, if they dare, treat us with hostility little short of declared enemies.
I have given to Mr. John G. Cowell, sailing master, an appointment to act 3d lieutenant; midshipman John S. Cowan to act 4th lieutenant, and midshipman Odenheimer as sailing master. I beg, sir, that the appointment of those officers, as well as of lieutenant 8. D. M'Knight, who is acting second Keutenant, and those serving
on board the Essex Junior, may be confirmed by the department. I have given to Mr. M. W. Bostwick, my clerk, the appointment of acting midshipman ; not that he is desirous of coming forward in the navy in that line, but I hoped by this means to introduce him to the notice of the department, as I shall take the liberty to recommend him strongly as a suitable person to hold the appointment of purser. Doctors Richard R. Hoffman, and Alexander M. Montgomery, two gentlemen of great merit, who volunteered their services with me at the commencement of hostilities, have received acting appointments from me, the first as surgeon to fill the vacancy occasioned by the death of doctor Miller; the other as surgeon's mate. To the great care and attention of those gentlemen, may, in a considerable degree, be attributed the extraordinary health of the crew; and as they are both desirous of joining the navy, I hope their appointments may be confirmed.
I have also appointed my marine officer and chaplain to the command of prizes. They all enter with cheerfulness into their new duties; and if the expedition should not prove successful, it will not be, I am persuaded, owing to our want of activity or vigilance; and of this you must be satisfied, as for the last eight months we have been constantly at sea, with the exception of 23 days, and yet, sir, we have enjoyed extraordinary health and spirits ; no symptom of the scurvy having yet appeared in the ship, nor have we, at this moment, more than two on the sick list; and their diseases are more owing to the infirmities of old age than any other cause Indeed, sir, when I compare my present situation with what it was when I doubled Cape Horn, I cannot but esteem myself fortunate in an extraordinary degree. There my ship was shattered by tempestuous weather, and destitute of every thing; my officers and crew half starved, naked and worn out with fatigue. Now, sir, my ship is in prime order, abundantly supplied with every thing necessary for her. I have a noble ship for a consort of 20 guns, and well manned ; a store-ship of 20 guns well supplied with the best of every thing we may want, and prizes which would be worth in England two millions of dollars ; and what renders the comparison more pleasing, the enemy has furnished all. Excuse me, sir, for not making known my present intentions, as this letter may not reach you. It, however, may be satisfactory to you to know how I intend to dispose of my prizes ; let it suffice to say that I shall endeavor to [cypher.]
British letters of marque are numerous in these seas, and, were it not for my arrival, our whale fishers would have been much harrassed; but they now find it necessary to keep together for mutual protection. I expect to be [cypher) butshall be [cypher.)
Subjoined is a list of deaths since I left the United States, and beg you will relieve the anxiety of my family, and all our friends, by communicating as much of this letter as you may think proper.
The times of my best men have expired: but their attachment to the ship, and their zeal for the service we are engaged on, prevent all complaints on that account. It is not probable that you will hear from me for several months to come, unless some disaster happens; but, I beg leave to assure you, sir, that I shall not be idle; and I hope before my return to make the services of the Essex as important as those of any other ship. We may not be individually benefitted, but we shall do the enemy much injury, which will be a sufficient compensation to us for all the hardships and privations we must naturally experience, while cut off from all communication with the rest of the world, and are dependent on the precarious supplies the enemy may afford. I have the honour to be, with great respect, yours, &c.
D. PORTER. Hon. Secretary of the Navy, Washington. List of deaths on board the Essex since my departure from the
United States. 1812, December 3, Levi Holmes, seaman, palsy. 1813, January 24, Edward Sweeny, ordinary seaman, old age. January 24, Samuel Groce, seaman, contusion of the brain, by a fall from
the main yard.
WASHINGTON, July 30th, 1813. SIR,
I consider myself bound to lay before you, what came under my knowledge, while on board the Chesapeake, as well as on board the Shannon.
After the enemy had completely possession of the ship, midshipmen Randolph and Flushman were ordered from the fore and main-top. In coming down the shrouds, lieutenant Faulkner, (the British officer) said to his men, kill those damned rascals. Then, and immediately, several muskets were discharged at them, but without effect. My station was in the mizen-top, where I haul an opportunity of seeing their actions. I was looking on deck, when I saw one of the Chesapeake's men crawling along, at. tempting to get below, with one of his legs off. One of the enemy stepped up to him with his cutlass, and immediately put an end to his existence.
Lieutenant Faulkner looked up in the mizen-top; pointed at me, said to his men, go up, three of you, and throw that damned yankee overboard. They immediately rushed up, seizing me by the collar; now, said they, you damned yankee, you soll swim for it, attempting to throw me overboarel ; but I got within the rigging, when one of them kicked me in the breast, which was the
cause of my falling; being stunned by the fall, I lay some time senseless, and when I came to, I was cut over the head with a cutlass, which nearly terminated my existence. Eleven of our midshipmen were confined in a small place, nine feet by six, with an old sail to lie on, and a guard at the door, until a day or two before our arrival at Halifax; and likewise eleven of us upon five rations, and some days only one meal. Our clothes were taken on board of the Shannon ; lieutenant Wallis, the commanding officer on board, would not let us take our clothes below with us, but pledged his word and honour as an officer, we should receive our clothes. But we discovered next morning that their midshipmen had on our clothes and side-arms. We were conversing together respecting our clothes, one of their midshipmen overheard our conversation, and made report to the lieutenant commanding. He then sent word to us, that if we said any thing more about the clothes, he would put us in the forehold with the men. We ex pected to receive our clothes when we arrived in port ; but I assure you, sir, nothing was ever restored. Other rascally things occurred, which our officers will, when they return, make known to the public, disgraceful to a civilized nation. If your request could have been made sooner, I should have felt gratified in making a fuller statement.
I have the honour to be, &c.
WILLIAM BERRY. Hon. L. Condit, Washington.
GEORGETOWN, July 30th, 1813. SIR,
Having perused a letter of yours to Mr. Berry, requesting information respecting the treatment of the American officers and seamen of the late Chesapeake, I consider myself bound, sir, to lay before you what came under my knowledge. My having been wounded and remaining on board the Chesapeake might not give me that scope for observation which others possessed; but I am sorry to say, many things transpired disgracefal to a brave enemy. Whilst undressing myself in the steerage, after the Americans were driven below or had surrendered, and after resistance had ceased, I believe entirely, several muskets and pistols were at once pointed down the hatchway, and discharged in the direction of the cock-pit, and as the steerage and cock-pit were filled with wounded, in all probability some of them were killed outright.
It was midshipman Hopewell, and not Livingston, who was so inhumanly treated, as described in the public prints. It has been the custom in our navy, to take the side-arms of officers, (prisoners) but to return them on leaving the ship. Ours were taken, worn, and never restored, together with what nautical instru