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a remarkably fast, sailer. The favour of the moon enabling them to chase by night as well as by day, the chase was continue ed for three days, without intermission, and under various circumstances, but by unremitted exertions the Argus was enabled to elude the pursuit. Pressed on all sides by the number of the enemy, and the baffling and unsettled state of the weather, she was at one time within musket shot of a 74, and at another nearly surrounded. While in this perilous situation she actually captured and manned one of her prizes.
09. The United States was still more fortunate. On the 25th of October, off the Western islands, about two weeks after being separated from the squadron, she fell in with and captured, after an action of an hour and a half, the British fri. gate Macedonian, of the same class and strength with the Guerriere. The Macedonian, being to windward, had the advantage of choosiog her distance, which was so great that for the first half hour the United States could not use her carronades, and at no time were they within musket or grape shot. To this circumstance, and a heavy swell which prevailed, is ascribed the great length of the action. In this contest, the superiority of the American gunnery was strikingly obvious. On board the Macedonian there were 36 killed and 68 wounded ; she also lost her mizen mast, fore and main-top-masts, and main yard, and was much cut up in her hull. On board the United States there were only five killed and seven wounded; the damage sustained by the ship was not so much as to render her return to port necessary.
The United States arrived off New London with her prize on the 4th of December, and thence proceeded through the sound for New York.
An equal degree of liberality was displayed by commodore Decatur, as on a former occasion by captain Hull
. All the property of the officers and men on board the Macedonian was given up; that claimed by captain Carden included a band of music and several casks of wine, which were valued at $ 800, and paid for by the commodore.
While on this subject, we cannot forbear to mention an instance of generosity that occurred on this occasion among the common seamen.
In the action with the Macedonian one of the carpenter's crew was killed, and left three children at the mercy of the world and of a worthless mother, who had abandoned them. On the arrival of the two frigates at New York, their grandfather went on board the United States to claim the property and wages of his son, when an enquiry into the circumstances of the fainily took place, and a plan was agreed upon by
the seamen for the relief of the orphans, by which 8 800 were instantly collected for their maintenance and education, to be placed in the hands of suitable trustees for the purpose.
10. But of all the victories which have been achieved by single vessels, perhaps the most brilliant is that which it has now become our most pleasing task to record. At the time of the declaration of war, the Wasp sloop of war, commanded by captain Jacob Jones, was on her passage from Europe, whither she had carried despatches to our ministers in England and France. She arrived in the Delaware a few weeks after that event, and sailed again on a cruize on the 13th of October. On the 16th she experienced a heavy gale, in which she lost her jibboom and two men. On the evening of the following day, about eleven o'clock, in a clear moon-light evening, being then in the track of vessels passing from Bermuda to Halifax, she found herself near five strange sail, steering eastward. some of them seemed to be ships of war, it was thought better to get farther from them. The Wasp, therefore, hauled her wind, and having reached a few miles to windward, so as to escape or fight as the occasion might require, followed the strange sail through the night. At day-break on Sunday morning, captain Jones found that they were six large merchant ships, under convoy of a sloop of war, which proved to be the Frolic, captain Whinyates, from Honduras to England, with a convoy, strongly armed and manned, having all forty or fifty men, and two of them mounting sixteen guns each. He determined, however, to attack them, and, as there was a heavy swell of the sea, and the weather boisterous, got down his top-gallant yards, close reefed the top-sails, and prepared for action. About 11 o'clock the Frolic showed Spanish colours; and the Wasp immediately displayed the American ensign and pendant. At 32 minutes past 11, the Wasp came down to windward, on her larboard side, within about sixty yards, and hailed. The enemy hauled down the Spanish colours, hoisted the British ensign, and opened a fire of cannon and musketry—this the Wasp instantly returned; and, coming near to the enemy, the action became close and without intermission. In four or five minutes the maintop-mast of the Wasp was shot away, and falling down with the main-top-sail yard across the larboard fore and fore-top-sail braces, rendered her head yards unmanageable during the rest of the action. In two or three minutes more her gaft and mizentop-gallant-mast were shot away. Still she continued a close and constant fire. The sea was so rough that the muzzles of the Wasp's guns were frequently in the water. The Americans, therefore, fired as the ship's side was going down, so that their shot went either on the enemy's deck or below it, while the
asp was shot
English fired as the vessel rose, and thus her balls chiefly touched the rigging, or were thrown away. The Wasp now shot ahead of the Frolic, raked her, and then resumed her position on her larboard bow. Her fire was now obviously attended with such success, and that of the Frolic so slackened, that captain Jones did not wish to board her, lest the roughness of the sea might endanger both vessels ; but, in the course of a few minutes more, every brace of the Wa
and her rigging so much torn to pieces, that he was afraid that his masts, being unsupported, would go by the board, and the Frolic bé able to escape. He thought, therefore, the best chance of securing her was to board, and decide the contest at once. With this view he wore ship, and running down upon enemy,
the vessels struck each other ; the Wasp's side rubbing along the Frolic's bow, so that her jib-boom came in between the main and mizen rigging of the Wasp, directly over the heads of captain Jones and the first lieutenant, Mr. Biddle, who were, at that moment, standing together near the captain. The Frolic lay so fair for raking that they decided not to board until they had given a closing broadside. Whilst they were loading for this, so near were the two vessels, that the rammers of the Wasp were pushed against the Frolic's sides, and two of her guns went through the bow ports of the Frolic, and swept the whole length of her deck. At this moment Jack Lang*, aseaman of the Wasp, a gallant fellow, who had been once impressed by a British man of war, jumped on a gun with his cutlass, and was springing on board the Frolic ; captain Jones wishing to fire again before boarding, called him down; but his impetuosity could not be restrained, and he was already on the bowsprit of the Frolic; when, seeing the ardour and enthusiasm of the Wasp's crew, lieutenant Biddle mounted on the hammock cloth to board. At this signal the crew followed, but lieutenant Biddle's feet got entangled in the rigging of the enemy's bowsprit, and midshipman Baker, in his ardour to get on board, laying hold of his coat, he fell back on the Wasp's deck. He sprang up, and as the next swell of the sea brought the Frolic nearer, he got on the bowsprit, where Lang and another seaman were already. He passed them on the forecastle, and was surprised at seeing not a single man alive on the Frolic's deck, except the seaman at the wheel and three officers. The deck was slippery with blood, and strewed with the bodies of the dead. As he went forward, the captain of the Frolic, with two other officers,
“ John Lang is a native of New Brunswick in New Jersey, We mention, with great pleasure, the name of this brave American seaman, as a proof, that conspicuous valour is confined to no rank in the naval service.
who were standing on the quarter-deck, threw down their swords, and made an inclination of their bodies, denoting that they had surrendered. At this moment the colours were still flying, as probably none of the seamen of the Frolic would dare to go into the rigging for fear of the musquetry of the Wasp. Lieutenant Biddle, therefore, jumped into the rigging himself, and hauled down the British ensign, and possession was taken of the Frolic, in forty-three minutes after the first fire. She was in a shocking condition; the birth-deck particularly was crowded with dead and wounded, and dying ; there being but a small proportion of the Frolic's crew who had escaped. Captain Jones instantly sent on board his surgeon's mate, and all the blankets of the Frolic were brought from her slop-room for the comfort of the wounded. To increase this confusion, both the Frolic's masts soon fell, covering the dead and every thing on deck, and she lay a complete wreck.
" It now appeared that the Frolic mounted sixteen thirty-two pound carronades, four twelve pounders on the main-deck, and two twelve pound carronades. She was, therefore, superior to the Wasp, by exactly four twelve pounders. The number of men on board, as stated by the officers of the Frolic, was one hundred and ten-the number of seamen on board the Wasp was one hundred and two; but it could not be ascertained whether in this one hundred and ten were included marines and officers, for the Wasp had, beside her one hundred and two men, officers and marines, making the whole crew about one hundred and thirty-five. What is however decisive, as to their comparative force, is, that the officers of the Frolic acknowledged that they had as many men as they knew what to do with, and in fact the Wasp could have spared fifteen men. There was, therefore, on the most favourable view, at least an equality of men, and an inequality of four guns. The disparity of loss was much greater. The exact number of killed and wounded on board the Frolic could not be precisely determined; but from the observations our officers, and the declarations of those of the Frolic, the number could not have been less than about thirty killed, including two officers, and of the wounded between forty and fifty; the captain and second lieutenant being of the number. The Wasp had five men killed and five slightly wounded.
“ All hands were now employed in clearing the deck, burying the dead, and taking care of the wounded, when captain Jones sent orders to lieutenant Biddle to proceed to Charleston, or any southern port of the United States; and as there was a suspicious sail to windward, the Wasp would continue her cruize.
The ships then parted. The suspicious sail was now coming down
very fast. At first it was supposed that she was one of the convoy, who had all fled during the engagement, and the ship cleared for action ; but the enemy, as she advanced, proved to be a seventy-four-the Poictiers, captain Beresford. She fired a shot ever the Frolic; passed her; overtook the Wasp, the disabled state of whose rigging prevented her from escaping; and then returned to the Frolic, who could, of course, make no resistance. The Wasp and Frolic were carried into Bermuda.
“ It is not the least praise due to captain Jones, that his account of this gallant action is perfectly modest and unostentatious. On his own share in the capture it is unnecessary to add any thing. The courage and exertions of the officers and crew,' he observes, fully answered my expectations and wishes. Lieutenant Biddle's active conduct contributed much to our success, by the exact attention paid to every department during the engagement, and the animating example he afforded the crew by his intrepidity. Lieutenants Rodgers and Booth and Mr. Rapp, showed, by the incessant fire from their divisions, that they were not to be surpassed in resolution or skill. Mr. Knight, and every other officer, acted with a courage and promptitude highly honourable. Lieutenant Claxton, who was confined by sickness, left his bed a little previous to the engagement; and though too weak to be at his division, remained upon deck, and showed by his composed manner of noting its incidents, that we had lost by his illness the services of a brave officer.'*.
$ 11. Meanwhile the utmost exertions were used on the lakes, in order to retrieve the disasters occasioned by the surrender of the force under general Hull. When that event took place, there was only one vessel of war owned by government on these waters, the brig Oneida, of 16 guns, on lake Ontario, commanded by lieutenant Woolsey. In the beginning of October, commodore Chauncey arrived at Sackett's Harbour with a body of seamen, for the purpose of taking the command, and several schooners which had been employed as traders on the lake were instantly purchased and fitted out as vessels of war, and lieutenant Elliot was despatched to lake Erie to make arrangements there for building a naval force superior to that of the enemy. Elliot had not been many days at Black Rock, before an opportunity offered for a display of the most determined courage.