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I am extremely sorry, sir, that the much to be lamented death of captain Reed, who died of a fever in this place, on the 5th of January, prevents his recommending his crew (which I know to have been his intention). Their orderly and decorous behaviour during the time of the ship's striking, and afterwards on the island, was such as to induce sir James to assemble them before his own crew, and thank them publicly for their services; and I trust, sir, that though they have been unfortunate, they have not been inactive, and should it please their country to call them out again, they will support the dignity of her naval character, which has so recently and generally been established.
I feel it a duty incumbent on me, sir, to inform you, that there are upwards of four hundred American prisoners now at this place, who I believe would willingly enter the service should a cartel arrive.
To Mr. Satterwhite, purser of the late brig, I have entrusted this, who also has the several indents and vouchers respecting the monies drawn. He has obtained permission to return home from the admiral, being considered a non-combatant. The surgeon and clerk have also applied, and I have no doubt will obtain permission.
Trusting, sir, that upon our arrival in America, and the usual enquiries being made into our conduct, it may meet your approbation, I have the honour to be, sir, your most obedient servant,
Lieutenant of the United States' Navy. Hon. Paul Hamilton, Secretary of the Navy.
According to general usage in such cases, a court of enquiry has been held relative to the surrender of the United States' brig Vixen, while under the command of master commandant George W. Reed, to his Britannic majesty's frigate Southampton. The following is the opinion of the court, approved by the secretary of the navy.
Opinion. The court having heard the statement of lieutenant Drayton, and the other evidence, and maturely considered the same, are unanimously of opinion, that there was no impropriety of conduct on the part of the officers and crew on the occasion of the surrender of the United States' brig of war the Vixen, of 14 guns, while under the command of master commandant George W. Reed, Esq. to his Britannic majesty's frigate Southampton, rated at 32 guns; and that every
exertion was made and the most proper means adopted, by the commander, officers, and crew, of said brig Vixen, to escape from the said frigate Southampton, after the force and size of said frigate was discovered.
A like enquiry has been held, and the same proceedings had, on the conduct of lieutenant John D. Henley, for the surrender of the United States brig Viper, to his Britannic majesty's frigate Narcissus. The following is the opinion of the court, approved as above, respecting the same.
Opinion. The court having heard the statement and evidence in this case, and maturely considered the circumstances attending the surrender of the United States brig of war the Viper, of 12 guns, while under the command of lieutenant J. D. Henley, Esq. to his Britannic majesty's frigate the Narcissus, rated at 32 guns, under the command of captain Lumby, are unanimously of opinion, that there was no impropriety of conduct on the part of said lieutenant John D. Henley, or the officers and crew of the said brig the Viper, on occasion of said surrender; but that every exertion was made by the said lieutenant John D. Henley, and the officers and crew of the said brig Viper, to preserve her from capture after they discovered the enemy to be a frigate, but from the superior force and sailing of said frigate, all exertions to save the said brig Viper were unavailing,
CAPTURE AND DESTRUCTION OF THE PEACOCK.
Letter from Captain Lawrence to the Secretary of the Navy.
United States Ship Hornet, Holmes' Hole, Sir,
March 19, 1813. I have the honour to inform you of the arrival at this port of the United States ship Hornet, under my command, from a cruize of 145 days; and to state to you, that after commodore Bainbridge left the coast of Brazils, January 6th, I continued off the harbour of St. Salvadore, blockading the Bonne Citoyenne, until the 24th, when the Montague, 74, hove in sight and chased me into the harbour ; but night coming on, I wore and stood out to the southward. Knowing that she had left Rio Janeiro for the express purpose of relieving the Bonne Citoyenne and the packet (which I had also blockaded for 14 days, and obliged her to send her mail to Rio, in a Portuguese smack), I judged it most prudent to VOL. II.
shift my cruising ground, and hauled by the wind to the eastward, with the view of cruising off Pernambuco, and on the 4th February, captured the English brig Resolution, of 10 guns, from Rio Janeiro, bound to Moranham, with coffee, jerked beef, flour, fustic, and butter, and about $23,000 in specie. As she sailed dull, and I could not spare hands to man her, I took out the money, and set her on fire. I then ran down the coast of Moranham, and cruised there a short time; from thence ran off Surinam. After cruising off that coast from the 15th to the 22d of February, without meeting a vessel, I stood for Demarara, with an intention, should I not be fortunate on that station, to run through the West Indies, on my way to the United States. But on the 24th, inthe morning, I discovered a brig to leeward, to which I gave chase--ran into quarter less four, and not having a pilot was obliged to haul off-the fort at the entrance of Demarara river at this time bearing S. W. distant two and a half leagues. Previous to giving up the chase, I discovered a vessel at anchor without the bar, with English colours flying, apparently a brig of war. In beating around Carobana bank, in order to get at her, at half past 3, P. M., I discovered another sail on my weather quarter, cdging down for us. At 20 minutes past 4, she hoisted English colours, at which time we discovered her to be a large man of war brig-beat to quarters, and cleared ship for action, and kept close to the wind, in order, if possible, to get the weather gauge. At 10 minutes past 5, finding I could weather the enemy, I hoisted Amecan colours, and tacked. At 25 minutes past 5, in passing each other exchanged broadsides within half pistol shot. Observ. ing the enemy in the act of wearing, I bore up, received his starboard broadside, ran him close on board on the starboard quarter, and kept up such a heavy and well-directed fire, that in less than 15 minutes he surrendered (being literally cut to pieces), and hoisted an ensign, union down, from his fore-rigging, as a signal of distress. Shortly after her mainmast went by the board. Despatched lieutenant Shubrick on board, who soon returned with her first lieutenant, who reported her to be his Britannic majesty's late brig Peacock, commanded by captain William Peake, who fell in the latter part of the action--that a number of her crew were killed and wounded, and that she was sinking fast, having then six feet water in her hold. Despatched the boats immediately for the wounded, and brought both vessels to anchor. Such shot holes as could be got at, were then plugged; her guns thrown overboard, and every possible exertion used to
keep her afloat, until the prisoners could be removed, by pumping and bailing, but without effect, as she unfortunately sunk in five and a half fathoms water, carrying down 13 of her crew, and three of my brave fellows, viz. John Hart, Joseph Williams, and Hannibal Boyd.-Lieutenant Conner, midshipman Cooper, and the remainder of my men, employed in removing the prisoners, with difficulty saved themselves, by jumping into a boat that was lying on her booms, as she went down.
Four men, of the 13 mentioned, were so fortunate as t to gain the fore-top, and were afterwards taken off by the boats. Previous to her going down, four of her men took to her stern boat, that had been much damaged during the action, who, I sincerely hope, reached the shore in safety; but from the heavy sea running at that time, the shattered state of the boat, and the difficulty of landing on the coast, I am fearful they were lost. I have not been able to ascertain from her officers the exact number killed. Captain Peake and four men were found dead on board. The master, one midshipman, carpenter, and captain's clerk, and 29 seamen were wounded; most of them very severely, three of whom died of their wounds after being removed, and nine drowned. Our loss was trifling in comparison, John Place, killed, Samuel Coulsan, and John Dalrymple, slightly wounded; George Coffin and Lewis Todd, severely burnt by the explosion of a cartridge. Todd survived only a few days. Our rigging and sails were much cut. One shot through the foremast: and the bowsprit slightly injured. Our hull received little or no damage. At the time I brought the Peacock to action, the L'Espiegle (the brig mentioned as being at anchor) mounting 16 two-and-thirty-pound carronades and two long nines, lay about six miles in shore of me, and could plainly see the whole of the action. Apprehensive that she would beat out to the assistance of her consort, such exertions were made by my officers and crew in repairing damages, &c. that by 9 o'clock my boats were stowed away, a new set of sails bent, and the ship completely ready for action. At 2, A. M., got under way, and stood by the wind to the northward and westward, under easy sail.
On mustering next morning, found we had two hundred and seventy-seven
souls on board (including the crew of the American brig Hunter, of Portland, taken a few days before by the Peacock). As we had been on two-thirds allowance of provisions for some time, and had but 3400 gallons of water on board, I reduced the allowance to three pints a man, and determined to make the best of my way to the United States.
The Peacock was deservedly styled one of the finest vessels of her class in the British navy. I should judge her to be about the tonnage of the Hornet. Her beam was greater by five inches; but her extreme length not so great by four feet. She mounted sixteen 24-pound carronades, two long nines, one twelve-pound carronade on her top-gallant forecastle as a shifting gun, and one four or six-pounder, and two swivels mounted aft. I find by her quarter bills, that her crew consisted of 134 men, four of whom were absent in a prize.
The cool and determined conduct of my officers and crew during the action, and their almost unexampled exertions afterwards, entitle them to my warmest acknowledgments, and I beg leave most earnestly to recommend them to the notice of government.
By the indisposition of lieutenant Stewart, I was deprived of the services of an excellent officer. Had he been able to stand the deck, I am confident his exertions would not have been surpassed by any one on board. I should be doing injustice to the merits of lieutenant Shubrick, and acting-lieutenants Conner and Newton, were I not to recommend them particularly to your notice. Lieutenant Shubrick was in the actions with the Guerriere and Java. Captain Hull and commodore Bainbridge can bear testimony to his coolness and good conduct on both occasions. I have the honour to be, sir, your obedient servant, (Signed)
JAMES LAWRENCE. Hon. Wm. Fones, Secretary of the Navy.
P. $. At the commencement of the action, my sailing master and seven men were absent in a prize: and lieutenant Stewart and six men on the sick list. As there is every prospect of the wind being to the eastward, in the morning I shall make the best of my way to New York,