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as to prevent our seeing each other, even at cable's length asunder, more than twice or thrice in the twenty-four hours.
From the time of leaving the United States until we arrived here, we chased every vessel we saw, and you will not be a little astonished when I inform you that, although we brought to every thing we did chase, with the exception of four vessels, we only made seven captures and one recapture.
It is truly an unpleasant task to be obliged to make a communication thus barren of benefit to our country; the only consolation I individually feel on the occasion being derived from knowing that our being at sea obliged the enemy to concentrate a considerable portion of his most active force, and thereby prevented his capturing an incalculable amount of American property that would otherwise have fallen a sacrifice.
I am aware of the anxiety you must have experienced at not hearing from me for such a length of time, but this I am sure you will not attribute in any degree to neglect, when I inform you that not a single proper opportunity occurred from the time of leaving the United States until our return.
Mr. Newcomb, who will deliver you this, you will find an intelligent young man, capable of giving such further information as you may deem of any moment: he will at the same time deliver you a chart, shewing the tract in which we cruised: annexed is a list of vessels captured, re-captured, and burnt.
The four vessels we chased and did not come up with were the Belvidera, a small pilot-boat schooner supposed to be an American privateer, the hermaphrodite privateer brig Yankee, which we lost sight of in a fog, but whose character we afterwards learnt, and a frigate supposed to be British, that we chased on the 28th ult. near the shoal of George's Bank, and should certainly have come up with, had we have had the advantage of two hours more day-light.
On board of the several vessels of the squadron there are between 80 and 100 prisoners, taken from the vessels we captured during our late cruize. The government not having any agent for prisoners here, I shall send them to commodore Bainbridge, to be disposed of in such manner as best appears to be the interest of the United States, and which I hope may meet your approbation. With the greatest respect, I have the honour to be, sir, your obedient servant,
JOHN RODGERS. The hon. Paul Hamilton, Secretary
of the Navy, Washington.
Extract from the journal referred to in the preceding letter.
June 23d. Pleasant breezes from N. N. w. to W. S. W. at 3 A. M. spoke an American brig from Madeira, bound to New York, the master of which informed me, that four days before (in lat. 36. long. 67) he passed a fleet of British merchantmen, under convoy of a frigate and brig, steering to the eastward; I now perceived that this was the convoy of which I had received intelligence prior to leaving New York, and shaped our course east in pursuit of them. At 6 A. M. (Vantucket shoal bearing N. E. distant 35 miles) saw a large sail in N. E. standing to S. W. which was soon discovered to be a frigate. The signal was made for a general chase, when the several vessels of the squadron took in their studding sails and made all sail by the wind (on the starboard tack) in pursuit : at a quarter before seven, the chase tacked, made all sail, and stood from us, by the wind, on the same tack ; at half past 8 he made signals, when, perceiving we were coming up with him, he edged away a point or thereabouts, and set his top-gallant studding sails : at 11 cleared ship for action, in the expectation that we would soon be up with the chase ; the breeze about this time however began to incline more to the westward and became lighter, which I soon discovered was comparatively an advantage to our opponent : at a quarter past 1 P. M. the chase hoisted English colours : at 2 the wind veered to the W. S. W. and became lighter : at 20 minutes past 4, having got within gun shot of the enemy, when perceiving that he was training his chase guns, and in the act (as I suppose) of firing, that the breeze was decreasing, and we now sailed so nearly alike, that to afford him an opportunity of doing the first injury to our spars and rigging would be to enable him to effect his
gave orders to commence a fire with the bow chase guns, at his spars and rigging, in the hope of crippling one or the other, so far as to enable us to get alongside. The fire from our bow chase guns he instantly returned with those from his stern, which was now kept up by both ships, without intermission, until 30 minutes past 4 P. M. when one of the President's chase guns burst, and killed and wounded 16 persons, among the latter myself. This was not however the most serious injury, as by the bursting of the gun and the explosion of the passing box, from which it was served with powder, both the main and forecastle decks (near the gun) were so much shattered as to prevent the use of the chase gun on that side for some time ; our main deck guns being single shotted, I now gave orders to put our helm to starboard and fire the starboard broadside, in the expectation of disabling some of his spars, but did not succeed, although I could discover that his rigging had
sustained considerable damage, and that he had received some injury in the stern.
I now endeavoured, by altering course half a point to port and wetting our sails, to gain a more effectual position on his starboard quarter, but soon found myself losing ground. After this asimilar attempt was made at his larboard quarter,but without any better success, as the wind at this time being very light, and both ships sailing so nearly alike that by making an angle of only half a point from the course he steered enabled him to augment his distance : no hope was now left of bringing him to close action, exceptthat derived from being to windward, and the expectation the breeze might favourus first: I accordingly gave orders to steer directly after him, and to keep our bow chase guns playing on his spars and rigging, untilour broadside would more effectually reach him. At 5, finding from the advantage his stern guns gave him, that he had done considerable injury to our sails and rigging, and being within point blank shot, I gave orders to put the helm to starboard and fire our main deck guns; this broadside did some further damage to his rigging, and I could perceive that his fore top sail yard was wounded, but the sea was so very smooth, and the wind so light, that the injury done was not such as materially to effect his sailing. After this broadside our course was instantly renewed in his wake (under a galling fire from his stern chase guns, directed at our spars and rigging) and continued until half past six ; at which time being within reach of his grape, and finding our sails, rigging, and several spars (particularly the main yard, which had little left to support
the lifts and braces) very much disabled, I again gave orders to luff across his stern, and gave him a couple of broadsides.
The enemy at this time finding himself so hardly pressed, and seeing, while in the act of firing, our head sails to left, and supposing, that the ship had in a measure lost the effect of her helm, he gave a broad yaw, with the intention of bringing his broadside to bear : finding the President, however, answered her helm too quick for his purpose, he immediately resumed his course, and precipitately fired his four after main deck guns on the starboard side, although they did not bear upon us at the time by 25 or 30 degrees, and he now commenced lightening his ship, by throwing over-board all his boats, waste anchors, &c. &c. and by this means was enabled by a quarter before seven to get so far ahead as to prevent our bow chase guns doing execution; and I now perceived, with more mortification than words can express, that there was little or no chance left of getting within gunshot of the enemy again. Under every disadvantage of disabled spars, sails, and rigging, I however continued the chase
with all the sail we could set, until half past 11 P. M. when perceiving he had gained upwards of three miles, and not the slightest prospect left of coming up with him, I gave up the pursuit, and made the signal to the other ships as they came up to do the
During the first of the chase, while the breeze was fresh and sailing by the wind, I thought the whole of the squadron gained upon the enemy. It was soon discoverable, however, the advantage he acquired by sailing large, and this I conceive he must have derived in so great a degree by starting his water, as I could perceive, upwards of an hour before we came within gun shot, water running out of his
scuppers. While in chase it was difficult to determine whether our own situation or that of the other vessels of the squadron was the most unpleasant. The superior sailing of the President was not such (off the wind) as to enable us to get upon the broadside of the enemy; the situation of the others was not less irksome, as not even the headmost, which was the Congress, was able at any time to get within less than two gun shots distant, and even at that but for a very little time.
In endeavouring to get alongside of the enemy the following persons were killed and wounded ; 16 of whom were killed and wounded by the bursting of our own guri, viz.
do. severely, since dead.
do. John Berry,
do. Henry Gilbert,
John Smith, 5th boy,
severely, NOTE--The greater part of the wounded have since nearly recovered.
List of vessels captured, re-captured, and destroyed. July 2d. Brig Traveller, 277 tons, James Amery master, of Newcastle, England, 10 men, bound from the bay of Fundy, owned by George Dunn, George Watson, Matthew Dunn, and John Stocker, cargo timber. Burnt. July 4th. Brig Dutchess of Portland, 6 guns, 11 men,
of Newcastle, England, bound from Newcastle to Nova Scotia, in ballast. Burnt.
July 9th. Brig Dolphin, 241 tons, 12 guns and 20 men, Philip Cabbot, of Jersey, England, bound from Jersey to Newfoundland, in ballast and some cargo, owned by Winter and Nicollsent into the United States.
July 24th. Ship John, of Lancaster, 16 guns and 30 men, bound from London to Martinique, in ballast-sent into the United States.
August 2d. Brig Argo, 168 tons, 10 guns and 10 men, William Middleton master, of London, bound from Pernambuco to London, laden with cotton, fustic, and about $ 8000 in goldordered for the United States.
August 17th. Schr. Adeline, of London, 10 men, bound from Harti to London, laden with coffee-ordered her for the United States.
August 25th. Schr. Betsey, of Marblehead, from Naples, laden with brandy, re-captured from the Guerriere, who had ordered her for Halifax; 4 men and a midshipman (prize master) ordered her for the United States.