[ocr errors]

tains and mates of merchant vessels, with their crews, now prisoners on board this ship.

Art. 2. The officers to go on parole of honour, not to serve against the United States of America during the existing war, until regularly exchanged. The captains and mates of merchant vessels, and their crews, as well as the petty officers, seamen, marines, landsmen and boys, composing your crew, to be exchanged immediately on their arrival in a British port, for an equal number of equal grades of American prisoners, and are not to serve against the United States until the exchange takes place.

Art. 3. The swords of the officers to be returned to them.

Art. 4. You to remain as a pledge for the faithful fulfilment of the foregoing articles. I have the honour to be, &c. (Signed)

D. PORTER. Capt. T. P. Laugharne, late Commander of

H. B. M's. Sloop of War Alert, present.

After delivering the preceding letter to captain Laugharne, he verbally informed me “ that his officers preferred remaining with him, and sharing his fate, and as he was confident some of his ship's company were much prejudiced against him, he did not wish them to go to Newfoundland, until he could be present to appear in his own justification, before they could have an opportunity of injuring his honour and reputation as an officer, both of which he held as inestimable, and as a court martial could not take place in his absence.” He then wrote me the following letter :



August 18, 1812. I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of this day's date, offering an arrangement for the officers and crew of his majesty's late sloop Alert.

In answer thereto, I beg leave to inform you that I accept and agree to the first, second, and third articles, but permit me to mention my objection to the last, as it seems by your requiring me to remain as an hostage for the performance of the preceding ones, to cast (though I am willing to believe unintentionally) an indirect suspicion on the faith of the British government, so universally known for its fulfilment of every compact entered into by its public servants.

By your allowing me to accompany my ship's company and officers, I will pledge to you mine honour to see the articles of our release fully complied with on our arrival in a

British port.

Should you object to this, my officers prefer remaining with me till we are regularly exchanged. I have the honour to be, &c. (Signed)


Late Commander of his M's. Sloop Alert. Capt. D. Porter, United States' Frigate Essex.


August 18, 1812. In reply to one paragraph in your letter in answer to the terms offered by me I shall observe that, having on two former instances permitted cartels to proceed to British ports without reserving hostages, I have sufficiently evinced that I entertained the highest confidence in the honour and faith of the British government as respects the fulfilment of compacts entered into by their officers; nor should I have proposed the last article in this instance, were it not that I felt a necessity for holding some pledge as a justification of my conduct to my own government for the unlimited confidence I have reposed. For the reasons, however, which you have stated, I am willing to yield that condition; and you may consider yourself at liberty to proceed with your officers and crew, and on the same terms. I have the honour, &c. (Signed)

D. PORTER. Capt. T. L. P. Laugharne, late Commander of

his B. M's. Sloop of War Alert, present.

[Here follow copies of the agreement, passport, &c. and a list of the prisoners.] Sir,

At Sea, September 1, 1812. On the afternoon of the 30th August, in latitude 36° N. longitude 62° W. discovered one of the enemy's frigates standing towards us under a press of sail, apparently with an intention of speaking us. Stood for him under easy sail, with the ship prepared for action; apprehensive that he might not find us in the night, I hoisted a light. At 9 he made a signal, consisting of two flashes and one blue light, apparently · about four miles distance from us. I continued to stand on for the point where they were seen until midnight, when not getting sight of the enemy, I concluded it would be best to heave to for him until day-light, presuming that he had done the same, or that he would at least have kept in our neighbourhood; but to my great surprise, and the mortification of my officers and crew (whose zeal on every occasion excites my admiration), we discovered in the morning that the bird VOL. II.

had flown! From the latitude and longitude in which we saw this vessel, and from her fleetness, which enabled her to dis. appear 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. Calculating on making my escape by some manoeuvre 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 captured 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 services 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 7. 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 such 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 port 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 7. 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 propo

« ForrigeFortsett »