sals for an exchange of prisoners; and rendered thus effectually secure against the possibility of re-capture, while the cruising ship would be enabled to keep at sea with an undi. minished crew ; the cartels being always navigable by the prisoners of war.

Nevertheless, I am willing to give proof at once of my respect for the liberality with which the captain of the Essex has acted, in more than one instance, towards the British subjects who have fallen into his hands; of the sacred obligation that is always felt to fulfil the engagements of a British officer; and of my confidence in the disposition of his royal highness the prince regent to allay the violence of war, by encouraging a reciprocation of that courtesy by which its pressure upon individuals may be so essentially diminished.

On the 4th of this month, a midshipman of the Essex arrived, and presented to me a letter from his captain, proposing an exchange for 86 British prisoners. The midshipman had however been placed alone in the charge of one of the captured vessels, with 86 prisoners, to conduct them to this port. A list of 40 prisoners of the same description, disposed of in the same manner, has been sent to me by the commander of the American private armed schooner the Rossie.

It is incumbent upon me to protest in the strongest manner against the practice of conducting exchanges upon terms like these and to signify to you that it will be utterly impossible for me to incur, in future, the responsibility of assenting to them.




Halifax, July 29th, 1812: I am under the unpleasant necessity of acquainting you with the loss of the United States' brig Nautilus, late under my command.

I sailed, in obedience to your order of the 11th instant, on the 15th, and passed Sandy Hook at 6, P. M., with the wind fresh and squally at N. by E., standing E. by S. At 4, A. M., we had cleared the Hook about 75 miles, under reefed topsails and fore course ; at a quarter past four discovered five large sails about two points before our weather beam.-Immediately wore ship, turned out the reefs, and made all sail the vessel would bear. The ships bore up, and made sail in chase, displaying signals which were not understood, and hoisted American colours. I also hoisted my private signal and ensign, which not being answered, continued to carry a press of sail to the westward.

There was a heavy swell from the northward, and it was impossible to gain the wind from our pursuers. We had many times to take in sail to preserve spars, and finally carried away our topmast steering-sail boom, which was imme diately replaced. It was soon evident that they were draw. ing up with us. Every maneuvre in trimming ship was tried, but this not having the desired effect, I ordered the anchors to be cut from the bows, when we appeared to hold way with them. At 9 the wind became lighter, and the brig laboured excessively in the swell. I then ordered a part of the water to be started, threw over her lee guns, and a part of the round shot. She was instantly relieved, and bore her canvas with much greater ease. The wedges were then driven out from the masts, and the standing rigging slackened up. At 10 the squadron hoisted French colours, and we saw they neared us fast. At 11 the leading ship was within grape distance, but owing to the construction of the Nautilus, she can fire no guns abaft.

There was now no chance of escape if the chasing vessels were enemies, of which we were not certain, as they still kept French colours flying. At 12 the leading ship was with. in musket shot, when I destroyed the signals, signal books, and the despatches with which I was entrusted.

At half past twelve I consulted with my principal officers. All were of opinion that every thing had been done to preserve the vessel, and that no hopes of escape were left. I then took in studding-sails and light sails, trained the weather guns aft, and put the helm a-lee. The chasing ship put her helm up, hoisted a broad pendant and English colours, and ranged under my lee quarter. Unable to resist, I was compelled to strike the flag of the United States.

I have been particular in detailing to you, sir, circumstances as they occurred, in order to prove to you that no efforts were wanting to effect our escape. It is but justice to my officers and crew to add, that they executed my orders with promptness, and rendered me every possible assistance; and I feel persuaded, had an opportunity offered of engaging any thing of equal force, they would have distinguished themselves.

The frigate hoisted out her boats and sent for me on board. She proved to be the Shannon of 38 guns, commodore Broke. The other vessels of the squadron were, Africa, 64 guns, captain Bastard; Guerriere, 38 guns, captain Dacres ; Belvi. dera, 36 guns, captain Byron; Æolus, 32 guns, captain lord Townsend.

My officers and crew were sent on board the Africa. I remained with the Nautilus. The treatment I received from commodore Broke was polite and gentlemanly. We arrived here last evening. If it is not improper, I beg leave to request your interference in having me exchanged, as I feel great unwillingness to remain inactive at this time.

Very respectfully, I have the honour to be, sir, your obedient servant,

W. M. CRANE. Hon. Paul Hamilton, Secretary of the Navy, Washington.

The Secretary of the Navy, to Lieutenant Crane, late of the

Nautilus. Sir,

Navy Department, 7th Oct. 1812. The following is the opinion of the court of enquiry convened agreeably to your request, for the purpose of investigating the circumstances of the loss of the late United States' brig Nautilus :

“The court were unanimously and decidedly of opinion, that in the capture of the late United States' brig Nautilus, lieutenant Crane, her late commander, and his officers, are entirely free from the least blame or censure, and do consider lieutenant Crane did every thing to prevent said capture that a skilful and experienced officer could possibly do."

This opinion of the court, sir, only confirms the impression confidently entertained with respect to your conduct on the occasion to which it refers.

I have the honour to be, respectfully, sir, your obedient servant,

PAUL HAMILTON. Wm. M. Crane, Esq., of the Navy, Boston.


Gopy of a Letter received by the Secretary of the Navy from

Commodore Rodgers. Sir, United States' Frigate President, at Sea, Oct. 17,1812,

I have the honour to acquaint you that on the 15th inst., near the Grand Bank, this ship, the Congress in company, captured the British king's packet Swallow, Joseph Morphew commander, bound from Kingston, Jamaica, to Falmouth. The rank of the commander of this vessel is that of a master and commander in the navy. She had no cargo on board except eighty-one boxes of gold and silver, amounting to between one hundred and fifty and two hundred thousand dollars. The specie I took out of her, and had intended sending her to England in the character of a cartel with her own crew: having fallen in with the American schooner Eleanor, bound from Baltimore to France, dismasted, induced me to change my first determination, and instead of sending her to England I have sent her to the United States in charge of the master and crew of the before-mentioned schooner, who, at the moment of writing this have charge of the Swallow with the schooner in tow, but which, as soon as the weather will permit, they intend abandoning, after having taken her cargo on board the Swallow.

I parted company with the United States and Argus five days since ; they are not however far from me at present;

I apprehend.

We have not seen a single British vessel of war as yet, except one frigate, which the want of wind and the approach of night prevented our chasing with any effect; although from information afterwards received we must have passed very near a squadron of five frigates the evening preceding that on which we saw the one before mentioned.

I have the honour to be, with the greatest respect, sir, your obedient servant,

JOHN RODGERS. Hon. P. Hamilton, Secretary of the Navy.

Copy of a Letter from Commodore Rodgers to the Secretary of

the Navy. Sir,

At Sea, long. 32, lat. 33, Nov. 1, 1812. I wrote you on the 18th ultimo, by the British packet Swallow, informing you of having captured that vessel with between an hundred and fifty and two hundred thousand dollars on board; and I now write you by a British South Sea ship, loaded with oil, captured yesterday, one of two ships under convoy of the frigate Galatea.

The above ship is manned from the Congress, and it is now blowing so fresh, that I cannot learn from captain Smith her name, having separated from him yesterday in chase of the Galatea, whilst he was manning the prize, and, owing to excessive bad weather last night, was unable to join him today.


within six or seven miles of the Galatea by sun-set, but the extreme darkness of the night enabled her to escape. With the greatest respect, &c.

JOHN RODGERS. Hon. Paul Hamilton, Secretary of the Navy.



[ocr errors]

Copy of a letter from Captain Jones, late of the United States'

Sloop of War the Wasp, to the Secretary of the Navy, dated Sir,

New-York, 24th November, 1812. I here avail myself of the first opportunity of informing you of the occurrences of our cruize, which terminated in the capture of the Wasp on the 18th of October, by the Poictiers of seventy-four guns, while a wreck from the damages received in an engagement with the British sloop of war Frolic of twenty-two guns; sixteen of them thirty-two pound carronades, and four twelve pounders on the maindeck, and two twelve pounders, carronades, on the top-gallant-fore-castle, making her superior to us by four twelve pounders. The Frolic had struck to us, and was taken possession of, about two hours before our surrendering to the Poictiers.

We had left the Delaware on the 13th. The 16th had a heavy gale, in which we lost our jib-boom and two men. Half past eleven on the night of the 17th, in the latitude of 37 degrees N. and longitude 65 degrees W., we saw several sail, two of them appearing very large; we stood from them for some time, then shortened sail and steered the remainder of the night the course we had perceived them on. At daylight on Sunday, the 18th, we saw them a-head-gave chase, and soon discovered them to be a convoy of six sail, under the protection of a sloop of war, four of them large ships, mounting from sixteen to eighteen guns. At thirty-two minutes past eleven, A. M., we engaged the sloop of war, having first received her fire, at the distance of fifty or sixty yards, which space we gradually lessened until we laid her on board, after a well supported fire of forty-three minutes; and although so near, while loading the last broadside, that our rammers were shoved against the side of the enemy, our men exhibited the same alacrity which they had done during the whole of the action. They immediately surren



« ForrigeFortsett »