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in a letter to a friend, says: “By the officers who l8ll. came from Washington we learn, that we are sent M. in pursuit of the british frigate, who had impressed a passenger from a brig.” This british frigate was reported to be the Guerrière ; and the american officer anticipates, along with a refusal on the part of her commander to deliver up the man, an engagement between the President and a british frigate “exactly her force.” On the 12th of May, at daylight, the President got under way, and began working down the bay. On the 13th the commodore spoke a brig, who had, the pre

- ceding day seen a ship, supposed to be the Guerrière,

off Cape Henry. But, if the date and place are correct, it could not have been the Guerrière; as, at noon on the 12th, she was nearly abreast of Cape Roman,SouthCarolina. An extra quantity of shot and wads were Propa. now got on deck, and the ship was cleared for action. o In the evening the wind shifted to a fair quarter, and . the President ran before it. On the 14th the american meet. figate was off Cape Henry; but no british frigate ..." was there. The commodore now stood slowly to the sière. north-east, expecting every moment to discover the object of his pursuit. . The 15th passed without any occurrence; but on the 16th, at about 25 minutes past meridian, Cape Henry bearing south-west distant 14 or 15 leagues, the wind a moderate breeze from the northward, the President, from her masthead, discovered a vessel in the east quarter, standing towards her under a press of sail. The vessel thus descried was the british ship-sloop. Little-Belt, captain Arthur Batt Bingham, mounting in 18 carronades, 32-pounders, and two nines, with o 121 men and boys, on her return to the southwardi. from off Sandy-Hook; where she had been seeking the Guerrière, for whom she bore despatches from the commander in chief at Bermuda, rear- * admiral Sawyer. The Little-Belt had discovered t' e President since about noon, and considering her

suspicious, had hauled up on the starboard tack in

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1811.

May.

chase. Captain Bingham, in his letter, says, it was
“ eleven” when he descried the President; the
Little-Belt's log says, “half past.” . Even the latest
of these times would, according to the letter of com-
modore Rodgers, make it 40 minutes after the Little-
Belt had descried the President before the latter
discovered her: a circumstance not very probable;
although it does appear, that the american ship did
not keep the best look-out; otherwise, when first
seen by the President, the Little-Belt would have
been steering south, instead of towards the Presi-
dent, or north by west, a deviation from her course
caused solely by the latter's appearance. We have
therefore, as on other occasions, paid less attention
to the absolute, than to the relative time. .
At 1 h. 30 m. P. M. each ship, the two then about 10
miles apart, supposed the other to be a vessel of
war. The President thereupon hoisted her ensign
and commodore's pendant, and edged away, as if to

meet the Little-Belt. The latter, about the same

Presi-
dent
chases
her.

time, made her number, along with the customary
signal, (No. 275,) calling upon the stranger, if a.
british ship of war, to show hers. The non-compli-
ance with this signal indicating that the President
was, what by her colours she appeared to be, an
american frigate, the Little-Belt, at 1 h. 45 m. P. M.,
hoisted her colours, wore, and resumed her course
to the southward under all sail. “Being,” as

commodore Rodgers says, “ desirous of speaking

Little-
Belt
lies to.

her, and of ascertaining what she was,” the President
crowded sail in chase. Observing this, the Little-
Belt made the private signal. Finding it unanswered,
captain Bingham felt assured that the stranger, not-
withstanding her persisting to chase, was an american
frigate, and therefore, hauling down both ensign and
signal, continued his course round Cape Hatteras.
Although the wind, since 1 P.M., had been gradu-
ally falling, the superior sailing of the President
brought her, by 6 h. 30 m. P. M., so near to the
Little-Belt, that captain Bingham, wishing before dark

w

to remove all remaining doubts on either side, short- 1811; ened sail, rehoisted his colours, and hove to on the o larboard tack. To avoid being taken by surprise, the Little-Belt glears double-shotted her guns, and got all clear for town. action. The President, by the manner of her approach, appearing as if she intended to take a raking position, the Little-Belt, to frustrate that design, wore three times. This brought the latter upon the starboard tack; and at a few minutes past 8 P.M., when the two ships were about 90 yards apart, captain Bingham hailed the President in the customary manner, but received no answer, probably because he was not heard. The President still advancing, as if desirous to pass astern of the LittleBelt, the latter wore a fourth time, and came to on the larboard tack. The President now hauled her foresail up, and also hove to on the larboard tack, distant about 80 yards from the sloop's weatherbeam. Captain Bingham, standing on the gun Capt. abaft the larboard gangway, hailed, “Ship a hoy!” ..." “Ship a hoy!” was repeated from the neutral hails. frigate. “What ship is that 7” asked captain , , Bingham. “What ship is that?” repeated commo-off. dore Rodgers. At this instant a gun was fired, leto, us for the present say, by each ship; and, let us also" ent. say, that both guns went off by accident. Each ship believing the other to have fired first, The and that intentionally, and neither being disposed to . brook the slighest insult, the two began a furious engage. engagement; which lasted, including an intermis-on sion of a few minutes, about half an hour.* The Fo Little-Belt, owing to the loss of her after-sail and . the damaged state of her rigging, having fallen off, to so that no gun would bear, ceased firing; and the . President, finding that to be the case, did the same.” Shortly afterwards commodore Rodgers, hailing the Little-Belt, learnt, what he and his officers must

* Captain Bingham says “three quarters;” some of the american officers, “a quarter of an hour or twenty minutes.”

14 LIGHT SQUADRONS AND SINGLE SHIPS.

1811. have known before, that she was a british ship,
‘....' but did not, it appears, hear her name; and, to a
question, desiring to know if his antagonist had
struck, was answered by captain Bingham in the
negative. The latter then asked the name of the
american frigate; but the same cause, the increased
freshness of the wind, that had prevented the com-
modore from hearing the whole of the answer to his
question, kept captain Bingham in ignorance of the
name, though not of the nation, of the ship by which
the Little-Belt had been so battered and ill-used.

* The damages of the Little-Belt were indeed, as

}: The greater part of her standing and the whole of her jo running rigging were cut to pieces: not a brace nor a bowline was left. Her masts and yards were all badly wounded, and her gaff was shot away. Her * upperworks were completely riddled, and her hull in general much struck: several shot were sticking : in her side, and some had entered between wind and water. Nothing, we conceive, but the lowness of her hull in the water, and the consequent difficulty of hitting it, prevented the sloop from being sunk. The loss on board the Little-Belt bore a proportion to her damage: she had one midshipman, (Samuel - Woodward,) seven seamen, and one marine killed, * two seamen mortally, her acting master, (James M“Queen,) seven seamen, one boy, and two marines severely, and her boatswain, (James Franklin, five seamen, two boys, and two marines slightly wounded; total, 11 killed and mortally wounded, Loss to and 21 wounded severely and slightly. The Pre... sident appears to have had her sails and rigging slightly injured, and to have received one 32-pound shot in her foremast and another in her mainmast: her loss is also represented not to have exceeded Both * boy wounded. . After the action the President wore, and, running #, a short distance to leeward of the Little-Belt, came i." to on the starboard tack, to repair her trifling

.# might be expected, of a very serious description.

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damages. This done, the frigate filled and lay to so, on different tacks, in order to wait until daylight Māo. should afford the commodore a clear view of what his prowess had effected. The Little-Belt brought to on the larboard tack, and commenced her more serious occupation of repairing damages and stopping leaks. During the night the sloop's topgallantmasts were got on deck, and the cut rigging partially repaired. At daylight on the 17th the President, now about Presinine miles to-windward, bore up under topsails and . foresail, and, to all appearance, ready to renew the aboat action. At 8 A.M. the american frigate passed within .rd hail, and the commodore said: “Ship a-hoy!. Pll or send a boat on board, if you please, sir.”—“Very” well, sir,” was captain Bingham's reply. The boat caine, under the command of the first lieutenant John Orde Creighton, with a message from the commodore, to the effect, that he lamented much “the unfortunate affair,” and that, had he known the british ship's force was so inferior, he would not have fired into her. On being asked why he had fired at all, the lieutenant replied, that the Little-Belt had fired first, This was most positively denied on the part of captain Bingham. Lieutenant Creighton, in the name of the commodore, then offered every assistance, and suggested that captain Bingham had better put into one of the ports of the United States... This the latter declined. The boat returned. The ships President made sail to the westward, and the Little-jBelt, as soon as she was able, to the northward. On pany. the 23d the latter was joined by the Gorée, captain Byng, and on the 28th the two vessels anchored in Halifax harbour. In discussing the merits of the action between the . Little-Belt and President, we shall consider it in the ""

double light of an attack by a neutral upon a o: belligerent, and an engagement between an american * frigate and a british sloop of war. We shall begin ...,

by freely admitting, that the act of the Guerrière, in * Pressing a native american citizen out of an american citizen,

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