Page images





President proceeds after a WestIndia fleet.

the latter still commanded by captain Smith, sailed
from President roads, Boston, on his third cruise.
On the 2d the two american frigates fell in with and
chased the british 18-gun brig-sloop Curlew, captain
Michael Head; but, by knocking away the wedges
of her masts and using other, means to increase her
sailing, the brig effected her escape. On the 8th, in
latitude 39° 30′ north, longitude 60° west, the Con-
gress, whether by intention or accident is not stated,
parted company. -
The commodore now proceeded alone; pleased,
no doubt, at the prospect thus afforded him, of
rivalling his brother commodores in the capture,
single-handed, of a “large-class” british frigate, and,
like each of them, of being hailed on his return as
one of the first of naval conquerors. The President
cruised along the eastern edge of the Grand Bank of
Newfoundland, so as to cross the tracks of the West-

India, Halifax, Quebec, and St.-John's trade. Having

Steers for the North Sea.

Puts into Bergen

reached latitude 48° without meeting any thing, the
commodore stood to the south-east, and cruised off
the Azores until the 6th of June; when, learning
from an american merchant vessel, that she had,
four days previous, passed a homeward-bound West-
India fleet, the President crowded sail to the north-
east. Commodore Rodgers, however, was too late;
and, even had the President got among the merchant
ships, the admirable sailing of their escort, the Cum-
berland 74, captain Thomas Baker, might have made
the commodore regret that he had acted upon the
information of his countryman.
On the 13th of June, being then in latitude 46"
north, longitude 28° west, the disappointed commo-
dore resolved to shape a course towards the North
Sea, in the hope of falling in with vessels bound from
St.-George's Channel to Newfoundland; but, to
his “astonishment,” no prize fell in his way. The
President subsequently made the Shetland islands,
and on the 27th of June put into North-Bergen for
provisions and water. Water was all the commodore

[ocr errors]

could obtain; and, provided with a supply of that slo. wholesome article, P. President o North- ‘T.’ Bergen on the 2d of July, and stretched over towards the Orkney islands; and thence towards the North-. Cape, for the purpose of intercepting a convoy of 25 *. or 30 sail, which the commodore had understood Northwould leave Archangel about the middle of the “” month, under the protection of two british brigsloops. - On the 19th of July, when off the North-Cape, in Accomcompany with the privateer-schooner Scourge, of ..." New-York, and in momentary expectation of meeting or the Archangel fleet, commodore Rodgers was driven oil in from his station by, in the language of his official.” letter, “a line-of-battle ship and a frigate,” but, ims in the language of truth, by the british I2-pounder . 32-gun frigate Alexandria, captain Robert Cath-andria cart, and 16-gun ship-sloop Spitfire, captain John some Ellis. As the commodore is very brief in his account of this meeting, we shall take our narrative from the logs of the two british ships. On the day in question, at 2 h. 30 m. P. M., latitude at noon (the mean of the two ships' reckonings) 71° 52' north, longitude 20° 18 east, the Alexandria and Spitfire, standing south-east by south, with a light wind from the northward, discovered a frigate and a large schooner in the north-north-east. The two british ships immediately hauled up in chase, and at 5 h. 30 m. P. M. tacked to the west-north-west, making the russian as well as english private signals. At 6 h. 15 m. the President and her consort, who had hitherto been standing towards the two british ships, tacked from them to the north-west, under all sail, followed by the Alexandria and Spitfire. At 7 h. 30 m. P. M. the Spitfire was within five miles of the President, who then bore from her north-north-west. In order that there may be no doubt of identity in this case, we subjoin a brief extract or two from the letter of commodore Rodgers. “At the time of meeting with

1813, the enemy's two ships, the privateer-schooner ‘T.’ Scourge, of New-York, had fallen in company.”— “I stood towards them until, making out what they were, I hauled by the wind upon the opposite tack to avoid them.” !...a. abling the british frigate and sloop to keep sight of to their enemy, no interruption occurred in the chase. ships. On the 20th, at 4 h. 30 m. P. M., finding that the . Spitfire, as well as the President, was gaining upon chase her, the Alexandria cut away her bower-anchor. ... At 4 h. 40 m. the Scourge parted company from the President, who was now nearly hull-down from the leading british ship. A schooner being unworthy game when a frigate was in sight, the Alexandria and Spitfire continued in pursuit of the President. “Their attention,” says the commodore, “was so much engrossed by the President, that they permitted her (the Scourge) to escape, without appearing to take any notice of her.” Spitfire At 6 P. M., when the Alexandria bore from the ... Spitfire full two miles south-south-east, the President he..., bore north distant only six miles. From this time consor - - - - i.” the american frigate continued gaining upon the to: Spitfire until 1 h. 10 m. P. M. on the 21st; when, next to thick weather coming on, the latter lost sight both of ... her consort and her chase. The discharge of four guns, however, by the Alexandria, enabled the Spitfire to close. The two british ships again making sail, the sloop, at 2h. 15 m. P. M., again got sight of the President, in the west-south-west, and at 4 P. M. was once more within six miles of her; which, says the commodore, “was quite as near as was desirable.” The chase continued, during the remainder of the 21st, to the advantage of the american frigate, until 8 A. M. on the 22d, when the Spitfire, a fourth time, got within six miles of the President; who again, by the most strenuous efforts, began increasing her distance.

At 6 P.M., when nearly hull-down from the little

o The lightness of the night in these latitudes en

persevering sloop, and quite out of sight from the 813. Alexandria, the President fired a gun, hoisted an o' american ensign at her peak and a commodore's Presi. broad pendant at her main, and hauled upon a wind;. to the westward. Captain Ellis continued gallantly or coto stand on, until, at 6h. 40m. P. M., captain Cathcart, ..." who was then eight miles in the east-north-east of runs his consort, considerately signalled the Spitfire to in. close. As soon as the latter had done so, sail was ers out again made; and the chase continued throughout * that night, and until 10 A. M. on the 23d ; when the President had run completely out of sight of both “the line-of-battle ship and the frigate,” or, as an american historian says, of the “two line-of-battle ships,” which had so long been pursuing her. Among the prisoners on board the President at Test. the time of the chase, were the master and mate of." the british snow Daphne, of Whitby. According to . the journal of these men, published in the news-o: papers, they, as well as many of the President's . officers and men, were convinced that the chasing dent. ships were a small frigate and a sloop of war. They describe, in a ludicrous manner, the preparations on board the President, to resist the attack of this formidable squadron. During each of the three days, a treble allowance of grog was served out to the crew, and an immense quantity of star, chain, and other kinds of dismantling shot got upon deck, in readiness for the action. It appears also that, , when the Eliza-Swan whaler hove in sight a few days afterwards, she was supposed to be a large ship of war, and the ceremony with the grog and dismantling shot was repeated. After a very cautious approach on the part of the President, the chase was discovered to be a clump of a merchantman, and made prize of accordingly. In the above, as the american commodore accurately Constates it, “80 hours' chase,” what a contrast appears in o the gallantry of one party, and in the pusillanimity viour

* Naval Monument, p. 230.

1813, of the other. Will any one pretend, that the flight ‘....' of commodore Rodgers was all the effect of delusion? of the What! mistake a ship of 422 tons for a “frigate,” *mer- and a frigate of 662 tons for a “line-of-battle ship”? ... Well was it for the commodore that he did not .* belong to the british navy, Well was it, too, for capis tains Cathcart and Ellis, that the Alexandria sailed so ill; for it was physically impossible that she and the Spitfire should have come off victorious. Yet, that gallantry, which had urged their captains to the pursuit of so formidable a ship, a ship known by her ensign and broad pendant to be a similar frigate to those that had captured, in succession, the Guerrière, Macedonian, and Java, would have impelled them to stand by each other, until both ships had either been buried in the deep, or become the trophies of the american commodore. ... Overjoyed at his escape, commodore Rodgers sails on determined to quit a region where constant daylight ..m. afforded an enemy so many advantages over him: he therefore crowded sail to the westward. On the 2d of August, after the President had been four or five days in a good position for intercepting the trade passing in and out of the Irish Channel, a rumour of “superior force in that vicinity,” another “line-of-battle ship and frigate” probably, rendered it expedient for the commodore to shift his cruising ground. He then made the circuit of Ireland; and, getting into the latitude of Cape Clear, steered for the banks of Newfoundland. Here commodore Rodgers was near being gratified with the sight of a real line-of-battle ship and frigate, the Bellerophon 74, captain, Edward Hawker, bearing the flag of C vice-admiral sir Richard Goodwin Keats, and the ... Hyperion 36, captain William Pryce Cumby. ... With this intelligence, the President bent her is course towards the United States; and on the 23d * of September, when a little to the southward of Rhode- Nantucket, succeeded in decoying and capturing the island british 5-gun schooner Highflyer, tender to the San

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »