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board. So they were, but not until long afte 9
1814. In short, the ship, we are told, bore the semblanc eof a town given up to the pillage of soldiery.” Perhaps Feb. these gentlemen were determined that, as their ship had not behaved like a man of war, they would destroy all appearance of her having been one.
We should not have hesitated to call a french, marks or even a british captain, who had acted as master- on the commandant Joseph Bainbridge of the United States' doct of návy did in this instance act, a ~~; but we will not captain ågain soil our pages with a name that, in the few Baininstances in which it occurs, has not, we trust, been bridge. wrongfully applied. The court of inquiry, which sat upon the Frolic's loss, “honourably acquitted” the officers and crew. One excuse was, that the lee guns of the american ship had been thrown over
the Orpheus had begun chasing her. Captain Bainbridge might as well have urged, that he had no destroyed and thrown them overboard just before possession was taken.
The master-commandant, who performed this exploit, is the brother of the commodore, who did so tion. much for the national glory by capturing the Java ; and, from his great interest, (a sway that even republics can feel,) the former is now a captain. Let, then, captain Joseph Bainbridge, if the subject be not a sickening one to him, turn over these pages, and count how many instances he can find of conduct like his own. Enough of such a character : suffice it, that the British became possessed, at an easy rate, of à finer 22-gun ship than any they had previously owned; a vessel with excellent quarters, and of extraordinary large scantling. The Frolic, or Florida, as she was newly named, came into british possession. very opportunely for elucidating the merits of the three actions which we have next to record.
On the 23d of February the british 18-gun brigsloop Epervier, captain Richard Walter Wales,
vier sails from
1814. (sixteen 32, and two 18 pounder* carronades,) cruising Feb. off Cape Sable, captured, without opposition, the Eper
american privateer-brig Alfred, of Salem, mounting 16 long 9-pounders, and manned with 108 men;
the british 38-gun frigate Junon, captain Clotworthy Halifax Upton, in sight about 10 miles to-leeward. On his disaf- way to Halifax with his prize, captain Wales dis
covered that a part of his crew had conspired with the late crew of the Alfred, to rise upon the british officers, and carry one vessel, if not both, into a port of the United States. As the readiest mode to frustrate the plan, captain Wales persevered against a gale of wind, and on the 25th arrived at Halifax. He immediately represented to the commanding officer of the port, the insufficiency of the Epervier's crew for any service; and, in particular, expressed his doubts about their loyalty, from the plot in which they had recently been engaged. However, the affair was treated lightly; and on the 3d of March the Epervier, without a man of her crew being changed, sailed, in company with the Shelburne schooner, for the “ protection” of a small convoy bound to Bermuda and the West Indies.
Having reached her outward destination in safety,
the Epervier, on the 14th of April, sailed from PortPear Royal, Jamaica, on her return to Halifax; and, as if
the reputation of her officers and of the flag she bore was not enough for such a crew as the Epervier's to be intrusted with, the brig took on board at Havana, where she afterwards called, 118000 dollars in specie. On the 25th of April the Epervier sailed from Havana, in company with one of the vessels, an hermaphrodite brig bound to Bermuda, which she had convoyed from Port-Royal. On the 29ʻh, at about 7 h. 30 m. A. M., latitude 27° 47' north, longitude 80° 7' west, a ship under russian colours, from Havana bound to Boston, joined the Epervier, then
These captain Wales had taken on board at Halifax, in lieu of the two long sixes and launch-carronade.
Falls in with the
steering north by east, with the wind about east- 1814. south-east. Shortly afterwards a large ship was
April. discovered in the south-west, apparently in chase of the convoy. At 9 A. M. the Epervier hauled to the wind on the larboard tack, so as to keep between her convoy and the stranger; whom we may at once introduce as the United States' ship-sloop Peacock, of 20 carronades, 32-pounders, and two long 18s, captain Lewis Warrington, from New-York since the 12th of March.
No answer being returned to the brig's signals, the Action english ensign and pendant flying on board the Pea- mences cock did not remove the suspicions of her being an enemy; and accordingly the Epervier made the signal to that effect to her convoy. At 9 h. 40 m. A. M. the Peacock, who had approached rapidly. on account of the wind having veered to the southward, hauled down the english colours, and hoisted the american flag at almost every mast and stay. At 10 A. M., when within half gun-shot of the Epervier, the Peacock edged away, as if to bring her broadside to bear in a raking position. This the brig evaded by putting her helm up, until close on the Peacock's bow, when she rounded to and fired her starboard guns. With this their first discharge, the three aftermost Epercarronades became unsbipped by the fighting-bolts carrongiving way. The guns, however, were soon re
unship. placed ; and, having, when she got abaft the beam of her opponent, tacked and shortened sail, the Epervier received the broadside of the Peacock, as the latter kept away with the wind on the larboard beam. Although the first fire of the american ship produced no material effect, a continued discharge of star and bar shotscut away the rigging and sails of the brig, and completely dismantled her. Just as the Epervier, byzani well-directed fire, had brought down her opponeltto före yard, several of the carronades on the larbeardo side behaved as those on the starboard side had belone, and continued to upset, as often as they were replaced and discharged.
1814. In the midst of this confusion, the main boom;
having been shot away, fell upon the wheel, and the April The Epervier, having had her head-sails all cut to pieces, breech- became thrown into à position to be raked; but, forbolts tunately for the brig, the Peacock had too much headgive way, tò rake her with more than twò or three shot: way. Having by this time shot away the brig's main
topmast, and rendered her completely unmanageable; the Peacock directed the whole of her fire at her opponent's hull, and presently reduced the Epervier's three waist guns to the disabled state of the others. At 11 A. M., as if the defects in the fighting-bolts were not a sufficient disaster, the breeching-bolts began to draw. There being no immediate remedy here, an effort was made to get the brig round, in order to present à fresh broadside to the enemy; but it was found impracticable, without falling on
board the Peacock. Misbe- .As à last resource, and one which british seamen our of are generally prompt to execute, captain Wales
called the crew aft, to follow him in boarding"; but these gentlemen declined a measure sõ fraught with danger. The Epervièr having now one gun only wherewith to return the fire of the 11 guns of her antagonist; being already with four feet and a half water in her hold, and her crew falling fast beneath the heavy and unremitting fire of the Peacock, no alternative remained but to strike the colours, to gave the lives of the few remaining good men in the
vessel. This was done at 11 h. 5 m. A, M., after the Sergen-firing had lasted an hour, during three quarters of
which the vessels lay close together, and during more than half of which, owing to the defects in the brig's armament, the successful party had it all to himself.
Besides the damages already detailed, the Epervier mage had her fore rigging and stays shot away, her bow
śprit badly wounded, and her foremast cut nearly in two and left tottering, and which nothing but the smoothness of the water saved from falling. Her
loss on each side.
hull, as may be imagined, was pierced with shot-holes 1814. on the engaged or larboard side, both above and
April below water. The brig's loss, out of a crew of 101 men and a passenger, and 16 boys, amounted to eight killed and mortally wounded, and 15 wounded severely and slightly, including among the former her very gallant first lieutenant, John Hackett; who, about the middle of the action, had his left arm shattered, and received a severe splinter-wound in the hip, but who yet would hardly suffer himself to be carried below: Captain Warrington states, we believe with truth, that the Peacock's principal injury was the wound in her forê yard. Not a shot, bý bis account, struck the ship's hull; and her loss, in consequencé, out of a crew of 185 picked seamen, without a boy among them, amounted to only two men wounded, neither of them dangerously.
A statement of comparative force would, in this Recase, be next to a nullity; as how could we, with on the any show of reason, confront eight carronades that action. overset the moment they were fired, with 10 carronades that remained firm in their places to the last. For any damage that such a vessel as the Epervier could have done to her, the Peacock might almost as well have fought with the unarmed russian ship that had just quitted the former's company, and then have boåsted, as captain Warrington did, how many shot the Peacock placed in her antagonist's hull, and how free from any she escaped in her own. . At the time she engaged the Peacock, the Eper-Her vier had but three men in a watch, exclusively of petty officers, able to take helni or lead; and two of ned her men were each 70 years of age! She had some blacks, several other foreigners, lots of disaffected, änd few even of ordinary stature: in short, the crew of the Epervier was a disgrace to the deck of a british man of war. Had, instead of this, the Epervier been manned with a crew of choice seamen, equal in personal appearance to those received out of the Chesapeake and Argus, after they had been