Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB
[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][graphic][subsumed][merged small]

DURING THE LATE WAR, BETWEEN BRITISH AND AMERICAN

VESSELS.

(Continued, from our last number, from the British Naval Chronicle.)

“ The next action was between the Frolic brig and American ship Wasp; and took place on the 18th of October, 1812. Of all the actions between us and the Americans, this, in weight of VOL. VII.

48

metal, has been the most equal. The Wasp (now the Peacocké in our service) is certainly a much finer ship than any sloop of wår we have, and has her bulwarks nearly as thick as a frigate's. But the evening previous to the action, the Frolic carried away her main yard, lost her top sails, and sprung her main top mast:' consequently was quite in a disabled state. Then, as to men, the substance, sinews, arms, and strength of war, she was miserably defective. Her station had been Jamaica, which place she left (with a crew partly consisting of invalids, from the naval hospital) in June preceding, bound to Honduras, and thence with convoy home. It is stated that captain Whinyates, her commander, was not apprised of the war even when he met the Wasp; but for this I cannot youch. The Wasp, the Americans will not now deny, had for a crew one hundred and sixty-five of the best men captain Jones could procure, and had only left the Delaware a fortnight previous to the action. She was therefore fully prepared to meet an enemy's vessel, erery way her equal,-much more one ignorant, perhaps, of the war, disabled in her spars and rigging, with a crew at least twenty-five short of her complement, (one hundred and twenty-one) and part of them just recovering from that dread. ful West India malady, the yellow fever. Captain Whinyates speaks decidedly of the unmanageable state of the Frolic in the action, owing to the loss of her mainyard, and of the power it gave the enemy to rake him repeatedly. Here is a comparative view of the force of the two vessels. FROLIC (brig.)

WASP (ship.) Rating 18 guus, mounting the same, be. Rating 16, mounting 18 guns.

sides perhaps a single boat gun. Broadside, 8 321b. carronades 256lbs. Broadside, 8 321b. carronades 2561bs. 1 61b. long gun

1 9lb. long gun

6

9

262

265 Men and boys, 95.

Men, all picked, 165. dieasurement, about 380 tons.

Measurement, about 480 tons.
Superiority on the American side.
In weight of metal, say nothing.
In number of men, nearly as wine to five.

In size of vessel, nearly as four to three. The few on board an American ship of war, that are desigliated as boys, are as old and as stout as most men employed in our service. Our boys, besides being so numerous, are often so young as to be fitter for the nursery than the quarter bills of a ship of war

6 The British official account of this action omits stating the number of killed and wounded on either side: only mentioning that not twenty of the Frolic's men remained unhurt. The American account says the brig had seventy-five killed and wounded, and that only three were standing on the deck when they boarded. It is not attempted to be insinuated that any of our men had left their quarters that were not disabled; therefore with the exception of the eight or ten in the tops, and a few sick in their hammocks below, none of the survivors could have went off the deck. The American loss in killed and wounded amounted only to ten; far too great a disproportion.

“I have now the painful task of presenting an enemy's character to view in no very favourable light. The Frolic, for want of after sails, fell on board her opponent, soon after the action commenced, with her bowsprit betwixt the Wasp's main and mizen rigging,' and so continued until the conflict ended, “unable to bring a single gun to bear.' What enemy but an Algerine, or an American, seeing the helpless state of his brave adversary, would not have ceased firing, and rushed on board to end at once the slaughter and the combat? No; two motives prevented this: one, the expected gratification of seeing the British haul down their own flag: the other (doubtless by far the most powerful one) their dread of venturing sword in hand upon the Frolic's deck. One of the Wasp's men, it seems, made a show of boarding.

Not yet,' says captain Jones, another broadside first.' Poured into her it was, and repeated again and again; nor did they dare to board this poor wreck at last, till the captain and his friend Biddle, (now commander of the Hornet) peeping over the gunwale, saw with surprise but three men standing on the Frolic's deck! Then they did board in 'gallant style,' and stepping over dead, dying and wounded, (with which the deck was covered) received the sword of the British commander. He who needs confirmation of this, may find it in the American newspapers detailing the action.

“There are many instances where ships of ours have captured very superior enemy's vessels, after the latter had been disabled in their spars and rigging. Often have our 18 gun brigs attacked, singly, enemy's frigates of the largest class, when similarly circumstanced. And was it not the little Terpsichore 32 that some years ago played round, and fired into, repeatedly, that immense three decker, the Santissima Trinada, after she had been dismasted in earl St. Vincent's action? Let the Americans then take the credit of one victory, obtained, after a long action, over a British vessel of the same force in guns, but in a crippled state, and with a crew, feeble as it was, of little more than half the number opposed to them.

“ The next battle was another frigate one, fought on the 25th of the same October, between the Macedonian and the United States. Our ship, in this instance, had even a greater force to contend against than the Guerriere had, for the United States, like the President, carries forty-two pounders on her upper deck. The Constitution, the Americans say, is a stronger and finer ship than either; yet, according to the official letters of both captain Dacres and lieutenant Chads, carries carronades ten pounds lighter; whether of French or English caliber is not mentioned, but believed to be the former.

“ Captain Decatur states the number of the Macedonian's guns to have been forty-nine, including of course boat guns of every description, and that her crew consisted of three hundred men, which was her full complement. Captain Carden is totally silent on this subject, but gives the force in guns, of his formidable opponent, precisely as it appears in the American statements, published long after the action. He makes the crew four hundred and seventy-eight picked men.' On this point nothing has been said by the Americans, either in confirmation or denial; therefore we may presume captain Carden was correctly informed. For weight of metal of the Macedonian, (exclusive of the two brass twelve pounders, since retaken on board the Argus brig) I must refer to the regular establishment for vessels of class. As to the number of men and boys with which she went into action, I am compelled to refer to captain Decatur's letter, although rather ambiguously worded, as to whether three hundred men meant the complement allowed her, or the actual number she then had on board. The following will be found a tolerable estimate of the force engaged in this action.

[blocks in formation]

547

864 Men and boys, at full complement,

With howitzers in her tops. 300.

Men,“ all picked” 498.
Measurement, under 1100 tons. Measurement, full 1630 tons.

Superiority on the American side.
In weight of metal,
In number of men,

full as three to two. In size of vessel, « The relative execution done in this frigate action was still more disproportionate than the former one, standing thus.--British killed and wounded, 104; American ditto. 12. For this we can account, in some degree, exclusive of the disparity of force, by the novel manner in which the action was fought. Our ship had the weather guage: but captain Carden, not knowing perhaps that the weight of metal of his cautious adversary was superior to his own, kept at long balls, till all his top masts were shot away, and his ship become an unmanageable wreck, while the United States, lying beyond the range of the Macedonian's shot, received little or no injury. Crippled as the Macedonian was, and having so wide an extent of ocean to pass over, is it not surprising that she should have reached an Arnerican port? There she is however, snug and secure, although the little town of New London ought long ago to have been burnt to the ground, if nothing less would have restored to us (out of three that have been captured) the only British frigate in the hands of the Americans."

Remarks on the Synopsis of Naval Actions, between the Ame

rican and British ships of war, lately published in the British Naval Chronicle. (Continued from our last number.)

WHOEVER is tolerably conversant with English literature, must well recollect how often the writers of that country have made themselves merry with the credulity of the people, who,

« ZurückWeiter »