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SYNOPSIS OF NAVAL ACTIONS, DURING THE LATE WAR, BETWEEN BRITISH AND AMERICAN
(Continued, from our last number, from the British Naval Chronicle.)
“ Now.comes the third frigate action, decidedly the best fought of the three. It was between the Java and Constitution, and took place on the 29th of December, 1812. Like the Guer. VOL. VII.
riere, she was burnt soon after the action. The Java was on her passage to India, with governor Hislop and his suit on board, and some naval officers and men to join their ships on that slation. She was. doubt, as tie Americans say, “fitted out in great style;" that is, her cabin was elegantly set off; her accommodatio is for the great folks on board of her were excellent; but her crew. which, at this period, when the capture of two frigates successive's, by two enemy's frigates, was grieving the nation, ought to hav been choice, or at least equal to the crews of our ships in general, was actually composed of the most miserable set of wretches that could be scraped together. Well might one of the American seamen exclaim, after the action, “ the Java's men were the most ragamuffin set of fellows I ever saw on board a man of war." Why did not captain Lambert apply for a better crew? It is said he did, and was told an East India voyage would make sea
The fact is, many of his men had never fired a gun before, except in a salute, and those that knew how were scarcely enough in nu nber to fill the places of captains of guns throughout the ship. The armament of the Java, as appears by lieutenant Chads' letter, was similar to the Guerriere's, with the exception of the two bow-port main-deck guns. The broadside, therefore, will be the same. About the number of the Java's men, the two accounts differ. The Americans say she had three hundred and ninetythreem lieutenant Chads, three hundred and seventy-seven. Allowing for any mistake, let us take the mean of the two, and admit there were three hundred and eighty-five, including crew, supernumeraries, and passengers.
• The Constitution's force I have already enumerated: ljeutenant Chads calls her two spar-deck foremast guns eighteen pounders; captain Dacre's twenty-four pounders:--neither are wrong, for the guns in question are two long English long eighteen pounders bored to carry a twenty-four pound shot Lieutenant Chads gives the Constirution four more men than captain Dacres. That is probably correct, for upon her return from her last cruise, in May, this year, she had five hundred and fifty-three on board, althou h s'e iad just previously declined an engagement with La Pique of 36. There is a wide difference in giving the amount of the enemy's wounded. Lieutenant Chads says forty-eight; the American twenty-five. As in the number of the Java's crew, I will allow for errors on both sides, and fix thirty-six for our loss in wounded:-with the killed, then, the relative numbers run thus: British one hundred and twenty-four, American forty-six. I have no hesitation in avering my belief, that had the crew of the Java been a little more experienced a different result would have happened, in spite of the vast disparity of force. I have omitted giving a statement of the force engaged in this battle, as with the exception of the two crews, the superiority on the American side is precisely the same as that between the Guerriere and Constitution, to which I refer. In number of men the Americans exceeded us exactly as five to four, with the advantage of having all picked men,” to oppose so motley a ship's company. In this year we captured the Nautilus American brig of sixteen guns and one hundred and thirty men.
“ The next in order of date is a second sloop action fought on the 24th of February, 1813, between the Peacock brig and Hornet ship.* I have no British official account to direct me in this affair. It appears, however, that the Peacock having exchanged her carronades, by the desire of the captain, when last in an English port, had on board only twenty-four pounders, as admitted by the Americans. As to her complement of men, when we recur to the station she was attached to (the West Indian) we have a right to believe she was far short both in number and efficient strength. An account published in the States, some months after the action, by some of the officers that belonged to her, mentions her crew to have consisted altogether of one hundred and ten. The Americans, by drowning nineteen of them and throwing overboard five or six more, did, I know, swell the number to one hundred and thirty-four; but as this talc was framed immediately after the action, and the above British account, though subsequently given, was not contradicted, I shall adopt the latter for my guide. The armament of the Hornet I take from their own records. Her crew was confessed to have been upwards of one hundred and seventy. Many in America have said one hundred and eighty odd. I shall be contented with the smaller number, the usual quality of American seamen being kept in reculiection. Here then follows a comparison of these two vessels:
. Vide Naval Chronicle, vol. 19, p. 388.
HORNET. (Rating 18, mounting the same) (Rating 16, mounting 20 guns.) Broadside, 8 241b. carronades, 192b. Broadside, 9 321b. carronades, 288lbs. 1 61b. long gun,
300lbs. Besides a small boat gun.
Men 170. Men and boys 110
Measurement about (English) 580 tons Measurement under 360 tons.
Superiority on the American side.
“ In this battle the Americans had evidently the whole fight to themselves. Were we to credit all we heard on the subject, it would appear our brig was not in order to sustain a contest with an enemy's vessel of even rather less than her own force, much more with one upwards of a third stronger in guns and men, and in the highest state of discipline and good order. The Americans acknowledge only five killed and wounded, and state our loss to have been thirty-eight, including some that went down in the brig at the close of the action. Never was there a finer specimen of marine gunnery than the Americans displayed in this engagement. Against this loss we have to place the capture of the Vixen and Viper of similar force to the Nautilus.
“ The Americans have down in their list the Duke of Gloucester brig, of twelve guns, taken from us at the surrender of York, on the 26th of April. It is probable she was neither armed nor sea-worthy, as they have made no use of her.
“ The next action was between the Chesapeake and Shannon, fought on the doubly glorious 1st of June this year. Long had captain Broke, and his “ gallant shipmates," as he emphatically calls them, sought this meeting. The enemy, confident in his “fine crew," and the superior equipment of his ship, and inebriated with former successes, was, perhaps, not less anxious for battle, though more certain that victory would crown his efforts. The Shannon's proper complement was three hundred and ten, but the day previous to the action she got twenty hands out of a rempture, which increased her whole crew to three hundred and thirty. The Chesapeake's victualling book contained three hundred and eighty-nine; but lots of volunteers, to be present at the “ glorious triumph,” sallied forth from Boston. These, having just came on board for a frolick, were not inserted on the musterroll. I know the Congress frigate, of similar rate to the Chesapeake, returned into Portsmouth, N. H. shortly afterwards, with a crew of four hundred and ten, therefore cannot be surprised at the Chesapeake, on such an occasion, having four hundred and forty, as stated in captain Broke's letter.* From persons who went on board both ships on their arrival in port, expressly to take an account of their respective armaments, I am enabled to give the following particulars:
CHESAPEAKE. (Rating 38, mounting 48 guns) (Rating 36, mounting 49 guns.) Besides, 1 121b. carronade 2
Besides, 1 12b. on an elevating car.1 61b. do.
Broadside. Main-deck, 14 181b. long guns, 252lbs. Main-deck, 14 181b. long guns, 252lbs. Quarter-deck, 2 91b. do. do. 18 Quarter-deck, 1 do. do. (shifting Forecastle, 8 321b. carronades, 256
Forecastle, 10 321b. carronades, 320 526lbs.
Men and boys, in all, 530.
Men, "picked and volunteers,” 440.
Superiority on the American side.
“ Thus, in thirteen minutes from the firing of the first gud, ended the fairest, shortest, severest, and most decisive action ever fought between two ships so nearly of an equality as the Shannon and Chesapeake. The enemy's ship, originally rated a forty-four, and carried four more guns on her upper deck than she
To prove the size and sturdiness of the Chesapeake's crew generally, it is a fact that the irons found on board that ship, which were of the ordinary construction, when applied to the wrists of the prisoners, made many of them wince and complain of their tightness.