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had in the action; but upon such forty-four's as the President, and her two sister snips, being sent to sea, the rate of the Chesapeake was altered to a thirty-six, although even then larger and of more force than any thirty-eight in our service The Shannon lost her first lieutenant and several men after possession had been gained of the enemy's deck, owing to some mistake in shifting the colours.
“The Chesapeake's loss is stated by captain Broke to have been one hundred and seventy. One of the American surgeons estimatcs it at about “one hundred and sixty to one hundred and seventy;" therefore, the British account is probably correct. The American official account, written by a lieutenant Budd, is glar, ingly false in many particulars, so that if the list of killed and wounded stated, as annexed to his letter, had been published (which was not the case) it could not have been relied upon. The following is a summary of the relative executiou done by the two ships. Shannon's killed and wounded, eighty-four-Chesapeake's ditto, one hundred and seventy Upwards of nineteen men disabled per minute proved the earnestness of the coinbat, and the proportion that fell by the Shannon's guns proved further, that in this action, at least, British powder and shot did not scatter uselessly in the air. The whole inside of the Chesapeake's bulwarks, fore and aft, was covered with netting to catch the splinters! So much for the tenderness of the enemy. His bitterness created general amusement in the cart-loads of langridge, iron bolts, and other American artillery that were exposed to sale at public auction!”
Continuation of the Remarks on “the Synopsis of Natal Ac
tions, fought between the British and American ships of war," in the British Naval Chronicle.
If the “ British officer on the American station” were as dextrous in gaining a victory as in excusing a defeat, he would be the greatest oflicer in the world. His storehouse of excuses scems absolutely inexhaustible, and, what is very singular, its variety equals its exuberance: for he has a new apology for every new disaster. Some of these are indeed none of the best, but it is said, even a poor excuse is better than none, which is all we can say in favour of the excuses of this unfortunate British naval officer. In progressingpardon us, most potent reviewers-in progressing with our examination of the Synopsis, we were led to wonder exceedingly what excuses he would find for the next defeat, supposing as we did that by that time he must be quite exhausted. But in this we did great injustice to the fertility of his imagination, which never fails him at a pinch; for if he don't find excuses, he makes them, and thus, though we cannot in conscience give him much credit for the authenticity of his statements, we will not withhold our admiration of the originality of his invention, or the extent and variety of his imagination.
These qualities are no where more strikingly displayed than in the details of the action between the Java and Constitution, (that pestilent “ bunch of pine boards”) which took place on the 29th of December, 1812. In this affair the loss of the Constitution was thirty-four, nine of whom were killed, and twenty-five wounded;—that of the Java sixty killed, and one hundred and one wounded, making a total of one hundred and sixty-one. The Java was so completely a wreck as to render it necessary to destroy her. The Constitution, after putting the surviving crew of the Java on shore at St. Salvador, proceeded on her cruise, which she completed, so little damage had she sustained. Against these facts the British officer puts his account current in formidable array,
and the result of his calculations is, that the disparity of force was precisely the same as existed between the Constitution and the Guerriere.
Our gallant officers, whose authority is at least equal to that of lieutenant Chads, of the Java, of whom we shall say more presently, state the force of the Java at forty-nine guns, and three hundred and ninety-five men. The Constitution carried fifty-four guns, and four hundred men. The Java therefore was inferior by five guns and five men to the Constitution. This is but a trifling difference, and wholly inadequate to account for the disparity of loss, which is almost as five to one. But, says the ingenious officer, “ the crew of the Java was composed of the most miserable set of wretches that could be scraped together.” This is quite enough for us. We never said any thing more than that we had better men than those in the British navy--better officers, and better ships-and the writer here admits, for the third time at least, that the crews of the British vessels were and are utterly inferior to ours. .
Of captain Lambert, who died of his wounds not long after the surrender of the Java, we wish to speak with the respect due to a brave man, who died in defence of his ship, and whom we allow to have defended her bravely, if not judiciously. It appears by the admission of some of the officers of the Java, that captain Lambert mistook the Constitution for the Essex frigate, which had left Port Prayo only one day before the arrival of the Java at that place. From the time of his departure to that of his falling in with the Constitution he was in hourly expectation of meeting the Essex, and, from the admission of his own officers, he fought the action under the impression that it was this ship. This accounts for his keeping at long shot distance, during much of the action, knowing that the Essex mounted only carronades, and consequently that he could reach her with his long eighteens without being exposed to her fire in the least. Though captain Lambert was preoccupied for several days with the idea of meeting the Essex, and was ignorant that the Constitution was in his neighbourhood, still considering the small size of the Essex, and the enormous magnitude of the Constitution, which according to this writer equals that of a seventy-four, we think that a judicious and experienced officer ought not to have mistaken one for the other. There is little doubt that his prolonged resistance was not a little owing to this mistake: for it is related by our officers, that he was mightily relieved when told what vessel had beat him, and incontinently exclaimed, “then we are safe.”
In the Java, besides her complement of men, was general Hyslop, his suite, and one or two captains of the British
navy, on their way to India. Captain Bainbridge paroled the whole surviving officers and crew, together with general Hislop and his suite, and recovered and restored to the general a number of pieces of silver plate, claimed as his property. The lieutenant-general wrote a letter to captain Bainbridge, acknowledging in the most unqualified terms his liberal courtesy, not only to the general himself, but to the surviving officers and crew of the Java. In grateful return for the kindness shown to the officers and crew, lieutenant Chads, on his return to England, wrote an official letter to the secretary of the admiralty, in the true spirit of a British official statement: that is to say-marked with every feature of misrepresentation; and the surgeon of the Java, not to be outdone by his gallant commander, published a most scandalous account of the inhumanity with which the wounded were treated by our officers after the battle. If, as some officers soon after the conclusion of the war, acknowledged in New York, it is the policy of their government to make the best of every disaster, for the purpose of deceiving the people, let it be so. But this is no argument why we should not repel their calumnies, and vindicate not only our victories, but our national reputation, assailed as it has been in every point with the most inveterate hostility. On no occasion has it happened, that any of their beaten commanders has done justice to the courtesy of their conquerors; or if it did so happen that they were unwarily seduced, by a momentary and evanescent feeling of gratitade, to pay a compliment to American courtesy, it has invariably been seen that when they returned to England they were fain to conciliate the admiralty, and obtain pardon for their defeats by recalling their hasty effusions of gratitude, and eating their words. It is rather singular, however, that the writer of the Synopsis, who has been a whole year collecting his facts, and who is withal so candid a gentleman, should not have known, or knowing, should have omitted to mention, the conduct of captain Bainbridge towards general Hislop, and the officers and crew of the Java. If "the task of representing the cha
racter of an enemy in an unfavourable light was so painful's to his feelings, why did he not solace his wounded sensibility by giving that enemy credit for his high and generous courtesy? It is plain from this, and other omissions we mean to no. tice in their proper place, that his affectation of pain on the occasion alluded to was nothing but the low and miserable cant of insidious hypocrisy, giving a keener and deeper character to the injury by pretending to inflict it unwillingly.
We cannot help noticing the cunning attempt intertwined with the relation of the capture of the Java to put John Bull in somewhat of a good humour, by telling him of the Constitution, with “ five hundred and fifty-three” “picked" men on board, running away from the La Pique thirty-six, in the West Indies, and of the capture of the Nautilus, of sixteen guns. The first story is singularly unlucky, since it is notoriously known, that at that time the order not to engage an American frigate singly had been promulgated by the British admiralty, and that the British frigates, in doubtless most unwilling obedience to this painful duty, always saved our ships the trouble and disgrace of running away by running away first. As to the Nautilus, she was taken by a squadron of line of battle ships and frigates, and the honour must be divided among so many that it is hardly worth claiming, except where honour is very scarce.
The next action that occurs in the “Synopsis” is that of the Hornet and Peacock, which took place on the 24th of February, 1813. The relative force of the two vessels is thus summed up by the author:- In weight of metal and number of men as three to two, in size of vessel as seven to five, in favour of the Americans. Where he procured his data for these calculations the writer does not tell us, merely hinting at an account published somewhere or other, and which not having been contradicted, as he says, “ he shall adopt for his guide.” The force of the Hornet, as taken from the records of the navy department, was twenty guns, and one hundred and thirtyfive men; her tonnage four hundred and forty and two-thirds.