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cines, and stores of every description: and the slops on board them have furnished clothing for the seamen. We had, in fact, lived on the enemy since I had been in that sea, every prize having proved a well-found store ship for me. I had not yet been under the necessity of drawing bills on the department for any object, and had been enabled to make considerable advances to my officers and crew on account of pay.
For the unexampled time we had kept the sea, my crew had continued remarkably healthy. I had but one case of the scurvy, and had lost only the following men by death, viz. :
John S. Cowan, lieutenant; Robert Miller, surgeon; Levi Holmes, 0. S.; Edward Sweeny, do.; Samuel Groce, seaman; James Spafford, gunner's mate; Benjamin Geers, John Rodgers, quarter gunners; Andrew Mahan, corporal of marines; Lewis Price, private marine.
I had done all the injury that could be done the British commerce in the Pacific, and still hoped to signalize my cruize by something more splendid, before leaving that sea. I thought it not improbable, that commodore Hillyar might have kept his arrival secret, and believing he would seek me at Valparaiso, as the most likely place to find me, I determined to cruize about that place, and should I fail of meeting him, hoped to be compensated by the capture of some merchant ships, said to be expected from England.
The Phæbe, agreeable to my expectations, came to seek me at Valparaiso, where I was anchored with the Essex; my armed prize, the Essex Junior, under the command of lieutenant Downes, on the look-out off the harbor. But contrary to the course I thought he would pursue, commodore Hillyar brought with him the Cherub sloop of war, mounting 28 guns, eighteen 32 pound carronades, eight 24's, and two long 9's on the quarter-deck and forecastle, and a complement of 180 men. The force of the Phæbe is as follows :-thirty-two long 18 pounders, sixteen 32 pound carronades, one howitzer, and six 3 pounders in the tops, in all 53 guns, and a complement of $20 men: making a force of 81 guns, and 50C men; in addition to which they took on board the crew of an English letter of marque, lying in port. Both ships had picked crews, and were sent into the Pacific, in company with the Racoon of 22 guns, and a store ship of 20 guns, for the express purpose of seeking the Essex, and were prepared with flags bearing the motto, “ God and country; British sailor's best rights; traitors offend both.” This was intended as a reply to my motto, " Free trade and sailor's rights,” under the erroneous impression, that my crew were chiefly Englishmen, or to counteract its effect on their own crews. T'he force of the Essex was 46 guns, forty 32 pound carronades, and six long 12's, and her crew, which had been much reduced by prizes, amounted to only 255 men. The Essex Junior, which was intended chiefly as a store ship, mounted 20 guns, ten 18 pound carronades, and ten short 6's, with only 60
men on board. In reply to their motto, I wrote at my mizen, “ God, our country and liberty; tyrants offend them.”
On getting their provisions on board, they went off the port for the purpose of blockading me, where they cruized for near six weeks; during which time I endeavoured to provoke a challenge, and frequently, but ineffectually, to bring the Phoebe alone to action, first with both my ships, and afterwards with my single ship, with both crews on board. I was several times under way, and ascertained that I had greatly the advantage in point of sailing, and once succeeded in closing within gun-shot of the Phoebe, and commenced a fire on her, when she ran down for the Cherub, which was two and a half miles to leeward: this excited some 'surprise and expressions of indiynation, as previous to my getting under way, she hove to off the port, hoisted her motto flay, and fired a gun to windward. Commodore Hilly:r seemed determined to avoid a contest with me on nearly equal terms, and from his extreme prudence in keeping both his ships ever after constantly within hail of each other, there were no hopes of any advantages to my country from a longer stay in port. I therefore determined to put to sea the first opportunity which should offer; and I was the more strongly induced to do so, as I had gained certain intelligence, that the Tagus, rated 38, and two other frigates, had sailed for that sea in pursuit of me. I had reason to expect the arrival of the Racoon, from the north-west coast of America, where she had been sent for the purpose of destroying our fur establishment on the Columbia. A rendezvous was appointed for the Essex Junior, and every arrangement made for sailing, and I intended to let them chase me oit
, to give the Essex Junior an opportunity of escaping. On the 28th March, the day after this determination was formed, the wind came to blow fresh from the southward, when I parted my larboard cable and dragged my starboard anchor directly out to sea. Not a moinent was to be lost in getting sail on the ship. The enemy were close in with the point forining the west side of the bay; but on opening them, I saw a prospect of passing to windward, when I took in my topgallant-sails, which were set over single-reefed-topsails, and braced up for this purpose; but on rounding the point, a heavy squall struck the ship, and carried away her main top-mast, precipitating the men who were aloft into the sea, who were drowned. Both ships now yave chase to me, and I endeavoured, in my disabled state, to regain the port; but lividing I could not recover the common anchorage, I ran close into a small bay, about three quarters of a mile to leewarıl of the battery, on the east side of the harbor, and let go my anchor within pistol-shot of the shore, where I intended to repair my damages as soon as possible The enemy continued to approach, shewed an evident intention of attacking us, regardless of the neutrality of the place where I was anchored; and the caution observeri in their approach to the attack of the crippled Essex, was truly ridiculous, as was their display
of their motto flags, and the number of jacks at all their mast heads. I, with as much expedition as circumstances would admit of, got my ship ready for action, and endeavoured to get a spring on my cable, but had not succeeded when the enemy, at 54 minutes past 3 P. M. made his attack, the Phæbe placing herself under my stern, and the Cherub on my starboard bow; but the Cherub soon finding her situation a hot one, bore up and ran down under the stern also, where both ships kept up a hot raking fire.
I had got 3 long twelve pounders out of the stern ports, which were worked with so much bravery and skill, that in half an hour we so disabled both as to compel them to haul off to repair damages. In the course of this firing, I had, by the great exertions of Mr. Edward Barnwell, the acting sailing master, assisted by Mr. Linscott, the boatswain, succeeded in getting springs on our cable three different times; but the fire of the enemy was so excessive, that before we could get our broadside to bear, they were shof away, and thus rendered useless to us. My ship had received many injuries and several had been killed and wounded; but my brave officers and men, notwithstanding the unfavourable circum stances under which we were brought to action, and the powerfu. force opposed to us, were no ways discouraged; all appeared determined to defend their ship to the last extremity, and to die ir preference to a shameful surrender. Our gaff, with the ensign and the motto flag at the mizen, had been shot away, but FREE TRADE AND SAILOR's rights, continued to fly at the fore. Our ensign was replaced by another; and to guard against a similar event, an ensign was made fast in the mizen rigging, and several jacks were hoisted in different parts of the ship. The enemy soon re: paired his damages for a fresh attack, He now placed himself, with both his ships on my starboard quarter, out of the reach of my carronades, and where my stern guns could not be brought to bear. He there kept up a most galling fire, which it was out of my power to return, when I saw no prospect of injuring him without getting under weigh and becoming the assailant. My top-sail sheets and haul-yards were all shot away as well as the jib and fore-top-nast stay sail haul-yards. The only rope not cut was the flying jib haul-yards, and that being the only sail I could set, I caused it to be hoisted, my cable to be cut, and ran down on both ships, with an intention of laying the Phæbe on board. The firing on both sides was now tremendous. I had let fall my fore-topsail and foresail, but the want of tacks and sheets had rendered them almost useless to us; yet we were enabled, for a short time, to close with the enemy; and although our decks were, now strewed with dead, and our cockpit filled with woundedalthough our ship had been several times on fire, and was rendered a perfect wreck, we were still encouraged to a hope to save her, from the circumstance of the Cherub being compelled to haul off. She did not return to close action, although she appa
rently had it in her power to do so, but kept up a distant firing: with her long guns.
The Phæbe, from our disabled state, was enabled, however, by edging off, to choose the distance which best suited her long guns, and kept up a tremendous fire on us, which mowed down my brave companions by the dozen. Many of my guns had been rendered useless by the enemy's shot, and many of them had their whole crews destroyed. We manned them again from those which were disabled, and one gun in particular was three times manned ; 15 men were slain at it in the action! but strange as it may appear, the captain of it escaped with only a slight wound. Finding that the enemy had it in his power to chose his distance, I now gave up all hopes of closing with him, and as the wind, for the moment, seemed to favour the design, I determined to endeavour to run her on shore, land my nien and destroy her. Every thing seemed to favour my wishes. We had approached the shore within musket shot, and I had no doubt of succeeding, when, in an instant, the wind shifted from the land (as is very common in this port in the latter part of the day) and payed our head down on the Phæbe, where we were again exposed to a dreadful raking fire. My ship was now totally unmanageable; yet, as her head was toward the enemy, and he to leeward of me, I still hoped to be able to board him. At this moment lieutenant commandant Downes came on board, to receive my orders, under the impression that I should soon be a prisoner. He could be of no use to me in the then wretched state of the Essex; and finding (from the enemy's putting his helm up) that my last attempt at boarding would not succeed, I directed him, after he had been about ten minutes on board, to return to his own ship, to be prepared for defending and destroying her in case of an attack. He took with him several of my wounded, leaving three of his boat's crew on board to make room for them. The Cherub now had an opportunity of distinguishing herself, by keeping up a hot fire on him during his return.
The slaughter on board my ship had now become horrible; the enemy continuing to rake us, and we unable to bring a gun to bear. I therefore directed a hawser to be bent to the sheet anchor, and the anchor to be cut from the bows to bring her head round. This succeeded. We again got our broadside to bear, and as the enemy was much crippled and unable to hold his own, I have no doubt he would soon have drifted out of gun-shot before he discovered we had anchored, had not the hawser unfortunately parted. My ship had taken fire several times during the action, but alarmingly so forward and aft at this moment; the flames were bursting up each hatch way, and no hopes were entertained of saving her; our distance from the shore did not exceed three quarters of a mile, and I hoped many of my brave crew would be able to save themselves, should the ship blow up, as I was informed the fire was near the magazine, and the explosion of a large
quantity of powder below, served to increase the horrors of our situation. Our boats were destroyed by the enemy's shot ; I therefore directed those who could swim to jump overboard, and endeavour to gain the shore. Some reached it, some were taken by the enemy, and some perished in the attempt; but most preferred sharing with me the fate of the ship.
We who remained, now turned our attention wholly to extin. guishing the flames; and when we had succeeded, went again to our guns, where the firing was kept up for some minutes, but the crew had by this time become so weakened, that they all declared to me the impossibility of making turther resistance, and entreated me to surrender my ship to save the wounded, as all further attempts at opposition must prove ineffectual, almost every gun being disabled by the destruction of their crews. I now sent for the officers of divisions to consult them; but what was my surprise to find oply acting lieutenant Stephen Decatur M*Knight remaining, who confirmed the report respecting the condition of the guns on the quarter-deck--those on the spar-deck were not in a better state. Lieutenant Wilmer, after fighting most gallantly throughout the action, had been knocked overboard by splinter, while getting the sheet anchor from the bows, and was drowned. Acting lieutenant John G. Cowell had lost a leg; Mr. Edward Barnwell, acting sailing master, had been carried below, after receiving two severe wounds, one in the breast and one in the face; and acting lieutenant William H. Odenheimer had been knocked overboard from the quarter, an instant before, and did not regain the ship till after the surrender.
I was informed that the cockpit, the steerage, the wardroom, and the birth-deck, could contain no more wounded; and that the wounded were killed while the surgeons were dressing them, and that unless something was speedily done to prevent it, the ship would soon sink, from the number of shot-holes in her bottom. And on sending for the carpenter, he informed me that all his crew had been killed or wounded, and that he had been once over the side to stop the leaks, when his slings had been shot away, and it was with difficulty he was saved from drowning. The enemy, from the smoothness of the water, and the impossibility of our reaching him with our carronades, and the little apprehension that was excited by our fire, which had now become much slack. ened, was enabled to take aim at us as at a target; his shot never missed our hull, and my ship was cut up in a manner which was perhaps never before witnessed: in fine, I saw no hopes of saving her, and at 20 minutes after 6 P. M. gave the painful order to strike the colours. Seventy-five men, including officers, were all that remained of my whole crew, after the action, capable of doing duty, and many of them severely wounded, some of whom have since died. The enemy still continued his fire, and my brave, though unfortunate companions were still falling about me. I directed an opposite gun to be fired, to show them we intended no further resistance;