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but they did not desist ; four men were killed at my side, aril others in different parts of the ship. I now believed he intended to show us no quarter, and that it would be as well to die with my flag flying as struck, and was on the point of again hoisting it, when, about ten minutes after hauling the colours down, he veased firing
I cannot speak in sufficiently high terms of the conduct of those engaged for such an unparalleled length of time, (under such circumstances) with me, in the arduous and unequal contest. Let it suffice to say, that more bravery, skill, patriotism, and zeal, were never displayed on any occasion; every one seemed determined to die in defence of their much loved country's cause, and nothing but views to humanity could ever have reconciled them to the surrender of the ship; they remembered their wounded and helpless ship-mates below. To acting lieutenants M.Knight and Odenbeimer, I feel much indebted for their great exertions and bravery throughout the action, in fighting and encouraging the men at their divisions, for the dexterous management of the long guns, and for their promptness in re-manning their guns, as their crews were slaughtered. The conduct of that brave and heroic officer, acting lieutenant John G. Cowell, who lost his leg in the latter part of the action, excited the admiration of every man in the ship, and after being wounded, would not consent to be taken below, until loss of blood rendered him insensible. Mr. Edward Barnwell, acting sailing-master, whose activity and courage were equally conspicuous, returned on deck after his first wound, and remained after receiving his second, until fainting with loss of blood. Mr. Samuel B. Johnston, who had joined me the day before, and acted as marine officer, conducted himself with great bravery, and exerted hiinself in assisting at the long guns, the musketry after the first half hour being useless (from our great distance).
Mr. M. W. Bostwick, whom I had appointed acting purser of the Essex Junior, and who was on board my ship, did the duties of an aid, in a manner which reflects on hiin the highest honour; midshipinen Isaacs, Farragut, and Ogden, as well as acting midshipmen James Terry, James R. Lyman, and Samuel Duzenbury, and inaster's mate William Pierce; exerted themselves in the performance of their respective duties, and gave an earnest of their value to the service ; the three first are too young to recommend for promotion, the latter I beg leave to recommend for confirmation, as well as the acting lieutenants, and Messrs. Barnwell, Johnston, and Bostwick.
We have been unfortunate, but not disgraced; the defence of the Essex has not been less honourable to her officers and crew, than the capture of an equal force, and I now consider my situation less unpleasant than that of commodore Hillyar, who, in violation of every principle of honour and generosity, and regardless of the rights of nations, attacked the Essex in her crippled state,
within pistol-shot of a neutral shore; when for six weeks I had daily offered him fair and honourable combat, on terms greatly to his advantage; the blood of the slain must be on his head, and he has yet to reconcile his conduct to Heaven, to his conscience, and to the world. The annexed extract of a letter from commodore Hillyar, which was written previously to his returning me my sword, will show his opinion of our conduct.
My loss has been dreadfully severe; 58 killed or have since died of their wounds, and among them is lieutenant Cowell; 59 were severely wounded, 27 slightly, and 31 are missing ; making in all 154, killed, wounded, and missing, a list of whose names is annexed.
The professional knowledge of doctor Richard Hoffman, acting surgeon, and doctor Alexander Montgomery, acting surgeon's mate, added to their assiduity, and the benevolent attentions and assistance of Mr. D. P. Adams, the chaplain, saved the lives of many of the wounded. Those gentlemen have been indefatigable in their attentions to them; the two first 1 beg leave to recommend for confirmation, and the latter to the notice of the department.
I must in justice to myself observe, that with our six 12 pounders only we fought this action, our carronades being almost useless.
The loss in killed and wounded has been great with the enemy; among the former is the first lieutenant of the Phæbe, and of the latter captain Tucker, of the Cherub, whose wounds are se
Both the Essex and Phæbe were in a sinking state, and it was with difficulty they could be kept afloat until anchored in Valparaiso next morning. The shattered state of the Essex will, I believe, prevent her ever reaching England, and I also think it wili be out of their power to repair the damages of the Phæbe, so as to enable her to double Cape Horn. All the masts and yards of the Phæbe and Cherub are badly crippled, and their hulls much cut up; the former had eighteen 12 pound shot through her below her water line, some three feet under water. Nothing but the smoothness of the water saved both the Phæbe and Essex.
I hope, sir, that our conduct may prove satisfactory to our country, and that it will testify it by obtaining our speedy eschange, that we may again have it in our power to prove our zeal.
Commodore Hillyar (I am informed,) has thought proper to state to his governinent, that the action only lasted 45 ninutes. Should he have done so, the motive may be easily discovered; but the thousands of disinterested witnesses who covered the surrounding hills, can testify that we fought his ships near two hours and a half; upwards of 50 broadsides were fired by the enemy, agreeably to their own accounts, and upwards of 75 by ours; except the few minutes they were repairing damages, the firing was incessant.
Soon after my capture, I entered into an agreement with commodore Hillyar to disarm my prize, the Essex Junior, and proceed with the survivors of my officers and crew in her to the United States, taking with me her officers and crew. He consented to grant her a passport to secure her from re-capture. The ship was small, and we knew we had much to suffer, yet we hoped soon to reach our country in safety, that we might again have it in our power to serve it. This arrangement was attended with no additional expense, as she was abundantly supplied with provisions and stores for the voyage.
In justice to commodore Hillyar, I must observe, that, (although I can never be reconciled to the manner of his attack on the Essex, or to his conduct before the action) he has, since our capture, shown the greatest humanity to my wounded, (whom he permitted me to land, on condition that the United States should bear their expenses,) and has endeavoured, as much as lay in his power, to alleviate the distresses of war by the most generous and delicate deportnient towards my officers and crew; he gave orders that the property of every person should be respected; which orders, however, were not so strictly attended to as might have been expected ; besides being deprived of books, charts, &c. &c. both myself and officers lost many articles of our clothing, some to a considerable amount. I should not have considered this last circumstance of sufficient importance to notice, did it not mark a striking difference between the navy of Great Britain and that of the United States, highly creditable to the latter.
By the arrival of the Tagus, a few days after my capture, I was informed, that besides the ships which had arrived in the Pacific in pursuit of me, and those still expected, others were sent to cruize for me in the China Seas, off New Zealand, Timor, and New Holland, and that another frigate was sent to the river la Plate.
To possess the Essex it has cost the British government near six inillions of dollars, and yet, sir, her capture was owing entirely to accident; and if we consider the expedition with which naval contests are now decided, the action is a dishonour to them. Had they brought their ships boldly into action, with a force so very superior, and having the choice of position, they should either have captured or destroyed us in one fourth the time they were about it.
During the action, our consul general Mr. Poinsett, called on the governor of Valparaiso, and requested that the batteries might protect the Essex. This request was refused, but he promised that if she should succeed in tighting her way to the common anchorage, that he would send an officer to the British commander and request him to cease firing, but declined using force under any ci: cumstances, and there is no doubt a perfect understanding existed between them. This conduct, added in the assistance given to the British, and their friendly reception after the action, and
the strong bias of the faction which govern Chili in favor of the English, as well as their inhospitality to the Americans, induced Mr. Poinsett to leave that country. Under such circumstances, I did not conceive it would be proper for me to claim the restoration of my ship, confident that the claim would be made by my government to more effect. Finding some difficulty in the sale of my prizes, I had taken the Hector and Catharine to sea and burnt them with their cargoes.
I exchanged lieutenant M'Knight, Mr. Adams, and Mr. Lyman, and eleven scamen, for part of the crew of the Sir Andrew Hammoud; and sailed from Valparaiso on the 27th April, where the enemy were still patching up their ships, to put them in a state for proceeding to Rio de Janeiro, previous to going to England.
Annexed is a list of the remains of my crew to be exchanged, as also a copy of the correspondence between commodore Hillyar and myself on that subject. I also send you a list of the prisoners I have taken during my cruize, amounting to 343.
I have the honour to be, &c.
D. PORTER. The honourable Secretary of the Navy
of the United States, Washington. P.S. To give you a correct idea of the state of the Essex at the time of her surrender, I send you the boatswain's and carpenter's report of damages; I also send you a report of the divisions.
Extract of a letter from commodore Hillyar to commodore Porter.
“PHEBE, April 4th, 1814. “ MY DEAR SIR,
“ Neither in our conversations, nor in the accompanying letter, have I mentioned your sword. Ascribe my remissness in the first instance to forgetfulness; I consider it only in my servant's possession with my own, until the master may please to call for it; and although I omitted, at the moment of representation, from my mind being much engrossed in attending to professional duties, to offer its restoration, the hand that received will be most gladly extended to put it in possession of him who wore it so honourably in defence of his country's cause. “ Believe me, my dear sir, &c.
“ JAMES HILLYAR.”
After some conversation on the subject, the following correspon
dence took place.
VALPARAISO, April 4th, 1814 SIR.
Taking into consideration the immense distance we are from our respective countries, the uncertainty of the future movements
of his majesty's ships under my command, which precludes the possibility of my making a permanent arrangement for transporting the officers and crew of the late Essex to Europe; and the fast approaching season which renders a passage round Cape Horn in some degree dangerous; I have the honour to propose
for your approbation the following articles, which, I bope, the government of the United States as well as that of Great Britain, will deem satisfactory; and request, that should you conceive them so, you will favor me with the necessary bond for their fulfilment.
1st. The Essex Junior to be deprived of all her armament and perfectly neutralized; to be equipped for the voyage solely and wholly at the expense of the American government; and to proceed with a proper American officers and crew (of which I wish to be furnished with a list, for the purpose of giving the necessary passport) to any port in the United States of Ainerica, that you may deem most proper.
2d. Yourself, the officers, petty officers, seamen and marines, &c. composing your crew, to be exchanged immediately on their arrival in America, for an equal number of British prisoners of similar rank; yourself and officers to be considered on their parole of honour until your and their exchange shall be effected.
In case of the foregoing articles being accepted the Essex Junior will be expected to prepare immediately for her voyage, and to proceed on it before the expiration of the present month. Should any of the wounded, at that period, be found incapable of removal, from not being sufficiently advanced in their recovery, the most humane attention shall be paid to them; and they shall be forwarded home by the first favourable conveyance that
I have the honour to be, &c.
JAMES HILLYAR. Gap. David Porter, late commander
of the l', S. frigate Esses, Valparaiso.
VALPARAISO, April 5th, 1814. SIR,
I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your several favours of yesterday's date.
The conditions offered by you for our return to the United States are perfectly satisfactory to me; and I entertain no doubts of their being equally so to my country. I, therefore, do not hesitate to pledge my honour (the strongest bond I can give) that every article of the arrangement shall, on our part, be fully complied with. A list of the Essex Junior's crew shall be furnished you as soon as it can be made out, and her disarmament effected with all possible despatch.
I have the honour to be, &c.
DAVID PORTER, Com. James Hillyar, commanding
H. B. M's frigute Phæbe, Valparaiso.