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Commodore Hillyar sent me a paper certifying that he had exchanged certain individuals, therein named, making part of the crew of the sir Andrew Hammond, for an equal number of the most severely wounded of my crew; this occasioned the following letters:
VALPARAISO, April 4th, 1814
I have received a paper signed by you, dated yesterday, stating, that you had exchanged certain wounded prisoners, making part of my crew, for the captain and crew of the prize ship Sir Andrew Hammond, which paper I have taken the liberty to return to you, and protest in the strongest terms against such arrangement.
In the first place, the wounded and helpless individuals therein named, do not wish such exchange; one died last night and several others expect to share his fate.
Secondly, should I from my circumstances be separated from them, which would be more likely to be the case than if they remained prisoners, their situation would be more deplorable than it is at present.
Thirdly, this arrangement has been made without my consent, and on terms far from offering equal advantages to the United States.
I have the honour to be, &c.
D. PORTER Com. James Fillyar, commanding
H. B. M's frigate Phæbe.
HIS BRITANNIC MAJESTY'S SHIP PH@BE,
Valparaiso, April 4th, 1814. SIR,
I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of this day's date, protesting against the arrangement I made in the paper you returned, and to express a regret that my wish, which was to alleviate and not to increase the afflictions of your wounded officers and crew, has failed of being gratified. I am sorry you have thought proper to mention the dead and dying, as I so fully explained to you this morning, that in the event of the loss of any, other names should be added to the list. I shall now direct captain David Porter to consider himself still a prisoner of war on his parole; but as I have ordered the people to go on board the Essex to work, under the impression that no difficulty would arise, I will liberate in exchange for them an equal number of prisoners, as their names, being seamen, shall be found to follow each other on your late ship's books, and give up also two mates or midshipmen, for the two mates of the English party. I hope this may prove satisfactory to your government and self.
I am yours, &c.
JAMES HILLYAR. Captain D. Porter.
VALPARAISO, April 5th, 1814. SIR,
The arrangement which you have suggested respecting the exchange of the seamen of the Sir Andrew Hammond, for an equal number of the seamen of the late United States' frigate Essex, as they stand on the list furnished you, is perfectly satis factory. It will be a great satisfaction to the three officers who accompany the Essex, to know, that after your object in taking them with
you shall be effected, there will be no difficulty in their proceeding immediately for the United States ; I take the liberty therefore to suggest that they might be exchanged here for captain William Porter and his three mates. This will be an accommodation to all parties, and reconcile the officers so exchanged to a separation from their friends.
I have the honour to be, &c.
DAVID PORTER. Gom. James Hillyar, commanding
H. B. M's frigate Phæbe.
NEW YORK, July 13th, 1814. SIR,
There are some facts relating to our enemy, and although not connected with the action tend to show his perfidy, and should be known.
On commodore Hillyar's arrival at Valparaiso, he ran the Phæbe close along side the Essex, and enquired politely after my health, observing that his ship was cleared for action, and his men prepared for boarding. I observed, “Sir, if you, by any accident, get on board of me, I assure you that great confusion will take place; I am prepared to receive you, but shall only act on the defensive.” He observed coolly and indifferently, "Oh, sir, I have no such intention;" at this instant his ship took aback on my starboard bow, her yards nearly locking with those of the Essex, I called all hands to board the enemy; and in an instant my crew were ready to spring on her decks. Commodore Hillyar exclaimed, with great agitation, “ I had no intention of coming so near you. I am sorry I came so near you.” His ship fell off with the jib-boom over my decks; her bows exposed to my broadside, her stern to the fire of the Essex Junior, her crew in the greatest confusion ; and in fifteen minutes I could have taken or destroyed her. After he had brought his ship to anchor, commodore Hillyar and captain Tucker, of the Cherub, visited me on shore, when I asked him if he intended to respect the neutrality of the port. Sir,” said he, "you have paid such respect to the neutrality of this port that I feel myself bound, in honour, to do the same.
I have the honour to be, &c.
DAVID PORTER. The Secretary of the Navy.
Wt'is deemed proper to introduce the following letters in this place, as they are the sequel of captain Porter's cruize in the Pacific.-EDITOR.] •
NEW YORK, August 28th, 1815. SIR,
I have the honour to inform you that on the 12th of December, 1813, (the day on which the Essex frigate and Essex Junior took their departure from Nooaheevah,) I was left in Port Anna Maria Bay, with eighteen men under my command, and six prisoners of war in charge of the establishment on shore, together with the prize ships Greenwich, Seringapatam, Sir Andrew Hammond, and New Zealander, with orders from captain Porter to remain five and a half calendar months at that place; at the expiration of which time, should he not return or send me further instructions how to act, I was, if possible, to man two of the ships, and after taking every article of value out of the other and burning her, repair to the port of Valparaiso, where, in the event of not finding the frigate, or additional orders, I was authorized to dispose of one of the ships to the best advantage, and take all the men under my charge, as well as the prize crews of the different ships then in that port, on board of the other, and proceed to the United States.
After receiving these instructions my first object was, agreeably to captain Porter's wish, to fill the New Zealander with oil from the other ships, and on the 28th day of December, she took her departure for the United States, with a cargo of 1950 barrels, and well found in every respect for so long a voyage.
It is with regret I inform you, that the frigate had scarcely got clear of the Marquesas, before we discovered a hostile disposition in the natives, and in a few days they became so insolent, that I fourd it absolutely necessary, not only for the security of the ships and property on shore, but for our personal safety, to land my men and regain by force of arms the numerous articles they had in the most daring manner stolen from the encampment; and what was of still greater importance, to prevent, if possible, the execution of threats, which might have been attended with very serious consequences to us, as duty required my men to be much separated. I, however, had the satisfaction to accomplish my wish without firing a musket, and from that time lived in perfect amity with them, until the 7th day of May following, when my distressed situation had nearly placed me in their power. Before, however, mentioning the lamentable events of that and the two following days, I will give you a brief account of a few preceding occurrences, which were sources of great uneasiness:
The first was the death of John Witter, (à faithful old marine who was unfortunately drowned in the surf on the 28th of February,) and the desertion of four of my men; one of them, a black named Isaac Coffin, had deserted from the Essex the day before she left the bay, and was then a prisoner for making the second attempt. They took advantage of a dark night, and left the bay
in a whale boat, unobserved, (all, except the prisoner, having the watch on deck), and carried off several muskets, a supply of ammunition, and many things of but little value. I was prevented from pursuing them, as they had in a measure destroyed the only remaining boat at that time seaworthy.
On the 12th of April we commenced rigging the Seringapatam , and Sir Andrew Hammond, which, as I had calculated, kept the men employed until the 1st of May. All hands were then engaged in removing the remainder of the property from the Greenwich to the Seringapatam, as I began to despair of being rejoined by the frigate at that place.
The work went on well, and the men were obedient to my orders, though I discovered an evident change in their countenances which led me to suppose that there was something wrong in agitation. Under that impression I caused all the muskets, ammunition, and small arms of every description, to be removed from the other ships to the Greenwich, (the one on board of which 1 lived, as a necessary precaution against a surprise from my own
On the 7th of May, while on board the Seringapatam, on duty which required my presence, I was suddenly and violently attacked by the men employed in that ship. After struggling a short time and receiving many bruizes, I was prostrated on the deck and my hands and legs tied. They then threw me on the second deck, thence dragged me into the cabin and confined me in the run. Midshipman Feltus, and acting midshipman Clapp, were in a few minutes after thrown in, tied in the same manner as myself; the scuttle was then nailed down and a sentinel placed overit. After spiking all the guns of the Greenwich and of the Fort, and those of the Sir Andrew Hammond that were loaded; plundering the ships of every thing valuable; committing many wanton depredations on shore; taking all the arms and ammunition from the Greenwich; sending for Robert White, who was turned ashore from the Essex for mutinous conduct; and bending all the necessary sails; they stood out of the bay with a light wind off the land. My fellow prisoners and myself were shortly after taken out of the run and placed in the cabin, under the immediate charge of several men. I then learned the names of the mutineers, and assure you, sir, even in my truly painful situation, it afforded me no smalĭ degree of consolation, that there were no Americans
The following are the names of the mutineers and prisoners of war : Thomas Belcher, boatswain's mate, Englishman; James Bantum, negro; Martin Stanley, foreigner; Robert George, Joseph Curtis, Richard Power, and Jeremiah Workman, Englishmen, (who entered on board the Essex from the whaling ships captured in the Pacific Ocean,) and Robert White, mutineer.-Prisoners, William Clarke, Lewis Ransford, James Morrison, William Stiles, James Duncan, and Robert Lambries.
Shortly after getting clear of the bay, one of the sentinels, (although repeatedly cantioned against putting his finger on the trigger) fired a pistol
, the contents of which passed through my left heel a little below the ancle bone. As soon as the men un deck heard the report, they immediately pointed their muskets down the sky-light and were in the act of firing, but were prevented by the sentinel, who told them that the pistol was accidentally discharged.
At nine o'clock, the night dark, and the wind blowing fresh, after receiving (by request) from the mutineers a barrel of powder and three old muskets, I was put into a leaky boat, in which I found my unfortunate companions, and the only two Americans that were in the ship at the time the mutiny took place, the others being employed on board the Greenwich, and on shore, in putting the arms in order, baking bread, and doing other work which required the most trusty. In this situation, after rowing at least six miles, and every person exhausted from the great exertions made to keep the boat from sinking, we reached the Greenwich, where I found the few remaining men ansiously looking out for me, and seriously alarmed at the conduct of the savages, who had already begun to plunder the encampment, and been informed by Wilson, (a man who had lived among them for several years, and who, as I afterwards learned, was not only instrumental in promoting the mutiny, but, in my absence, plundered the Sir Andrew Hammond) of our defenceless situation.
Finding it impossible to comply with that part of my instructions, directing me to remain in the bay until the 27th of May, I thought it most advisable to repair to the port of Valparaiso, and with
that view, all hands, assisted by George Ross and William Brudenell, (who were living on the island for the purpose of collecting sandal wood,) exerted themselves in making the necessary preparations to depart. My first object was to put the Sir Andrew Hammond in such a situation, that we might get under way at any moment. After which, all hands were engaged in getting the few articles of value from shore, and in endeavouring to recover the property stolen from the Sir Andrew Hammond, when the savages made an unprovoked and wanton attack upon us, in which I have with the deepest regret to inform you, that midshipmen William Feltus, John Thomas, Thomas Gibbs, and William Brudenell, were massacred, and Peter Coddington dangerously wounded, who, with William Worth, made his escape by swimming some distance, when they were both taken out of the water by acting midshipman Clapp, and the three remaining men. Our situation at this moment was most desperate. The savages put off in every direction for the purpose of intercepting the boat and boarding the ship, but were driven back by my firing the few guns we had just before loaded with grape and cannister shot. Before the boat returned and the guns were re-loaded they made a second attempt, and afterwards repeated efforts, first to board the Green