« AnteriorContinuar »
plainly see that she was a ship on the starboard tack, under easy sail, close on a wind; at half past 3 P. M. made her out to be a frigate; continued the chase until we were within about three miles, when I ordered the light sails taken in, the courses hauled up, and the ship cleared for action. At this time the chase had backed his main top-sail, waiting for us to come down. As soon as the Constitution was ready for action, I bore down with an intention to bring him to close action immediately; but on our coming within gun-shot she gave us a broadside and filled away, and wore, giving us a broadside on the other tack, but without effect; her shot falling short. She continued wearing and man@uvreing for about three quarters of an hour, to get a raking position,
but finding she could not, she bore up, and run under top-sails and gib, with the wind on the quarter. Immediately made sail to bring the ship up with her, and 5 minutes before 6 P. M. being along side within half pistol shot, we commenced a heavy fire from all our guns, double shotted with round and grape, and so well directed were they, and so warmly kept up, that in 15 minutes his mizen-mast went by the board, and his main-yard in the slings, and the hull, rigging and sails very much torn to pieces. The fire was kept up with equal warmth for 15 minutes longer, when his main-mast and fore-mast went, taking with them every spar, excepting the bowsprit ; on seeing this we ceased firing, so that in 30 minutes after we got fairly along side the enemy she surrendered, and had not a spar standing, and her hull below and above water so shattered, that a few more broadsides must have carried her down.
After informing you that so fine a ship as the Guerriere, commanded by an able and experienced officer, had been totally dismasted, and otherwise cut to pieces, so as to make her not worth towing into port, in the short space of 30 minutes, you can have no doubt of the gallantry and good conduct of the officers and ship's company I have the honour to command. It only remains, therefore, for me to assure you, that they all fought with great bravery; and it gives me great pleasure to say, that from the smallest boy in the ship to the oldest seaman, not a look of fear was seen. They all went into action, giving three cheers, and requesting to be laid close along side the enemy. Enclosed I have the honour
to send you a list of killed and wounded on board the Constitution, and a report of the damages she has sustained ; also, a list of the killed and wounded on board the enemy, with his quarter bill, &c.
I have the honour to be,
ISAAC HULL. The Hon. Paul Hamilton, &c.
Killed and wounded on board the United States' frigate Consti
tution, Isaac Hull, Esqr. Captain, in the action with his Britannic majesty's frigate Guerriere, James A. Dacres, Esqr. Captain, on the 20th of August, 1812.
Killed-W. S. Bush, lieutenant of Marines, and six seamen,
ny Wounded-lieutenant C. Morris, Master J. C. Aylwin, four seamen, one marine,
U. S. frigate Constitution, Aug. 21, 1812.
ISAAC HULL, Captain.
Killed and wounded on board the Guerriere. Killed-3 officers, 12 seamen and marines,
15 Wounded—J. A Dacres, captain, 4 officers, 57 seamen and marines, 62 Missing - lieutenants Pullman and Roberts, and 22 seamen and marines, supposed to have gone overboard with the masts,
The Constitution rates 44 guns, and mounted 55, her complement 450 men. The Guerriere rates 38 guns, and mounted 49, her complement 300 men.
Three days before the engagement with the Constitution, the Guerriere spoke the John Adams, captain Fash, from Liverpool, and endorsed on his register the following lines :
Captain Dacres, commander of his Britannic majesty's frigate Guerriere, of 44 guns, presents his compliments to commodore Rodgers, of the United States frigate President, and will be very happy to meet him, or any other American frigate of equal force to the President, off Sandy Hook, for the purpose of having a few minutes tete-a-tete."
Captain Hull saved him the trouble of going so far for the desired tete-a-tete, which resulted not quite to the satisfaction and pleasure of Captain Dacres.
Extract of a letter from Captain Hull to the Secretary of the
Navy, dated August 30, 1812.
“ I cannot but make you acquainted with the very great assistance I received from that valuable officer, lieutenant Morris, in bringing the ship into action, and in working her whilst along side the enemy, and I am extremely sorry to state that he is badly wounded, being shot through the body; we have yet hopes of his
recovery, when I am sure he will receive the thanks and grati.. tude of his country, for this and the many gallant acts he has done in its service. Were I to name any particular officer as having been more useful than the rest, I should do them great injustice; they all fought bravely, and gave me every possible assistance that I could wish. I am extremely sorry to state to you the loss of lieutenant Bush, of marines: he fell at the head of his men in getting ready to board the enemy. In him our country has lost a valuable and brave officer. After the fall of lieutenant Bush, lieutenant Contee of the corps, took command of the marines, and I have pleasure in saying that his conduct was that of a brave, good officer, and the marines behaved with great coolness and courage during the action, and annoyed the enemy very much whilst she was under our stern.'
UNITED STATES' FRIGATE PRESIDENT,
BOSTON, September 1, 1812. SIR,
I had the pleasure of informing you of the arrival of the squadron, and now to state the result and particulars of our cruise.
Previous to leaving New York on the 21st of June, I heard that a British convoy had sailed from Jamaica for England, on or about the 20th of the preceding month, and on being informed of the declaration of war against Great Britain, I determined in the event of commodore Decatur joining me with the United States, Congress and Argus, as you had directed, to go in pursuit of them. The United States, Congress and Argus, did join me on the 21st, with which vessels, this ship and the Hornet, I accordingly sailed in less than an hour after I had received your orders of the 18th of June, accompanied by your official communication of the declaration of war.
On leaving New York, I shaped our course south-eastwardly, in the expectation of falling in with vessels, by which I should hear of the before mentioned convoy, and the following night met with an American brig that gave me the sought for information : the squadron now crowded sail in pursuit; but the next morning was taken out of its course, by the pursuit of a British frigate, that I since find was the Belvidera, relative to which I beg leave to refer
to the enclosed extract from my journal : after repairing as far as possible the injury done by the Belvidera te our spars and rigging, we again crowded all sail and resumed out course in pursuit of the convoy, but did not receive further intelligence of it until the 29th of June, on the western edge of the banks of Newfoundland, where we spoke an American schooner, the master of which ted that he had two days before ssed them in latitude 43, longitude 55, steering to the eastward ; I
was surprised to find that the squadron was still so far to the eastward of us, but was urged, however, as well by what I considered my duty, as by inclination, to continue the pursuit.
On the 1st of July, a little to the eastward of Newfoundland bank, we fell in with quantities of cocoa-nut shells, orange peels, &c. which indicated that the convoy were not far distant, and we pursued it with zeal, although frequently taken out of our course by vessels it was necessary to chase, without gaining any further intelligence until the 9th of July, in latitude 45, 30, longi. tude 23, we captured the British private armed brig Dolphin, of Jersey, and was informed by some of her crew that they had seen the convoy the preceding evening, the weather was not clear at the time, but that they had counted 85 sail, and that the force charged with its protection consisted of one two decker, a frigate, a sloop of war, and a brig.
This was the last intelligence I received of the before mentioned convoy, although its pursuit was continued until the 13th of July, being then within 18 or 20 hours sail of the British channel. From this we steered for the island of Madeira, passed close by it on the 21st of July, thence near the Azores, and saw Corvo and Flores ; thence steered for the banks of Newfoundland; and from the latter place (by the way of Cape Sable) to this port, it having become indispensibly necessary. (by the time we reached our own coast) to make the first convenient port in the United States ; owing, I am sorry to say, to that wretched disease the scurvy, having made its appearance on board of the vessels, most generally to a degree seriously alarming.
From the western part of the banks of Newfoundland to our making the island of Madeira, the weather was such, at least six days out of seven, as to obscure from our discovery, every object that we did not pass within four or five miles of, and indeed for several days together the fog was so thick as to prevent our seeing each other, even at a cable's length asunder, more than twice or thrice in twenty-four hours.
From the time of our leaving the United States until our arrival here we chased every vessel we saw, and you will not be a little astonished when l'inform you that, although we brought to every thing we did chase, with the exception of four vessels, we only made seven captures and one re-capture.
It is truly an unpleasant task to be obliged to make a communication thus barren of benefit to our country: the only consolation I individually feel on the occasion, being derived from our knowing that our being at sea obliged the enemy to concentrate a considerable portion of his most active force, and thereby prevented his capturing an incalculable amount of American property that would otherwise have fallen a sacrifice.
I am aware of the anxiety you must have experienced at not hearing from me for such a length of time, but this I am sure you will not attribute in any degree to neglect, when I inform you that
not a single proper opportunity occurred from the time of leaving the United States until our return.
Mr. Newcomb, who will deliver you this, you will find an intelligent young man, capable of giving such further information as you may deem of any moment: he will at the same time deliver you a chart, shewing the track in which we cruised: annexed is a list of vessels captured, re-captured and burnt.
The four vessels we chased and did not come up with were, the Belvidera, a small pilot-boat schooner, supposed to be an American privateer, the hermaphrodite privateer brig, Yankee, which we lost sight of in a fog, but whose character we afterwards learnt, and a frigate supposed to be British, that we chased on the 28th ultimo near the shoal of George's bank, and should certainly have come up with, had we have had the advantage of two hours more day-light.
On board of the several vessels of the squadron there are between 80 and 100 prisoners taken from the vessels we captured during our late cruise: the government not having any agent for prisoners here, I shall send them to commodore Bainbridge, to be disposed of in such manner as best appears with the interest of the United States, and which I hope may meet your approbation.
With the greatest respect,
JOHN RODGERS. The Hon. Paul Hamilton,
Secretary of the Navy, Washington. One ship, four brigs, and two schooners were captured during this cruise.
FELLOW CITIZENS OF Ohio,
At a moment like this, I appeal to your valor and patriotism. Major general Harrison will rendezvous a respectable force of Kentucky volunteers at Dayton on the 15th instant for a short expedition. General Harrison desires to add to his troops any number of volunteers from the state of Ohio, who will serve on the expedition thirty days. All those who will embrace this favourable opportunity of distinguishing themselves under an able commander, and of rendering to the state of Ohio a valuable service, will in their equipments and movements follow the directions of General Harrison, hereunto subjoined.
R. J. MEIGS,
Governor of Ohio. Piqua, September 2, 1812.