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Cruizer-class Brig-Sloops of the Royal Navy


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#1
Dave Fellingham

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I was considering building Caldercraft's Cruizer, did a little basic research on her on Wikipedia and found that there were 106 of these brig-rigged sloops built. I quickly realized a modeler could build any one of these vessels with only very slight modifications to the kit.

 

Many of these large Cruizer-class brig-sloops had very mundane, unremarkable careers. Others came to tragic ends through shipwreck on uncharted or incorrectly charted rocks and shoals or departed for a destination, never arrived and were presumed to be lost at sea. Several had very distinguished and brilliant careers and a few had engaged in historically significant ship-to-ship duels during the Napoleonic Wars and the War of 1812. I'm going to focus on eight1 of them that intrigued me as subjects for a model: seven1 that engaged US Navy sloops of war in the War of 1812 and one that had been modified with an innovative experimental arrangement of her armament.

 

 

HMS Raven - Launched 25 July, 1804

 

Raven​ was commissioned in August with Commander William Layman in command. Layman was a protege of Lord Nelson with whom he had served on three previous assignments. With Nelson's support he changed Raven's armament by planking over the two forward gun ports and the two transom gun ports, removed two 6 pounder chase guns and built platforms at those two locations where he mounted 68 pounder carronades on transverse (pivoting) mounts on the ship center line which gave each a field of fire of as much as 180 degrees or more. I have not been able to find the use of pivoting mounts on another vessel larger than coastal and fresh water gunboats prior to Raven in 1804. Otherwise Raven was typical of her class.

 

Length: 100 ft 2 in (gundeck),  77 ft 6 in (keel)

Beam: 30 ft 6 in

Tonnage: 384 (burthen)

Armament: 16 x 32 pounder carronades + 2 x 6 pounder chase guns (before modification)

                16 x 32 pounder carronades + 2 x 68 pounder carronades on transverse mounts (after modification)

Complement: 121

 

Raven arrived near Cadiz to join Nelson's squadron with dispatches on the evening of 29 January 1805. Layman ordered Raven hove to, took a sounding (no bottom with an 80 fathom lead), left orders with the officer of the watch that the lead be cast every half hour and went below.

 

At about midnight the officer of the watch woke Layman and reported the lights of the squadron, then returned in minutes with the news that the lights were Cadiz. Layman started the lead finding 18 fathoms shoaling to 5 fathoms as he turned Raven about.

 

Daylight found Raven close inshore with the Spanish fleet at anchor on one side and the shore batteries on Santa Catalina on the other. Layman worked Raven over the shoals but was forced to anchor after increasing winds caused the main yard to break in the slings. The winds further increased to gale force, dragging the anchors, and drove Raven onto the beach at Santa Catalina. Raven was unsalvageable and her crew was taken into custody by the Spanish.

 

While in custody, Layman made inquiries among the crew and learned that his orders for soundings to be made every bell were ignored. He also learned that the officer of the watch was in his quarters, drunk, when the lights of Cadiz were reported by the look-outs.

 

After an officer exchange, Lieutenant Layman reported his findings to Lord Nelson in Gibraltar who advised him not to blame his officers for the loss of Raven. Nelson feared that the officer of the watch would be executed for his conduct and assured Layman "You will not be censured."

 

Nelson had misjudged the situation. On 9 March 1805 Layman was severely reprimanded and lost all his seniority. He appealed his court martial but the Admiralty was not willing to overturn the court's verdict. Nelson was killed at Trafalgar before further action could be taken. Layman's only powerful friend could no longer help him. It appears that Layman had annoyed many senior officers with his outspoken advocacy for improvements to the Navy and its ships and his career was destroyed in consequence.

 

Subsequent courts martial found Layman's master negligent in not monitoring Raven's movements and in not taking regular soundings. Layman's second lieutenant, the officer of the watch, was dismissed from the service.

 

Layman remained in the service but never received promotion to captain. He committed suicide on 22 May 1826.

 

 

 

[Sources: "HMS Raven (1804)" - Wikipedia and the bibliography for that article;  Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900;  http://aboutnelson.yuku.com/topic/808/Captain-Layman-new-thread ]

 

 

I find HMS Raven an interesting subject for a model as much for the injustice done to an energetic and intelligent young officer as for the innovation in the arrangement of her armament. Raven is also interesting for having the shortest life of any of the Cruizer class brig-sloops.2

 

I'll continue with one or more of the Cruiser-class engagements of the War of 1812 in a day or two.

 

Dave

 

Edits:  1  Increased the number by one when I realized I had overlooked one engagement that occurred after the Treaty of Ghent had been ratified 17 February 1815 in which neither combatant knew of the end of the war.

2   Added information   


Edited by DFellingham, 28 May 2013 - 04:30 AM.

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#2
Walter Biles

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Dave,

That is pretty interesting. I like reading about ships and what went on in them.

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#3
Dave Fellingham

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Cruizers, part 2:  HMS Frolic vs USS Wasp

 

The Cruizer-class brig-sloop HMS Frolic launched on 9 February, 1806 and commissioned soon after.

 

She was one of seventy vessels in Portsmouth in December 1806 when news arrived that Tsar Alexander I of Russia had declared war on Great Britain and the subsequent seizure of two Russian navy vessels, the frigate Speshnoy and storeship Wilhelmina transporting payroll for a Russian squadron in the Mediterranean.

 

Frolic, under Commander Thomas Whinyates, sailed for the West Indies on 21 February 1808.  There she participated in the invasion of Martinique in February 1809, the invasion of Guadeloupe from 28 January to 6 February 1810 and was among the force present at the surrender of Saint Martin on 17 February.

 

The United States declared war against Great Britain 18 June, 1812.  Both sides pursued the naval war with privateer and regular navy vessels.  Fortunately for the United States, Great Britain was heavily involved in the war in Europe and had few vessels to assign to the war against the United States.

 

Frolic left the Gulf of Honduras bound for England on 12 September as escort to a convoy of approximately fourteen merchant vessels.  Near Havana, Cuba, Captain Thomas Whinyates learned of the war with the United States and USS Constitution's capture and sinking of HMS Guerriere from a passing ship.  Frolic, having now been five years in the West Indies, was due for re-fit and for her captain to take command of a vessel befitting his recent promotion to post captain.  She was also short handed (eleven short of full complement) with 92 officers and men plus 18 boys, and had one salvaged 12 pounder carronade, lashed down in the bow.  Her armament included the standard 16 x 32 pounder carronades, 2 x 6 pounder guns in the forward gun ports, 2 x brass 6 pounder guns (captain's property) in the stern chase ports and a 12 pounder carronade on a gun carriage (for use as a boat gun) on the forecastle platform. [see post #5.] 

 

Approximately 300 miles north of Bermuda the convoy encountered a violent gale of wind on 16 October.  The gale scattered the convoy and carried away Frolic’s main yard, sprung her main topmast and shredded both topsails.  She started jury repairs and recovered six vessels of the convoy the next day.

 

Wasp, newly refitted and with a full crew of hand-picked volunteers, Master Commandant Jacob Jones in command, left the Delaware River on 13 October heading south-east to intercept vessels bound for England from the West Indies.  She encountered the same storm and suffered damage to her jib boom and two crewmen lost overboard on the 16th.  At 11:30 pm the next day, look-outs spotted the sails of Frolic and the remnants of the convoy to leeward.  Jones maintained Wasp’s distance from the unidentified sail until dawn.

 

USS Wasp’s Specifications

Length:  105 ft 10 ½ inches

Beam:  30 ft 10 inches

Tonnage:  434 (burthen)

Rig:  ship-rigged sloop

Armament:  16 x 32 pounder carronades + 2 x long 12 pounder brass guns + 2 x 4 pounder brass guns, usually carried in the tops but taken down and on deck due to the recent gale.

Complement:  140

 

The next morning Jones identified the vessels as British merchantmen with a Royal Navy brig, flying Spanish colors to mislead Wasp, standing between Wasp and the merchantmen.  Although the weather was clear, there was still a strong wind blowing and heavy seas.  Both vessels cleared for action and shortened sail.  Frolic secured the unfinished jury main yard to the deck and set the boom mainsail and a reefed fore topsail.  Since both vessels carried a main armament of short-range carronades, there was no attempt at maneuvering to gain advantage before the fight.

 

They closed to about 60 yards with the Wasp to starboard and slightly to windward and Frolic to port.  Wasp's hail was answered by a broadside which was instantly returned.  Wind and sea reduced the distance and the action became close and furious.  In less than five minutes Frolic shot away Wasp’s main topmast followed by her gaff and mizzen top-gallant mast shortly after.

 

The sea was so rough that the muzzles of the guns on both vessels were frequently under water, the amount of roll worse for Frolic because of her diminished stores.  Still the cannonade continued with mutual spirit.  The American crew fired as the engaged side rolled down, into her opponent's hull, while the British fired as the engaged side rolled up, into her enemy's rigging.  Shortly after Wasp’s main topmast had come down, Frolic’s gaff head-braces were shot away.  Now, less than ten minutes since the opening broadside and without any sail on her main mast the brig lost the ability to prevent Wasp from taking up a raking position on her larboard bow.  As the action continued, the ships closed together until Frolic’s bow struck Wasp amidship and the American gunners struck the hull of Frolic with their rammers as they reloaded.  Wasp fired a final raking broadside.

 

U.S.S._Wasp_Boarding_H.M_Brig_Frolic.jpg

"USS Wasp Boarding HM Brig Frolic", c. 1815 by Thomas Birch (1779 - 1851), (public domain)

This painting is claimed to have been the property of Captain James Biddle, USN, Lieutenant of the USS Wasp.

 

At 11:52 am, just twenty-two minutes since the opening broadside, American sailors boarded the Frolic to find that all the British officers and 58 men of her crew, were wounded or dead.  The Americans had suffered 15 casualties.  Although it was acknowledged that the British crew had fought to their utmost, it was clear that the American gunnery had been far superior to that of the British.

 

Shortly after the fighting ended, both of Frolic's masts fell.  An American prize crew went aboard the Frolic and attempted to repair the rigging, but a few hours later a British ship of the line, HMS Poictiers, commanded by Captain John Beresford, came into view.  Frolic was still unmanageable, and with its damaged rigging Wasp was soon overtaken and surrendered in the face of impossible odds.  Beresford was due to join the fleet blockading the American coast, but thought it necessary to collect Frolic's convoy and take them to Bermuda, where they were forced to remain for several days until another escort could be found.  

 

The subsequent court martial honorably acquitted Whinyates, his officers and his men for the loss of the ship.  Whinyates next assumed command of Bann, a 20 gun frigate.  Frolic, recommissioned later that October with her former first officer, Lieutenant Andrew Mitchell (acting commander until confirmed 24 August 1813) in command, was one of four vessels to participate in the capture of the ship Fame on 20 July 1813.  She continued in service until broken up in November 1813. 

 

Master Commandant Jacob Jones and his crew were soon released by an exchange of prisoners.  Jones received promotion and assumed command of USS Macedonian captured from the Royal Navy on 25 October.  He later served as second in command to Commodore Isaac Chauncey on Lake Ontario.

 

Wasp briefly served in the Royal Navy, first as HMS Loup Cervier – at one point she was challenged to a duel by her sister ship, Hornet, commanded by her own former first lieutenant, James Lawrence - and later as HMS Peacock after Hornet sank Peacock.  The ex-Wasp wrecked in 1814.

 

Next: Peacock

 

Sources:

The Naval History of Great Britain by William James, 1824

History of the Navy of the United States by J. Fenimore Cooper, 1836

The Naval War of 1812 by Theodore Roosevelt, 1900

The Age of Fighting Sail by C. S. Forester, 1957

Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, Dept US Navy, (online)

 

[Edited to include information from post #5]


Edited by DFellingham, 27 May 2013 - 11:03 PM.

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#4
Dave Fellingham

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Cruizers, part 3:  HMS Peacock

 

The Cruizer-class brig-sloop HMS Peacock launched on 9 February, 1806, coincidentally the same day as Frolic, and commissioned soon after.  Peacock over the next years developed a reputation of being a “yacht” for her tasteful deck arrangement and relocated shot racks, canvas lined breech ropes and brightly polished brass elevating screws and traversing wheel brackets for the carronades.  Someone, for an unknown reason, changed her carronades to 16 x 24 pounders instead of the class standard 32’s.  She probably had small raised fore and aft platforms, similar to those on Caldercraft/Jotika’s Snake; one report states that she had a carriage mounted 12 pounder carronade "on her forecastle" and a long gun (most likely a 6 pounder) as a stern chaser.  There is no space for these guns, as described, except on similar platforms.

 

On 26 October 1812, USS Constitution, Commodore William Bainbridge, with Hornet, Master Commander James Lawrence, sortied from Boston Harbor, just eight days after Wasp captured Frolic and one day after United States captured Macedonian.

 

On 12 December the two ships arrived at Salvador, Brazil where they found HMS Bonne Citoyenne with over a half million dollars in silver on board making repairs.  On the 26th, Bainbridge left Hornet alone to blockade Bonne Citoyenne and headed south.  He met, captured and blew up HMS Java on 29 December then returned to Salvador.

 

On 6 January Constitution departed for Boston.  Lawrence on Hornet continued the blockade until 26 January when the arrival of Montagu (74) forced him to leave.  Hornet headed north along the coast and took a few prizes.

 

Hornet-vs-Peacock by OBrien.jpg

HMS Peacock vs USS Hornet by Patrick O'Brien

24 February 1813

 

On 24 February Hornet pursued a British merchant brig into the mouth of the Demerara River where Lawrence saw HMS Espiegle (another Cruizer-class brig-sloop) at anchor, altered course around the sand bar that separated them, then soon noticed Peacock standing in from seaward.  He altered course at about 3:30 pm to gain the weather gage on Peacock.

 

USS Hornet’s Specifications

                    Length:  106 ft 9 inches

                    Beam:  31 ft 5 inches

                    Tonnage:  440 (burthen)

                    Rig:  ship-rigged sloop

                    Armament:  18 x 32 pounder carronades + 2 x 12 pounder long guns

                    Complement:  142

 

At 4:20 Peacock hoisted her colors; Hornet went to quarters and cleared for action.  They continued towards each other, close to the wind on opposite tacks, Hornet on the starboard tack.

 

At 5:10 Lawrence adjusted course to pass close to Peacock, maintaining the weather gage, and hoisted the colors.

 

At 5:25 the ships passed at very close range (“half pistol shot”) and fired their larboard broadsides as the guns bore.  All of Hornet’s fire struck Peacock while Peacock’s fire went so high that it did little damage other than killing one man in Hornet’s main top and wounding two in the fore top – the only casualties Hornet suffered in the battle.  Peacock turned down wind to fire a raking broadside into Hornet’s stern but Lawrence anticipated this, made the same maneuver more quickly, striking Peacock’s stern with Hornet’s starboard bow, and then opened a furious, raking fire with the starboard battery into Peacock’s stern and starboard quarter.  At 5:39, completely shattered and unable to bring any guns to bear in answer to Hornet’s cannonade, Peacock struck, immediately signaled distress, and then her main mast fell.

 

Hornet’s boarding party reported five dead, including Captain Peake, thirty-three wounded and Peacock sinking with six feet of water in the hold and rising.  Every effort was made by both crews to move the wounded to Hornet and save Peacock, but to no avail for Peacock.  She sank in 33 feet of water so quickly that she took three men from Hornet and nine from Peacock with her.  Most of the men on board when this happened saved themselves by climbing into Peacock’s launch as Peacock sank beneath it or climbing the foremast rigging.

 

Lawrence, aware that Espiegle, at last sighting anchored inside the bar at the Demerara River, could be looking for Hornet, ordered Hornet’s repairs.  By 9 pm, with the greatest of exertions, Hornet had new sails bent, rigging repaired, boats stowed and the ship cleared and ready for another action.  With 277 men on board and short of water, Lawrence determined to return home and got under way at about 2 am.

 

Hornet arrived in Martha’s Vineyard on 19 March and in New York soon after.  James Lawrence received promotion and command of the 38-gun frigate Chesapeake.  Bainbridge was assigned to supervise the construction of the first 74 built by the US Navy and take command when completed.

 

News of the fourth and fifth US Navy victories at sea in as many engagements between nominally equal ships upset the British public which was accustomed to naval victories even against nearly impossible odds.  The Admiralty was even less pleased and ordered that US 44-gun frigates were not to be engaged except with superior force.  The captain of Espiegle was court-martialed for not engaging Hornet and helping Peacock.  The US battle report had the engagement four miles from Espiegle but a reconstruction of the battle showed that Peacock was never visible from Espiegle and that the battle itself occurred 20 or more miles away.  He was reprimanded for not exercising his crew at the guns, in effect making him a scapegoat for Peake who had concentrated more on the appearance of his command than its fighting efficiency.

 

The Royal Navy re-named the ex-USS Wasp a second time to Peacock.

 

Peacock is the namesake for one of the three United States Frolic-class 22-gun sloops of war built during the War of 1812, the other two being Frolic and Wasp.  Two of these three will be heard from again.

 

Peacock might make an interesting variation of Caldercraft/Jotika’s Cruizer with small added fore and aft platforms with guns, the main battery changed to 24 pounder carronades and the addition of the “yacht” details. 

 

 

Next:  HMS Pelican

 

 

Sources: 

The Naval History of Great Britain by William James, 1824

History of the Navy of the United States by J. Fenimore Cooper, 1836

The Naval War of 1812 by Theodore Roosevelt, 1900

The Age of Fighting Sail by C. S. Forester, 1957

Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, Dept US Navy, (online)

 

Edited to correct a minor detail and typos


Edited by DFellingham, 28 May 2013 - 03:00 AM.

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#5
uss frolick

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The Frolick was unneccesarily overgunned during her engagement with Wasp I. She had two standing stern chasers (possibly brass six pounders, the captains property), and two 12-pounder carronades on the topgallant forecastle deck, instead of the usual single boat gun. The second 12 pounder carronade had just been salvaged from a wreck and was lashed to the deck and not yet serviceable,  22 guns total, but only 18 in proper broadside, there being no extra broadside ports available to receive them. Capt. Jones correctly reported Frolick to be a 22 gun sloop of war.



#6
Dave Fellingham

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I wondered how Frolic came to be reported as 22-gun.  I assumed that the count came from the fact that Frolic had the usual unused pair of gun ports forward and two stern ports and James (or other reporters) had assumed guns were mounted at those locations.  I hadn't known about the two brass guns and a 12 pounder carronade boat gun; I mentioned an un-mounted gun lashed down forward without further details in the source.

 

Could you post your source so someone interested in HMS Frolic can follow up on it?


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#7
uss frolick

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Hi Molasses,

 

The extra boat gun reference came from a secondary source, possibly James' Naval Occurrences, and the standing stern chasers came from from a letter from "an officer" (an American midshipman, most likely) published in an American newspaper. This was ancillary research that I did twenty years ago for my book about the second Wasp (1813). I don't recall which paper, the date, etc, but I'll look. I saved a lot, but not everything. It wasn't uncommon: HMS Avon had an extra pair of standing stern chasers, as did another, HMS Pelican, I think, and also in 1811 Captain Skeene (?) mounted a pair of private brass 12-pounders on board HMS Guerriere, but took them with him when he turned over command to poor Captain Dacres ... But the passage of time has dulled my brain ... Perhaps I shouldn't have commented without a citable source in hand, but I too questioned captain Jones' official report and was happy to have found a plausible explanation.



#8
Dave Fellingham

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I definitely appreciate your comments, and anything you choose to add (or correct if need be) is welcome.  I'm not a scholar or writer, I'm a modeler who enjoys learning about the human and historical connections of the subjects I'm considering for models.  I thought it would be interesting to other modelers to learn about some of the Cruizer-class brig-sloops that can be built from the Cruizer kit with relatively easy modifications, usually no more than a change in armament.  I can build only one of them - I'm leaning toward Raven at present but can easily change my mind.

 

The lashed-down un-mounted gun reference came from James' Naval History, so it doesn't surprise me that you found more in his Occurrences.  I'm finding James to be interesting reading as long as I have other secondary sources at hand to read in parallel.  He is good at presenting the facts from his original sources, but from time to time, when he draws conclusions relating to US Navy vs Royal Navy engagements in the War of 1812, he lets his intense irritation at the RN losses override his scholarship.

 

It's becoming quite clear that the armament of vessels was very much up to the discretion of their commanding officers such as was done with Raven and Peacock, and with the additions made to Frolic that clears up the discrepancy between Jones's report and her standard armament.  I was very disturbed by the possibility that Jones had exaggerated Frolic's armament and had it perpetuated by the US Navy; I'm pleased to learn of a plausible, documented explanation.

 

I'll write about Pelican next, and Avon shortly after that.  


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#9
trippwj

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This is a most interesting thread!  Frolick - would be interested in learning more about your book if you would care to share (possibly in the Books section so we con'd hijack this thread completely!)


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#10
mtaylor

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Fascinating research Dave.  I hope you'll continue.


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#11
Dave Fellingham

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Thank you, Mark, I intend to.  I'm working on five more "chapters" covering other Cruizer-class sloops in the War of 1812.  I might expand the series to include some of those brig-sloops that had been in action in Europe.  One of those actions reminded me of the last battle of Forester's fictional Sutherland.


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#12
dafi

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Great research and great read!!!

 

Love it :-)

 

On another place we had a discussion about the dates of the first two ships of the class.

 

HMS Cruizer 1797

HMS Snake 1797/1798

 

Wikipedia gives the ordering date of both vessels on 19 December 1796 and the launch for Snake 18 December 1797 and Cruizer 20 December 1797.

http://en.wikipedia....lass_brig-sloop

 

Two things: Many sources give the launch date for Snake in 1798 and also, if Snake was launched earlier, why is it not called Snake Class?

Any information about these mysteries that are most possibly linked?

 

Thank you, Daniel


Edited by dafi, 27 March 2013 - 10:09 AM.

To victory and beyond! http://modelshipworl...ory-and-beyond/

 

By the Deep 17 http://modelshipworl...-display/page-4

 

SMS Trinkstein http://modelshipworl...navy/#entry3314

 

See also our german forum for Sailing Ship Modeling and History: http://www.segelschiffsmodellbau.com/

 

 

Finest etch parts for HMS Victory 1:100 (Heller Kit) and other useful bits.

http://dafinismus.de/index_en.html

 

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#13
uss frolick

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Trippwj: I would be happy to shamelesly plug my book: "Blakeley and the Wasp: The Cruise of 1814." Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, MD, 2001. It is the biography of Captain Johnston Blakeley, USN, of Pittsboro, NC.

 

Molasses: although William James was definitely an Ameri-phobe, he is acccurate, mostly, with the technical facts. He was good friends with the Shannon's Captain Phillip Brooke after the war. When the War of 1812 Broke out, James was trapped in NY. He soon found himself in jail after shooting his mouth off (he was a lawyer, so what did you expect?) , where he was treated very bady. He escaped, and made it on foot to Canada. His attitude in "Naval Occurances" reflects his experiences!!! He softens his tone a little in his monumental six volume "Naval History of Great Britain".

 

Also, Captain Jones of Wasp (1) specifically deliniates the enemy's force as "sixteen 32-pound carronades, four long twelves and two twelve pound carronades". He obviously mistook the Frolick's chase guns' calibers, but it was dark, and he was very busy. He probably just assumed that the enemy's chase guns were the same size as his, medium 12-pounders; the two sloops being nearly identical, save for the rig. If he was deliberately exaggerating, then he might have increased the number of enemy carronades instead for a greater effect. Four extra guns, none appaently used, and mounted at the extremities, were a disadvantage in those rough seas!

 

HMS Epervier, captured by USS Peacock in 1814, had swapped her two six-pounders out in Halifax for a pair of 18-pounder 'gunnades' to increase her firepower. They may have been carronades with trunion mountings. She landed her 12-pounder carronade then too.

 

HMS Reindeer, which fought the second Wasp, was one of six cruisers built of fir, a less expensive wood, so she sported an old fashioned square-tuck stern. There are seperate plans at the NMM for these six. One square-tucker was built of teak in India, HMS Zebra, me thinks. Reindeer originally had 32-pounder carronades, but was caught up in a storm and had to throw half her battery over the side to right herself. When she returned to Plymouth (or was it Portsmouth?) there were no replacement guns of that caliber available, so she took on board a new battery of 24-pounder carronades. The RN regulations forbade the mixing carronade calibers on a single deck, so Captain Manners had to turn in his remaining 32-pounders. James wrongly states that they swapped the 32's out for lighter 24's because the Reindeer was a tired old sloop. (She was lauched in 1806, and so she was only eight years old when taken.)

 

Whew, I talk too much. Ask Hank.


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#14
Beef Wellington

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Many sources give the launch date for Snake in 1798 and also, if Snake was launched earlier, why is it not called Snake Class?

Any information about these mysteries that are most possibly linked?

 

Thank you, Daniel

 

At the time the Admiralty was investigating the benefits of ship vs sloop rigged so ultimately victorious Cruiser/Snake design won in the original design competition.  I suspect the term 'Cruizer' class simply stuck because the vast majority of the subsequently ordered ships were sloop rigged (as per Cruizer), although they did retain some of the Snake's features (e.g. fore and aft platforms).  I've read consistently that the general opinion was that the ship rigged vessels were superior in sailing and fighting qualities (decreased impact of losing a mast in battle, which was a major factor in the results of some of the war of 1812 engagements as US 'sloops' tended to be ship rigged) but were offset by requiring increased manpower - which I suspect was the determining factor in adopting the sloop rig for the majority of the class.


Cheers,
 
Jason


"But if you ask the reason of this, many will be found who never thought about it"
 
In the shipyard:

HMS Snake (c1797: Cruizer Class, ship rigged sloop)

HMS Jason (c1794: Artois Class 38 gun frigate)


#15
michaelpsutton2

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I might suggest consulting "Modeling the Brig of War Irene" by E.W. Petrejus. It contains a lot of info on the HMS Grasshopper 1806. She was a cruizer class brig taken into the Dutch navy as the Irene.


Drown you may, but go you must and your reward shall be a man's pay or a hero's grave


#16
Dave Fellingham

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Cruizers, part 4:  HMS Pelican

 

The Cruizer-class brig-sloop HMS Pelican launched in August 1812, commissioned on 11 December 1812 under Commander John Fordyce Maples and assigned to the Irish station for convoy escort duty.  On 5 May 1813, she captured the American schooner Neptune’s Barge near Jamaica.  Pelican carried the usual class armament of 16 x 32 pounder carronades, 2 x 6 pound guns (in the forward ports) and a 12 pound carronade mounted on a gun carriage for use as a boat gun.  She also had a pair of 6 pound brass guns, acquired by her captain in Jamaica, at the stern ports and a crew of 116 men and boys.

 

On 10 August 1813 she arrived in Cork, Ireland, as escort to a convoy from the West Indies and joined the hunt two days later for USS Argus which had been raiding British shipping in home waters for a month. 

 

USS Argus’s Specifications

Length:  94 ft 6 inches (gun-deck)

Beam:  28 ft 2 inches

Tonnage:  299 (burthen)

Rig:  brig-rigged sloop

Armament:  18 x 24 pounder carronades + 1 x 12 pounder chase gun

Complement:  102

 

On 18 June 1813 the USS Argus, carrying the new American minister to France, eluded the British blockade of New York Harbor with Master Commander William Henry Allen in command.  Argus was Allen’s first command after promotion for his part as First Lieutenant of the United States during her victory over the Macedonian.  Argus had her armament increased by 2 x 24 pound carronades in the forward ports and removal of 1 x 12 pound gun while blockaded in New York (previously 16 x 24 + 2 x 12)

 

Argus disembarked the minister in Lorient on 11 July and left three days later to begin commerce raiding in the English Channel and Irish Sea.  During the following month, Argus captured nineteen vessels.  Most were burned rather than being sent to America, France or a neutral port as prizes (with prize crews) which would have reduced Argus’s fighting ability.

 

On the evening of 13 August, Pelican observed a burning ship ahead and a brig sailing away from it.  Maples ordered all sails set to give chase but lost sight of her in the darkness.  At 4:45 am, Pelican spotted flames to the northeast from a ship that had just been fired with the same brig seen earlier separating and heading towards several merchantmen to the southeast.

 

pelican v argus.jpg

HMS Pelican vs USS Argus

14 August 1813

 

Although Argus was the faster vessel and was lighter armed (about 82% of Pelican’s weight of broadside) Allen chose to shorten sail at about 5:00 am to allow Pelican to catch up rather than outrun her and evade battle.  With a moderate wind from the south, Pelican had the weather gage.  At a few minutes before 6 am Pelican hoisted her colors, followed by Argus which then wore onto the starboard tack and fired her broadside at grape shot range which was reciprocated by Pelican.

 

Four minutes later, Captain Allen lost his left leg to a round shot from Pelican but refused to go below until he fainted from blood loss when First Lieutenant William H. Watson took command and ordered him taken below.  Watson soon followed his captain to the orlop with a grape shot wound to the head.  Second Lieutenant William Howard Allen (who was not related to William Henry Allen) then took command.  Argus suffered severe damage to her main braces, main springstay, gaff and trysail mast in these first minutes of the battle.

 

At 6:14, Pelican attempted to pass astern of Argus, but Lieutenant Allen ordered all sails aback, frustrating the attempt and bestowing at the same time an ineffectual raking broadside.  Two or three minutes later Argus lost the use of all her main sails after suffering more rigging damage and fell off before the wind.  Pelican at 6:18 passed her stern, raked her heavily and ranged up on her starboard quarter.  In a few minutes, the wheel-ropes and more rigging were shot away and Argus became utterly unmanageable.  Pelican continued raking her with impunity and at 6:35 passed her broadside to take up a position on her starboard bow.  At 6:45 the brigs came together and the British were in the act of boarding when Argus struck her colors.

 

Pelican suffered but two dead and five wounded.  Captain Maples had a narrow escape when a spent grape or canister shot struck him in the chest, breaking a coat button, and fell to the deck.  Her hull was peppered with embedded grape shot, her rigging and sails were much cut up, her foremast, main topmast and royal masts were wounded, and two carronades were dismounted.

 

Argus had ten killed or mortally wounded and fourteen wounded.  Besides the damage previously noted she also had her hull and lower masts cut up and several carronades dismounted.

 

Captain Maples dispatched his prize with half her crew, including the wounded, and a third of his crew with his first and only lieutenant in command to Plymouth.  Maples took Pelican with the remaining half of the prisoners back to Cork to report his victory to Admiral Thornborough.  Maples received a promotion and a post command.  Captain Allen died from his wound on 18 August and was buried with full naval honors on 21 August.  Lieutenant Watson recovered from his head wound.  Argus was not taken into service with the Royal Navy and her crew was imprisoned until the end of the war.

 

This engagement reversed the numerical disparities in size, armament and crew between the Cruizer class brig-sloops, Frolic and Peacock, and the bigger American ship-sloops, Wasp and Hornet, with predictable results.  Although the amount of disparity between Argus and Pelican was about the same as in the other two battles, the outcome, in terms of damage inflicted, was not.  Wasp dismasted Frolic, inflicting 58 casualties while suffering 15 in 45 minutes of battle.  Hornet partially dismasted and sank Peacock, inflicting 38 casualties while taking 3 in 15 minutes.  Pelican disabled Argus with rigging damage, inflicting 28 casualties while taking 7 in 45 minutes.  These numbers suggest that the gunnery on Pelican was about on par with the gunnery on Frolic while the gunnery on Argus was worse than on Peacock.  Reasons for the poor American gunnery in this battle have been debated ever since.

 

Some of the factors debated are:

1)  Physical exhaustion from a month of being on nearly constant alert in the enemy’s home waters while capturing nineteen enemy vessels, including two during the night before the battle, which would have prevented anyone on board Argus from getting any sleep.

2)  One of those two captured vessels had of cargo of wine from Portugal.  There is no reason to believe that an unknown amount of that wine did not somehow make its way on board the Argus and into an unknown number of her crew.

3)  Argus lost her captain and first officer in the first eight minutes of battle and her two midshipmen as well some time during the battle.  This would have left her batteries without proper supervision and could easily have resulted in poor gunnery.  The loss of four of the five officers on board could very easily demoralize a crew.

4)  An officer of the Argus reported after the War was over that Captain Allen had taken a quantity of powder on board from a prize to replenish her magazine.  The gunner shortly after filled a number of cartridge bags with this powder that had been placed in the top of the magazine.  It was later ascertained that this powder was condemned and bound for South America to be sold.  This officer also claimed as proof that Pelican’s sides were dotted with impressions of shot that did not enter.

 

HMS Pelican returned to convoy escort duty for the remainder of the War of 1812.  She later served in the Mediterranean suppressing piracy.

 

In 1850 Pelican was transferred to the Coast Guard, renamed CGWV 29 and stationed at Rye, East Sussex.  She was sold in 1865 giving her the longest government career – 53 years – of all the Cruizer class brig sloops.

 

Pelican might make an interesting variation of Caldercraft/Jotika’s Cruizer with the armament change.  She was remarkable for being the only Cruizer to win against a nominally equal American vessel in an otherwise very boring career, and for her longevity.

 

 

Next:  HMS Epervier

 

 

Edited for font size and a text correction.

Edited for correction of armament on Argus.

 

Sources: 

The Naval History of Great Britain by William James, 1824

History of the Navy of the United States by J. Fenimore Cooper, 1836

The Naval War of 1812 by Theodore Roosevelt, 1900

The Age of Fighting Sail by C. S. Forester, 1957

Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, Dept US Navy, (online)


Edited by DFellingham, 20 June 2013 - 05:27 PM.

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esmeralda (3)sm.jpg

Current Builds:  ESMERALDA Chilean Navy School Ship, 1/640 in a bottle

insanity Dan Clapp's hard water race boat in a bottle

Completed Build:  Prairie Schooner OGALLALA 1/96 in a bottle

Research Project:  Cruizer-class Brig-Sloops

 

 

"Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy." - Benjamin Franklin


#17
Beef Wellington

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Pelican carried the usual class armament of 16 x 32 pounder carronades, 2 x 6 pound guns (in the bridle ports) and a 12 pound carronade mounted on a gun carriage for use as a boat gun.  She also had a pair of 6 pound brass guns, acquired by her captain in Jamaica, at the stern ports and a crew of 116 men and boys.

 

Hi Molasses, great info.  I'm curious where you found information to suggest that the 6lb'ers were placed in the bridal ports.  The configuaration you describe would leave a pair of gunports open which doesn't quite reconcile with the her captains apparent love of armament.   Not saying you are wrong, just curious as I'm looking to build my Snake with this configuration and was planning to put the cannons in the #1 gunports as there is next to no room to fight a gun under the forward platform.


Cheers,
 
Jason


"But if you ask the reason of this, many will be found who never thought about it"
 
In the shipyard:

HMS Snake (c1797: Cruizer Class, ship rigged sloop)

HMS Jason (c1794: Artois Class 38 gun frigate)


#18
Dave Fellingham

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Jason:

 

You're absolutely correct about the guns in the bridle ports.  Even without the small platform, such as on Snake and on some of the Cruizers, there is not enough open deck to work 6 pounders at the bridle ports.  One of the secondary sources I cited used "bridle ports" when he should have wrote "forward gun ports".  I believe it was from James who is usually accurate, but I've caught him in mistakes before.  I'm correcting the article.

 

Thank you for the correction,

Dave


esmeralda (3)sm.jpg

Current Builds:  ESMERALDA Chilean Navy School Ship, 1/640 in a bottle

insanity Dan Clapp's hard water race boat in a bottle

Completed Build:  Prairie Schooner OGALLALA 1/96 in a bottle

Research Project:  Cruizer-class Brig-Sloops

 

 

"Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy." - Benjamin Franklin


#19
Beef Wellington

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Dave, once again, thanks for posting this fascinating thread.  Have you made a decision yet to move forward with a Cruizer/Snake build?  There are some great builds going on right now (not counting my own).


Cheers,
 
Jason


"But if you ask the reason of this, many will be found who never thought about it"
 
In the shipyard:

HMS Snake (c1797: Cruizer Class, ship rigged sloop)

HMS Jason (c1794: Artois Class 38 gun frigate)


#20
Dave Fellingham

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Jason:

 

I've been watching all the Snake builds (including yours) and learning from them.  I'm also watching for Cruizers from MSW 1.0 to return and for new Cruizer builds.

 

I haven't purchased a Cruizer kit yet - I don't want to distract myself from Esmeralda - but I'm looking forward to working in a larger scale.  1/64 is huge compared to 1/640. 


esmeralda (3)sm.jpg

Current Builds:  ESMERALDA Chilean Navy School Ship, 1/640 in a bottle

insanity Dan Clapp's hard water race boat in a bottle

Completed Build:  Prairie Schooner OGALLALA 1/96 in a bottle

Research Project:  Cruizer-class Brig-Sloops

 

 

"Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy." - Benjamin Franklin





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