CharlieZardoz

Brig USS Enterprise 1799 info gathering

124 posts in this topic

Greetings everyone! Been a bit quiet of late due to the fabulous summer but wanted to start a new post where those interested could gather information on the famous schooner/brig Enterprise.  While no plans of her exist, so much secondary information does that I cant help but feel an accurate model could easily be made of her.  Please feel free to add any docs/info to this thread though I'm trying to avoid the Constructo model which I've come to feel isn't a very accurate depiction of the ship.This is what I've come up with... enjoy :)

 

 

First below we have the half-hull model that exists in the Naval historical center which I'd love to get measurements of. This would be before her rebuilding and lengthening from 84.5' to 92'. I included some of the article from the Canney Sailing Warships book since it's a pretty interesting read. :)

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Next we have the model built by Captain Percy Ashley at the Addison Gallery which looks to me like a very close approximation to the lithograph photo shown above if you take into account the placement of the gun ports etc.  Something I'd love to visit I wonder how it was built and if plans survive from the process. :) 

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Last we have the Venice plans by Andrea Salvini which look a bit odd but may very well have accuracy in some of the hull lines. This topic has been discussed before in the forum but would love to get a copy of those as well.

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I found a really excellent diagram illustrated by DonnThorson which to me looked well researched and exactly how I would imagine she would have looked like in her heyday :)

The depiction of the square sails in that lithograph are incorrect.

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The yards are shown in the lowered position so the sail positions are off.  If they are trying to show a course, topsail and topgallant, then the course is being shown with it's foot spread by the main yard.  If they are trying to show the topsail, topgallant, and royals, then they are missing the course.

 

Hope that makes sense.

 

Regards,

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No I understand what you mean er I think, the yard arms appear lowered with the sails in the wrong positions.  I was looking more at the hull construction and merely glanced over the rigging when I saw the pic but seeing it so flat out wrong is cringingly embarrassing, thanks for pointing that out lol. :)

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I emailed the guy to see what sort of plans/diagrams he used for the illustration.  With any luck he'll be open to sending me more on how he put the illustration together. He's done others including the Niagara, Constitution and Constellation though those did not seem to have the same -er weirdness's. Feel free to extrapolate druxey since pointing out obvious errors will only help in the search for accuracy.  :)

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I have to assume he intended to show the yard arms as lowered, if you look at his version of the Niagara they look about where they should be. :P

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Even so, the topsails and topgallants don't ever attach to the yards below them as in the original version of that illustration! Also would the ship really have spread a sail above the gaff at that time?

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It is amazing how different each depiction is one from the other.The half hull looks to be a bluff bow, and the first gun opening is very near the stern, where as the 2 illustrations on  page 2 the bottom shows a sharp bow the top one shows a bluff bow....and the sternmost gun opening is different in both pictures.  The differences continue though out all the depictions.  Too many to define here.

I'd say you need to start with what can best be described by the "experts" as a true representation.  Quite a chore ahead there Charlie.

 

Good luck

Tom

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It was never U.S.S. Niagara - the designation USS didn't come into common usage until the 1860's or official usage until the 1900's.

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OK I did a little more reseach to satisfy myself about the differences in the illustrations.  I ws not aware of this but probably many of you already are, but I'll tel it anyway for my satisfaction.

There were 3 Enterprises from 1775 on to approx 1812.  Two schooners and the third a brig.

The following is from   https://shipwiki.wikispaces.com/Enterprise

 

 

The name Enterprise has a long history in US naval service, going back to 1775, prior to the formal creation of the US Navy. The third USS Enterprise fought in the major wars like the Quasi-War with France, the First Barbary War, and the War of 1812.

" The famous little schooner Enterprise, the pet of the early American navy, was a Baltimore schooner carrying square topsails, a typical clipper built in 1799. She served in so many engagements and came through unscathed that she seemed to bear a charmed life. She captured ninetenn vessels in the West Indies and went through five engagements at sea in 1800 and when war with Tripoli was declared in 1801 she went over to the Mediterranean, and did good work." American Sailing ships: Their Plans and History by Charles G. Davis.

 

In her career of 24, the third USS Enterprise engaged in many battles and never failed to capture her antagonist. It fought in the the Quasi-war with France, the Barbary Wars, the War of 1812, and against pirates, slavers and smugglers in US waters. In these duties the brig captured, defeated or recovered 3 dozen ships. Her most famous battle was that with the British brig Boxer off the Maine coast in 1813. On 9 July 1823 she ran aground and was lost. For the War of 1812, you may further read the page for The Journal of The War of 1812.

For detailed information about Voyages of Enterprise, click http://sandcastlevi.com/sea/enterprise/intro.html

For a ship directory listing voyages of Enterprise, please visit http://sandcastlevi.com/sea/enterprise/voyappa.ht

 

Tom

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Well twin these illustrations and models are all for the 1799 vessel, which was altered several times in its service history.  Appreciate the sandcastle articles that's really nice info there!  And good observation about the USS there Jerry I would almost take those drawings down having caused so much controversy on here however they do serve for some amusement at least if nothing else. ;) 

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Strange model by Captain Ashley. The gun-port spacing looks too close together, and the space between the aft-most port and the tafferail looks too long. The profile of the hull reminds me of the Model Shipways Kit of the Brigantine Newsboy of 1854.

 

Great post Charlie.

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I agree frolick it's a bit strange.  I think he attempted to copy the period sketch image above (also look below) which also has 11 gun ports, almost exactly.  I'm finding it's hard to determine how accurate the period illustrations truly are as they were likely drawn by eye, hence why I thought the Donn Thorson illustration, while a bit flawed with its sail position, seems to have a more balanced placement of gun ports.  I don't think the Enterprise would have had half gun ports though like Constitution does today though I could be wrong about that, thoughts?  And to twintrow, It seems that most of the depictions above show the Enterprise with 9 ports on each side, the half hull has 10 but those are merely tape and the ones at the end might not have been there. Also I'm not sure if she had a bluff bow or billet head (the half hull might not have shown it) though I'd like to believe that by the time of her rebuild at least she had a typical clipper bow like in the Don Thorson image since IDK it just looks nicer to me :D

 

The Enterprise of 1799 is an interesting ship in my opinion.  Unlike the later brigs from a few years after Argus, Syren, Vixen etc. which all share a similar look/style Enterprise being older strikes me as a missing link between the sort of privateers of the revolution (Lexington, Providence, etc.) and the Barbary brigs that came to represent the early navy.  The fact that she was altered so radically leads me to think she was something of a prototype. BTW below for those interested are the plans of her successor from the 1830's which looks to my eyes similar to the later era Baltimore clippers like Roger B Taney. I also added a second illustration of the ship after 1806 which looks like it was done by Jean-Jerome Baugean who I believe also did the illustration on page 1 (thought it was the same one at first). Also below is an illustration of all the Enterprises which I feel a nice general depiction of each Enterprise lined up next to one another. :)

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The Venice Arsenal plan shows a vessel with an enormous head, one fitting the Frigate Confederacy, while the two contemporary paintings show no head at all. Oddly, those who discovered and discussed the plans in print don't even mention that Jimmy Durante schnoz!

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Jimmy Durante?? I'd like to think the Venice plan (if it is legit the Enterprise at all) is possibly just a conjectural plan that possibly wasn't even fully implemented.  Still even as it is the plans may serve useful if just to study the layout of ships similar to the Enterprise at that time period.  The ideal in my opinion would be to take the lines off the half-hull and compare it to the model and the various "plans" to see how closely they match up... if at all.

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When I was building my model of the Enterprise which was the kit by Constructo (#80822) I came across a couple publications in my research. The first was an article that appeared in the winter 1999 issue of the Journal Of The War Of 1812 by Michael Bosworth. I don't think this paper is in print anymore so if you would like a copy let me know.

 

The second, was an article I found on a website I believe was called The Ancient Mariner, again I don't think this paper is available anymore either.

 

And thirdly, is a book you can download from Google called "The Lucky Little Enterprise" and Her Successors In the United States Navy 1776-1900 by Fredrick Stanhope Hill.  This book is also available through the Internet Archeive https://archive.org/details/luckylittleenter00hilliala.

 

 

I have some photos of my build here

 

 

and here

 

http://howefamily.com/zellars_progress_photos/zellars.asp

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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That's a great resource Don thanks! I think you did a fine job with the Constructo kit, adding some nice customizations and a more accurate color scheme.  :)

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Thought I would add this one to the discussion.  Below is the draught of an unidentified schooner which Chapelle sources in "The American Sailing Navy" as a plausible idea to what the Enterprise/Experiment may have looked like.  My understanding is that there were a few unidentified drawings of schooners at this time period with what he called a "square-tuck" stern, but I can imagine the Enterprise may have looked similar to this before her lengthening in Venice.  That said comparing this sketch to the Venice plan below there are some similarities especially in the high deadrise and keel drag and I can believe that the Venice plan is at least a conceptual indicator of how the above draught could look if lengthened.  The draught image also looks quite a bit like the half-hull model from Canney's book. :)

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Things that need to be done (but not by me.)

 

1. Some brave soul needs to redraw the lines of the Venice Arsenal brig plans to a common size, and superimpose them over the Chapelle unidentified schooner plans, as well as with those of the US Navy plans of the USS Vixen, a brig that had been intended to have been built to the Enterprize's model. This may lead to a proper identification of the plans. But that darn head on the Venice plans is too large for any American Naval Vessel to have grown during a repair overseas. It would have added way to much weight! No commander would have allowed it. At best, those plans are a design of a proposed new Italian brig BASED PERHAPS on the lines of the Enterprize.

 

2. Take the lines off that half-model and similarly compare them with the above.

 

Now, we may never know any more about the hull form of the Enterprize than what we do right now, but anyone interested in building a model of her has options. Were anyone here commissioned to build a model of her, they could start with Chapelle's unidentified draught and alter it to fit one of the two contemporary watercolors.

 

Both paintings were created by artists renown for their technical accuracy. But the Roux drawing shows the Enterprize with eight broadside ports, while the Baugean drawing shows her with eleven - or at least ten with an armed bridle port. Author Geoffrey Footner dates both paintings from 1806, but only the Baugean print has a date "1806" clearly marked on her. Since neither maritime artist would screw up the number of ports, we must conclude that each represents the schooner at her two stages, before and after her 1804 arsenal rebuild. Since we know that the Enterprize gained an unspecified number of ports as a result of the rebuild during her Venice stay, we must conclude that the Baugean print marked 1806 represents her as "post-repair". The Roux drawing must show her as launched in 1799. This is the opposite conclusion from what Mr. Footner has put forth!

 

Fun fact: The Enterprize also gained a 24-pounder (a medium-Columbiad) pivot gun carriage that was designed to mount over the main hatch in battle, but to be stored in the hold when not in use. In 1812, her then captain Johnston Blakeley mounted the pivot gun and carriage when he sailed down Balize River to attack the 26-gun British Ship sloop HMS Brazen below New Orleans. An untimely hurricane permanently cancelled the fight.

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Was that a pivot gun that faced the stern? I will be that brave soul darn it! (or at least try to be). :S Enterprise is passion of mine, mainly due to being a shameless trekkie but in the grand list of ships I wish to build she is an important part of that journey.  It's the same with John Adams, these ships have enough bits and pieces of information available that a reasonably accurate model could be built as long as one is conscious to avoid historical anachronisms or doing lazy history. So yeah that's essentially what I intend to do merge the Chappelle draught, half-hull lines and the Baugean illustration and a bit of -er "artistic license" to get somewhere close to an accurate representation of the ship in her heyday.  Now how on earth do I get close enough to the half hull to take measurements is a question I've yet to answer. ;D

 

 

A couple of things I am curious about is A. when lengthened is it typical for the extra length to be added to the bow only, stern or both? And would the width have been increased as well.  And B. would the ship name be displayed Enterpri"z"e on the stern unlike the Constructo model which uses an S.

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Excerpt from Master Commandant Thomas Robinson Jr.'s initial letter to the Secretary of the Navy Robert Smith, January, 1805, describing the state of the Enterprize:

 

" ... She was out of the water and shored up in one hour from the word heave (they have five or six hundred slaves attached to the arsenal for this type of heavy work) -- When we came to rip the schooner to pieces we found her in a most deplorable situation, it was to the astonishment of everyone, how she brot [sic] us here.  her beams are all off at the ends, the floor and futtocks perfect powder, and in fact to sum up it's only necessary to inform you that in addition to building a new schooner, we have to pull to pieces an old one -- but there is this pleasing reflection, she will be more durable than her companions, for better timber I never saw than we are puting [sic] into her.. I have the pick from frames of frigates that have ben from twenty to five years dressed out, numbered and piled away under cover for use.. There never was a pendant treated with more respect, or officers with more attention than the Enterprize's has been both here and at Trieste, being the first of our vessels of war in either of those ports, and her construction so different from anything they have ever seen, she astonished and delighted.

 

Count Lespine, with whom I stand very fare ... has often told me 'if you don't put good stuff into the schooner, its your own fault, take the pick of the Arsenal for every thing."

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Robinson's next report, dated February 18th, 1805:

 

"... I have this day got her bends on and ceiling completed. I was obliged to put on a new stem and stern post. In doing the latter, I have taken out the square tuck and have also altered to small degree the fashion of her topsides, by not giving her so much tumblehome aloft, which will aford a better deck and room to manage her guns, but in every instance, I have been particular in preserving her model below, that she may continue to possess her good qualities as a fast sailor and a good sea boat.

 

It astonished me how her stern hung together, it was at first a miserable piece of work, and when we broke it down perfectly rotten.

 

The schooner is as full as I think necessary of the best timber I ever saw, the master carpenter of the Arsenal says (and I think with great reason) that she will be a good vessel after this repair forty years.

 

Oh how I wish I had got permission to give her a few more feet keel and opened her a little, what a sweet brig I would have made of her, and with no apparent expense,but sir it is dangerous for officers young in rank to take libertys [sic]."

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