CharlieZardoz

Brig USS Enterprise 1799 info gathering

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I imagine Enterprizzzze in its initial incarnation was sort of a quick build type of vessel, her durability wholly unintentional until she gained fame and surpassed expectations. Once upgraded to a brig she must have faired at least comparably well to Argus, Syren, Vixen and the rest.  Young brash officers looking to push these tiny ships to fame and glory. :)

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Excerpt from a letter from Robinson to  James Barron of the Frigate Essex, March 4, 1805:

 

"I am preparing for a heavy gun, and in such a way that the arrangement will answer for any other deck and shall carry all in the hold to the place of action."

 

Again to Barron, March 14, 1815:

 

"I have completed the machinery for a 24-pounder on the schooners deck, having experienced the inactive situation of this description of vessel was in last summer, I calculated her hatches and beams amidships for this mode of armament, the machinery is all  carried in the hold & if when you see the Enterprize, if you do not approve of her carrying a heavy piece, its easy to apply to another vessel that you may judge better calculated. I would not make it a fixture without your approbation, but I am certain that she may carry it in any sea, & if so, what a nice tickler she may be for nightwork on Tripoly, & and altho her senrenades [sic] may not be so agreeable from the Guitar to a Turk, they no doubt will have a respectful audience ..."

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Report of February 24, 1811:

 

"... after being dismantled and relieved of armament, her masts were taken out, and the structure of the ship altered as to move them farther aft. She was careened, keel out on both sides,  and her copper cleaned. Rigging and sails were refitted, upper works and bends repaired and caulked, and she was repainted thoughout. After receiving new armaments and ammunition, and sailed from the yard on April 25th."

 

But by October, 1811, she was "stripped down to her floor timbers and entirely rebuilt". Her new Commander, Johnston Blakeley, re-rigged as a brig, and rearmed her with mostly 18-pounder carronades.

 

 

So much for for the Arsenal's prediction of her lasting "forty years"!

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Is there any record of the Enterprize carrying 20 guns though? The illustrations show 10 with the extra bridle port but most articles claim she only carried 14-16.  I think I need to try and visit that Capt Ashley model as well at some point.  While the port placements are a bit off, it does show a more accurate looking quarter deck and wonder if he included the pivot gun somewhere.  I wish there were some more pics online I only see those 3.

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Also and this is me not really fully understanding rigging details but isn't the Baugean illustration from 1805 a brig rig?

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Who knows how she looked after her 1811 rebuild, but since she carried sixteen broadside guns, I would give her eight ports per side again. I bet she looked like the Vixen by that point. Although she always carried her pivot machinery broken down in her hold, the 24-pounder medium gun was borrowed and returned to the yard in New Orleans in 1812 after the hurricane, and so was not aboard when she fought HMS Boxer in 1813.

 

She was also damaged  in the storm and had to be repaired in New Orleans in 1812 also.

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True though if she was 92' by that point she would have been somewhat larger than the Vixen though I agree she most likely had 8 gunports with and additional 2 forward empty ports.

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And just for fun here is a pretty nice model of Vixen from the P.C. Cocker book.  While I don't think Enterprize had a quarterbadge (is there any documentation claiming she did?) I would imagine the two, three, four, etc. brigs would be hard to distinguish from a distance. But I am convinced that the golden kits/constructo model is basically the Vixen with a poop deck added. ;)

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Decided just for fun to add/compare some aforementioned draughts to show where and how they line up.  These were done by eye and are not to scale with each other, however they are more to show the similarity in lines and details.  First we have the schooner figure 20 from Chapelle that is used as a concept to what Enterprize may have looked like.  Next is the draught of the Vixen which to me looks comparable to the schooner above it with it's narrow front and inclined stern where the rudder is. The third is the Venice plan which I modified the offensive beak and weird protrusions on the hull but it does look comparable to the first 2 the rudder looks almost exactly like the schooner above and it looks much like the first she only with it's front extended as would have been likely in her rebuild.  The last is the Syren which I placed here to show an example of a similar ship which was quite obviously not a direct design to Enterprize and has some noticeable differences.  The rudder is almost at a 90 degree angle and the front is much fuller than the 3 above it (added arrows to where I mean).  Below that I added the cross sectional views and again not quite to scale but gives an idea to the idea where these plans differ and are similar (Schooner, Vixen, Enterprise Venice, and Syren which to my eyes looks fairly different to the first 3). Enjoy!

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Similar concepts and overall function at least yeah. From what I see having all of these lined up so neatly, the top figure and 3rd figure (the Venice plan) look similar in that they both have (I don't know the technical term for it) the most "banana" shaped hulls.  Both sterns stick upwards a bit and the rudder is at a sharp incline the ship almost looks like a revenue cutter or clipper.  The Vixen looks like a ship that was based on the above plans though not copied directly rather the builder probably took the Enterprize dimensions and built something of similar function, while Syren looks like it's own independent design.  Below are the plans again from the Canney book with Syren on top, then Vixen then the schooner and you can see the similarities in the lower 2 for sure. Sorry for the clarity the scanner has a hard time with some of the images.

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Merge more aptly. It would be taking the 1798 schooner drawing plans along with a plan of the half hull (which I am in the process of locating), then lengthen them appropriately using a mix of the Venice plan and Vixen plan. The Syren kit by Model Shipways is superbly detailed so would be a good tool regarding accuracy of the overall look.  Also want to visit that model at the Addison Gallery (again if possible), grill a few learned folk on ships of that era and sprinkle the whole thing with a dash of good intentions for good measure.  :D

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Ok team! Just a bit of an update regarding the Enterprize.  First off I've spoken with 3 naval curators on the matter and sadly the Enterprize half hull was lost some time after that photo was taken back in the 1920's.  Where she is, no one knows it's a mystery which apparently has got quite a few people out there trying to solve, many whom I imagine have greater resources at their disposal than myself.  So that one is a dead end though I am curious if there are computer programs that can take a photo image and digitize them using lighting to extrapolate a form, thoughts? 

 

Secondly I received the book Tidewater Triumph by Geoffrey Footner which indeed does show the Venice plans and an alternate version as well.  They both seem to have stem and stern details which don't appear accurate and can be disregarded. Added pics from the book below. I had a very nice correspondence with Michael Bosworth who explained to me a bit more regarding his thoughts on the schooner and his collaboration with the book writer. I circled a spot which according the book was where Enterprize was lengthened amidship. 

 

Last is a set of conjectural plans at Mystic Conneticut which were apparently made by a member of the Burrows family in 1973 which fellow member Alexmd was interested in. While I can look at the plans, they are historical documents and cannot be touched or photographed, so was thinking of taking a piece of clear vinyl or plexiglass and sticking it in a wood frame that I can house over the plans and then trace with a permanent marker.  I'm not sure if there is a better way to copy them and if anyone here has advice I'm happy to listen. :)

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Sorry to hear about the lost half hull model. :(

 

That's interesting what you pointed out about the lengthened section of the Salvini Plan. I didn't see that. 

 

Remember that the American Commander Robinson noted (rather strangely for a letter up the chain of command) that he wished that he could have lengthened her a bit. Perhaps Robinson and Salvini spoke of the idea, and were in full agreement. So maybe Salvini went ahead and copied the Enterprize, lengthened her (on paper, at least) and added all those European fiddly bits that make any Mediterranean naval officer's heart swoon, like a full projecting head, false stern windows, thick carvings and swivel gun posts for and aft.

 

Were I to model the Enterprize, I would take that first plan, remove the lengthened center section and the swivel posts, redraw a simpler head, and space the gun ports to fit the paintings.

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Yep I totally agree!  Though I am curious perhaps a bit confused.  When was the Enterprize lengthened to 92'  Michael Bosworth said it happened during the Venice rebuilt though I also heard it happened closer to 1812.  What are your thoughts on this?  I recently came across this painting which looks like a contemporary rendition of the battle with the Boxer using the period drawings as reference.  It has massive problems though for one the depiction is of the older Enterprize (drawn by Roux) prior to the refit yet has her rigged as a brig which (I think) is wrong, however it does show the front of the ship and making me wonder what kind of stem Enterprize had.  It seems to protrude sort of but without a billet head not a flat front like a schooner.  Anyone know any other ships of that time period that had similar a front design that I may use as a reference?  Having trouble figuring out what I'm looking at. :/

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Also regarding the lengthening, the Salvini plan does equal 84.5' so unless the scale below it is wrong maybe it isn't showing an extension, though I admit to being a bit confused lol. I also don't agree with the above painting's color scheme.  By the time of the battle I am assuming Enterprize has a stripe similar to most schooner/brigs.  Whether that stripe was white, yellow, etc. I am not sure but open to thoughts on this as well.  Last I am curious if any thought or mentioning was made to Enterprize's stern detailing.  I am thinking something similar to the Syren or Vixen but curious if any info exists on what the carvings/metalwork may have looked like.

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Robinson said that he wanted to lengthen her, implying that he didn't. The lengthening must have happened in 1811. An additional 7.5 feet is substantial.

 

Dumb question: Did Salvini use the English-measure foot or the slightly longer French foot?

 

Carvings unknown. Probably a simple billet-head forward, and minimal astern: Stars -  maybe a small eagle. All that we know about her stern, is that just an hour before they fought the Boxer in 1813, Burrows decided to chop away a section of it so that one of his nine-pounders could be run out aft, just in case he had to flee a stronger force. (A move which disheartened the men, according to a court martial held for cowardice against Masters Mate William Harper.) So no stern chase ports as re-built.

 

Use similar USS Vixen for general appearance.

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Charlie,

 

Frolick has a good point... if it's the French foot, it's about 10% (9.7% ? I don't remember exactly) longer which would get the length.  But it should be checked against another measurement (a known one preferably) to be sure.

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Interesting, I asked Michael and will see what he says.  Regarding the lengthening I checked the books and Canney says it happened in Venice (which Michael agrees with), and Chappelle mentions that Fox measured her as 92' in 1806 however says her dimensions were again altered in 1811.  No stern chase ports on a brig?? How weird must have happened during the 1811 rebuild... :/

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Taken from "A Full and Correct Account of the Chief Naval Occurrences of the Late War Between Great Britain and the United States of America" by William James.

 


 

The Enterprise was originally a schooner; and her full dimensions, in hull, spars, and sails, as a schooner, appear in the M.S. memorandum-book, before referred to. (See p. 111.) Soon after the late war commenced, the Enterprise was cut in two, lengthened, (so as to have one more port of a-side,) and altered to a brig, at Washington. The Nautilus, captured by the Shannon, was also originally a schooner; and was altered to a brig without being lengthened. By adding, therefore, to the Enterprise’s original length, the distance between the fore-side of one of the Nautilus’s ports, to the aft side of the next port, which is 8 feet 6 inches, we have the present length of the Enterprise. This makes her 245 tons; but several British officers who have seen the Enterprise, state that she is about 260 tons. The Nautilus’s top-sides are nearly as stout as those of our first-class brigs; while the Boxer had only one timber between each port; which made her top-sides pervious to every grape-shot that was fired. The spars of the Enterprise will be considered as no larger, than those which the Nautilus had, when captured.

 

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This is the proper place to give an extract from the American “Particulars;” – “At 3 PM tacked, and bore up for the enemy, taking him to be one of his majesty’s brigs of the largest size”!

 

                None of the praises lavished upon the “fine brig of war Boxer”, could gain her a place among the national vessels of the United States. She was put up to auction, and sold as a merchant-brig; for which service only, (and that in peaceable times,) she was ever calculated.

 

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The superiority in weight of metal is trifling; that in number of men, two-fold. Gun-brigs are allowed but one lieutenant, one master’s mate, and two midshipmen. The absence of the two midshipmen, the shameful defection of the acting master’s-mate, and the three seamen, and the fall of her brave commander by the first broadside, rendered the Boxer’s situation, at the very onset of the engagement, peculiarly unfortunate. On the other hand, the Enterprise, after her commander was wounded, had still two lieutenants, and four or five midshipmen, left, to carry on the action. These circumstances considered, the disparity between the two crews, was even greater than the numerical difference, already so great.

 

                None, but a novice in American history, will be surprised at the following paragraph in Mr. Low’s book: “The President of the United States, have considered the Boxer as equal in force to the Enterprise, has ordered her to be delivered up for the benefit of the captors.”

 

The MS Memorandum book is described earlier in the book. It was captured by the RN when they took the Chesapeake and had dimensions for multiple ships. It might still exist in the British archives.

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It would certainly appear that those stern chasers, while certainly important when needed, had great potential to serve the pursuer well - recoiling into the tiller rigging could really ruin the day! Not to mention the challenge for the gun captain to avoid gun and ropes!

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Is this source insinuating that Enterprize was lengthened after the war?  Could she have been lengthened twice? At 97' that would make her larger than the Syren?? Am I correct in assuming that this was written by a British historian in 1817?  If that is so it is likely he didn't have the correct information and made an inference on size and date of alteration.  Very interesting stuff though I downloaded the book via an online source :) And I agree trippwj, these little warships were so very compact and cramp when you really think about it it's simply amazing and for me why I think I like them so much.  Sure a big ship like Vanguard or Victory are feats on engineering, but these small ships fascinate me in how the engineers managed to work with limited space in order to make such beautiful vessels which were essentially very practical works of art. :)

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Remember also, that not all heavier vessels pursuing you are behind you, like the classic motorboat chase in From Russia With Love ("Heave too, Mr.Bond! Spectre Three: You're firing too close!").

 

They only have to be to windward of you, most likely on your weather quarter where the stern ports are of no use. It seems that a recoiling gun could cut your tiller rope. In the heavier American sloops, like the Wasp and Hornet, the iron goose-necked tiller and its tackle were below in the great cabin, so perhaps the Enterprize was retrofitted with this device by 1813.

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Is this source insinuating that Enterprize was lengthened after the war?  Could she have been lengthened twice? At 97' that would make her larger than the Syren?? Am I correct in assuming that this was written by a British historian in 1817?  If that is so it is likely he didn't have the correct information and made an inference on size and date of alteration.  Very interesting stuff though I downloaded the book via an online source :)

 

You are correct - James was a British writer providing "their side" of the story.  HOWEVER - factually, in terms of vessel dimensions, rigs, and (usually) weight of iron (that is, number and sizes of guns) he was fairly accurate considering the references he used (plus or minus a foot here a tun there, but very accurate on the British vessels).

 

His logic seems reasonable - though perhaps skewed.  He has used the Nautilus as his model (perhaps also for the length), and then added her 8' 6" for adding an additional port.  If the the length for the Nautilus is extended 8' 6", you get about 96 feet.  HOWEVER - we must always be cognizant of inconsistencies in the manner in which ships were measured in different nations at different times.  There is a very good chance that what appears to be a major difference is much less when those vagaries are considered.

 

Here are the dimensions given by Dudley Knox (editor) 1945. Register of Officer Personnel United States Navy and Marine Corps and Ships’ Data 1801–1807. Naval Documents Related to the United States Wars with the Barbary Powers. U.S. Government Printing Office. http://www.ibiblio.org/anrs/docs/E/E3/nd_barbarywars_register_shipdata.pdf.

 

Note there is no reference to any rebuild in Venice in his narrative.  For reference, I have also provided the information on the Nautilus.

 

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Interesting, and from what I know there are no surviving plans/diagrams of Nautilus either, only descriptions which describe her as being "too lightly built" and "wedge shaped" which led to problems with cramped space below.  And I imagine that often during a battle these small ships would wind up doing at least some damage to themselves while attempting to deal with the space issues or like you mentioned above having to "cut" away part of the stern in order to add a rear chaser.  Still boggles my mind that Fair American was a mere 70 feet and had 14 guns.  Spacing between guns must have been an issue especially if attempting to fire a broadside.

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