CharlieZardoz

Brig USS Enterprise 1799 info gathering

124 posts in this topic

Nobody knows how big the Fair American was. There is no scale on the model and no dimensions survive. The old Modelshipways kit guessed at the scale of the model with their solid hull kit and thought 3/16th on an inch was right. When they went over to the POB kit, they changed the scale to 1/4" sclae, even though the model was the same size! I think she was larger and the earlier 3/16th of an inch was closer to the truth.

 

The model was thought to have been in 3/8 inch scale. So MS took the likes off, reduced the plans by half, and called it 3/16 scale. Later, for some unclear reason, they determined that the model was instead in 1/2 inch scale, so they relabeled the kit as 1/4th. I think she was closer to 100 feet on deck than 70-ish, so IMHO, MS got it right the first time.

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I'd really have to see the models lined up to be sure, however when I did research I determined the MS Rattlesnake model hull was about 18" Syren 19" and Fair American 16.5ish".  With Rattlesnake's hull length at 89' Syren at 94' at 1/64 scale that would make Fair American about 80-82.5' if the MS model was really 1/64 which sounds logical for a 14 gun ship of the time...I think. Also using my trusty scale converter app if the 68' length were true that would make her hull 12.75" at 1/64 which isn't much larger than schooners like Sultana, Halifax, tiny cutters like Cheerful or some of the Continental privateers like Providence... and that just seems off.  That and if you look at the beautiful models done by the late Michael Costagliola, William E. Hitchcock and Raymond Langdon on shipmodel.com all 3 ships look relatively similar in proportions, fittings, plank widths and otherwise so aside from Fair American's width (FA model is about 6" and Rattlesnake 4.25"), I can see the MS kit as possibly representing a model at 1/64 scale.

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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. :)

 

Actually, no, he was referring to a refit at the Washington Naval Yard between October 1811 and the beginning of May 1812, where Enterprise was taken out of the water, given the length increase, and rerigged as a brig. (“Soon after the late war commenced”, as in right at the start of the War of 1812) So just once. Her keel length before that date was the same as when she was launched.

 

William James was a very pro-British lawyer and his work was focused on showing that the RN didn’t really “lose” any of the single-ship duels of the War of 1812, because the American ships always outclassed their opponents in size, crew, and firepower (Constitution, United States, Wasp, Hornet, etc). He easily would have gone with the American measurements if it made them look even bigger.

 

His numbers for Enterprise were very accurate though. As I mentioned in that post, they took a memorandum book from USS Chesapeake when she was captured. In it were full dimensions (including full spar and sail dimensions!) for at least Constitution, President, Chesapeake, and the Enterprise as a schooner (obviously wasn’t updated after her 1812 refit when she was turned into a brig). James mentions as proof of the book’s accuracy that President and Chesapeake’s numbers were checked against the captured warships. I think that this book, if it survives, could be invaluable. I did find reference to a signal book from Chesapeake in the British archives, which this could have come from, or it might be a different book that might be collecting dust somewhere.

 

The reason he brought up Nautilus is the brig was laid up in Deptford (as HMS Emulous) from 1816 to 1817, while he was writing this. He was using the exact gunport spacing between two of her ports, either measuring her himself or going from measurements taken off of her during that time laid up and added that to the known length of Enterprise from the memorandum book (knowing that a gunport was added to each side). It’s possible her lines were taken then too. She was probably closest to Enterprise as-built anyway, being a fellow Baltimore Clipper schooner from the same time period before 1800 as well as possibly being built by the same man (Henry Spencer).

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So in your opinion was Enterprize not also lengthened in 1805? Both Canney and Chapelle state this, however Chapelle states 2 alterations were done to her dimensions so it's possible she went from 84.5' to 92' to 97' over the course of her refits, no? 

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I doubt any change was made to her keel then. They widened her deck (reducing tumblehome), but the officer referred to wanting to lengthen her more, as you'll recall. I imagine that any difference in length was smaller things like respacing frames, changing the rake of the stem and stern, etc. James was saying Enterprise was 88 ft 7in though. (97ft 1in gundeck length minus the 8ft 6in he added based on Nautilus) Close enough to be a difference in measuring.

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Option One: Lengthening a ship can really only be done relatively EASILY amidships, where the task at hand is making a bunch of copies of the midship frame that would not interfere with the existing lines. This was done to the Adams frigate, in the extreme, but by creating such a long midships 'flat', it altered the ebb of the water around the hull so badly, that it created a 'chatter' at the rudder that it wore out the pintles and gudgeons after only a couple years.

 

Since the Enterprize had to be so completely rebuilt after only a half dozen years since her visit to the Mediterranean dockyard, I suspect that the midships keel splice was equally as rotten as the majority of the new frames that had to be replaced. I suspect that they pulled out the keel splice and replaced it with a longer splice. I don't think that they would have added a eight feet midship keel splice in 1804, and then added a second five foot splice in 1811 right next to it. That would have been structurally unsound in the dangerous extreme.

 

Option 2: However, in the 1850s, the navy lengthened the Frigates Santee and Sabine by replacing everything forward of the midships frame, including the keel, and re-lofting the lines to a new forward frame design. This was done in anticipation of a steam conversion which never came. If this was the method employed on the Enterprize, then it would have been more difficult, requiring a complete redrawing of her plans. But since the US Navy didn't even have plans in 1811 to 'redraw' (by their own admission) they would have had to take the lines off first, in order to have something in which to alter. So they might have just completely rebuilt her lines to a whole new set of plans, making use of the after keel and those floor timber which they could make fit.

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Option 1 makes much more sense, of course and is certainly what they did in the 1811/1812 refit in Washington too.

 

Chapelle states something differerent for Sabine and Santee though. He says that 15 feet was added by cutting the bow off and building a brand new, longer, bow and the  frames aft of frame 31 (before the mizzen, right around the aft end of the mainmast's channels)  taken down and changed, with Santee also getting much less rake in the bow and stern (Sabine kept the same as St Lawrence's).

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That's interesting about the Santee's new stern frames too. It mean that they took a lesson from the Adams lengthening and made the new midship section not so far aft along in the hull. The Portsmouth (NH) papers noted only that in 1855 Santee "was remodeled and her prow was made sharper".

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USS Frolick:

The following quote is taken from the Nautical Research Guild article "The Philadelphia/New York Fair American.  A Primary Source Chronology" by Clayton Feldman.....The catalog of the Rogers Collection of models indicates

that the Fair American model was built to a scale of 3/8 inch
to the foot and her dimensions are indicated as being: length
of gundeck of 68'-0", beam of 24'-0", and a depth of hold
of 9'-0". If the plans of the Model Shipways model of the
craft reproduced the lines at approximately one half full size,
and using the figure of 24'-0" beam as a guide, the scale used
on the model would be a bit less than 1/5 of an inch to the
foot or approximately 4.8 feet equals 1 inch. Using this scale
we come up with a revised set of dimensions, which would
indicate a length of gundeck to be 73'-0" and depth of hold
at station 6 as approximately 10'-6", while the beam at midsection
remains 24'-0".

 

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Yeah, when they built the new, longer bow, the lines were sharper. It makes sense with both being built up from the same frame, the longer bow will be less bluff than the original ship. When I get around to doing Santee/Sabine drawings, I'm looking forward to modeling Sabine's different bow, stern, and mast placement.

 

Also, looking at Chapelle again, it was Tingley, the Commandant at the Washington Navy Yard, who had Enterprise, Vixen, Viper, and Nautilus converted to brigs (over the objection of Fox).

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So that means Model Shipways Fair American is technically 1:58 scale? And at 1:64 scale the model would be 24" with the hull length being around 15" I believe.  I mean I definitely trust Dr Feldman's assessment of the ship and in all fairness I would not have been able to ascertain an inch and a half of variance to the scale. Or am I wrong is 1/2 of 3/8 of a scale = 3/16" aka 1:64?

 

And regarding Enterprize, Talos I suspect that yes at one point the keel piece was lengthened amidship (probably in 1805), then later on her front or rear lines were built out a bit more and for all we know that's when she got a billethead and maybe even a poop deck.

 

Regarding Sabine and Santee I plan on starting a post just for the differences in the Potomac class once this one settles down a bit :)

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All Feldman's numbers are guesses, made either by him, or the curator at the time of the Naval Academy. If you don't know the scale of the original model, and you don't know a single dimension of the real brig, then all you have to play with, is proportions, and you have to guess.

 

The conversion specifically of the Enterprize, at least, from a schooner into a brig, is shown in the correspondence of the time to have been made by her 1811-13 commander, the soon-to-be-famous Lieutenant Johnston Blakeley, over the objections of Tingey and others. As Blakeley explained to the Secretary of the Navy Paul Hamilton, wanted a more stable gun platform.  In this, he was successful.

 

At this point, I must make a shameless plug for my book, "Blakeley and the Wasp", Naval Institute Press, 2001. I have two chapters on the Enterprize when JB had her.

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I agree frolick about Fair American.  I think all Feldman meant was that if the MS model is half of 3/8" at 1:64 it would be 73' vs a third at 1:48 scale being 68' (assuming that's the right numbers I'm getting confused lol) but as you say this doesn't prove anything only that if we were to believe the original model is one thing or another. Those models from shipmodel.com look very similar to each other as far as fittings go I think they even use the same ones (like the capstans and quarter badge fittings).  At any rate the model shipways model simply isn't 1/48 scale which makes me happy since I prefer working in 1/64 anyway ;)

 

Regarding Enterprize I think Tingey got a bad rap, wasn't his choice to convert the ships to brigs and cost most of them their speed. What constitutes a more stable gun deck?   

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Square rigged ships were reportedly less prone to roll with the wind abeam than for and aft vessels, which seems kind of counter-intuitive but it was so described in another officer's letter, and a brig was harder to dismantle in time of action than a schooner, primarily because there was so much more sail, spars and standing rigging aloft to begin with.

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If I'm not mistaken, when a ship with square sails is taking the wing, it helps keep it heeled over steadily.

 

Amusingly, ship-sloops were far more capable of taking battle damage than a brig-sloop, since the loss of only one or two sails or a single mast can disable it, while the ship-sloop can handle the loss of any of the three masts.

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To Secretary of the Navy from Master Commandant Thomas Robinson, Jr., U. S. Navy

VENICE Jan 27, 1805 (EXCERPT)

 

Pages 309-310 in Knox, Dudley, (editor). 1944. Naval Documents Related to the United States Wars with the Barbary Powers. Volume V Naval Operations Including Diplomatic Background from September 7, 1804 through April 1805. Vol. V. 6 vols. U.S. Government Printing Office.  http://www.ibiblio.org/anrs/barbary.html

 

When we came to rip the Schooner to pieces we found her in a most deplorable situation, it was the astonishment of every one, how she brot us here, Her Beams were all off at the ends, the floorings & futtocks perfect powder & in fact to sum up all its 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 in her. I have the pick from frames of Frigates that have been from twenty to five Years dress'd out numberd & piled away under cover for use, - There never was n pendant treated with more respect, or Officers with more attention than the Enterprizes has been both here and at Trieste, being the first of our Vessels of War in either of those Ports & her construction so different from any thing they had ever seen, she astonish'd & delighted, -

 

To Secretary of the Navy from Master Commandant Thomas Robinson, Jr., U. S. Navy

VENICE Feb. 18, 1805 (EXCERPT)

 

Pages 358-359 in Knox, Dudley, (editor). 1944. Naval Documents Related to the United States Wars with the Barbary Powers. Volume V Naval Operations Including Diplomatic Background from September 7, 1804 through April 1805. Vol. V. 6 vols. U.S. Government Printing Office.  http://www.ibiblio.org/anrs/barbary.html

 

SIR I had the pleasure of addressing you under date of 27th Jan to which I must refer you for particulars respecting the US Schooner Enterprize, but as we proceed in her repairs and you consequently must feel anxious to know our progress I feel a great pleasure in executing that part of my duty. -

 

I have this day got her Bends on and her ceiling compleated. - I was Obliged to put in a new Stem and Stern Post, in doing the latter I have taken out the Square tuck and have also altered in a small degree the fashion of her top sides, by not giving her so much tumble home aloft, which will afford a better Deck and more 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 sailer and good sea Boat -

 

It astonishes 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 feet more Keel and opened her a little what a sweet Brig I would have made her, and with no apparent expence, but Sir it is dangerous for Officers young in rank to take libertys. –

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The drawings I have seen posted remind of the the drawings found in The Built-Up Ship Model by Charles Davis. Also, if you have the novel Six Frigates by Ian Toll, there are several passages about the Enterprise, her commanders and engagements.

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Little by little I've been buying up all these classic books, should pit those on the list as well.  The last few suggested by Frolick have been exceptional for images as well as period document resources the Roscoe-Freeman book as well as the Seafarers books. I attempted to make it to Mystic CT today to look at the Burrows Enterprize plans but was thwarted due to heavy traffic, however may try again tomorrow.  Can't give myself off every day ya know, my cats gotta eat! ;)

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I have been going through the Naval Documentary History of the War of 1812 (will post full citation and link later). Other than approximate time the references changed from schooner to brig, nothing yet on what was done in the navy yard.

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All I know about the 1811 refit is what is mentioned in Chappelle's book. p 234

 

"The schooners Vixen, Enterprise, and Nautilus and the cutter-schooner Ferret were all rerigged as brigs between 1806-1811, and some of these craft were extensively rebuilt.  The Enterprise, which had been rebuilt in the Mediterranean, was again rebuilt, and this time both her model and her dimensions were changed.  The schooner was not popular with American naval officers it seems." 

 

Also on p 145

 

"She was again rebuilt from the floor timbers up in the fall of 1811 at the Washington Navy Yard, and was then rerigged as a brig with her tonnage increased to 165 tons.  About 1806 Fox measured her and found her to be 92' 9" on deck, 80' 6" between perpendiculars, 23' 9" extreme beam, 22' 11" moulded beam, and 10' 10" depth pf hold at the mainmast.  This was after the first rebuilding which undoubtedly accounts for the variation in the dimensions."

 

I am curious though what the overall benefit would have been for a small vessel like Enterprize to have or not have a beak/billethead with all the workings rather than a typical pilot schooner bow.  Other than some extra space up front I am wondering if one could logically assume that was one of the changes made in 1811 in order to deal with the increased rigging up front?

post-15936-0-19331300-1441974538_thumb.jpg

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I imagine a large part of the head on small naval ships like that is fashion, essentially marking it as a "real" naval vessel. Chapelle has several examples of ships in the same class that have or don't have the naval heads, like the USS Alligator/Shark and USRC Morris/Hamilton. All of those are schooners though, I can't think of any brigs or larger that lack those heads.

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What was the function of the beak head anyway, other than fashion? Is it just to have something really strong to gammon the bowsprit to? Do square rigged vessels have more stress on the bowsprit than fore and aft rigged vessels?

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Tbf I love the way they look and would be happy adding one to a model of the Enterprize... assuming there is any evidence that she ever had one.  I wish to at least try and be a good historian :D

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I prefer the look too. A normal sized one is fine for the Enterprize's 1813 appearance, like the one on the Syren, or the later Grampus, but not one of those Confederacy-sized monsters on the Venice draught!

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Agreed. Might not have had one as-built, but certainly had one at least when it became a brig, if not after the Venice refit. Pay attention to the difference between heads around 1800 and by the War of 1812, the shapes had really changed by then.

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What about gunport lids? The model shipways Syren depicts her with half lids, when did those become popular and is it possible that Enterprize was fitted with the same after she was converted to a brig?

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have you seen this color image of Antoine Roux's watercolor? I'd like to find a larger image of this, but so far I have had no luck.  

 

post-11037-0-90559400-1457277840.jpg

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Hmm very nice! I mean the ship is still black with white lines but all i've seen are rather lousy black and white scans so this looks really lovely. :)

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