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Cruizer-class Brig-Sloops of the Royal Navy

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Thank you, Mark, Andy and Dave, for your kind comments. They make the effort to collect and organize the information and then write it up worth while. I'm very pleased that you enjoy my feeble efforts.


I went through my previous articles to correct and add information that I learned since I posted them, including those posted on this thread. Thank you to all who posted corrections and additional information.



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Thank you, Wayne, very much!


You might want to go back to my earlier articles from time to time to see what has been added.


This project has grown from a simple internet search for basic information into something more. I've learned a lot from it, not just about the ships and people, but also, more importantly, where and how to look for that information. For example, in an article, "The Carronade," by Spencer C. Tucker in The Nautical Research Journal, Mar. 1997, Vol.42,  No. 1, I just today found a drawing of a boat gun like the 12 pounder used on the Cruizers in the War of 1812. This article is well referenced to other sources of more information.



Boat gun set for firing at tops, The use of a quoin would allow horizontal fire.


As a result, I've come to the conclusion that the 2 x 18 pounders in the forward gun ports on Epervier were not carronades or gunnades (which were a carronade with a different method of mounting the barrel to the slide not used until about 1820), but were much more likely boat guns. They would be a better fit in the restricted space at the forward ports than any carronade. Of course this conjecture needs verification, but good enough for most models except in a museum.





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The National Maritime Museum at Greenwich has any number of draughts related to the Cruizer class and as you say with a little researchone could reproduce almost any one of them.  But to the best of my knowledge there is no definitive set of spar dimensions or sail plan that is positively identified as belonging to a Cruizer class vessal either brig or ship rigged. There are a number of sail plans listed as being "generally suitable for the smaller classes of ships". They would apply equally to Cruizer, Cherokee or other classes.


Does anyone know of a document that lists masts and yards or a drawing?


It is of course possible, even easy to calculate the spar dimensions from Steel's The Elements and Practice of Rigging And Seamanship, or Edyes Elements of Rigging & Seamanship, or even Lee's Masting & Rigging English Ships of War.


It would be great though, to have a set of numbers that was actually put into service to confirm one's approximations.

Edited by michaelpsutton2
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One possible set of spar and sail dimensions can be found in Petrejus' book on the Irene, a ex Cruiser class vessel. The English language edition is sought after, therefore quite hard to find and expensive.


The illustration of the gun in high elevation has a slightly misleading caption. Not only was the quoin removed in this instance, but also the bed beneath the quoin. Removing only the quoin would elevate the gun perhaps about 10 degrees.

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Howard I. Chapelle's The History of the American Sailing Navy has a hull plan compiled from the NMM drawings and a drawing of Epervier made by William Rule and Henry Peake during her preparation for US service. Chapelle's drawing shows before and after configurations but no spar dimensions. It seems reasonable to me that sail plans or spar take-offs would not be made unless there were significant differences from standard practice such as was done of the topsail schooners built in the Chesapeake Bay area. The practice of the period was to list spar dimensions in the construction contract documents but I haven't done a search for them at NMM.


My plan is to work with the Caldercraft Cruizer kit which I assume has spars based on their research or on standard practice. I agree that confirmation would be great.

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In Petrejus' book on the Irene there is some information on her spars in the Dutch service as well as a comparison with the general purpose sail plans for brigs at the NMM. And there are differences to be seen.


You might look at the sail plan http://collections.rmg.co.uk/collections/objects/84439.html


The caption says it is from the 20th century.


Diagramatic sail plans are rather uncommon but I would hope for a written list of spar lengths. Is it unreasonable to believe that with so many vessals in the class that at least one such list would make it's way down to us?


Some may think that I am splitting hairs here. I am primarily a painter not a model maker. Subtle difference in the spar dimensions can make major differences in the look of my paintings. You model guys get all particular about deck plans which make a huge difference in models and none at all the paintings.


In the end though I think all of us hate, absolutley hate to go through a project that takes months and then find some previously undiscovered piece of significant information that contradicts what he have done.


I guess models can be corrected, my paintings cannot

Edited by michaelpsutton2
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It is singularly unforgiving.


It is the moment just before the pen touches the pen touches the board for the first time that is so addictive. At that moment I just know this painting is going to be perfect. Once I begin, each brush stroke is a kind of compromise. And in the end my own limitations force me to have to continue the quest for the ultimate work from the beginning all over again.  


Last night I began an illustration of HMS Rose 1757 based on the original draughts not on the replica now in existance and iI told myself as I sat in front of that prisine white canvas that just maybe,  God willing and a fair wind, this will be the one.

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Once I begin, each brush stroke is a kind of compromise. And in the end my own limitations force me to have to continue the quest for the ultimate work from the beginning all over again.  



Sounds familiar, just a different medium. As soon as that first piece of wood is cut a compromise has been made because the wood itself isn't to scale. 

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Thank you for posting these histories. Very well done. I have built Wasp. It was my first scratch build effort. I researched for some time but, your research is goes far beyond what I had come up with. I've gone through about a third of the ships histories. Fascinating stuff that reds like a novel. Thanks for putting this together.



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An example for your consideration


The main mast is too short (some sort of error in converting to scale), the fore topmast is too long (one look at the fore topsail should have told me the proportions were not right). The steps of the fore and mizzen masts are placed too low (I found a interior profile after the painting was finished)


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  • 3 weeks later...

Cruizers, part 7:  HMS Avon


The Cruizer-class brig-sloop HMS Avon launched on 31 January 1805, commissioned in February and set sail for the Mediterranean on 18 April with Commander Francis Jackson Snell in command. 


HMS Avon’s Specifications

Length: 100 ft 0 in (gundeck), 77 ft 3 1/2 in (keel)

Beam: 30 ft 6 in

Tonnage: 382 (bm)

Rig:  brig-rigged sloop

Armament: 16 x 32 pounder carronades + 2 x 6 pounder chase guns

Complement: 117, 4 short of full complement of 121


Avon captured a smuggling vessel in May and shared with Pomone (38) the recapture of a British ship with a French prize crew in January 1806.


Commander James Stewart took over command in March through May 1806 when Commander Mauritius Adolphus Newton De Stark received command and orders for Channel patrol. When Napoleon started hostilities with Russia the Admiralty ordered Avon as escort to the Russian exploratory vessel Neva on its return to the Baltic. For this service, De Stark received 100 golden guineas and a breakfast service of plate from Tsar Alexander of Russia.


Avon sailed on 28 August 1806 for North America carrying Mr. Erskine, HM Minister to the United States. En route De Stark evaded the cannon fire from the French 74 Regulus in an eight hour chase. After disembarking the minister at Annapolis Royal on 30 October, Avon stopped an American vessel for a routine examination and found dispatches from a French admiral on board. She arrived at Spithead on 7 January 1807.


Commander Thomas Thrush received command of Avon with orders to prepare for service on the Jamaica station and he set sail on 16 April 1807. During a storm, lightening struck Avon, which caused a lot of damage but no casualties. Thrush also took advantage of an opportunity to transport £103,000 in coin from Cartagena to Britain earning him a commission of £2,056. On 1 May 1809, Thrush received promotion to post-captain and a new command.


Commander Henry T. Fraser took command in June 1809. On 15 March 1810, Avon and Rainbow (28) encountered the French Nereide (38) which took to her heels. In the ensuing chase Rainbow made better speed than Avon. The separation between them eventually allowed Nereide to turn on Rainbow and batter her enough to give up the chase before Avon could catch up. Fraser on Avon continued the pursuit of the escaping Nereide and engaged her in a 30 minute battle that forced Avon to abandon the chase and retreat towards Rainbow. Nereide, unwilling to continue the fight, resumed her course to Brest.


On 3 December 1811, Avon, with Commander Percy in command, arrived in Portsmouth under jury masts.


On 22 July 1813, Commander George Sartorious took command of Avon and served on the Cork station until June 1814 when he received promotion to a post command.


Commander the Honourable James Arbuthnot recommissioned her in July. In the morning of 1 September, Avon, Castilian (another Cruizer brig) and Tartarus (16) recaptured Atlantic.



The American sloop-of-war Wasp, after burning Reindeer on 29 June, set course for L’Orient, captured a brig on 4 July, a schooner on 6 July and arrived on 8 July.


USS Wasp’s Specifications

Length:  117 ft

Beam:  31 ft 6 inches

Tonnage:  509 (burthen)

Rig:  ship-rigged sloop

Armament:  20 x 32 pounder carronades + 2 x 12 pounder chase guns + 1 x 12 pounder carronade boat gun (from HMS Reindeer)

Complement:  173


Wasp, with Master Commandant Johnstone Blakeley still in command, put to sea on 27 August. On 30 August, she captured a brig and on 31 August captured another. Early in the morning of 1 September, she encountered a convoy of ten ships escorted by the 74 gun HMS Armada bound for Gibraltar. The swift cruiser hovered around the convoy and captured the Mary laden with iron and brass cannon, muskets and other military stores of great value. After taking off the crew, she was burned and Wasp tried to capture another but eventually gave up due to the effective defense of the convoy by Armada.


That evening at 6:30, while running essentially before a fresh southeast wind about 250 miles west of Brest, four sail were made out in the twilight, two off the starboard bow and two off the port bow more to leeward. Blakeley immediately ordered Wasp into pursuit of the closest to starboard, fully aware that any of the unidentified brigs might prove to be Royal Navy vessels. The chase was HMS Avon steering almost southwest with the wind abaft the port beam. At 7 pm, the chase made night signals with lanterns and flares but Wasp, disregarding them, came steadily on in the darkness. At 8:38 with the moon just past full rising in the east, Avon fired a shot from her stern chaser and another from one of her lee or starboard guns. At 9:20 with the Wasp positioned on the Avon’s weather quarter, the officers exchanged several hails and orders to heave to which were ignored by both sides. Avon then set her weather fore topmast studding sail.


At 9:29, Blakeley, making use of one of the lessons learned from his recent engagement with Reindeer, opened fire with his 12 pounder carronade shifting gun (the boat gun from Reindeer). Avon responded with her stern chaser and the aftermost larboard guns. Wasp steered diagonally across Avon’s wake, fired a raking broadside into her starboard quarter then ranged up alongside to prevent Avon from escaping downwind towards the other three brigs still in pursuit from leeward. Wasp’s first broadside cut Avon’s main gaff sail slings dumping the sail over the lee quarterdeck guns with the entire main mast falling within a few more broadsides.


At 10:00, with Avon unmanageable and no longer firing, Blakeley hailed to know if she had struck. With no answer and some firing from Avon, the action recommenced. At 10:12 after two more broadsides, he again hailed to know if the brig had struck and received the answer that she had. While lowering boats to take possession, the closest sail (the Castilian, Commander David Braimer) was seen astern. The men were called back to quarters and were put to work to repair damage as rapidly as possible but at 10:36 the other two sail (Tartarus, 16, and Rapid, 14) were seen closing in as well. Blakeley decided to put Wasp before the wind. Castilian pursued until she came up close, fired a broadside well over Wasp’s quarter, damaging some rigging, then returned to Avon which had been firing a gun as a distress signal.



USS Wasp and HM Brigs Avon, Castilian, Tarturus and Rapid

Collection of the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich


Castilian returned to Avon at 10:55 when Arbuthnot informed Braimer that Avon was sinking rapidly and had no useable boats. Avon sank at 1:00 am, just minutes after the last of her crew had been taken off. Avon suffered 10 dead including her first lieutenant and 32 wounded including her captain, second lieutenant and one midshipman.


Wasp never learned the identity of any of the four brigs or that Avon sank. Two men were killed and one wounded (by a cannon wad) on Wasp during the action and she suffered only four round shot in her hull with some damage to her sails and rigging. Ten minutes after leaving Avon in a sinking condition, Wasp was ready and her captain and crew willing to engage Castilian until the sails of two more brigs appeared.


Wasp sailed generally south, captured and scuttled small brigs on 12 and 14 September then captured the Atalanta of 8 guns and 19 men 500 miles west southwest of Gibraltar on 21 September. Considering her and her cargo too valuable to destroy, Blakeley removed her officers and sent her with a midshipman, Mr. Geisinger, as prize master to Savannah, Georgia where she arrived on 4 November. On 9 October, Wasp came upon the Swedish merchantman Adonis about 400 miles west northwest of the Cape Verde Islands, took two American officers from the USS Essex aboard, transferred some of her prisoners to Adonis and sailed away headed for the Caribbean – and was never seen again.


HMS Castilian has the distinction of being the only Cruizer-class brig-sloop to fire on one of the large US Navy Sloops and survive.


Four Royal Navy vessels have borne the name “Avon” in her honor.


As an alternative subject for Caldercraft’s Cruizer, Avon or Castilian would need a change in the armament to 32 pounder carronades and the likely addition of the fore and aft platforms like those on Snake.


Next:  HMS Penguin




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)

 “NMM, vessel ID 380427”, Warship Histories, vol v, National Maritime Museum (online)

“HMS Avon (1804)”, “USS Wasp (1814)”, “Sinking of HMS Avon”, articles on Wikipedia (online)

The London Gazette, 4 citations listed in “HMS Avon (1804)”, Wikipedia 



Edited by DFellingham
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  • 1 month later...

Cruizers, part 8:  HMS Penguin


The Cruizer-class brig-sloop HMS Penguin launched on 29 June 1813 and commissioned in November under Commander Thomas R. Toker, replaced the following month by Commander George A. Byron.  In June 1814, command of Penguin transferred to James Dickinson.


HMS Penguin’s Specifications

Length: 100 ft 5 in (gundeck), 77 ft 6 1/2 in (keel)

Beam: 30 ft 7 1/2 in

Tonnage: 387 (bm)

Rig:  brig-rigged sloop

Armament: 16 x 32 pounder carronades + 2 x 6 pounder chase guns + 1 x 12 pounder boat gun on the forward platform

Complement: 120 (+12 marines on the day of the battle with Hornet)


On 1 September 1814 Penguin left Portsmouth as escort for a convoy headed for the East Indies and the South Pacific but apparently returned the same day to escort a different convoy the next day headed for Brazil and the Cape of Good Hope where Penguin was to join the South Africa squadron.


At the South African station, the admiral loaned 12 additional marines to supplement Penguin’s crew on a mission to capture or destroy the large American privateer Young Wasp which had been ravaging British shipping in the vicinity.


Penguin arrived near Tristan da Cunha on 23 March 1815. Tristan da Cunha is about 1800 miles west of South Africa and the Cape of Good Hope and about 2100 miles from South America.



The American sloop-of-war Hornet, after sinking Peacock on 24 February 1813, sailed north to New London, Connecticut. Master Commandant James Biddle (the former first lieutenant on Wasp when she captured the Frolic) took command of Hornet after James Lawrence’s promotion and assignment to Chesapeake. Hornet was assigned to the blockaded squadron in New London commanded by Commodore Stephen Decatur of USS United States and Captain Jacob Jones (Biddle’s commanding officer on Wasp) of USS Macedonian.


While blockaded in New London in June 1813, these officers ventured out to pay their respects to the officer in command of the British blockading squadron – Commodore Sir Thomas Masterman Hardy. Hardy had been Admiral Nelson’s flag captain on Victory and his close friend. Near the end of the battle at Trafalgar, Hardy went below to inform the mortally wounded Nelson of his victory and held Nelson in his arms as Nelson died. The American officers admired Horatio Nelson as much as the British admired him, and here was a living legend just a few miles off shore. Biddle and Jones recognized one of the ships in the squadron – HMS Peacock, the ex-Wasp renamed for the Peacock sunk in 15 minutes by Hornet earlier that year and Hornet’s sister ship. During his meeting with Hardy, Biddle asked his permission to challenge HMS Peacock to a ship-to-ship duel. Hardy, knowing quite well the records of the former Wasp and the challenging Hornet, declined. Hardy soon after this meeting with the captain and first officer of the ex-Wasp sent HMS Peacock away southward – no doubt to avoid the public relations nightmare if Hornet should win such a duel and possibly to save face. HMS Peacock foundered with all hands in a storm off the Virginia Capes on 23 July 1814.


Hornet broke out of the blockade of New London on 14 November 1814, sailed to New York to join Commodore Stephen Decatur’s new squadron of the frigate President, ship-sloop Peacock, stores brig Tom Bowline and hired stores brig Macedonian, taking a prize en route.


On 14 January 1815, President and Macedonian tried to break through the blockade heading for the South Atlantic to raid British shipping and rendezvous with the rest of the squadron at Tristan da Cunha and on to the East Indies. President engaged HMS Endymion (40) and surrendered, damaged and unable to escape, as the rest of the blockading squadron closed in on her. The stores brig Macedonian evaded the blockade during the chase. The loss of President was not known in New York when Peacock, Hornet and Tom Bowline slipped past the blockading squadron without incident on 22 January. Soon after breaking out, Hornet separated from the other two, captured two prizes and sent them back to the states with prize crews, reducing Hornet’s crew by eight.  


USS Hornet’s Specifications

Length:  106 ft 9 in

Beam:  31 ft 5 inches

Tonnage:  440 (burthen)

Rig:  ship-rigged sloop

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

Complement:  150 (133 at the time of the battle - eight out as prize crews, nine more incapacitated on the sick list)


Beginning in August 1814, representatives from the United States and Great Britain met in Ghent, Kingdom of the Netherlands (now in Belgium) to negotiate an end to the war. The negotiators signed the Treaty of Ghent on 24 December 1814 ending the war pending ratification by both belligerents, which occurred on 30 December by Parliament and on 16 February 1815 by Congress. It took several weeks or months for news of the end of the war to reach all the far-flung forces around the world. The treaty returned all captured territories to their original countries (except a small portion of the future state of Florida captured from Spain which was a nominal, but non-participating, British ally). The treaty also set the border between Canada and the US that had not been clearly defined after the United States had won its independence some thirty years earlier. A significant part of the Treaty of Ghent was the agreement that the United States and Great Britain were to work cooperatively to end the international slave trade – the first two countries in the world to work actively towards that goal. This cooperative effort by the navies of these two nations over the next forty years helped to heal the wounds of two wars and started them on the voyage towards the friendship that exists today between them.


Peacock and Tom Bowline arrived at Tristan da Cunha on 18 or 20 March 1815 but a gale drove them from the rendezvous.


Hornet arrived on the morning of 23 March with a fresh wind from the south-southwest and prepared to anchor off the north point of the island when the lookouts noticed a sail to the southeast steering west at 10:30. Master Commandant James Biddle immediately ordered the pursuit of the unknown sail.


At almost the same moment Penguin’s lookouts spotted Hornet and Commander James Dickinson changed course to engage her. Hornet then hove to, waiting for Penguin to close.


At 1:40 pm Penguin, at about 100 yards from Hornet, turned onto the starboard tack, hoisted her colors and fired a gun. Hornet luffed up on the same tack, hoisted her colors and the engagement began with broadsides from both sloops. The two vessels ran along for about fifteen minutes, gradually coming closer together when Dickinson turned to run aboard his American adversary. At this same moment, he received a mortal wound and command of Penguin fell to his lieutenant, James McDonald, who carried out his commander’s intention.



USS Hornet and HMS Penguin - 23 March 1815

National Maritime Museum, Greenwich

Notice that the date is incorrect on this lithograph.


At 1:56, Penguin collided with Hornet with her bowsprit over the Hornet’s deck between her main and mizzen masts on the starboard side. The American seamen were at their posts to repel boarders, but the British did not attempt to board. American cutlass men climbed the rigging to board Penguin but the very calm Biddle stopped them, “it being evident from the beginning that our fire was greatly superior both in quickness and effect.”

With the fresh wind and heavy seas, Hornet forged ahead causing Penguin’s bowsprit to carry away her starboard mizzen shrouds, stern davits and spanker boom, leaving the brig hanging off Hornet’s starboard quarter where only small arms could be used by either side. Biddle then heard what he believed was Penguin’s surrender, ordered his marines to cease firing and leapt onto the taffrail to inquire if she had surrendered. At that moment two marines on Penguin fired at him inflicting a bloody, but not life threatening, wound to his neck. US marines immediately shot them down and Hornet surged ahead breaking off the brig’s bowsprit and taking down the damaged foremast.


Hornet wore around to bring a fresh broadside to bear and pour in a raking fire when twenty men appeared at Penguin’s side and on her forecastle with their hands raised and calling out that they had struck. Captain Biddle and his officers found it very difficult to restrain the crew from firing a broadside in retaliation for the manner in which Biddle received his wound. The surrender occurred at 2:02, just 22 minutes after the opening broadsides.


Penguin suffered casualties of 18 dead or mortally wounded, including Commander Dickinson, and 24 wounded. Her hull was riddled with shot holes, she had lost her bowsprit and foremast in the engagement and her mainmast was severely damaged.


Hornet suffered 1 dead and 10 wounded, including her captain and first officer, Lieutenant David Conner, most from small arms fire. Mr. Connor was at first listed as mortally wounded due to the severity of his wound but he eventually recovered. Hornet suffered no damage from cannon fire in her hull, masts or spars although her sails and rigging were considerably shot up. The damage was quickly repaired after the action. The worst damage to Hornet came from Penguin’s bowsprit after the vessels collided.


A comparison between the specifications of Penguin and Hornet show that the two vessels were a very close match with Hornet holding a one gun advantage in their broadsides and parity in number of crewmen and tonnage of the vessels. The tonnage shown in the specifications is as listed in the respective navy records; the difference in those figures is the result of different formulas used by the two navies. When calculated by Roosevelt using the same formula, the disparity in tonnage was less than 3% with the advantage to Hornet.


William James, in his Naval Occurrences and in his six volume work The Naval History of Great Britain, goes to greater lengths than usual to diminish the apparent superiority of the American crew’s gunnery. As he has done in the previous engagements against American vessels, he excludes the ship’s boys in the number of crew on the British ship, a distinction he does not make when the opponent is not American. In this battle, he mentions the twelve marines loaned to Penguin but then forgets to include them in his crew count of 104. He also claims that only twelve of the crew, excluding officers, had previous nautical experience without citing any corroboration. Fifteen months had passed between Penguin’s commissioning and setting sail on her first voyage; it is possible that her three captains in this period had difficulty with finding crews, which might explain the replacement of the first two captains, but Dickinson had more than six months at sea to train his crew before the action with Hornet.


James also claimed that Penguin was quickly and shoddily constructed. However, Biddle, when first of the Wasp, had led the boarding party onto Frolic where he personally hauled down her colors and had been in the process of making repairs to her when Poictiers (74) arrived, recaptured her and captured the wounded Wasp. His assessment of Penguin has some validity considering this previous experience with Frolic. In addition, records for Penguin’s construction show it took ten months to build her and five months to outfit her, a bit longer than average for the Cruizer-class brigs. James claims that many of Penguin’s carronades dismounted when fired during the engagement, but this fault with the carronades, based on a review of his accounts in The Naval History of Great Britain, occurred much more frequently in the actions against American opponents.


According to James, Biddle and Warrington learned of the end of the war from a neutral ship encountered en route to Tristan da Cunha but he neglects to mention where, when and from what ship they received this news. He alleges they ignored this information in order to enrich themselves with prize money. If greed was his motivation, then why did Biddle engage Penguin in an even match considering the risk involved to himself, his crew and his ship?


During James’s discussion of Hornet’s crew size and the number of casualties Hornet suffered, he made the most astonishing accusations. He claimed that Mr. King (or Kirk, the name varies in James’s two books), a midshipman from Penguin, upon coming on board Hornet after the battle, observed American crewmen throwing dead – and wounded – overboard. James said this was done in order to conceal from the British prisoners the true size of Hornet’s crew and the number of casualties. He also claimed this was done because the American surgeon was incompetent and the wounded may die under his treatment. Finally, James alleges that a drunken Captain Biddle corroborated all of James’s assertions at dinner with one of Penguin’s officers without giving a hint to his source.


Several hours after the end of the action Peacock and Tom Bowline arrived at the rendezvous. After assessing Penguin’s damage and thoroughly examining her, Biddle removed the useable stores and scuttled her before daylight the next morning, 24 March. James Biddle regretted very much the need to scuttle her because he found her to be a new, well built and very fine example of her class but too damaged to repair and survive the long voyage back to the States. Master Commandant Lewis Warrington of the Peacock, as the most senior officer at the rendezvous, decided to transport the prisoners to San Salvador, Brazil on Tom Bowline. Peacock and Hornet remained at Tristan da Cunha until 13 April waiting for President, as ordered by Commodore Decatur. The hired store brig Macedonian arrived with news of President’s probable fate sometime in this period of waiting.


Peacock and Hornet continued east where they sighted on 27 April what they thought was a large East Indiaman east of the Cape of Good Hope. As they closed, Warrington and Biddle realized their mistake soon after the unknown sail turned to meet them rather than running. It was the 74 gun ship of the line HMS Cornwallis. Peacock escaped without difficulty, being both larger and faster than her companion. Hornet finally escaped three days later on 30 April only after throwing overboard all but one of her guns, most of her shot, all her spare spars, her anchors and anchor cables, boats, forge, small arms and even some of her food and water and some ballast. Hornet twice came under the fire of Cornwallis’s bow chasers and suffered some damage including one shot that penetrated the hull below the waterline, but no casualties. Of course, James Biddle had no choice but to order Hornet back home. She arrived in New York 30 July.


Peacock continued across the Indian Ocean, captured and burned three or four prizes, then encountered the East India Company cruiser Nautilus (14 guns, 4 long 9s and 10 x 18 pound carronades, 80 men, 180 tons) in the Sunda Strait connecting the Indian Ocean and the Java Sea on 30 June 1815 near Anjier. The vessels approached to within hailing distance when Lieutenant Boyce in command of Nautilus informed Peacock of the end of the war but Warrington, thinking the claim to be a ruse to allow Nautilus to escape under the guns of the Anjier shore battery, opened fire when Boyce refused to haul down his colors as Warrington ordered. Nautilus struck her colors after two broadsides. She suffered heavy damage and casualties of 7 dead and 7 wounded including Lt. Boyce. Warrington released her the next morning, assisted in making repairs and set course back to the United States, arriving in New York on 30 October. As soon as the news of the encounter reached Britain and the United States, Warrington received criticism for his handling of it. Roosevelt said of it some 70 years later, “There could not have been a more satisfactory exhibition of skill than that given by Captain Warrington; but I regret to say that it is difficult to believe he acted with proper humanity.”


The engagement between Hornet and Penguin was the last battle of the war and the action of Peacock against Nautilus the last exchange of fire.


In 1818-1819, Hornet operated in the West Indies and the Mediterranean and in the 1820s participated in the suppression of piracy in the Caribbean. She foundered with the loss all hands in a storm near Tampico, Mexico on 29 September 1829.


James Biddle continued his career in the US Navy, eventually attaining the rank of Commodore, the highest rank in the US Navy before 1862. In 1846, he negotiated the first treaty between China and the United States. Later that year, he also attempted to negotiate a similar treaty with the Japanese Tokugawa Shogunate, but at first contact, a samurai guard knocked Commodore Biddle down and threatened him with his drawn sword, ending the attempt. Commodore Perry succeeded seven years later. David Connor, first officer on Hornet, also attained the rank of Commodore.


As an alternative subject for Caldercraft’s Cruizer, Penguin would need a change in armament to 32 pounder carronades plus the 12 pounder boat gun and the addition of the fore and aft platforms like those on Snake.


Next: Cruizer, the original of the class, followed by Weazel



Naval Occurrences by William James, 1817

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)

“NMM, vessel ID 373130”, Warship Histories, vol v, National Maritime Museum (online)

“HMS Penguin (1813)”, “USS Hornet (1805)”, “Sinking of HMS Penguin”, articles on Wikipedia (online)

Master Commandant James Biddle’s action report dated 25 March 1815 as recorded in the US Congressional record (posted on ancestry.com)

Edited by DFellingham
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  • 3 weeks later...

Some further information about the Cruiser/Cruizer class that might be of interest;


The class were, with the Snake and Favourite class, apart from masting differences and an extra midships section inserted to give extra length, the most numerous class of warship in the age of the sail. Their nearest rivals in terms of numbers were the Cherokee class.


The National Maritime Museum, in Greenwich, London, hold the following original Admiralty draughts;


Lines/profile/lower deck/upper deck/framing/midships section/spar plan/planking expansion (external)/(Internal)/specification.


For the Arachne as a ship sloop in 1830 the following draughts; profile and decks.


For the Grasshopper in 1817; lower deck. As in 1822; profile/decks.


Fir-built vessels; lines/profile/lower deck/upper deck/framing/midships section.


Teak-built vessels; lines/profile/lower deck/upper deck/framing/midships section.

Edited by Torrens
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Thank you for contributing, Michael. The National Maritime Museum [online] is a wonderful source for plans and information. The ship histories have been particularly useful to me.


I wasn't aware that the four 18-gun Favourite class ship-sloops were a stretch (9 feet deck length and 3 inches beam) of the Cruizer/Snake, thank you.


Just a couple days ago, I came to the same conclusion that the Cruizer class, not the Cherokee class, was the largest class of sailing warships ever built when the actual number launched is considered, not just the number ordered.*


Of the 115 vessels ordered to the Cherokee brig-sloop plan, 11 were cancelled and 2 were not built (Forester and Griffin) but were re-ordered and built at another shipyard (but still listed a second time), for a total of 102 built.


Of the 112 vessels ordered to the Cruizer plans, 3 were cancelled and 4 were in the Snake sub-class (Snake and Victor in 1797-1798 and Childers and Cruiser [with an 's'] in 1827-1828), for a total of 105 Cruizer class brig-sloops built.


It is logical to include the Snake class with the Cruizer class because the hull plans were identical with only a variation in the number of masts. At least 4 Cruizers were altered to a ship rig and one Snake reduced to two masts. If considered as one class, the Cruizer/Snake sloops number 109 built.


It seems clear that more Cruizer class brig-sloops than Cherokee class brig-sloops were built and entered Royal Navy service.


*The assertion that the Cherokee class was the largest class of sailing warship ever built was attributed to J. J. Colledge (1969) & Ben Warlow (rev. ed. 2006) in Ships of the Royal Navy: The Complete Record of all Fighting Ships of the Royal Navy in the Wikipedia article "Cruizer-class brig-sloops". My analysis of the numbers of vessels built was based on this article, "Cherokee-class brig-sloops" and "List of corvette and sloop classes of the Royal Navy" from Wikipedia with slight corrections made after a little further research, primarily the addition of the Snake class ship-sloops of 1827-28.



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Hello David


I rarely use the National Maritime Museum online research facilities but for draughts, etc, I rely on a very early publication that lists important parts of the draughts collection. Another very important primary source is of course the late David Lyon's monumental work The Sailing Navy List - All the Ships of the Royal Navy - Built, Purchased and Captured - 1688-1860, published in 1993.


For ships histories I refer to the three volume works by Rif Winfield; British Warships in the Age of Sail, 1603-1714; 1714-1792 and 1792-1817. These were published in 2009, 2007 and 2005 respectively.


Finally, to bring Rif Winfield's work up-to-date in terms of the sailing warship there's Winfield's and Lyon's The Sail and Steam Navy List - All the Ships of the Royal Navy 1815-1860. This book, published in 2004, follows the same format as David Lyon's first book, mentioned above.


For probably the most comprehensive over-view of all ships ever used by the Royal Navy in the days of sail, the above books are essential reference sources. As such I would strongly recommend them!


Hope this helps.

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Found the small booklet mentioned in the post above...!


Ships Plans - a select list from the collection at the National Maritime Museum, complied by A H Waite and A L Tucker. It was published in 1959.


It's by no means comprehensive and has been superseded by David Lyon's book The Sailing Navy List.

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Where did you find that lovely bit of early history of the Avon? When I was researching my Blakeley/Wasp book back in the pre-internet days, I came across several newspaper editors crowing loudly about the Avon's defeat. They kept harping back to an incident in or about 1807, when the Avon supposedly did something really obnoxious off the Chesapeake Bay.  They had hoped that the Avon had the same captain on board her when she met the Wasp! But they never recapped Avon's misdeeds. I never learnt, until now, exactly what naughty thing she had done. Stealing the French Admiral's dispatches, forsooth. Bad Avon! Bad!



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Frolick: That bit of information came from the Wikipedia article "HMS Avon (1805)". The article referenced Burke, Edmund (1849) The Annual register of world events: a review of the year. (London: Longmans, Green), Volume 90.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Michael: you mention the Waite/Tucker 'Select List' mini-volume. You might be interested to know that prior to that, there were many sheets of bond paper with mimeographed(!) typewritten list of plans by rating that those gentlemen had assembled. These lists were comprehensive. My copies of some of those lists fell to pieces years ago, alas. They would be very useful, other than the catalog numbers were the old Admiralty Box/Sheet system rather than the ZAZ numbers used today.

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Good evening druxey!


I too have a few of the sheets of mimeographed lists - given me by Tucker and Lyon when I was a mere young teenager, or not quite! All on old-fashioned foolscap paper too! Like you, most have fallen to pieces. Only those kept flat, dry and in the dark have survived.


I'd forgotten all about these until your reminder! Memories of long, happy Saturdays at the National Maritime Museum, when their displays were more than the pathetic, superficial and pointless 'displays' of today...

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I covered the first eight Cruizer-class brig-sloops that initially caught my attention. Now we go back to the beginning – and to the end.


Cruizers, part 9:  HMS Cruizer


The Navy Board, on 19 December 1796, placed orders for four flush decked sloops based on designs by the two Surveyors of the Navy – Sir William Rule and Sir John Henslow. In order to evaluate the advantages and drawbacks of two masts compared to three, each hull design was built as a brig-sloop and as a ship-sloop. Before the Rule-designed sloops, Cruizer (brig) and Snake (ship), were 25% complete, one more of each were ordered, an unnamed brig and Victor (ship). The Board cancelled the brig before it received a name. Sisters to the Henslow-designed sloops, Busy (brig) and Echo (ship) were not ordered.


The Cruizer-class sloops proved themselves fast sailors and seaworthy. When armed with a battery of 16 x 32 pounder carronades (+ 2 x 6 pounder chase guns) they delivered a close range weight of broadside that exceeded the weight of a 36 gun, 12 pounder frigate’s broadside. To an Admiralty constantly constrained by a shortage of crews, the design had great appeal – it delivered that firepower with about one-third the crew.



Plan of lines, hull profiles, stern details of a typical Cruizer-class brig, Alert (1813)

National Maritime Museum, #ZAZ4599


 HMS Cruizer’s Specifications

Length: 100 ft (gundeck), 77 ft 3 1/2 in (keel)

Beam: 30 ft 6 in

Tonnage: 382 (bm)

Rig:  brig-rigged sloop

Armament at commissioning: 18 x 6 pounder guns

Armament later: 16 x 32 pounder carronades + 2 x 6 pounder chase guns

Complement: 121


HMS Cruizer launched on 20 December 1797, commissioned 2 February 1798 under Commander Charles Wollaston and joined Admiral Lord Viscount Duncan’s North Sea fleet.


Commander Charles Wollaston, 1798 – 1801


Cruizer captured the French privateer Jupiter (8 guns, 36 men) on 27 April 1798 after a three hour chase.


On 19 May, near Lowestoft, Cruiser pursued two French Republican luggers. After one dismasted herself trying to carry too much sail, Cruiser continued pursuit of the other until it became clear the lugger was widening her lead, and returned to take possession of the first. She was Chasseur (4 x 6 pounder guns, 48 men) and her escaped consort was Dragon (4), both vessels new and on their first cruise.


On 16 April 1799, Cruiser captured Commerce, and, while in company with the frigates Latona (38) and Astrea (32) and the hired cutter Courier (12), she captured the Dutch hoy Dolphin. [The consulted records do not indicate the order of these captures, only that they occurred on the same day.]


On 24 April, Cruizer in company with ship-sloop Scorpion (16) and hired cutters Fox (10) and Hazard (6) captured the Swedish brig Neptunus. Two days later Cruizer and Scorpion were present at the capture of the Adelaide.


Cruiser captured the Vrouw Etje on 12 May 1799 and Reformator the following day.


At 11 am on 21 May near St. Abb’s Head, Cruiser discovered two luggers to the south, well to windward, and gave chase. With unsettled and hazy weather, Commander Wollaston was not able to keep them in sight but found that he was steadily gaining on them in the intervals of clearer conditions. Just as Cruiser came into gun range at about 4:30 pm, a sudden gust of wind from shore carried away her fore topmast and main topgallant mast forcing her to heave-to to clear the wreckage. She soon made what sail she could and continued the pursuit until losing sight of them in the darkness at about 9 pm. Wollaston assumed that the luggers would continue on their southerly course along the coast of England. While sailing south during the night, Cruiser managed to erect another fore topmast and re-fit. At dawn, near Scarborough Castle, Cruizer found one of the luggers about 8 miles north of her, to leeward, and resumed the pursuit. Six hours later she captured the Deux Freres of 14 guns (12 of which had gone over the side during the chase) and 50 men. The other lugger, Tippoo Saib, had thrown overboard all 12 of her guns and her boat during the previous day’s chase and had separated from her companion during the night.


In the evening of 12 July 1799, Cruizer re-captured an English vessel with a French privateer’s prize crew on board. After learning the time and place of the capture, Wollaston ordered Cruizer to set sail to find the privateer. The next day, Cruizer found and captured at “56 degrees N latitude” the Courageux (14 guns, 47 men) after a six hour chase.


While in the process of inspecting two British brigs on 23 March 1800, Wollaston discovered a suspicious sail and immediately gave chase. After a five hour chase Cruizer captured the French privateer cutter Perseverant (14 guns, 47 men). According to Wollaston, “She is a remarkably fine vessel, copper bottomed, and has captured an amazing number of vessels in the North Sea.”


While inspecting a brig from Bremen two days later, Wollaston learned from her master that he had been hailed about three hours earlier by a French brig steering northeast. Cruizer caught up with her and accepted her surrender at about 8:30 am. She was the Flibustier (14 guns, 54 men). Cruizer arrived at Yarmouth later that day with her prize.


Cruizer and ship-sloop Pylades (16) captured Maria Charlotta on 22 May 1800.


On 25 August 1800, Cruiser captured the Catharina Magdalena.


Commander Charles Wollaston received promotion to post captain on 1 January 1801. Charles Wollaston advanced to the rank of Vice-Admiral on 23 November 1841 and died 19 February 1845 at the age of 78 years.


Commander James Brisbane, 1801


Commander James Brisbane received command of Cruiser and remained briefly in Admiral Lord Duncan’s North Sea Fleet. On 23 February 1801, Cruizer re-captured the Aberdeen Packet and the Harriet of Sunderland.


In April Cruizer transferred to a fleet assembling in Yarmouth under the command of Admiral Sir Hyde Parker and was subsequently assigned to Vice-Admiral Lord Nelson’s squadron. On 12 March, the fleet of 20 ships of the line, 5 frigates and several smaller vessels, totaling about 53, set sail to Copenhagen to persuade the Danes to return to peace negotiations.


On 30 March, Brisbane on Cruizer supervised the setting of buoys by boats from Cruizer and Amazon (38) to mark shallow water in the Outer Channel between the Middle Ground shoals and Saltholm Island and took soundings to draw a map of the shoals in preparation for the battle. Cruizer continued charting shoals on the 31st. Commander Brisbane so impressed Admiral Nelson with his handling of these tasks that Nelson praised “the unremitting exertions of Captain Brisbane” in the first sentence of his report of the 2 April Battle of Copenhagen. James Brisbane returned to Yarmouth, received promotion to post captain and the command of Saturn (74), flagship of Admiral Thomas Totty. Many other officers of all ranks also received promotion after the battle. Commodore Sir James Brisbane died on 19 December 1826 of dysentery in Penang, Malaya while in command of the East Indies Station. Throughout his career, Brisbane demonstrated adeptness and skill at coastal and riverine operations first shown while in command of Cruizer at Copenhagen.



The Battle of Copenhagen, 2 April 1801, by Nicholas Pocock

British bomb vessels at lower left, British line, Danish line, Copenhagen in background. Cruizer was at the south end of the line to the left off the painting.

National Maritime Museum


Commander John Hancock, 1801-1806


Commander John Hancock took command of Cruizer as part of the North Sea Fleet in April 1801.


Admiral Nelson in a letter to a friend dated 31 August 1801 wrote that Captain Hancock had landed two captured brass guns worth 400 to 500 pounds apiece at Yarmouth and that it was believed he had more aboard Cruizer. This bit of information suggests that Cruizer carried a pair of brass chase guns (6 pounders being the most likely) in the stern ports at about this time.


Cruizer captured Antonious and Jonge Jacob on 10 October 1801.


NMM records have Cruizer [re]commissioned in February 1803 with Commander Hancock still in command. It is possible that Cruizer had been refit and her armament changed to 16 x 32 pounder carronades + 2 x 6 pounder chase guns prior to that date. The Navy Board ordered six Cruizer-class brig-sloops on 27 November 1802, one of them in Cruizer’s home port of Yarmouth. It seems likely that Cruizer would have her armament upgraded to that of the new brigs soon after. In addition, after five years of operation since commissioning, Cruizer would be about due for a refit.


On 14 June 1803, boats of the Immortalite (36), Jalouse (18) and Cruizer took L'Inabordable and Merchante [James has the name as Commode] French gun-brigs near Gris Nez after they had run aground under the guns of a shore battery for protection.


Cruizer captured Neptunus on 18 July 1803, recaptured Margaretta on 4 August and captured Flore on 5 August.


On the night of 8 March 1804, boats of Cruiser and Rattler (16) cut out the cutter Colombe at Sluys but it ran aground and was burned to prevent recapture. Later that month thirteen armed vessels brought troops out from Vlissingen to attack the moored blockading brig Cruiser and ship-sloop Rattler near Blanckenberge. The sloops repulsed the boarding attempts and chased the boats back to shore until shoaling water and the Ostend batteries ended further pursuit.


On 22 April, James Douglas, a petty officer in Cruizer, was flogged around the fleet for beating and ill treating a prisoner on board a prize of which he was prize master.


The Vlissingen Flotilla, 15-16 May 1804


Commodore Sir William Sidney Smith in Antelope (50) commanded the squadron of smaller vessels, including Cruizer, blockading the coast from Ostend to Vlissingen. These widely separated vessels communicated using ensign-size signal flags with messages relayed from ship to ship. On the evening of 15 May, Cruiser and Rattler observed 22 one masted gun vessels and a schooner haul east out of Ostend and take up an anchorage westward of the lighthouse behind a sand bar. Commander Hancock signaled to Minx (14) and the other three gun-brigs on their way westward toward Calais to return. This signal was either misunderstood or not seen. He also dispatched the hired armed cutter Stag (14) at 9 pm to report the situation to the Commodore on Antelope which Stag found at 5:30 the next morning. Cruiser and Rattler, after darkness fell, anchored in position to cut off this flotilla from returning to Ostend at the extreme range of one of the Ostend batteries.


At daybreak on 16 May, Hancock again recalled the four British gun-brigs, still in sight, but again the signals were misunderstood or not seen. At 9:30 am, Rattler, being further east, made signal for five sail, then for a fleet to the east sailing towards Ostend from Vlissingen. This was the Vlissingen flotilla under the command of Rear Admiral Ver-Huell, which set sail at dawn bound for Ostend. The flotilla consisted of two ship-rigged prams of 12 x long 24 pounders, Ville D’Anvers, flagship, and Ville D’Aix, 19 schooners and 47 schuyts, in all 68 sail mounting over 139 guns 18 pounders or larger, 230 smaller guns, carronades or mortars and carrying 4000 to 5000 men.


At 10 am, the earliest the tide allowed, the two sloops set sail toward the enemy. At 11 am, the wind shifted to the south west, helping the sloops but almost dead foul for the Gallo-Batavian flotilla now near Blanckenberge, forcing the Dutch admiral to order the return to Vlissingen. At about noon, Commodore Smith on Antelope with Penelope (36) and Aimable (32) made their appearance from the north threatening to cut off the flotilla’s escape back to Vlissingen.


At about 1:30 pm, Cruizer came up with, fired at and compelled to strike, one of the rearmost schuyts mounting one 36 pounder and carrying five Dutch crewmen and 25 soldiers. While signaling to Rattler to take possession of the schuyt, Cruizer pursued the flotilla’s flagship. Further wind change allowed Admiral Ver-Huell to reverse the flotilla’s course again back towards Ostend; all but eight of the flotilla followed this order, those eight continued on to Vlissingen.


At about 1:45 pm, Ville D’Anvers fired a shot at Cruizer, passing over her and almost hitting Rattler. At about this moment the wind changed again, nearly setting Cruizer and Rattler aback and allowing Ville D’Anvers to close and commence firing on Cruizer. Within minutes both Cruiser and Rattler found themselves engaged on both sides by Ville D’Anvers and other vessels and under fire of the Blanckenberge batteries. At one point Cruizer fought off boarding attempts by several schooners that had closed to board, one of which had her bowsprit over Cruizer’s deck until it fell from a shot from a carronade [one of Cruizer’s? suggesting she was armed with them at this time]. Cruiser and Rattler managed to drive on shore the pram Ville D’Anvers and four of the schooners.


At 3:45 pm Aimable arrived and opened fire on a portion of the flotilla huddled under the Blanckenberge batteries. At 4:30 Penelope and Antelope also got into action and by their heavy fire drove several more schooners and schuyts on shore. At 7 pm Aimable came under fire of the grounded pram Ville D’Anvers and at 7:45 pm, Antelope signaled the squadron to withdraw due to the falling tide and they drew away to deeper water in good order.


Casualties on the British vessels were very light considering the duration and intensity of the action. Cruiser had one seaman killed and the captain’s clerk and three seamen wounded; Rattler, two killed and three wounded; Aimable, seven killed and fourteen wounded; total, 13 killed and 32 wounded. Besides cut rigging, only Cruizer suffered significant damage – two large shot holes near her waterline. The Gallo-Batavian flotilla lost 18 men killed and 60 wounded, 4 killed and 29 wounded on the two prams.


On 17 May, the gun-brigs, having rejoined the squadron, attempted to complete the destruction of the Ville D’Anvers but were unable to do so because of the shore batteries and newly set artillery batteries that drove them off. On 19 May, the gun-brigs in company with the 16-gun ship-sloops Galgo and Inspector, attempted a second attack on Ville D’Anvers but failed for the same reasons. Ville D’Anvers and five of the eight grounded schooners and schuyts managed to refloat and get into Ostend on a high tide later that day. The only British casualties suffered on these two days occurred in accidents with five dead and six injured.


On 16 October 1804 at 9 pm, Cruizer, in company with the gun-brig Bold (14), hired armed brig Ann (10) and the cutter Florence (6) all close in at Ostend, observed a strange brig standing in then suddenly turn away and set all sail. Cruizer and company immediately set all sail in pursuit and followed her all through the night. At 4:45 am, with a wind that had steadily freshened through the night, the strange brig lost both her top masts. Due to the morning haze and the darkness of the hour, Commander Hancock did not see the brig’s accident or her actions after - she had cleared all sails and dropped anchor in the hope that her pursuers would sail right on past giving the brig the weather gauge or would miss sight of her completely. Cruizer had outdistanced her three consorts (out of sight by midnight) and, upon losing sight of the brig, had reduced sail slightly to avoid exactly what the brig’s captain had hoped would happen. Cruizer passed within hail of the brig, and not receiving an answer except that the brig was from Philadelphia, in bad English, ordered three rounds fired from her carronades into her [a specific mention of her carronades, setting the end of a definite period of time in which Cruizer’s battery was upgraded]. The privateer Contre Amival Magon (18) surrendered as Cruizer prepared to fire a passing broadside into her quarter from ten yards. By Cruizer’s hourly log the eight-hour chase had covered 100 miles. This gives a documented average speed of no less than 12 knots.


The captain of Contre Amival Magon was the notorious privateer Captain Blackeman or Blauckman (spelling varies even in Hancock’s official reports) who had escaped capture on three previous occasions. The Contre Amival Magon was a new brig, pierced for 18 guns but carrying 17, out on its first cruise. Blankeman had captured three vessels, the ship Belisarius, and the collier brigs Scipio and Contents Increase in the preceding 18 days. A British brig recaptured Contents Increase just two hours after her capture on 10 October. The masters and crews from the three vessels were on board Contre Amival Magon when captured. She carried a crew of 84 French, Danish, Swedish and American sailors. Seven Americans, out of work and facing time in a prison hulk, promptly joined the crew of Cruizer.


Commander Hancock escorted his prize to Yarmouth and submitted his report that same morning, 17 October 1804. He left Blachman with the Rear Admiral of the North Sea Squadron, Thomas McNamara Russell on HMS Monmouth (64). Blanckman escaped soon after.


The Ostend Flotilla, 23-24 October 1804


On 23 October at 4 pm, a division of the Ostend flotilla consisting of two prams, one with a commodore’s pendant, and 18 armed schuyts put to sea from Ostend steering west. At about the same time Cruizer with gun-brigs Blazer (14), Conflict (12), Escort (14) and Tigress (12) and hired armed cutters Admiral Mitchell (12) and Griffin (8), stood in to reconnoiter and immediately gave chase. At 5:15 pm, Cruizer engaged the lead pram with support from the gun-brigs and cutters. At 6:35 pm, after the lead pram’s guns had fallen silent and Hancock realized he was on a falling tide in less than three fathoms of water – Cruizer drew over two – he hauled off todeeper water and anchored.


During that time, Conflict also engaged the prams but soon ran aground. Lieutenant Charles C. Ormsby, in command, tried to lighten Conflict but all efforts were futile in the falling tide. After the two prams passed by on either side of Conflict Ormsby decided that he needed to quit his brig and save the crew. Once in the boats they pulled towards the anchored Cruizer.


After Commander Hancock received Lt. Ormsby’s report, he ordered him and his crew back on their boats to affect either Conflict’s recapture or her destruction with support from the Admiral Mitchell. The ebb tide delayed their return for a time but when they eventually approached Conflict they found her high and dry on the beach defended by infantry and a battery of artillery and gave up the attempt. When they returned, Commander Hancock sent them back again with Admiral Mitchell, Griffon and a detachment of sailors and marines commanded by Acting Lieutenant Abraham Garland from Cruizer. This attempt was repulsed with one dead and seven wounded including Lt. Garland with his right leg severed at the thigh.


The next day the damaged, beached pram was refloated and sailed to the west. Conflict most likely broke up on the beach (as suggested by Hancock in his report) but the records do not confirm this. Cruizer had four wounded in the action; Conflict, one dead and five wounded; and Griffin, two wounded; total one dead and eleven wounded. The French lost no vessels and suffered unknown casualties.


On 11 February 1805, Cruizer and Ann captured Hoop.


On 8 March, Cruizer captured the privateer galliot Triton and her prize, Vriendjchap.


On 15 March, Cruizer, gun-brig Minx, and Bold captured Industria.


On 29 June 1805, Cruizer captured Johanna Tholen.


On 2 August, Cruizer and Ann captured Frederick and on 23 August, they, with Minx, Active (6) and Griper (14) captured Susannah Margaretha.


On 5 September, Cruizer, Minx, Active and Mariner (14) captured Sophia Amelia and on 29 September, Cruizer recaptured Rover.


On 12 November at 7 pm, Cruizer interrupted two French privateer luggers taking a brig and gave chase to the larger for two hours until bringing down her main topsail and main lugsail with Cruizer’s chase guns, forcing her to surrender. Vengeur of 14 guns and 56 men was two days out from Boulogne and on that same afternoon had captured two Swedish brigs.


On 27 January 1806, Commander Hancock disguised Cruizer as an American vessel looking for a pilot near Vlissingen, decoyed a cutter in close, captured her and manned her as a tender under Lieutenant John Pearse. Between them, they succeeded in capturing seven more blockade runners in the next few hours, six luggers and a schooner laden with cargoes including 26,000 gallons of spirits and several tons of tobacco.


Upon his return to Yarmouth with his eight prizes, Commander John Hancock found he was promoted to post captain and Commander Pringle Stoddart was to be in command of Cruizer.


Commander Pringle Stoddart, 1806-1807


Cruizer with Commander Pringle Stoddart in command remained part of the North Sea Fleet.


On 20 September 1806, Cruizer captured the fishing boat Fortuyn. and another, St. Wareld Beloop on 12 October.


At 8 am on 6 January 1807, Cruizer gave chase to a suspicious lugger and four hours later captured the privateer Jena, of 16 3 and 4 pounder guns. Jena had aboard the masters and crews of three vessels captured in the fourteen days after she was launched.



A brig chasing a pirate/privateer/smuggler by Thomas Buttersworth (1768-1842)

National Maritime Museum


At 2 am on 26 January, a lugger passed Cruizer on her weather beam on the opposite tack. Cruizer turned and attempted to follow but could not lie as close to the wind as the lugger but the wind soon veered further west allowing Cruizer to follow in the lugger’s wake. Cruizer eventually forced the lugger onto the beach three miles west of Blankenberge where the master and crew escaped. Commander Stoddart anchored and sent in his boats to take her off or destroy her. The officers and men succeeded in getting the privateer Brave (16) off the beach under musket fire from the dunes above the beach without incident. On board Brave were the masters and crews of two vessels she captured. One of these, Leander, was recaptured later that day. Cruizer also recaptured the Guardian, a prize taken by the privateer Revanche.


In August, Cruizer was transferred to Admiral James Gambier’s fleet for another battle at Copenhagen. On 22 August, three Danish Prams of 20 guns each and 28 to 30 smaller gun vessels positioned themselves for an attack the next morning on the seaward flank of British batteries (the Mill batteries) under construction opposite the Danish batteries near the entrance to the harbor of Copenhagen. In response, Admiral Gambier ordered the British inshore squadron to form up to defend that flank. The squadron consisted of Cruizer, her new sister Mutine, and Kite (16), bomb-vessels Thunder (8), Zebra (18), Fury (12), Aetna (8) and Vesuvious (8), gun-brigs Fearless (12), Indignant (12), Urgent (14), Pincher (14), Tigress (12), Desperate (14) and Safeguard (14), the hired armed ship Hebe (16), three armed transports and 10 ships’ boats outfitted as mortar-boats.


At 10 am 23 August, the Danish squadron, supported by the Trekronen Batteries, floating batteries, block ship Mars and the pram St Thomas, attacked the British squadron. At about 2 pm, seeing that the British carronades were ineffectual at the range of the long guns of the Danes, Captain Puget of Goliath, in command of the squadron, ordered it to withdraw. The squadron suffered the loss of one lieutenant (John Woodard of Cruizer) and three seamen killed and one lieutenant, seven seamen and five marines wounded. The gun-brigs, drawing the least water and being closest to the enemy, suffered the most physical damage. The Danish squadron turned its attention to the Mill battery but was driven off after taking damage and casualties while causing little to the British battery.


On 25 August, Danish gun boats attacked a different exposed seaward flank of the British line without opposition from the British fleet to little effect. The next day, the Danish gunboats returned to attack the Mill battery but were repulsed after one blew up from a British mortar shell exploding in its powder magazine with heavy loss.


On 31 August the Danish gun boat squadron attacked the Mill battery and inshore squadron, reinforced by the repaired gun-brigs. During this action, the British armed transport Charles blew up from a Danish mortar shell. The action ended inconclusively with the British losing 10 killed and 21 wounded (almost all from the explosion) and the Danes one killed and four wounded.


The naval activity at the Siege of Copenhagen amounted to little more than these small vessel actions and the landing of troops.


On 2 September, Cruizer captured the Emanuel near Copenhagen. Cruizer arrived in Yarmouth with dispatches from Copenhagen on 11 September.


On 8 December 1807, a notice published in the London Gazette announced the payment of salvage money for the recapture of Famalien to the officers and crew of Cruizer, Pringle Stoddart, Commander, but the date of the recapture is not mentioned.


Commander Pringle Stoddart relinquished command of Cruizer to Commander George Charles Mackenzie sometime after 11 September 1807.


Commander George Charles Mackenzie, 1807-1808


In the evening of 11 June 1808, Euryalus (36) and Cruizer, discovered several vessels at anchor in the Great Belt near Korsor. Captain the Honourable G. H. L. Dundas immediately dispatched the boats from the frigate and brig under the command of Lieutenant Michael Head to attempt their destruction. The boats attacked the vessels, despite the covering fire from a battery of three long 18 pounders and Danish musketry, and captured the gun boat E mounting two 18 pounders with a crew of 64 and burned two transports fitted to carry troops while suffering but one man slightly wounded.


Lieutenant Thomas Wells, 1808


On 1 October 1808, Cruizer, acting commander Lieutenant Thomas Wells in command, while close in at the entrance of Gottenbourg, encountered about twenty armed cutters, luggers, gun boats and row boats intent on capturing Cruizer. Lt. Wells responded quickly and captured a schuyt of ten 4 pounders and 32 men and compelled the rest of the flotilla to seek shelter under the guns of a shore battery.


Between 1 and 5 November, Cruizer captured the Danish vessels Rinaldo, Probert, Kirstina and Trende Brodre and recaptured Maria Elizabeth. Cruizer, with the gun-brig Starling (12), captured Elbe, St. Joanna, Vrou Sophia, Yonge Ness, Fier Brodre, Speculation, Erndte, Prince Charles, Aurora, Lawrence Caroline and Two Brothers from 22 to 25 November.


Lieutenant Thomas Wells received confirmation of his promotion to Commander and a different command.


Commander Thomas Richard Toker, 1808-1813


Commander Thomas R. Toker took command of Cruizer in late November or December 1808.


Between 12 and 21 March 1809, Cruizer captured the Danish vessels Albion, Printz Frederick, Erstatning and Unge Maria.


In April Cruizer captured St. Johannes on the 9th and Lille Peder on the 27th.


On 7 May 1809, Cruizer, off Pillau, delivered a letter for Louis Drusina, a diplomat turned secret agent.


On 8 May, Cruizer and the gun-brig Urgent captured the Danish privateer Tilsit and her prize Experiment. On 31 May, Cruizer with Rose (18) captured the Danish privateer brig Christianborg of 6 guns and 37 men off Bornholm.


On 19 June 1810, Cruizer captured the Danish galliot Frau Magdelena and on 26 June, the Prussian sloop Jonge Laura.


Cruizer, on 31 July 1810, captured the Prussian sloop Schwan


On 21 August, Cruizer and the cutter Cheerful (12) captured Albertina


On 17 September, Commander Toker captured the Danish galliot Familiens Well.


In the week ending 2 Oct, Cruizer captured Schwan, Blanch, Albertina and Byie.


Cruizer set sail from Yarmouth for the Nore on 20 January 1811, was refit at Chatham in November 1811, was in Portsmouth in February 1812 and was listed as being in Sheerness in 1814.


Cruizer was sold for breaking on 3 February 1819.



The Cruiser ship-sloop (1828)


The last sloop built from Sir William Rule’s plan first used for Cruizer is the ship-sloop Cruiser. She launched 19 January 1828, commissioned soon after and left Chatham with John Colpoys in command in October 1828 for duty on the East Indies Station.


After conversion to a brig in 1831, Cruiser returned to station in the East Indies, Commander John Parker in command.


In August 1833, Commander John M’Causland and Cruiser were assigned to the North America / West Indies Station primarily for piracy and slave trade suppression.


On 14 Jan 1835, acting commander Lieutenant James Vashon Baker, in command of Cruiser, captured the slave vessel Maria.


Commander W. A. Willis received command of Cruiser in October 1835.


Richard King took command in February 1838, on the East Indies Station. On 18 January 1839, Cruiser accompanied Volage (28) and several other vessels with troops on a strike against Aden, an Arab pirate stronghold, and captured it. The strike force destroyed 33 guns of several calibers in the pirate batteries, killed approximately 50 pirates and captured 140 more.


Commander Henry W. Giffard received command of Cruiser in May 1839 in the East Indies and participated in the campaign leading up to the bombardment and capture of Chusan, an island near the mouth of the Yangtze River, on 5 July 1840. Cruiser was reported at her station off Canton on 2 March 1841. [One source has Cruiser being converted back to a ship sometime in 1840, most likely after 5 July. However, NMM has a plan of Cruiser’s hold as a brig that casts doubt on an 1840 conversion, dated 14 September 1844, at Chatham, and signed by Commander E. G. Fanshawe and the brig’s Master.]


3 Jul 1841, Commander H. W. Giffard, Cruiser, promoted to Captain. Lieutenant W. Haskoll, Cruiser, promoted to Commander.


Cruiser was at Chatham in 1844.



Plan of Cruiser’s hold as a brig made at Chatham in 1844.

National Maritime Museum, #ZAZ4801


On the morning of 18 August 1845, a landing party of 300 sailors and 200 marines supplied from seven vessels of the East Indies Fleet, including Cruiser, assembled to attack the pirate stronghold of Seriff Housman in Maluda Bay, Borneo, defended by two or three batteries, a fort, a heavy boom spanning the river and 500 to 1000 men. The landing party loaded into all of the fleet’s boats, some fitted as gunboats, with Commander Fanshawe of Cruiser as second in command of the operation. This force attacked the boom under fire from the batteries. After fifty minutes, the boom gave way and the landing force swarmed along the river banks, stormed the batteries and fort and quickly swept away all opposition. The men wrecked or removed the guns and destroyed everything of value they could find. The landing party suffered eight dead or mortally wounded and thirteen wounded. The casualties among the pirates were not estimated, as they carried away their wounded and many of their dead, but were described as “immense”. Upon return to the ships, a second force was dispatched to return to the town and complete its destruction. This second group returned with the brass guns from the destroyed batteries.


Commander William MacLean received command of Cruiser in December 1846.


Cruiser was sold at Bombay in 1849.



Next: Weazel


Edited to add a photo



The Naval History of Great Britain by William James, 1824

Naval Biographical Dictionary by William R. O’Byrne 1849

“NMM, vessel ID 383036” [Cruizer], Warship Histories, vol xii, National Maritime Museum

“Cruizer 1797”, “Cruizer 1828”, et al. www.ageofnelson.org

“Cruizer 1797”, “Cruizer 1828”, et al. www.pbenyon.plus.com

“HMS Cruizer (1797)”, “Cruizer-class brig-sloop”, “Battle of Copenhagen”, articles on Wikipedia (online)

London Gazette, 28 April 1798, #15011, p.354; 19 May 1798, #15017, p.424; 21 May 1799, #15136, p.491; 16 July 1799, #15160, p.718; 25 March 1800, #15242, p.298; 18 October 1800, #15303, p.1200; 3 March 1801, #15342, p.257; 7 March 1801, #15343, p.266; 14 November 1801, #15427, p.1374; 14 November 1801, #15427, p.1375; 17 November 1801, #15428, p.1393; 13 July 1802, #15497, p.751; 3 May 1803, #15581, p.528; 14 May 1803, #15584, p.507; 4 May 1805, #15804, p.607; 7 May 1805, #15805, p.624; 15 April 1801, #15354, p.402; 11 August 1801, #15396, p.994; 31 December 1803, #15662, p.7; 23 October 1804, #15748, p.1320-1322; 27 October 1804, #15749, p.1335; 6 November 1804, #15752, p.1368; 17 November 1804, #15755, p.1412; 1 June 1805, #15812, p.738; 12 November 1805, #15862, p.1412; 19 November 1805, #15864, p.1453; 10 December 1805, #15871, p.1556; 14 December 1805, #15872, p.1569; 24 December 1805, #15875, p.1603; 12 August 1806, #15945, p.1067;  12 August 1806, #15945, p.1069; 16 August 1806, #15946, p.1084; 30 August 1806, #15950, p.1141-1142; 3 February 1807, #15997, p.144; 10 February 1807, #15999, p.179; 14 February 1807, #16000, p.197; 26 May 1807, #16032, p.718; 4 August 1807, #16053, p.1034; 3 September 1808, #16179, p.1220; 6 September 1808, #16180, p.1233; 22 May 1813, p.999; 10 January 1807, #15990, p.34; 3 February 1807, #15997, p.141; 10 February 1807, #15999, p.179; 21 February 1807, #16002, p.229; 1 August 1807, #16052, p.1018; 5 December 1807, #16093, p.1636; 3 July 1810, #16384, p.990; 10 January 1810, #16341, p.222; 23 January 1820, #16336, p.125; 27 January 1810, #16337, p.139: 30 January 1810, # 16338, p.160; 9 June 1810, #16377, p.846; 21 May 1814, #16900, p.1066; 31 December 1816, #17205, p.2494; 4 January 1817, #17206, p.12; 10 June 1809, #16265, p.853; 24 February 1810, #16345, p.291;13 November 1810, #16424, p.1811;27 November 1810, #16429, p.1905; 12 November 1811, #16540, p.2197; 18 January 1812, #16564, p.133.

Edited by DFellingham
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  • 1 month later...

I was re-reading William James's "Naval Occurances ..." (1817) today, and he mentions on page 351 in his discussion of the Peacock/Epervier and Wasp/Reindeer/Avon fights, that one Cruiser Brig, HMS Primrose, was built 8 feet longer than the rest of her class. But all modern references for Primrose's design describe her as a standard Cruiser. But James was usually spot on with his technical analysis, albeit a tad Ameriphobic in his conclusions. I wonder if they just enlarged her amidships and gave her an extra port per side?

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I wonder if perhaps James was referring to the 1810 HMS Primrose.  Winfield shows it as being 108 feet, designed by Henry Peake (as opposed to the others in the Cruizer class based on a design by Sir Wm. Rule, including the 1807 Primrose that was lost in 1808).  Given James was referring to events in the 1812-1814 timeframe, would make sense to be referring to the second Primrose not the one that was lost years previous to the war.

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