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British official Report of the Prince de Neufchatel vs Endymion battle

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While I can't find any contemporary illustrations of the battle, the P-de-N did have a near-sister brig, called the General Armstrong, which fought its own similar engagement off Fayol against the boats of three British  men of war! She too won, but her captain, Samuel Reid, had to scuttle the General Armstrong and escape ashore:








From Wikipedia:



General Armstrong was based in New York City and crewed by about 90 men. Captain Tim Barnard commanded the ship in 1812. Guy Richards Champlin led the ship from 1813 through July 1814, followed by Captain Samuel Chester Reid until the ship's September 1814 scuttling in Faial.[3] She was armed with seven guns, including a 42-pounder Long Tom cannon.


On 11 November 1812 the General Armstrong—armed with 16 guns and 40 men—attacked the English ship Queen. Queen, headed by an individual named Conkey,[4] was sailing from Liverpool to Suriname with cargo valued at £90,000. Her crew resisted and did not strike her colours until the captain, first officer, and nine of the crew were killed. Queen was possibly one of the most valuable prizes captured by American privateers during the War of 1812. A prize crew began sailing Queen to the United States, but wrecked it off the Nantucket coast.[3]


On 11 March 1813 the General Armstrong was sailing in the mouth of the Suriname River when she encountered a vessel the crew presumed to be a British privateer but was, in fact, the British sloop HMS Coquette.[5] The ensuing battle severely damaged General Armstrong. Its captain Guy Richards Champlin was injured and threatened to blow up the ship if the crew surrendered. General Armstrong ultimately escaped.

In his log-book Champlin wrote: "In this action we had six men killed and sixteen wounded, and all the halyards of the headsails shot away; the fore-mast and bowsprit one quarter cut through, and all the fore and main shrouds but one shot away; both mainstays and running rigging cut to pieces; a great number of shot through our sails, and several between wind and water, which caused our vessel to leak. There were also a number of shot in our hull."

General Armstrong returned to the United States, arriving in Charleston on 4 April. General Armstrong's shareholders awarded Champlin a sword for saving the ship from capture or destruction.[6]


Two days after General Armstrong captured Queen, it captured Lucy & Alida (captained by Deamy), a ship sailing from Suriname to Liverpool with dry goods. However, the letter of marque Barton of Liverpool recaptured Lucy & Alida.[4][Note 1] The American privateer Revengeof Norfolk later captured Lucy & Alinda.[8][9]

On 29 November 1812 General Armstromg unsuccessfully attacked Maxwell off the Brazil coast.[10] In 1812 she also captured Sir Sidney Smith, which was ordered to port but foundered off Nantucket,[11][Note 2] and the brig Union, originally sailing from Guernsey to Saint Kittsand sent to New York after its capture.[12]


In 1813  General Armstrong captured and burned an unnamed schooner and an unnamed brig that were sailing to France.[13][14]


The Battle of Fayal:

The Royal Navy ship HMS Plantagenet of seventy-four guns, commanded by Captain Robert Loyd, was sailing to the West Indies with the thirty-eight gun frigate HMS Rota and the eighteen gun brig-sloop HMS Carnation in preparation for the Louisiana Campaign. On the night of September 26, the three ships were cruising in company in Fayal Roads when they spotted the Baltimore clipper General Armstrong, a brig with seven guns and a complement of about ninety men. She was commanded by Captain Samuel Chester Reid, who was not prepared to surrender his ship. Captain Loyd ordered a pinnace under Lieutenant Robert Faussett be sent from Plantagenet to ascertain the nationality of the stranger in port. When the British came within gun range of the American vessel and requested the crew identify themselves, Captain Reid declared he would fire if the British came any closer.[5][6]


According to British reports, Lieutenant Faussett was unable to stop his boat in the rough tides and it drifted too close to General Armstrong. The Americans then opened fire with their 9-pound long guns and hit the pinnace. Two men were killed and seven others wounded before the pinnace could retire out of range.[7] Carnation immediately moved in and anchored in front of the American ship to begin negotiations. When discussions failed—and since General Armstrong had fired the first shot in a neutral port—Carnation cut her cable and lowered four boats filled with heavily armed men towards General Armstrong, while Captain Reid maneuvered the ship closer to shore. The first attack occurred at around 8:00 pm. When the Americans observed the incoming boats they maneuvered again to receive them. In the following skirmish, Carnation was kept out of range by enemy fire and the boats were repulsed with a loss estimated by Reid at twenty dead and twenty wounded. One American was killed and another wounded.[8][9]

At about 9:00 pm, twelve boats armed with carronades and filled with 180 marines and sailors from Plantagenet and Rota were towed into battle by Carnation, which stopped out of gun range. The boats divided into three divisions for another attack. Lieutenant William Matterface commanded the boats and Carnation provided covering fire. Loyd anchored Rota and Plantagenet a few miles away and they did not participate in the engagement. Just after 9:00 pm the British boats advanced, but accurate American fire and strong currents kept Carnation from closing the range and she was damaged. It took Lieutenant Matterface and his boats until about midnight to reach General Armstrong, largely due to the current but partly because of where Loyd had stopped his ships. While the Americans waited they offloaded three of their cannon and erected a battery. When the British arrived, they attempted to board General Armstrong but American gunners sank two of the British boats before they could get close, captured two more, and killed many boarders with swords and musketry at point-blank range. Lieutenant Matterface and several other officers were killed and no one of sufficient rank survived to lead the remaining Britons.[10][11]


Altogether 36 sailors of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines were killed in action, and another 93 were wounded. The main action lasted over a half hour and only two Americans were killed. Seven were wounded, including Reid who was hit with a musket ball. Reid's men fired nails, knife blades, brass buttons, and other makeshift projectiles from their cannon which reportedly caused severe pain to the surviving British. After being repulsed the British slowly rowed back to their ships and it was 2:00 am on September 27 when they found them. Captain Loyd's response to the defeat was to send the Carnation back to destroy General Armstrong after daylight but when she arrived, American fire caused further damage so Carnation broke off the attack. A little later Carnation appeared again but Captain Reid had already chosen to scuttle his brig by firing one of his swivel guns straight through the hull. The vessel was boarded while it sank and the British set the sails on fire.

Reid and his crew escaped to shore. The British wanted to land a detachment to search for the Americans but the Portuguese governor and the resident American consul John Bass Dabney prevented them from doing this.[12][13] Captain Reid and the crew of General Armstrong were credited with helping delay the British attack on New Orleans and when they returned to America they were greeted as heroes.[14][15] However, later historical analysis showed that this was likely not the case.[16]

The above historical retelling and similar accounts of the Battle of Fayal are disputed by scholars. An English eyewitness and numerous official reports from the American embassy and Portuguese records claim the British squadron intended to seize General Armstrong illegally and surreptitiously. It would not have made sense for the British to send fully armed launches to ascertain the identity of General Armstrong. This could have been easily done by contacting their own consulate or the American consulate, or simply sending a peace delegation to the ship when it was in dock.[17]




The General Armstrong captured multiple ships throughout 1814. In January she captured the sloop Resolution, which was sailing from Jersey for Lisbon with linen and paper, seizing her cargo and releasing her. That month General Armstrong also captured and scuttled the brig Phoebe, which sailed from Forney for Madeira laden with butter and potatoes.[15]

On 19 April 1814 General Armstrong captured the eighteen-gun British letter of marque Fanny and its 45-man crew off the coast of Ireland. Fanny had been sailing from Maranhão to Liverpool. The engagement lasted about an hour and was described as a "severe" close-range action fought within "pistol shot range." Eventually the British struck their colors after several men were killed or wounded. The General Armstrong's crew lost one killed and six wounded; Fanny lost a like number out of a much smaller crew. The British third-rate ship Sceptre later recaptured Fanny.[16]

On 26 April 1814 Lloyd's List reported the General Armstrong was seized and the crew taken prisoner when she put into Dunkirk.[17] However, the crew was later released and General Armstrong allowed to sail.[18] On 25 June 1814 General Armstrong captured the Portuguese ship Mercury but allowed her to proceed as she was neutral.[19] On 19 July 1814 General Armstrong captured the sloop Henrietta, which was bound to Chesapeake with stores, and sent her to Egg Harbor.[20]

According to Niles' Register, during the rest of 1814 the General Armstrong captured various other prizes:

  • brig Duke of York, of Greenock, captured and burnt
  • sloop George, laden with pork, captured off the Ireland coast and sunk
  • brig Swift, in ballast, captured and made into a cartel ship
  • brig Defiance, laden with whiskey, butter, and bread and bound for Lisbon, captured and burnt
  • brig Friendship, laden as above, captured and burnt
  • brig Stag, laden with a full and very valuable cargo of dry goods, captured and divested of some articles and burnt in sight of a British frigate, brig, and schooner
  • ship Dorcas, out of Anguilla, captured by the General Armstrong's boats and sunk
  • three other very valuable prizes, captured, manned by prize crews, and ordered into port.[20]

Of these last three ships listed in Niles' Register, one may have been Fanny. Another may have been the Sir Alexander Ball, which General Armstrong captured after a short engagement some 80 miles (130 km) west of Lisbon. Sir Alexander Ball had six men wounded, two probably fatally. Champlin sent her crew into Lisbon, and sent her with a prize crew for America. However, HMS Niemen recaptured Sir Alexander Ball and by 20 July 1814 she was at Halifax, Nova Scotia, being condemned as a prize to Niemen.

Of the prizes the General Armstrong captured and ordered to port, about a third were recaptured. Battle-damaged and short-manned, they were fairly easily recaptured. Niles' Register details the plight of one such captured vessel:


General Armstrong arrived in home port in late July 1814. Samuel Reid took over as captain and departed Sandy Hook on 9 September 1814, a few weeks before the fateful Battle of Fayal.


Claims for damages arising out of the General Armstrong's sinking lasted for over 70 years. One such claim drove the plot of The Senator, a popular play of the 1890s later adapted into a silent film.[21][22][23]



Captain Samuel Reid:







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On 8/21/2020 at 4:52 AM, Matrim said:

Roosevelts bias is much more subtle than James though its still there. James's case for the prosecution is his War of 1812. When he wrote his huge naval history and got to the 1812 war he states that he wont go into all the arguments as he already covered that in his book on 1812. Roosevelt uses the Naval History and not the War of 1812 as his base to argue against so you sometimes get into strange situations when James says A in his Naval History . Roosevelt argues against A for reasons B & C (which seem reasonable) but then you look at the War of 1812 and James adds arguments D & E with F directly countering C.  


If anyone is interested I can try and research up some examples (it will take me a while as I would have to re-read them all, and by a while I mean months-years to do properly). 


James is certainly more strident but he was basically a lawyer attacking press lies in public. Roosevelt is a historian so is writing a very different book and against someone who cant argue back.


You have to read all three to see the historiography of it....though go for Roosevelt and James's 1812 to get a feel for the direct arguments and see what you think for yourself. 


Personally I follow NAM Rodgers opinion. The bigger ship won in every single frigate engagement (not smaller ships like sloops where even combats occurred and the US won), both navies were good and you don't need to read any nationalistic superiority into it beyond that. 





I have read all three and agree somewhat,  However, in the HMS Shannon v. USS Chesapeake battle, both ships were very similarly and evenly matched, except that Shannon and her crew had years of training and experience under Captain Broke, a gunnery expert, while USS Chesapeake was under Captain Lawrence, who had never sailed with or drilled his crew.  Many of the crew were also new to the ship.  As would be expected, Shannon won that battle in close to 15 minutes.

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Yes that was a fascinating encounter and Lawrence was a brave man (who had certainly proved himself in the Hornet/Peacock US win). If he had had more time to train his crew to his own standards then that combat would have been much more even.


You (I am fairly sure) will have read Ian Tolls book as well where he delves into the design decisions of the American designers and Humphreys versus Fox. You would have to say that Humphrey's was proved correct in the end.

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The Shannon/Chesapeake battle was indeed one of the more interesting fights of the age. Although the two ships were as close as any two combatants in the age of sail in size and force, there were overlooked factors contributing to Broke's victory.


First and foremost, the Shannons were just amazingly good, and they were led by the most capable man in the Royal Navy. Few other frigates could have stood against them. They earned their victory, and it was fair.


But on the American side, there were other things to consider:


When the Chesapeake sailed out of Boston Harbor to give battle that June 1st, 1813, her captain and crew had served together at sea for fewer hours, than the British crew had served together for years!


There were five American courts martial and one preliminary court of inquiry that looked into the causes of the humiliating loss. What stands out in all of them, is that the officers did not know the names of the sailors in their division, or even the gun crews. Many sailors testified that they had not yet served at quarters together. This was a recipe for disaster. This was Lawrences fault, because his people were not ready. Lawrence was brave, but cocky, and he paid with his life.


Lawrence threw his opening salvo away needlessly. One officer testified that when they approached the Shannon, their long 18-pounders  had been loaded with one round and one grape shot in each. At the last minute, Lawrence ordered one canister and one bar shot to be added on top of this load. Amazingly, none of these quadruple-shotted cannon exploded during the first broadside, but most of the projectiles imbedded themselves into the Shannon's hull - and few penetrated. Were they aimed true, and had they all passed through the Briton's side, as they would have done had the guns remained double-shotted, the British loss would have been much higher. Shannon's first discharge was reportedly their most lethal, and reportedly instantly destroyed the American crew's morale.


The Chesapeake's wardroom had been in turmoil long before she set sail. Her previous commander, Samuel Evans, had to relinquish his command due to chronic bouts of blindness, the result of a cutlass blow to the face in a duel. Lawrence was given his frigate as a reward for sinking HBM Brig Peacock, and when he came aboard, he quickly replaced many of Evan's old officers in important positions of command with his own followers from the Hornet, causing great anger. Politics played a role in this, too. Lawrence and his followers were Federalists (Hamilton-ites), while Evans and his old hand-picked wardroom were Republican/Democrats (Jefferson-ians). Things became so heated that First Lieutenant Page resigned in a huff, while another of Evans's lieutenants left the frigate too, supposedly on "sick leave". After the disastrous battle, the senior surviving Evans-era officer, William Budd, accused the senior Lawrence surviver, William Cox, of cowardice. Cox was court martialed, found guilty, and dismissed the service. Just before the battle, the old hands had refused to go to their quarters, because the overdue prize money due them from the previous cruise had yet to be distributed. Lawrence gave in to their demands, and had the purser pay them. Many of them then handed their money over to Lieutenant Budd for safe keeping. But Budd decided it was okay keep the money belonging to some the killed sailors afterwards, causing a letter of complaint by one of the survivors to be sent to the Secretary of the Navy.


In a battle that lasted, at most, three broadsides, the Americans managed to inflict about 75 casualties on the victorious British in only somewhere between 12 to 15 minutes - more than Constitution inflicted on the Guerriere in 90 minutes.


Still, the Americans lost about 170 casualties all told, including her captain, most of her marines, and near every officer on deck, enough to insure defeat in any US frigate.















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I think I may have mentioned it before but I have actually held (and swished about) Broke's sabre (it was owned by a private collector). It was quite surreal holding a piece of history like that even though it was something only a naval historian would even recognise as important.

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Great to see all of this insight…


I think the comment about NAM Rodgers suggesting that the more powerful frigate generally won is more telling than we realize.  In fact, it goes to the core of what rocked the Royal Navy in the initial stanza of the naval war.  They were used to WINNING single ship actions where the opponent was oftentimes more powerful.  Their annals are full of French and Spanish frigates yielding to less powerful British opponents during the Napoleonic era. The Royal Navy fully expected to win when an American heavy frigate hove into view.  Captain Dacres of the Guerriere admonished his crew that he would be very disappointed if Constitution did not surrender within 30 minutes. That didn’t turn out so well. The memo eventually issued to all RN captains that they were forbidden by admiralty directive to engage an American Constitution class frigate one on one was seismic.


The harsh reality that James tried to address was that American crews were generally as good – and oftentimes better – than their British counterparts.  He attributed that to the high percentage of seasoned Tars that had defected from the RN.  Perhaps.  But America already had a vast seafaring population of experienced professionals – officers included.  Preble’s Boys were hitting their prime and had been battle tested.  Mixing in seasoned hands that had trained in the RN made the USN a more powerful adversary to England in a way that the French and Spanish could not match.  The social, economic, and political upheavals that had torn through Europe left the Continental navies at a distinct disadvantage when trying to muster officers and crews that could meet the level of battle efficiency needed to compete consistently with the RN on the high seas.  Not so in the United States.  And the Royal Navy didn’t acknowledge that reality and were not initially prepared for the investment in resources that would be needed to contain the American frigates.  They never really did find a solution for the Wasp and other non-frigates.


I see that Morgan has inadvertently tripped a wire to set me off on another tangent… I would not recommend any money be spent on Andrew Lambert and his The Challenge: Britain Against America in the Naval War of 1812’   Gawd do I hate that book.  I see it as an example of the very worst sort of manipulative history.  Full of deep scholarship by a well credentialed professor that distorts everything to drive a preconceived alternative history.  I don’t think Lambert is an idiot landsman who doesn’t understand his subject.  On the contrary – I think he knew exactly what he was doing when he twisted reality to match the axe he had to grind.  I think he saw an opportunity to insert himself into the War of 1812 bicentennial to give the “British Perspective” without regard to the wider historical perspective that legitimate modern historians had developed.  Simply put, Lambert over-inflates the British victories (land and sea) and under-inflates the American ones.  He over-inflates the American defeats and under-inflates the British ones.  His conclusions are wrong and presented out of proper context. Broke and the Shannon rightly deserve recognition for their professional victory of arms – the best prepared crew won the fight.  But the hagiography of Phillip Broke that lies at the heart of Lambert’s narrative creates a magnetic field that warps all sense of reality around everything else.  The incredible fights highlighted by the privateers in this thread barely gain a mention.  I think at some point Lambert literally says something like ‘In September the privateer General Armstrong was destroyed at Fayal…’  That’s it.  No other context.


This review by the well-regarded Piers Brendon in the Independent sums it up pretty well: 


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Force9, yea, old billie-jim doesn't say much about the General Armstrong fight, maybe he ran out of ink ... I looked in both his Naval History of Great Britain Volume 6, and in his earlier Naval Occurrences ... nada.


Matrim, was this the sword in question?


50271994587_4a37052b87_b.jpg0 by Stephen Duffy, on Flickr


Legend has it, that whenever Broke's sword is drawn from it's scabbard, somewhere, a yankee sailor proclaims "Ow! What was that?"

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Another similar fight, this time between two schooners of war, being the battle between the American Privateer Decatur, of Charleston, SC, and HMS Dominica. This is taken from a scanned classic "The History of American Privateers" by Edmond Stanton Maclay. The formatting is weird, and the the scanners misspelled many words, but still ... I corrected as much as I could. Note that plans of the Dominica appear in Howard Chapelle's "The Search For Speed Under Sail":



"The Dominica was a three-masted schooner carry- ing twelve short 12-pounders, two long 6-pounders, one brass 4-pounder, and a short 32-pounder on a pivot. She was manned by eighty-eight men and boys. On September 4, 1812, this cruiser captured the 8-gun armed schooner Providence, Captain N. Hopkins, of Providence. The Providence is not credited with any prizes, being taken shortly after leaving port. In the chase of ten hours, Captain Hopkins had thrown overboard all his guns on the leeward side. At the time the Dominica fell in with the Decatur she had under her convoy the Government packet ship Princess Charlotte, from St. Thomas for England, and the merchantman London Trader, from Surinam homeward bound. The Princess Charlotte carried a formidable armament, and the London Trader also was well armed. The Decatur left port in the summer of 1813 on a general cruise against British commerce, and early in August she was in the track of British West India traders homeward bound. Early on the morning of August 5th, when in latitude 23 4' north, longi- tude 67 0' west, or a little to the south of the Bermudas, the Decatur was heading northward under easy sail, hoping for some prize to appear. About 10.30 A. M. the man at the masthead reported a sail bearing away to the south, and shortly afterward another, steering in the same direction, was sighted. Captain Diron promptly tacked southward, with a view of getting the weather gauge of the strangers, so that, should they prove to be British cruisers, he would have the advantage in a chase. This precaution was rendered doubly necessary, as the fact of two vessels cruising in company rendered it prob- able that they were the enemy's sloops of war, for so astonishing had been the victories of the little American navy, and so appalled had the British pub- lic become at the results of the war as far as it pertained to their navy, that their Lordships of the Admiralty had directed British 38-gun frigates to avoid the dreaded American 44-gun ships, while their sloops of war were to sail in pairs. For this reason Captain Diron approached the strangers with caution, knowing that there was a strong probability of their being a couple of Brit- ish sloops of war. The danger of approaching a stronger force, however, did not prevent the Americans from coming to closer range, and at 11 A. M. it was seen that the sails were a ship and a schooner, which, on making out the sails of the Decatur, had changed their course to the north so as to meet her. The three vessels slowly reduced the distance between them, and at 12.30 P. M. the Decatur, having secured a position a little to windward, and being almost within gunshot, wore round and ran a little to leeward, upon which the schooner showed English colors. Captain Diron was now satisfied that he had an English war schooner to deal with and that the ship was under its protection. Half an hour later he wore again, still keeping the weather gauge, and about 1.30 P. M. the stranger fired a shot, which fell short. Knowing that the British commander had a heavier armament than the privateer, but believing that he had the greater number of men to man his ship, Captain Diron determined to have the fight at the closest quarters, and to carry the Englishman by boarding. Accordingly he cleared for action, sent his men to quarters, loaded all his guns, and hoisted American colors. To make sure that no man could leave his post and run below, Captain Diron, after having got all his ammunition, water, sand, etc., on deck, ready for instant use, ordered all the hatches closed. It was the plan of the Americans to get as close to the enemy as possible before firing a shot, deliver their entire broadside and a volley from their small arms, and then to board in the smoke. In order to secure the British ship alongside grappling irons were in readiness to be thrown aboard.


Having made all his arrangements for the battle, Captain Diron about 2 P. M. wore ship, with a view of passing under the stern of the enemy and giving a raking fire, but as the schooners neared each other the Englishman luffed and gave his broadside, most of the shot passing over the American. This is only  another indication of the overconfidence of the British naval officer in this war. So confident was Lieutenant Barrett of taking the American that he ordered his gunners to aim at the Yankee's rigging so as to prevent her from running. But if this was the Englishman's motive in firing so high he soon had cause to repent it, for at 2.15 P. M. the Americans began the fire of their long torn, and as it was aimed with coolness and deliberation, within half- gunshot distance, the effect in so small a vessel was serious, disabling several of the Englishman's guns, besides injuring many men. At all events, it speedily changed the English commander's tactics, and the few guns that remained mounted on that side were now trained on the privateer's hull. The destructive work done by the American's long torn, however, had given Captain Diron the advantage, and, so far from evincing a disposition to run away, he soon discovered that that was the purpose of his opponent, and in order to prevent it he filled away so as to bring his bowsprit over the enemy's stern. The English endeavored to frustrate this by directing a whole broadside at the advancing Yankee, but they were too excited, or their gun- nery was so poor that the shot did little or no execution. Had they taken good aim the effect of those guns at such a short distance would have been terrific. The Decatur could respond to this fire only with her long torn, but as that was discharged with the usual skill and coolness of American gunners it effected far greater damage than the Englishman's broadside. It was now 3 P. M., and the vessels were so near to each other that the voices of the officers aboard the British ship, urging their men to renewed energy, could be distinctly heard. Captain Diron then order his boarders to leave their guns and assemble forward, arm themselves with muskets and cutlasses, and be in readiness to spring upon the enemy's decks. 1813. The British at this stage of the battle evidently realized the seriousness of the fight, for their officers could be heard warning their gunners to take better aim, and to fire into the Yankee's hull instead of his rigging, as heretofore. The result of this admonition was seen in the effect of the next broadside which the enemy delivered. The shots hulled the Decatur, killed two of her crew, and materially injured her sails and rigging. This broadside did more damage than all the others. It also prevented Captain Diron from carrying out his plan of boarding; for, some of his ropes being severed, his sails became temporarily unmanageable.


Repairs were quickly made, and, though foiled in their attempt to board, the Americans renewed the action with their long torn and 12-pounder, believing that an opportunity would yet be offered them to settle the fight on the Englishman's deck. After delivering their first effective fire, the Englishmen filled away so as to prevent the Americans from boarding, while Captain Diron doggedly followed close under their stern, determined to board at any cost. In this way, bow to stern, the two craft ran several minutes, neither side being able to main- tain a very effective fire. The Americans now made another attempt to board, but it was frustrated in the same manner as the first. But the last move made by the British schooner, in her endeavor to avoid boarding, gave the Decatur the advantage in sailing, and, persisting in following close in the wake of his enemy, Captain Diron finally had the satisfaction of seeing his craft gradually overhaul the Englishman. Again he called for his boarders, and at 3.30 P. M. the Decatur ran her bow- sprit over the enemy's stern, her jib boom piercing the Englishman's mainsail. This was the signal for the Americans to board, and while some of them poured in a heavy fire of musketry others, led by Vincent Safitt, the prize master, and Thomas Wasborn, the quartermaster, clambered along the bow- sprit and sprang to the Englishman's deck. Then began a terrible scene of slaughter and bloodshed. The two crews were soon intermingled in an inextricable mass, which the narrow decks of the schooner kept compact as long as the struggle lasted. Nearly two hundred men and boys armed with pistols, cutlasses, and muskets were now shout- ing, yelling, and cheering, and slashing at each other in a space not more than twenty feet wide and eighty feet long. One of the first to fall on the side of the enemy was their gallant commander, Lieutenant Barrett, a young man not more than twenty-five years old, who had conducted himself from the beginning of the fight with conspicuous gallantry, notwithstand- ing his contempt for the Yankee sailor. He had received a bad wound early in the action, two musket balls having passed through the left arm. But this did not prevent him from remaining at his post. He was urged several times by his surviving officers to surrender, but refused to do so, avowing his deter- mination not to survive the loss of his vessel. A few moments before he received his fatal wound he severely injured one of the American officers with a saber cut. The sailing master, Isaac Backer, and the purser, David Brown, of the Dominica, also were killed, while Midshipmen William Archer and Wil- liam Parry were wounded. In fact, the only English officers not killed or wounded were the surgeon and one midshipman. It was not until eighteen of the Dominica's crew were killed and forty-two wounded that the few survivors were induced to surrender. A total of sixty killed or wounded in a crew of eighty-eight fully attests the desperate nature of the struggle and the gallantry of the men against whom the Americans fought. Even with this appalling percentage of killed and wounded the Englishmen can not be reported as having surrendered for the Americans hauled down the colors with their own hands. On the part of the privateer five men were killed and fifteen wounded, which disparity of casualties is to be ascribed solely to the superior sea- manship of Captain Diron and the better marksman- ship of the Americans, both with the cannon and small arms. That this was in truth a battle royal will be seen by comparing it with the regular naval actions between sloops of war in the conflict:


While the battle between the American privateer and the British cruiser was raging the commander of the Princess Charlotte did not deem it his place to take part in the fight, and for over an hour remained a passive spectator. But as soon as it was seen that the American was the victor the Princess Charlotte tacked to the south, and by sunset had disappeared. She had left St. Thomas for England, and was to be under the escort of the Dominica until well clear of the American coast, when she had intended to proceed on her voyage alone. Arriving in Eng- land, the commander of the packet reported that he had left " the Dominica in hot pursuit of a Yankee privateer." As soon as victory was assured Captain Diron employed all the men he could in repairing damages; for capturing a ship and taking her safely into port when the coasts of the United States were swarming with British cruisers were two very distinct achievements. Having given the dead a sailor's burial, and having attended the wounded (the English receiv- ing quite as much attention as the Americans), Captain Diron headed for Charleston. The Decatur and the Dominica made land near Georgetown, and running down the coast crossed Charleston bar safely August 20th, the Dominica appearing under the colors she had taken from the Providence. For several days before two English brigs of war had been hovering off the port; but, fortunately, on the day Captain Diron approached they had been drawn off in chase to the south. Arriving in port, Captain Diron heard that the British merchant ship London Trader had arrived safely at Savannah. This ship had been sailing in company with the Dominica and the Princess Charlotte when they fell in with the bold Decatur. The London Trader made her escape while the American privateer was engaged in fighting the Dominica, but on the following day Captain Diron fell in with and captured her. She had on board a cargo consisting of two hundred and nine hogsheads of sugar, one hundred and forty tierces of molasses, fifty-five hogsheads of rum, seven hundred bags of coffee, and sixty bales of cotton. Captain George Coggeshall, who commanded several privateers in this war, happened to be in Charleston about the time the Decatur entered that port with her prize, and, in conversation with the captors and prisoners, learned many details of this action. He said: "The surviving officers of the Dominica attributed the loss of their vessel to the superior skill of the Decatur's crew in the use of musketry and to Captain Diron's adroit manner in maneuvering his schooner during the action, which rendered the Englishman's carriage guns in a manner almost useless. It was acknowledged by the English prisoners that during their captivity they were treated with great kindness and humanity by Captain Diron, his officers and crew, and that the utmost care and attention were paid to the sick and wounded. The crew of the captured vessel were all fine-looking young men. There were among them eight or ten boys. To see this youthful crew on their arrival at Charleston in their mangled condition was enough to freeze the blood with horror of any person not accustomed to such sanguinary scenes. Among the crew was a small boy, not eleven years old, who was twice wounded while contending for victory on the deck of the Dominica. I saw daily one of the wounded English midshipmen with his arm in a sling, who had the privilege of walking about the city on his parole of honor." The Dominica subsequently was fitted out as a privateer, carrying four guns and thirty-six men, but on May 23, 1814, she was captured by the British ship of the line Majestic. In November, 1813, the Decatur got to sea again, but after a cruise of eighty days she returned to Charleston without having taken one vessel. She made another venture in this war, but was captured June 5, 1814, by the British Frigate Rhin off Mona Passage, after a chase of eleven hours."




Two modern depictions of the fight:






The Privateer Decatur in a contemporary engraving. Now that's what I call a long tom!






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The cruise of the US Privateer Chasseur! From the same source ... "The History of American Privateers" by Edmond Stanton Maclay.


"So great had been the success of Captain Boyle in the Comet that soon after his return from his last. cruise he was placed in command of the formidable privateer Chasseur, in which craft he achieved his greatest renown. This vessel probably was one of the best equipped and manned privateers that sailed in this war. She was familiarly called the Pride of Baltimore, mounting sixteen long 12-pounders and usually carrying a complement of one hundred officers, seamen, and marines. Speaking of her sailing qualities a Baltimore paper said : " She is, perhaps, the most beautiful vessel that ever floated on the ocean. Those who have not seen our schooners have but little idea of her appearance. As you look at her you may easily figure to yourself the idea that she is almost about to rise out of the water and fly into the air, seeming to sit so lightly. She has carried terror and alarm throughout the West Indies, as appears by numerous extracts from the West Indian papers received by her. She was frequently chased by British vessels sent out on purpose to catch her. She was once pretty hard run by the frigate Bareosa; but sometimes, out of sheer wantonness, she affected to chase the enemy's men-of-war of far superior force." In his first cruise in this formidable vessel Captain Boyle captured eighteen merchantmen, nearly all of them of great value. Some of these were the sloop Christiana, of Kilkade, Scotland; the brig Reindeer, of Aberdeen; schooner Favorite, laden with wine; the brig Marquis of Cornwallis; the brigs Alert and Harmony, from Newfoundland; the ship Carlbury, of London, from Jamaica, laden with cotton, cocoa, hides, indigo, etc. (the goods taken from this vessel were valued at fifty thousand dollars); the brigs Eclipse, Commerce, and Antelope, the schooner Fox; the ships James and Theodore; and the brigs Atlantic and Amicus. The Chasseur brought into port forty-three prisoners, having released on parole one hundred and fifty. Captain Boyle's favorite cruising ground was in the British Channel and around the coasts of Great Britain. He seemed to act on the principle which led Farragut to immortal fame half a century later, namely: "The nearer you get to your enemy the harder you can strike." By thus " bearding the lion in his den " the Chasseur had some exceedingly nar- row escapes, but always eluded the enemy by her fine sailing qualities and by the superb audacity of her commander. At one time the privateer was so near a British frigate as to exchange an effective broadside with her, and not long afterward she was completely surrounded by two frigates and two brigs of war. In making a dash to escape, the Chas- seur received a shot from one of the frigates, which wounded three men, but in spite of the danger she finally eluded the enemy.


The "superb audacity" of Captain Boyle has already been mentioned, not that it was peculiar to him, for it was shared more or less by all our priva- teersmen, but because it was exhibited by him on this cruise in a unique and emphatic manner. It had been the custom of British admirals on the American stations to issue "paper blockades," declaring the entire coast of the United States to be blockaded. Several of these "paper blockades" had been recently issued by Admiral Sir John Borlaise Warren and by Admiral Sir Alexander Cochrane. On the strength of these foolish proclamations British cruisers were withdrawn, at will, from the ports blockaded and transferred to other points along the coast without at least in the estimation of the English admirals in the least invalidating the blockade. To show the absurdity of these procla- mations, Captain Boyle, while cruising in the English Channel, sent by a cartel to London the following proclamation, which he " requested " to be posted in Lloyd's Coffee House: " By Thomas Boyle, Esquire, Commander of the Private Armed Brig Chasseur, etc. "PROCLAMATION: " Whereas, It has become customary with the admirals of Great Britain, commanding small forces on the coast of the United States, particularly with Sir John Borlaise Warren and Sir Alexander Cochrane, to declare all the coast of the said United States in a state of strict and rigorous blockade without possessing the power to justify such a declaration or stationing an adequate force to maintain said blockade; " I do therefore, by virtue of the power and authority in me vested (possessing sufficient force), declare all the ports, harbors, bays, creeks, rivers, inlets, outlets, islands, and seacoast of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland in a state of strict and rigorous blockade. "And I do further declare that I consider the force under my command adequate to maintain strictly, rigorously, and effectually the said block- ade. " And I do hereby require the respective officers, whether captains, commanders, or commanding officers, under my command, employed or to be em ployed, on the coasts of England, Ireland, and Scot- land, to pay strict attention to the execution of this my proclamation. " And I do hereby caution and forbid the ships and vessels of all and every nation in amity and peace with the United States from entering or attempting to enter, or from coming or attempting to come out of, any of the said ports, harbors, bays, creeks, rivers, inlets, outlets, islands, or seacoast under any pretense whatsoever. And that no person may plead ignorance of this, my proclamation, I have ordered the same to be made public in England. Given under my hand on board the Chasseur. "THOMAS BOYLE. " By command of the commanding officer. " J. J. STANBTJRY, Secretary." Quite in keeping with Captain Boyle's audacity is the memorial presented by the merchants of St. Vincent to Admiral Durham, in which it is stated that the Chasseur had blockaded them for five days, doing much damage, and requesting that the admiral would sent them at least " a heavy sloop of war." The frigate Barrosa was sent. The memorial gave a pitiful account of how the Chasseur was frequently chased " in vain," at one time by three cruisers to- gether. It then quotes a letter from Martinique stating that this vessel was permitted to supply herself with a new boom, that the captain was treated very politely, that on Sunday he dined with M. Du Buc, the French intendant at the island, " a fine companion, truly, for the governor of such a colony as Martinique." The memorial further complained that the Chasseur ventured within gunshot of the forts of St. Lucia to cut out the transport Lord Eldon, and probably would have done it but for the sloop of war Wolverine, which hove in sight; that the Chasseur burned two sloops "in the face of the island" possibly a West Indian form of the expression " under their noses " ; that she hoisted the Yankee stripes over the British ensign " and played many curious pranks " ; and other complaints in the same tenor.


The Chasseur arrived in New York from her European cruise in October, 1814 It was in his last cruise in this war that Captain Boyle gained his greatest reputation for daring and success on the high seas. On February 26, 1815, when the Chasseur was about thirty-six miles to windward of Havana and some twelve miles from land, a schooner was discovered, about eleven o'clock in the morning, to the northeast, apparently running before the wind. This was the English war schooner St. Lawrence, Lieutenant Henry Cranmer Gordon, which, as we remember, was the American privateer Atlas, Captain David Maffitt, captured by boats from Rear-Admiral Cockburn's squadron in Ocracoke Inlet, July 12, 1813,  the Atlas having been taken into the British service under the new name. The St. Lawrence proved to be a valuable addition to the enemy's fleet, taking an active part in their many expeditions along the coast and acting as a dispatch boat, in which service her fine sailing qualities gave her every advantage. Here we have an admirable opportunity to compare the relative merits of American and British man-of-warsmen; for the St. Lawrence, being built and equipped by Americans, deprives our friends, the English, of their oft-repeated cry that our vessels were better built, etc. The Chasseur carried fourteen guns and one hundred and two men, as opposed to the St. Lawrence's thirteen guns and seventy-six men. Both vessels were schooners. When sighted by Captain Boyle, the St. Lawrence was bearing important dispatches and troops from Rear-Admiral Cockburn relative to the New Orleans expedition. Captain Boyle promptly made sail in chase, and soon discovered the stranger to be a war craft having a convoy in company, the latter being just dis- cernible from the masthead. By noon the Chasseur had perceptibly gained on the chase, which to the Americans appeared to be a long, narrow pilot-boat schooner with yellow sides. When she made out the Chasseur she hauled up more' to the north, evidently anxious to escape. At half past twelve Captain Boyle fired a gun and showed his colors, hoping to ascertain to what nation the chase belonged, but the latter paid no attention to the summons, and in her efforts to carry a greater press of sail her fore-topmast was carried away. At the time this happened she was about three miles ahead. Her people promptly cleared the wreck away and trimmed her sails sharp by the wind. Owing to this accident the Chasseur drew up on the chase very fast, and at one o'clock the latter fired a stern gun and hoisted English colors. As the stranger showed only three ports on the side nearest to the Chasseur, Captain Boyle got the impression that she was a " running vessel " bound for Havana which in all probability was poorly armed and manned. Acting on this impression he increased his efforts to get alongside, confident of making short work of her. This mistake of the Americans was encouraged by the fact that very few men were seen on the deck of the stranger.


As neither Captain Boyle nor his officers anticipated serious fighting, the regular preparations for battle were not made. At 1.26 P. M. the Chasseur was within pistol shot of the enemy, when the latter suddenly triced up ten port covers, showing that number of guns and her decks swarming with men wearing the uniform of a regular British man-of-war. Evidently they had been carefully concealed during the chase. It took the enemy scarcely five seconds to give three cheers, run out their guns, and pour in a whole broadside of round shot, grape, and musket balls into the Chasseur. For once, at least, the crafty Yankee skipper had been caught napping. He was fairly and squarely under the guns of an English man-of-war, so that either prompt surrender or fight were the only alternatives. It did not take Captain Boyle an instant to decide on the latter course, and, although taken somewhat by surprise, he made the best of the situation and returned the enemy's fire with both cannon and musketry. Believing that his best chance for victory was at close quarters, Captain Boyle endeavored to board "in the smoke of his broadside; but the Chasseur, having the greater speed at that moment, shot ahead under the stranger's lee. The latter put up his helm for the purpose of wearing across the privateer's stern, with a view of pouring in a raking fire. Perceiving the enemy's object, Captain Boyle frustrated the maneuver by putting his helm up also. The Englishman now forged ahead and came within ten yards of the privateer, the fire of both vessels at that time being exceedingly destructive. At 1.40 P. M. Cap- tain Boyle, seizing a favorable moment, put his helm to starboard and called on his men to follow him aboard the enemy. Just as the two vessels came to- gether W. N. Christie, prize master, jumped aboard the stranger's deck, followed by a number of other Americans, but before they could strike a blow the English surrendered.


The St. Lawrence, according to British accounts, mounted twelve short 12-pounders and one long 9-pounder and had a complement of seventy-five men, besides a number of officers, soldiers, and civilians as passengers, who were bound for the British squadron off New Orleans. According to the report of her commander she had six men killed and seventeen wounded, several of them mortally. According to American accounts the English had fifteen killed and twenty-five wounded. The St. Lawrence was found to be seriously injured in the hull, while scarcely a rope was left intact, such had been the accuracy and rapidity of the Chasseur's fire. The privateer also suffered considerably in her sails and rigging, while five of her crew were killed and eight wounded, among the latter being Captain Boyle himself. In view of the fact that the action lasted only fifteen minutes these casualties reveal, better than words, the desperate nature of the encounter. The Chasseur mounted six 12-pounders and eight short 9-pounders ten of her original sixteen 12-pounders having been thrown overboard when the privateer was chased by the British frigate Barrosa. They were replaced by the 9-pounders which had been taken from a prize. " From the number of hammocks, bedding, etc., found on board the enemy," said Captain Boyle, in his official report to one of the owners of the Chas- seur, George P. Stephenson, of Baltimore, " it led us to believe that many more were killed than were reported. The St. Lawrence fired double the weight of shot that we did. From her 12-pounders at close quarters she fired a stand of grape and two bags containing two hundred and twenty musket balls each, when from the Chasseur's 9-pounders were fired 6- and 4-pound shot, we having no other except some few grape." In closing his report, Captain Boyle speaks in the highest terms of the gallantry of his first officer, John Dieter, and of the second and third officers, Moran and Hammond N. Stansbury. That night the masts of the St. Lawrence went by the board, and having no object in bringing home so many prisoners Captain Boyle made a cartel of his prize and sent the prisoners by her into Havana. After this gallant affair the Chasseur returned to the United States with her hold filled with valuable goods. She arrived in Baltimore, April 15, 1815, where it was learned that a treaty of peace had been signed. So well pleased were the British officers at the treatment they received from the Americans that Lieutenant Gordon issued the following memorial or certificate dated: "At Sea, February 27, 1815, on board the United States Privateer Chasseur: In the event of Captain Boyle's becoming a prisoner of war to any British cruiser I consider it a tribute justly due to his humane and generous treatment of myself, the surviving officers and crew of His Majesty's late schooner St. Lawrence, to state that his obliging attention and watchful solicitude to preserve our effects and render us comfortable during the short time we were in his possession were such as justly entitle him to the indulgence and respect of every British subject. I also certify that his endeavors to render us comfortable and to secure our property were carefully seconded by all his officers, who did their utmost to that effect."


The Chasseur fights HMS St. Lawrence!



The Chasseur privateer:




Captain Thomas Boyle:




That infamous proclamation!






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A very Interesting topic - I was esp. interested in that Noah Brown & Sons also built PEACOCK, 1813 sloop of war. But, moreover, I've learned quite a bit re. the PdN history - at least this small portion of her history - Thanks all!


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Here's another Adam and Noah Brown clipper that cruised in the war of 1812, the Zebra. She was captured and her lines were taken off. She might be enlarged and  used to reconstruct the General Armstrong.


50309973681_63f941746a_h.jpg0-1 by Stephen Duffy, on Flickr


Of all the above privateers mentioned, the Dominica is well documented. Her lines are here:


50310141967_5c0466d82a_h.jpg0 by Stephen Duffy, on Flickr


While no named plan survives of the Chasseur, one plan of an unnamed Baltimore schooner does, and it is close to the large dimensions of the famed privateer. It was obtained by a French naval officer in Baltimore after the war. It is close enough to the dimensions of Chasseur that it might be her. It is here:


50309307223_930f5ac1a9_h.jpg0-2 by Stephen Duffy, on Flickr


All three drawings, of course, are by Howard Chapelle, and are taken from The Search For Speed Under Sail.

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Here's an interesting article I found tucked away in my old research papers from the 1990's. I can't find the title page, but I'm pretty sure comes from 'The American Neptune Quarterly' published by the Peabody Museum of Salem, but I don't have a date or a Volume for it. My bad.


Anyway, it was written by a Fred Hopkins, and it concerns the post war career of the famous Chasseur, aka "the pride of Baltimore". She was sold south to the Spanish Royal Government of South America and used to battle revolutionary Colombian privateers during the great upheaval of the 1820s. Her name was changed to Cazador, and she fought several very bloody battles under the Spanish colors, including one where she captured an enemy privateer, and her captain proceeded to hang the captain and all the surviving crewmen! She changed hands several time, and while her fate becomes fuzzy about 1824, she may have ended her long career as a slaver. Anyway, the article is well written, and at 11 pages, kind of long. If anyone knows the exact issue of this article, please help me properly source this valuable information. My copy was folded, and somewhat distorted with age, but it is still legible, and here it is:


50310168747_596ceb572a_b.jpg0 by Stephen Duffy, on Flickr


50309334433_5311b9bda4_b.jpg0-1 by Stephen Duffy, on Flickr


50310170287_a0fc7f0aee_b.jpg0-2 by Stephen Duffy, on Flickr


50310003331_cba5bb8990_b.jpg0-3 by Stephen Duffy, on Flickr


50310171632_f1f64b4d9d_b.jpg0-4 by Stephen Duffy, on Flickr


50309337318_6123b56f56_b.jpg0-5 by Stephen Duffy, on Flickr


50310172917_43f67f66dd_b.jpg0-6 by Stephen Duffy, on Flickr


50309338688_50cea77954_b.jpg0-7 by Stephen Duffy, on Flickr


50310006661_71308311b9_b.jpg0-8 by Stephen Duffy, on Flickr


50310175072_fdcb01511d_b.jpg0-9 by Stephen Duffy, on Flickr


50310175967_0c79c0cc35_b.jpg0-10 by Stephen Duffy, on Flickr







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