Monday, October 20

John Moon Potbury, Volunteer Second Class

Acasta Volunteer Second Class under Capt. Dunn, 1 Nov. 1805.

John Moon Potbury died at the commencement of 1848.

This officer entered the Navy, 1 Nov. 1805, as Second-cl. Vol., on board the Acasta 40, Capt. Rich. Dalling Dunn, under whom he fought in the action off St. Domingo, 6 Feb. 1806. Between Deo. in the latter year and July, 1808, he served on the Plymouth station, part of the time as Midshipman, in the Porcupine 24, Capt. Hon. Henry Duncan, in another ship, the name of which has escaped us, and in the El Firme, Capt. Wells. He was next, from June, 1810, to March, 1811, employed in the North Sea on board the Christian VII. 80 ; and in May, 1812, he joined the Namur 74, stationed at first on the coast of North America, and then in the West Indies;


Friday, October 17

"To The Bottom!"

"The Acasta Frigate"

                                  "Captain Kerr places a due confidence in the largest, the best officered, and best manned frigate in the service, has been roaming about for his prey for several months, and we only wish him fairly alongside the President, Constitution, or the United States.  On receiving the accounts of the capture of the Guerriere, Captain Kerr assembled his crew, and addressed them as follows: 

'My lads, it is with a distress which I cannot sufficiently depict to you, that I inform you of the capture of the Guerriere, by the Constitution American frigate.  We are going to sea, and in the largest and best armed frigate in the service.  Hear my determination ‑ I am determined never to strike the colours of the Acasta ‑ My mind is made up ‑ What say you, my boys?'  The exclamation of ‑ 'To the bottom!' and three truly British cheers, followed his words, and the anchor was weighed. 

– From the excellent equipment of the Acasta, her great size, weight of metal, and number of men, we are confident that with her there will be no desecration of the seaman's religion ‑ the Flag!  The Acasta has taken on board 24‑pounders on her maindeck ‑ and we may cheerfully trust the national honour to her efforts."

from THE NAVAL CHRONICLE: The Contemporary Record of the Royal Navy at War.  Nicholas Tracy, editor.  London: Stackpole Books, 1999‑2000. Volume 5, Page 148

Thursday, October 16

Mississinewa: 1812 in Images

You can now find the first images from this year's Mississinewa:1812 event on their website.
You're likely to find a few fellows you know…

Wednesday, October 15

A Report from Hollybrass

5th October, 1814
Admiralty Office


The Admiralty commands and requires the ACASTA to send a party ashore that can covertly surveil the American forces at Mississinewa. 

Once arrived, the landing party should take up such a position or positions as to be able to view the American camp to their best advantage and make note of which companies are there encamped and a tally of fighting men in each company. Additionally an accurate map of the encampment should be produced for use of the Admiralty. The map should show relative size, number of tents or other significant structures with special emphasis on the dwellings of the commanders of the various companies

The landing party from the Acasta must not be espied by the Americans while about their task, and under no circumstance should they enter the American camp. If the information is to be of value to the Admiralty and the war effort, the landing party must do all within its power to remain unobserved while about their duty.

On behalf of His Most Britannic Majesty and the Admiralty,

I am Sir, &c. &c.

Captain Freymann,

After the men had their liberty on Friday evening I was hard pressed to rouse them all back to camp at the agreed upon time Saturday morning. I looked all over the camp and Lundy and Vassermann were no where to be found, even Mr. Raley was tardy to morning colors. I ended up giving the orders to young Mr. Midshipman Calhoun to read (after we had tended to his breakfast in the mess of course, and don't you know I looked after him like you told me). We also fetched one of HMS Nancy's boys, I reckon him to be about thirteen, Mr. Swanson by name. 

Young Mr. Calhoun was half way through sounding out some of the larger words in the orders when Mr. Raley arrived to take over things. Mr. Raley had a young, well dressed gentleman friend with him that stayed by his side and under foot. He wore a military uniform I couldn't put a finger on. Didn't nobody ask it, but my opinion of it is that Mr. Raley's friend didn't have no business there, but I ain't gonna question no officer in the execution of his duty.

The five of us, we set out to go and have a look at the American camp like the orders said and ended up down by the river where we could get down and espy the camp with our glasses and not be seen. I only had to remind Mr. Calhoun and Swanson a few times to keep their heads down. Mr. Raley on the other hand wouldn't hardly get down in order to keep his new trousers from getting dirty, and his friend stood in full view and smoked his pipe.

We were able to get a good look at a company of green frocked riflemen practicing a drill right in plain view. We counted their number and made a record of it on one of the slates I brought along. Their commander seemed to be making use of a whistle that could be heard a great way off, much in the same way we use the bosun's pipe aboard ship.

Mr. Raley and his friend moved to a different position so as to get a look into the camp from another angle but they was run off by an elderly American engineer set up nearby. I hate to confess, but it ain't no tattle sir when I says that Mr. Raley wasn't near as careful as I think he might have been. 

Then we moved over to the indian encampment that was located near enough to see the Americans. There were several of their lot that were sympatetic to the Crown, it was decided that when the Americans marched toward the battlefield nearby that they would have to pass right through this particular area and we picked out one of their larger wig-wams to hide out in. After a few minutes of waiting, Mr. Raley announced that I was in charge and that I should carry on in his absence and he and his gentleman friend returned to the British camp.

After some thinking on my part, I figured that we could get a better look at the passing American forces from within the great tent set up near their camp was we to sneak into it. I gathered the boys up and we ran over and made our way inside. It was empty, and the far back end of it was within ten feet of the road leading in and out of the camp. We heard them start sounding the drums and I positioned Mr. Calhoun and Mr. Swanson at one end of the tent where they could peek out a small opening in the canvas and myself at the other end. I told them boys to count the soldiers as they passed and I'd do the same and we could compare our sums afterword.

The Americans marched past and not a one thought to look in the direction of the tent.

The boys came up with 102 men

My list was a bit more detailed on the first go:
5 guns
22 men in the gun crews
6 officers
81 soldiers of various companies
6 natives

115 total men

The boys and I headed back to camp in time to see the British forces rout the Americans. It was then that we found Mr. Vassermann, and Mr. Raley rejoined us without his friend. We all took a quick meal and returned to count the Americans again, the rumor being that they would regroup and try to gain the field once more. Mr. Raley and Vasserman went into the woods on one side of the path and I took Mr. Calhoun and Swanson over to the other side and hid from view behind some trees.

Vassermann came up with 127 men

We came up with 138

After the Americans passed, we took up my measuring cord and hurried to measure the outside boundries of their camp so as to be able to make a more accurate map likes the orders says to do. Mr. Calhoun and Swanson did most of the leg work on that after I shows them how to run out the line, and I followed to keep the tally of the distance measured off. Between the lot of us, we managed to measure four of the five sides of the American camp. Mr. Calhoun and Swanson were eager to go up into the camp itself and brave hell and death to get the final measurement, but I wouldn't let them seeing how you put me in charge of young Calhoun's safe keeping (although, by God I think they could have done it had I let 'em!).

We returned to camp and discovered Mr. Lundy with Mr. Dubbeld and his gun crew. Our mission wasn't what you might call a success, being that some of the objectives didn't get accomplished, we didn't get no count on tents and didn't get no company names, I'm afrear'd to report that it was a lack of leadership that kept the mission from getting accomplished proper.

Not that I'd presume to tell you your business Sir, but my recommendation is that Mr. Calhoun get an extra ration of grog for his eagerness to do his duty and Mr. Swanson have a letter sent to his Commanding Officer commending him for his fine service.

And you know I don't like to write no unfavourable reports on no fellow Tar, but I'd recommend that Mr. Raley get a stern talking to about the nature of a young officer's duty, and while Mr. Vassermann and Mr. Lundy's absence might be considered something to fall under Article 26, being valuable sailors that they are, perhaps a few lashes might set them straight again.

writ and enter'd into the log
with a copy being sent to the Cap't by
Sam'l Holybrass
Bosun's Mate
HMS Acasta

Tuesday, October 14

Find Your Favorite Posts

The eclectic band of historical reenactors and interpreters that makes up the 'CREW' of HMS Acasta spans a wide spectrum of real life occupations.

We are made up of students, educators, academics (a surprising number of us are teachers) even a Ph.D., present and former Coast Guard and U.S. Naval men, artists & artisans, tailors, musicians, professionals & executives. We even have a freelance copywriter, farrier & presidential presenter thrown into the mix for good measure! (hint: look for the fellow that looks like Jackson from the twenty dollar bill!)

What does this odd lot all have in common? A love for the history of the Royal Navy and passing it on in a unique way to the public.

You can find specific content by following the labels at the bottoms of each day's posts, or by clicking on the links below:

200th - Posts with this label are posts that have to do with the 200th anniversary of some event that took place during the War of 1812. Either with the Acasta herself, or the war in general. Want to know what was happening on a particular date? Here you go.

Apple - Posts with this label are either written BY or about Acasta ship's carpenter Mr. Jas. Apple.

Baptiste - Posts with this label are either written BY or about the Acasta Surgeon's Mate.

Book Review - These posts take a look at books written about Naval subjects of interest.

Capt Freymann - Posts with this label are either written BY or about Acasta ship's Captain Robert Freymann

Capt Hurlbut -  Posts with this label are either written BY or about Captain Tom Hurlbut, friend to the Acasta.

Capture - Information regarding historical captures made by the Acasta during her service.

Event Invite - These posts are invitations to the general public to attend specific historic events. A great way to figure out where the Acasta crew will be during the year!

Images - This label is given to any post that is picture heavy. Looking for lots of awesome War of 1812 or Royal Navy recreation pictures? Look no further! The Acasta has been gifted with some amazing photography over the years from a variety of sources.

In The News - Historical news articles that make mention of the Acasta or her crew.

Jane Austen Festival - Given to any post that has to do with the annual Jane Austen Festival that is held every July in Louisville, KY.

Letter Writing - Posts relating to writing letters that look to be from the period portrayed by HMS Acasta. Great help if you wish to participate in the Mail Packet project.

LIST - This label is given to the series of reenactor list, Ways to improve, the best and worst things about the hobby, stupid questions asked by the public and so forth.

Lt Ramsey - Posts with this label are either written BY or about Acasta ship's Second Lieutenant Michael Ramsey.

Lt. Hamilton - Posts with this label are either written BY or about Acasta ship's First Lieutenant Jim Hamilton.

Lt. Tumbusch - Posts with this label are either written BY or about Acasta ship's Third Lieutenant Tom Tumbusch.

Master & Commander - Posts that have to do with the Aubrey-Maturin series of books by author Patrick O'Brian or the 2003 movie.

Mail Packet - This label will involve letters (real or digital) sent or received by Acasta crew. It also occasionally has to do with a call to readers for letters, a fun project for authors and historians alike!

Midshipman Raley - Posts with this label are either written BY or about Acasta Midshipman David Raley.

Miscellany - A grab bag of odds and ends posts that couldn't really be labeled anything else.

Mission 1 - All posts pertain to the Acasta's first play test of the "Spy Game", a first person activity played between teams at Mississinewa 1812.

Mission 2 - A writing exercise by members of the crew involving the 1813 chase of the US vessel, 'Young Teazer'

Mission 3 - These posts involve the Doctor's special assignment to take part in a mock Naval assault at Niagara on the Lake.

Mission 4 - The Acastas go ashore at the Fair at New Boston in an attempt to catch a spy, and the Doctor gets engaged!

Mission X - All posts related to the Doctor's covert mission to France.

Mississinewa 1812 - Given to any post that has to do with the annual Mississinewa 1812 event that is held every October in Marion, IN.

Music - Music or lyrics (or both) to old period songs.

New Boston - Given to any post that has to do with the annual Fair at New Boston event that is held every Labor Day Weekend near Springfield, Ohio.

Press Gang - Content and images from the Acasta's Press Ganging activities at events.

Real Crew - Posts with this label are either written by or about REAL historical members of the crew of the Acasta between 1797-1815.

Red Box - Content and images having to do with the "Red Box' game.

Signal Flags - These posts involve images and information having to do with this means of communication during the War of 1812. Sometimes they even involve fun messages to be decoded!

The Doctor - Posts with this label are either written BY or about Acasta ship's surgeon Albert Roberts

Toasts - information pertaining to the Daily Royal Naval Toasts given at dinner.

Vassermann - Posts with this label are either written BY or about the Surgeon's personal servant James Vassermann.

Video - Any post with a video or a link to a video in it can be found here.

Wedding - These image heavy posts are all about the Doctor's 1813 style wedding.

Monday, October 13

Meet John Pickthorn

Acasta Midshipman under Capt Beaver, c. 1806.

John Pickthorn is a native of Devonport, co. Devon.

This officer entered the Navy, 12 Oct. 1796, as Ordinary, on board the Alexander 74, Capts. Joseph Bullen, Alex. John Ball, and P. Ormsby; in which ship he came into frequent action with the enemy's gun-boats and batteries in the neighbourhood of Cadiz, and took part in the battle of the Nile, in the blockade of Malta, and in various operations along the coast of Italy. Quitting the Alexander in Sept. 1800, he was next, until April, 1802, employed on the Mediterranean and Home stations as Midshipman (a rating he had previously attained) in the Guillaume Tell 84, Capt. Thos. Elphinstone, flag-ship of Admiral Milbank, Alkmaar, Capt. Fred. Lewis Maitland, and Malta 84, Capt. Albemarle Bertie. In March, 1803, he returned to the latter ship, commanded at the time by Capt. Edw. Buller on the coast of Spain ; and, from July, 1804, until Oct. 1806, he served in the West Indies and Channel on board the Eagle and Kent 74's, and Ville de Paris 110, all flagships of Sir Edw. Thornbrough ; whom, in Feb. 1807, after having been for about three months attached to the Acasta 40, Capt. Philip Beaver, he again joined in the Royal Sovereign 100, on the Mediterranean station.