Monday, April 27

A Letter from Trafalgar

The following is a letter written by Robert Hope, a sailmaker aboard HMS Temeraire during the Trafalgar action in 1805.

H M Ship Temeraire
Portsmouth Nov. 4th 1805

Dear Brother,
This is with my love to you hopeing
It will find you in good health As I bless god
I am at present, what do you of us lads
Of the Sea now, I think they won’t send their fleets
Out again in a hurry, I suppose you know more
About the Action than I can tell you, the first
Ship that we Engaged was the Santa Trinidada
The Spanish four Decker. We engage her three
Quarters of an hour when the Victory fell [erased]
Along Side of him we dropd a Stern when five
More of the Enemy’s Ships came upon us and
Engage us on every Quarter, for one hour and
Sixteen minutes, when one Struck but being so
Closely Engaged that we could not take posession
Of her at that time, two more Seemed to be quite
Satisfied [wh] with what they had post so Sheer’d
Us, so with that Intent, one Dropt on our Starboard
Side, Called the La Fue, and other dropt on our
Larboard Side Called Le Doubtable, they Kept
A Very hot fire for some time But we Soon
Cooled them for In the height of the smoke
Our, men from the upper decks Boarded them
Both at the same time, And Soon Carried the
Day, at this time, at this time I Counted when
Smoke cleared away Seventeen Prizes and one
All on fire, But we have ^only got four Into
Giberalter, for a Gale of wind Came on the day
Following that we was Obliged to Scuttle them
for they was so very leaky, Taken & Destroyed
Is Twenty five, we had forty three killed
And Eighty five wounded, and twenty Seven
Drowned In the Prizes, I sent a letter to my
Father from the Rock, So when you receive
This please to let him know that I am arrived
In England, for I long very much to hear
from him. And Give my love to my Sister
And your answer upon the receipt of this will

Oblige your Loveing Brother
Robt. Hope

Greenwich, Royal Museums. 2010. Royal Museums Greenwich Museum Blog: Robert Hope's Trafalgar Letter. October 20.

Hope, Robert. 1805. Royal Museums Greenwich: Letter written by Robert Hope, HMS Temeraire, to his brother John Hope. November 4. 

Kennedy, Maev. 2010. "Trafalgar account is rare voice from below decks." The Guardian. October 19. 

Monday, April 13

Naval Establishment Gazette 2019

Naval Establishment Gazette 2019
By Their Lordships Command
Naval Establishment Gazette
For the Year A.D. 2019
Given at The Narrows , U.C.
This 12th day of April, 2020.

Notices and Appointments

VADM Richard Price, late of the squadron of His Majesty's vessels on the Penetanguishene Station is promoted Admiral.

James Lowrie, also late of the Penetanguishene Squadron and recently deceased, was due for promotion to Vice Admiral. His promotion is confirmed and his name will appear on the list for the remainder of the calendar year.

For meritorious service while serving with the HMS Chatham and for exemplary activity and service while commissioning her, Derek Walter is made acting-Lieutenant. A Lieutenant’s Board of Examination will be held in the future when time allows.

Major Christopher Black, Royal Engineers, is attached to the Western Lakes Station (Captain Schifferdecker officer in command) and is made acting-Lieutenant (N) when acting at sea until such time as he can be certified for further promotion in the Naval Establishment. He will retain his rank in the Royal Engineers for service ashore. Acting-Lieutenat Black and vessel Georgiana are detached to the environs of Lake Manitoba where she will survey and police the region.

For continued outstanding service to the Naval Establishment, Jason Grainger, warranted gunner (Amherstburg) is made Fleet Master at Arms.

Martin Burnett, of the Provincial Marine of Amherstburg is made Master Gunner (NE).

Warranted cook, Gurth Pretty of HMS Psyche, is made Keeper of the Stores, liaising with the Victualling Board, and is charged with keeping the Naval Establishment properly supplied and/or other duties as assigned.

All promotions to be dated from December 1, 2019.

Other appointments, Lieutenancies and Warrants are under review and shall be Promulgated shortly.
The Naval Establishment Squadron

The following vessels and longboats have served, or expressed willingness to serve, as vessels of A Naval Establishment squadron and Longboat Flotilla when circumstances and available support warrant.

Fair Jeanne, brigantine
St Lawrence II, brigantine
Playfair, brigantine
Mist of Avalon, schooner
Lynx, schooner
Empire Sandy, schooner
Black Jack, brigantine
The Naval Establishment Longboat Flotilla
(Subject to revision and correction)
Auld Alliance*
Dawn Star*
General Arnold
Bytown Whalers (2)
Royal George
Psyche(as Pandora*)
Bobbie G*
Red Wing
Queen Charlotte

(* winners of the Cock of the Walk award)

I have the Honour to be
With very great Regard
Thomas Hurlbut
Commodore (pro tem) commanding
Naval Establishments
Crown Forces North America .

G O D  S A V E  T H E  K I N G

Monday, February 3

The Acasta Gamecocks

In recent years there has been a tendency among historians and re-enactors to gloss over many of the more brutal and sad aspects of actual history. Slavery, child labor and blood sports involving animals were all daily aspects of life in the early 19th century. In the Acasta we believe in portraying history “warts and all”. Just as gamecocks were not uncommon on warships, often in the Acasta camp you may see one or more fighting cocks. Of course, the actual status of these guys in the unit is that of beloved mascots.

Here’s a bit about each of your Acasta Gamecocks-

Lord Nelson has a look with his good eye
Lord Nelson- Lord Nelson is a Black Breasted Red (his coloration) Old English Game (his breed). The breed Old English Game dates back to perhaps the 16th century in Europe. Banty (extra small sized) Old English Games are still common among poultry fanciers because of their beauty, but the decline of cock fighting has resulted in standard sized birds becoming rare. As with many re-enactors “Lord Nelson” is only a persona name. Around home he goes by “Blinker”. Blinker was an 18th century cockfighting term for a bird blind in one eye. Just like his namesake, Lord Nelson is blind in one eye, the result of a disagreement with one of his brothers at a young age. At almost 6 years old, Lord Nelson is the oldest of the Acasta gamecocks.

Jonathan Blue- Jonathan Blue is a Delaware Blue Game, an 18th century American Game breed. Blue coloration does not breed true in chickens, so Jonathan’s color is “Splash”, basically white with a smattering of blue and red feathers. “Jonathan “was an English term for Americans during this period, hence the name of this American breed bird. Delaware Blue Games are even more rare today than standard sized Old English Games. The University of Delaware keeps a flock, but years ago a professor there mixed in other breed bloodlines, taking the birds further away from their historic appearance. Our Acasta Delaware Games are not from this bloodline, so they maintain the breed’s historic appearance. Jonathan Blue is the original sire of all the Acosta’s Delaware Blues.

The Surgeon's Mate with Tom Cribb

Tom Crib- Tom Cribb is a Delaware Blue Game of the blue coloration. Jonathan Blue is his father. He is named after a famous bare-knuckled boxer of the Acasta time period.

Blue Peter sounding off like a Bosun
Blue Peter- Blue Peter is the son of Lord Nelson crossed with a Delaware Blue Game hen. His appearance is actually typical for that of an 18th century Delaware Blue Game. At just going on two years old, he is in his prime. He is named after the flag signaling that a ship was getting underway to set sail, the “Blue Peter”

Monday, January 6

The New Surgeon's Mate

This letter has been translated from it’s original French.

Dr. Ducett Loremir

Dear Brother,

   In writing to you I often feel I must begin afresh from the start, never knowing which letters you may have received.

This time I shall begin by saying I am now in a happier situation than I have found myself in these last several years. I hope that you have received my past letters and know that I have been transferred from the prison hulk to the frigate Acosta, a fifth rate of forty guns, Sir James Rehme, Captain. We are on the North American Station, which is where you should write to me.

I have written to you past of my assistant surgeon Mr. Girard, a creole of about my own age. While a capable assistant surgeon, he had manifested a dislike for me on the basis of his loyalty to the Acosta’s former surgeon, a Dr. Roberts.  Dr. Roberts apparently had an interest equal to my own in the Natural Sciences and left behind a goodly collection of specimens upon his departure. Mr. Girard had taken upon himself a curatorial guardianship of these specimens. On first discovering these specimens I examined them myself with great interest, an event Girard viewed with obvious distaste. The second time I went to do so I found they had been moved and upon enquiring, found that they had been  “stowed more securely” until Dr Robert’s return, an event which he looked upon with the same reverence and hope which a good Anglican places upon Christ’s second coming. There was even a particular chair, the former good Dr.’s, upon which I was not allowed to set on the charge of its being unsound until the carpenter could make it so. How the man was named assistant surgeon I know not, as he obviously has no formal schooling for such an endeavor, although he can read both French and English well enough. I should have thought that with our shared heritage and interest in the Natural Sciences and we should have worked well together, but such was not the case. His deportment toward me was always overly formal and strained.

The other assistant surgeon was Mr. Reed, English of course, who did have a formal medical education, but who was without imagination or enthusiasm for his assignment. He was capable enough but went about his duties with the same curiosity and investigative spirit a sailor shows for holystoning the deck.

Mr. Andrew Richardson
Most recently Reed was invalided ashore, and I was sent a temporary replacement, Mr. Richardson, and this young man has made all the difference! He is apparently from a good family settled upon one of the English islands in the West Indies or Caribbean and has had a formal medical training. Additionally, he shows a great aptitude as an apothecary, making tinctures, teas, salves and such from herbs and minerals. Being from the Americans he is familiar with the identification of most local plants and knowledgeable about their restorative and healing properties.  Should this horrid war finally come to a close I should expect to see him move beyond the status of a mere surgeon and become a physician of renown.

The Mole Cricket
Shortly after he came aboard I found him with Girard in study of some specimen with their hand lenses. So intent were they that were completely unaware of my approach. The specimen was a most curious insect which Richardson called a Mole Cricket. The name was apt, for its front feet were almost identical in form to that most singular mammal! I shall send you a sketch in the future. I assumed this was one of Dr. Roberts specimens but was gratified to learn that it belonged to Richardson! He has brought with him a specimen collection of his own! Girard’s curiosity was aroused to such a degree that he forgot himself and retrieved some of Dr. Roberts sacred specimens for comparison! Our discussion was so interesting and involved I retrieved some of my own specimens for this impromptu lecture. As I was expanding on the mystery of a turtle’s breathing- for they have lungs and not gills, yet their rib cage composes the shell, which is immobile. How do they draw breath? In any case at this juncture we noticed one of Girard’s young sons who had been standing there I know not how long, he has two which are ship’s boys on the Acosta, who piped in with “Lieutenant McClain’s complements and he wishes Dr. Loremir to know that the sick have been waiting at the mast for some time now”. We had all been so engrossed that we had completely lost the time!

It seems that in addition to an exceptional assistant surgeon and apothecary, Mr. Richardson is an avid student of the Natural Sciences with a particular interest in creatures of the marine realm. Since this happy juncture any time he or Girard go ashore with a wood or watering detail they return with some specimen and usually with some useful herbs. It seems Girard also has some knowledge of simples and their preparations. When the two are allowed ashore together the rewards are even greater. Such discoveries and investigations we shall make!  The restraining cord has even been removed from Dr Roberts throne and I have been allowed the honor of being so seated!

While I wish Reed no ill will, especially not a long illness, I shall endeavor to keep Mr. Richardson with this command with every means in my power!

So Dear Brother wish me the joy of my new situation. I send all my love to you and your family. Write to me at every chance.

Your loving brother,