Monday, January 26

Midshipman William Bowles

BOWLES, C.B., M.P.
Acasta Midshipman under Capts. Fellowes & Wood.

William Bowles, born in 1780, is eldest son of Wm. Bowles, Esq., of Heale House, co. Wilts, by Dinah, daughter of the late Sir Thos. Frankland, R.N., Admiral of the White ; nephew of the late Wm. Frankland, Esq., M.P., a Lord of the Admiralty, and of the late Sir Boyle Roche, Bart. ; and first cousin of the present Capts. Edw. Augustus and Chas. Colville Frankland, and Henry Gosset, R.N.

This officer entered the Navy, 9 Sept. 1796, as Fst.-cl. Vol., on board the Theseus 74, Capts. Augustus Montgomery and John Aylmer, employed in the Channel and off Cadiz ; removed with the latter officer, as Midshipman, in June, 1797, to the Captain 74 ; served, from May, 1798, to Nov. 1800, in the Daphne 20, Capts. Sir Chas. Lindsay and Rich. Matson, on the North Sea and West India stations ; then returned home in the Hydra frigate, Capt. Sir Fras. Laforey ; and after a consecutive attachment to the Royal William, Capt. Fras. Pickmore, lying at Spithead, Acasta frigate, Capts. Edw. Fellowes and Jas. Athol Wood, in the Mediterranean, and Driver sloop, Capt. Fras. Wm. Fane, was appointed, 22 July, 1803, Acting-Lieutenant of the Cambrian 40, Capts. Barclay and John Poo Beresford, on the Halifax station, where he was confirmed by commission dated on 30 of the following Aug. Mr. Bowles, whom we next find serving in the Leander 50, flag-ship of Sir Andrew Mitchell, and Milan 38, Capt. Sir Robt. Laurie, both on the coast of North America, was promoted to the rank of Commander 22 Jan. 1806...

Source: A NAVAL BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY: COMPRISING THE LIFE AND SERVICES OF EVERY LIVING OFFICER IN HER MAJESTY'S NAVY, FROM THE RANK OF ADMIRAL OF THE FLEET TO THAT OF LIEUTENANT, INCLUSIVE. Compiled from Authentic and Family Documents. BY WILLIAM E. O'BYRNE, ESQ.
LONDON: JOHN MURRAY, ALBEMARLE STREET, PUBLISHER TO THE ADMIRALTY. 1849.

Friday, January 23

Images from the Hospital

The following are images taken by Tony Gerard and Jim Apple in the British Hospital run by members of HMS Acasta at the 200th anniversary or the Battle of New Orleans.












Thursday, January 22

A Letter to the Doctor


19 December 1813

Dear Sir,
                                                                                        
It will most likely come as surprise to hear from your old loblolly boy, but rest assured Sir I have not forgotten you. Perhaps you may have asked yourself over the years ”I wonder what has ever became of old Silas Craig?”. 

Well Sir, for such a kind and generous soul as yourself, the true story would make you weep. The very next commission after I served with you I had a gun to crush my foot. The surgeon took it off at the ankle, but after a bit the leg Above it become corrupted and he took it off at the knee and they sent me to the hospital in Greenwich, but I survived anyhow. 

I had hoped to get a commission then as a cook, but there was none to be had and they sent me off a poor cripple with just a small pension to try and survive on. What was I to do? Well Sir, you will well remember I was never one to beg charity- and no one was handier than me on a make and mend day. 

I begun to take old discarded clothes and patch and mend them up and sell them again at a fair price. I done good enough at it that folks begun to bring me clothes they no longer needed which I would buy from them and mend and sell. After a bit they begun to bring me broken or old odds and ends that I would patch and mend and polish to sale at a fair price. My father was a tinker so I knew a bit of how to do such things. 

With my pension and my mending and such I was getting by when- who could have known- the constables grab me up! They claim that the things I had been buying was stold! And a bunch of them blackhearts what sold things to me lined up in court to say so. A sorry situation it was. I might have been hanged were it not for Lieutenant Murtry- you will remember him as midshipman Murtry- stepping up and putting in a kind word for me. 

As it was they sent me to Botany Bay. Oh Sir, I well remember how fond you was of seeing the bushes and bugs and fish and such of a new place- but there is nothing to love here! Every bush that does not draw blood with thorns and such will give you a rash. The animals here is all scorpions, spiders and snakes and such so poisonous that a fellow does not go three paces after he is bit. 

And the people from here is all Blackfellas that would just as soon spear a man as look at him. So here I am a poor cripple, innocent of any crime, condemned to labor in such a place. So I survived my time- and a miracle it was, me being a cripple and all- and now I am a gain a free man, if free it can be called to have to live in such a desolate and God forsaken place as this. 

Now I scrape by as a servant for Reverand Elias Penwell, who was an innocent persecuted unjustly on false testimony of villains and sent here like myself. His eyes are going and often times he will have me to read for him. I was reading him an old copy of the Navy list which had made its way here when I come across you as the surgeon of the Acasta.

"Is that the same Doctor Roberts you always peak so highly of?" he asks me. 

"I am sure it is the same " I reply. 

"You should write him of your distress here" he says to me. 

"Oh Sir " say I "I could never bother him with my problems". 

"Why Mister Craig" he says  "I am surprised you would treat the good Doctor Roberts with such disrespect!" 

"Never in this life should I disrespect the Doctor!" says I. 

"Well Sir, you should well know that nothing cheers a Christian heart more than helping those in need and distress! If this Doctor Roberts is half the magnanimous fellow you describe he would be distressed beyond measure to find he could have helped you in your time of need but was deprived of the opportunity through ignorance. To deprive him of this opportunity to practice Christian Charity would be cruel indeed!"

So after the Reverand had explained things with such intelligence the wisdom of his words was undeniable.

So Sir you might send whatever charitable ammount you seen fit to me here at Botany Bay through the Reverand Penwell.  Also good would be - if you have any influence at home- would be to see that I might be allowed to return to my native land and not die here a poor cripple in this desolate place.

Ever your loving and obedient Servant, 
Silas Craig

Wednesday, January 21

A Letter to the Captain


8 December 1813

Dear Robert,
     Greetings once again from Verdun. I have  no idea if my letters ever reach you- except for two that were returned which I know certainly did not- perhaps this will be the one to escape the continent. This week begins the fourth year of my confinement. I use that term loosely, for I am free to go and do as I please as long as I am within the borders of the village by dusk. But My God how slowly the time passes! I have completely given up hope of being exchanged. As the war continues it seems the "little corporal" has given up the practice entirely. I am convinced only his defeat will grant me liberty. Remember when old Wallis would send us up to the tops with mathematical exercises to complete if our books were not up to snuff? Those hours fairly flew by compared to the last three years spent here.

However life here is not without its diversions. We have several different smoking clubs. There is a cockpit, and some of the French bird lines are quite remarkable. I actually managed to have one of my horses from home imported through Germany- a King's ransom it cost me! , but the comfort he affords me I count as worth the cost. The problem is the foxes here! Every third one goes to ground like a hare without giving even the pretense of a good chase. They could learn a thing or two from our noble English foxes. If an English fox  were imported here I am sure he would be King of the Foxes within a year! Ha! 

Quite a number of the fellows here have brought over their wives or even entire families. Others say that to house their entire family here would be too expensive, but in actuality most necessities are cheaper here than at home for a person of means. I think the actual truth is that a French mistress is less expensive still! Ha!

A photo posted by @hms_acasta on

Along that line Michael Denton was a Mid with you I believe? Took him three reviews to pass for Lieutenant I have heard. Well, he is here and actually betrothed to a local girl!  How disappointed she will be when she learns that he is the youngest of three in line for his father's estate. 

In that same vane the better families here are constantly putting on some social event or another. You would hardly know our countries are at war. Their daughters are very ambitious and as a widower I am quite in demand! Ha! But Lord! Robert how pretentious they are! They take things to a level beyond our genteel  huntresses at home! Give me a simple low bred country girl any day! Ha!

John Carslake, I believe you know him, and another lieutenant, John Bingham are my neighbors. Poor Clarslake has been here since 09. They have taken to gardening to pass the time and help with their expenses. Their garden rivals any I have seen here, and outshines almost all at home.

I have a servant here, an old fellow who was a clerk for one of the bourgeois who was guillotined back in the nineties. He came very close to losing his head also I understand. He speaks good English, is an excellent servant and I have grown fond of him. If at all possible I plan to bring him with me when I finally return home.

I see from the papers that you are still on the Acasta on North American station and that you have taken a prize or two. I will bet that brother Jonathan puts up a better fight than the French? After all they were once English! Ha! God willing they will be one day again! Ha!   Well, it is now late and I have a busy day of twiddling my thumbs and whistling tomorrow, Ha!, so I will close.

I pray I will always be your friend and brother in arms, 
Bernard Prater

PS Forgive me if I draw one of Bonaparte's infernal bees near the seal. Carslake tells me that letters so adorned stand a better chance of escape!

Tuesday, January 20

In The News



The London Gazette 
Publication date:14 January 1800 
Issue:15222
Page:46




Monday, January 19

Meet Charles Anthony

ANTHONY.
Acasta First Lieutenant under Capt. Beaver, c.1806-1813

Charles Anthony entered the Navy, 6 March, 1793, as Fst.-cl. Vol., on board the Russel 74, Capts. John Willet Payne and Thos. Larcom, the former of whom, after participating in the actions of Howe and Bridport, he rejoined, in Oct. 1796, on board the Impetuehx 74. During the three following years he served, as Midshipman and Master's Mate, under Sir Thos. Livingstone, Sir Home Popham, and other officers...

...From 19 June, 1806, until promoted to the rank of Commander, 29 Dec. 1813, Mr. Anthony was next employed, as First Lieutenant, on the Home, West India, and Canada stations, of the Royal George 100, flag-ship of Sir John Duckworth, Acasta 40, Capt. Philip Beaver, Hippomenes 16, Capt. Edw. Woolcombe, Harpy 14, Capt. Geo. Wm. Blainey, St. Domingo 74, flag-ship of Sir Rich. Strachan, and Wolfe 18, bearing the broad pendant of Sir Jas. Lucas Yeo.

Source: A NAVAL BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY: COMPRISING THE LIFE AND SERVICES OF EVERY LIVING OFFICER IN HER MAJESTY'S NAVY, FROM THE RANK OF ADMIRAL OF THE FLEET TO THAT OF LIEUTENANT, INCLUSIVE. Compiled from Authentic and Family Documents. BY WILLIAM E. O'BYRNE, ESQ.
LONDON: JOHN MURRAY, ALBEMARLE STREET, PUBLISHER TO THE ADMIRALTY. 1849.

Friday, January 16

Saving Private Miller


Reenactor Mark Miller volunteered to act as wounded after every battle and his fantastic performances always drew large crowds of public to the British hospital tent. I'd like to publicly thank him for his assistance, his help contributed greatly to the success of the British Hospital demonstration at New Orleans.