Monday, October 15

Acasta captures the Blonde

ATTENTION READERS: After a little hiatus, the Acasta website is back. But we'll only be publishing on Mondays for a while instead of every weekday. Please make a note of it.

Blonde (108), schr., G. H. Gilbert, master, from Martinique, bound for Newfoundland, recaptured Oct. 17, 1812 by Acasta.

AMERICAN VESSELS CAPTURED BY THE BRITISH DURING THE Revolution and War of 1812 The Records of the Vice-Admiralty Court at Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Bulletins of the Campaign [compiled from the London Gazette]. pages 133 & 134

Monday, October 1

Reflecting on the Remarkable and Interesting Particulars in the life of John Newton

by Frank Jarboe

To the officers and crew of HMS Acasta,

It is little surprise to those of you that have listened to either my conversation or my sermons that I am deeply influenced by the life and writings of Reverend John Newton, late Rector of St Mary Woolnoth, Lombard Street, London. It is – in part – through his handling of doctrinal matters that my own serious attachment to Christ has grown. If you would permit me, I would like to share a portion of a letter Rev. Newton wrote recounting an eventful time at sea... particularly concerning a day which found him forever changed. His age at the time of the event was two and twenty.

“The 10th, that is, in the present style, the 21st of March, is a day much to be remembered by me, and I have never suffered it to pass wholly unnoticed since the year 1748. On that day the Lord sent from on high, and delivered me out of deep waters.”

With the ship that had rescued him from a life of slavery in Africa having been heavily damaged in a storm in the North Atlantic, Rev. Newton wrote: “We soon found the ship was filling with water very fast. The sea had torn away the upper timbers on one side, and made the ship a mere wreck in a few minutes… We had immediate recourse to the pumps, but the water increased against all our efforts : some of us were set to bailing in other parts of the vessel… we had but eleven or twelve people to sustain this service … notwhithstanding all we could do, she was full or very near it… We expended most of our cloaths and bedding to stop the leaks – over these we nailed pieces of boards, and at last perceived the water to abate…”

“I continued at the pump from three in the morning till near noon, and then I could do no more. I went and lay down upon my bed, uncertain, and almost indifferent whether I should rise again. In an hour’s time I was called; and, not being able to pump, I went to the helm, and steered the ship till midnight, excepting a small interval for refreshment. …I had here [while at the helm] leisure and convenient opportunity for reflection. I began to think of my former religious professions,—the extraordinary turns of my life,—the calls, warnings, and deliverances I had met with,—the licentious course of my conversation,—particularly my unparalleled effrontery in making the Gospel history (which I could not be sure was false, though I was not yet assured it was true) the constant subject of profane ridicule. …Thus, as I have said, I waited with fear and impatience to receive my inevitable doom.”

“But —When I saw, beyond all probability, that there was still hope of respite, and heard, about six in the evening, that the ship was freed from water, there arose a gleam of hope. I thought I saw the hand of God displayed in our favour. I began to pray: I could not utter the prayer of faith; I could not draw near to a reconciled God, and call him Father: my prayer was like the cry of the ravens, which yet the Lord does not disdain to hear. I now began to think of that Jesus whom I had so often derided: I recollected the particulars of his life, and of his death; a death for sins not his own, but, as I remembered, for the sake of those who, in their distress, should put their trust in him…”

This is the day Rev. Newton wrote of in that hymn introduced on January 1, 1773 when he spoke of the amazing grace of God. His words were, “How precious did that grace appear, The hour I first believed!” … March 10, 1748 – old style. 

Leaving the contents of this discourse to your reflection,
I remain &c. 
Rev. John P Griswold

Monday, September 24

Midshipman Longchamp

Acasta Midshipman under Capt. Wood, 1802.

John Longchamp entered the Navy, 18 July, 1797, as Midshipman, on board L'Espoir sloop, Capt. Henry Inman ; continuing to serve with whom in the Belliquedx 64, Andromeda 32, and Desiree 36, he witnessed, in the Andromeda, an attack made on a French squadron in Dunkerque Roads 7 July, 1800, and was present, we believe, in the Desiree in the action otf Copenhagen 2 April, 1801. In the course of the latter and the following year he successively removed to the Princess of Orange 74 and Leda 38, both commanded by Capt. Geo. Hope, Acasta 40, Capt. Jas. Athol Wood, and Princess Royal 98, Capts. Jas. Vashon, Herbert Sawyer, and Robt. Carthew Reynolds. He made a voyage, in the Leda, to the Mediterranean; and served on the Channel station, in the Princess Royal, until promoted to the rank of Lieutenant 5 Dec. 1806.


Tuesday, September 18

New Toys

Today's post and image submitted by Buzz Mooney

Clockwise, from upper left: wooden parallel rule with nickel-plated arms and no markings; brass protractor; Icelandic Spar, believed to be the sunstone, used by Vikings; and a brass chart glass, for reading fine details on charts.

The sunstone, as a navigational device, is not documented to our period (1800-1810), although a spar crystal WAS recovered from the sunken wreck of the Alderney, sunk in 1592. It was found near navigational equipment, suggesting that it may have been used for that purpose. its properties WERE known, and studied, during our period, so I bought one as a navigational/scientific curiosity. I intend to "mount" it in a hanging Turk's Head, as I also plan to do with my lodestone (primitive compass): a piece of magnetic hematite. These primitive stones will only be included in my kit, for events in which I present the earlier history of navigation.

Monday, September 17

Acasta takes the Melantho

On 17th Sept. (1812), The Acasta assisted by Spartan, Statira, Nymphe, Orpheus, Maidstone, Aeolus and Emulous captured the Melantho, a ship of 402 tons attempting to make her way into Baltimore from Chile. She was laden with 229 tons of copper, 9 bales of furs and heard one of the Melantho's sailors mention that it was all worth $43,000 in American currency, but have no idea what that translates into in British coin.  This might have made for some excellent prize money had it not been for the fact that we shared the capture with so many other of His Majesty's vessels. The Melantho's Master was a fellow by the name of William Davidson, who seemed none too pleased about his ship being taken by our force.

If I recall my Homer correctly, Melantho was also the sharp tongued sister to Melanthios, and a particularly unpleasant servant to Odysseus. 

The blockade continues.

Source: "AMERICAN VESSELS CAPTURED BY THE BRITISH DURING THE Revolution and War of 1812 The Records of the Vice-Admiralty Court at Halifax, Nova Scotia." 

Friday, September 14


In the real world Charles Winchester is retired from thirty years service with Georgia State Parks and Historic Sites. Twenty-three of those years were as Manager of Fort Morris Historic Site, a Revolutionary War/ War of 1812 earthwork fort, and as Manager at Pickett’s Mill Battlefield State Historic Site, a Civil War battlefield near Atlanta, Georgia. Long before that career, however he had a love for living history.  

Growing up in Charleston, S. Carolina he was surrounded by history and living history, including the centennial celebration of the American Civil War, the Tri-centennial of the founding of S. Carolina and the Bi-centennial of the American War for Independence.  Charles was active from 1976 in the Bi-centennial, attending several of the 200th anniversary battle reenactments across the country both as a rebel, a redcoat, a Hessian Grenadier and finally a French infantryman at the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Yorktown. Beginning in 1980 Mr. Winchester was a regular volunteer representing Civil War Union infantry and artillery at Fort Pulaski, Fort McAllister and Fort Jackson in Savannah, Georgia.  

During the 250th anniversary of the founding of Georgia in 1982, Charles was a mainstay at Wormsloe Historic Site representing a Marine Boatman of the Oglethorpe period during the War of Jenkins Ear.  Doing interpretive programs and tours was an almost daily occurrence for the first twelve years of his career with State Parks. Charles was also active in American Civil War cavalry and infantry units during his time at Pickett’s Mill Battlefield. For seventeen years of his parks career he was Black Powder Safety Instructor for Georgia State Parks. He was a Georgia mandated peace officer, graduating from GPSTC in 1988.  Winchester has a BA degree in History from Armstrong Atlantic University in Savannah, Georgia.  

Charles has been married to Lara Lee Rang Winchester (who he met at the two hundredth anniversary of the Battle of Trenton, in 1976!) for thirty-one years. Together they have three children and two grand children.  Charles and Lara are both active with HMS Acasta as well as 1812, American War for Independence and French and Indian War living history.