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.

Thursday, September 13

The Slop Clothes System Defined

Today's post written by N. Weremeichik

When a man volunteered or was recruited, he was to be issued “slop cloaths”. These slop clothes are to be sold to them and “defalked” or deducted from their pay. According to the 1790 Naval Regulations, slops were obtained and used in the following conditions:

The Captain must arrange for slops to supply the ship while in port, and does what he can to prevent having to purchase slops abroad. 

When approved, they must be marked with a seal from the Navy Office; and inspected by the Captain, Master, Bo ‘sun, and Purser.

No inferior slops are to be issued, they are to be returned to the manufacturer if not satisfactory. If the ship sails before the slops are reviewed, the clothes are to be returned to the manufacturer when next in port and “make Abatements in the Price, proportionable to what they are inferior to the Patterns.” (Return it and get your money back.)

If a man is pressed and doesn’t have appropriate clothes for service, the Captain can supply him with clothes and bedding not exceeding one month’s wages.

Nobody gets a second allotment of slops until two months of service have passed, and cost ten shillings each. The next set only is available to purchase after two month periods.

All slop clothes are to be distributed publicly in front of the officers and company. The captain is not to supply slops to those who don’t truly need it, but is to “oblige those who are ragged.”

The Captain is to take account of slops in the Muster and Pay books, and keep record in a separate slop book. Before payment of the ship, or if the Captain is removed, the books are to be sent to the Comptroller of the Navy. These books are to be signed by the Captain, the Master, the Bo ‘sun, and Purser or any two of them.

If a man is discharged with a ticket, the Captain must record (in words) the value of the slops the man received on his ticket.

In the rare circumstance that the men need slops abroad, the Captain is to inspect the clothes and judge if they are similar to the one used by the Navy. They are to be moderately priced and must send an invoice to the Navy Board and mark them under the head of the supplier.

Contractors for slops are to give the purser twelve pence in the pound for his pains in accounting and issuing the clothes. The contractor is also allowed to give the slops to the Master or any officer of the ship.

Should a man die, his clothes and effects can be sold at auction, and the charges are put to the ones who bid and won the items, and recorded in the Muster, Slop and Pay books. Any business related to this is to be logged and the Purser is to be compensated 12 pence in the pound for his pains.

No seaman can bid for officer’s clothes above his rank or for any effects above their value, according to the Purser and the Master, who must be present for the transactions. A man cannot purchase items above his wages.

Upon death or removal of the Purser, the officers (who account for provisions, slops, stores, dead men’s clothes, bedding, &c) are to deliver a survey to the succeeding Purser, including damaged and unserviceable goods. A copy is to be placed in the Slop Book, and signed by the officers who completed the survey.

There are other instances in the 1790 Regulations where particular protocols were passed on Slop Cloathes, dealing with the sick and new recruits.

Instructions relating to the Execution of two Acts of Parliament passed Anno 1mo.  Geo. II. In Favour of Seamen employed in His Majesty’s Service, 
pg. 49, Article II
In case any of the said seamen or Landsmen shall, at their Request, be supplied with Slop-Cloaths or Bedding, at their coming on Board, the Captain is carefully to set off the Value of the same against their Names in the Lifts he sends to the Navy-Board for payment of the Two Months Advance of Wages, in order to their deducting the same.

Rules to be observed in sending Sick or Hurt Seamen out of His Majesty’s Ships for Cure,
Pg. 57, Article III
If any of the said Men shall be in Want of proper Necessaries at their going away from the Ship, the Captain may order the Purser to supply them out of the Slop Cloaths.

Rules to be observed in sending Sick or Hurt Seamen out of His Majesty’s Ships for Cure, 
pg. 58, Article VIII
If the Agent shall certify to the Captain, that he has supplied any Sick Men with Cloaths, whilst they were in Quarters, of which they were absolutely in Want, he is to charge the same against their Names on the Ship’s Books, in order to its being defalked out of their Wages; but the agent is not to do it whilst the Ship is in Port, but to apply to the Captain to be supplied out of the Slop Cloaths on Board.

Tuesday, September 11

Meet Molly Swift

Click image to enlarge
Today's post written by Teri Linden

Those in London’s east end, specifically Shoreditch, are no strangers to the Long Neck Goose Tavern and Inn, where Will Swift & his wife Molly were proprietors, until Will got them into terrible debt gambling away their meager earnings.  That is why today we find Molly in servitude to Sally Brown at her Lord Nelson’s Arms Tavern. 

A distant, somewhat related, cousin of Sally’s, Molly was fortunate enough to have gained her station assisting with meal preparation, cleaning and doing laundry for the Acasta Crew when they are ashore, while her no good excuse for a husband whiles his time away in jail.  

Molly takes comfort in her children being grown and able to make their own way in the world and is especially proud of her eldest boy, Ethan, who is in His Majesty’s Royal Navy, though whereabouts unknown.  

It is for Ethan she remains hopeful and keeps an extra lookout for the youngest Acasta crew members, making sure they get enough to eat and continue with their book learning.

Monday, September 10

David Hanmer, Master's Mate

Acasta Master's Mate under Capt. Kerr, c.1813-14

David Hanmer entered the Navy, in Aug. 1804, as Fst.-cl. Vol., on board the Ajax 74, Capts. Lord Garlies, Christopher Laroche, and Wm. Brown, one of Sir Robt. Calder's fleet in the action of 22 July, 1805. From the following Sept. until Dec. 1808, he served in the Mediterranean and off Lisbon in the Apollo frigate, and Conqueror 74, both commanded by Capt. Edw. Fellowes ; and he was afterwards, until promoted to the rank of Lieutenant, 7 April, 1813, employed, off the coasts of Portugal, France, and America, chiefly as Master's Mate, in the Semiramis 36, Capt. Wm. Granger, Unicorn 32, Capts. Alex. Robt. Kerr and Geo. Burgoyne Salt, Acasta 40, Capt. A. R. Kerr, and St. Domingo 74, flag-ship of Sir John Borlase Warren. He then joined the Statira 38, Capts. Hassard Stackpoole and Spelman Swaine, also attached to the force on the American station, whence he returned home and was paid off in April, 1815. He has not been since afloat.