Tuesday, August 4

Capt. Kerr's Grave Monument

St John and St Cuthbert (joint)'s Church Cemetery, Edinburgh, Lothian, Scotland 

Capt Alexander Robert Kerr
age 61

Charlotte Maule
age 70
wife of Alexander Robert Kerr

Jessie Kerr
age 1
daughter of Alexander Robert Kerr

Matilda Ann Kerr
age 17
daughter of Alexander Robert Kerr

John Hunter Kerr
age 53
son of Alexander Robert Kerr

Charles Maule Kerr
age 74
son of Alexander Robert Kerr

Robert Kerr
son of Alexander Robert Kerr

Anna Maria Beresford Kerr
age 76
daughter of Alexander Robert Kerr

Monday, August 3

The Mail Packet Extension

A sneak preview of some of the letters that have arrived from readers like you to be a part of this year's Mail Packet. The packet will be delivered this year at the Fair at New Boston during the press gang. 

PLUS, if you haven't gotten your letter written yet, NO WORRIES… we're extending the deadline for submissions to August 15th, so now you don't have an excuse not to play along!

 Contact me to find out where to send your finished letter… or questions, or for any other additional information.

Thursday, July 30

The Ship Herself

Sir J. T. Duckworth's Action off St. Domingo, Feby 6th. 1806 (PAD5760)
Hand-coloured.; Technique includes etching. Published 1 Feb 1817

HMS Magicienne (36) at right and HMS Acasta (44) on the left at the Battle of San Domingo, the only primary source (original, from the era) image of Acasta, other than the original plans, known to exist.

HMS Acasta
Builder: John Randall & Co,, Rotherhithe
Launched: 14 March 1797
Class and type: Acasta-class fifth-rate frigate
Tons burthen: 112722⁄94 (bm)
Length: 154 ft (46.9 m)
Beam: 40 ft 9.5 in (12.4 m)
Depth of hold: 14 ft 3 in (4.3 m)
Sail plan: Full-rigged ship
Complement: 320
Armament: 40 guns

Nominal Guns:    40
Nationality:    Great Britain
Operator:    The Royal Navy
Ordered:    1795/04/30
Keel Laid Down:    1795/09
Launched:    1797/03/14
How acquired:    Built by Contract
Shipyard:    Rotherhithe
Designed by:    William Rule
Constructor:    Richard Wells
Category:    Fifth Rate
Ship Type:    Frigate
Broken Up:    1821/01/01

Dimension                           Measurement    Type                        Metric Equivalent
Length of Gundeck            154' 0"                Imperial Feet         46.9392
Length of Keel                    128' 11"              Imperial Feet         39.2938
Breadth                                40' 6"                 Imperial Feet         12.3444
Depth in Hold                      14' 3"                 Imperial Feet         4.3434
Burthen                                1,127 22⁄94          Tons BM

1797/04        Broadside Weight = 443 Imperial Pound ( 200.9005 kg)
Upper Gun Deck    30    British 18-Pounder
Quarterdeck             4    British 32-Pound Carronade
Quarterdeck             8    British 9-Pounder
Forecastle                  2    British 9-Pounder
Forecastle                  4    British 32-Pound Carronade

Crew Complement
1797/04    320 men

Source: British Warships in the Age of Sail 1793 - 1817    Rif Winfield

HMS Acasta Deck, Quarter & Forecastle
HMS Acasta Frame
HMS Acasta Gun Deck
HMS Acasta Inboard Profile Plan
HMS Acasta Lines
HMS Acasta Orlop Deck
HMS Acasta Upper Deck Plan
These plans from the Royal Museums Greenwich collection

Wednesday, July 29

United States vs Endymion

On the 1st of June, very early in the morning, the American squadron got under way and stood out to sea; but at nine o'clock, just as they were clearing the Sound, the ships were discovered by the British 74-gun ship Valiant, Captain Robert Oliver, and 40-gun frigate Acasta, Captain Alexander Kerr. The latter gave chase, and the former put back; both parties hauling to the wind under all sail. At about half past one the American squadron bore up for New-London; and the United-States and Hornet, being too deep for their trim, started their water and threw overboard a part of their provisions. At a quarter past two the Acasta, who was far ahead of the Valiant, having got within gun-shot of the United States, fired a bow-chaser at the latter, just as she was rounding New-London lighthouse. The United-States, returned the shot with one from her stern. Instead, however, of bringing-to and trying to cut off the British frigate from her consort, as many of the spectators on shore expected to be done, Commodore Decatur anchored with his squadron in the river. 

For several weeks previous to this event, the New York and Boston papers had been filled with panegyrics on their "naval heroes", whose valour they had depicted as impetuous, amounting almost to rashness. Some of the papers, as if a little ashamed of what they said, added "a rasee" to the two British ships, and gave that as a reason why the commodore suffered his squadron to be chased into new London- James's Naval Occurrences, p. 326. 

Had boarding been resorted to, the parties would have been nearly equal; thus:

The Acasta, thus left to herself, hauled to the wind and tacked, and soon afterwards, along with the Valiant, anchored of Gardner's Island, distant about twelve miles from New-London. having no persons onboard acquainted with the navigation of the sound, the British ships, particularly the 74, chased with much less effect than they otherwise would. It was not, of course, known to Captain Oliver, that he might even have followed the American squadron into New-London; and that, had the United-States and her companions ascended the river beyond his reach, he might, with little or no risk, have placed the Valiant and Acasta against the town, and blown the houses about the ears of the inhabitants, if they refused to give up the ships. 

After having blockaded the American squadron for upwards of six months, the Valiant and Acasta were relieved by the 74-gun ship Ramillies, Captain Thomas Hardy, 40-gun frigate Endymion, Captain Henry Hope, and 38-gun frigate Statira, Captain Hassard Stackpoole. "Tired out at length with his confinement, and the force now before New-London happily excusing him, in the opinion of all, from venturing to cut his way out, Commodore Decatur resolved to put in practice an epistolary stratagem; one that, even in its failure, should rebound to his advantage, by wiping off the impression of lukewarmness, which so many months of forbearance had in some degree attached to his character." 

On the 17th of January, 1814, he actually sent to Captain Hardy a written proposition for a contest between the United-States and Endymion, and the Macedonian and Statira. Instead of sending back the "proposition", as one to which the commanding officer of a British squadron could not with propriety listen, Captain Hardy consented that the Statira should meet the Macedonian, as they were sister ships, but, quite the contary, as may be supposed, to the wishes of Captain Hope, refused to permit the Endymion to meet the United-States, because the latter was the much superior force. 

From: The naval history of Great Britain: 
from the declaration of war by France in 1793 to the accession of George IV 
William James 
London 1824.

Tuesday, July 28

From the Leander's Log

HMS Leander 
Captains's Log,

Wednesday 28th December 1814 
Position: Lat.40.38 N. Long.52.13 W.

4am Strong gales and squally with rain and a heavy sea squadron in company. 
Daylight observed strange sail SE by S, made Newcastle signal to chase. Out 3rd. reefs and made sail in chase .

9.40 up Top-gallant masts and main-top gallant yard, out 2nd reefs. 

11.10 swayed the gaff up and set the driver and reefed main top- gallant sail.

12. Strong breezes with heavy squalls, Newcastle S by E, Acaster W by N, Stranger NE 5 miles, trimmed sails occasionally. crew employed variously. 
Opened pease weight of 5 bushels. 
Water 224 1/2 tons.

PM Strong breezes and cloudy with squalls made and shortened sail occasionally. In the squalls carried away the trysail mast.

2.15 carried away the jib stay, spliced same and set the sail again, fired several shots at chase. Newcastle and this ship firing at chase.

4 fresh gales with heavy squalls. Observed chase shew American colours and bring to shortened sail, hove to close reefed the topsail furled, mizzen same and mainsail. Squadron in company.

4.30 sent Lieut. and 8 men on board prize, struck top-gallant yards and masts. DW by DW squadron and prize in company.

12 DW squadron and prize in company.

Thursday 29th December 1814 
Position: Lat. 41.21 N. Long 52.21 W.

4 am. Strong breeze and heavy squalls squadron in company.

6.40 am. ran down to close Newcastle and rounded to again

8 am. DW squadron and prize in company.

9 am. sent a boat onboard prize discovered her to be the American privateer Prince of Neufchatel of 18 guns and and 129 men, 8 days from Boston, found that the jolly boat had swamped and broke adrift during the night from the prize employed remaining prisoners, received 48 sent mid. and 8 men on board with a months provisions.

12 am. moderate with heavy swell. 
Opened Beef no.7 of 38 lbs, Pork No.7and8 of 56 pieces each, Sugar No. 395 of 280 lbs. 
Water 222 1/2 tons.

3.45 pm. out 3rd. reefs and set mizen topsail supplied prize with a compass her being washed away.

4 pm. Lt. ? and fine fine with a heavy swell squadron and prize in company.

5 pm. bore up and set foresail.

6 pm. DW

7 pm. a breeze springing up from the SW trimmed sails

8 pm. moderate and cloudy braced the yards by to let prize come up. Newcastle WSW, Acasta NW by W, prize WNW .

9 pm. rounded to for prize.

11 pm. bore up and burnt a blue light.

12 pm. moderate and cloudy, lowered the topsails, Newcastle and Acasta in company.

Monday, July 27

Truth vs Fiction

An entry into the Log by Jas. Apple:

Often while at sea we seem to be made to suffer, and it often seemed that it was our only lot in life.

The Frenchman Baptiste always seemed to maintain his fictions, in my mind it made a good story fore and aft and could make even the most  unbearable toils of the day shrink around mess time, and often he would be invited to tell the  same story, to the same number, over and over again.

Like me, he never let the truth get in the way of a good story.

(Hurry home Baptiste, Mr. Apple is lonely and has scarcely stopped crying since you left!  -the Doctor)