Monday, December 12

From the Medical Journal 4

John Downie, aged 26,
Marine; headache

Taken ill 15 Nov’r at Cove,
discharged to duty 25 Nov’r.

This is a coltish drunken fellow of such a ghastly wretched appearance in general that it is a difficult matter to ascertain at anytime whether he is in health or otherwise especially if it is convenient for him to affect indisposition - which is very often the case. He has been bred a butcher and from the facilities of his early years he has acquired habits that are in some degree rare - he can imitate with the greatest possible exactness the howling of a pack of hounds, the crowing of a cock, the bellowing of a bull, cow or calf and a number of other animals. On account of these curious qualifications he is often solicited by his shipmates to give a specimen of his talents and a glass of grog is of course the reward. I presume he has been drunk in consequence of something of this kind and has affected sickness to avoid punishment. He says his head aches

I have given him an emetic and will stop his grog till he is better.

 Originally Recorded by: Mr. Thomas Simpson, Surgeon, HMS Arethusa, 1805

Friday, December 9

A Letter from the Great Cabin


A past letter writ by our Captain Freymann and originally posted in his log: HERE

My Dearest and most Beloved Isabella,

It gives me no small Pleasure to once again take Pen in Hand and relate to You the Events which transpired since last I wrote. Upon achieving the Quarter Deck, Lt. Standhope indicated the Presence of an unknown Ship bearing down upon our Position from the North West, whereupon as no identifying Signals could be readily discerned and She being in possession of the Weather Gauge and thereby the Engagement, should One develop, I gave the Order to Beat to Quarters. It is no small Amount of Pride which I felt, when within a Matter of a few Minutes, the Acasta was handsomely transformed from a State of peaceful Readiness into a formidable Bastion of His Majesty's might. As it was evident that our Adversary had sighted Acasta, and continued to bear upon our Position, I gave the order to shorten Sail thereby slowing our Speed, whilst still retaining our Ability to maneuver and simultaneously providing a stable Platform for the firing of the Great Guns.

From the Quarterdeck, I observed that our unidentified Visitor was flying the Blue Ensign, and desirous of learning more, I requested Lt. Standhope to post a Midshipman aloft with a Glass, whereupon he bid Mr. Wheland, a most promising Lad, go to aloft and report what Observations He could on the Intentions of the approaching Vessel. Continuing with my own Surveillance of the Ship, it was within moments of Mr. Wheland’s Departure, that the Vessel made her Number, which was that belonging to the HMS Aeolus. Responding in kind, our Number was signaled in turn, though I did not relax the Vigilance of the Crew, maintaining them at their Guns, out of concern that this maybe be a Ruse about to perpetrated upon Us by the Enemy. As the approaching Ship began to heave to, I was able to recognize the Person of Captain John Sprague, peering at me through his Glass from Standing Rigging, as I did the same from the Acasta’s Forecastle. Upon seeing a friendly Face, no longer concerned about walking into a cleverly laid Trap, I ordered the Guns to be secured, and Acasta laid within pistol shot of Aeolus for the express Purpose of engaging Aeolus in an Exchange of Words rather than Shot. Capt. Sprague, with whom I had served aboard the HMS Invincible in these same Waters some years earlier, was bound for the Port of Charleston to take up Station there, but before resuming his Journey, caused to be sent over a Package of Mail for Acasta, in which was contained your letter of October 1. After retrieving Mail and Dispatches directed to my Attention, I proceeded directly to the Great Cabin to read your Words.

My Dearest Isabella, to write Letters to you is the next greatest pleasure I feel to receiving them from you. What I experience when I read such as I am sure are the pure Sentiments of your Heart, my poor Pen cannot express. Absent from you, I feel no Pleasure; it is you who are everything to me. Without you, I care not for this World. Pray, never stop writing for each Letter brings me the Touch of your Hand and the Whisperings of your Heart. 

Thursday, December 8

HMS Acasta: Images from the Great Cabin


The table in the Great Cabin of the HMS Acasta. All of the instruments, with the exception of the pocket compass, are period originals.

Wednesday, December 7

November List


While the numbers for Fevers are much increased since last month, I have also noted that there has been a great increase in Venereal Complaints. I believe that the increase is due to our anchoring at Halifax on 26 Sept, especially given some of the bawdy tales I've heard the men tell in the weeks following.

It is my hope that the unpleasant treatments for the 'diseases of Venus' will keep the numbers low after our next visit to port.

Compiled and submitted for the month of November by Ship's Surgeon A. Roberts, HMS Acasta.

Thursday, December 1

From the Surgeon's Personal Log 7

It has been miserable and cold for some weeks now, with fat, heavy snowflakes falling several days this week. I have begun to notice the sniffles and coughs among the men that accompany said weather.

Yesterday, while the Midshipmen were about their lessons on deck, I took note that not a one wore their scarves or gloves even though I could very clearly see their breath in the frigid air. I stopped and scolded them every one saying, "Gentlemen, it is too cold to be on deck without the proper cloathes. I demand that you go below and wrap up proper."

The Lieutenant giving the lesson agreed and sent them all down immediately to get more properly attired.

We have been in and out of Halifax and the North American Station for quite a while now, and so I have taken up my copy of Turnbull's 'Naval Surgeon' in an effort to keep up the health of the men in this part of the world. While Turnbull does not specifically cover the maintaining of the men's health in the North American Station, he does have some suggestions on the High Northern Latitudes which at this time of year, do bear some similarities. Given the cold and wet of this current latitude, and Turnbull's suggestions, I shall make the following recommendations to Capt Freymann:

  • That all men's clothing should consist of the warmest flannel covering as can be procured, especially whilst on deck. Each man should wear a proper scarf, gloves and shoes which has them.
  • That there be a weekly increase in the amount of meat in the diet of the men as stores can afford
  • That an increase in the amount of spirituous liquor should be allowed, with doses of citric acid properly mixed in with the allowance to prevent Scurvy.