Friday, November 30

Thomas ‘Cutty’ Cuthbert


While aboard HMS Zealous, that first year I met Midshipman Thomas Cuthbert... the gunroom all called him 'Cutty'. 

Cutty was a most amiable fellow, well read and quite proficient as an officer. He could laugh at nigh anything. There was nothing that he could not gamble on, he must have lost three years wages over the course of our service together. And a stout lover of mirth and good liquor.

He was every bit the spitting image of Thomas Rowlandson's vision of a midshipman circa 1799, he even had the long golden locks.

I RECALL once while in a foreign port, just after Cutty had passed his lieutenant's exam, we were both quite in our cups in way of celebration. Cutty and I sang the night away playing cards and gambling in a nearby tavern. I won four if HIS pounds that night...

Cutty became so intoxicated that I had to carry him on my back to return us both to the ship. On the way, I lost my footing and staggered and we tumbled into the gutter. We both had bits of filth in our hair and on our faces, and I completely ruined the sleeve on my nice blue jacket.

The splash in the face was just what Cutty needed, and he woke up laughing. I implored him to rise, and together, we made our way back to the ship.

We eventually made it back to the ship stinking of alcohol and the gutter. The Captain stopped us, claiming he could smell us from shore. Says he, "You gentlemen may not board until you've had a bath to wash off the stink."

Cutty, who was always very obliging, immediately stripped naked and dove into the water there by the ship. What could I do but join him? And do you know, Captain Hood even had the bosun throw down a bit of soap to aid in the process.

Ah younger days!

Thursday, November 29

Don't Forget...


I often think of my days at sea in the service of King and Country aboard the Zealous. I had gained quite the reputation aboard ship for dropping and breaking lenses. I was often able to repair my looking glasses by hammering out the dents and having a new lens or two ground by our Bosun Mr. Burke, who was extremely handy with such things. But, I fear, toward the end of my service, my old glass just barely got the job done.

When I finally left the Zealous, the boys aboard ship got together and gave me this fine looking glass as a remembrance. I shall think on them fondly each time I look through and make a new discovery.

Wednesday, November 28

HMS Zealous and Capt Hood


 HMS Zealous

a 74-gun third rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, built by Barnard of Deptford and launched on 25 June 1785.

She served in a number of battles of the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars, notably the Battle of the Nile, where she engaged the French ship Guerrier, helping to force her surrender. She was later cruising off Cadiz in 1801. She missed out on the Battle of Trafalgar, having been dispatched to Gibraltar for resupply, and later assigned to convoy duty in the Mediterranean.
Capt. Hood

In 1797 Hood was given command of the 74-gun ship of the line Zealous, in which he was present at Admiral Horatio Nelson's unsuccessful attack on Santa Cruz de Tenerife. Captain Hood conducted the negotiations which relieved the squadron from the consequences of its failure.

Capt. Hood is later put in command of the HMS Venerable

The Doctor joined the Zealous as ship’s surgeon in 1798, a year after Hood became her captain.

Engraved by Ridley, Holl & Blood from an Original Miniature in the possession of Lady Hood. 
Enlarge and read it for yourself.

Whilst cleaning out a desk drawer a few days ago, I discover'd the old letter of introduction writ for me by the hand of my captain aboard the Zealous. Along with it was the medal for my service at the Battle of the Nile, for which my friends are always desirous to have an antic-dote.

I can tell you, it was all shouting, everyone was shouting, and smoke and fire and blood, so much blood. I remember Cutty staggered down into the cockpit when the noise above decks had ceased. He was covered from waist to foot in blood... "You are undone!" says I.

Cutty was not his jovial self that day, instead soberly says, "Tis not my blood I wear Doctor."

The Zealous was fortunate in that she and her crew did not receive the number of casualties of the other ships of the British force.

It is a gruesome tale and not one I wish to recall.

Monday, November 26

Books in the Blockade

The library aboard the Acasta really is depressingly sparse. The other wardroom officers and I have worked out an arrangement that we might borrow books from one another to keep our minds active during the blockade. 

I have discover'd that this arrangement tends to work much in my own favour, as the lieutenants are not generally interested in reading up on Jones' Practical Remarks on the treatment of Wounds and Fractures, or Turnbull's System of Naval Surgery. 

As I believe I have read nearly everything that the gentlemen of the Wardroom have to offer, and have read nearly everything I can get my hands upon aboard ship (save for Mr Midshipman Raley's copy of 'The Young Sea Officer's Assistant' of which I have very little use), I have taken to reading up on the various instructional manuals.

Lately, I have taken to reading the Popham's Manual on Telegraphic Signals. I have also been on deck with my spyglass practicing the translation of said flags whenever the opportunity affords.

Tuesday, November 20

A Day Ashore 2

Mr. Cooper considers his next move.
Mr. Cooper instructs Mr. Raley.
Lt. Ramsey comes up the walk with Nigel en tow.
Mr. Cooper, Mr. Raley and Mr. Kaufman in the study.

In the dining room.
Special thanks to Historic Rock Castle for playing host and Rick Murray from Memories by Murray for the amazing photography.

Monday, November 19

A Day Ashore

Mr. Midshipman Raley at his lessons in the study.
Mr. Cooper in the comfortable chair.
Lt. Ramsey in plainclothes arrives fashionably late.

Miss Waterman & Mrs. Cooper on a walk about the grounds.

Nigel the house servant is a coarse and unpleasant fellow.
Special thanks to Historic Rock Castle for playing host and Rick Murray from Memories by Murray for the amazing photography.

Friday, November 16

Popham's Telegraph Signal Flag Generator

Capt. C. Bertani
Lately, Captain Bertani of HMS Cornwall (74) North Sea station, has written a program that will translate typed text into 1806 Popham Telegraph Signal Flags!

Not only can you choose to use the start and finish flags, but you can alter the shape and size of the flags themselves.

Thanks to Capt. Bertani for writing this fun program and for pointing it out to me!


Wednesday, November 14

Finding Fresh Water

It is always a challenge to keep enough fresh, drinkable water aboard the Acasta, and this prolong'd blockade has made it especially challenging. The Captain ordered that a party of men should be assembled and sent ashore to secure a source of fresh drinking water to hold us over until the next time we could get in to Halifax.
Acasta men find a source of water!
Capt. Freymann in discussion with Mr. Cushing.
Not only did he request my presence, but he went himself, to 'stretch out his legs', he insisted. Normally, the Lieutenants would have advised against it, but the area was quite remote, and we carried nearly enough armed men with us to form a boarding party by ourselves.
Mr Midshipman Raley (in an old borrowed LTs coat) keeps an eye out.
Capt Freymann and the Doctor consult about the quality of the source.
We followed a little stream inland for a ways and after a while were satisfied that it would not be contaminated with waste from further upstream. I pointed out to the men the best spots to take the water from, spots that should afford us the freshest water available, and the men began to fill keg after keg.
The Doctor instructs as to the best place to draw the water from.

Tuesday, November 13

From the Naval Chronicle

The following letter appeared in the most recent edition of the Naval Chronicle. While it has made its way around the Wardroom, and all the gentlemen therein seem in agreement that the letter sounds like something that might come from my pen, I was quick to point out that I did not sign the letter to the Editor, therefore there was no evidence to connect me to such a missive.
MR. EDITOR,
HAVING
lately met with some remarks on the inadequate provisions for assistant-surgeons in the army, the contents of which I am most willing to allow, I trust that the Petty Officers (as they are termed in the nautical language), of that description in the navy, have no less a claim on the attention of government ; and as things of this nature are but too apt to be overlooked, from a want of due representation, will you be pleased to insert the following remarks on the comparatively great grievances under which the junior, and more particularly, the senior assistant-surgeons, in the navy, labour.

The naval assistants are all, on their first appointments, obliged to supply themselves with instruments, to the amount of 20l. or upwards, while the military assistants do not supply themselves with any.

The assistant in the army commences full pay from the date of his commission, the naval assistant from his appearance on board: the ship to which he is appointed by warrant being perhaps then up the Mediterranean, an interval, in all probability, of three months elapsing before he can join her. The half-pay of a naval assistant commences at two shillings after two years servitude, while that of the other commences, if reduced, the day after his first appointment, at three shillings. The full pay of the latter is seven shillings and sixpence, that of the former is only six shillings and sixpence. The former messes with his colonel, while the other labours under the painful necessity of living in a cockpit, among a set of noisy youngsters, just let loose from their mother's apron strings; the second lieutenant of marines, who, by His Majesty's Order in Council, is inferior in rank, living in the ward of a gun-room. What a situation for a man of liberal education, and of a contemplative and studious mind, to be placed in! The army assistant, if he happen to lose any part of his baggage on a march or otherwise, is most Handsomely compensated; the other, after braving all the inclemencies and fury of the tempestuous elements, and losing his all, by shipwreck, on application, receives only a flat denial, and is, if not blessed by fortune, obliged to run in debt, if he is lucky enough to find a creditor, or go nearly in a state of nudity, until his next quarterly bill becomes due.

He is thus constrained to make, an appearance, the most distressing to an officer, that of being unable to shew himself on the quarter-deck, in the dress suitable to his situation in the service. The military assistant, if ordered a passage on board any of His Majesty's ships, messes in the wardroom, and walks the starboard side of the quarter-deck, while the naval assistant is allowed neither of these privileges. This last circumstance I should not mention, as not being of any material consequence; but I wish to point out the great distinction made in the situation, and preference shewn to one set of officers, more than another, of the same rank, whose services and education (without meaning to give offence), I will venture to say, are, perhaps, at least on an equal footing. In a future communication, I shall point out the peculiar situation in which the senior naval assistants are placed.
I am, Sir, yours, &c.
A NAVAL SURGEON.

Friday, November 9

In the Wardroom

During the blockade, life in the Wardroom has become the social highlight of our days. The opportunity to sit and take a meal with my fellows, play games, sing and play music, read. Granted it is far from the sort of social gathering one would expect on land, but it does seem to bring the officers together in its own way. 

Following the Loyal Toast this evening was the traditional Friday toast of "A willing foe and sea room". After the dishes were mostly cleared by the stewards, it was on to our various pursuits whilst grazing at the remnants of supper. 

Lieutenant Hamilton has been working on stitching his new Chapeau Bras, ever complaining that his poor eyes can barely see the black thread on black ribbon atop the black hat in the dim light of the Wardroom. He is quite frustrated in regard to the size of his fingers in comparison to the diminutive size of the curved needle he is using, and has expressed this in very colourful language on several occasions.

Lieutenant Ramsey has been about putting together a new pair of trousers from a bad piece of material purchased while ashore. Months ago, after it was purchased, we laid it out on the table to make ready to cut out the pieces, and we thought we espied some discolouration in the fabric. To make certain, we carried the material up on deck and laid it out proper in the sunlight, and sure enough, the material had the most peculiar light blotches on it. Ramsey is now having to attempt to salvage as much material as he can by placing the pattern pieces strategically around the discoloured spots. 

Lieutenant Tumbusch, the newest addition to the Wardroom, has been embroiled in a series of books since his arrival in August of this Present Year. I HAVE been able to pull him away from his reading on occasion to play at cards, dice &c.  He, being recently promoted, has been in discussions with the others about the procurement of proper buttons for his new coat, and we are all in agreement that they are not as easy to get as we should like.
Captain May of the Marines has done a great deal of business back and forth via the post in regards to the ongoing construction of his new house. We have all heard in detail about the architecture, stone work and even the 'secret tunnel' that will lead out behind the house itself. As much as I have heard, I am ashamed that I do not know how close the house is to actually being finished.
Captain May's new home.

Ship's Master Mr. Minnis is very inclined toward music and will sing or play an instrument most evenings. He knows a great number of songs from memory. You may hear a sampling of him with a young lady ashore from two years ago by clicking below.
Mister Dubbeld, who joined the Acasta in October, smokes a long curved pipe, always filled with the most aromatic tobacco. It hangs in the air and swirls about the glowing lanterns hung from the beams like clouds in an artificial sunset. Mr. Dubbeld is always very well dressed, and often talks of a shop that he and his wife ran back home that sold all manner of fine cloth.

Mister Cushing, the ship's purser always seems busy about his many reports. While a very friendly fellow and liked by all, I have been uneasy about him since our mission to New Boston. I have determined to covertly keep my eye on him, and do occasionally glance over his shoulder with a feigned disinterest to have a look at what he's reading or writing. As Pursers have a rather notorious reputation for swindling and cheating, I find it difficult to discern the run-of-the-mill dishonesty from the sort that may pose a danger to King and Country.
Keeping and eye on the Purser.