Tuesday, October 28

Lice Aboard Ship!

It has come to my attention that several of the men have become infested with lice. I had them brought in straight away and Vassermann, Baptiste and I have since been furiously at work with my little combs, but have made little headway (so to speak). An infestation of lice aboard a blockading vessel when nearly every man aboard, save the officers, has long hair, can very quickly become a problem.

Therefore, I have ordered each effected man to be combed thoroughly, and bathed with lye soap. Likewise all their clothing is to be washed in the freshest water available with lye soap.

If we can not be rid of the lice with a good combing and a wash of each effected man, I'll order their heads shaved and keep them in the sickbay until I feel that they can be released back among the general population.

Friday, October 24

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

Wednesday, October 22

Mission X part 3

When our walk concluded, my wife and I eventually returned to our rooms to clean up and ready ourselves for supper. Another meal might offer me the opportunity to complete my secret mission for King and Country.

That night there was a supper laid out in the upper rooms of the town hall. The court and guests were all in attendance followed by Josephine. While there were fewer guards, there was a table of well-dressed French commanders and generals just behind me who were relaxing, drinking and telling stories in an animated fashion. This particular meal was more in the style of a buffet, making it an ideal opportunity to administer my dose covertly, but as it turned out, Bonaparte did not see fit to attend. I was crestfallen.

After the dishes were removed, I passed the time by playing cards with Mr. Evans and Mr. Flory. I taught them how to play One & Thirty and won every hand against Mr. Evans, relieving him of his pocket full of Italian bills. At one point my wife nudged me to quietly alert me to the fact that Josephine had taken notice of our game and seemed to have cast a disapproving glance upon the venture. Mr. Evans seemed agreeable to continue our game, asking if I would accept his note of hand. I was about to let him know that I would when the exit doors were filled with armed French soldiers.

They were here to escort us down into the square where we were met by Bonaparte. An impromptu parade formed that lead back to the park behind Château de Bois-Préau. The party was lead under arms as the public crushed in around us. They followed us back to the private area where Bonaparte's tent stood and we were treated to a magnificent display of fireworks.

The display seemed to originate from the back of Château de Bois-Préau and was as lovely a presentation as I have ever seen. 

…to be concluded

Have you spotted the little green bottle yet? Keep looking!

Special thanks to the photographers who have allowed me to make use of their amazing pictures:

Thursday, October 16

Mississinewa: 1812 in Images

You can now find the first images from this year's Mississinewa:1812 event on their website.
You're likely to find a few fellows you know…

Wednesday, October 15

A Report from Hollybrass

5th October, 1814
Admiralty Office


The Admiralty commands and requires the ACASTA to send a party ashore that can covertly surveil the American forces at Mississinewa. 

Once arrived, the landing party should take up such a position or positions as to be able to view the American camp to their best advantage and make note of which companies are there encamped and a tally of fighting men in each company. Additionally an accurate map of the encampment should be produced for use of the Admiralty. The map should show relative size, number of tents or other significant structures with special emphasis on the dwellings of the commanders of the various companies

The landing party from the Acasta must not be espied by the Americans while about their task, and under no circumstance should they enter the American camp. If the information is to be of value to the Admiralty and the war effort, the landing party must do all within its power to remain unobserved while about their duty.

On behalf of His Most Britannic Majesty and the Admiralty,

I am Sir, &c. &c.

Captain Freymann,

After the men had their liberty on Friday evening I was hard pressed to rouse them all back to camp at the agreed upon time Saturday morning. I looked all over the camp and Lundy and Vassermann were no where to be found, even Mr. Raley was tardy to morning colors. I ended up giving the orders to young Mr. Midshipman Calhoun to read (after we had tended to his breakfast in the mess of course, and don't you know I looked after him like you told me). We also fetched one of HMS Nancy's boys, I reckon him to be about thirteen, Mr. Swanson by name. 

Young Mr. Calhoun was half way through sounding out some of the larger words in the orders when Mr. Raley arrived to take over things. Mr. Raley had a young, well dressed gentleman friend with him that stayed by his side and under foot. He wore a military uniform I couldn't put a finger on. Didn't nobody ask it, but my opinion of it is that Mr. Raley's friend didn't have no business there, but I ain't gonna question no officer in the execution of his duty.

The five of us, we set out to go and have a look at the American camp like the orders said and ended up down by the river where we could get down and espy the camp with our glasses and not be seen. I only had to remind Mr. Calhoun and Swanson a few times to keep their heads down. Mr. Raley on the other hand wouldn't hardly get down in order to keep his new trousers from getting dirty, and his friend stood in full view and smoked his pipe.

We were able to get a good look at a company of green frocked riflemen practicing a drill right in plain view. We counted their number and made a record of it on one of the slates I brought along. Their commander seemed to be making use of a whistle that could be heard a great way off, much in the same way we use the bosun's pipe aboard ship.

Mr. Raley and his friend moved to a different position so as to get a look into the camp from another angle but they was run off by an elderly American engineer set up nearby. I hate to confess, but it ain't no tattle sir when I says that Mr. Raley wasn't near as careful as I think he might have been. 

Then we moved over to the indian encampment that was located near enough to see the Americans. There were several of their lot that were sympatetic to the Crown, it was decided that when the Americans marched toward the battlefield nearby that they would have to pass right through this particular area and we picked out one of their larger wig-wams to hide out in. After a few minutes of waiting, Mr. Raley announced that I was in charge and that I should carry on in his absence and he and his gentleman friend returned to the British camp.

After some thinking on my part, I figured that we could get a better look at the passing American forces from within the great tent set up near their camp was we to sneak into it. I gathered the boys up and we ran over and made our way inside. It was empty, and the far back end of it was within ten feet of the road leading in and out of the camp. We heard them start sounding the drums and I positioned Mr. Calhoun and Mr. Swanson at one end of the tent where they could peek out a small opening in the canvas and myself at the other end. I told them boys to count the soldiers as they passed and I'd do the same and we could compare our sums afterword.

The Americans marched past and not a one thought to look in the direction of the tent.

The boys came up with 102 men

My list was a bit more detailed on the first go:
5 guns
22 men in the gun crews
6 officers
81 soldiers of various companies
6 natives

115 total men

The boys and I headed back to camp in time to see the British forces rout the Americans. It was then that we found Mr. Vassermann, and Mr. Raley rejoined us without his friend. We all took a quick meal and returned to count the Americans again, the rumor being that they would regroup and try to gain the field once more. Mr. Raley and Vasserman went into the woods on one side of the path and I took Mr. Calhoun and Swanson over to the other side and hid from view behind some trees.

Vassermann came up with 127 men

We came up with 138

After the Americans passed, we took up my measuring cord and hurried to measure the outside boundries of their camp so as to be able to make a more accurate map likes the orders says to do. Mr. Calhoun and Swanson did most of the leg work on that after I shows them how to run out the line, and I followed to keep the tally of the distance measured off. Between the lot of us, we managed to measure four of the five sides of the American camp. Mr. Calhoun and Swanson were eager to go up into the camp itself and brave hell and death to get the final measurement, but I wouldn't let them seeing how you put me in charge of young Calhoun's safe keeping (although, by God I think they could have done it had I let 'em!).

We returned to camp and discovered Mr. Lundy with Mr. Dubbeld and his gun crew. Our mission wasn't what you might call a success, being that some of the objectives didn't get accomplished, we didn't get no count on tents and didn't get no company names, I'm afrear'd to report that it was a lack of leadership that kept the mission from getting accomplished proper.

Not that I'd presume to tell you your business Sir, but my recommendation is that Mr. Calhoun get an extra ration of grog for his eagerness to do his duty and Mr. Swanson have a letter sent to his Commanding Officer commending him for his fine service.

And you know I don't like to write no unfavourable reports on no fellow Tar, but I'd recommend that Mr. Raley get a stern talking to about the nature of a young officer's duty, and while Mr. Vassermann and Mr. Lundy's absence might be considered something to fall under Article 26, being valuable sailors that they are, perhaps a few lashes might set them straight again.

writ and enter'd into the log
with a copy being sent to the Cap't by
Sam'l Holybrass
Bosun's Mate
HMS Acasta

Tuesday, October 14

Find Your Favorite Posts

The eclectic band of historical reenactors and interpreters that makes up the 'CREW' of HMS Acasta spans a wide spectrum of real life occupations.

We are made up of students, educators, academics (a surprising number of us are teachers) even a Ph.D., present and former Coast Guard and U.S. Naval men, artists & artisans, tailors, musicians, professionals & executives. We even have a freelance copywriter, farrier & presidential presenter thrown into the mix for good measure! (hint: look for the fellow that looks like Jackson from the twenty dollar bill!)

What does this odd lot all have in common? A love for the history of the Royal Navy and passing it on in a unique way to the public.

You can find specific content by following the labels at the bottoms of each day's posts, or by clicking on the links below:

200th - Posts with this label are posts that have to do with the 200th anniversary of some event that took place during the War of 1812. Either with the Acasta herself, or the war in general. Want to know what was happening on a particular date? Here you go.

Apple - Posts with this label are either written BY or about Acasta ship's carpenter Mr. Jas. Apple.

Baptiste - Posts with this label are either written BY or about the Acasta Surgeon's Mate.

Book Review - These posts take a look at books written about Naval subjects of interest.

Capt Freymann - Posts with this label are either written BY or about Acasta ship's Captain Robert Freymann

Capt Hurlbut -  Posts with this label are either written BY or about Captain Tom Hurlbut, friend to the Acasta.

Capture - Information regarding historical captures made by the Acasta during her service.

Event Invite - These posts are invitations to the general public to attend specific historic events. A great way to figure out where the Acasta crew will be during the year!

Images - This label is given to any post that is picture heavy. Looking for lots of awesome War of 1812 or Royal Navy recreation pictures? Look no further! The Acasta has been gifted with some amazing photography over the years from a variety of sources.

In The News - Historical news articles that make mention of the Acasta or her crew.

Jane Austen Festival - Given to any post that has to do with the annual Jane Austen Festival that is held every July in Louisville, KY.

Letter Writing - Posts relating to writing letters that look to be from the period portrayed by HMS Acasta. Great help if you wish to participate in the Mail Packet project.

LIST - This label is given to the series of reenactor list, Ways to improve, the best and worst things about the hobby, stupid questions asked by the public and so forth.

Lt Ramsey - Posts with this label are either written BY or about Acasta ship's Second Lieutenant Michael Ramsey.

Lt. Hamilton - Posts with this label are either written BY or about Acasta ship's First Lieutenant Jim Hamilton.

Lt. Tumbusch - Posts with this label are either written BY or about Acasta ship's Third Lieutenant Tom Tumbusch.

Master & Commander - Posts that have to do with the Aubrey-Maturin series of books by author Patrick O'Brian or the 2003 movie.

Mail Packet - This label will involve letters (real or digital) sent or received by Acasta crew. It also occasionally has to do with a call to readers for letters, a fun project for authors and historians alike!

Midshipman Raley - Posts with this label are either written BY or about Acasta Midshipman David Raley.

Miscellany - A grab bag of odds and ends posts that couldn't really be labeled anything else.

Mission 1 - All posts pertain to the Acasta's first play test of the "Spy Game", a first person activity played between teams at Mississinewa 1812.

Mission 2 - A writing exercise by members of the crew involving the 1813 chase of the US vessel, 'Young Teazer'

Mission 3 - These posts involve the Doctor's special assignment to take part in a mock Naval assault at Niagara on the Lake.

Mission 4 - The Acastas go ashore at the Fair at New Boston in an attempt to catch a spy, and the Doctor gets engaged!

Mission X - All posts related to the Doctor's covert mission to France.

Mississinewa 1812 - Given to any post that has to do with the annual Mississinewa 1812 event that is held every October in Marion, IN.

Music - Music or lyrics (or both) to old period songs.

New Boston - Given to any post that has to do with the annual Fair at New Boston event that is held every Labor Day Weekend near Springfield, Ohio.

Press Gang - Content and images from the Acasta's Press Ganging activities at events.

Real Crew - Posts with this label are either written by or about REAL historical members of the crew of the Acasta between 1797-1815.

Red Box - Content and images having to do with the "Red Box' game.

Signal Flags - These posts involve images and information having to do with this means of communication during the War of 1812. Sometimes they even involve fun messages to be decoded!

The Doctor - Posts with this label are either written BY or about Acasta ship's surgeon Albert Roberts

Toasts - information pertaining to the Daily Royal Naval Toasts given at dinner.

Vassermann - Posts with this label are either written BY or about the Surgeon's personal servant James Vassermann.

Video - Any post with a video or a link to a video in it can be found here.

Wedding - These image heavy posts are all about the Doctor's 1813 style wedding.

Thursday, October 9

New Orleans Advertisement

A commercial for the coming 200th of the Battle of New Orleans, with footage of some naval fellows you may recognise.

Tuesday, October 7

Mission X part 2

From the park, the court and guests gathered up and walked down the tree lined pathway to Chateau de Malmaison. We were allowed passage through the front gate by the guards who held back the mob of locals come to have a look at their Emperor. We were lead up the gravel drive to the front of the house where we flanked either side of the main entry. 

Bonaparte and Josephine arrived at Chateau de Malmaison that afternoon in grand fashion, they were in a fine black carriage followed by soldiers on horseback. The court and guests assembled at the entrance of the house. 

Bonaparte and Josephine took an afternoon walk about the grounds with the court and guests en tow. They were long, meandering affairs through lovely gardens, the soldiers had every corner and path covered. It was nearly impossible to get close to him and I began to despair that my mission would be a failure.

There was a good deal of walking punctuated occasionally by some standing and sitting. We were, of course, completely at the mercy of Bonaparte and his whims. If he decided to stop and comment on a particular flower with Josephine, the entire party would come to a halt. If he decided to stop to kiss Josephine's hand, leaving us to stand in the full afternoon sun, he would do so. At one point I commented to my wife that it never seemed to occur to the Emperor to stop in the shade.

Finally, they found a lovely little grassy area beneath a tree in the back of the gardens to come to a stop and sit. The ladies of the court drew up close around Bonaparte and Josephine, followed by the gentlemen, guests and then the guards. I was so close to my goal, but with all these people swarming about, he might as well have been a hundred miles away.

…to be continued

Have you spotted the little green bottle yet? Keep looking!

Special thanks to the photographers who have allowed me to make use of their amazing pictures:

Friday, October 3

The Little Green Bottle

Be on the lookout for a green bottle like the ones in the image above.
Good day regular Acasta readers!

If you've been keeping up with the current 'Mission X' storyline wherein the ship's Surgeon travels to France in an attempt to poison Naploeon Bonaparte, you know you should be on the lookout for the little green bottle in the images from the recent Imperial Jubilee.

Have you spotted it yet in any of the images from the event? I'll give you a hint, when I had it on display, it was generally in my right hand (with a few exceptions) when I knew there were photographers about. Sometimes it's hard to spot due to its size.

Stay tuned for more reports and images from this amazing event!

Thursday, October 2

Assassinate Napoleon?

Is there any real life historical evidence to support 'Mission X'? See for yourself:

Plot to kill Napoleon linked to British cabinet minister

Historian Andrew Roberts claims to have found first direct connection between Lord Castlereagh and 1804 conspiracy to assassinate French leader
Mark Schneider as Napoleon Boneparte at the Imperial Jubilee march in Rueil-Malmaison, near Paris.
From the article at The Guardian

When an officer at the battle of Waterloo told the Duke of Wellington that Napoleon was in their gun sights, the field marshal replied that it was "not the business of commanders to be firing upon one another".

What seemed dishonourable for a battlefield soldier was not for politicians, for it seems that the British government was behind an assassination attempt on Napoleon in 1804, according to historian Andrew Roberts. He has unearthed archival material that he believes directly implicates cabinet minister Lord Castlereagh in the unsuccessful 1804 Cadoudal French royalist plot to assassinate Napoleon...

Read the rest of the article HERE

Original photo by
used with the photographer's permission

Wednesday, October 1

Mission X part 1

Inside Chateau de Malmaison
It has been quite some time since I had to make myself presentable for 'court'. As my good wife will attest, I am a creature of habit and tend to wear a good deal of black. After some consultation with Lt. Ramsey and Mr. Cushing, the two most fashionable gentlemen of my acquaintance, and having a look at some French fashion plates, it was decided that I would wear a purple cut away coat, a while silk waistcoat and black silk breeches. I also purchased a new pair of pumps as it was pointed out to me by my wife that my old pair had become quite worn looking.

Thursday & Friday military camps moved in and set up on the far Northeast end of the property near Château de Bois-Préau. As a special guest lecturer I was freely admitted to most areas, it appeared that the general assumption was that I was well dressed and supposed to be there. Another unexpected weapon in my secret arsenal was my own wife. Mrs. Roberts in her beauty frequently gained me passage where I might otherwise not been allowed. She has a certain air and look that French guards tended not to question.

Friday night there was a Dinner at Chateau de Malmaison with the Emperor and all the local politicians and people of interest. The room was packed tightly, and there was initially some concern that there might not be room for us, but my wife and I were eventually seated at a table directly next to that of the Emperor and some of the ladies of his wife's court. I was within 10 feet of the man himself all evening.

As one would expect, Bonaparte is always flanked by his personal servants and guards. It will be a difficult thing to get close enough to administer my poisonous draught.

Our meal consisted of:

Pâté chaud de caille a la truffe.

Longe de veau dans son jus, fricassee de legumes du moment.

Assiette de fromages affines et sa verdure aux herbes.

Dome de vanille de Madagascar et sa salade d'argrumes.

...and a great deal of Champagne.

The evening was brought to a close by dancing, and I did not have the opportunity to get any closer to Bonaparte.

On Saturday, 100,000 people were estimated to have gathered in the center of the city to see the Emperor's official arrival with great fanfare. Bands and drums played upon his arrival, I could espy it all from the doorway of the town hall building.

There were speeches from local politicians followed by a great Parade through the streets of the town out to the great military encampment. There were soldiers of every sort gathered to participate in the grand show. Being a Surgeon in His Majesty's Navy, I have never borne witness to so many soldiers on the ground in one place. I would estimate over a thousand easily. The Emperor is always surrounded by scads of armed men, with all eyes upon him.

In the middle of the grand encampment was a large roped off area that was set up for the sole use of Bonaparte, Josephine and their court and guests. This area lay at a midpoint on the grounds between Château de Bois-Préau and Château de Malmaison. There was, in the center, a large tent for Napoleon and an even larger one off to the side for Josephine. The ladies and gentlemen of the court and special guests were treated to a sumptuous picnic on rugs placed in the Northeast corner of the roped off area. It was not lost on me that many of the French commanders and generals found their way in to partake in the picnic as well.

Bonaparte was secluded in his tent the entire time and we did not see him.

After eating a little light fare, I wandered the Emperor's roped off area, every corner with a guard posted and several at the entryway. Napoleon and Josephine's tents were guarded as well. There was no getting close to him here. I made some conversation with the guard closest to our picnic area in an attempt to ascertain the guard rotation schedule to no avail. 

One of Bonaparte's commanders allowed me into a tent used as a military headquarters of a sort and I was afforded an excellent view of a campaign map. It was pinned showing the forces of various French and English units, he even took the time to explain to me the meanings of the various types of pins and their colours. Each pin bore a little pasteboard placard with the name of the particular commander upon it. I made a careful mental note of each in an effort to carry the information back with me. 

to be continued...

Special thanks to the photographers who have allowed me to make use of their amazing pictures: