Friday, August 29

About Us

It is our hope that you have enjoyed Pressgang Week here at HMSAcasta.com. Our goal is the entertain and educate and to that end, our website here is updated every weekday at 8AM.

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.


 Looking for other items of Naval interest?


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



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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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 AND the Pressgang Week posts past & present.

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.

A Little Light Reading

Thursday, August 28

"Smuggler" Press Gang part 3



From the TV series 'Smuggler' the Season 1 Episode 6 program entitled 'Press Gang', which aired in May of 1981. This particular episode is on Youtube in three easy to watch pieces. While the clothing of the sailors is a crime against history and humanity itself, it has a quality that makes it great fun to watch!



"Smuggler" Press Gang part 1 & 2



From the TV series 'Smuggler' the Season 1 Episode 6 program entitled 'Press Gang', which aired in May of 1981. This particular episode is on Youtube in three easy to watch pieces. While the clothing of the sailors is a crime against history and humanity itself, it has a quality that makes it great fun to watch!

Come back at noon today for the third and final installment of this press gang related episode!

 



Wednesday, August 27

Here's the Tender Coming (Again)

  Here's the Tender Coming - new and improved! from Sharpie on Vimeo  

This video was SO popular last year that it HAD to be included again this year!

Here's The Tender Coming
Here's the tender coming, pressing all the men
Oh dear hinny, what shall we do then?
Here's the tender coming, off of Shields Bar
Here's the tender coming, full of men of war

Hide thee, canny Geordie, hide thyself away
Hide till the frigate makes for Druid's Bay.
If they take thee, Geordie, who's to win our bread?
Me and little Jacky: better off be dead.

Here's the tender coming, stealing of my dear
Oh dear, hinny, they'll ship you out of here
They will ship you foreign, that is what it means
Here's the tender coming, full of red marines.

Hey, bonny lassie, let's go to the Lawe*
See the tender lying, off at Shields Bar
With her colours flying, anchor at her bow
They took me bonny laddie, best of all the crew.

Here's the tender coming, pressing all the men
Oh dear, hinny, what shall we do then?
Here's the tender coming, off at Shields Bar
Here's the tender coming, full of men of war.

*The Lawe is a high vantage point at Shields; 'hinny' = henny, love or dear (cf. the Cockney 'ducks' or ducky')

Special thanks once again to regular reader 'Sharpie' for allowing us to make use of this video!




Impressment Paperwork

From the Orkney Library's Balfour Collection (Ref D2/19/16)
The above document gives ship captains the legal right to impress men for their ships. Captains would sign over such documents to their Lieutanants, who were the ones to lead the press gangs. Additional unseen text on this documents bears witness to that fact, it reads:

"I Do hereby Depute Lieut Wm Balfour belonging to His Majesty's Sloop Lynx under my command, to Impress Seamen, Seafaring Men and Persons whose Occupations and Callings are to work in Vessels and Boats upon Rivers, according to the Tenor of this Warrant. In Testimony whereof I have hereunto set my Hand and Seal this thirtieth day of April 1803."

In their Ernest Marwick Collection (Reference D31/1/6/15) in a transcript of a letter from Alex Skene on 6th November 1800 he states that: 

"I assure you Sir that the impress service is to me the most unpleasant part of an officers duty and it is impossible to defend the propriety of it but on the score of necessity"
All information comes from the Orkney Library, the oldest public library in Scotland.




Tuesday, August 26

The Press Gang, Last Year

Mr. Raley and some of the Acastas press a fellow who would eventually become the Ship's Carpenter.
The Gang in a tussle at New Boston in '13

Images taken when a group of Americans challenged the Press Gang at New Boston.

The Gang was a bit too vigourous in pressing George McQuary

The gang catches the fellow that would eventually become the Surgeon's Mate.




The Gang beats down a troublesome constable.
Hamilton & Haberfield, two valued members of the Press Gang at New Boston in '13


 The crew's commitment to excellence and vigor while pressing and educating the public won them the "Best New Group" award at the Fair at New Boston in '13. Three cheers for His Majesty's Press!





British Tars, 1740-1790

"A Cribbage Party in St. Giles's Disturbed by a Press Gang," Thomas Rowlandson, 1787, Royal Collection Trust.
If you haven't discovered Kyle Dalton's blog: "British Tars, 1740-1790" yet, then have we got a treat for you! His site explores the dress of common British and American sailors from 1740-1790 through primary source images and some top notch research. 


In addition, the British Tars blog is our very FIRST affiliate on Pressgang Week and will be posting all manner of Pressgang related materials and articles this week!

Go have a look, then be sure to be back here at NOON (cst) for today's second post!





Monday, August 25

The Press Gang at New Boston



The organizers of the Fair at New Boston approached the leadership of HMS Acasta before the 2013 fair and asked if we would offer the Press Gang program at their event. We took on the project with great gusto believing it to be an awesome educational opportunity for the throngs of public that attend the event every year.

While there isn't any historical evidence to indicate that British press gangs ever pressed on American soil, (obviously, with the event location being in the middle of Ohio, it's a challenge to be absolutely historically accurate when so far from water) it was thought to be more important to be able to engage audiences on an issue that is so intimately connected to the American involvement in the War of 1812.

Our quota of men to press last year was 30, as ordered by Captain Oliver of HMS Valiant. Whilst ashore, we managed to lay hands on the following:

Powder Monkey 3
Landsman 12
Ordinary Seaman 9
Able Seaman 11
Carpenter's Mate 1

Total 36



 

How Do I Avoid the Press Gang?


A Gentleman’s guide to staying out of His Majesty’s Royal Navy.

Press Gang [n.] A company of men under an officer detailed to force men into military or naval service.

The ships of the North American Station have been operating for some time without the proper number of sailors to man them. Yesterday, Captain Freymann was summoned aboard the Valiant where we were ordered to break off from the blockade of the port of Baltimore and assemble a party to go ashore at New Boston at the end of this current month.  We are to bring enough men back with us to make use of aboard the Acasta and distribute the rest to the other ships of the blockade.

Our intelligence indicates that there is to be a great fair held there, and a fair is an excellent opportunity to clap onto some prime hands.

Fairs were considered one of the best places for the British Navy to press new sailors because there were always plenty of young men in attendance eager to spend their money and impress their ladies. How do I get out of it you ask?

Follow these simple rules:

1.) Be extremely young or very old.
There actually were age restrictions for pressing sailors into service. Generally they avoided the very young and very old, but in times of a ‘Hot Press’ like during wartime, sometimes these restrictions were overlooked to meet quotas.

2.) Have money in your pockets to buy your way out.
Gentlemen were supposed to be exempt from being pressed and could buy their way out of service OR they could get out of it by offering up one of their male servants in their stead. Make sure to have plenty of bribe money in your pockets!

3.) Be sick or otherwise deemed unfit for service.
You‘ll have to be able to pass a rudimentary medical exam by a Navy Doctor to be admitted into the service. If you’re unwell and a risk to the rest of the ship, or have some other sort of dangerous pre-existing condition that renders you unfit for duty, you’re free to go.

4.) Run like mad.
Seriously, if they can’t catch you, they can’t press you.

The Press-gang.

From the Custom House it is but a few steps to Tower-hill.  Well, there is a view of it, and of the Tender, which is an old man-of-war, riding at anchor on the Thames, for the purpose of receiving impressed men for the king’s service.

Say, Mr. Lieutenant, before I surrender,

By what right you take me on board of your tender?

In the peaceable trader I rather would be,

And no man-of-war, Sir, I thank you, for me.

From: City Scenes, by William Darton
Transcribed from the 1828 Harvey and Darton edition by David Price