Monday, December 28

Events of 2015

As 2015 draws to a close, let's have a look back at some of the events attended this year by the crew of the Acasta! Be sure to join us again in January when we start posting daily again, Monday through Friday at 8am cst. We hope you have a happy and prosperous 2016!

200th Anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans,
British Field Hospital, Chalmette LA. January 2015

Spirit of Vincennes Rendezvous,
Vincennes, Indiana, May 2015

Aboard L'Hermione
Alexandria, Virginia, June 2015

Shore Party, Historic London Town & Gardens
Edgewter, Maryland, June 2015

Going Home Dinner, Locust Grove
200th Anniversary of the Acasta being called home for the last time
Louisville, KY. July 2015

The Fair at New Boston, Press Gang, Springfield, Ohio, Sept 2015

Jane Austen Society of North America, Annual General Meeting
The Captain and the Doctor give lectures to attendees at the Galt House Hotel
Louisville, KY. Oct 9-11, 2015

Wednesday, December 23

The Vulgar Tongue

Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue
by Francis Grosse

A Book Review by Tony Gerard

There are probably few re-enactors unaware of this little gem! Originally published in 1785, it was republished again in 1796, and then again in 1811. I found reprints of all three versions available. The book is a wonderful collection of English slang, mostly lower class, used in the later 18th and early 19th century. The 1811 printing was added to by college students of the time, but they usually identify their college slang as such when it appears.

The value of this little text for first person interpretation of a "lower decks" sailor is beyond measure -and it's fun! It amazing to see how many slang expressions have made it into the 21st century- for example "pig" for a policeman. Many expressions are identified as sailors slang, and Grosse was not shy about including lots of sexual terms!

If you're a first person re-enactor doing an English persona this book is a must have!

Monday, December 21

Happy Christmas!

The spirits aboard the Acasta have been uncommonly high since the capture of the Herald, Friendship and Little Catharine on Christmas day. It is, of course, due to the news of the fortune aboard the captured ships, combined with the extra food and drink for every man to celebrate Christmas. I am told that they will only require moderate repairs to make the trip to Halifax as prizes, and that their repair should be only the work of a day or so. 

The Acasta's officers had been invited over to dine with Capt. Beresford and his men aboard the Poictiers for Christmas, but the sighting and chase of the Herald caused a delay in those plans. Now that the capture has taken place, we are to have our belated Christmas dinner with the Poictiers this evening.

While I do not want to count my proverbial chickens before they are hatched, I have found it difficult not to think about the sum of prize money that could potentially befall me should all go well back in Halifax with these recent captures. I would suspect that I am not the only man aboard with such thoughts.

But not all my thoughts lie in my purse, they also lie with my good wife at home, and to Christmases past, under the kissing bough.

A full length program about the Royal Navy to get you away from cleaning house after opening presents, in-laws who have stayed a little too long after Christmas or cleaning dishes after your holiday dinner party! ENJOY, and all the best of the season to you my friends.

Video - Any post with a video or a link to a video in it can be found here. Fair warning, clicking on this link will send you down a rabbit hole. Music videos, presentation videos, event footage, battle footage, some of these videos are even full length programs from television.

Monday, December 14

Happy Birthday Patrick O'Brian

December 12th is Patrick O'Brian's birthday and it's no secret that we here at are huge fans of Patrick O'Brian and the Aubrey-Maturin series. When reading through the books, I discovered that the Acasta makes a couple of cameos. So, here are the 'O'Brian-verse' connections to our particular favourite ship!

MILD SPOILER ALERT: You're about to read some very LIGHT, semi-spoilery info from The Fortune of War, Treason’s Harbour, and The Hundred Days.

From the WikiPOBia:

Acasta is one of a series of ships in the Aubrey-Maturin series whose commands are promised to Captain Jack Aubrey by the Admiralty, but are ultimately given to other, more influential officers. Another such ship, promised to Aubrey but never delivered, is the fictional frigate HMS Blackwater.

The Admiralty’s promise of Acasta is first made to Aubrey in The Fortune of War. She is described by Aubrey to his friend Maturin as a "forty-gun frigate, pretty well the heaviest in the service … And the finest sailer of the lot, on a bowline. Two points off the winds, she could give even dear Surprise foretopgallant, at least. A true, copper-bottomed plum, Stephen…."

Aubrey's fictional characterization of Acasta's speed likely overstates the historical ship's actual performance. The historical Acasta is described as "not outstandingly fast," but is acknowledged to have been "very weatherly" and more maneuverable than most other frigates her size. Likewise, Aubrey's description of Acasta as the "heaviest in the service" is not entirely accurate. Although she was among the largest fifth-rates of her time, she was not the heaviest of her contemporaries. For example, two other British 40-gun fifth-rates launched at the same time as Acasta (Endymion and Cambrian) both outweighed her and mounted heavier weaponry (24-pound cannon).

In The Surgeon’s Mate, Aubrey learns that Acasta has, in his absence while a prisoner-of-war in Boston, been given to Capt. "Robert Kerr." Acasta re-appears later in the Aubrey-Maturin series near the end of The Hundred Days, as part of Admiral Lord Barmouth’s squadron at Gibraltar.

Monday, December 7


The Wages of other Officers, and of Seamen, with the Number of Officers allowed to a ship of each Rate, are as follows: 
(HMS Acasta was a 5th Rate, highlighted in blue)

Regulations and Instructions 
relating to His Majesty's Service at Sea. 
Established by His Majesty in Council.
1790s Edition, pgs 146-149

Regulations and Instructions 
relating to His Majesty's Service at Sea. 
Established by His Majesty in Council.
1808 Edition, pgs 142-147

Monday, November 30

Signal Flags Made EASY!

Capt. C. Bertani
Captain Bertani of HMS Cornwall (74) 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!

Monday, November 23

At War's End

May 17, 1815
Dearest Marie

   I am sure you heard the joyous news of the war’s end before me, but as the English would say- I wish you joy on the war’s end!  Our happy reunion is now within reach!

When word first reached us of the end of the war my only thought was to return to you and the boys as swiftly as possible. I thought of various ways to quit the ship and make the shore. But on sober reflection there are many other things to consider.  I am owed all my wages for the endless time I have been aboard the Acasta- plus a goodly amount of extra money from the prizes we have taken. The Doctor has always treated me with kindness and through some effort of his I am listed as an assistant surgeon. This entitles me to a better wage and is normally given only to those with a formal medical education. I know this is true for he showed me myself listed as Assistant Surgeon in the Navy chronicle. As I have said before, I believe he is more than just a doctor, how else could he have such influence? The only way to collect my wages and prize money will be to return to England with the ship. I would never put money above my love for you and the boys, but to have such an amount would perhaps justify a delay of our happy reunion?

And another consideration. The Doctor has made me the offer to continue as his assistant in England. I have flattered myself to think that he and I worked well together and it seems he agrees. I have no wish to try and remake myself as a gentleman, and I know you are content there in Louisiana, but this could be an excellent chance to better our situation. Perhaps a formal education for the boys. The Doctor assures me he could easily find you employment there among his friends and acquaintances. I feel I would be foolish to not at least look at how things are in England before I give him an answer.

I wish we could talk about these things, but we are daily expecting to receive our orders to return to England. Write to me as quickly as you can with your thoughts about this. Tell Mr. Clark it is urgent and help will help you right away I am sure. Give my best regards to Mr. Clark and M. Rochambeau.

Ever your loving husband, 

Don't forget to check back every Monday at 8AM CST for brand new ACASTA content!

Monday, November 2

Thomas Kydd

The "Thomas Kydd" novel series 
by Julian Stockwin
a short review by Tony Gerard

Is there actually life after Aubrey and Maturin? 

Can any other novel series fill the void left when Patrick O'Brien so thoughtlessly died before writing another 40 or so novels? Well, no....but as British Tar novel series go Stockwin  has come the closest. 

Stockwin is a real life sailor, a veteran of the Royal Navy, and this shows in his writings. Like Patrick O'Brian, he is fond of long, technical descriptions of sails and sailing maneuvers.  Unlike O'Brian he didn't immediately bring his characters to life with brilliant character development, but I can hardly hold that against him, because I've never know another author that good.

The series centers on Thomas Kydd and his friend Nicholas Renzi. For the life of me I've never figured out why the two of them became such good friends. Kydd is an impressed commoner, Renzi a gentleman in self imposed exile from aristocratic society.

In the first book Kydd is impressed, and I thought "Great! A series about a common sailor!" As it turns out he rises through the ranks at lightning speed and is commanding his own vessel by novel six or seven. I'm currently reading novel nine in the series. Kydd is currently a privateer captain. Renzi is on his way to becoming a spy- picture Stephen Maturin without his endearing naturalist philosopher tendencies. Kydd's character has developed as the series has continued. I may seem overly critical, but I got to admit I've stayed up too late on a work night many times now just to "see how it turns out".  Stockwin also is a pretty good hand at bringing his 19th century locations to life. He obviously does his homework. 

There are a projected 21 titles in the series, number 16 is due out in October. Stockwin seems to be healthy, who knows, maybe he could be convinced to produce another 40 or so novels in this series?

So, if you've finished the Aubrey/Maturin series, this is the one you should start next- after a suitable period of mourning of course.

Monday, October 19

Jack Nastyface

Don't forget to check back every Monday at 8AM CST for brand new ACASTA content!

Jack Nastyface, memoirs of an English Seaman 
by William Robinson
a short review by Tony Gerard

Memoirs from actual inhabitants of the lower decks are fairly rare, and this is one of those rare gems. Robinson was a volunteer (he soon regretted that) in Nelson's navy. He was actually at Trafalgar  and several other notable actions. At less than 200 pages the book is an easy read. The first part of the book give a good, but brief and general, over view of the life of a common Royal Navy seaman of the time. The second part is a general account of Robinson's career in the Navy  up to the time of his desertion. The book concludes with a brief account of the common methods of punishment in the Royal navy and Robinson's thoughts on impressment. An excellent book which should be a part of each Acasta's personal library. I especially recommend it as a first research book for anyone just beginning a Royal Navy impression.

You can also find the Acastas on INSTAGRAM where we post images of life in the Royal Navy circa 1800-1810. It is our goal to have these images be as if you are looking through a window in time. Give us a follow and keep up with all things Acasta!