Wednesday, February 25

A Window in Time

Have you discovered the Acasta on Instagram yet? Each image is like a little window in time that will take you back to the golden age of sail.

A photo posted by @hms_acasta on

Monday, February 23

John Nepean, Volunteer First Class

Acasta Volunteer First Class under Capt. Dunn, c. 1806.

John Nepean was born 6 Jan. 1785. He is brother of Capt. Evan Nepean, R.N.

This officer entered the Navy, 3 March, 1798, as Fst.-cl. Vol., on board the Caton, Lieut.-Commander Robt. Browne, lying in Hamoaze ; and between 1799 and Aug. 1803 was employed on various parts of the Home station in the Saturn 74, Capt. Thos. Foley, Nereide frigate, Capt. Fred. Watkins, Victorieuse, Capt. Richards, Ambuscade 36, Capt. Hon. John Colville, Galgo sloop, Capt. Rich. Hawkins, and Galatea and Aigle frigates, both commanded by Capt. Geo. Wolfe. After a further servitude in the Foudrovant 80, bearing the flag in the Channel of Rear-Admiral Dacres, also in the Quebec and Euryalus frigates, each under the orders of Capt. Hon. Geo. Heneage Lawrence Dundas (with whom he visited Cadiz and Teneriffe), and in the Acasta 40, Capt. Rich. Dalling Dunn, he was promoted, on his return home from Gibraltar, to the rank of Lieutenant by commission dated 25 Sept. 1806 ; and next in succession appointed 29 of the same month, to the Raven sloop, Capt. Jas. Grant, stationed off Lisbon and Oporto—21 Dec. 1807, to the Bellerophon 74, bearing the flag of Rear-Admiral Albemarle Bertie in the Channel —8 April, 1808, to the Humber, Capts. John Hill and Robt. England, employed between Falmouth and the Downs—about July, 1809, to the Imperieuse 38, Capts. Lord Cochrane, Thos. Gould, and Hon. Henry Duncan, attached to the force in the North Sea and Mediterranean—


Thursday, February 19


You can find specific content by following the NEWLY UPDATED 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.

CFNA- Posts related to the organization known as Crown Forces North America (CFNA).

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!

History - Posts involving the REAL history of HMS Acasta or her crew

HMS Bounty - Articles or images concerning this particular vessel.

HMS Victory - Articles or images concerning this particular vessel.

Hollybrass - Posts with this label are either written BY or about Acasta crew member Samuel Hollybrass, a generally unpleasant sort of fellow.

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!

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!

Tall Ship - Posts with this label contain information about or images of tall ships.

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.

Wednesday, February 18

Climb Aboard

Welcome aboard HMS Acasta! 

The purpose of the HMS ACASTA and the ROYAL TARS of OLD ENGLAND is to accurately portray a crew of His Majesty's Royal Navy circa 1800-1810 for the educational benefit of the public and for the mutual research and enjoyment of the individual members.

Our organization will educate via a series of first person activities designed to demonstrate the real lives of sailors as they go about their business and live their lives. Landing Parties, Surveying Crews, Recruitment Drives, Press Gangs, Shore Leave... these are but a few of the activities that our crew will undertake whilst encamped at an event. During duty hours, we follow proper Navy protocols and sailors are expected to live a sailor's life.

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.

If you enjoy reading the adventures of the HMS Acasta, be certain to become an honorary member of the crew. This is a easy way to show us that you're out there and paying attention. It is a simple matter really, there is a blue button at the bottom of the page that will allow you to join.

And Second, I would ask that you comment from time to time on the posts that interest you the most. This is an excellent way to let the crew of the Acasta know what you, the reader, is the most interested in seeing. It is always most gratifying to know what the readers like. For those of you that have commented in the past, we thank you for you support and interest!

If you find a post that you are particularly fond of... be sure to share a link with your friends, over Facebook, Tumblr, Google Plus, etc. so they can enjoy it too!

Monday, February 16

Lieutenant Couch

Acasta Lieutenant, under Capt. Kerr, April 1811, aged 22 years.

James Couch entered the Navy, in April, 1789, as Captain's Servant, on board the Adamant 50, Capt. Knox, bearing the flag at Halifax of Sir Rich. Hughes, with whom he continued until 17 June, 1792. From Jan. 1794, until Sept. 1797, he was next employed with Capts. Edm. Dodd and Squire, of the Dictator 64, and Atlas 98, on the African, West India, and Home stations. He then joined, for nearly two years, the Phaeton 38,, Capt. lion. Robt. Stopford, in which frigate he assisted in taking many of the enemy's vessels, Having passed his examination in Nov. 1799, and been further occupied in the Atalante 16, Capt. Anselm John Griffiths, and Niger 32, Capt. Jas. Hillyar, he was confirmed a Lieutenant in the Woolwich store-ship, Capt. Campbell, 6 Sept. 1800.

—in April, 1811, to the Acasta 40, Capt. Alex. Robt. Kerr

During his attachment to the Conqueror, Lieut. Couch accompanied Lord Nelson to the West Indies in quest of the combined fleets of France and Spain, and took a warm part in the battle off Cape Trafalgar 21 Oct. 1805. While in the ACASTA he contributed to the capture, on the Home and American stations, of a large number of the enemy's armed and other vessels— assisted in driving a squadron under Commodore Decatur into New London—and evinced much bravery in command of the boats on various occasions of hazard, particularly at the capture, 25 Dec. 1812, of the Herald letter-of-marque, of 10 guns, on which occasion he received a severe contusion in the leg from the bursting of a gun. Having obtained his second promotal commission 6 Sept. 1817, he assumed command, 2 July, 1821, of the Perseus receiving-ship, off the Tower ; and, continuing for nine years and a half to discharge the duties of regulating Captain at the port of London, raised and forwarded to their respective ships no fewer than 13,000 men. Capt. Couch (who had been promoted to Post-rank 24 Jan. 1824) paid the Perseus oS 10 Jan. 1831. He accepted the Retirement 1 Oct. 1846. He is the Senior Captain of 1824; and bears the character of being a very scientific and Ingenious officer.


Thursday, February 12

Mr. Apple's hair

Today's post by Jas. Apple:

I always took great pride in the keeping of my que', I had the type hair that if left uunattended would turn into a great wrought nest fit only for birds.

Not to say that vanity was of any great importance to me while at sea, and I often forgot what my reflection looked like, but at times I thought it fancy to keep my mane wrapped in colored ribbon.

First the hair must be combed clean of birds-nests and eggs and any other manor of twigs and chaff, then carefully plated, making sure that each lay has an even hand was even and each strand being brought together tight at the head and good tension kept all the way through

Now if I were to be attending a bunn party on shore it was one fathom of red silk. Take the ribbon and pull it through the hair in the center and wrap it round twice and tie in a neat bow about three fingers wide on each side, but care must be taken to knot the bow twice, this keeps it from unwrapping and make a cleaner line.

Now take one ribbon and wrap it round and then the other side the same. It makes the finest pattern if the platt is good, then barely a hair would poke through. After this my tie-mate would finish that with a twist and tuck and Bobs your uncle. 

The Frenchman, the one who was the doctors mate, would often do this for me but I must admit that sometimes I would jostle him that God was angry with him since he came on board and took some of his hair as his penance for forsaking his countrymen. He would talk of his wife Marie and his twin sons and we would share stories, never letting the truth get in our way.

But Hobbs, his hair rivaled mine in length and was a fine as a babes hair, he was quite proficient at knotwork  and would often platt my hair in sennits or even twist it like a line. He was born in Hull and said he worked on a number of whalers for some years and had lived on Nantucket for a bit during the peace when he wasn't at sea. Which Im guessing with how handy he was aboard ship, that he was not very often on any land for any length of time. 

I saw him with my own eyes once take a long gig and pierce a shark well over three fathoms long and haul it onboard, he took a boarding knife and finished him very quickly and neatly. He then cut it all up and brought it to the mess cook for our supper. After that most, including myself, held him in a higher regard.

Oh and I might remind you how the ladies would ask to see my hair loose since the braid was past the bottom of my monkey jacket. They would offer and beg, promising to comb and platt it again if I would let them just see it loose. But I was always scared that they were working for the wig maker, even though that fashion was long gone and from my youth.

Wednesday, February 11

From Commodore Campbell, U.S. Southern Station

Today we look back a bit at a letter the Doctor rec'd before hostilities broke out. This post submitted by American reenactor Adrian J Geary:

To: Surgeon
HMS Acasta

From: Commodore Hugh G. Campbell
Commander U.S. Southern Station

St. Marys   Jany 11, 1810

    In consequence of a conversation between Surgeon, DR. Edward Cutbush and myself.  I beg leave, by his request, to address you, Sir, on the subject of the medical department of the southern station.

    The bill for medical services on the southern station has been extravagantly high and continues to expend sums of needed money's.  Naval Agent Nathaniel Ingraham has been directed by the Secretary of the Navy, Paul Hamilton, to ascertain the usual charges for said services and pay the Senior Surgeon on that basis.  I am deeply concerned about having said agent interfering with station business and call upon you for professional help.
    I have informed my surgeon, a DR. George Logan of Charleston that in the past patieants requiring extraordinary care were transfered to a civilian hospital in the area.  This is the main cause of such high costs.  He suggested building of a naval hospital in Savannah for such personnel and I must say I agree.  These private hospitals are run by local doctors who use their servants to look after the invalids whilst they recover.  The servants do not care for such work and as a result the sick and injured are often left with no one to maintain them through the recovery time resulting in many advoidable deaths.  This condition also results in many cases of needless desertions  My Congress has been looking into making approiations for the building of Naval Hospitals ashore, but as of yet has made no determination on the issue.  DR. Logan has informed me that some men in these conditions would shortly die for want of a more proper place to put them.  The men evactuated to Philadelphia Naval Yard will also most likely pass away during the voyage of 20 days from this location.  I may be required to act on my own, in relieving the present wretchedness of the hospital establishment. 

    Regular sick cases are being cared for in a makeshift hospital on the second floor of a frame structure within the navy yard.  My office at present is on the ground floor of this building, and I regularly have problems with this arrangement.  Every week the surgeon orders the floor of the hospital washed.  The water always drips through the ceiling and throughly wets my papers and books if I donot cover them with an oilcloth in time. 

    We are currently in the process of converting a decommisioned ship into a hospital afloat for our smaller craft, after it's refit was mishandled by an inept officer whom has since been dismissed from the service.  I  am of the belief that such seperation from shore will prevent the epidemics prevailing in a city or its suburbs from rendering the convalescant stage far longer than it need be.  This will be an important advantage in it's Oeconomy.   

    I myself being a criple as the result of a lame leg, injured while on duty, and confined to shore duty, am symphathetic to the plit of the sick and injured under my command.  I therefore respectfully request any and all assistance in the affore meantioned areas of professional medicine.  

    I have the honor to be, with great respect, Sir, your obediant servent.
            Comd. Hugh G. Campbell

Monday, February 9

Ernest Augustus Kellner

Acasta Midshipman under Capt. Wood or Dunn, c. 1805, aged approx. 13 years.

(b.1792 – d.1839), musician, born at Windsor on 26 Jan. 1792, was the son of an oboe player in Queen Charlotte's private band. Before he was two years of age he began to learn the pianoforte; at five he played one of Handel's concertos before the royal family. His boy's voice was of beautiful quality, and was trained, at the king's desire, by Sir William Parsons. Kellner first sang at a court concert when eight years old. He continued under the immediate patronage of royalty until his father made engagements for him to sing in public. After this the child was heard at the Glee Club, Catch Club, and Ancient concerts (as soloist 1802).

In 1805 Kellner was a midshipman on H.M.S. Plover, and afterwards on the Acasta; but when this ship was ordered to a West Indian station his parents induced him to leave the navy. His voice had changed to a baritone. In 1809–10 he had some instruction from Rauzzini at Bath, and sang at the theatre. He afterwards made tours with Incledon, and was engaged in 1813–14 for concerts in London. In 1815 he married, went to Italy, and studied with great industry under Porri at Florence, and in 1817 under Casella and Nozzari at Naples, where he gave two concerts, and under Crescentini at Bologna.

Source: Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 30
by Lydia Miller Middleton

Thursday, February 5

A Recollection

By Jas. Apple 

Sometimes as I recall during a hot press it was often necessary while in the search of able seaman to go outside of the normal bounds and look for men. We simply needed two arms, two hands and two legs, two feet and a body with a head on top

And often those who had heard the rumor that we were on the prowl would switch into long clothes and slip right off the reel, not be seen or heard from again till the coast was clear, that is to say we had set sail.

So with very little to tender we would crack on and start to careen from tavern to pub the nasties, and as I recall rarely did we find Jack or Joe, but more likely a spitkid full of dogsbodys begging for hanky panky to stay warm if it was cold. And lord we promised them a easy number, warm food and signing bonus and prize money.

So with a fair amount of hogging, even the worst chaffered up enough to make a landsman and on occasion with time if they didn't die or get whittled down make a damn fine and able seaman.

Monday, February 2

Bernard Yeoman, Esq.

Acasta Lieutenant under Capt. Kerr, 6 Feb. 1812, aged 20 years.

Is a son of the late Henry Walker Yeoman, Esq. (a gentleman possessed of considerable landed property in the neighbourhood of Whitby, co. York), by Anne, daughter of General John Hale, of the family of Hale, settled at King's Walden, in Hertfordshire. His maternal great-grandfather was William Chaloner, of the Priory, Gisborough, co. York, Esq.; and one of his mother's sisters, is the wife of Lord Dundas.

This officer was born at Whitby, Aug 1st, 1792; and appears to have commenced his naval career, Oct. 1st, 1805, under the patronage of the Earl of Mulgrave, as midshipman on board the Quebec 32, Captain (now Rear-Admiral) the Hon. George H. L. Dundas; whom he followed into the Euryalus 36, and sailed with for the Mediterranean station early in 1806. The manner in which that frigate was employed between this period and the summer of 1811, has been stated in Vol. II. Part I. p. 421 et seq.; and by referring to p. 320 of Suppl. Part III. the reader will perceive that Mr. Yeoman's "good conduct" in a gallant and successful night attack, made by four boats upon two large Danish transports and a national vessel of two long 18-pounders and 64 men, moored within half pistol-shot of a three-gun battery and numerous troops on shore, June 11th, 1808, was "particularly mentioned by Lieutenant Head," (who commanded on the occasion) and duly reported by Captain Dundas, whose official letter was gazetted.

On the 6th Feb. 1812, Mr. Yeoman was promoted into the Acasta frigate, Captain Alexander Robert Kerr, under whom he served as lieutenant on the North American station, and was most actively employed in annoying the enemy's coast and trade. His commission as commander bears date June 15th, 1815. In Sept. 1818, he was appointed to the Britomart sloop; and on the 5th Dec. following, to the Wolf; which latter vessel formed part of the royal escort when his late Majesty visited Ireland, in the year 1821. Whilst thus employed, Commander Yeoman had the distinguished honor of frequently dining with the King, on board his yacht; and when at Dublin, he lived with the household, attended the monarch to all public places which he visited, and was in fact considered as forming part of the royal suite ; yet, strange to say, a Junior as well as a senior commander of the same squadron, received immediate promotion for that service; whereas he was soon afterwards paid off, and not advanced to the rank of captain until July 22d, 1830.

Source: NAVAL BIOGRAPHY; OR, Memoirs of the Services OF ALL THE FLAG-OFFICERS, SUPERANNUATED REAR-ADMIRALS, RETIRED CAPTAINS, POST CAPTAINS,  AND COMMANDERS, Whose Names appeared on the Admiralty List of Sea-Officers at the commencement of the year 1823, or who have since been promoted; Illustrated by a Series of HISTORICAL AND EXPLANATORY NOTES, Which will be found to contain an account of all the NAVAL ACTIONS, AND OTHER IMPORTANT EVENTS, FROM THE COMMENCEMENT OF THE LATE REIGN, IN 1760, TO THE PRESENT PERIOD. WITH COPIOUS ADDENDA. 
By John Marshall (B), Lieutenant in the Royal Navy.
Vol III - Part II. London: Printed for Longman, Rees Orme, Brown and Green, Paternoster Row. 1832.