Monday, August 31

Keeping it Legal

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.

Special Press Gang related posts all week long leading up to the
Acasta's Press Gang program at the Fair at New Boston!
Be sure to check back every day this week at 8AM!


Thursday, August 27

Shanties from the Seven Seas

"Shanties from the Seven Seas 
Shipboard work-songs and songs used as work-songs from the great days of sail"
Collected by Stan Hugill 

Reviewed by Jim Apple

First published in 1961, my copy reprinted in 1994

I saw this book mentioned in the footnotes in various places and tracked it down in its present form and hit clicked on the procedure to checkout prompt and received the book on my doorstep after ordering it later in the week, opened it up and spent the next week reading and singing many of my favorite songs (with many new verses that I had never heard) and was led to find songs that had up to this point escaped me. 

My review
1) If you are a lover of the sea and find yourself with nothing new to read, find this book and learn and keep these songs alive for the next generation.

2) This book is a must have for anyone who still sings songs of the seas and wants more....

3) Buy this book, you will thank me later.

So yeah, I liked this book, and I bet you just might too…


Wednesday, August 26

Pressgang Week is COMING!


In the week leading up HMS Acasta's Press Gang demonstration at the Fair at New Boston, there will be a series of posts dedicated solely to the act of Press Ganging in the early 19th Century.  We have dubbed it PRESS GANG WEEK! Starting Monday, August 31st and lasting until Friday Sept. 4th, each day the Acasta site will feature special articles, art, video, &c. about Impressment in the Royal Navy.

Come back Monday morning and be a part of the meanest week on the internet!

Tuesday, August 25

Mail Packet, Sneak Peek



It's almost time to start putting the Mail into the Packet, but before I did, here's a sneak peek at some of it. We got some really beautiful, amazing stuff this year and I wanted to give special thanks to the following for their amazing efforts!

Melissa Alexander
Toni Tumbusch
Tony Gerard
Lauren Muney
Catie LeCours
Stephanie Farra
Adrian Geary
K. Tolhurst
Paris Major
J. Winchester
Kat Rosewitz
L. Phillips
Sabine Schierhoff
R. Bartgis
S. Jones

…and all of our other readers who submitted pieces for the education and enjoyment of our members and the public. Without you, the mail packet project would have been woefully empty. The Packet is slated to be delivered on Saturday, Sept. 5th at the Fair at New Boston. 

Keep watching participants, there's more to come!

Monday, August 24

Two Years Before the Mast - A Review

Two Years before the Mast 
by Richard Henry Dana, Jr  
- A short review by Tony Gerard

Dana's "Two Years Before the Mast" is considered a classic and often billed as such. In my experience when a book written in the 19th century is billed as a "classic" be prepared for overly verbose descriptions and lots of moralizing commentary. That was not the case here. Dana's book is an easy and enjoyable read. 

There were many reprints of Dana's book, several in his lifetime. Apparently as time went by Dana's memories of his time as a sailor softened, and later editions were more romantic and less harsh than the original. I was fortunate to pick up the Penguin classic edition, which is a copy of the original 1840 edition.

Dana dropped out of college due to eye problems and, in 1834, signed on as a common sailor bound for California from Boston.  He gives great descriptions- around Cape Horn twice, the hide trade on the California coast, Sandwich islanders as sailors and the hard lot of a common sailor. Dana was obviously proud of becoming a competent sailor. He sometimes gets overly indulgent in his nautical descriptions of trimming sails and it often seems he is just showing off. 

Although the book was taken from experiences after the time of the Acasta there is very little that actually dates it. It is a wonderful glimpse into the life of a common sailor on a merchant sailing vessel and I highly recommend it for any Acasta who's persona back-story includes time served working aboard a merchantman and/or time on the California coast.

Friday, August 21

Read This Now!

In the event you haven't noticed, we research and write a LOT, there's always something new to discover on the Acasta website. You can find specific content by following the labels at the bottoms of each day's posts, or by clicking on the links below. Let us know what your favorite stuff is:




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!

Medical Journal - These posts have to do with entries in the Surgeon's log book. Some are transcriptions from log books of the period, some are fictional.

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, August 19

Updated Crew Graphic

Meet the gents who make up the living history crew of HMS Acasta. We have recently updated the crew graphic to reflect recent changes and additions. Our unit rules state that all officers must have a secondary sailor's impression, so you'll see some of the guys repeated… These additional sailors have their names marked in white. This new graphic can also now be seen on the CREW page.


Tuesday, August 18

All About Apple


Ship's Carpenter, Jas. Apple (as portrayed by Jim Apple, YES that's really his name) is another of the crew that has contributed a great deal of content to the Acasta website.

Jim is a great 'idea-man' and always ready to jump in and tackle whatever the group is doing at full speed. He also has about seven full suits of sailor's clothing at any given event, if you need to borrow something, he's your man!

You can go back and find all of the posts labeled "APPLE", which means it was a post written BY him or ABOUT him. Either way, you come up a winner...




Monday, August 17

Images from our Dinner

As the original Acasta was called home after the war in July of 1815, we celebrated the passing of her final 200th anniversary with a 'Going Home' dinner at Locust Grove. New Acasta recruit (and real life 5 Star Chef) Mike Schwendau slaved in the period reproduction kitchen in the record setting Kentucky heat to prepare a fantastic period feast! Below are some more images taken during the dinner by Fox and Rose Photography:


Click on images to see larger versions