Wednesday, August 31

To cure beer that has turn'd Sour.

"To eight gallons of Beer throw in at the bung a quart of oatmeal, lay the bung on loose two or three days. then stop it down close, and let it stand a month. Some throw in a piece of chalk as big as a Turkey's egg, and when it has done working, stop it close for a month, then tap it."

From the book: "The Servant's Directory, Improved" or "House Keeper's Companion; Wherein the duties of the Chamber-maid, Nursery-maid, House-maid, Laundry-maid, Scullion or Undercook, are fully and distinctly explained. To which is added, Cookery and Pickling sufficient to qualify a person to act as THOROUGH SERVANT in any family."

Tuesday, August 30

For Stroke of the Sun


This is a species of apoplexy arising from long exposure to a hot sun, which produces a particular fulness in the head, as if it were ready to burst. There is at the same time a very disagreeable beating in the temples, and a shortness of breathing, or panting. When, by the effect of these symptoms, the person falls down as if insensible, active means of relief must be immediately had recourse to. The patient must be carried to a cool situation; his head and breast must be raised fiom the ground; and a current of of air be produced by fanning him. Plenty of cold water must be dashed over his body; and this fluid may be rendered still cooler by mixing it with vinegar, or dissolving in it a portion of sal ammoniac or common salt. If in a convenient situation, the body may be placed up to the breast in warm water; at the same time that cloths, dipt in very cold water, are applied to the head and neck, and renewed before they have acquired any warmth. A clyster may be also given, composed of a quart of cold water, in which, if the patient be costive, two ounces of Epsom salt may be dissolved just before it is administered, water being chiefly rendered cooler by the addition of salts during the time of their solution. By these means, the patient will be recovered from the immediate danger of this attack. But if a second attack of the same kind should occur, the evil is then more serious; and it requires a voyage to a cold climate, before the patient perfectly recovers his former state of health.

Taken from: The Naval Surgeon Comprising the Entire Duties of Professional Men at Sea
By William Turnbull

Page 235-236

Friday, August 26

Another Signal from Ramillies

The Acasta, in company with HMS Ramillies and Dotterel, was sent out from the Royal Navy Dockyard at Bermuda in search of an American Frigate that is reported to be in the area. We have been on the lookout for a fortnight.

Today, the Ramillies came within sight again and was flying her signal flags.  You there! Fetch your copy of Popham's Signal Book and translate that signal straight away! Be sure to post your results in the comment area below. No peeking at the answers until you're done!

Thursday, August 25

Roast Beef of Old England

Written by Richard Leveridge in 1735

When Mighty Roast Beef was the Englishman's Food
It ennobl'd our veins and enriched our Blood:
Our Soldiers were Brave and our Courtiers were Good.
Oh! The Roast Beef of Old England, And Old English Roast Beef!

But since we have learned from all vapouring France,
To eat their Ragouts, as well as to Dance.
We are fed up with nothing but vain Complaisance,
Oh! The Roast Beef, etc.

Our Fathers, of old, were Robust, Stout and Strong,
And kept open House, with good cheer all day long.
Which made their plump Tenants rejoice in this Song,
Oh! The Roast Beef, etc.

When good Queen Elizabeth sat on the throne
E'er Coffee and Tea and such slip-slops were known;
The World was in Terror if e'er she did frown.
Oh! The Roast Beef, etc.

In those days, if Fleets did presume on the Main,
They seldom, or never, return'd back again,
As witness, the Vaunting Armada of Spain.
Oh! The Roast Beef, etc.

Britannia’s high trident, still waving on high,
Bid her tars all be true, and their foes all defy,
To avenge all her wrongs they will conquer or die,
Like brave jolly tars of old England, The conquering brave British tars!

Now fill up a glass, while a bumper we have,
To Howe, Jervis, Duncan and Nelson the Brave,
To the bold British tars, who now rule on the wave,
Huzzah for the bulwarks of England, And health to each bold British tar!

Wednesday, August 24

Acasta encounters the Poictiers

Came into the company today of HMS Poictiers under the command of Captain Sir John P. Beresford as part of our continuing blockade of the port of Baltimore. We laid along side so that Capts. Freymann and Beresford could converse across the expanse betwixt the two ships. The weather, being fairly still, allowed them to use near conversational tones from one quarterdeck to the other. A fairly comical scene ensued, wherein, the Poictiers being a rather large 74 gun third rate saw that Capt. Beresford was obliged to talk down from on high whilst Capt. Freymann was obliged to talk up. 

There was some discussion in regards to the weather and the state of their respective barometers, as well as some of the recent movements of His Majesty's other ships belonging to the blockade. Toward the end of their conversation, Beresford extended an invitation to the Captain and other Acasta officers to dine that evening aboard the Poictiers and Freymann was pleased to accept his invitation.
A replica of the HMS Poictiers' figurehead at the Royal Museum in Portsmouth.
Later that evening at supper, Captain Beresford and his officers related tales of their recent travels up and down the coast, and the vessels they had recently captured. With names like "Little William", "Logan", "Rebecca", it sounded for all the world like the muster roll for a family gathering rather than a list of captured enemy ships. The lieutenants in attendance all lamented the relative small size of their captures thus far, and it occurred to me that when you are aboard a 74 gun third rate, every ship you encounter must seem quite diminutive in comparison.

Tuesday, August 9

The Roberts Girls

I can hear it clearly now as if I were there in the Parlour of Birdsall Cottage this moment. The routine of the girls upstairs getting ready for bed.

Lucy reading aloud from a book while reclining in the comfort of the 'ugly chair' in her room. Renowned for its comfort, but not its beauty, my sentimental eldest daughter would never give it up for something more fashionable out of pure loyalty.

Molly begging me for enough time to finish just one more story from her little red storybook.

Rose sitting with legs crossed in the middle of the bed she shares with Molly and works at drawing and writing in her little journal, humming loudly, the cat at her side. I am unable to make out exactly what the song is that she's about, but she seems very sure of the tune and increases in volume as she goes. 

Sophia playing with her dolls, their little doll lives filled with drama and intrigue. There is a great deal of gasping and hushed conversation between them. 

Silhouettes of the Roberts girls by Mrs. Anne Leslie of Shadow Portraits.

Wednesday, August 3

From the Medical Journal 5

George Wright, aged 24, Seaman;
Disease or hurt, Punctured wound
Taken ill 7 January at sea.
Discharged to duty 30 January

While laying out on the fore topsail yard to reef the sail a large sewing needle which he had stuck in the breast of his frock run into the sternum and he says that it is gone quite thro' as he feels it pricking him. In attempting to pull it out it broke nearly about the middle, and while he came to me, he held the piece in his hand it appeared about one inch in length and pretty thick.

The original page enlarg'd, part 1
He appeared to be in the greatest apprehension and probably pain - for large drops of sweat fell from his face in profusion and his countenance was quite pallid and dejected. I could see the orifice where the needle had entered, but could neither see nor feel any part of it - altho' he had assured me when I touched the part that he felt the needle prick him inside.

The external orifice appeared about an inch above the joining of the Cartilago Ensiformis. With Mr. P. I agreed to lay the parts externally sufficiently open so as to endeavour to find the remainder of the needle. I immediately made and incision about an inch and a half in a perpendicular direction above and below the orifice but altho' we inspected most carefully we could not discover the slightest vestige of the needle nor where it had got to, all this time the Lad kept telling me that he felt it within him and seemed in very great agitation, and I believe if he had not been supported would have fainted.

After a fruitless search I brought the edges of the wound together and retained them with adhesive straps expecting if suppuration should take place that the piece of the needle would soon appear. I got him put to bed and have administered an anodyne and recommended him to lay in the posture which he finds most ease in.

The original page enlarg'd part 2
8th - He still assents that he feels the needle prick him when he moves, but appears not so much alarmed and I have an idea that he must be in some mistake. I have ordered him to remain quiet and repeat the anodyne.

13th - He is able to walk about without any great uneasiness but the needle has never been found, the incision has suppurated. He says still that he can feel it prick him under the left Breast now - but I can not perceive it. Dress the wound daily.

16th - The incision heals, he does not feel the needle now at all. ------ -------

25th - The wound heals rapidly but no part of the needle has been since seen or felt.

Originally Recorded by: Mr. Thomas Simpson, Surgeon, HMS Arethusa, 1805
Image and text from

Tuesday, August 2

From the Surgeon's Personal Log 8

A packet of mail arrived today. Post has become a blessed reminder of the world outside the wooden confines of our Ship and our Duty here in these frigid waters.

Later that afternoon, I was visiting with Mr. D-------, one of the topmen in my care for Venereal Complaints, when he was deliver'd a letter from the mail packet. He requested I read it to him as he can not write, and reads only little.

It was from Portsmouth and bore the stamp on its face.

His letter read thusly:

A VERY unexpected demand that has been made on me for money, which I was in hopes of keeping longer in my trade, obliges me to apply for your assistance of the balance of the account between us. When I have an opportunity to inform you of the nature of this demand, and the necessity of my discharging it, you will readily excuse the freedom I now take with you; and, as it is an affair of such consequence to my family, I know the friendship you bear me will induce you to serve me effectually.

I am, Sir, your most obedient servant, &c...

I asked of Mr. D------- if he knew of the amount requested in the letter.

"Aye, I know that sly-tongued Devil with his charms and graces." says he, embellishing his additional words on the letter-writer with as many oaths as he could think of, "I knew he'd be calling in this debt, so I've been saving up. Ten Pounds I owe 'em."

He looked full-proud of himself, and rightly so, for a man of his standing, to have ten pounds all-together is no small feat.

"But Doctor," he continues, "I wonder if you might help me in writing him back?"

I consented, and had one of my assistants to fetch Mr. D-----'s trunk so that he could get the money he was to send. The chest was brought in and from it, Mr. D----- removed a little grease-stained pouch with a simple drawstring.

From the dirty pouch he produced the most motley assortment of coins I've ever laid eyes upon. Grubby, well worn coinage of nearly every denomination and Country. He displayed them in both hands and held them out to me with pride.

"Mr. D------," says I, "you can not send that much coinage through the Post."

Mr. D------'s countenance fell.

"Never fear," I continued, "I have a thought on the subject. I have a Ten Pound note that I would gladly exchange you for your coins."

Mr. D------ agreed, blessing and thanking me as I fetched my ink and paper.

The letter I wrote for him follows:


IT gives me singular satisfaction that I have it in my power to answer your demand, and am able to serve a man I so much esteem. The balance of the account is ten pounds; of which I have procured a bank note, and for security divided it, and sent one half in a separate letter, and have here inclosed the other. I wish you may surmount this and every other difficulty that lyes in the road to happiness; and am, SIR,

Yours sincerely &c, &c...

Monday, August 1

Pick Your Poison

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.