Wednesday, April 26

Acasta & Poictiers take the Herald

'Acasta and the Herald 1812', click on image to visit the original painting
It was to be a Happy Christmas indeed when, on this very day (in 1812), the Acasta in the company of HMS Poictiers overtook and captured the American Privateer Herald as she and her prizes were bound for Baltimore. She had two other vessels with her, the Friendship and the Little Catharine.

The Herald, being a ship of only 10 guns and barely 50 men, was no match for the combined might of the Poictiers and the Acasta. According to the reports I've heard from the Acastas that have been aboard the Friendship, she has a fortune in cargo aboard her, a fine Christmas present for every man in the crew (in terms of prize money that is).

U.S. Privateer- Herald
Class- Brig.
Guns-10
Men-50
Commanded by- .............
Out of- New York
Enemy's
Ships- 1
Brigs- 1
Schrs- 1
Sloops &c.- 0
Cargo, and estimated value- =$400,000

During the War with Great Britain, from 1812 to 1815.
The Cargo of the ship Friendship alone was estimated as per table; the brig was the packet Little Catharine of 6 guns. This cruiser was subsequently captured by the Acasta and Poictiers at sea, December 25, 1812.

Source:
George Foster Emmons, The navy of the United States, from the commencement, 1775 to 1853; with a brief history of each vessel’s service and fate ... Comp. by Lieut. George F. Emmons ... under the authority of the Navy Dept. To which is added a list of private armed vessels, fitted out under the American flag ... also a list of the revenue and coast survey vessels, and principal ocean steamers, belonging to citizens of the United States in 1850. ( Washington: Gideon & Co., 1853.) page 180, 181

Tuesday, April 25

Acasta 'versus' Essex

David Porter
As Captain Porter was a great favourite at the city of Washington, Mr. Clark, who was patronised by all the great men there, could do no less than insert in his book any little tale which the former might wish to see recorded in the naval history of his country. 

"On the 30th of August," says one of those tales, "the Essex being in latitude 36° north, longitude 62° west, a British frigate was discovered standing towards her, under a press of sail. Porter stood for her under easy sail, with his ship prepared for action; and, apprehensive that she might not find the Essex during the night, he hoisted a light. At 9, the British vessel made a signal: it consisted of two flashes and a blue light. She was then, apparently, about four miles distant. Porter stood for the point where she was seen until midnight, when, perceiving nothing of her, he concluded it would be best to heave to for her until morning, concluding she had done the same; but, to his great surprise, and the mortification of his officers and crew, she was no longer in sight. Captain Porter thought it to be not unlikely, that this vessel was the Acasta, of 50 guns, sent out, accompanied by the Ringdove, of 22, to cruise for the Essex." *

It did not perhaps occur to Mr. Clark, that ships usually carry log-books, in which are entered every day's proceedings, with the latitude, longitude, &c.; and that these can be referred to, in case the false assertions of any historian, or paragraph-writer, or American captain, may be worth the trouble of disproving. Considering what a formidable man Captain Porter was, nothing less than the Acasta "of 50 guns," and Ringdove, "of 22," could be sent out to cruise for the Essex.  

Unfortunately for the fame of the captain of the Essex, on the 30th of August, 1812, the day mentioned, the Acasta was cruising in the latitude of 43° north; longitude 65' 16' west; and the Ringdove, whose force, by-the-by, was only 18 guns, was lying at an anchor in a harbour of the island of St:-Thomas. It was certainly very modest of Captain Porter, to "think it not unlikely," that one of the finest 18-pounder frigates in the British navy, accompanied too by a sloop of war, would be sent out to "cruise for the Essex." 

The fact is, the ship, which Captain Porter fell in with, was the 18-gun sloop Rattler, Captain Alexander Gordon; and who, we believe, not considering himself a match for the American frigate, rather avoided than sought an engagement with her.

* Clark's Naval history of the United States, vol. i. p. 180.

from: "The naval history of Great Britain, from the declaration of war by France in 1793, to the accession of George IV. Volume VI."

Monday, April 24

A Letter to Henry

William Marshall Craig’s Itinerant Traders
of London in their Ordinary Costume…
1804. Chairs to Mend
22 April 1804

Dear Henry,

I haven’t heard from you in months and now you claim you’s been pressed by the Navy.   I tol you not to trust sailors, they always look for good fer nuthins like you with not a penny, booze em up and take em to sea.  Thank God that it was just the Navy and not one of them slave ships. His Majesty’s will have quite the job straightening you out, crooked as you are.  It’ll do ya more good than the cooper’s, that Mr. Wills always gave ya more liquor than coin, or so you says.

Lizzy outgrown most a her dresses, Tommy wore through the soles of his shoes, an we ain’t got enough old gowns for the twins... Mama’s helpin but her eyes are goin an can’t sew no more.  All I’s sayin is, just remember yer dear wife an dear children (& the one on the way) when you get them wages an prizes an all that they talk about down at the docks. We ain’t got no meat on the table neither, the little uns always beg for rabbit or tongue but we can barely get porridge. I reckon the Navy will give ya all the liquor ya should drink, so there’s nuthin to do but send those wages for your dear hungry children who ain’t got no clothes or shoes to wear.  Remember your wife too, who gave you children an a home an good meals even though you never did nuthin to deserve it.  Think of us at sea, you might be of use to us there.

Your dear wife,
Bessy Lumex

Acasta takes the Snapper - 200th

 Admiralty-Office, March 23, 1813.

Enclosed herewith, I beg leave to transmit a list of vessels captured and destroyed between the 16th September last and this date.
___________
A List of Ships and Vessels captured and detained by the Squadron under the Orders of Admiral Sir john Borlase Warren, Bart. and K. B. Commander in Chief of His Majesty's Ships and Vessels on the American and West India Station, between the 16th of September 1812 and the 26th February 1813,

Schooner Snapper, from Philadelphia, bound on a cruize, captured by the Acasta, Maidstone, ├ćolus, and Childers, 3 Nov. 1812.

Source: Bulletins of the Campaign [compiled from the London Gazette]. pages 133 & 135
U.S. Privateer- Snapper
Class- Schr.
Guns- 11
Men-90
Commanded by- J. Green
Out of- Philadelphia
Enemy's
Ships- 0
Brigs- 0
Schrs- 0
Sloops &c.- 0
Cargo, and estimated value- 172 tons

During the War with Great Britain, from 1812 to 1815.
Captured by three British Frigates, Dec. 12, 1812, after being completely riddled by their shot.

Source:
George Foster Emmons, The navy of the United States, from the commencement, 1775 to 1853; with a brief history of each vessel’s service and fate ... Comp. by Lieut. George F. Emmons ... under the authority of the Navy Dept. To which is added a list of private armed vessels, fitted out under the American flag ... also a list of the revenue and coast survey vessels, and principal ocean steamers, belonging to citizens of the United States in 1850.
( Washington: Gideon & Co., 1853.) page 180, 181

Friday, April 21

Acasta takes the Two Brothers - 200th

26 Oct 1812 The Two Brothers, Hayte, from Bristol to Baltimore, is detained by the Acasta frigate, and sent for Halifax.
U.S. Privateer- Two Brothers
Class- Schr.
Guns- 3
Men- 60
Commanded by- Capt. H. Ferlat, &c.
Out of- New Orleans
Enemy's
Ships- 0
Brigs- 0
Schrs- 0
Sloops &c.- 1
Cargo, and estimated value- R., S., &c.

During the War with Great Britain, from 1812 to 1815.
Burnt -- the Sloop Venus, of Jamaica.

Source:
George Foster Emmons, The navy of the United States, from the commencement, 1775 to 1853; with a brief history of each vessel’s service and fate ... Comp. by Lieut. George F. Emmons ... under the authority of the Navy Dept. To which is added a list of private armed vessels, fitted out under the American flag ... also a list of the revenue and coast survey vessels, and principal ocean steamers, belonging to citizens of the United States in 1850. ( Washington: Gideon & Co., 1853.) page 194, 195

Thursday, April 20

Acasta takes the Melantho - 200th

On 17th Sept. (1812), The Acasta assisted by Spartan, Statira, Nymphe, Orpheus, Maidstone, Aeolus and Emulous captured the Melantho, a ship of 402 tons attempting to make her way into Baltimore from Chile. She was laden with 229 tons of copper, 9 bales of furs and heard one of the Melantho's sailors mention that it was all worth $43,000 in American currency, but have no idea what that translates into in British coin.  This might have made for some excellent prize money had it not been for the fact that we shared the capture with so many other of His Majesty's vessels. The Melantho's Master was a fellow by the name of William Davidson, who seemed none too pleased about his ship being taken by our force.

If I recall my Homer correctly, Melantho was also the sharp tongued sister to Melanthios, and a particularly unpleasant servant to Odysseus. 

The blockade continues.



Source: "AMERICAN VESSELS CAPTURED BY THE BRITISH DURING THE Revolution and War of 1812 The Records of the Vice-Admiralty Court at Halifax, Nova Scotia."

Wednesday, April 19

Acasta takes the Patriot

We received news that on the 7th of September (1812) the Acasta took the 140 ton schooner called 'Patriot' as she sailed out of Norfolk bound for Lisbon. Her cargo was mainly flour and beans. She has been given enough Acasta men to sail her and ordered to report to Halifax.

Our mission here in the North American Station continues.

Patriot, schr., 140 tons, W. Reardon, master, Norfolk to Lisbon, captured Sept. 7, 1812 by Acasta. Cargo : flour and beans. Restored.

Account of the capture of the Patriot taken from: "AMERICAN VESSELS CAPTURED BY THE BRITISH DURING THE Revolution and War of 1812 The Records of the Vice-Admiralty Court at Halifax, Nova Scotia." 

Tuesday, April 18

Acasta takes the Betsy - 200th




We received news this afternoon of the capture of the Betsy, an American schooner of 127 tons on her way in to Boston. And the best news of all was that she was captured by our own Acasta

According to the stories we heard in town, Betsy was loaded with barrels of Brandy from Naples. I have never seen sailors or officers so excited about a captured cargo in my life! Every man in our shore party think themselves accursed that they were not there in person to take part in the action (and, I suspect, to sample the kegs of brandy aboard her). 

Our party continues inland on our way to our mission in the area of the Fair held at New Boston.
Account of the capture of the Betsy taken from:
"AMERICAN VESSELS CAPTURED BY THE BRITISH DURING THE Revolution and War of 1812 The Records of the Vice-Admiralty Court at Halifax, Nova Scotia."

Monday, April 17

From the Surgeon's Personal Log 18

The Wardroom is still alive with excited conversation concerning our capture yesterday of the American privateer 'Polly', taken with the aid of HMS Colibrie. The action was swift and achieved with a minimum of injuries to the Acasta crew, such that my services were scarcely required. 

After a careful inspection of the Polly above and below decks, Capt Freymann assembled a prize crew from the Acasta to take her back to Halifax. The prize crew was rounded out by several of the Colibrie's lot. It is my understanding that the Polly was filled to the brim with guns, ammunition and provisions out of Marblehead. 

Whilst taking my supper with the Lieutenants, they had already begun to calculate the relative worth of the schooner and her cargo. Lt Hamilton seems fairly certain that he knows exactly how the prize money will be split up, and Lt Ramsey has already started planning how he intends to spend his portion, which involves tales of a bolt of fabric that he saw at a particular shop while last ashore. Fine linen with which to make a new pair of trousers or to use as the lining for a new coat or some such foolishness as this. 

Please do not think me morose if I do not plot how to squander the prize before it is in my hands, but this evening my mind is elsewhere. I am distracted at cards with my friends, I cannot focus to read more than a few words together in any book that I pick up. 

As a Physician, I have attempted to trace and diagnose the cause of my ailment in the same way I might root out any other disease, but thus far to no avail. Lt Hamilton claimed after several very poor tricks at Whist, that I have not been as good a card-partner since my return from the action aboard the Playfair. Upon further examination, I think he may be correct.

Account of the capture of the Polly taken from:
"AMERICAN VESSELS CAPTURED BY THE BRITISH DURING THE Revolution and War of 1812
The Records of the Vice-Admiralty Court at Halifax, Nova Scotia."

Thursday, April 13

Supplies for the Surgeon



Taken from: The Naval Surgeon Comprising the Entire Duties of Professional Men at Sea
By William Turnbull 1806

Wednesday, April 12

John Griswold Ship's Chaplain

Rev Griswold on the right, his sister-in-law Lady Caroline Linnington on the far left in black.
The Rev. Mr. John Phinehas Griswold was born August 2, 1755 in the town of Kenilworth, in the [then] Colony of Connecticut.  Descended from Edward Griswold of Warwickshire and loyal to the King, John received his formal education in the Colonies during those turbulent years of the rebellion before traveling to England to complete his ordination.  Upon taking residence near Warwick, John met and married the radiantly beautiful Miss Agatha W., the younger sister to Lady Caroline Linnington.  

After his ordination, it was the prolific writings of the Rev. John Newton, a former sailor, who greatly influenced Griswold’s faith and practice. Newton’s books and letters along with the sermons of Rev. James Ramsay, a former Naval Surgeon, first alerted Griswold to the possibilities of serving in His Majesties Navy as a Chaplin.  News of the successes of the Evangelicals in serving in ships under “Blue Light” Captains drove Griswold to actively seek a place to serve.  But it was not until Agatha’s tragic death three years ago that Griswold was able to consider fulfilling that call.   Preaching at sea seemed a suitable balm for his weary soul, and a salary of 11.8.0 per annum was of no consequence as eternal prospects far outweighed temporal rewards. Rev. Griswold has served onboard the HMS Acasta for the past two years.

Monday, April 10

The Acasta Bible

 
After the bicentennial of the Battle of Queenston Heights,  near Fort George, Ontario, 3rd Lt. Tom Tumbusch had the honor of meeting with John Cocking, a likely descendant of a historic Acasta crew member named Robert Arber. He showed Lt. Tumbusch Robert's Bible and several other interesting documents it contained.

Robert Arber's Bible. For scale, the coin to the right is a "toonie" (a Canadian two-dollar coin).
Mr. Cocking.
Close-up of the inscription...Plymouth Dock, July 1813
Text of a petition for Greenwich Hospital to more adequately provide for old sailors who had contributed the Greenwich Sixpence. Robert is listed in census documents as having been a Greenwich pensioner.
Letter in Robert's hand from 1840.
This document was among those preserved between the pages of Robert Arber's Bible.
Special thanks to Mr Cocking for contacting us so that we could examine his lovely family bible, and to Tom Tumbusch who did the examining and took all these pictures!