Friday, August 18

Recent Captures

Jas. Apple waves across at a recently captured schooner.

American schooner Prudence, captured by the Acasta, arrived at Halifax in July.

American sloop Diana, captured by the Acasta
arrived at Halifax same date.

From The London Gazette 
Publication date:14 March 1815 

Thursday, August 17

Acasta in the News

PORTSMOUTH, June 6. This morning the battalion of marines under the command of Major R. Williams, embarked on board the Diadem, supposed for North America.

The outward bound East-India fleet, consisting of the Carmarthen, Apollo, Fairlie, Alexander, Earl Howe, and Marchioness of Ely, dropped down to St.Helen's on Wednesday, and sailed on Thursday, under convoy of the Junon, of 38 guns. Major-General Nightingale, appointed to a command in Bengal, is a passenger on board the Marchioness of Ely; Sir S. Toler[?], appointed to succeed as Advocate-General at Madras, is a passenger on board the Apollo.

The Acasta takes out Vice-Admiral Martin to Lisbon, instead of the Pique.

Lieuts. Banks and Weeks, of the Northumberland, and Growler gun-vessel, are promoted to the rank of Commanders, for their exertions in the recent destruction of the French frigates off L'Orient.

Wednesday, August 16

Acasta in the News

PORTSMOUTH, May 23. The Quebec convoy weighed anchor on Monday, but could get no further than Cowes Road, from whence they sailed on the following day. - The Newfoundland convoy sailed on Monday, the Lisbon convoy on Tuesday.

Sunday- Sailed the Minerva frigate, Comet and Savage sloops, with convoys for Newfoundland and Halifax.

Monday- Arrived the Acasta, of 38 guns, Capt. Kerr, from the Downs; Parthian and Jasper sloops, - Sailed the Warspite, of 74, Capt. Blackwood, off Cherbourg; Nemesis and Mermaid troop ships, for Lisbon.

Tuesday- Sailed the Leyden troop ship for Lisbon; Rinaldo and Tyrian sloops, and Misletoe schooner.

Wednesday- Arrived the Cossack, of 22, Captain Price, from the Downs.- Sailed the Active, of 38, Captain Gordon; North Star sloop, Capt.Coe; and Tortoise storeship, for the Downs. Came into harbour the Minden, of 74.

Friday- Arrived the Spitfire and Buzzard, from a cruize; Carmarthen and Alexander East Indiamen, at the Motherbank, from the Downs.

Tuesday, August 15

From the Naval Chronicle

Copy of a Letter from Captain Oliver, of H.M.S. Valiant, to the Right Hon. Admiral Sir J. B. Warren, Bart, dated at Sea, June 18, 1813, and transmitted by the Admiral to J. W. Croker, Esq.

     I beg leave to acquaint you, that H.M.S. under my command, and the Acasta, yesterday, at daylight, fell in with H.M.'s sloop Wasp, then in pursuit of an enemy's brig, off Cape Sable ; and after a further chase of more than 100 miles, we captured the American letter of marque Porcupine, of 20 guns, and 72 men, from Bayonne to Boston. She is a beautiful vessel, of more than 300 tons, only eight months old, and sails uncommonly fast.
      The Wasp has retaken a prize of the Young Teazer privateer, and is now gone in quest of her.

I have the honour to be, &c.

From the Naval Chronicle Vol XXX. page 248.

Monday, August 14

Of Ship's Boys and Headhunters

An original Acasta Tale by Tony Gerard

Jean Baptiste Girard, Surgeon’s Mate H.M.S. Acasta, pushed aside the hanging canvas that served as a door to the sickbay. He was just returning from sick call, which has been nothing short of miraculous. Not a single soul had showed up at the mainmast for medical treatment. Even the usual few shirkers had abstained from shaming illnesses on this day. The continuous stream of new contusions and hernias had never just ceased before. Was this a good or bad omen?

He fumbled beneath his neckrag for the key to the medicine cabinet. Pulling it out on its string he leaned forward to unlock the cabinet, then stopped short at a nearby snuffling sound. He peered cautiously around the cabinet’s side.

Setting back to the cabinet, knees to his chest and head on his knees was Linden, one of the youngest group of Ship’s boys. He was 8 years old, more or less.

“What are you doing?’ he asked.

Linden jumped, he hadn’t heard the mate enter, “Nutin” he said sullenly.

“I can see dat. Why do you hid here?”

Linden looked up appraisingly. The mate was French, which made him something of an outsider…which made him a potential ally when a fellow was feeling on the outs with his mates. He took the chance.

“I’m getting’ away from those blackards Grove an Coleman”. Coleman and Grove were the two other of the youngest ship’s boys.

“What have dey done?”

He again eyed the Frenchman appraisingly. In for a penny, in for a pound.

“Well…it’s like this. I miss me Mum somthin’ fierce, ‘specially on the night watches. Grove asks me why I’m so glum, so I tells him. Then he goes and tells Coleman. Then the two of ‘em makes a big jest out of it. They say I’ll never make a tar if I ain’t no braver than to miss me Mum so. Easy for them to say- ain’t neither one even got a Mum! And they was supposed to be my friends…”.

The mate sat down companionably. “I would tell you a story. Would you wish to hear it?”

“I suppose” said the ship’s boy with little real enthusiasm.

“You know I lived among de headhunters of de Spanish Philippines when I was a young man?”

“I heard it said. That charm ya wear is part of it”

“Yes. So, when I first come to live among dose people I live in de “agamang”. Is a house where all de boys and unmarried young men of de village live, until dey take a wife and make a home of dere own. A few old mens live dere also, widowers most, to keep order.

So dere was a boy dere. His name was “ Kalpahi”. Some nights he would wait until all was asleep, den sneak out, back to de house of his Mama an den sneak back again before day. When de other boys of his age would catch him at dis dey would make cruel jests of him. Dey had a hateful rhyme about how he wish to make a bird catching net of his Mama’s pubic hair.”


“Yes, is strange, but dat was true. He sneaked out much more dan he was caught. I know because I sleep near de door an I see him. De other dat sleep dere is an old man. An he sleep very sound. Kalpahi knewed I seed him an don’t give him away, so we are friends of a sort

So one night Kalpahi had sneaked out to his Mama’s house and now he come back in de dark before day. He always go all de way around de village, outside the fields even, because the agamang was on de other side of de village from de house of his Mama, an he don’t wish to run across someone going out to take a piss or something.

As he come back almost to de village he stop, because he hear someone whisper- but is in de wrong language.

Now some time before some young men of our village had found a Tuwali alone in de forest. Dey kill him and bring back his head, because dey is anxious to be warriors.

Now our village was at peace with de Tuwali and de elders of de village is upset with des boys. Dey send many pigs to de Tuwali so dat dey don’t start a war.

So now Kalpahi  is just outside de village an he stay still an look close, and as de darkness begin to go he see dere is six men hid at de edge of de fields. An dey are men- not boys. Dey have come so quite not a dog has bark. Dey are de relatives of de Tuwali dat was killed, come to avenge him!
So what is Kalpahi to do? He knows dat dey wait to murder whoever comes to de fields first. If he shout a warning- dey will perhaps kill him first! Kalpahi hears a baby cry, some peoples talk- de village is waking. Soon someone will come to de fields. 

Kalpahi can wait no longer. He shout a warning as loud as he can- all de dogs of de village begin to bark- and he run away-across de rice levee. De two most close of de Tuwali give chase to him, but de others- luck for him- run another way.

Also luck for Kalpahi is a growed man, a warrior, named “Pugong” is going out to piss. He have his spear widt him, because he is a warrior and he feel something is not right dere. He see dese two give Chase to Kapahi and he give chase to dem.

Now de Tuwali most close to Kalpahi is man width much longer legs dan a boy an soon he almost catch Kapahli. He try to spear him, but de spear only hurt Kapahi a little an Kalpahi run more faster. Twice he cut Kalpahi widt his spear. Finally when Kalpahi is almost to de end of de levee de Tuwali trows his spear. It miss Kalpahi, it go under his arm, an stick in de path beyond him. When Kalpali reach de spear he take it an turn to face de Tuwali.  De Tuwali has drawn his bolo- is a long chopping knife- and he jump down at Kalpahi- an Kalpahi spear him right in de chest! It kill him dead right off!
Just den Kalpahi hear a shout “Come quick! Dere is a Tuwali here!” Is Pugong calling to de men of de village.

Kalpahi try to pull de spear from de dead Tuwali, but it don’t come out, so he take de bolo and run back up on de levee. De second Tuwali has turned to face Pugong. He have a spear and shield, but Pugong only have a spear and he has been hurt, but still stands. Quick as he can Kalpahi runs up from behind and chop de Tuwali in de neck widt de bolo- when he does Pugong  spear him.

So now Kalpahi has killed two enemy. An warriors widt tattoos dat say dey have taken heads demselves!  He have earned de right to have warrior tattoos, doe he is only a boy. All de other boys want to be his friend. None ever make jest of him now.

De elders is unhappy, but not widt Kalpahi or Pugong, for dey is heros. Again dey send pigs to de Tuwali, who agree to not have a war. Dey agree dat de family of de killed fellow was wrong to try an avenge him after dere village had accept de first pigs.”

“So whot’s head hunters killing one another got to do with me and Grove and Coleman?”

“Here is de lesson- no one is brave all de time. Kalpahi was brave when it matter. Dat is what is important. When we go to quarters, I am glad to be safe below decks in de cockpit…”

“But you’re a Frenchy, nobody expects you to be brave”. The guileless of youth.

“Perhaps” chuckled the mate “ but as I say no-one is brave all de time. You remember when we take de “Polly”?”

“How could I forget that?!?”

“I hear dat you was taking a message to de Captain an a ball strike de deck right beside you. I hear dat Mr. Calhoon drop to de deck- but you did not”

‘He said t’was the shock knocked him down”

“Perhaps- but was you not afraid?”.

“I dunno. It was an important message from Lieutenant Hamilton. I didn’t think about being afraid cause I had to tell the Captain."

“See- just like Kalpahi- you was brave when it matter. And I tell you another thing- Kalpahi, even after he have tattoos- some nights he still sneak back to de house of his Mama. No one is brave all de time.”

“Hollybrass is”

“I tell you a truth. Before you come aboard, dere was a ship’s boy dat Hollybrass was fond of. Hollybrass teach him his knots, de ropes- all  de tings he must know to be a good tar. He got his foot crush by a gun, an we have to cut de foot off. Hollybrass is dere. As de Doctor begin to saw off de foot- Hollybrass look away. I saw dis myself. So at dat time Hollybrass is a little bit not brave. No one is all brave all de time”

“Nelson was.”

“I’m sure dere were times when even Nelson was a little bit not brave, and times when he miss his Mama”

“Now you’re just talking foolishness” the ship’s boy grinned.

Friday, August 11


I regretfully announce the resignation of Tom Tumbusch and Robert Fryman from HMS Acasta. This is a loss for us but we can only respect their decisions and wish them the best. Both men let us know of their decisions shortly after the Jane Austen Festival this year.

Since his joining, Mr. Tumbusch was a valuable member of our team. His contribution was essential to our success, which we very much appreciate.

As one of the original founders of HMS Acasta, Mr. Fryman has contributed much to the success of this organization. We acknowledge his efforts and thank him for the commitment and dedication throughout the years.

On behalf of everyone with the Acasta, I would like to wish Mr. Tumbusch and Mr. Fryman success in future challenges and endeavors.

Thursday, August 10

To the Admiralty-Office

From: Bulletins of the campaign [compiled from the London gazette]. [Continued as] Bulletins of State intelligence, &c 1843

Wednesday, August 9

From the London Gazette 1798

In an older compilation of the London Gazette from '98, I found a description of the Acasta's adventures from before MY time:
Select the page to enlarge.
From: Bulletins of the campaign 1798 [compiled from the London gazette] pages 191-193

Tuesday, August 8

Acasta Captains

1797/03/14 - 1799/11 Captain Richard Lane

1799/11 - 1802/05 Captain Edward Fellowes

1802/05 - 1803/04 Captain James Athol Wood

1803/04 - 1803/06 Captain James Oswald

1803/06 - 1805/05 Captain James Athol Wood

1805/05 - 1806/09 Captain Richard Dalling Dunn

(1766 - 1813) in naval full dress uniform, looking to the left.
c. 1805. Oil on canvas. Size 30 x 25
by John Opie
1806/09 - 1810 Captain Philip Beaver

1811/03 - 1815/09/12 Captain Alexander Robert Kerr

From: British Warships in the Age of Sail 1817-1863
Design, Construction, Careers & Fates
by Rif Winfield

Monday, August 7

Captain Philip Beaver

(1766 - 1813) in naval full dress uniform, looking to the left.
Oil on canvas. Size 30 x 25  by John Opie
Philip Beaver (28 February 1766 – 5 April 1813) was an officer of the Royal Navy, serving during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. He played a varied and active role in several notable engagements, and served under a number of the most notable figures of the Navy of the age. 

Beaver was promoted to captain on 10 January 1801. He received the prestigious appointment to command the flagship, and took an active role in the operations on the coast of Egypt from 1800 to 1801. He quickly tired of the monotony of maintaining a blockade and obtained permission to take the frigate HMS Déterminée to Constantinople with dispatches. The Sultan wanted to acknowledge Beaver's services, and offered him a large sum of money, which Beaver refused. He did however accept a diamond box for himself and a gold box for each of the lieutenants. Beaver was also rewarded with the Order of the Crescent.

The Peace of Amiens temporarily ended the war with France, and Beaver and the Déterminée were ordered home. The Déterminée was paid off at Portsmouth on 19 May 1802, and Beaver was put in charge of the sea fencibles of Essex in July 1803. He was highly successful in these duties, and three years later returned to sea, having been appointed to command the 40-gun frigate HMS Acasta. He sailed her to the West Indies, remaining there until after the capture of Martinique in February 1809. He returned to England and after a few months, was appointed to command the 38-gun HMS Nisus, departing aboard her for the East Indies on 22 June 1810. He arrived on the station and joined the squadron under the command of Vice-Admiral Sir Albemarle Bertie. Beaver played a distinguished part in the capture of Mauritius in November 1810. Beaver and the Nisus then moved to a squadron under Rear-Admiral Robert Stopford and took part in the conquest of Java in August and September 1811. He spent nearly a year in Mozambique and off the coast of Madagascar, and received orders by the end of 1812 to return to England.

The Nisus was making her return voyage, when she put into Table Bay towards the end of March 1813. Beaver had complained of a slight indisposition previously, but became seized by a violent inflammation of the bowels. He spent a few days in excruciating pain, before dying on 5 April 1813. He had been a highly efficient and professional officer, and had attracted the patronage of highly placed and influential senior officers. He was widely read, and had read the entire Encyclopaedia Britannica during one cruise. In common with many officers of the period, he was a strict disciplinarian, but was never charged with tyranny. His early death and the bankruptcy of his agent placed his family in financial difficulties, with his widow having to provide for six children. She became a matron of Greenwich Hospital school.

Thursday, August 3

Meet Captain Wood

Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 62 
Wood, James Athol 
by John Knox Laughton

WOOD, Sir JAMES ATHOL (1756–1829), rear-admiral, born in 1756, was third son of Alexander Wood (d. 1778) of Burncroft, Perth, who claimed descent from Sir Andrew Wood [q. v.] of Largo. He was younger brother of Sir Mark Wood, bart. [q. v.], and of Major-general Sir George Wood (d. 1824). First going to sea, presumably in the East India trade, in 1772, he entered the navy in September 1774, as ‘able seaman’ on board the Hunter sloop on the coast of Ireland and afterwards on the North America station. In July 1776, as master's mate, he joined the Barfleur, flagship of Sir James Douglas [q. v.] at Portsmouth. In April 1777 he was moved into the Princess Royal, the flagship of Sir Thomas Pye [q. v.], and from her was lent to the Asia, as acting lieutenant, during the spring of 1778. He rejoined his ship in time to go out with Vice-admiral John Byron to North America, where, on 18 Oct. 1778, he was promoted to be lieutenant of the 50-gun ship Renown, with Captain George Dawson. After taking part in the reduction of Charlestown in April 1780, the Renown returned to England; for some months Wood was employed in small vessels attached to the Channel fleet, but in November 1781 he was appointed to the 64-gun ship Anson with Captain William Blair [q. v.], in which he was in the action of 12 April 1782, and continued till the peace. The next two or three years he passed in France, and then, it is stated, accepted employment in merchant ships trading to the East Indies, and later on to the West Indies.

When the fleet under Sir John Jervis (afterwards Earl of St. Vincent) [q. v.] arrived at Barbados in January 1794, Wood happened to be there, and, offering his services to Jervis, was appointed to the flagship, the Boyne. After the reduction of Martinique he was sent to France with the cartels in charge of the French prisoners; but on their arrival at St. Malo in the end of May the ships were seized and Wood was thrown into prison. The order to send him to Paris, signed by Robespierre and other members of the committee of public safety, was dated 13 Prairial (1 June), the very day of Lord Howe's victory. In Paris he was kept in close confinement till April 1795, when he was released on parole and returned to England. He was shortly afterwards exchanged, was promoted (7 July 1795), and was appointed to command the Favourite sloop, which he took out to the West Indies. There he was sent under [Sir] Robert Waller Otway to blockade St. Vincent and Grenada. While engaged on this service he had opportunities of learning that Trinidad was very insufficiently garrisoned; and after the reduction of the revolted islands he suggested to the commander-in-chief, Sir Hugh Cloberry Christian [q. v.], the possibility of capturing it by an unexpected attack. Christian was on the point of going home and would not commit his successor [Sir] Henry Harvey [q. v.], to whom, on his arrival, Wood repeated his suggestion. Harvey sent him to make a more exact examination of the state of the island, and, acting on his report, took possession of it without loss. Of four ships of the line which were there, only half manned and incapable of defence, the Spaniards burnt three; Wood was appointed, by acting order, to command the fourth, and sent home with convoy. His captain's commission was confirmed, to date 27 March 1797.

Early in 1798 he was appointed to the Garland frigate, which was sent out to the Cape of Good Hope and thence to Mauritius. Stretching over to Madagascar, a large French ship was sighted close in shore. Wood stood in towards her, but when still a mile off the Garland struck heavily on a sunken reef, and was irretrievably lost, 26 July. The French ship proved to be a merchantman, which Wood took possession of and utilised, together with a small vessel which he built of the timber of the wreck, to carry his men and stores to the Cape, whence he returned to England. In April 1802 he was appointed to the Acasta frigate of 40 guns, which, on the renewal of the war in 1803, was attached to the fleet off Brest and in the Bay of Biscay under Admiral [Sir] William Cornwallis (1744–1819) [q. v.] In November 1804 the Acasta was sent out to the West Indies in charge of convoy, and there Sir John Thomas Duckworth, wishing to return to England in her, superseded Wood and appointed his own captain. As no other ship was available for Wood, he went home as a passenger in the Acasta, and immediately on arriving in England applied for a court-martial on Duckworth, charging him with tyranny and oppression and also with carrying home merchandise. The court-martial, however, decided that, in superseding Wood, Duckworth was acting within his rights, and, as Duckworth denied that the goods brought home were merchandise, the charge was pronounced ‘scandalous and malicious.’ When Wood's brother Mark moved in the House of Commons that the minutes of the court-martial should be laid on the table, the motion was negatived without a division.

Public opinion, however, ran strongly in favour of Wood, and he was at once appointed to the Uranie, from which, a few months later, he was moved into the Latona, again attached to the fleet off Brest, and again sent with convoy to the West Indies, where in January 1807 he was second in command under [Sir] Charles Brisbane at the reduction of Curaçao—a service for which a gold medal was awarded to the several captains engaged. In December 1808 Wood was moved into the 74-gun ship Captain, in which he took part in the reduction of Martinique in February 1809. In July he was transferred to the Neptune, and sailed for England with a large convoy. On his arrival he was knighted, 1 Nov. 1809, and in the following March he was appointed to the Pompée, one of the Channel fleet, off Brest and in the Bay of Biscay. On 10 March 1812 broad off Ushant he sighted a French squadron some twelve miles distant. Of their nationality and force he was told by the Diana frigate which had been watching them. It was then late in the afternoon, and when, about six o'clock, two other ships were sighted apparently trying to join the enemy's squadron, and that squadron wore towards him as though hoping to cut him off, Wood judged it prudent to tack and stand from them during the night. The night was extremely dark, and in the morning the French squadron was no longer to be seen; but the other two ships, still in sight, were recognised as English ships of the line.

The affair gave rise to much talk; Lord Keith was directed to inquire into it, and as his report was indecisive, the question was referred to a court-martial, which, after hearing much technical evidence—as to bearings, distances, and times—pronounced that Wood had been too hasty in tacking from the enemy, and that he ought to have taken steps at once to ascertain what the two strange ships were; but also, that his fault was due to ‘erroneous impressions at the time, and not from any want of zeal for the good of his majesty's service.’ That the sentence was merely an admonition which left no slur on Wood's character is evident from the fact that he remained in command of the Pompée—sent to join Lord Exmouth's flag in the Mediterranean—till November 1815. On 4 June 1815 he was nominated a C.B.; on 19 July 1821 he was promoted to be rear-admiral. He died at Hampstead, apparently unmarried, in July 1829.

[Ralfe's Nav. Biogr. iv. 173; Ralfe's Nav. Chronology, i. 19; Marshall's Roy. Nav. Biogr. ii. (vol. i. pt. ii.) 784; Naval Chronicle (with portrait), xxiv. 177; Gent. Mag. 1829, ii. 177–9; Service Book, and Minutes of Courts-Martial in the Public Record Office.]

Wednesday, August 2

Meet OUR Crew

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.

To learn more about the reenactors that make up the recreated Acasta, be sure to go have a look at the CREW page.

Tuesday, August 1

The Highlight Reel

Clips from the various events the crew of HMS Acasta has attended over the years. Mail Packets, Press Gangs, Mock Battles, Medical Demos, Pike Drills, Rowing and Sailing… it's all here.