Maritime history of the United States


The personnel  of a navy is quite as important as its vessels. It has been said that a ship is worth what her captain and crew are worth. It is certainly true that a man-of-war, of whatever power, would be useless or worse than useless if her officers and men did not understand her wonderfully complicated construction nor know how to handle her. The officers of the United States navy are given this important instruction at the Naval Academy at Annapolis, and the rank and file of the men of the navy, those who fill the positions of seamen and petty officers, are trained at the station in Coaster's Island Harbor, near Newport, R.I., and in the training-ships when cruising.

The training-station is designed to ensure the thorough efficiency of the corps of men enlisted in the service, and to provide for the manning of the vessels by American citizens instead of by foreigners.

There was a time, and not a great while ago, when the gunners and crews of United States men-of-war were, with very few exceptions, aliens, who spoke the English language with difficulty, and who did not have, and could not be expected to have, any of the patriotic spirit which makes effective fighters in naval engagements. While this condition still exists to some extent, the growth of the apprentice system is bringing about a gradual change.

As early as 1837 an attempt was made to establish a naval apprentice system. In that year Congress passed an act making it "lawful to enlist boys for the navy, not under thirteen nor over eighteen years of age, to serve until twenty-one." Within a few months several boys were received as apprentices aboard naval vessels. Six years later, however, the system was abandoned as a failure, owing to a false impression which had gained wide currency that the apprentices would receive commissions in the navy.

Capt. S. B. Luce and the officers of the practice-ship "Macedonian" investigated the apprentice systems at Portsmouth and Plymouth, England, twenty years afterward, and made such favorable reports that Secretary Welles was induced to revive it in the United States navy. This was done, and during the civil war the system was in successful operation, but soon after the close of the war it was again abandoned.

In the following years the want of intelligent seamen of American birth in the navy was greatly felt, and in 1875 Secretary of the Navy Robeson deemed it advisable to resume the enlistment of boys under the naval apprentice law, which was still in existence. As an experiment two hundred and fifty boys were enlisted and placed on the frigates "Minnesota" and "Constitution" and the sloops of war "Portsmouth" and "Saratoga," which were commissioned as training-ships. Since 1875 the training-station and vessels have been very important features of the naval establishment.

The regulations governing the enlistment of boys are simple and few in number. The boys must be between the ages of fourteen and sixteen years, of robust form, intelligent, of perfectly sound and healthy constitution, free from all physical defect or malformation, and of good moral character. They must be able to read and write, although in special cases, when a boy shows general intelligence and is otherwise qualified, he may be enlisted notwithstanding the fact that his reading and writing are imperfect. Each boy presenting himself for enlistment must be accompanied by his father, mother, or, in case neither is living, by his legally appointed guardian, and must voluntarily sign an agreement to serve in the navy till twenty-one years of age. Upon enlistment the boys are rated as third-class apprentices, and are paid $9 a month. Deserving boys are rated second-class apprentices, and receive pay of $15 a month after they have completed their term of service on a cruising training-ship. If they have served a year on a cruising ship of war they are considered properly qualified apprentices, and receive $21 a month. As the apprentices become proficient and their services are required, they are transferred to the seagoing vessels. Upon the expiration of the enlistment of an apprentice he will, if recommended, receive an honorable discharge, and if he enlists again within three months, will be given pay for this period. The apprentices are under the immediate supervision of the Bureau of Navigation of the Navy Department, and applications for enlistment are made to the chief of that bureau at Washington, or to the officer commanding either the "Vermont," at the Brooklyn navy yard, or the "Richmond," stationed at the League Island yard, Philadelphia. These were the recruiting-ships, from which the boys were being sent to the training-station at Coaster's Island as soon as a squad of twenty were enlisted, at the period of this writing. Sometimes there have been more ships in this duty.

There are usually about one hundred boys at the station at one time. They are taught to march, handle muskets, revolvers, broadswords, and cannon; they go aloft so as to get practice with the sails, and are also made familiar with the management of boats and oars and boathooks. Two hours a day are devoted to lessons, consisting of arithmetic, reading, writing, spelling, geography and grammar. Ample time is given for recreation, and innocent social pleasures are encouraged.

There are two training-ships, besides the famous old ship "Constellation," which figured in the War of 1812, at the station devoted to the use of the boys, and every six months one of these appears at Coaster's Island, and receives the apprentices who have been at the station for half a year. The vessel then starts on a cruise to Europe if it is summer, and to the West Indies in the winter. Each boy remains aboard a year, only half of the crew being changed at a time. Practice aloft and the life in general aboard a sailing vessel give him a broad general foundation of knowledge of the sea and ships, upon which he can build the special training and instruction he afterward gets upon a regular man-of-war. When he is transferred, upon the expiration of his year on the training-ship, he begins the task of mastering the intricacies of a modern ship-of-war. Here he remains until his first term of service has expired. If he re-enlists and has shown aptitude for the service, he is sent to Washington navy yard for a course of six months' instruction in gunnery and special branches, such as electricity and torpedoes. He becomes a seaman gunner, with the billet and pay of a petty officer.

A serious defect in the apprentice system, however, and one which makes it impossible to man the vessels altogether with well-trained American citizens, is the fact that the majority of the apprentices do not re-enlist after receiving their honorable discharge at the age of twenty-one, for the reason that the special training they have received enables them to secure better-paid places in civil life than are possible to them in the navy. In the government service, too, they cannot attain the rank of officers, as there is no such provision for the promotion of enlisted men in the navy as there is in the army.

Secretary Tracy, in his report of 1889, forcibly called the attention of Congress to this condition. As a remedy he recommended that there be a statutory extension of the term of enlistment to twenty-four years of age. It was further recommended that the number of apprentices be increased from seven hundred and fifty to fifteen hundred, and that the course in the training-ships be extended by the formation of a special class for training in gunnery on board a ship devoted exclusively to this purpose. Congress has as yet taken no action upon these and numerous other recommendations which have been made for the improvement of the apprentice system, and they remain pertinent.

The navy, however, in case of war, would not have to depend entirely upon apprentices and graduates of the training-station for its skilled seamen. The Naval Militia has become an organization that would render very efficient service if called upon by the government. It is composed of about three thousand highly intelligent and well-drilled young men, and has been organized in sixteen States. It bears the same relation to the navy that the National Guard does to the regular army, and is therefore wholly under State control; but it is subject to call, of course, by the federal government.

The organization of the Naval Militia has been a growth of the last eight years, and is due in large measure to the reconstruction of the navy and the revival of activity and interest in naval affairs in the United States.

It was seen that the new vessels of modern and intricate construction and appliances should, in case of war, be manned by men skilled in the use of these appliances. The apprentice system brought to the navy a supply of apprentices, but the number would be totally inadequate in a naval war. A naval reserve force was an urgent necessity.

The first step toward meeting this necessity was made in 1887 by Senator Whitthorne, of Tennessee, who in that year introduced a bill "to create a naval reserve of auxiliary cruisers, officers, and men, from the mercantile marine of the United States." The measure did not pass, and the next year another was introduced by Senator Whitthorne, providing for the enrolment of a Naval Militia and the organization of naval reserve forces. According to this bill, it was to be lawful for States and Territories bordering on sea and lake coasts and navigable rivers to enroll and designate as the Naval Militia all seafaring men of whatever calling or occupation, and all men engaged in the navigation of the rivers, lakes, and other waters, or in the construction or management of ships and craft, together with ship-owners and their employees, yacht-owners, members of yacht clubs and other associations for aquatic sports, and all ex-officers and former enlisted men of the navy.

The bill contemplated a naval reserve artillery and a naval reserve torpedo corps. It did not become a law, but formed a basis for legislation in several of the States shortly afterward, although the original plan, as shown in the proposed measure, was modified to the extent of making the Naval Militia a State organization and forming it of volunteers irrespective of occupation.

Massachusetts was the pioneer among the States in the organization of the Naval Militia. In May, 1888, the legislature passed a bill authorizing the formation of "a naval battalion to be attached to the volunteer militia." This measure was prepared, with the assistance of others, by Lieutenant John C. Soley, a retired officer of the United States navy, and he was afterward energetic in putting it into successful operation.

The next State to provide for a Naval Militia was Pennsylvania, whose legislature made the necessary law in 1889. On the same day the legislature of Rhode Island "established a naval battalion to be attached to the Rhode Island militia." In New York, in 1889, a State Naval Militia of three battalions of naval reserve artillery and a naval reserve torpedo corps, to consist of not less than four companies to a battalion, was established.

Copyright, 1895, by A. Loeffler.
Cruiser "Columbia" (Commerce Destroyer).

The practical work of the Naval Militia began in 1890, when the Massachusetts battalion drilled on the receiving-ship "Wabash," and the New York battalion on the receiving-ship "Minnesota."

A very decided impetus was given to the movement in 1891 by the appropriation by Congress of $25,000 for arms and equipments for the Naval Militia, leaving the disbursement of the money to the discretion of the Secretary of the Navy. Within the year California, North Carolina, Texas, and Maryland joined the States having battalions of Naval Militia, and at its close the force numbered 1,149 men. Progress was made also in 1891 in the method of drilling and instructing the members of some of the battalions. Those of New York, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island spent several days aboard the vessels of the Squadron of Evolution, under the command of Rear-Admiral J. C. Walker, and were given practice with the guns and boats, and participated in the ship's routine duties.

Further appropriations of $25,000 each for the Naval Militia were made in 1892 and 1893. The legislatures of Vermont and South Carolina provided for battalions of the Naval Militia in 1892, and those which had been authorized, but not yet organized, in Maryland and Pennsylvania, were formed. During the summer of 1892 the members of the North Carolina Naval Militia were drilled on board the "Newark." The "Wabash," the "Chicago," and the "Atlanta" were used for drills by the Massachusetts battalions, and those of New York received their instruction on the "New Hampshire," the "Chicago," and the "Atlanta." The California Naval Militia drilled on board the "Charleston."

The Naval Militia was increased in 1893 by battalions formed in North Carolina, Michigan, Illinois, Georgia, and Connecticut, under laws of these various legislatures of that year, and the force numbered 2,376 officers and men. New Jersey and Virginia, in 1894, organized battalions of the Naval Militia, and in that year Congress passed an important act, empowering the Secretary of the Navy to lend temporarily to any State vessels "not suitable or required for the general service, together with such of her apparel, charts, books, and instruments of navigation as he may deem proper, said vessel to be used only by the regularly organized Naval Militia of the State for the purposes of drill and instruction." Even interior States, with no bodies of water other than rivers, have organized naval battalions. At Pittsburg the organization owns a small armored gunboat, of the sort that was so useful on inland waters in the civil war. This vessel was presented to the militia by a wealthy manufacturer. Few commands, however, are so fortunate. Most take advantage of the law authorizing the loan of government ships. Under this law the following vessels were lent: the "Minnesota" to Massachusetts, the "Wyandotte" to Connecticut, the "New Hampshire" to New York, the "Portsmouth" and the "Ajax" to New Jersey, the "St. Louis" to Pennsylvania, the "Dale" to Maryland, and the "Nantucket" to North Carolina. The other States have been compelled to get along without vessels, for the reason that there have been no others available.

Torpedo Boat "Cushing."

During the summer of 1894 the Massachusetts brigade of the militia encamped for drill on Lovell's Island, Boston Harbor, and the monitor "Passaic" was lent to the State. There were also drills and target-practice on the "Miantonomoh" and the "Atlanta." The forces of Connecticut and Rhode Island received instruction on the "Miantonomoh" and the "Atlanta" respectively, and New York's battalion spent a week on board the "New York" and the "San Francisco" in Gardiner's Bay, Long Island. A part of the Pennsylvania force had target-practice at sea on board the "New York," and the North Carolina battalion received instruction on the "Montgomery."

Copyright, 1893, by J. S. Johnston.
Armored Cruiser "New York."

The California division helped to man the "Olympia" for a week in 1895, taking the places of the crew; the Maryland contingent had a week's cruise on the "Dale," and the First Naval Battalion of New York carried out a scheme of reconnoissance and distant boat work along the northern shore of Long Island, encamping on Shelter Island. The party was accompanied by the torpedo boat "Cushing." Most of the other battalions had their quota of drill and instruction.

These details of the summer operations of the Naval Militia will convey an idea of the manner in which its members are being prepared for the emergencies of war. In addition to the summer work, there is drill in armories in the winter. This course of training, in conjunction with the intelligence and enthusiasm of the young men of the Naval Militia, who are of the best classes in this country, has made an organization which would doubtless be of very great value in time of war.

The uniform of the Naval Militia consists of a blue cap, blouse, and trousers of blue trimmed with white braid. The working suit is of white duck with white canvas hat.


The years immediately following the civil war were particularly quiet and uneventful for the navy. The department was chiefly engaged in the work of reducing the forces and adapting the navy to the changed conditions. At the termination of the war an immense naval armament had been developed, and the navy had assumed a magnitude which made the United States foremost among the naval powers. This force was gradually reduced to a peace standard. The volunteers were discharged and retired from service. The large number of captured and purchased vessels were disposed of. The home squadrons were withdrawn, and squadrons established abroad. The ships in foreign stations displayed an unprecedented energy and activity, visiting, in 1866, nearly every large port in the world, including several in China which had never before been entered by an American man-of-war. The reception of Rear-Admiral Bell in his flagship, the "Hartford," by the Japanese, was manifestly more hospitable than that given to any other nation. Admiral Farragut was made commander of the European squadron in 1867, and he was received with distinguished attention by the sovereigns and dignitaries of Europe. The "Swatara," of the European squadron, was ordered, in November, 1866, to Civita Vecchia, a port in Italy, to bring to the United States John H. Surratt, who was charged with being implicated in the assassination of Lincoln. The fugitive was apprehended, but he escaped, and fled into the papal dominions. He was recaptured at Alexandria, and in February was delivered to the marshal of the District of Columbia.

The Japanese made further advances of a friendly character toward the United States in 1867, when the "Shenandoah," of the Asiatic squadron, with the American minister aboard, arrived at the port of Hakodadi, and the first salute ever given in honor of a foreign minister was fired. Just previous to this, the Japanese government had expressed its willingness to open an additional port on the western coast to foreign trade, and Commodore Goldsborough, in command of the "Shenandoah," visited and made surveys of several harbors in which no foreign ship had ever before anchored.

News was received by Rear-Admiral Bell, in the autumn of 1866, that the schooner "General Sherman" had been wrecked in the Ping Yang River, one of the streams of Corea, and that her officers, crew, and passengers had been murdered by the natives. The Rear-Admiral despatched one of the vessels of his squadron, the "Wachusett," to investigate the matter, and demand from the authorities that the survivors, if any, be delivered on board the "Wachusett." The King of Corea was communicated with, but without satisfactory results. It was found that there were no survivors of the schooner. A few months afterward information reached Rear-Admiral Bell that a similar outrage had been perpetrated on the southeast end of the island of Formosa. It was reported that the American bark "Rover" had been wrecked, and all on board murdered. Commander Febiger, with the "Ashuelot," found that the crime had been committed by a horde of savages, who, the authorities of the island said, were not obedient to their laws. Rear-Admiral Bell left Shanghai in June, with the "Wyoming" and "Hartford," with the intention of destroying, if possible, the lurking-places of the savages. On the 18th of June the vessels anchored half a mile from shore, and 181 officers, sailors, and marines were landed, under the command of Commander Belknap, of the "Hartford," and Lieutenant-Commander Alexander S. Mackenzie. As the company approached the hills the natives, dressed in clouts, with their bodies painted, and muskets glistening in the sun, descended to meet them, fighting from the long grass. After delivering their fire, they would retreat, and form ambuscades, into which the men from the ships frequently fell in charging after them. In one of these Lieutenant-Commander Mackenzie was mortally wounded. After fighting under the intensely hot sun for six hours, during which period several of the attacking party suffered sunstroke, they returned to their ships, the expedition having proved a failure.

The navy performed a valuable maritime service in 1867, by locating and surveying a shoal which was reported to exist twenty miles west of Georges Shoal, and directly in the track of vessels bound to and from Europe. The shoal was found by Commander Chandler with the United States steamer "Don," and mariners were made cognizant of a danger which probably had been fatal to many vessels. In the same year the "Sacramento," Captain Napoleon Collins, while on an important cruise, was wrecked on the reefs off the mouth of the Kothapalem River in the Bay of Bengal. The vessel proved a total wreck, but without loss of life. Those aboard effected thrilling escapes by means of rafts. The navy suffered another misfortune in 1868, in the drowning of Rear-Admiral Bell, commander of the Asiatic squadron, Lieutenant-Commander J. H. Reed, and ten of the crew of the Admiral's barge, which was upset in crossing the bar near Osaka, few days after the opening by the Japanese of that port and Hioto to foreigners. Another disaster occurred in 1869. Twenty-seven officers and men of the "Fredonia" were drowned at Arica, on the western coast of South America The "Fredonia" and "Wateree" were resting at anchor when a shock of earthquake was felt. The sea receded and left the former vessel on the bottom; a moment afterward the wave rolled back, breaking the ship into fragments. The "Wateree" was thrown upon the shore; its position was such that the expense of launching would have been greater than the worth of the vessel, and it was consequently sold. A year previous to its catastrophe, the "Monongahela," in the harbor of St. Croix, was swept from her moorings by the force of an earthquake, and carried by a wave over the warehouses into one of the streets of the town. Five of her crew were lost. The vessel, after an interval of some months, was relaunched.

The Cuban rebellion, which began in 1868, occasioned activity on the part of some of the cruisers to prevent violations of the neutrality law and to protect the interests of American citizens. A company of Cuban filibusters, encamped on Gardiner's Island, near the eastern end of Long Island, were captured by Lieutenant Breese, in command of the revenue cutter "Mahoning," and fifty marines. The prisoners, to the number of one hundred and twenty-five, were taken to New York. On the island of Cuba some outrages were perpetrated upon American citizens by the Spanish authorities. Rear-Admiral Hoff, in command of the North Atlantic squadron, was ordered to Santiago de Cuba for the better protection of American interests, and no further aggressions occurred.

Two disasters in the navy ushered in the year 1870. In the Bay of Yeddo, on January 24th, the steam-sloop "Oneida," just after leaving Yokohama for Hong Kong, was run into and sunk by the English steamer "Bombay," with the loss of twenty officers and ninety-six men. The tug "Marie" was sunk in the same month, with a loss of four men, in Long Island Sound. In October of the same year, Commander Sicard of the "Saginaw" determined to run to Ocean Island, a small island about a hundred miles west of the Midways, to rescue any sailors who might have been shipwrecked there. The "Saginaw" was herself wrecked on a reef off the perilous coast, but her men, after extreme exertions, landed safely on the shores of the uninhabited island. Here they lived for some months. They were rescued by a steamer from the Sandwich Islands, sent to their aid by the authorities of the islands, who had been informed of the accident by William Halford, one of the crew, who, with Lieutenant Talbot and three others, had volunteered to make the trip from Ocean Island to Honolulu, a distance of 1,500 miles, in an open boat. After thirty-one days of great danger and hardship, they arrived off one of the Hawaiian group of islands. In attempting to land, the boat was upset in the surf, and all but Halford were drowned.

At various times during the years 1871 and 1872, the marines of the Brooklyn Navy Yard rendered very efficient aid to the revenue officers in quelling riots in Brooklyn which grew out of the raiding of illicit distilleries. In July, 1871, Captain Gilbert was killed and several men wounded by the rioters.

Attack on a Corean Fort.

The steamer "Forward," bearing the San Salvador flag, landed 200 desperadoes at Guaymas, Mexico, in June, 1870, and these outlaws took possession of the custom-house. They forced the foreign merchants to furnish them with funds and goods, and compelled the United States' consul to supply coal for their vessel, their purpose being to become pirates on a large scale. Commander Low, of the "Mohican," upon learning these facts, sailed from Mazatlan, and overtook the "Forward" while still in the Gulf of California. She was attacked in the harbor of Boca Teacapan by six boatloads of sailors and marines from the "Mohican," and was captured and burned.

It seemed desirable, in 1871, that some arrangement should be made with the people of Corea whereby sailors wrecked upon these shores should have protection. With this end in view our Minister to China, accompanied by Rear-Admiral John Rodgers, with the "Colorado," the "Alaska," the "Benicia," the "Monocacy," and the "Palos," vessels of the Asiatic squadron, sailed to Corea, anchoring in the Sale River. The local authorities were assured that the visit was a perfectly peaceful one, and they in turn gave evidences of a peaceful spirit. But when a party engaged in making surveys and soundings for the safety of commerce had got beyond a point where they could be protected by the cruisers' guns, they were fired upon by the Coreans, and were forced to re-pass the Corean forts under a fierce cannonade. Admiral Rodgers and the minister determined that an explanation should be at once demanded. No answer having been received from the Coreans after an interval of ten days, it was decided that an attack should be made upon the forts from which the shots had been fired. A party of about 700 of the sailors and marines were landed, and after a march through mud which rose to their knees, the first fort was captured without serious resistance. The next day, other forts were easily taken, and preparations were made to attack the horseshoe-shaped citadel, which was defended by a garrison of a thousand Corean soldiers. A few shells from the vessels, judiciously planted among the Coreans, frightened and disconcerted them; but they made a stubborn fight until their ammunition gave out. The attacking party swarmed over the walls. Then ensued a desperate hand-to-hand fight The Coreans expected no quarter, and fought till all who had not fled had been killed or wounded. Lieutenant Hugh McKee, who was the first man to climb over the ramparts, fell with a mortal wound. Two hundred and forty-seven dead Coreans were counted within the works. Five forts and a large number of flags and cannon had been captured. The gallant conduct of the men of the navy made a deep impression on the people of the China coast and led to the increased consideration and safety of American citizens in those localities.

On Saturday morning, November 26, 1877, occurred one of the most disastrous wrecks in the history of the navy. The steam sloop-of-war "Huron" struck the rocks near Oregon Inlet, North Carolina, in a heavy gale and was wrecked, with the loss of nearly a hundred officers and men. The boats were washed from the davits and the thirty-four persons who were saved reached the shore by swimming. Ensign Lucien Young landed on the beach after desperate efforts, and spread the alarm. His sturdy activity resulted in the saving of several lives.

The members of a naval exploring expedition, which had sailed in the "Polaris" for the Arctic regions in 1871, were rescued from boats and the floating ice in Baffin's Bay in 1873, the "Polaris" having been abandoned as a wreck.

The United States steamer "Rodgers," commanded by Lieutenant Robert M. Berry, was detailed in 1881 to search for the exploring party organized by James Gordon Bennett and headed by Lieutenant-Commander DeLong, which had embarked in the "Jeannette" for the far north and had been last heard of in August, 1879. The "Rodgers" was burned and abandoned in St. Laurence Bay, Siberia, in November, 1881; but Lieutenant Berry continued his search on the coast. In the early spring he learned that one party from the "Jeannette," that of Chief-Engineer Melville, had been saved and was searching for the other two parties which had become separated from the first in a storm while attempting to escape from the Arctic seas in open boats after the "Jeannette" had been crushed and sunk by the ice. Lieutenant Berry soon afterward met Chief-Engineer Melville's party and learned that the bodies of Lieutenant DeLong and his companions had been found. Search for the other party which had been led by Lieutenant Chipp was continued, and the Navy Department fitted out another vessel, the "Alliance," to aid in the possible rescue. But Lieutenant Chipp and his men were never found.

Wreck of United States War-ships off Samoa.

During the massacres by Egyptian troops under Arabi Pasha in Alexandria, in 1882, when more than two hundred European residents were killed or wounded, the flagship "Lancaster," under Captain Gherardi, was in the harbor and afforded a place of refuge for large numbers of men, women, and children. A large body of marines with a detachment of naval artillery landed in the city and were of much service in restoring order.

Another Arctic expedition was fitted out in the spring of 1883. Three vessels, the "Thetis," "Alert," and "Bear," left New York by order of the Navy Department to search for Lieutenant Greely and his party, comprising what is known as the Lady Franklin Bay Expedition. After a long voyage, in which the vessels were several times in imminent peril, they passed around Cape Sabine and found Lieutenant Greely and the seven survivors of his party. Their condition was so enfeebled that they could have lived only a little longer. On August 8th the relief squadron and the rescued party arrived in New York.

An insurrection broke out in the United States of Colombia in the spring of 1885, during which the city of Aspinwall was in great part destroyed. The affair assumed such a serious aspect that the vessels of the North Atlantic squadron, under Rear Admiral Jouett, were ordered to Aspinwall, and in addition to the fleet, the Navy Department sent a force consisting of about seven hundred and fifty from New York, for the special purpose of operating on shore. Upon his arrival at Aspinwall, on April 10th, Rear-Admiral Jouett issued orders for the landing of a force to open the transit across the isthmus, and on the 12th, trains were run as usual. On April 28th, the insurgents capitulated, and shortly afterward the United States naval force was withdrawn.

One of the most severe disasters that ever befell the United States Navy in time of peace occurred on the 16th of March, 1889, when, during a hurricane in the harbor of Apia, Samoa, the "Trenton" and "Vandalia" were totally wrecked, and the "Nipsic" was run on shore to save her from destruction. Five officers and forty-six men lost their lives in this catastrophe. Nothing that skill and experience could suggest was left undone to avert the disaster, but the vessels were equipped with old-fashioned engines, whose steam-power was not strong enough to withstand the fury of the gale. The value of high-pressure engines in war vessels was illustrated by the British ship "Calliope," which was able to steam out to sea, and thus escaped destruction on the reefs. The "Trenton" and the "Vandalia," which had been two of the best of the old wooden fleet, were abandoned. The "Nipsic" sailed for the Sandwich Islands, where she was refitted for active service. The natives of Samoa displayed great heroism in their efforts to save the shipwrecked sailors, and were afterward rewarded by the United States government. Fifteen merchant vessels which were in the harbor were either sunk or run upon the shore, and the German naval vessels "Elber," "Adler," and "Olga" were wrecked, with the loss of many men.

When the United States cruiser "Baltimore" was at anchor in the harbor off Valparaiso in October, 1891, shortly after the end of a Chilian rebellion, a number of the seamen were given liberty to go on shore. They were attacked by a mob in the streets of Valparaiso, and Petty Officer Charles Riggin was stabbed, and left to die. Another petty officer, Johnson, went to his assistance, and was attempting to carry him to an apothecary, when a squad of Chilian police, with fixed bayonets, came down the street. When at close quarters, they fired at Johnson. A shot passed through his clothes, and another entered Riggin's neck, inflicting a death-wound. Petty Officer Hamilton was dragged to jail dangerously wounded. As a result of the attack, two men, Riggin and Turnbull, died, and eighteen others were disabled by wounds. Thirty-six of the "Baltimore's" men were arrested, and treated by the Chilian police with extreme brutality. Investigation proved that all had been perfectly sober and well-behaved. The attack grew out of the bitter hostility of the Chilians toward the United States—a feeling largely due to false accusations in reference to the action of the navy during the Chilian revolution. The affair caused excitement and indignation in the United States, but was amicably settled.

Wreck of the "Kearsarge."

The most important assemblage of naval vessels ever seen in the waters of America took place in April, 1893, in celebration of the Columbian quadricentennial. Invitations had been sent to all the important maritime powers, and at the rendezvous in Hampton Roads, on April 24th, the combined fleet, under the direction of Rear-Admiral Gherardi, of the United States Navy, comprised twelve men-of-war of the United States, four of England, three of France, two of Italy, two of Germany, two of Russia, three of Brazil, and one of Holland. At New York, the squadron was joined by one more Russian, three Spanish, one Argentine vessel, and the "Miantonomoh," of the United States Navy, making a combined fleet of thirty-five ships-of-war. The President, on board the "Dolphin," reviewed the fleet on April 27th, and the next day the armed battalions of the various nations, to the number of 3,815 men, marched through the streets of New York, and were reviewed by the Governor of the State.

The navy suffered a severe loss in 1894, in the wreck of the famous old man-of-war "Kearsarge," the conqueror of the "Alabama," which was wrecked February 2d on Roncador Reef, while on her way from Port au Prince to Bluefields, Nicaragua. Eight days later her men were rescued by the "City of Para."

One of the conspicuous features of the pageants which attended the opening of the Kiel Canal, between the North and the Baltic seas, on June 19th, 1895, was the fleet of war-vessels which assembled in the harbor at Kiel. It was the most remarkable ever seen in any waters, numbering over a hundred of the finest vessels in existence. A number of these, headed by the flagship "New York," belonged to the new navy of the United States. These ships provoked the admiration of all the naval authorities present, and their effective strength was noted and commented upon all over Europe.


After the Mexican War the navy engaged for twelve years in works of peace varied by a little exciting police duty on the high seas. Much was done for commerce and for civilization in the years immediately succeeding 1848, but the story, though important, is not exciting, and is therefore little known. The records of these years afford a fair suggestion of what a navy may do when actual fighting is not necessary, and when its vessels, with the trained sailors and scientists who man them, may be utilized in utilitarian work.

Shortly after the close of the Mexican War, the armed ship "Supply," under command of Lieutenant Lynch, sailed on an expedition to the Dead Sea. The start was made from New York, and the vessel arrived in the Mediterranean only a few weeks after peace had been declared with Mexico. At Smyrna, Lieutenant Lynch left the "Supply," and went to Constantinople to obtain permission to enter the Turkish domains. This having been granted, the party sailed for Haifa. Arriving at this port on the 21st of March, they left their ship, and set out for the Sea of Galilee by an overland route, carrying on trucks the boats which had been specially built for navigationin the river Jordan. Upon reaching Tiberias, on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee, the party divided, one detachment embarking in the boats to navigate the Sea of Galilee, and the other mounting camels and horses to make the trip by land, with the intention of keeping those who had sailed in view as much as possible, and protecting them from attacks by wandering Arabs or aiding them if necessary in the passage of the tortuous and turbulent Jordan. Eight days were consumed in making this passage, and a distance covered of 200 miles, although if the trip had been made in a straight line instead of along the winding course of the river, it would have been necessary to have traversed only sixty miles. An encampment was established on the desolate banks of the Dead Sea, and several exploring and scientific expeditions in the neighborhood were made. Among the interesting facts gathered was the exact depression of the Dead Sea below the level of the ocean. This was found to be 1,312 feet.

The western coast of Africa was the scene of the next important activity on the part of the American cruisers. The slave-trade, which in the eighteenth century had assumed extensive proportions, still flourished to a degree which made the condition upon the coast a disgrace to civilization. It was a notorious fact, moreover, that a large proportion of the vessels in the trade were of American build and sailed under the Stars and Stripes. The United States Government was anxious to wipe out this blot upon the nation's fair fame; and consequently, in 1849, sent Lieutenant Foote, in command of the brig "Perry," to African waters. The lieutenant, who, by the way, afterward became the distinguished Admiral Foote, at once began active cruising off Ambrig, a notorious slave mart. The "Perry" was constantly at sea, chasing and boarding suspicious vessels, and very often her boats passed through the surf and ran up the jungle-bordered rivers to the slave barracoons. Many large slavers were captured, and when, in 1851, the "Perry" was succeeded on the African coast by the squadron under Commander Gregory, Lieutenant Foote had effectually checked the slave trade. He was thanked for his services by the Secretary of the Navy.

While Lieutenant Foote was sailing under the blazing sun of Africa, another lieutenant, Edwin J. De Haven, in command of the brigs "Rescue" and "Advance," was pushing his way northward through the ice of the Arctic Ocean. The Navy Department had considered it proper and fitting to aid England in her search for the British commander, Sir John Franklin and his men, who had sailed into the Arctic regions on an exploring expedition, and had been gone so long as to warrant the belief that they were in grave peril, if not already dead. Volunteers for the relief expedition had been called for by the department. Lieutenant De Haven and others had responded, and on May 24th, 1850, started on their errand of mercy. In July, the party was in Baffin's Bay, and here the brigs remained embedded in the ice for twenty-one days. On the 29th of July, by a sudden movement of the floe, an opening at the north presented itself; a north-east breeze sprang up at the same time, and with press of sail the brigs were able to force their way into clear water.

For a month afterward there was continual battling with the ice, and slow progress northward. On August 27th, Lieutenant De Haven, having in the mean time fallen in with several English relief expeditions, decided to make a search on the shores adjacent to a Lancaster Sound. Here were found three graves, and various signs that Franklin and his companions had spent a winter somewhere thereabouts; but there were no indications of the course his vessels, the "Erebus" and the "Terror," had taken when they had sailed away. Throughout the winter the search was continued, and the "Rescue" and the "Advance" were often in imminent danger of destruction in the masses of ice which pressed against the sides of the ships with enormous force. "Every moment," said Lieutenant De Haven, in his report, "I expected the vessels would be crushed or overwhelmed by the masses of ice forced up far above our bulwarks." But at last, on June 6th, they forced their way again into the open sea; and as the instructions had been not to spend a second winter in the Arctic regions, sail was set for home, and late in the summer of 1851 the brigs arrived at New York.

The sending of the frigate "Mississippi," commanded by Captain Matthew G. Perry, to the coast of Halifax, in 1852, averted what threatened to be serious trouble. A dispute had arisen among the American and Canadian fishing schooners in those waters, and seven American vessels had been seized by the British cruisers.

This caused intense indignation in New England; but Captain Perry poured oil upon the troubled waters, and in 1854, as a result of his visit, a reciprocity treaty between the United States and Canada was signed, and this lasted for ten years.

Captain Perry performed his most important services for the government, however, in Japan. The early fifties were an era of exploring expeditions for the navy. There were trips up the rivers into unknown regions of South America and Africa. The Isthmus of Darien was explored, and an ambitious scheme to cut a ship-channel through was found to be impracticable. It was very natural, during this activity in penetrating little-known parts of the world, that attention should have been given to Japan, which was a land of mystery to the world at large because of the exclusion of foreigners from that country. In 1852, Captain Perry was assigned the command of the squadron cruising in the East Indies, and was empowered, in addition to his ordinary duties, to make a display of force in the waters of Japan in order to obtain better treatment for American seamen cast upon Japanese shores, and to gain entry into Japanese ports for vessels seeking supplies. He bore a letter, moreover, from the President of the United States to the Emperor of Japan, written with a view to obtaining a treaty providing for friendly intercourse and commerce with the haughty island kingdom. On the 8th of July, the squadron, comprising the frigates "Mississippi," "Susquehanna," and "Powhatan"; the corvette "Macedonian"; the sloops-of-war "Plymouth," "Saratoga," and "Vandalia"; and the store-ships "Supply," "Southampton," and "Lexington," anchored off the city of Uraga, in the Bay of Jeddo, Japan. Captain Perry decided that the proper course to pursue with the Japanese was to assume a very lofty and commanding tone and bearing. He therefore ordered away from the sides of his vessel the boats which swarmed around it, and allowed none but government officials of high rank to come on board. He himself remained in seclusion in his cabin, treating with the Japanese through intermediaries. He moved his squadron nearer the capital than was allowable, and then demanded that a special commission, composed of men of the highest rank, be appointed to convey his letter from the President to the Emperor. The close proximity of the ships-of-war to the capital, and Captain Perry's peremptory demand, were not at all to the liking of the Japanese; but they were greatly impressed with his apparent dignity and power, and at last consented to receive and consider the letter. Fearing treachery, Captain Perry moved his ships up so that their guns would command the building prepared for his reception, and on the 14th of July went ashore with an escort of 400 officers and men, who found themselves, on landing, surrounded by about 6,000 Japanese soldiers under arms.

Three months were given to the Japanese officials to reply to the letter, and Captain Perry sailed with his squadron for the coast of China. He returned after an interval of three months, and anchored his ships beyond Uraga, where the previous conference had been held, and nearer the capital, despite the fact that a place twenty miles below had been appointed for the second meeting. The Japanese demurred at this, being so exclusive that they did not wish their capital nor their country even to be seen by foreigners. Instead of respecting these wishes, Captain Perry approached still nearer, until he was only eight miles from Tokio. This high-handed policy had the desired effect. Five special Japanese commissioners met Captain Perry, and in a building within range of the ships' guns, negotiations were carried on. They resulted, on March 31st, in the signing of a treaty by the Japanese, in which they promised to open two of their ports to American vessels seeking supplies; to give aid to seamen of the United States wrecked upon their shores; to allow American citizens temporarily residing in their ports to enter, within certain prescribed limits, the surrounding country; to permit consuls of the United States to reside in one of the open ports; and, in general, to show a peaceful and friendly spirit toward our government and citizens. This treaty is important, because it opened the door for the peoples of the world to a country which has since proved to be possessed of vast wealth and resources. Captain Perry received high praise for his firmness and diplomacy in the conduct of the difficult negotiations.

One vessel of Captain Perry's fleet, the "Plymouth," had remained at Shanghai when the squadron returned to Japanese waters, and she played a very active though brief part in the troubles which then existed in China. Imperial and revolutionary troops were fighting for supremacy, and the former showed a hostile disposition to the American and English residents of Shanghai. An American pilot was captured by an Imperial man-of-war, but was retaken in a most spirited manner from the Chinese by Lieutenant Guest, and a boat's crew from the "Plymouth." The Chinese manifestations of hostility toward foreign residents continued, and on the 4th of April, 1854, about ninety men from the "Plymouth" and American merchant-ships, under the leadership of Commander Kelly, went ashore, and in conjunction with one hundred and fifty men from a British man-of-war, began an attack upon the Imperial camp. The Americans had two field-pieces and a twelve-pound boat-howitzer, which, together with the muskets, were used so effectively that, after ten minutes of sharp fighting, the Chinese fled in great disorder, leaving a number of dead and wounded upon the field. The American loss was two killed and four wounded.

Piracy was rampant in the China seas during this period, and so bold and ferocious were the Chinese desperadoes that their junks were a great terror to merchant vessels, and seriously interfered with commerce. The "Powhatan," another of Captain Perry's squadron, and the English sloop "Rattler," joined forces against a fleet of piratical junks off Khulan, in 1855, and completely destroyed them, killing many of the pirates in the attack and taking a large number of prisoners. In Happy Valley, Hong-Kong, a monument was erected to commemorate the eight English and American sailors who were killed in the conflict.

While the East India squadron was performing these important and gallant services off the coasts of Japan and China, the other vessels of the navy were by no means idle. Among the conspicuous naval events of the time was the spirited action of Commander Ingraham at Smyrna, in 1854. A young Austrian, Martin Koszta, had lived in New York city two years before, and had declared his intention of becoming an American citizen. He had gone to Smyrna on business, and having incurred the displeasure of the Austrian government, had been seized, and was a prisoner on board the Austrian man-of-war "Hussar." Commander Ingraham, commanding the sloop-of-war "St. Louis," demanded that Koszta be surrendered, on the ground that he was an American citizen. This being refused, Ingraham cleared for action, although the "Hussar's" force was much superior to his own. His bold stand brought the Austrians to satisfactory terms, and the threatened engagement was averted by the surrender of Koszta.

There were two Arctic expeditions in addition to that of the "Rescue" and the "Advance" in the early fifties. Both of them grew out of the ill-fated Arctic explorations of Sir John Franklin. Lady Franklin, his wife, was anxious, upon the failure of the first relief expeditions, to send another, and she asked that a surgeon of the United States Navy, Dr. Kane, be permitted to command it. The Navy Department granted the request, and in June, 1853, the expedition, composed of eighteen men under orders from the department and the patronage of Henry Grinnell, of New York, and George Peabody, the American merchant, of London, began the northwest journey. This search for Sir John Franklin's ships was also unsuccessful, and the relief party was for a long time in imminent danger of a fate similar to Franklin's. After living for two winters imprisoned in the ice in Smith's Sound, they abandoned their vessel, which had been largely broken up to provide fuel, and started on a journey over the ice in sledges. After eighty-four days of extreme privation and thrilling adventure, they reached Driscol Bay, where they were found by Commander Hartstone and Lieutenant Simms, commanding respectively the "Release" and the "Arctic," which vessels had been fitted out by order of Congress to rescue them. In October, 1855, the united party reached New York.

In November, 1855, the presence of the United States ship "Germantown," commanded by Captain Lynch, in the harbor of Montevideo, prevented an extensive massacre. There had been a rebellion in Paraguay, and the insurrectionists had capitulated. The government troops rushed upon them with the intention of despatching them, when a detachment of United States marines interfered and put an end to the sanguinary scene. Three years afterward the marines performed efficient services in Montevideo in protecting foreign residents against the insurgents in another rebellion.

The rather curious episode of a battle-ship fighting Indians occurred in 1856. The sloop-of-war "Decatur," Commander Gansevoort, anchored off Seattle, Washington, to protect the settlers from attacks from a large body of Indians. The savages appeared, and fought the marines, who had landed, with much spirit for six hours. At nightfall they disappeared in the woods, having suffered the loss of a large number of braves.

One of the most gallant and important of the minor operations of the navy took place in November of the same year. Trouble having arisen between the Chinese authorities of the City of Canton and the English officials in the vicinity, it was thought that American interests might be injured, and in consequence Commander Foote stationed his vessel, the sloop-of-war "Portsmouth," of the squadron under Flag-Officer Armstrong, near the island of Whampoa, and thence proceeded, in several armed boats, to ascend the river to Canton to establish an armed neutrality. Several Americans, however, joined the British in an attack upon the governor's palace, and planted the flag beside the English colors on the wall of the city. Commander Foote disavowed this act, but as he was returning from an interview with the flag-officer at Whampoa, several shots of grape and canister were fired from the forts upon his boat, although it displayed the American flag. The next day the "Portsmouth" and the "Levant," which had come up the river to lend her aid, proceeded to the Canton barrier forts to avenge the insult. The "Levant" grounded before coming in range of the forts; but the "Portsmouth," under a sharp fire, sailed on until within about 500 yards of the nearest fort; then she opened fire. After she had thrown about 200 shells, the Chinese ceased firing. Then followed four days of unsatisfactory parley with Yeh, the Governor of Canton, after which Commander Foote renewed the attack. The "Levant" now joined the "Portsmouth," and the vessels began a cannonade, which was returned with spirit for an hour. Then 208 men, in ten boats, were landed, and stormed the nearest fort, which was taken. Five thousand pigtail-wearing soldiers afterward attempted to recapture it, but were repulsed. In like manner, on the following morning, the next fort was taken, with an American loss of but three men. During the afternoon the defenders of the third fort fled. The next morning, in the face of a heavy fire, the fourth and last fort was carried by a rapid assault. The little company of Americans was now in possession of four modern forts constructed by European engineers, which had been defended, moreover, by thousands of men. The insult had been avenged, and the affair resulted in a treaty of friendship and commerce with China.

There was little love between Americans and Chinese, however, and three years afterward Captain Josiah Tatnall rendered valuable aid to the English and French gunboats when fired upon by the Chinese forts. The boats, under the command of Sir James Hope, were attempting to remove obstructions in the Peiho River when the forts suddenly opened a destructive fire. A desperate conflict followed, in which several hundred of the English were killed. Captain Tatnall commanded the chartered steamer "Toey-Wan," which was in the harbor. He forgot his neutrality as he watched the scene. With the exclamation, "Blood is thicker than water!" he jumped into his launch and steamed for the British flagship. The boat was struck with a ball, and before its trip was ended sunk, the coxswain being killed and Lieutenant Trenchart severely wounded. The others who had manned her were rescued, and they helped the English at the guns. Captain Tatnall afterward used the "Toey-Wan" to tow up and bring into action the British reserves. His action was a clear violation of the treaty and the neutrality law. He received but slight punishment, however, and gained great popularity in Great Britain.

At Eaya, in the Feejee Islands, in 1858, a sharp conflict took place between the natives and forty men under Lieutenant Caldwell, who had been sent to destroy the principal village as retribution for the murder of two American citizens. The natives were sent fleeing inland. The Secretary of the Navy said of the affair, "The gallantry, coolness, and bravery displayed by officers and men was in the highest degree commendable." A somewhat similar episode occurred in the vicinity of Kisembo, on the west coast of Africa, in 1860. The natives threatened the property and lives of American citizens, and would undoubtedly have put their threats into effect had it not been for the presence and prompt action of Commander Brent of the sloop-of-war "Marion." When an insurrection occurred in the neighborhood of Panama, in July, 1860, Commander Porter landed a body of marines and sailors from his ship, the "St. Mary's," which was then stationed on the western coast of Mexico. The governor gave up the city of Panama to the joint occupancy of the forces of the "St. Mary's" and the British ship-of-war "Clio," and tranquillity was quickly restored.


Peace having been signed with Great Britain in 1783, the nucleus of a navy then in existence was disbanded. Partly this was due to the disinclination of the sturdy Republicans to keep a standing establishment, either naval or military, in time of peace. The same tendency of the American mind to disregard the adage, "In time of peace, prepare for war," is observable to-day. But the chief reason for the dissolution of the navy lay in the impossibility of collecting funds to pay for its maintenance. The states had formed themselves into a confederacy, but so jealously had each state guarded its individual rights, that no power was left to the general government. The navy being a creation of the general government, was therefore left without means of support; and in 1785 the last remaining frigate, the "Alliance," was sold because there was not enough money in the treasury to pay for her needed repairs.

For eight years thereafter the nation remained without a navy. But gradually there sprung up a very considerable maritime commerce under the flag of the United States. The stars and stripes began to be a familiar sight in sea-ports as far away as China and Japan. But as far as it afforded any protection to the vessel above which it waved, that banner might have been a meaningless bit of striped bunting. In 1785 the Dey of Algiers, looking to piracy for his income, sent his piratical cruisers out into the Atlantic to seize upon the merchantmen of the new nation that had no navy to enforce its authority. Two vessels were captured, and their crews sold into disgraceful slavery in Algiers.

When the first Congress of the United States under the present Constitution assembled, President Washington called the attention of the law-makers to the crying need for a navy. But war had set in between Portugal and Algiers; the Algerian corsairs were blockaded in their ports, and American vessels were enjoying a temporary immunity from piratical attack. Therefore Congress hesitated.

But in 1793 peace was suddenly arranged between Portugal and Algiers. Immediately the corsairs swarmed out of the Mediterranean Sea, and swooped down upon the American merchantmen. In a few weeks four ships were in their hands, and the gangs of white slaves in Tunis and Tripoli were re-enforced by nearly two hundred luckless Yankee sailors. Then Congress awoke, and ordered the immediate building of six frigates. The ships were laid down, the work was well under way, naval officers had been appointed, and every thing seemed to point to the revival of the American navy, when a treaty was negotiated with Algiers, and all work was stopped.

And what a treaty it was! By it the United States relinquished every claim to the rights of a sovereign nation. It agreed to pay an annual tribute to the piratical Dey, in consideration of his granting to American vessels the right of travel on the high seas. And when some slight delay occurred in making the first payment of tribute, the obsequious government presented the Barbary corsair with a frigate, to allay his wrath.

We must pass hastily over the time during which this iniquitous treaty was in force. Suffice it to say, that by it the United States paid the Dey more than a million dollars. For the same sum his piratical establishment might have been scattered like the sands of the desert.

In May, 1800, it fell to the lot of Capt. William Bainbridge, commanding the frigate "George Washington," to carry the annual tribute to Algiers. On arriving there he was treated with contempt by the Dey, who demanded that he put the "Washington" at the service of Algiers, to carry her ambassador to Constantinople. "You pay me tribute, by which you become my slaves," said the Dey; "I have therefore a right to order you as I may think proper."

Bainbridge protested, but to no avail. He had anchored his frigate under the guns of the Dey's castle, and to disobey meant capture and slavery. Accordingly he complied, but despatched a letter to the authorities at home, saying, "I hope I may never again be sent to Algiers with tribute, unless I am authorized to deliver it from the mouth of our cannon."

When Bainbridge reached the United States, after faithfully discharging the errand of the Dey, he found that it was unlikely that either he or any other officer would be forced to carry any further tribute to the Barbary pirates. For, while the tribute paid to Algiers had merely changed the attitude of that country from open hostility to contemptuous forbearance, it had brought the other Barbary states clamoring to the United States for tribute. Tunis and Tripoli demanded blood-money; and each emphasized its demand by capturing a few Yankee merchantmen, and selling their crews into slavery.

The agents or ambassadors sent by the United States to these powers were treated with the utmost contempt; and while their lives were often in danger, their property was always considered the fair prey of the Barbarian ruler to whose domain they were sent. To Tunis was sent Gen. William Eaton, an American politician, who has left a record of his experiences in the land of the Bey. Some of the entries in his journal are very pithy. Thus under the date of Aug. 11, 1799, he wrote,—

"Some good friend had informed the Bey that I had an elegant Grecian mirror in my house. To-day he sent a request for it, pretending that he wanted it for the cabin of his pleasure-boat, now about to be launched. So it is. If the consuls have a good piece of furniture, or any other good thing which strikes the Bey's fancy, he never hesitates to ask for it; and they have no alternative but to give it. They have suffered this to become usance also.

"12th. Sent the Bey the mirror."

A letter from Gen. Eaton to the Secretary of State, in 1801, tells of the capacity of the Bey. A fire in the regal palace destroyed fifty thousand stand of small-arms. The next day the monarch ordered Eaton to procure from the United States ten thousand stand to help make up the loss. Eaton demurred. "The Bey did not send for you to ask your advice," said the prime minister, "but to order you to communicate his demands to your Government."

Eaton still protested, pointed out the fact that the United States had already paid the Bey heavy tribute, and asked when these extortionate demands were to end.

"Never," was the cool response; and the interview ended.

But by this time the United States authorities had perceived the error they had committed in temporizing with the Barbary powers. They had quieted Algiers by the payment of a heavy tribute, and the gift of a frigate. But this had only excited the cupidity of the other petty states. Tunis demanded like tribute. The Bashaw of Tripoli, discontented with his share of the spoils, cut down the flagstaff before the American consulate, and sent out his cruisers to prey upon American commerce. Accordingly, on the 20th of May, 1801, the Secretary of the Navy ordered a squadron prepared to proceed to the Mediterranean, and bring the rapacious Arabs to terms.

The vessels chosen for this service were the "President," Commodore Richard Dale; "Philadelphia," Capt.Barron; "Essex," Capt. Bainbridge; and the schooner "Enterprise," Lieut.-Commandant  Sterrett. Though the fleet in itself was powerful, the commodore was hampered by the timid and vacillating instructions of Congress. War had not been actually declared, and he was therefore to commit no overt act of hostility. The vessels of the fleet were to be employed simply to convoy American merchantmen in and out of the Mediterranean Sea, and to be in readiness to ward off any hostile action on the part of any of the Barbary powers.

On July 1 the fleet entered the roadstead at Gibraltar, and anchored in the shadow of the famous rock. Here the Americans found two of the most rapacious of the Tripolitan corsairs lying at anchor; one a ship of twenty-six guns under the command of the Tripolitan admiral, and the other a brig of sixteen guns. To keep an eye on these piratical worthies, the "Philadelphia" was ordered to remain at Gibraltar, while the other vessels scattered. The "Essex" was ordered to cruise along the northern shore of the Mediterranean, gathering up all the American merchantmen, and convoying them to sea. The "President" and the "Enterprise" made sail for Algiers, to convince the ruler of that country that it would be impolitic for him to declare war against the United States at that time. The desired effect was produced; for the sight of an American frigate did more to tone down the harshness of the Dey's utterances, than could the most extortionate tribute.

The cruise of the "Essex" was uneventful, save for a dispute between the officers of the American man-of-war and a Spanish xebec in the roads of Barcelona. The trouble arose in this wise:—

The "Essex," though a small vessel, was perfectly appointed, of handsome model and appearance, and her crew was drilled to the highest possible state of discipline and efficiency. When she cast anchor at Barcelona, she straightway became the talk of the town, and her officers became the lions of the hour, vastly to the disgust of the Spaniards on the xebec lying in the same port. Accordingly they took every opportunity to annoy the Americans, challenging the boats of the "Essex" as they passed the xebec, and not scrupling to use abusive language to Capt.Bainbridge himself. One night a boat, under command of Lieut. Stephen Decatur, was brought under the guns of the xebec, and held there while the Spaniards shouted insults from the deck above. Decatur called for the officer in command, and remonstrated with him, but receiving no satisfaction, ordered his men to shove off, declaring he would call again in the morning.

Accordingly, in the forenoon of the following day, a boat from the "Essex," with Decatur in the stern-sheets, made for the Spanish vessel. Coming alongside, Decatur went on board, and asked for the officer who had been in command the night previous. He was told that the man he sought had gone ashore.

"Well, then," thundered Decatur, in tones that could be heard all over the vessel, "tell him that Lieut. Decatur of the frigate 'Essex' pronounces him a cowardly scoundrel, and when they meet on shore he will cut his ears off." And having thrown this bombshell into the enemy's camp, Decatur returned to his ship.

The duel was never fought, for the civil authorities bestirred themselves to prevent it. But the matter was taken up by the United States minister to Spain, who never permitted it to rest until the fullest apology was made by Spain for the indignities to which the American naval officers had been subjected.

After having collected a large number of merchantmen, and taken them safely out of the reach of Tripolitan cruisers, the "Essex" showed her colors in the chief Barbary ports, and rejoined the flag-ship in time to return to the United States in December.

While the "Essex" had been thus pacificly employed, the little schooner "Enterprise" had carried off the honors by fighting the first and only pitched battle of the year. This little craft, after accompanying the "President" to Algiers, was ordered to Malta. While on the way thither she fell in with a polacre-rigged ship flying the Tripolitan colors. Closer inspection showed her to be a notorious corsair, well known for the constant and merciless warfare she waged upon American merchantmen. The stars and stripes, floating at the peak of the American man-of-war, alarmed the Moors, and they opened fire without waiting for a hail. The "Enterprise" took up a position alongside, and at a distance of less than a pistol-shot. Broadside succeeded broadside in rapid succession. The aim of the Americans was better than that of the enemy, and the effect of their fire was observable whenever the breeze cleared away the dense smoke that hid the vessels from each other. But the ordnance of both was light, so that the combat was greatly prolonged. The vessels were almost equally matched; for the "Enterprise" carried twelve guns and ninety men, while the Tripolitan mounted fourteen guns, and had a crew of eighty-five men.

For two hours the battle continued, and the roar of the cannon and the rattle of small-arms were incessant. The day was calm and clear, with the still, warm air prevalent in the Mediterranean. Hardly was the breeze strong enough to carry away the sulphurous cloud of smoke that formed the one blot on the fair surface of the fairest of all seas. At last the Americans noticed that the fire of the enemy had ceased. Eagerly they peered through the smoke, and when the outline of their adversary could be made out, three ringing cheers told that the Tripolitan flag waved no longer in its place. Leaving their guns, the Americans were preparing to board the prize, when they were astonished to receive another broadside, and see the colors of their adversary again hoisted.

With cries of rage the Yankee seamen again went to quarters; and, if they had fought boldly before, they now fought viciously. They cared little to take the prize: their chief end was to send her, and the treacherous corsairs that manned her, to the bottom. The Tripolitans in their turn exerted every energy to conquer. Bringing their vessel alongside the "Enterprise," they strove repeatedly to board, only to be beaten back again and again. Finally, after receiving two raking broadsides from the "Enterprise," she again struck her flag.

This time Capt. Sterrett was in no haste to consider the combat ended. Keeping his men at the guns, he ordered the Tripolitan to come under the quarter of the "Enterprise." But no sooner had the enemy done so than she renewed the conflict for the third time, by attempting to board.

"No quarter for the treacherous dogs," was then the cry on the American vessel. "Fight on, and send them to the bottom."

The rest of the battle was wholly in favor of the "Enterprise." Several times she raked her antagonist, doing great execution. Many shots took effect between wind and water; and the cry arose on the decks of the Tripolitan, that she was sinking. The "Enterprise" kept at a safe distance, and by skilful sailing chose her own position, so that she could pour in a deliberate and murderous fire. Bitterly were the Tripolitans punished for their treachery. Their decks ran red with blood, half of their officers were shot down, the cries of their wounded rose shrill above the thunder of the cannon. Her flag was struck, but to this the American gunners paid no heed. The repeated treachery of the corsairs had left in the minds of the Yankee sailors but one thought,—to send the ship to the bottom, and rid the ocean of so pestiferous a craft.

But, enraged though they were, the Americans could not wholly cast aside their feelings of humanity. Though they had been twice deceived, they could not keep up their attack upon a vessel so sorely stricken as to be unable to respond to their fire. And when at last the commander of the Tripolitan, a venerable old man with a flowing beard, appeared in the waist of the ship, sorely wounded, and, bowing submissively, cast the colors of his vessel into the sea, then the fire of the "Enterprise" ceased, although the usages of war would have justified the Americans in exterminating their treacherous foe.

Having captured his enemy, Capt. Sterrett was in some uncertainty as to what to do with it. The instructions under which he sailed gave him no authority to take prizes. After some deliberation, he concluded to rob the captured vessel, which proved to be the "Tripoli," of her power for evil. Accordingly he sent Lieut. David Porter, the daring naval officer of whose exploits we have already spoken in the "Blue-Jackets of 1812," on board the prize, with instructions to dismantle her. Porter carried out his instructions admirably. With immense satisfaction the jackies he took with him forced the Tripolitans to cut away their masts, throw overboard all their cannon, cutlasses, pistols, and other arms; cut their sails to pieces; throw all ammunition into the sea, and, to use a nautical expression, "strip the ship to a girtline." One jury-mast and small sail alone was left.

Porter then pointed out to the crestfallen Tripolitan captain, Mahomet Sons, that the "Enterprise" had not lost a man in the action, while of the corsairs not less than fifty were either killed or wounded.

"Go," said he sternly to the cowering Mussulman, "go tell the Bashaw of Tripoli, and the people of your country, that in future they may expect only a tribute of powder and ball from the sailors of the United States."

Amid the jeers and execrations of the Yankee tars, the crippled Tripolitan hulk, with her dead and dying, drifted slowly away. When she reached Tripoli, the anger of the Bashaw was unappeasable. He had expected his cruiser to return freighted deep with plunder, and crowded with American slaves. She had returned a dismantled hulk. In vain her commander showed his wounds to his wrathful master, and told of the size of his enemy, and the vigor of his resistance. The rage of the Bashaw demanded a sacrifice, and the luckless Mahomet Sons was led through the streets of Tripoli tied to a jackass. This in itself was the deepest degradation possible for a Mussulman, but the Bashaw supplemented it with five hundred bastinadoes well laid on. This severe punishment, together with the repeated assertions of the sailors of the defeated ship, that the dogs of Christians had fired enchanted shot, so terrified the seafaring people of Tripoli that it was almost impossible for the Bashaw to muster a ship's crew for a year after.

Commodore Decatur.

Commodore Decatur.

The battle between the "Enterprise" and the "Tripoli" alone saved the first year of the war from being entirely puerile. Certain it is that the distinguished naval officers who accompanied the fleet to the Mediterranean were so hedged about with political red tape, that they were powerless to take a step in defence of the honor of their country. While they were empowered to rescue any American ship that might be discovered in the grasp of a corsair, they were powerless to attempt the rescue of the hundreds of Americans held by Bashaw, Bey, and Dey as slaves. Commodore Dale, indeed, through diplomacy, managed to free a few of the enslaved Americans. Having blockaded the harbor of Tripoli with the frigate "President," he captured a Greek vessel having a score or more of Tripolitan soldiers aboard. He then sent word to the Bashaw that he would exchange these prisoners for an equal number of Americans; but the monarch apparently cared little for his subjects, for he replied that he would not give one American slave for the whole lot. After much argument, an exchange was made upon the basis of three Tripolitans to one Yankee.

It is hard, even at this late day, to regard the policy of the United States towards the Barbary powers with feelings other than of mortification. Tunis, Tripoli, Algiers, and Morocco constantly preyed on our commerce, and enslaved our sailors. In the streets of Algiers worked American slaves, chained together, and wearing iron collars upon their necks. Their lives were the property of their owners, and they suffered unheard of privations and tortures. Yet at this very time the United States kept a consul in Algiers, and maintained friendly relations with the Dey. Indeed, a historian writing in 1795 applauds the American Government for the care it took of its citizens enslaved in Algiers, by providing each with a suit of clothing yearly!

But the continued aggressions and extortionate demands of the Barbary powers became at last unbearable. The expedition to the Mediterranean, under Commodore Dale, was but the premonitory muttering before the storm. Dale returned to the United States in December, 1801, and his report led to the organization of the naval expedition that was to finally crush the piratical powers of Barbary.


In treating of the history of the navy during the war of the Revolution, we must always bear in mind the fact, that, during the greater part of that war, there was no navy. Indeed, the subject presents much the same aspect as the celebrated chapter on snakes in Ireland, which consisted of exactly six words, "There are no snakes in Ireland." So many of the episodes and incidents of the Revolutionary war that we chronicle as part of the naval history of that struggle are naval only in that they took place on the water. The participants in them were often longshoremen, fishermen, or privateersmen, and but seldom sailors enrolled in the regular navy of the united colonies. Nevertheless, these irregular forces accomplished some results that would be creditable to a navy in the highest state of efficiency and discipline.

The expense of building vessels-of-war, and the difficulty, amounting even to impossibility, of procuring cannon for their armament, deterred the Colonies from equipping a naval force. All the energies of the revolutionists were directed towards organizing and equipping the army. The cause of independence upon the ocean was left to shift for itself. But, as the war spread, the depredations of British vessels along the coast became so intolerable that some colonies fitted out armed vessels for self-protection. Private enterprise sent out many privateers to prey upon British commerce, so that the opening months of the year 1776 saw many vessels on the ocean to support the cause of the Colonies. To man these vessels, there were plenty of sailors; for even at that early day New England had begun to develop that race of hardy seamen for which she is still noted in this day of decadence in the American marine. There was, however, a sad lack of trained officers to command the vessels of the infant navy. Many Americans were enrolled on the lists of the ships flying the royal banner of England, but most of these remained in the British service. The men, therefore, who were to command the ships of the colonies, were trained in the rough school of the merchant service, and had smelt gunpowder only when resisting piratical attacks, or in serving themselves as privateers.

For these reasons the encounters and exploits that we shall consider as being part of the naval operations of the Revolutionary war were of a kind that would to-day be regarded as insignificant skirmishes; and the naval officer of to-day would look with supreme contempt upon most of his brethren of '76, as so many untrained sea-guerillas. Nevertheless, the achievements of some of the seamen of the Revolution are not insignificant, even when compared with exploits of the era of Farragut; and it must be remembered that the efforts of the devoted men were directed against a nation that had in commission at the opening of the war three hundred and fifty-three vessels, and even then bore proudly the title conferred upon her by the consent of all nations,—"The Mistress of the Seas."

It was on the 19th of April, 1775, that the redoubtable Major Pitcairn and his corps of scarlet-coated British regulars shot down the colonists on the green at Lexington, and then fled back to Boston followed by the enraged minute-men, who harassed the retreating redcoats with a constant fire of musketry. The news of the battle spread far and wide; and wherever the story was told, the colonists began arming themselves, and preparing for resistance to the continually increasing despotism of the British authorities.

On the 9th of May, a coasting schooner from Boston put into the little seaport of Machias on the coast of Maine. The people of the little town gathered at the wharf, and from the sailors first heard the story of Lexington and Concord. The yoke of the British Government had rested lightly on the shoulders of the people of Machias. Far from the chief cities of the New World, they had heard little of the continued dissensions between the Colonies and the home Government, and they heard the story of the rebellion with amazement. But however unprepared they might have been for the news of the outbreak, their sympathies went warmly out to their struggling brethren, and they determined to place themselves shoulder to shoulder with the Massachusetts colonists in the fight against the oppression of the British. Their opportunity for action came that very night.

As the sturdy young colonists stood on the deck listening to the stories of the newly arrived sailors, they could see floating lightly at anchor near the wharf a trimly rigged schooner flying the ensign of the British navy. This craft was the "Margaretta," an armed schooner acting as convoy to two sloops that were then loading with ship-timber to be used in the service of the king.

The Boston sailors had not yet finished their narrative of the two battles, when the thought occurred to some of the adventurous listeners that they might strike a retaliatory blow by capturing the "Margaretta." Therefore, bidding the sailors to say nothing to the British of Lexington and Concord, they left the wharf and dispersed through the town, seeking for recruits. That same evening, sixty stalwart men assembled in a secluded farm-house, and laid their plans for the destruction of the schooner. It was then Saturday night, and the conspirators determined to attack the vessel the next morning while the officers were at church. All were to proceed by twos and threes to the wharf, in order that no suspicion might be aroused. Once at the water-side, they would rush to their boats, and carry the schooner by boarding.

Sunday morning dawned clear, and all seemed propitious for the conspirators. The "Margaretta" had then been in port for more than a week, and her officers had no reason to doubt the loyalty and friendship of the inhabitants: no whisper of the occurrences in Massachusetts, nor any hint of the purposes of the people of Machias, had reached their ears. Therefore, on this peaceful May morning, Capt. Moore donned his full-dress uniform, and with his brother officers proceeded to the little church in the village.

Every thing then seemed favorable to the success of the adventure. The "Margaretta," manned by a sleepy crew, and deserted by her officers, lay within easy distance of the shore. It seemed as though the conspirators had only to divide into two parties; and while the one surrounded the church, and captured the worshipping officers, the others might descend upon the schooner, and easily make themselves masters of all.

But the plot failed. History fails to record just how or why the suspicions of Capt. Moore were aroused. Whether it was that the wary captain noticed the absence of most of the young men of the congregation, or whether he saw the conspirators assembling on the dock, is not known. But certain it is that the good dominie in the pulpit, and the pious people in the pews, were mightily startled by the sudden uprisal of Capt. Moore, who sprang from his seat, and, calling upon his officers to follow him, leaped through the great window of the church, and ran like mad for the shore, followed by the rest of the naval party.

There was no more church for the good people of Machias that morning. Even the preacher came down from his pulpit to stare through his horn-rimmed glasses at the retreating forms of his whilom listeners. And, as he stood in blank amazement at the church door, he saw a large party of the missing young men of his congregation come dashing down the street in hot pursuit of the retreating mariners. In their hands, the pursuers carried sabres, cutlasses, old flint-lock muskets, cumbrous horse-pistols, scythes, and reaping-hooks. The pursued wore no arms; and, as no boat awaited them at the shore, their case looked hopeless indeed. But the old salt left in charge of the schooner was equal to the occasion. The unsabbath-like tumult on the shore quickly attracted his attention, and with unfeigned astonishment he had observed his commander's unseemly egress from the church. But, when the armed band of colonists appeared upon the scene, he ceased to rub his eyes in wonder, and quickly loaded up a swivel gun, with which he let fly, over the heads of his officers, and in dangerous proximity to the advancing colonists. This fire checked the advance of the conspirators; and, while they wavered and hung back, a boat put off from the schooner, and soon took the officers aboard. Then, after firing a few solid shot over the town, merely as an admonition of what might be expected if the hot-headed young men persisted in their violent outbreaks, the "Margaretta" dropped down the bay to a more secluded anchorage.

The defeated conspirators were vastly chagrined at the miscarriage of their plot; but, nothing daunted, they resolved to attempt to carry the schooner by assault, since strategy had failed. Therefore, early the next morning, four young men seized upon a sloop, and, bringing her up to the wharf, cheered lustily. A crowd soon gathered, and the project was explained, and volunteers called for. Thirty-five hardy sailors and woodmen hastily armed themselves with muskets, pitchforks, and axes; and, after taking aboard a small supply of provisions, the sloop dropped down the harbor toward the "Margaretta." The captain of the threatened schooner had observed through his spy-glass the proceedings at the wharf, and suspected his danger. He was utterly ignorant of the reason for this sudden hostility on the part of the people of Machias. He knew nothing of the quarrel that had thus provoked the rebellion of the colonies. Therefore, he sought to avoid a conflict; and, upon the approach of the sloop, he hoisted his anchor, and fled down the bay.

The sloop followed in hot haste. The Yankees crowded forward, and shouted taunts and jeers at their more powerful enemy who thus strove to avoid the conflict. Both vessels were under full sail; and the size of the schooner was beginning to tell, when, in jibing, she carried away her main boom. Nevertheless, she was so far ahead of the sloop that she was able to put into Holmes Bay, and take a spar out of a vessel lying there, before the sloop overtook her. But the delay incident upon changing the spars brought the sloop within range; and Capt.Moore, still anxious to avoid an encounter, cut away his boats, and stood out to sea. With plenty of sea room, and with a spanking breeze on the quarter, the sloop proved to be the better sailer. Moore then prepared for battle, and, as the sloop overhauled him, let fly one of his swivels, following it immediately with his whole broadside, killing one man. The sloop returned the fire with her one piece of ordnance, which was so well aimed as to kill the man at the helm of the "Margaretta," and clear her quarter-deck. The two vessels then closed, and a hand-to-hand battle began, in which muskets, hand-grenades, pikes, pitchforks, and cutlasses were used with deadly effect. The colonists strove to board their enemy, but were repeatedly beaten back. If any had thought that Capt.Moore's continued efforts to avoid a conflict were signs of cowardice, they were quickly undeceived; for that officer fought like a tiger, standing on the quarter-deck rail, cheering on his men, and hurling hand-grenades down upon his assailants, until a shot brought him down. The fall of their captain disheartened the British; and the Americans quickly swarmed over the sides of the "Margaretta," and drove her crew below.

This victory was no mean achievement for the colonists. The "Margaretta" was vastly the superior, both in metal and in the strength of her crew. She was ably officered by trained and courageous seamen; while the Yankees had no leaders save one Jeremiah O'Brien, whom they had elected, by acclamation, captain. That the Americans had so quickly brought their more powerful foe to terms, spoke volumes for their pluck and determination. Nor were they content to rest with the capture of the schooner. Transferring her armament to the sloop, O'Brien set out in search of prizes, and soon fell in with, and captured, two small British cruisers. These he took to Watertown, where the Massachusetts Legislature was then in session. The news of his victory was received with vast enthusiasm; and the Legislature conferred upon him the rank of captain, and ordered him to set out on another cruise, and particularly watch out for British vessels bringing over provisions or munitions of war to the king's troops in America.

But by this time Great Britain was aroused. The king saw all America up in arms against his authority, and he determined to punish the rebellious colonists. A naval expedition was therefore sent against Falmouth, and that unfortunate town was given to the flames. The Legislature of Massachusetts then passed a law granting commissions to privateers, and directing the seizure of British ships. Thereafter the hostilities on the ocean, which had been previously unauthorized and somewhat piratical, had the stamp of legislative authority.

Petty hostilities along the coast were very active during the first few months of the war. The exploits of Capt.O'Brien stirred up seamen from Maine to the Carolinas, and luckless indeed was the British vessel that fell into their clutches. At Providence two armed American vessels re-took a Yankee brig and sloop that had been captured by the British. At Dartmouth a party of soldiers captured a British armed brig. In addition to these exploits, the success of the American privateers, which had got to sea in great numbers, added greatly to the credit of the American cause.

The first order looking toward the establishment of a national navy was given by Gen. Washington in the latter part of 1775. The sagacious general, knowing that the British forces in Boston were supplied with provisions and munitions of war by sea, conceived the idea of fitting out some swift-sailing cruisers to intercept the enemy's cruisers, and cut off their supplies. Accordingly, on his own authority, he sent out Capt. Broughton with two armed schooners belonging to the colony of Massachusetts. Broughton was ordered to intercept two brigs bound for Quebec with military stores. This he failed to do, but brought in ten other vessels. Congress, however, directed the release of the captured ships, as it was then intended only to take such vessels as were actually employed in the king's service.

By this time Congress had become convinced that some naval force was absolutely essential to the success of the American cause. In October, 1775, it therefore fitted out, and ordered to sea, a number of small vessels. Of these the first to sail was the "Lee," under command of Capt. John Manly, whose honorable name, won in the opening years of the Revolution, fairly entitles him to the station of the father of the American navy.

With his swift cruiser, Manly patrolled the New England coast, and was marvellously successful in capturing British storeships. Washington wrote to Congress, "I am in very great want of powder, lead, mortars, and, indeed, most sorts of military stores." Hardly had the letter been forwarded, when Manly appeared in port with a prize heavy laden with just the goods for which the commander-in-chief had applied. A queer coincidence is on record regarding these captured stores. Samuel Tucker, an able Yankee seaman, later an officer in the American navy, was on the docks at Liverpool as a transport was loading for America. As he saw the great cases of guns and barrels of powder marked "Boston" being lowered into the hold of the vessel, he said to a friend who stood with him, "I would walk barefoot one hundred miles, if by that means these arms could only take the direction of Cambridge." Three months later Tucker was in Washington's camp at Cambridge, and there saw the very arms he had so coveted on the Liverpool docks. They had been captured by Capt. Manly.

Manly's activity proved very harassing to the British, and the sloop-of-war "Falcon" was sent out to capture the Yankee. She fell in with the "Lee" near Gloucester, just as the latter was making for that port with a merchant schooner in convoy. Manly, seeing that the Englishman was too heavy for him, deserted his convoy and ran into the port, where he anchored, out of reach of the sloop's guns. Capt. Lindzee of the "Falcon" stopped to capture the abandoned schooner, and then taking his vessel to the mouth of the port, anchored her in such a way as to prevent any escape for the "Lee." He then prepared to capture the Yankee by boarding. The "Falcon" drew too much water to run alongside the "Lee" at the anchorage Manly had chosen; and the Englishman therefore put his men in large barges, and with a force of about forty men set out to capture the schooner. Manly saw the force that was to be brought against him, and sent his men to quarters, preparing for a desperate resistance. The schooner was lying near the shore; and the townspeople and militia gathered by the water-side, with guns in their hands, prepared to lend their aid to the brave defenders of the "Lee." As the three barges drew near the schooner, Manly mounted the rail, and hailed them, warning them to keep off lest he fire upon them.

"Fire, and be hanged to you," was the response of the lieutenant in command of the assailants. "We have no fear of traitors."

So saying, the British pressed on through a fierce storm of musketry from the deck of the schooner and from the shore. They showed no lack of courage. The lieutenant himself brought his boat under the cabin windows, and was in the act of boarding, when a shot from the shore struck him in the thigh, and he was carried back to the man-of-war. Capt. Lindzee, who had watched the progress of the fight from the deck of the "Falcon," was greatly enraged when his lieutenant was thus disabled; and he hastily despatched re-enforcements to the scene of action, and directed the gunners on the "Falcon" to commence a cannonade of the town.

"Now," said he with an oath, "my boys, we will aim at the Presbyterian church. Well, my brave fellows, one shot more, and the house of God will fall before you."

But the British were fairly outfought, and the outcome of the battle was disastrous to them. A newspaper of the period, speaking of the fight says, "Under God, our little party at the water-side performed wonders; for they soon made themselves masters of both the schooners, the cutter, the two barges, the boat, and every man in them, and all that pertained to them. In the action, which lasted several hours, we have lost but one man; two others wounded,—one of whom is since dead, the other very slightly wounded. We took of the man-of-war's men thirty-five; several are wounded, and one since dead; twenty-four are sent to headquarters. The remainder, being impressed from this and neighboring towns, are permitted to return to their friends. This morning Capt. Lindzee warped off with but one-half of his men, with neither a prize-boat nor tender, except a small skiff the wounded lieutenant returned in."

The work done by the small armed schooners of which the "Lee" was a type encouraged Congress to proceed with the work of organizing a regular navy; and by the end of 1775 that body had authorized the building of thirteen war-vessels carrying from twenty-four to thirty-two guns each. But as some naval force was obviously necessary during the construction of this fleet, five vessels were procured, and the new navy was organized with the following roster of officers:—

  • Esek Hopkins Commander-in-chief.
  • Dudley Saltonstall Captain of the "Alfred."
  • Abraham Whipple Captain of the "Columbus."
  • Nicholas Biddle Captain of the "Andrea Doria."
  • John B. Hopkins Captain of the "Cabot."

A long list of lieutenants was also provided, among whom stands out boldly the name of John Paul Jones. John Manly, whose dashing work in the schooner "Lee" we have already noticed, was left in command of his little craft until the thirty-two-gun ship "Hancock" was completed, when he was put in charge of her.

It may possibly have occurred to some of my readers to wonder what flag floated from the mastheads of these ships. There is much confusion upon this point, and not a little uncertainty. There were three classes of American armed vessels on the seas. First were the privateers, that sailed under any flag that might suit their purpose. Next came the vessels fitted out and commissioned by the individual colonies; these usually floated the flag of the colony from which they hailed. Last came the vessels commissioned by Congress, which at the outset floated many banners of diverse kinds. It fell to the lot of Lieut. Paul Jones, however, to hoist the first authorized American flag over a regularly commissioned vessel-of-war. This flag was of bunting, showing a pine-tree on a plain white ground, with the words "Liberty Tree" and "Appeal to God" prominently displayed. This flag was chiefly used until the adoption of the stars and stripes. The "rattlesnake flag," with a reptile in the act of striking, and the legend "Don't tread on me," was largely used by the privateers.

The year 1775 closed with but little activity upon the ocean. The ships of the regular navy were late in getting into commission, and an early winter impeded their usefulness. Some little work was done by privateers and the ships of the different colonies, and the ships of the British navy were kept fully occupied in guarding against the operations of these gentry. The man-of-war "Nautilus" chased an American privateer into a little cove near Beverly, and in the heat of the chase both vessels ran aground. The people on shore put off to the privateer, and quickly stripped her of her cordage and armament, and with the guns built a small battery by the water-side, from which they opened a telling fire upon the stranded "Nautilus." The man-of-war returned in kind, and did some slight damage to the town; but when the tide had risen she slipped her cables and departed. Such desultory encounters were of frequent occurrence, but no naval battles of any importance took place until the spring of 1776.

Commodore Esek Hopkins.

Commodore Esek Hopkins.


While it was chiefly in expeditions against the buccaneers, or in the defence of merchantmen against these predatory gentry, that the American colonists gained their experience in naval warfare, there were, nevertheless, some few naval expeditions fitted out by the colonists against the forces of a hostile government. Both to the north and south lay the territory of France and Spain,—England's traditional enemies; and so soon as the colonies began to give evidence of their value to the mother country, so soon were they dragged into the quarrels in which the haughty mistress of the seas was ever plunged. Of the southern colonies, South Carolina was continually embroiled with Spain, owing to the conviction of the Spanish that the boundaries of Florida—at that time a Spanish colony—included the greater part of the Carolinas. For the purpose of enforcing this idea, the Spaniards, in 1706, fitted out an expedition of four ships-of-war and a galley, which, under the command of a celebrated French admiral, was despatched to take Charleston. The people of Charleston were in no whit daunted, and on the receipt of the news of the expedition began preparations for resistance. They had no naval vessels; but several large merchantmen, being in port, were hastily provided with batteries, and a large galley was converted into a flag-ship. Having no trained naval officers, the command of the improvised squadron was tendered to a certain Lieut.-Col. Rhett, who possessed the confidence of the colonists. Rhett accepted the command; and when the attacking party cast anchor some miles below the city, and landed their shore forces, he weighed anchor, and set out to attack them. But the Spaniards avoided the conflict, and fled out to sea, leaving their land forces to bear the brunt of battle. In this action, more than half of the invaders were killed or taken prisoners. Some days later, one of the Spanish vessels, having been separated from her consorts, was discovered by Rhett, who attacked her, and after a sharp fight captured her, bringing her with ninety prisoners to Charleston.

But it was chiefly in expeditions against the French colonies to the northward that the naval strength of the English colonies was exerted. Particularly were the colonies of Port Royal, in Acadia, and the French stronghold of Quebec coveted by the British, and they proved fertile sources of contention in the opening years of the eighteenth century. Although the movement for the capture of these colonies was incited by the ruling authorities of Great Britain, its execution was left largely to the colonists. One of the earliest of these expeditions was that which sailed from Nantasket, near Boston, in April, 1690, bound for the conquest of Port Royal.

This expedition was under the command of Sir William Phipps, a sturdy colonist, whose life was not devoid of romantic episodes. Though his ambitions were of the lowliest,—his dearest wish being "to command a king's ship, and own a fair brick house in the Green Lane of North Boston,"—he managed to win for himself no small amount of fame and respect in the colonies. His first achievement was characteristic of that time, when Spanish galleons, freighted with golden ingots, still sailed the seas, when pirates buried their booty, and when the treasures carried down in sunken ships were not brought up the next day by divers clad in patented submarine armor. From a weather-beaten old seaman, with whom he became acquainted while pursuing his trade of ship-carpentering Phipps learned of a sunken wreck lying on the sandy bottom many fathoms beneath the blue surface of the Gulf of Mexico. The vessel had gone down fifty years before, and had carried with her great store of gold and silver, which she was carrying from the rich mines of Central and South America to the Court of Spain. Phipps, laboriously toiling with adze and saw in his ship-yard, listened to the story of the sailor, his blood coursing quicker in his veins, and his ambition for wealth and position aroused to its fullest extent. Here, then, thought he, was the opportunity of a lifetime. Could he but recover the treasures carried down with the sunken ship, he would have wealth and position in the colony. With these two allies at his command, the task of securing a command in the king's navy would be an easy one. But to seek out the sunken treasure required a ship and seamen. Clearly his own slender means could never meet the demands of so great an undertaking. Therefore, gathering together all his small savings, William Phipps set sail for England, in the hopes of interesting capitalists there in his scheme. By dint of indomitable persistence, the unknown American ship-carpenter managed to secure the influence of certain officials of high station in England, and finally managed to get the assistance of the British admiralty. A frigate, fully manned, was given him, and he set sail for the West Indies.

Once arrived in the waters of the Spanish Main, he began his search. Cruising about the spot indicated by his seafaring informant as the location of the sunken vessel, sounding and dredging occupied the time of the treasure-seekers for months. The crew, wearying of the fruitless search, began to murmur, and signs of mutiny were rife. Phipps, filled with thoughts of the treasure for which he sought, saw not at all the lowering looks, nor heard the half-uttered threats, of the crew as he passed them. But finally the mutiny so developed that he could no longer ignore its existence.

It was then the era of the buccaneers. Doubtless some of the crew had visited the outlaws' rendezvous at New Providence, and had told their comrades of the revelry and ease in which the sea robbers spent their days. And so it happened that one day, as Phipps stood on the quarter-deck vainly trying to choke down the nameless fear that had begun to oppress him,—the fear that his life's venture had proved a failure,—his crew came crowding aft, armed to the teeth, and loudly demanded that the captain should abandon his foolish search, and lead them on a fearless buccaneering cruise along the Spanish Main. The mutiny was one which might well have dismayed the boldest sea captain. The men were desperate, and well armed. Phipps was almost without support; for his officers, by their irresolute and timid demeanor, gave him little assurance of aid.

Standing on the quarter-deck, Phipps listened impatiently to the complaints of the mutineers; but, when their spokesman called upon him to lead them upon a piratical cruise, he lost all control of himself, and, throwing all prudence to the winds, sprung into the midst of the malcontents, and laid about him right manfully with his bare fists. The mutineers were all well armed, but seemed loath to use their weapons; and the captain, a tall, powerful man, soon awed them all into submission.

Though he showed indomitable energy in overcoming obstacles, Phipps was not destined to discover the object of his search at this time; and, after several months' cruising, he was forced, by the leaky condition of his vessel, to abandon the search. But, before leaving the waters of the Spanish Main, he obtained enough information to convince him that his plan was a practicable one, and no mere visionary scheme. On reaching England, he went at once to some wealthy noblemen, and, laying before them all the facts in his possession, so interested them in the project that they readily agreed to supply him with a fresh outfit. After a few weeks spent in organizing his expedition, the treasure-seeker was again on the ocean, making his way toward the Mexican Gulf. This time his search was successful, and a few days' work with divers and dredges about the sunken ship brought to light bullion and specie to the amount of more than a million and a half dollars. As his ill success in the first expedition had embroiled him with his crew, so his good fortune this time aroused the cupidity of the sailors. Vague rumors of plotting against his life reached the ears of Phipps. Examining further into the matter, he learned that the crew was plotting to seize the vessel, divide the treasure, and set out upon a buccaneering cruise. Alarmed at this intelligence, Phipps strove to conciliate the seamen by offering them a share of the treasure. Each man should receive a portion, he promised, even if he himself had to pay it. The men agreed to this proposition; and so well did Phipps keep his word with them on returning to England, that, of the whole treasure, only about eighty thousand dollars remained to him as his share. This, however, was an ample fortune for those times; and with it Phipps returned to Boston, and began to devote himself to the task of securing a command in the royal navy.

His first opportunity to distinguish himself came in the expedition of 1690 against Port Royal. Throughout the wars between France and England, the French settlement of Port Royal had been a thorn in the flesh of Massachusetts. From Port Royal, the trim-built speedy French privateers put to sea, and seldom returned without bringing in their wake some captured coaster or luckless fisherman hailing from the colony of the Puritans. When the depredations of the privateers became unbearable, Massachusetts bestirred herself, and the doughty Phipps was sent with an expedition to reduce their unneighborly neighbor to subjection. Seven vessels and two hundred and eighty-eight men were put under the command of the lucky treasure-hunter. The expedition was devoid of exciting or novel features. Port Royal was reached without disaster, and the governor surrendered with a promptitude which should have won immunity for the people of the village. But the Massachusetts sailors had not undertaken the enterprise for glory alone, and they plundered the town before taking to their ships again.

This expedition, however, was but an unimportant incident in the naval annals of the colonies. It was followed quickly by an expedition of much graver importance.

When Phipps returned after capturing and plundering Port Royal, he found Boston vastly excited over the preparations for an expedition against Quebec. The colony was in no condition to undertake the work of conquest. Prolonged Indian wars had greatly depleted its treasury. Vainly it appealed to England for aid, but, receiving no encouragement, sturdily determined to undertake the expedition unaided. Sailors were pressed from the merchant-shipping. Trained bands, as the militia of that day was called, drilled in the streets, and on the common. Subscription papers were being circulated; and vessel owners were blandly given the choice between voluntarily loaning their vessels to the colony, or having them peremptorily seized. In this way a fleet of thirty-two vessels had been collected; the largest of which was a ship called the "Six Friends," built for the West India trade, and carrying forty-four guns. This armada was manned by seamen picked up by a press so vigorous, that Gloucester, the chief seafaring town of the colony, was robbed of two-thirds of its men. Hardly had Capt. Phipps, flushed with victory, returned from his Port Royal expedition, when he was given command of the armada destined for the capture of Quebec.

Early in August the flotilla set sail from Boston Harbor. The day was clear and warm, with a light breeze blowing. From his flag-ship Phipps gave the signal for weighing anchor, and soon the decks of the vessels thickly strewn about the harbor resounded to the tread of men about the capstan. Thirty-two vessels of the squadron floated lightly on the calm waters of the bay; and darting in and out among them were light craft carrying pleasure-seekers who had come down to witness the sailing of the fleet, friends and relatives of the sailors who were there to say farewell, and the civic dignitaries who came to wish the expedition success. One by one the vessels beat their way down the bay, and, rounding the dangerous reef at the mouth of the harbor, laid their course to the northward. It was a motley fleet of vessels. The "Six Brothers" led the way, followed by brigs, schooners, and many sloop-rigged fishing-smacks. With so ill-assorted a flotilla, it was impossible to keep any definite sailing order. The first night scattered the vessels far and wide, and thenceforward the squadron was not united until it again came to anchor just above the mouth of the St. Lawrence. It seemed as though the very elements had combined against the voyagers. Though looking for summer weather, they encountered the bitter gales of November. Only after they had all safely entered the St. Lawrence, and were beyond injury from the storms, did the gales cease. They had suffered all the injury that tempestuous weather could do them, and they then had to chafe under the enforced restraints of a calm.

Phipps had rallied his scattered fleet, and had proceeded up the great river of the North to within three days' sail of Quebec, when the calm overtook him. On the way up the river he had captured two French luggers, and learned from his prisoners that Quebec was poorly fortified, that the cannon on the redoubts were dismounted, and that hardly two hundred men could be rallied to its defence. Highly elated at this, the Massachusetts admiral pressed forward. He anticipated that Quebec, like Port Royal, would surrender without striking a blow. Visions of high honors, and perhaps even a commission in the royal navy, floated across his brain. And while thus hurrying forward his fleet, drilling his men, and building his air-castles, his further progress was stopped by a dead calm which lasted three weeks.

How fatal to his hopes that calm was, Phipps, perhaps, never knew. The information he had wrung from his French prisoners was absolutely correct. Quebec at that time was helpless, and virtually at his mercy. But, while the Massachusetts armada lay idly floating on the unruffled bosom of the river, a man was hastening towards Quebec whose timely arrival meant the salvation of the French citadel.

This man was Frontenac , then governor of the French colony, and one of the most picturesque figures in American history. A soldier of France; a polished courtier at the royal court; a hero on the battle-field, and a favorite in the ball-room; a man poor in pocket, but rich in influential connections,—Frontenac  had come to the New World to seek that fortune and position which he had in vain sought in the Old. When the vague rumors of the hostile expedition of the Massachusetts colony reached his ears, Frontenac  was far from Quebec, toiling in the western part of the colony. Wasting no time, he turned his steps toward the threatened city. His road lay through an almost trackless wilderness; his progress was impeded by the pelting rains of the autumnal storms. But through forest and through rain he rode fiercely; and at last as he burst from the forest, and saw towering before him the rocks of Cape Diamond, a cry of joy burst from his lips. On the broad, still bosom of the St Lawrence Bay floated not a single hostile sail. The soldier had come in time.

With the governor in the city, all took courage, and the work of preparation for the coming struggle went forward with a rush. Far and wide throughout the parishes was spread the news of war, and daily volunteers came flocking in to the defence. The ramparts were strengthened, and cannon mounted. Volunteers and regulars drilled side by side, until the four thousand men in the city were converted into a well-disciplined body of troops. And all the time the sentinels on the Saut au Matelot  were eagerly watching the river for the first sign of the English invaders.

It was before dawn, on the morning of Oct. 16, that the people of the little city, and the soldiery in the tents, were awakened by the alarm raised by the sentries. All rushed to the brink of the heights, and peered eagerly out into the darkness. Far down the river could be seen the twinkling lights of vessels. As the eager watchers strove to count them, other lights appeared upon the scene, moving to and fro, but with a steady advance upon Quebec. The gray dawn, breaking in the east, showed the advancing fleet. Frontenac  and his lieutenants watched the ships of the enemy round the jutting headland of the Point of Orleans; and, by the time the sun had risen, thirty-four hostile craft were at anchor in the basin of Quebec.

The progress of the fleet up the river, from the point at which it had been so long delayed, had been slow, and greatly impeded by the determined hostility of the settlers along the banks. The sailors at their work were apt to be startled by the whiz of a bullet; and an inquiry as to the cause would have probably discovered some crouching sharp-shooter, his long rifle in his hand, hidden in a clump of bushes along the shore. Bands of armed men followed the fleet up the stream, keeping pace with the vessels, and occasionally affording gentle reminders of their presence in the shape of volleys of rifle-balls that sung through the crowded decks of the transports, and gave the sailor lads a hearty disgust for this river fighting. Phipps tried repeatedly to land shore parties to clear the banks of skirmishers, and to move on the city by land. As often, however, as he made the effort, his troops were beaten back by the ambushed sharp-shooters, and his boats returned to the ships, bringing several dead and wounded.

While the soldiery on the highlands of Quebec were eagerly examining the hostile fleet, the invaders were looking with wonder and admiration at the scene of surpassing beauty spread out before them. Parkman, the historian and lover of the annals of the French in America, thus describes it:—

"When, after his protracted voyage, Phipps sailed into the basin of Quebec, one of the grandest scenes on the western continent opened upon his sight. The wide expanse of waters, the lofty promontory beyond, and the opposing Heights of Levi, the cataract of Montmorenci, the distant range of the Laurentian Mountains, the warlike rock with its diadem of walls and towers, the roofs of the Lower Town clustering on the strand beneath, the Chateau St. Louis perched at the brink of the cliff, and over it the white banner, spangled with fleurs de lis , flaunting defiance in the clear autumnal air."

Little time was spent, however, in admiration of the scene. When the click of the last chain-cable had ceased, and, with their anchors reposing at the bottom of the stream, the ships swung around with their bows to the current, a boat put off from the flag-ship bearing an officer intrusted with a note from Phipps to the commandant of the fort. The reception of this officer was highly theatrical. Half way to the shore he was taken into a French canoe, blindfolded, and taken ashore. The populace crowded about him as he landed, hooting and jeering him as he was led through winding, narrow ways, up stairways, and over obstructions, until at last the bandage was torn from his eyes, and he found himself in the presence of Frontenac. The French commander was clad in a brilliant uniform, and surrounded by his staff, gay in warlike finery. With courtly courtesy he asked the envoy for his letter, which, proving to be a curt summons to surrender, he answered forthwith in a stinging speech. The envoy, abashed, asked for a written answer.

"No," thundered Frontenac , "I will answer your master only by the mouths of my cannon, that he may learn that a man like me is not to be summoned after this fashion. Let him do his best, and I will do mine."

The envoy returned to his craft, and made his report. The next day hostilities opened. Wheeling his ships into line before the fortifications, Phipps opened a heavy fire upon the city. From the frowning ramparts on the heights, Frontenac 's cannon answered in kind. Fiercely the contest raged until nightfall, and vast was the consumption of gunpowder; but damage done on either side was but little. All night the belligerents rested on their arms; but, at daybreak, the roar of the cannonade recommenced.

The gunners of the opposing forces were now upon their mettle, and the gunnery was much better than the day before. A shot from the shore cut the flagstaff of the admiral's ship, and the cross of St. George fell into the river. Straightway a canoe put out from the shore, and with swift, strong paddle-strokes was guided in chase of the floating trophy. The fire of the fleet was quickly concentrated upon the adventurous canoeists. Cannon-balls and rifle-bullets cut the water about them; but their frail craft survived the leaden tempest, and they captured the trophy, and bore it off in triumph.

Phipps felt that the incident was an unfavorable omen, and would discourage his men. He cast about in his mind for a means of retaliation. Far over the roofs of the city rose a tapering spire, that of the cathedral in the Upper Town. On this spire, the devout Catholics of the French city had hung a picture of the Holy Family as an invocation of Divine aid. Through his spy-glass, Phipps could see that some strange object hung from the steeple, and, suspecting its character, commanded the gunners to try to knock it down. For hours the Puritans wasted their ammunition in this vain target-practice, but to no avail. The picture still hung on high; and the devout Frenchmen ascribed its escape to a miracle, although its destruction would have been more miraculous still.

It did not take long to convince Phipps that in this contest his fleet was getting badly worsted, and he soon withdrew his vessels to a place of safety. The flag-ship had been fairly riddled with shot; and her rigging was so badly cut, that she could only get out of range of the enemy's guns by cutting her cables, and drifting away with the current. Her example was soon followed by the remaining vessels.

Sorely crestfallen, Phipps abandoned the fight, and prepared to return to Boston. His voyage thither was stormy; and three or four of his vessels never were heard of, having been dashed to pieces by the waves, or cast away upon the iron-bound coast of Nova Scotia or Maine. His expedition was the most costly in lives and in treasure ever undertaken by a single colony, and, despite its failure, forms the most notable incident in the naval annals of the colonies prior to the Revolution.

The French colonies continued to be a fruitful source of war and turmoil. Many were the joint military and naval expeditions fitted out against them by the British colonies. Quebec, Louisbourg, and Port Royal were all threatened; and the two latter were captured by colonial expeditions. From a naval point of view, these expeditions were but trifling. They are of some importance, however, in that they gave the colonists an opportunity to try their prowess on the ocean; and in this irregular service were bred some sailors who fought right valiantly for the rebellious colonies against the king, and others who did no less valiant service under the royal banner.


As Hull and Decatur sat in the gayly decorated banquet-hall at New York, and, amid the plaudits of the brilliant assembly, drank bumpers to the success of the navy, they little thought that thousands of miles away the guns of an American frigate were thundering, and the stout-hearted blue-jackets laying down their lives for the honor and glory of the United States. But so it was. The opening year of the war was not destined to close without yet a fourth naval victory for the Americans; and, at the very moment when they were so joyfully celebrating the glories already won, Capt. Bainbridge in the good ship "Constitution" was valiantly giving battle to a British frigate far south of the equator.

Before considering the details of this last action of the year 1812, let us recount briefly the movements of some American vessels in commission at this time. After sending the "Guerriere" to the bottom of the sea, and bringing her officers and crew in triumph into Boston, Capt. Hull had voluntarily relinquished the command of the "Constitution," in order that some other officer might win laurels with the noble frigate. In his place was appointed Capt. Bainbridge, who had served in the wars with France and Tripoli. After a short time spent in refitting, Bainbridge sailed from Boston, accompanied by the "Hornet," eighteen guns. The "Essex," thirty-two,Capt. Porter, was lying in the Delaware at the time Bainbridge left Boston, and her captain was ordered to cruise in the track of British West-Indiamen. After spending some time in this service, he was to turn southward and visit several South American ports, with a view to joining Bainbridge. Should he fail to find the "Constitution," he was free to act at his own discretion. This permission gave Porter an opportunity to make a cruise seldom equalled in naval annals, and which will form the subject of a subsequent chapter.

The "Constitution" and "Hornet" left Boston on the 26th of October, and shaped their course at once for the south. They put in at two or three ports which had been named to Capt. Porter as meeting-places, but, finding no trace of the "Essex," continued their cruise. At Port Praya in the island of St. Jago, and at Fernando Noronha, the two ships assumed the character of British men-of-war. Officers from whose uniform every trace of the American eagle had been carefully removed went ashore, and, after paying formal visits to the governors of the two islands, requested permission to leave letters for Sir James Yeo of His Majesty's service. Though directed to this prominent British naval officer, the letters were intended for Capt. Porter, and contained directions for his cruise, written in sympathetic ink. After the letters were deposited, the two vessels left; and we may be sure that the British colors came down from the masthead as soon as the ships were out of sight.

The next point at which the American ships stopped was San Salvador, on the coast of Brazil. Here Bainbridge lay-to outside the harbor, and sent in Capt. Lawrence with the "Hornet" to communicate with the American consul. Lawrence returned greatly excited. In the harbor he had found the British sloop-of-war "Bonne Citoyenne," of twenty guns, which was on the point of sailing for England. A more evenly matched adversary for the "Hornet" could not have been found, and the Yankee sailors longed for an engagement. A formal challenge was sent, through the American consul, to the captain of the British ship, requesting him to come out and try conclusions with the "Hornet." Every assurance was offered that the "Constitution" would remain in the offing, and take no part in the battle, which was to test the strength of the two equally matched ships only. Some days later, this challenge was reduced to writing, and sent to the English captain. But that officer declined the challenge, giving as his reason the fact that he had in his ship over half a million pounds in specie, which it was his duty to convey to England. For him to give battle to the "Hornet," would therefore be unwise, as he would put in jeopardy this money which it was his duty to guard. This response was conclusive, and the Englishman must be admitted to have acted wisely; but the knowledge of the valuable cargo of the "Bonne Citoyenne" only increased the desire of the Americans to capture her. The "Hornet" accordingly remained outside the harbor, as a blockader, while the "Constitution" continued her cruise alone.

Assuming To Be British Men-of-war.

Assuming To Be British Men-of-war.

She had not far to go in order to meet an enemy well worthy of her metal. Three days after parting with the "Hornet," two sail were made, well in shore. One of the vessels so sighted seemed to make for the land, as though anxious to avoid meeting the American ship; while the other came about, and made her course boldly toward the "Constitution."

It was about nine o'clock on a bright December morning that the "Constitution" encountered the strange vessel, which bore down upon her. A light breeze, of sufficient force to enable the vessels to manœuvre, was blowing; but the surface of the ocean was as placid as a lake in summer. The build of the stranger left no doubt of her warlike character, and the bold manner in which she sought a meeting with the American ship convinced Bainbridge that he had fallen in with an enemy. The "Constitution" did not for a time meet the enemy's advances in kind. Back of the advancing frigate could be seen the low, dark coast-line of Brazil, into whose neutral waters the Englishman could retreat, and thus gain protection, if the conflict seemed to go against him. Bainbridge determined that the coming battle should be fought beyond the possibility of escape for the vanquished, and therefore drew away gradually as the stranger came on. By noon the two ships were near enough together for flags to be visible, when Bainbridge set his colors, and displayed private signals. The enemy did the same; and, though his signals were unintelligible, the flag that fluttered at the masthead was clearly the flag of Great Britain. Bainbridge continued his retreat for an hour longer, then, being far enough from land, took in his main-sail and royals, and tacked toward the Englishman.

By this time the strange sail which had been sighted in company with the English ship had disappeared. The low-lying coast of Brazil had sunk below the horizon. From the deck of the "Constitution," nothing could be seen but the vast circle of placid ocean, and the English frigate about a mile to the windward, bearing down to open the fight. The drums beat, and the crew went quietly and in perfect order to their quarters. They were no longer the raw, untrained crew that had joined the ship some months before. They were veterans, with the glorious victory over the "Guerriere" fresh in their remembrance, and now animated with a desire to add to their trophies the strange vessel then in sight.

As the enemy, which proved to be the "Java," thirty-eight, Capt. Lambert, came nearer, she hauled down her colors, leaving only a jack flying. A jack is a small flag hoisted at the bowsprit cap. The Union jack of the United States navy is a blue flag dotted with stars, but without the stripes of the national flag; the jack of Great Britain has the scarlet cross of St. George on a blue field. The Englishman's action in hauling down his ensigns puzzled Bainbridge, who sent a shot as an order that they be raised again. The response to this reminder came in the form of a heavy broadside, and the action opened.

In the light wind that was blowing, the enemy proved the better sailer, and soon forged ahead. His object was to cross the bows of the American ship, and get in a raking broadside,—the end and aim of most of the naval manœuvring in those days of wooden ships and heavy batteries. By skilful seamanship, Bainbridge warded off the danger; and the fight continued broadside to broadside. The firing on both sides was rapid and well directed. After half an hour of fighting, the "Constitution" was seriously crippled by a round shot, which carried away her wheel, and wounded Bainbridge by driving a small copper bolt deep into his thigh. For a moment it seemed as though the American ship was lost. Having no control over the rudder, her head fell off, her sails flapped idly against the spars, and the enemy was fast coming into an advantageous position. But, though wounded, the indomitable Yankee captain was equal to the occasion. Tackle was rigged upon the rudder-post between decks, and a crew of jackies detailed to work the improvised helm. The helmsmen were far out of earshot of the quarter-deck: so a line of midshipmen was formed from the quarter-deck to the spot where the sailors tugged at the steering-lines.

"Hard-a-port!" Bainbridge would shout from his station on the quarter-deck.

Marines Picking Off The Enemy.

Marines Picking Off The Enemy.

"Hard-a-port! Hard-a-port!" came the quick responses, as the midshipmen passed the word along. And so the ship was steered; and, notwithstanding the loss of her wheel, fairly out-manœuvred her antagonist. The first raking broadside was delivered by the "Constitution," and did terrible execution along the gun-deck of the English ship. The two ships then ran before the wind, exchanging broadsides at a distance of half pistol-shot. At this game the American was clearly winning: so the Englishman determined to close and board, in the dashing, fearless way that had made the tars of Great Britain the terror of all maritime peoples. The frigate bore down on the "Constitution," and struck her on the quarter; the long jib-boom tearing its way through the rigging of the American ship. But, while this movement was being executed, the American gunners had not been idle; and the results of their labors were very evident, in the rigging of the "Java." Her jib-boom and bowsprit were so shattered by shot, that they were on the point of giving way; and, as the ships met, the mizzen-mast fell, crashing through forecastle and main-deck, crushing officers and sailors beneath it in the fall, and hurling the topmen into the ocean to drown. The "Constitution" shot ahead, but soon wore and lay yard-arm to yard-arm with her foe. For some minutes the battle raged with desperation. A dense sulphurous smoke hung about the hulls of the two ships, making any extended vision impossible. Once in a while a fresher puff of wind, or a change in the position of the ships, would give the jackies a glimpse of their enemy, and show fierce faces glaring from the open ports, as the great guns were drawn in for loading. Then the gray pall of smoke fell, and nothing was to be seen but the carnage near at hand. The officers on the quarter-deck could better judge of the progress of the fray; and, the marines stationed there took advantage of every clear moment to pick off some enemy with a shot from one of their muskets. High up in the tops of the "Constitution" were two small howitzers, with which crews of topmen, under the command of midshipmen, made lively play with grape and canister upon the crowded decks of the enemy. From the cavernous submarine depths of the cock-pit and magazine, to the tops of each ship, not an idler was to be found. Chaplains, surgeons, clerks, cooks, and waiters—all were working or fighting for the honor of the flag under which they served.

Again the British determined to board; and the quick, sharp notes of the bugle calling up the boarders gave warning of their intentions. The men in the tops of the American frigate, looking down from their lofty station, could see the crowd of boarders and marines gathered on the forecastle and in the gang-ways, and could hear the shrill notes of the boatswain's whistle cheering them on. At that moment, however, the American fire raked the enemy with fearful effect, and the volleys of musketry from the marines and topmen made such havoc among the crowded boarders that the attempt was abandoned. The deadly fire of the Americans was not slackened. Capt.Lambert was struck down, mortally wounded; and the command fell upon Lieut. Chads, who, though himself badly wounded, continued the fight with true British courage. Over the side of the "Java" hung the wreck of her top-hamper, which every broadside set on fire. Yet the British tars fought on, cheering lustily, and not once thinking of surrender, though they saw their foremast gone, their mizzen-mast shivered, even the last flag shot away, and the last gun silenced.

When affairs had reached this stage, the "Constitution," seeing no flag flying on the enemy, hauled away, and set about repairing her own damages. While thus engaged, the main-mast of the "Java" was seen to go by the board, and the ship lay a hopeless wreck upon the water. After making some slight repairs, Bainbridge returned to take possession of his prize, but, to his surprise, found a jack still floating over the helpless hulk. It was merely a bit of bravado, however; for, as the "Constitution" ranged up alongside, the jack was hauled down.

In The Cross-trees.

In The Cross-trees.

The "Java" proved to be a rich prize. She was one of the best of the English frigates, and had just been especially fitted up for the accommodation of the governor-general of Bombay and his staff, all of whom were then on board. This added to the regular number of officers and crew more than one hundred prisoners, mostly of high rank in British military and social circles.

The boarding officer found the ship so badly cut up that to save her was impossible. Her loss in men, including her captain Henry Lambert, and five midshipmen, was forty-eight, together with one hundred and five wounded, among whom were many officers. The "Constitution" had suffered much less severely, having but twelve killed and twenty wounded. The ship herself was but little damaged; her chief injury being the loss of her wheel, which was immediately replaced by that of the "Java."

Capt. Bainbridge now found himself a great distance from home, with a disabled ship filled with prisoners, many of whom were wounded. Even had the wreck of the "Java" been less complete, it would have been hazardous to attempt to take her back to the United States through the West India waters that swarmed with British vessels. No course was open save to take the prisoners aboard the "Constitution," and set the torch to the disabled hulk.

To do this was a work of no little difficulty. The storm of lead and iron that had swept across the decks of the British frigate had left intact not one of the boats that hung from the davits. The "Constitution" had fared better; but, even with her, the case was desperate, for the British cannonade had left her but two serviceable boats. To transfer from the sinking ship to the victorious frigate nearly five hundred men, over a hundred of whom were wounded, was a serious task when the means of transfer were thus limited.

Three days the "Constitution" lay by her defeated enemy, and hour after hour the boats plied between the two ships. The first to be moved were the wounded. Tackle was rigged over the side of the "Java;" and the mangled sufferers, securely lashed in their hammocks, were gently lowered into the waiting boat, and soon found themselves in the sick-bay of the American ship, where they received the gentlest treatment from those who a few hours before sought only to slay them. The transfer of the wounded once accomplished, the work proceeded with great rapidity: and in the afternoon of the third day the "Constitution" was filled with prisoners; and the "Java," a deserted, shattered hulk, was ready for the last scene in the drama of her career.

The last boat left the desolate wreck, and, reaching the "Constitution," was hauled up to the davits. The side of the American frigate next to the abandoned ship was crowded with men, who looked eagerly across the water. Through the open port-holes of the "Java," a flickering gleam could be seen, playing fitfully upon the decks and gun-carriages. The light grew brighter, and sharp-tongued flames licked the outside of the hull, and set the tangled cordage in a blaze. With this the whole ship seemed to burst into fire, and lay tossing, a huge ball of flame, on the rising sea. When the fire was raging most fiercely, there came a terrific explosion, and the great hull was lifted bodily from the water, falling back shattered into countless bits. Guns, anchors, and ironwork dragged the greater part of the wreckage to the bottom; and when the "Constitution," with all sail set, left the spot, the captive Englishmen, looking sadly back, could see only a patch of charred woodwork and cordage floating upon the ocean to mark the burial-place of the sturdy frigate "Java."

The "Constitution" made sail for San Salvador, where the prisoners were landed; first giving their paroles not to serve against the "United States" until regularly exchanged. Bainbridge then took his ship to Boston, where she arrived in February, 1813.

The substitution of the wheel of the "Java" for that of the "Constitution," shot away in battle, has been alluded to. In his biography of Capt. Bainbridge, Fenimore Cooper relates a story of interest regarding this trophy. It was a year or two after peace was made with England, in 1815, that a British naval officer visited the "Constitution," then lying at the Boston navy-yard. The frigate had been newly fitted out for a cruise to the Mediterranean; and an American officer, with some pride, showed the Englishman over the ship, which was then undoubtedly the finest of American naval vessels. After the tour of the ship had been made, the host said, as they stood chatting on the quarter-deck,—

"Well, what do you think of her?"

"She is one of the finest frigates, if not the very finest, I ever put my foot aboard of," responded the Englishman; "but, as I must find some fault, I'll just say that your wheel is one of the clumsiest things I ever saw, and is unworthy of the vessel."

The American officer laughed.

"Well, you see," said he, "when the 'Constitution' took the 'Java,' the former's wheel was shot out of her. The 'Java's' wheel was fitted on the victorious frigate, to steer by; and, although we think it as ugly as you do, we keep it as a trophy."

All criticisms on the wheel ended then and there.

The defeat of the "Java" closed the warfare on the ocean during 1812. The year ended with the honors largely in the possession of the United States navy. The British could boast of the capture of but two armed vessels,—the "Nautilus," whose capture by an overwhelming force we have already noted; and the little brig "Vixen," twelve guns, which Sir James Yeo, with the "Southampton," thirty-two, had overhauled and captured in the latter part of November. The capture of the "Wasp" by the "Poictiers," when the American sloop-of-war was cut up by her action with the "Frolic," was an occurrence, which, however unfortunate for the Americans, reflected no particular honor upon the British arms.

In opposition to this record, the Americans could boast of victory in four hard-fought battles. In no case had they won through any lack of valor on the part of their antagonists; for the Englishmen had not sought to avoid the battle, and had fought with the dogged valor characteristic of their nation. In one or two instances, it is true that the Americans were more powerful than the foe whom they engaged; but, in such cases, the injury inflicted was out of all proportion to the disparity in size of the combatants. The four great actions resulting in the defeat of the "Guerriere," the "Frolic," the "Macedonian," and the "Java," showed conclusively that the American blue-jackets were equal in courage to their British opponents, and far their superiors in coolness, skill, discipline, and self-reliance; and these qualities may be said to have won the laurels for the American navy that were conceded to it by all impartial observers.

Besides the victories over the four British ships enumerated, the Americans had captured the "Alert," and a British transport bearing a considerable detachment of troops. These achievements, as involving no bloodshed, may be set off against the captures of the "Nautilus" and "Vixen" by the British. Of the number of British merchant-vessels captured, the records are so incomplete that no accurate estimate can be made. To the naval vessels are accredited forty-six captures among the enemy's merchant-marine, and this estimate is probably very nearly accurate. But with the declaration of war, Portsmouth, Salem, New London, New York, Baltimore, and, indeed, every American seaport, fitted out fleet privateers to prey upon the enemy's commerce. The sails of this private armed navy fairly whitened the sea, and few nights were not illuminated by the flames of some burning prize. As their chief object was plunder, the aim of the privateers was to get their prize safely into port; but, when this was impossible, they were not slow in applying the torch to the captured vessel. The injury they inflicted upon the enemy was enormous, and the record of their exploits might well engage the industry of painstaking historians. As an adjunct to the regular navy, they were of great service in bringing the war to a happy conclusion.

It is not to be supposed that the British men-of-war and privateers were idle while the Americans were thus sweeping the seas. More than one American vessel set sail boldly from some little New England port, freighted with the ventures of all classes of tradesmen, only to be snapped up by a rapacious cruiser. But the mercantile marine of the United States was but small, and offered no such rewards to enterprising privateers as did the goodly fleets of West-Indiamen that bore the flag of Great Britain. And so, while the American privateers were thriving and reaping rich rewards of gold and glory, those of the British were gradually abandoning privateering in disgust. The American prize-lists grew so large, that the newspapers commenced the practice of publishing weekly a list of the enemy's ships taken during the week past. In Baltimore, Henry Niles, in his paper "The Weekly Register," robbed "The London Naval Chronicle" of its vainglorious motto,—

"The winds and seas are Britain's broad domain,
And not a sail but by permission spreads."

This sentiment Niles printed at the head of his weekly list of British vessels captured by United States vessels,—a bit of satire not often equalled in the columns of newspapers of to-day.


With the capture of the "Chesapeake" in June, 1813, we abandoned our story of the naval events along the coast of the United States, to follow Capt. Porter and his daring seamen on their long cruise into far-off seas. But while the men of the "Essex" were capturing whalers in the Pacific, chastising insolent savages at Nookaheevah, and fighting a gallant but unsuccessful fight at Valparaiso, other blue-jackets were as gallantly serving their country nearer home. From Portsmouth to Charleston the coast was watched by British ships, and collisions between the enemies were of almost daily occurrence. In many of these actions great bravery was shown on both sides. Noticeably was this the case in the action between the cutter "Surveyor" and the British frigate "Narcissus," on the night of June 12. The "Surveyor," a little craft manned by a crew of fifteen men, and mounting six twelve-pound carronades, was lying in the York River near Chesapeake Bay. From the masthead of the "Narcissus," lying farther down the bay, the spars of the cutter could be seen above the tree-tops; and an expedition was fitted out for her capture. Fifty men, led by a veteran officer, attacked the little vessel in the darkness, but were met with a most determined resistance. The Americans could not use their carronades, but with their muskets they did much execution in the enemy's ranks. But they were finally overpowered, and the little cutter was towed down under the frigate's guns. The next day Mr. Travis, the American commander, received his sword which he had surrendered, with a letter from the British commander, in which he said, "Your gallant and desperate attempt to defend your vessel against more than double your number, on the night of the 12th inst., excited such admiration on the part of your opponents as I have seldom witnessed, and induced me to return you the sword you had so nobly used, in testimony of mine.... In short, I am at a loss which to admire most, the previous arrangement on board the 'Surveyor,' or the determined manner in which her deck was disputed, inch by inch."

During the summer of 1813, the little gunboats, built in accordance with President Jefferson's plan for a coast guard of single-gun vessels, did a great deal of desultory fighting, which resulted in little or nothing. They were not very seaworthy craft, the heavy guns mounted amidships causing them to careen far over in even a sailor's "capfull" of wind. When they went into action, the first shot from the gun set the gunboat rocking so that further fire with any precision of aim was impossible. The larger gunboats carried sail enough to enable them to cruise about the coast, keeping off privateers and checking the marauding expeditions of the British. Many of the gunboats, however, were simply large gallies propelled with oars, and therefore confined in their operations to bays and inland waters. The chief scene of their operations was Chesapeake Bay.

This noble sheet of water had been, since the very opening of the year 1813, under the control of the British, who had gathered there their most powerful vessels under the command of Admiral Cockburn, whose name gained an unenviable notoriety for the atrocities committed by his forces upon the defenceless inhabitants of the shores of Chesapeake Bay. Marauding expeditions were continually sent from the fleet to search the adjacent country for supplies. When this method of securing provisions failed, Cockburn hit upon the plan of bringing his fleet within range of a village, and then commanding the inhabitants to supply his needs, under penalty of the instant bombardment of the town in case of refusal. Sometimes this expedient failed, as when Commodore Beresford, who was blockading the Delaware, called upon the people of Dover to supply him at once with "twenty-five large bullocks and a proportionate quantity of vegetables and hay." But the sturdy inhabitants refused, mustered the militia, dragged some old cannon down to the water-side, and, for lack of cannon-balls of their own, valiantly fired back those thrown by the British, which fitted the American ordnance exactly.

Soon after this occurrence, a large party from Cockburn's fleet landed at Havre de Grace, and, having driven away the few militia, captured and burned the town. Having accomplished this exploit, the marauders continued their way up the bay, and turning up into the Sassafras River ravaged the country on both sides of the little stream. After spreading distress far and wide over the beautiful country that borders Chesapeake Bay, the vandals returned to their ships, boasting that they had despoiled the Americans of at least seventy thousand dollars, and injured them to the amount of ten times that sum.

By June, 1813, the Americans saw that something must be done to check the merciless enemy who had thus revived the cruel vandalism, which had ceased to attend civilized warfare since the middle ages. A fleet of fifteen armed gallies was fitted out to attack the frigate of Cockburn's fleet that lay nearest to Norfolk. Urged forward by long sweeps, the gunboats bore down upon the frigate, which, taken by surprise, made so feeble and irregular a response that the Americans thought they saw victory within their grasp. The gunboats chose their distance, and opened a well-directed fire upon their huge enemy, that, like a hawk attacked by a crowd of sparrows, soon turned to fly. But at this moment the wind changed, enabling two frigates which were at anchor lower down the bay to come up to the aid of their consort. The American gunboats drew off slowly, firing as they departed.

This attack infused new energy into the British, and they at once began formidable preparations for an attack upon Norfolk. On the 20th of June they moved forward to the assault,—three seventy-four-gun ships, one sixty-four, four frigates, two sloops, and three transports. They were opposed by the American forces stationed on Craney Island, which commands the entrance to Norfolk Harbor. Here the Americans had thrown up earthworks, mounting two twenty-four, one eighteen, and four six pound cannon. To work this battery, one hundred sailors from the "Constellation," together with fifty marines, had been sent ashore. A large body of militia and a few soldiers of the regular army were also in camp upon the island.

The British set the 22d as the date for the attack; and on the morning of that day, fifteen large boats, filled with sailors, marines, and soldiers to the number of seven hundred, put off from the ships, and dashed toward the batteries. At the same time a larger force tried to move forward by land, but were driven back, to wait until their comrades in the boats should have stormed and silenced the American battery. But that battery was not to be silenced. After checking the advance of the British by land, the Americans waited coolly for the column of boats to come within point-blank range. On they came, bounding over the waves, led by the great barge "Centipede," fifty feet long, and crowded with men. The blue-jackets in the shore battery stood silently at their guns. Suddenly there arose a cry, "Now, boys, are you ready?" "All ready," was the response. "Then fire!" And the great guns hurled their loads of lead and iron into the advancing boats. The volley was a fearful one; but the British still came on doggedly, until the fire of the battery became too terrible to be endured. "The American sailors handled the great guns like rifles," said one of the British officers, speaking of the battle. Before this terrific fire, the advancing column was thrown into confusion. The boats, drifting upon each other, so crowded together that the oars-men could not make any headway. A huge round shot struck the "Centipede," passing through her diagonally, leaving death and wounds in its track. The shattered craft sunk, and was soon followed by four others. The order for retreat was given; and, leaving their dead and some wounded in the shattered barges that lay in the shallow water, the British fled to their ships. Midshipman Tatnall, who, many years later, served in the Confederate navy, waded out with several sailors, and, seizing the "Centipede," drew her ashore. He found several wounded men in her,—one a Frenchman, with both legs shot away. A small terrier dog lay whimpering in the bow. His master had brought him along for a run on shore, never once thinking of the possibility of the flower of the British navy being beaten back by the Americans.

So disastrous a defeat enraged the British, who proceeded to wreak their vengeance upon the little town of Hampton, which they sacked and burned, committing acts of shameful violence, more in accordance with the character of savages than that of civilized white men. The story of the sack of Hampton forms no part of the naval annals of the war, and in its details is too revolting to deserve a place here. It is a narrative of atrocious cruelty not to be paralleled in the history of warfare in the nineteenth century.

Leaving behind him the smoking ruins of Hampton, Cockburn with his fleet dropped down the bay, and, turning southward, cruised along the coast of the Carolinas. Anchoring off Ocracoke Inlet, the British sent a fleet of armed barges into Pamlico Sound to ravage the adjoining coast. Two privateers were found lying at anchor in the sound,—the "Anaconda" of New York, and the "Atlas" of Philadelphia. The British forces, eight hundred in number, dashed forward to capture the two vessels. The "Atlas" fell an easy prey; but the thirteen men of the "Anaconda" fought stoutly until all hope was gone, then, turning their cannon down upon the decks of their own vessel, blew great holes in her bottom, and escaped to the shore. After this skirmish, the British landed, and marched rapidly to Newbern; but, finding that place well defended by militia, made their way back to the coast, desolating the country through which they passed, and seizing cattle and slaves. The latter they are said to have sent to the West Indies and sold. From Pamlico Sound Cockburn went to Cumberland Island, where he established his winter quarters, and whence he continued to send out marauding expeditions during the rest of the year.

Very different was the character of Sir Thomas Hardy, who commanded the British blockading fleet off the New England coast. A brave and able officer, with the nature and training of a gentleman, he was as much admired by his enemies for his nobility, as Cockburn was hated for his cruelty. It is more than possible, however, that the difference between the methods of enforcement of the blockade on the New England coast and on the Southern seaboard was due to definite orders from the British admiralty: for the Southern States had entered into the war heart and soul; while New England gave to the American forces only a faint-hearted support, and cried eagerly for peace at any cost. So strong was this feeling, that resolutions of honor to the brave Capt. Lawrence were defeated in the Massachusetts Legislature, on the ground that they would encourage others to embark in the needless war in which Lawrence lost his life. Whatever may have been the cause, however, the fact remains, that Hardy's conduct while on the blockade won for him the respect and admiration of the very people against whom his forces were arrayed.

Blue-Jackets at the Guns.

On June 18 the British blockaders off New York Harbor allowed a little vessel to escape to sea, that, before she could be captured, roamed at will within sight of the chalk cliffs of England, and inflicted immense damage upon the commerce of her enemy. This craft was the little ten-gun brig "Argus," which left New York bound for France. She carried as passenger Mr. Crawford of Georgia, who had lately been appointed United States minister to France. After safely discharging her passenger at L'Orient, the "Argus" turned into the chops of the English Channel, and cruised about, burning and capturing many of the enemy's ships. She was in the very highway of British commerce; and her crew had little rest day or night, so plentiful were the ships that fell in their way. It was hard for the jackies to apply the torch to so many stanch vessels, that would enrich the whole crew with prize-money could they but be sent into an American port. But the little cruiser was thousands of miles from any American port, and no course was open to her save to give every prize to the flames. After cruising for a time in the English Channel, Lieut. Allen, who commanded the "Argus," took his vessel around Land's End, and into St. George's Channel and the Irish Sea. For thirty days he continued his daring operations in the very waters into which Paul Jones had carried the American flag nearly thirty-five years earlier. British merchants and shipping owners in London read with horror of the destruction wrought by this one vessel. Hardly a paper appeared without an account of some new damage done by the "Argus." Vessels were kept in port to rot at their docks, rather than fall a prey to the terrible Yankee. Rates of insurance went up to ruinous prices, and many companies refused to take any risks whatever so long as the "Argus" remained afloat. But the hue and cry was out after the little vessel; and many a stout British frigate was beating up and down in St. George's Channel, and the chops of the English Channel, in the hopes of falling in with the audacious Yankee, who had presumed to bring home to Englishmen the horrors of war.

It fell to the lot of the brig-sloop "Pelican" to rid the British waters of the "Argus." On the night of the thirteenth of August, the American vessel had fallen in with a British vessel from Oporto, and after a short chase had captured her. The usual result followed. The prisoners with their personal property were taken out of the prize, and the vessel was set afire. But, before the torch was applied, the American sailors had discovered that their prize was laden with wine; and their resolution was not equal to the task of firing the prize without testing the quality of the cargo. Besides treating themselves to rather deep potations, the boarding-crew contrived to smuggle a quantity of the wine into the forecastle of the "Argus." The prize was then fired, and the "Argus" moved away under easy sail. But the light of the blazing ship attracted the attention of the lookout on the "Pelican," and that vessel came down under full sail to discover the cause.

Day was just breaking, and by the gray morning light the British saw an American cruiser making away from the burning hulk of her last prize. The "Pelican" followed in hot pursuit, and was allowed to come alongside, although the fleet American could easily have left her far astern. But Capt. Allen was ready for the conflict; confident of his ship and of his crew, of whose half-intoxicated condition he knew nothing, he felt sure that the coming battle would only add more laurels to the many already won by the "Argus." He had often declared that the "Argus" should never run from any two-master; and now, that the gage of battle was offered, he promptly accepted.

At six o'clock in the morning, the "Pelican" came alongside, and opened the conflict with a broadside from her thirty-two pound carronades. The "Argus" replied with spirit, and a sharp cannonade began. Four minutes after the battle opened, Capt. Allen was struck by a round shot that cut off his left leg near the thigh. His officers rushed to his side, and strove to bear him to his cabin; but he resisted, saying he would stay on deck and fight his ship as long as any life was left him. With his back to a mast, he gave his orders and cheered on his men for a few minutes longer; then, fainting from the terrible gush of blood from his wound, was carried below. To lose their captain so early in the action, was enough to discourage the crew of the "Argus." Yet the officers left on duty were brave and skilful. Twice the vessel was swung into a raking position, but the gunners failed to seize the advantage. "They seemed to be nodding over their guns," said one of the officers afterward. The enemy, however, showed no signs of nodding. His fire was rapid and well directed, and his vessel manœuvred in a way that showed a practised seaman in command. At last he secured a position under the stern of the "Argus," and lay there, pouring in destructive broadsides, until the Americans struck their flag,—just forty-seven minutes after the opening of the action. The loss on the "Argus" amounted to six killed and seventeen wounded.

No action of the war was so discreditable to the Americans as this. In the loss of the "Chesapeake" and in the loss of the "Essex," there were certain features of the action that redounded greatly to the honor of the defeated party. But in the action between the "Argus" and the "Pelican," the Americans were simply outfought. The vessels were practically equal in size and armament, though the "Pelican" carried a little the heavier metal. It is also stated that the powder used by the "Argus" was bad. It had been taken from one of the prizes, and afterwards proved to be condemned powder of the British Government. In proof of the poor quality of this powder, one of the American officers states that many shot striking the side of the "Pelican" were seen to fall back into the water; while others penetrated the vessel's skin, but did no further damage. All this, however, does not alter the fact that the "Argus" was fairly beaten in a fair fight.

While the British thus snapped up an American man-of-war cruising at their harbors' mouths, the Americans were equally fortunate in capturing a British brig of fourteen guns off the coast of Maine. The captor was the United States brig "Enterprise," a lucky little vessel belonging to a very unlucky class; for her sister brigs all fell a prey to the enemy. The "Nautilus," it will be remembered, was captured early in the war. The "Vixen" fell into the hands of Sir James Yeo, who was cruising in the West Indies, in the frigate "Southampton;" but this gallant officer reaped but little benefit from his prize, for frigate and brig alike were soon after wrecked on one of the Bahama Islands. The "Siren," late in the war, was captured by the seventy-four-gun ship "Medway," and the loss of the "Argus" has just been chronicled. Of all these brigs, the "Argus" alone was able to fire a gun in her own defence, before being captured; the rest were all forced to yield quietly to immensely superior force.

In the war with Tripoli, the "Enterprise" won the reputation of being a "lucky" craft; and her daring adventures and thrilling escapes during the short naval war with France added to her prestige among sailors. When the war with England broke out, the little brig was put in commission as soon as possible, and assigned to duty along the coast of Maine. She did good service in keeping off privateers and marauding expeditions from Nova Scotia. In the early part of September, 1813, she was cruising near Penguin Point, when she sighted a brig in shore that had the appearance of a hostile war-vessel. The stranger soon settled all doubts as to her character by firing several guns, seemingly for the purpose of recalling her boats from the shore. Then, setting sail with the rapidity of a man-of-war, she bore down upon the American vessel. The "Enterprise," instead of waiting for the enemy, turned out to sea, under easy sail; and her crew were set to work bringing aft a long gun, and mounting it in the cabin, where one of the stern windows had been chopped away to make a port. This action rather alarmed the sailors, who feared that their commander, Lieut. Burrows, whose character was unknown to them, intended to avoid the enemy, and was rigging the long gun for a stern-chaser. An impromptu meeting was held upon the forecastle; and, after much whispered consultation, the people appointed a committee to go aft and tell the commander that the lads were burning to engage the enemy, and were confident of whipping her. The committee started bravely to discharge their commission; but their courage failed them before so mighty a potentate as the commander, and they whispered their message to the first lieutenant, who laughed, and sent word forward that Mr. Burrows only wanted to get sea-room, and would soon give the jackies all the fighting they desired.

The Fight with the "Boxer."

The Americans now had leisure to examine, through their marine-glasses, the vessel which was so boldly following them to the place of battle. She was a man-of-war brig, flying the British ensign from both mastheads and at the peak. Her armament consisted of twelve eighteen-pound carronades and two long sixes, as against the fourteen eighteen-pound carronades and two long nines of the "Enterprise." The Englishman carried a crew of sixty-six men, while the quarter-rolls of the American showed a total of one hundred and two. But in the battle which followed the British fought with such desperate bravery as to almost overcome the odds against them.

For some time the two vessels fought shy of each other, manœuvring for a windward position. Towards three o'clock in the afternoon, the Americans gained this advantage, and at once shortened sail, and edged down toward the enemy. As the ships drew near, a sailor was seen to climb into the rigging of the Englishman, and nail the colors to the mast, giving the lads of the "Enterprise" a hint as to the character of the reception they might expect. As the vessels came within range, both crews cheered lustily, and continued cheering until within pistol-shot, when the two broadsides were let fly at almost exactly the same moment. With the first fire, both commanders fell. Capt. Blyth of the English vessel was almost cut in two by a round shot as he stood on his quarter-deck. He died instantly. Lieut. Burrows was struck by a canister-shot, which inflicted a mortal wound. He refused to be carried below, and was tenderly laid upon the deck, where he remained during the remainder of the battle, cheering on his men, and crying out that the colors of the "Enterprise" should never be struck. The conflict was sharp, but short. For ten minutes only the answering broadsides rung out; then the colors of the British ship were hauled down. She proved to be the sloop-of-war "Boxer," and had suffered severely from the broadsides of the "Enterprise." Several shots had taken effect in her hull, her foremast was almost shot away, and several guns were dismounted. Three men beside her captain were killed, and seventeen wounded. But she had not suffered these injuries without inflicting some in return. The "Enterprise" was much cut up aloft. Her foremast and mainmast had each been pierced by an eighteen-pound ball. Her captain lay upon the deck, gasping in the last agonies of death, but stoutly protesting that he would not be carried below until he received the sword of the commander of the "Boxer." At last this was brought him; and grasping it he cried, "Now I am satisfied. I die contented."

The two shattered brigs were taken into Portland, where the bodies of the two slain commanders were buried with all the honors of war. The "Enterprise" was repaired, and made one more cruise before the close of the war; but the "Boxer" was found to be forever ruined for a vessel of war, and she was sold into the merchant-service. The fact that she was so greatly injured in so short a time led a London paper, in speaking of the battle, to say, "The fact seems to be but too clearly established, that the Americans have some superior mode of firing; and we cannot be too anxiously employed in discovering to what circumstances that superiority is owing."

The Surrender of the "Boxer."

This battle practically closed the year's naval events upon the ocean. The British privateer "Dart" was captured near Newport by some volunteers from the gunboats stationed at that point. But, with this exception, nothing noteworthy in naval circles occurred during the remainder of the year. Looking back over the annals of the naval operations of 1813, it is clear that the Americans were the chief sufferers. They had the victories over the "Peacock," "Boxer," and "Highflyer" to boast of; but they had lost the "Chesapeake," "Argus," and "Viper." But, more than this, they had suffered their coast to be so sealed up by British blockaders that many of their best vessels were left to lie idle at their docks. The blockade, too, was growing stricter daily, and the outlook for the future seemed gloomy; yet, as it turned out, in 1814 the Americans regained the ground they had lost the year before.


We have now heard of the exploits of some of the chief naval leaders of the war of the Revolution. But there were many dashing engagements in which the great commanders took no part, and many important captures made by vessels sailing under the flags of the individual colonies, which deserve attention.

The American cause on the water suffered some rather severe reverses in the early part of 1777. In March, the brig "Cabot" fell in with the British frigate "Milford," and was so hard pressed that she was run ashore on the coast of Nova Scotia. The crew had hardly time to get ashore before the British took possession of the stranded craft. The Americans were left helpless, in a wild and little settled country, but finally made their way through the woods to a harbor. Here they found a coasting schooner lying at anchor, upon which they promptly seized, and in which they escaped to Portsmouth. In the mean time, the British had got the "Cabot" afloat again.

Two months later, or in the early part of May, two United States vessels, the "Hancock" thirty-two, Capt.Manly, and the "Boston" twenty-four, Capt. Hector McNeil, sailed in company from Boston. When a few days out, a strange sail was sighted, and proved to be a British frigate. The "Hancock" soon came near enough to her to exchange broadsides, as the two vessels were going on opposite tacks. The enemy, however, seemed anxious to avoid a conflict, and exerted every effort to escape. Manly, having great confidence in the speed of his ship, gave chase. Calling the people from the guns, he bade them make a leisurely breakfast, and get ready for the work before them. The "Hancock" soon overhauled the chase, which began firing her guns as fast as they would bear. The Americans, however, made no response until fairly alongside, when they let fly a broadside with ringing cheers. The action lasted for an hour and a half before the enemy struck. She proved to be the "Fox," twenty-eight. She was badly cut up by the American fire, and had thirty-two dead and wounded men on board. The loss on the "Hancock" amounted to only eight men. In this running fight the "Boston" was hopelessly distanced, coming up just in time to fire a gun as the British ensign came fluttering from the peak.

Putting a prize crew on the "Fox," the three vessels continued their cruise. A week passed, and no sail was seen. Somewhat rashly Capt. Manly turned his ship's prow toward Halifax, then, as now, the chief British naval station on the American coast. When the three ships appeared off the entrance to the harbor of Halifax, the British men-of-war inside quickly spied them, raised anchor, and came crowding out in hot pursuit. There was the "Rainbow" forty-four, the "Flora" thirty-two, and the "Victor" eighteen, besides two others whose names could not be ascertained. The Americans saw that they had stirred up a nest of hornets, and sought safety in flight. The three British vessels whose names are given gave chase. The "Boston," by her swift sailing, easily kept out of the reach of the enemy. The "Fox," however, was quickly overhauled by the "Flora," and struck her flag after exchanging a few broadsides. The "Hancock" for a time seemed likely to escape, but at last the "Rainbow" began gradually to overhaul her. Capt. Manly, finding escape impossible, began manœuvring with the intention of boarding his powerful adversary; but the light winds made this impossible, and he suddenly found himself under the guns of the "Rainbow," with the "Victor" astern, in a raking position. Seeing no hope for success in so unequal a conflict, Manly struck his flag. In the mean time the "Boston" had calmly proceeded upon her way, leaving her consorts to their fate. For having thus abandoned his superior officer, Capt. McNeil was dismissed the service upon his return to Boston.

These losses were to some degree offset by the good fortune of the "Trumbull," twenty-eight, in command of Capt. Saltonstall. She left New York in April of this year, and had been on the water but a few days when she fell in with two British armed vessels of no inconsiderable force. The Englishmen, confident of their ability to beat off the cruiser, made no effort to avoid a conflict. Capt. Saltonstall, by good seamanship, managed to put his vessel between the two hostile ships, and then worked both batteries with such vigor, that, after half-an-hour's fighting, the enemy was glad to strike. In this action the Americans lost seven men killed, and eight wounded. The loss of the enemy was not reported. This capture was of the greatest importance to the American cause, for the two prizes were loaded with military and naval stores.

During the year 1777, the occupation of Philadelphia by the British army, under Gen. Howe, led to some activity on the part of the American navy. While Philadelphia had been in the possession of the Continentals, it had been a favorite naval rendezvous. Into the broad channel of the Delaware the American cruisers had been accustomed to retreat when the British naval force along the coast became threateningly active. At the broad wharves of Philadelphia, the men-of-war laid up to have necessary repairs made. In the rope-walks of the town, the cordage for the gallant Yankee ships was spun. In the busy shipyards along the Delaware, many of the frigates, provided for by the Act of 1775, were built.

In the summer of 1777 all this was changed. Sir William Howe, at the head of an irresistible army, marched upon Philadelphia; and, defeating the American army at Brandywine, entered the city in triumph. The privateers and men-of-war scattered hastily, to avoid capture. Most of them fled down the Delaware; but a few, chiefly vessels still uncompleted, ascended the river.

To cut off these vessels, the British immediately commenced the erection of batteries to command the channel of the river, and prevent any communication between the American vessels above and below Philadelphia. To check the erection of these batteries, the American vessels "Delaware" twenty-four, and "Andrea Doria" fourteen, together with one or two vessels flying the Pennsylvania flag, took up a position before the incomplete earthworks, and opened a heavy fire upon the soldiers employed in the trenches. So accurate was the aim of the American gunners, that work on the batteries was stopped. But, unluckily, the commander of the "Delaware,"Capt. Alexander, had failed to reckon on the swift outflowing of the tide; and just as the sailors on that ship were becoming jubilant over the prospect of a victory, a mighty quiver throughout the ship told that she had been left on a shoal by the ebb tide. The enemy was not long in discovering the helpless condition of the "Delaware;" and field-pieces and siege-guns were brought down to the river-bank, until the luckless Americans saw themselves commanded by a heavy battery. In this unhappy predicament there was no course remaining but to strike their flag.

Though the British had possession of Philadelphia, and virtually controlled the navigation of the river at that point, the Americans still held powerful positions at Red Bank and at Fort Mifflin, lower down the river. Against the former post the British sent an unsuccessful land expedition of Hessians, but against Fort Mifflin a naval expedition was despatched.

Fort Mifflin was built on a low marshy island near the mouth of the Schuylkill. Its very situation, surrounded as it was by mud and water, made it impregnable to any land attack. While the fort itself was a fairly strong earthwork, laid out upon approved principles of engineering, its outer works of defence added greatly to its strength. In the main channels of the river were sunk heavy, sharp-pointed chevaux de frise , or submarine palisades, with sharp points extending just above the surface of the water. In addition to this obstacle, the enemy advancing by water upon the fort would have to meet the American flotilla, which, though composed of small craft only, was large enough to prove very annoying to an enemy. In this flotilla were thirteen galleys, one carrying a thirty-two pounder, and the rest with varying weight of ordnance; twenty-six half-galleys, each carrying a four-pounder; two xebecs, each with two twenty-four-pounders in the bow, two eighteen-pounders in the stern, and four nine-pounders in the waist; two floating batteries, fourteen fire-ships, one schooner-galley, one brig-galley, one provincial ship, and the brig "Andrea Doria." It was no small naval force that the British had to overcome before attacking the mud ramparts and bastions of Fort Mifflin.

Against this armament the British brought a number of vessels, with the "Augusta," sixty-four, in the lead. The battle was begun late in the afternoon of the 22d of October, 1777. The attack of the Hessians upon the American fortifications at Red Bank, and the opening of the action between the British and American fleets, were simultaneous. The Hessians were beaten back with heavy loss, some of the American vessels opening fire upon them from the river. The naval battle lasted but a short time that night, owing to the darkness. When the battle ended for the night, the "Augusta," and the "Merlin," sloop-of-war, were left hard and fast aground.

The next morning the British advanced again to the attack. The skirmish of the night before had shown them that the Yankee flotilla was no mean adversary; and they now brought up re-inforcements, in the shape of the "Roebuck" forty-four, "Isis" thirty-two, "Pearl" thirty-two, and "Liverpool" twenty-eight. No sooner had the British squadron come within range than a heavy fire was opened upon the fort. The American flotilla was prompt to answer the challenge, and soon the action became general. Time and time again the Americans sent huge fire-ships, their well-tarred spars and rigging blazing fiercely, down among the enemy. But the skill and activity of the British sailors warded off this danger. Thereupon the Americans, seeing that they could not rely upon their fire-ships, changed their plan of action. Any one of the British vessels was more than a match for the largest American craft, so the Yankees saw they must rely upon force of numbers. Accordingly their larger vessels were each assigned to attack one of the enemy; while the swift-sailing galleys plied to and fro in the battle, lending aid where needed, and striking a blow wherever the opportunity offered itself. This course of action soon began to tell upon the British. All of their vessels began to show the effects of the American fire. The "Augusta" was in flames, owing to some pressed hay that had been packed upon her quarter having been set on fire. Despite the efforts of her crew, the flames spread rapidly. Seeing no chance to save the vessel, the crew abandoned her, and sought to gain the protection of other vessels of the British fleet. But the other ships, seeing the flames on the "Augusta" drawing closer and closer to the magazine, and knowing that her explosion in that narrow and crowded channel would work dreadful damage among them, determined to abandon the attack upon Fort Mifflin, and withdrew. The "Merlin," which was hard and fast aground, was fired, and the British fled. As they turned their ships' prows down the Delaware, the dull sullen roar of an explosion told that the "Augusta" had met her end. Soon after the "Merlin" blew up, and the defeat of the British was complete.

But, though worsted in this attack upon Fort Mifflin, the British did not wholly abandon their designs upon it. Immediately upon their repulse, they began their preparations for a second attack. This time they did not propose to rely upon men-of-war alone. Batteries were built upon every point of land within range of Fort Mifflin. Floating batteries were built, and towed into position. By the 10th of November all was ready, and upon that day a tremendous cannonade was opened upon the American works. After two days of ceaseless bombardment, the garrison of the fort was forced to surrender. Since the fall of Fort Mifflin gave the control of the Delaware to the British, the Americans immediately put the torch to the "Andrea Doria" fourteen, the "Wasp" eight, and the "Hornet" ten; while the galleys skulked away along the Jersey coast, in search of places of retreat.

While the Yankee tars on river and harbor duty were thus getting their share of fighting, there was plenty of daring work being done on the high seas. One of the most important cruises of the year was that of the "Raleigh" and the "Alfred." The "Raleigh" was one of the twelve-pounder frigates built under the naval Act of 1775. With her consort the "Alfred," she left the American coast in the summer of 1777, bound for France, in search of naval stores that were there awaiting transportation to the United States. Both vessels were short-handed.

On the 2d of September the two vessels overhauled and captured the snow "Nancy," from England, bound for the West Indies. Her captain reported that he had sailed from the West Indies with a fleet of sixty merchantmen, under the convoy of four small men-of-war, the "Camel," the "Druid," the "Weasel," and the "Grasshopper." The poor sailing qualities of the "Nancy" had forced her to drop behind, and the fleet was then about a day in advance of her.

Crowding on all canvas, the two American ships set out in hot pursuit. From the captain of the "Nancy" Capt.Thompson of the "Raleigh" had obtained all the signals in use in the fleet of Indiamen. The next morning the fleet was made out; and the "Raleigh" and the "Alfred" exchanged signals, as though they were part of the convoy. They hung about the outskirts of the fleet until dark, planning, when the night should fall, to make a dash into the enemy's midst, and cut out the chief armed vessel.

But at nightfall the wind changed, so that the plan of the Americans was defeated. At daylight, however, the wind veered round and freshened, so that the "Raleigh," crowding on more sail, was soon in the very centre of the enemy's fleet. The "Alfred," unfortunately, being unable to carry so great a spread of canvas, was left behind; and the "Raleigh" remained to carry out alone her daring adventure.

The "Raleigh" boldly steered straight into the midst of the British merchantmen, exchanging signals with some, and hailing others. Her ports were lowered, and her guns on deck housed, so that there appeared about her nothing to indicate her true character. Having cruised about amid the merchantmen, she drew up alongside the nearest man-of-war, and when within pistol-shot, suddenly ran up her flag, threw open her ports, and commanded the enemy to strike.

All was confusion on board the British vessel. Her officers had never for a moment suspected the "Raleigh" of being other than one of their own fleet. While they stood aghast, not even keeping the vessel on her course, the "Raleigh" poured in a broadside. The British responded faintly with a few guns. Deliberately the Americans let fly another broadside, which did great execution. The enemy were driven from their guns, but doggedly refused to strike, holding out, doubtless, in the hope that the cannonade might draw to their assistance some of the other armed ships accompanying the fleet.

While the unequal combat was raging, a heavy squall came rushing over the water. The driving sheets of rain shut in the combatants, and only by the thunders of the cannonade could the other vessels tell that a battle was being fought in their midst.

When the squall had passed by, the affrighted merchantmen were seen scudding in every direction, like a school of flying-fish into whose midst some rapacious shark or dolphin has intruded himself. But the three men-of-war, with several armed West-Indiamen in their wake, were fast bearing down upon the combatants, with the obvious intention of rescuing their comrade, and punishing the audacious Yankee.

The odds against Thompson were too great; and after staying by his adversary until the last possible moment, and pouring broadside after broadside into her, he abandoned the fight and rejoined the "Alfred." The two ships hung on the flanks of the fleet for some days, in the hopes of enticing two of the men-of-war out to join in battle. But all was to no avail, and the Americans were forced to content themselves with the scant glory won in the incomplete action of the "Raleigh." Her adversary proved to be the "Druid," twenty, which suffered severely from the "Raleigh's" repeated broadsides, having six killed, and twenty-six wounded; of the wounded, five died immediately after the battle.

It was during the year 1777 that occurred the first attempt to use gunpowder in the shape of a submarine torpedo. This device, which to-day threatens to overturn all established ideas of naval organization and architecture, originated with a clever Connecticut mechanic named David Bushnell. His invention covered not only submarine torpedoes, to be launched against a vessel, but a submarine boat in which an adventurous navigator might undertake to go beneath the hull of a man-of-war, and affix the torpedoes, so that failure should be impossible. This boat in shape was not unlike a turtle. A system of valves, air-pumps, and ballast enabled the operator to ascend or descend in the water at will. A screw-propeller afforded means of propulsion, and phosphorescent gauges and compasses enabled him to steer with some accuracy.

Preliminary tests made with this craft were uniformly successful. After a skilled operator had been obtained, the boat perfectly discharged the duties required of her. But, as is so often the case, when the time for action came she proved inadequate to the emergency. Let her inventor tell the story in his own words:—

"After various attempts to find an operator to my wish, I sent one, who appeared to be more expert than the rest, from New York, to a fifty-gun ship, lying not far from Governor's Island. He went under the ship, and attempted to fix the wooden screw to her bottom, but struck, as he supposes, a bar of iron, which passes from the rudder hinge, and is spiked under the ship's quarter. Had he moved a few inches, which he might have done without rowing, I have no doubt he would have found wood where he might have fixed the screw; or, if the ship were sheathed with copper, he might easily have pierced it. But not being well skilled in the management of the vessel, in attempting to move to another place, he lost the ship. After seeking her in vain for some time, he rowed some distance, and rose to the surface of the water, but found daylight had advanced so far that he durst not renew the attempt. He says that he could easily have fastened the magazine under the stern of the ship above water, as he rowed up to the stern and touched it before he descended. Had he fastened it there, the explosion of a hundred and fifty pounds of powder (the quantity contained in the magazine) must have been fatal to the ship. In his return from the ship to New York, he passed near Governor's Island, and thought he was discovered by the enemy on the island. Being in haste to avoid the danger he feared, he cast off the magazine, as he imagined it retarded him in the swell, which was very considerable. After the magazine had been cast off one hour the time the internal apparatus was set to run, it blew up with great violence.

"Afterwards there were two attempts made in Hudson's River, above the city; but they effected nothing. One of them was by the aforementioned person. In going toward the ship, he lost sight of her, and went a great distance beyond her. When he at length found her, the tide ran so strong, that, as he descended under water, for the ship's bottom, it swept him away. Soon after this, the enemy went up the river, and pursued the boat which had the submarine vessel on board, and sunk it with their shot."

So it appears, that, so far as this submarine vessel was concerned, Bushnell's great invention came to naught. And, indeed, it was but the first of a long line of experiments which have been terribly costly in human life, and which as yet have not been brought to a successful end. In every war there comes forward the inventor with the submarine boat, and he always finds a few brave men ready to risk their lives in the floating coffin. Somewhere in Charleston Harbor to-day lies a submarine boat, enclosing the skeletons of eight men, who went out in it to break the blockade of the port during the civil war. And although there are to-day several types of submarine boat, each of which is claimed to make practicable the navigation of the ocean's depths, yet it is doubtful whether any of them are much safer than Bushnell's primitive "turtle."

But Bushnell's experiments in torpedo warfare were not confined to attempts to destroy hostile vessels by means of his submarine vessel. He made several attacks upon the enemy by means of automatic torpedoes, none of which met with complete success. One of these attacks, made at Philadelphia in December, 1777, furnished the incident upon which is founded the well-known ballad of the "Battle of the Kegs."

It was at a time when the Delaware was filled with British shipping, that Bushnell set adrift upon its swift-flowing tide a number of small kegs, filled with gunpowder, and provided with percussion apparatus, so that contact with any object would explode them. The kegs were started on their voyage at night. But Bushnell had miscalculated the distance they had to travel; so that, instead of reaching the British fleet under cover of darkness, they arrived early in the morning. Great was the wonder of the British sentries, on ship and shore, to see the broad bosom of the river dotted with floating kegs. As the author of the satirical ballad describes it,—

"Twas early day, as poets say,
Just as the sun was rising;
A soldier stood on a log of wood
And saw the sun a-rising.

As in amaze he stood to gaze
(The truth can't be denied, sir),
He spied a score of kegs, or more,
Come floating down the tide, sir.

A sailor, too, in jerkin blue,
The strange appearance viewing,
First d——d his eyes in great surprise,
Then said, 'Some mischief's brewing.'

These kegs, I'm told, the rebels hold,
Packed up like pickled herring;
And they've come down to attack the town
In this new way of ferrying."

The curiosity of the British at this inexplicable spectacle gave place to alarm, when one of the kegs, being picked up, blew up a boat, and seriously injured the man whose curiosity had led him to examine it too closely. Half panic-stricken, the British got out their guns, great and small; and all day every small object on the Delaware was the target for a lively fusillade.

"The cannons roar from shore to shore,
The small arms loud did rattle.
Since wars began, I'm sure no man
E'er saw so strange a battle.

The fish below swam to and fro,
Attacked from every quarter.
'Why sure' (thought they), 'the devil's to pay,
'Mong folk above the water.'"

But in the end the kegs all floated by the city, and only the ammunition stores of the British suffered from the attack.

Another attempt was made by Bushnell to destroy the British frigate "Cerberus," lying at anchor off the Connecticut coast. A torpedo, with the usual percussion apparatus, was drawn along the side of the frigate by a long line, but fouled with a schooner lying astern. The explosion occurred with frightful force, and the schooner was wholly demolished. Three men who were on board of her were blown to pieces; and a fourth was thrown high into the air, and was picked out of the water in an almost dying condition.

These experiments of the Connecticut mechanic in the Revolutionary war were the forerunner of a movement which took almost a hundred years to become generally accepted. We have been accustomed to say that Ericsson's armor-clad monitor revolutionized naval warfare; but the perfection of the torpedo is forcing the armor-clad ships into disuse, as they in their day thrust aside the old wooden frigates. The wise nation to-day, seeing how irresistible is the power of the torpedo, is abandoning the construction of cumbrous iron-clads, and building light, swift cruisers, that by speed and easy steering can avoid the submarine enemy. And if the torpedo cannot be said to be the ideal weapon of chivalric warfare, it may at least in time be credited with doing away with the custom of cooping men up in wrought-iron boxes, to fight with machine guns. Farragut, who hated iron-clads, liked torpedoes little better; but had he foreseen their effects upon naval tactics, he might have hailed them as the destroyers of the iron-clad ships.


The year 1778 opened with the brightest prospects for the American cause. The notable success of the American arms on land, and particularly the surrender of Burgoyne, had favorably disposed France toward an alliance with the United States; and, in fact, this alliance was soon formed. Furthermore, the evidence of the prowess of the Americans on shore had stirred up the naval authorities to vigorous action, and it was determined to make the year 1778 a notable one upon the ocean.

Much difficulty was found, at the very outset, in getting men to ship for service on the regular cruisers. Privateers were being fitted out in every port; and on them the life was easy, discipline slack, danger to life small, and the prospects for financial reward far greater than on the United States men-of-war. Accordingly, the seafaring men as a rule preferred to ship on the privateers. At no time in the history of the United States has the barbaric British custom of getting sailors for the navy by means of the "press-gang" been followed. American blue-jackets have never been impressed by force. It is unfortunately true that unfair advantages have been taken of their simplicity, and sometimes they have even been shipped while under the influence of liquor; but such cases have been rare. It is safe to say that few men have ever trod the deck of a United States man-of-war, as members of the crew, without being there of their own free will and accord.

But in 1777 it was sometimes hard to fill the ships' rosters. Then the ingenuity of the recruiting officers was called into play. A sailor who served on the "Protector" during the Revolution thus tells the story of his enlistment:—

"All means were resorted to which ingenuity could devise to induce men to enlist. A recruiting officer, bearing a flag, and attended by a band of martial music, paraded the streets, to excite a thirst for glory and a spirit of military ambition. The recruiting officer possessed the qualifications necessary to make the service appear alluring, especially to the young. He was a jovial, good-natured fellow, of ready wit and much broad humor. When he espied any large boys among the idle crowd around him, he would attract their attention by singing in a comical manner the following doggerel,—

'All you that have bad masters,
And cannot get your due,
Come, come, my brave boys,
And join our ship's crew.'

Commodore Barry.

Commodore Barry.

"A shout and a huzza would follow, and some would join in the ranks. My excitable feelings were aroused. I repaired to the rendezvous, signed the ship's papers, mounted a cockade, and was, in my own estimation, already more than half a sailor. Appeals continued to be made to the patriotism of every young man, to lend his aid, by his exertions on sea or land, to free his country from the common enemy. About the last of February the ship was ready to receive her crew, and was hauled off into the channel, that the sailors might have no opportunity to run away after they were got on board. Upward of three hundred and thirty men were carried, dragged, and driven on board, of all kinds, ages, and descriptions, in all the various stages of intoxication, from that of sober tipsiness to beastly drunkenness, with an uproar and clamor that may be more easily imagined than described."

But, whatever the methods adopted to secure recruits for the navy, the men thus obtained did admirable service; and in no year did they win more glory than in 1778.

As usual the year's operations were opened by an exploit of one of the smaller cruisers. This was the United States sloop-of-war "Providence," a trig little vessel, mounting only twelve four-pounders, and carrying a crew of but fifty men. But she was in command of a daring seaman Capt. Rathburne, and she opened the year's hostilities with an exploit worthy of Paul Jones.

Off the south-eastern coast of Florida, in that archipelago or collection of groups of islands known collectively as the West Indies, lies the small island of New Providence. Here in 1778 was a small British colony. The well-protected harbor, and the convenient location of the island, made it a favorite place for the rendezvous of British naval vessels. Indeed, it bid fair to become, what Nassau is to-day, the chief British naval station on the American coast. In 1778 the little seaport had a population of about one thousand people.

With his little vessel, and her puny battery of four-pounders, Capt. Rathburne determined to undertake the capture of New Providence. Only the highest daring, approaching even recklessness, could have conceived such a plan. The harbor was defended by a fort of no mean power. There was always one British armed vessel, and often more, lying at anchor under the guns of the fort. Two hundred of the people of the town were able-bodied men, able to bear arms. How, then, were the Yankees, with their puny force, to hope for success? This query Rathburne answered, "By dash and daring."

It was about eleven o'clock on the night of the 27th of January, 1778, that the "Providence" cast anchor in a sheltered cove near the entrance to the harbor of New Providence. Twenty-five of her crew were put ashore, and being re-enforced by a few American prisoners kept upon the island, made a descent upon Fort Nassau from its landward side. The sentries dozing at their posts were easily overpowered, and the garrison was aroused from its peaceful slumbers by the cheers of the Yankee blue-jackets as they came tumbling in over the ramparts. A rocket sent up from the fort announced the victory to the "Providence," and she came in and cast anchor near the fort.

When morning broke, the Americans saw a large sixteen-gun ship lying at anchor in the harbor, together with five sail that looked suspiciously like captured American merchantmen. The proceedings of the night had been quietly carried on, and the crew of the armed vessel had no reason to suspect that the condition of affairs on shore had been changed in any way during the night. But at daybreak a boat carrying four men put off from the shore, and made for the armed ship; and at the same time a flag was flung out from the flagstaff of the fort,—not the familiar scarlet flag of Great Britain, but the almost unknown stars and stripes of the United States.

The sleepy sailors on the armed vessel rubbed their eyes; and while they were staring at the strange piece of bunting, there came a hail from a boat alongside, and an American officer clambered over the rail. He curtly told the captain of the privateer that the fort was in the hands of the Americans, and called upon him to surrender his vessel forthwith. Resistance was useless; for the heavy guns of Fort Nassau were trained upon the British ship, and could blow her out of the water. The visitor's arguments proved to be unanswerable; and the captain of the privateer surrendered his vessel, which was taken possession of by the Americans; while her crew of forty-five men was ordered into confinement in the dungeons of the fort which had so lately held captive Americans. Other boarding parties were then sent to the other vessels in the harbor, which proved to be American craft, captured by the British sloop-of-war "Grayton."

At sunrise the sleeping town showed signs of reviving life, and a party of the audacious Yankees marched down to the house of the governor. That functionary was found in bed, and in profound ignorance of the events of the night. The Americans broke the news to him none too gently, and demanded the keys of a disused fortress on the opposite side of the harbor from Fort Nassau. For a time the governor was inclined to demur; but the determined attitude of the Americans soon persuaded him that he was a prisoner, though in his own house, and he delivered the keys. Thereupon the Americans marched through the streets of the city, around the harbor's edge to the fort, spiked the guns, and carrying with them the powder and small-arms, marched back to Fort Nassau.

But by this time it was ten o'clock, and the whole town was aroused. The streets were crowded with people eagerly discussing the invasion. The timid ones were busily packing up their goods to fly into the country; while the braver ones were hunting for weapons, and organizing for an attack upon the fort held by the Americans. Fearing an outbreak, Capt. Rathburne sent out a flag of truce, making proclamation to all the inhabitants of New Providence, that the Americans would do no damage to the persons or property of the people of the island unless compelled so to do in self-defence. This pacified the more temperate of the inhabitants; but the hotheads, to the number of about two hundred, assembled before Fort Nassau, and threatened to attack it. But, when they summoned Rathburne to surrender, that officer leaped upon the parapet, and coolly told the assailants to come on.

"We can beat you back easily," said he. "And, by the Eternal, if you fire a gun at us, we'll turn the guns of the fort on your town, and lay it in ruins."

This bold defiance disconcerted the enemy; and, after some consultation among themselves, they dispersed.

About noon that day, the British sloop-of-war "Grayton" made her appearance, and stood boldly into the harbor where lay the "Providence." The United States colors were quickly hauled down from the fort flagstaff, and every means was taken to conceal the true state of affairs from the enemy. But the inhabitants along the water-side, by means of constant signalling and shouting, at last aroused the suspicion of her officers; and she hastily put about, and scudded for the open sea. The guns at Fort Nassau opened on her as she passed, and the aim of the Yankee gunners was accurate enough to make the splinters fly. The exact damage done her has, however, never been ascertained.

All that night the daring band of blue-jackets held the fort unmolested. But on the following morning the townspeople again plucked up courage, and to the number of five hundred marched to the fort, and placing several pieces of artillery in battery, summoned the garrison to surrender. The flag of truce that bore the summons carried also the threat, that, unless the Americans laid down their arms without resistance, the fort would be stormed, and all therein put to the sword without mercy.

For answer to the summons, the Americans nailed their colors to the mast, and swore that while a man of them lived the fort should not be surrendered. By this bold defiance they so awed the enemy that the day passed without the expected assault; and at night the besiegers returned to their homes, without having fired a shot.

All that night the Americans worked busily, transferring to the "Providence" all the ammunition and stores in the fort; and the next morning the prizes were manned, the guns of the fort spiked, and the adventurous Yankees set sail in triumph. For three days they had held possession of the island, though outnumbered tenfold by the inhabitants; they had captured large quantities of ammunition and naval stores; they had freed their captured countrymen; they had retaken from the British five captured American vessels, and in the whole affair they had lost not a single man. It was an achievement of which a force of triple the number might have been proud.

In February, 1778, the Delaware, along the water-front of Philadelphia, was the scene of some dashing work by American sailors, under the command of Capt. John Barry. This officer was in command of the "Effingham," one of the vessels which had been trapped in the Delaware by the unexpected occupation of Philadelphia by the British. The inactivity of the vessels, which had taken refuge at Whitehall, was a sore disappointment to Barry, who longed for the excitement and dangers of actual battle. With the British in force at Philadelphia, it was madness to think of taking the frigates down the stream. But Barry rightly thought that what could not be done with a heavy ship might be done with a few light boats.

Philadelphia was then crowded with British troops. The soldiers were well provided with money, and, finding themselves quartered in a city for the winter, led a life of continual gayety. The great accession to the population of the town made it necessary to draw upon the country far and near for provisions; and boats were continually plying upon the Delaware, carrying provisions to the city. To intercept some of these boats, and to give the merry British officers a taste of starvation, was Barry's plan.

Accordingly four boats were manned with well-armed crews, and with muffled oars set out on a dark night to patrol the river. Philadelphia was reached, and the expedition was almost past the city, when the sentries on one of the British men-of-war gave the alarm. A few scattering shots were fired from the shore; but the jackies bent to their oars, and the boats were soon lost to sight in the darkness. When day broke, Barry was far down the river.

Opposite the little post held by the American army, and called Fort Penn, Barry spied a large schooner, mounting ten guns, and flying the British flag. With her were four transport ships, loaded with forage for the enemy's forces. Though the sun had risen, and it was broad day, Barry succeeded in running his boats alongside the schooner; and before the British suspected the presence of any enemy, the blue-jackets were clambering over the rail, cutlass and pistol in hand. There was no resistance. The astonished Englishmen threw down their arms, and rushed below. The victorious Americans battened down the hatches, ordered the four transports to surrender, on pain of being fired into, and triumphantly carried all five prizes to the piers of Fort Penn. There the hatches were removed; and, the Yankee sailors being drawn up in line, Barry ordered the prisoners to come on deck. When all appeared, it was found that the Yankees had bagged one major, two captains, three lieutenants, ten soldiers, and about a hundred sailors and marines,—a very respectable haul for a party of not more than thirty American sailors.

The next day a British frigate and sloop-of-war appeared down the bay. They were under full sail, and were apparently making for Fort Penn, with the probable intention of recapturing Barry's prizes. Fearing that he might be robbed of the fruits of his victory, Barry put the four transports in charge of Capt. Middleton, with instructions to fire them should the enemy attempt to cut them out. In the mean time, he took the ten-gun schooner, and made for the Christiana River, in the hopes of taking her into shallow waters, whither the heavier British vessels could not follow. But, unluckily for his plans, the wind favored the frigate; and she gained upon him so rapidly, that only by the greatest expedition could he run his craft ashore and escape. Two of the guns were pointed down the main hatch, and a few rounds of round-shot were fired through the schooner's bottom. She sunk quickly; and the Americans pushed off from her side, just as the British frigate swung into position, and let fly her broadside at her escaping foes.

The schooner being thus disposed of, the British turned their attention to the four captured transports at Fort Penn. Capt. Middleton and Capt. McLane, who commanded the American militia on shore, had taken advantage of the delay to build a battery of bales of hay near the piers. The British sloop-of-war opened the attack, but the sharp-shooters in the battery and on the transports gave her so warm a reception that she retired. She soon returned to the attack, but was checked by the American fire, and might have been beaten off, had not Middleton received a mortal wound while standing on the battery and cheering on his men. Dismayed by the fall of their leader, the Americans set fire to the transport and fled to the woods, leaving the British masters of the field.

Barry's conduct in this enterprise won for him the admiration of friend and foe alike. Sir William Howe, then commander-in-chief of the British forces in America, offered the daring American twenty thousand guineas and the command of a British frigate, if he would desert the service of the United States.

"Not the value and command of the whole British fleet," wrote Barry in reply, "can seduce me from the cause of my country."

After this adventure, Barry and his followers made their way through the woods back to Whitehall, where his ship the "Effingham" was lying at anchor. Here he passed the winter in inactivity. At Whitehall, and near that place, were nearly a dozen armed ships, frigates, sloops, and privateers. All had fled thither for safety when the British took possession of Philadelphia, and now found themselves caught in a trap. To run the blockade of British batteries and men-of-war at Philadelphia, was impossible; and there was nothing to do but wait until the enemy should evacuate the city.

But the British were in no haste to leave Philadelphia; and when they did get ready to leave, they determined to destroy the American flotilla before departing. Accordingly on the 4th of May, 1778, the water-front of the Quaker City was alive with soldiers and citizens watching the embarkation of the troops ordered against the American forces at Whitehall. On the placid bosom of the Delaware floated the schooners "Viper" and "Pembroke," the galleys "Hussar," "Cornwallis," "Ferret," and "Philadelphia," four gunboats, and eighteen flat-boats. Between this fleet and the shore, boats were busily plying, carrying off the soldiers of the light infantry, seven hundred of whom were detailed for the expedition. It was a holiday affair. The British expected little fighting; and with flags flying, and bands playing, the vessels started up stream, the cheers of the soldiers on board mingling with those on the shore.

Bristol, the landing-place chosen, was soon reached; and the troops disembarked without meeting with any opposition. Forming in solid column, the soldiers took up the march for Whitehall; but, when within five miles of that place, a ruddy glare in the sky told that the Americans had been warned of their coming, and had set the torch to the shipping. When the head of the British column entered Whitehall, the two new American frigates "Washington" and "Effingham" were wrapped in flames. Both were new vessels, and neither had yet taken on board her battery. Several other vessels were lying at the wharves; and to these the British set the torch, and continued their march, leaving the roaring flames behind them. A little farther up the Delaware, at the point known as Crosswise Creek, the large privateer "Sturdy Beggar" was found, together with several smaller craft. The crews had all fled, and the deserted vessels met the fate of the other craft taken by the invaders. Then the British turned their steps homeward, and reached Philadelphia, after having burned almost a score of vessels, and fired not a single shot.

On the high seas during 1778 occurred several notable naval engagements. Of the more important of these we have spoken in our accounts of the exploits of Tucker, Biddle, and Paul Jones. The less important ones must be dismissed with a hasty word.

It may be said, that, in general, the naval actions of 1778 went against the Americans. In February of that year the "Alfred" was captured by a British frigate, and the "Raleigh" narrowly escaped. In March, the new frigate "Virginia," while beating out of Chesapeake Bay on her very first cruise, ran aground, and was captured by the enemy. In September, the United States frigate "Raleigh," when a few days out from Boston, fell in with two British vessels,—one a frigate, and the other a ship-of-the-line. Capt. Barry, whose daring exploits on the Delaware we have chronicled, was in command of the "Raleigh," and gallantly gave battle to the frigate, which was in the lead. Between these two vessels the conflict raged with great fury for upwards of two hours, when the fore-topmast and mizzen top-gallant-mast of the American having been shot away Barry attempted to close the conflict by boarding. The enemy kept at a safe distance, however; and his consort soon coming up, the Americans determined to seek safety in flight. The enemy pursued, keeping up a rapid fire; and the running conflict continued until midnight. Finally Barry set fire to his ship, and with the greater part of his crew escaped to the nearest land, an island near the mouth of the Penobscot. The British immediately boarded the abandoned ship, extinguished the flames, and carried their prize away in triumph.

To offset these reverses to the American arms, there were one or two victories for the Americans, aside from those won by Paul Jones, and the exploits of privateers and colonial armed vessels, which we shall group together in a later chapter. The first of these victories was won by an army officer, who was later transferred to the navy, and won great honor in the naval service.

In an inlet of Narragansett Bay, near Newport, the British had anchored a powerful floating battery, made of the dismasted hulk of the schooner "Pigot," on which were mounted twelve eight-pounders and ten swivel guns. It was about the time that the fleet sent by France to aid the United States was expected to arrive; and the British had built and placed in position this battery, to close the channel leading to Newport. Major Silas Talbot, an army officer who had won renown earlier in the war by a daring but unsuccessful attempt to destroy two British frigates in the Hudson River, by means of fire-ships, obtained permission to lead an expedition for the capture of the "Pigot." Accordingly, with sixty picked men, he set sail from Providence in the sloop "Hawk," mounting three three-pounders. When within a few miles of the "Pigot," he landed, and, borrowing a horse, rode down and reconnoitred the battery. When the night set in, he returned to the sloop, and at once weighed anchor and made for the enemy. As the "Hawk" drew near the "Pigot," the British sentinels challenged her, and receiving no reply, fired a volley of musketry, which injured no one. On came the "Hawk," under a full spread of canvas. A kedge-anchor had been lashed to the end of her bowsprit; and, before the British could reload, this crashed through the boarding-nettings of the "Pigot," and caught in the shrouds. The two vessels being fast, the Americans, with ringing cheers, ran along the bowsprit, and dropped on the deck of the "Pigot." The surprise was complete. The British captain rushed on deck, clad only in his shirt and drawers, and strove manfully to rally his crew. But as the Americans, cutlass and pistol in hand, swarmed over the taffrail, the surprised British lost heart, and fled to the hold, until at last the captain found himself alone upon the deck. Nothing was left for him but to surrender with the best grace possible; and soon Talbot was on his way back to Providence, with his prize and a shipful of prisoners.

But perhaps the greatest naval event of 1778 in American waters was the arrival of the fleet sent by France to co-operate with the American forces. Not that any thing of importance was ever accomplished by this naval force: the French officers seemed to find their greatest satisfaction in manœuvring, reconnoitring, and performing in the most exact and admirable manner all the preliminaries to a battle. Having done this, they would sail away, never firing a gun. The Yankees were prone to disregard the nice points of naval tactics. Their plan was to lay their ships alongside the enemy, and pound away until one side or the other had to yield or sink. But the French allies were strong on tactics, and somewhat weak in dash; and, as a result, there is not one actual combat in which they figured to be recorded.

It was a noble fleet that France sent to the aid of the struggling Americans,—twelve ships-of-the-line and three frigates. What dashing Paul Jones would have done, had he ever enjoyed the command of such a fleet, almost passes imagination. Certain it is that he would have wasted little time in formal evolutions. But the fleet was commanded by Count d'Estaing , a French naval officer of honorable reputation. What he accomplished during his first year's cruise in American waters, can be told in a few words. His intention was to trap Lord Howe's fleet in the Delaware, but he arrived too late. He then followed the British to New York, but was baffled there by the fact that his vessels were too heavy to cross the bar. Thence he went to Newport, where the appearance of his fleet frightened the British into burning four of their frigates, and sinking two sloops-of-war. Lord Howe, hearing of this, plucked up courage, and, gathering together all his ships, sailed from New York to Newport, to give battle to the French. The two fleets were about equally matched. On the 10th of August the enemies met in the open sea, off Newport. For two days they kept out of range of each other, manœuvring for the weather-gage; that is, the French fleet, being to windward of the British, strove to keep that position, while the British endeavored to take it from them. The third day a gale arose; and when it subsided the ships were so crippled, that, after exchanging a few harmless broadsides at long range, they withdrew, and the naval battle was ended.

Such was the record of D'Estaing 's magnificent fleet during 1778. Certainly the Americans had little to learn from the representatives of the power that had for years contended with England for the mastery of the seas.


In May, 1636, a stanch little sloop of some twenty tons was standing along Long Island Sound on a trading expedition. At her helm stood John Gallop, a sturdy colonist, and a skilful seaman, who earned his bread by trading with the Indians that at that time thronged the shores of the Sound, and eagerly seized any opportunity to traffic with the white men from the colonies of Plymouth or New Amsterdam. The colonists sent out beads, knives, bright clothes, and sometimes, unfortunately, rum and other strong drinks. The Indians in exchange offered skins and peltries of all kinds; and, as their simple natures had not been schooled to nice calculations of values, the traffic was one of great profit to the more shrewd whites. But the trade was not without its perils. Though the Indians were simple, and little likely to drive hard bargains, yet they were savages, and little accustomed to nice distinctions between their own property and that of others. Their desires once aroused for some gaudy bit of cloth or shining glass, they were ready enough to steal it, often making their booty secure by the murder of the luckless trader. It so happened, that, just before John Gallop set out with his sloop on the spring trading cruise, the people of the colony were excitedly discussing the probable fate of one Oldham, who some weeks before had set out on a like errand, in a pinnace, with a crew of two white boys and two Indians, and had never returned. So when, on this May morning, Gallop, being forced to hug the shore by stormy weather, saw a small vessel lying at anchor in a cove, he immediately ran down nearer, to investigate. The crew of the sloop numbered two men and two boys, beside the skipper, Gallop. Some heavy duck-guns on board were no mean ordnance; and the New Englander determined to probe the mystery of Oldham's disappearance, though it might require some fighting. As the sloop bore down upon the anchored pinnace, Gallop found no lack of signs to arouse his suspicion. The rigging of the strange craft was loose, and seemed to have been cut. No lookout was visible, and she seemed to have been deserted; but a nearer view showed, lying on the deck of the pinnace, fourteen stalwart Indians, one of whom, catching sight of the approaching sloop, cut the anchor cable, and called to his companions to awake.

This action on the part of the Indians left Gallop no doubt as to their character. Evidently they had captured the pinnace, and had either murdered Oldham, or even then had him a prisoner in their midst. The daring sailor wasted no time in debate as to the proper course to pursue, but clapping all sail on his craft, soon brought her alongside the pinnace. As the sloop came up, the Indians opened the fight with fire-arms and spears; but Gallop's crew responded with their duck-guns with such vigor that the Indians deserted the decks, and fled below for shelter. Gallop was then in a quandary. The odds against him were too great for him to dare to board, and the pinnace was rapidly drifting ashore. After some deliberation he put up his helm, and beat to windward of the pinnace; then, coming about, came scudding down upon her before the wind. The two vessels met with a tremendous shock. The bow of the sloop struck the pinnace fairly amidships, forcing her over on her beam-ends, until the water poured into the open hatchway. The affrighted Indians, unused to warfare on the water, rushed upon deck. Six leaped into the sea, and were drowned; the rest retreated again into the cabin. Gallop then prepared to repeat his ramming manœuvre. This time, to make the blow more effective, he lashed his anchor to the bow, so that the sharp flukes protruded; thus extemporizing an iron-clad ram more than two hundred years before naval men thought of using one. Thus provided, the second blow of the sloop was more terrible than the first. The sharp fluke of the anchor crashed through the side of the pinnace, and the two vessels hung tightly together. Gallop then began to double-load his duck-guns, and fire through the sides of the pinnace; but, finding that the enemy was not to be dislodged in this way, he broke his vessel loose, and again made for the windward, preparatory to a third blow. As the sloop drew off, four or five more Indians rushed from the cabin of the pinnace, and leaped overboard but shared the fate of their predecessors, being far from land. Gallop then came about, and for the third time bore down upon his adversary. As he drew near, an Indian appeared on the deck of the pinnace, and with humble gestures offered to submit. Gallop ran alongside, and taking the man on board, bound him hand and foot, and placed him in the hold. A second redskin then begged for quarter; but Gallop, fearing to allow the two wily savages to be together, cast the second into the sea, where he was drowned. Gallop then boarded the pinnace. Two Indians were left, who retreated into a small compartment of the hold, and were left unmolested. In the cabin was found the mangled body of Mr. Oldham. A tomahawk had been sunk deep into his skull, and his body was covered with wounds. The floor of the cabin was littered with portions of the cargo, which the murderous savages had plundered. Taking all that remained of value upon his own craft, Gallop cut loose the pinnace; and she drifted away, to go to pieces on a reef in Narragansett Bay.

This combat is the earliest action upon American waters of which we have any trustworthy records. The only naval event antedating this was the expedition from Virginia, under Capt. Samuel Argal, against the little French settlement of San Sauveur. Indeed, had it not been for the pirates and the neighboring French settlements, there would be little in the early history of the American Colonies to attract the lover of naval history. But about 1645 the buccaneers began to commit depredations on the high seas, and it became necessary for the Colonies to take steps for the protection of their commerce. In this year an eighteen-gun ship from Cambridge, Mass., fell in with a Barbary pirate of twenty guns, and was hard put to it to escape. And, as the seventeenth century drew near its close, these pests of the sea so increased, that evil was sure to befall the peaceful merchantman that put to sea without due preparation for a fight or two with the sea robbers.

It was in the low-lying islands of the Gulf of Mexico, that these predatory gentry—buccaneers, marooners, or pirates—made their headquarters, and lay in wait for the richly freighted merchantmen in the West India trade. Men of all nationalities sailed under the "Jolly Roger,"—as the dread black flag with skull and cross-bones was called,—but chiefly were they French and Spaniards. The continual wars that in that turbulent time racked Europe gave to the marauders of the sea a specious excuse for their occupation. Thus, many a Spanish schooner, manned by a swarthy crew bent on plunder, commenced her career on the Spanish Main, with the intention of taking only ships belonging to France and England; but let a richly laden Spanish galleon appear, after a long season of ill-fortune, and all scruples were thrown aside, the "Jolly Roger" sent merrily to the fore, and another pirate was added to the list of those that made the highways of the sea as dangerous to travel as the footpad infested common of Hounslow Heath. English ships went out to hunt down the treacherous Spaniards, and stayed to rob and pillage indiscriminately; and not a few of the names now honored as those of eminent English discoverers, were once dreaded as being borne by merciless pirates.

But the most powerful of the buccaneers on the Spanish Main were French, and between them and the Spaniards an unceasing warfare was waged. There were desperate men on either side, and mighty stories are told of their deeds of valor. There were Pierre François , who, with six and twenty desperadoes, dashed into the heart of a Spanish fleet, and captured the admiral's flag-ship; Bartholomew Portuguese, who, with thirty men, made repeated attacks upon a great Indiaman with a crew of seventy, and though beaten back time and again, persisted until the crew surrendered to the twenty buccaneers left alive; François l'Olonoise , who sacked the cities of Maracaibo and Gibraltar, and who, on hearing that a man-o'-war had been sent to drive him away, went boldly to meet her, captured her, and slaughtered all of the crew save one, whom he sent to bear the bloody tidings to the governor of Havana.

Such were the buccaneers,—desperate, merciless, and insatiate in their lust for plunder. So numerous did they finally become, that no merchant dared to send a ship to the West Indies; and the pirates, finding that they had fairly exterminated their game, were fain to turn landwards for further booty. It was an Englishman that showed the sea rovers this new plan of pillage; one Louis Scott, who descended upon the town of Campeche, and, after stripping the place to the bare walls, demanded that a heavy tribute be paid him, in default of which he would burn the town. Loaded with booty, he sailed back to the buccaneers' haunts in the Tortugas. This expedition was the example that the buccaneers followed for the next few years. City after city fell a prey to the demoniac attacks of the lawless rovers. Houses and churches were sacked, towns given to the flames, rich and poor plundered alike; murder was rampant; and men and women were subjected to the most horrid tortures, to extort information as to buried treasures.

Two great names stand out pre-eminent amid the host of outlaws that took part in this reign of rapine,—l'Olonoise  and Sir Henry Morgan. The desperate exploits of these two worthies would, if recounted, fill volumes; and probably no more extraordinary narrative of cruelty, courage, suffering, and barbaric luxury could be fabricated. Morgan was a Welshman, an emigrant, who, having worked out as a slave the cost of his passage across the ocean, took immediate advantage of his freedom to take up the trade of piracy. For him was no pillaging of paltry merchant-ships. He demanded grander operations, and his bands of desperadoes assumed the proportions of armies. Many were the towns that suffered from the bloody visitations of Morgan and his men. Puerto del Principe yielded up to them three hundred thousand pieces of eight, five hundred head of cattle, and many prisoners. Porto Bello was bravely defended against the barbarians; and the stubbornness of the defence so enraged Morgan, that he swore that no quarter should be given the defenders. And so when some hours later the chief fortress surrendered, the merciless buccaneer locked its garrison in the guard-room, set a torch to the magazine, and sent castle and garrison flying into the air. Maracaibo and Gibraltar next fell into the clutches of the pirate. At the latter town, finding himself caught in a river with three men-of-war anchored at its mouth, he hastily built a fire-ship, put some desperate men at the helm, and sent her, a sheet of flame, into the midst of the squadron. The admiral's ship was destroyed; and the pirates sailed away, exulting over their adversaries' discomfiture. Rejoicing over their victories, the followers of Morgan then planned a venture that should eclipse all that had gone before. This was no less than a descent upon Panama, the most powerful of the West Indian cities. For this undertaking, Morgan gathered around him an army of over two thousand desperadoes of all nationalities. A little village on the island of Hispaniola was chosen as the recruiting station; and thither flocked pirates, thieves, and adventurers from all parts of the world. It was a motley crew thus gathered together,—Spaniards, swarthy skinned and black haired; wiry Frenchmen, quick to anger, and ever ready with cutlass or pistol; Malays and Lascars, half clad in gaudy colors, treacherous and sullen, with a hand ever on their glittering creeses; Englishmen, handy alike with fist, bludgeon, or cutlass, and mightily given to fearful oaths; negroes, Moors, and a few West Indians mixed with the lawless throng.

Having gathered his band, procured provisions (chiefly by plundering), and built a fleet of boats, Morgan put his forces in motion. The first obstacle in his path was the Castle of Chagres, which guarded the mouth of the Chagres River, up which the buccaneers must pass to reach the city of Panama. To capture this fortress, Morgan sent his vice-admiral Bradley, with four hundred men. The Spaniards were evidently warned of their approach; for hardly had the first ship flying the piratical ensign appeared at the mouth of the river, when the royal standard of Spain was hoisted above the castle, and the dull report of a shotted gun told the pirates that there was a stubborn resistance in store for them.

Landing some miles below the castle, and cutting their way with hatchet and sabre through the densely interwoven vegetation of a tropical jungle, the pirates at last reached a spot from which a clear view of the castle could be obtained. As they emerged from the forest to the open, the sight greatly disheartened them. They saw a powerful fort, with bastions, moat, drawbridge, and precipitous natural defences. Many of the pirates advised a retreat; but Bradley, dreading the anger of Morgan, ordered an assault. Time after time did the desperate buccaneers, with horrid yells, rush upon the fort, only to be beaten back by the well-directed volleys of the garrison. They charged up to the very walls, threw over fireballs, and hacked the timbers with axes, but to no avail. From behind their impregnable ramparts, the Spaniards fired murderous volleys, crying out.—

"Come on, you English devils, you heretics, the enemies of God and of the king! Let your comrades who are behind come also. We will serve them as we have served you. You shall not get to Panama this time."

As night fell, the pirates withdrew into the thickets to escape the fire of their enemies, and to discuss their discomfiture. As one group of buccaneers lay in the jungle, a chance arrow, shot by an Indian in the fort, struck one of them in the arm. Springing to his feet with a cry of rage and pain, the wounded man cried out as he tore the arrow from the bleeding wound,—

"Look here, my comrades. I will make this accursed arrow the means of the destruction of all the Spaniards."

So saying, he wrapped a quantity of cotton about the head of the arrow, charged his gun with powder, and, thrusting the arrow into the muzzle, fired. His comrades eagerly watched the flight of the missile, which was easily traced by the flaming cotton. Hurtling through the air, the fiery missile fell upon a thatched roof within the castle, and the dry straw and leaves were instantly in a blaze. With cries of savage joy, the buccaneers ran about picking up the arrows that lay scattered over the battle-field. Soon the air was full of the fire-brands, and the woodwork within the castle enclosure was a mass of flame. One arrow fell within the magazine; and a burst of smoke and flame, and the dull roar of an explosion, followed. The Spaniards worked valiantly to extinguish the flames, and to beat back their assailants; but the fire raged beyond their control, and the bright light made them easy targets for their foes. There could be but one issue to such a conflict. By morning the fort was in the hands of the buccaneers, and of the garrison of three hundred and fourteen only fourteen were unhurt. Over the ruins of the fort the English flag was hoisted, the shattered walls were repaired, and the place made a rendezvous for Morgan's forces.

On the scene of the battle Morgan drilled his forces, and prepared for the march and battles that were to come. After some days' preparation, the expedition set out. The road lay through tangled tropical forests, under a burning sun. Little food was taken, as the invaders expected to live on the country; but the inhabitants fled before the advancing column, destroying every thing eatable. Soon starvation stared the desperadoes in the face. They fed upon berries, roots, and leaves. As the days passed, and no food was to be found, they sliced up and devoured coarse leather bags. For a time, it seemed that they would never escape alive from the jungle; but at last, weak, weary, and emaciated, they came out upon a grassy plain before the city of Panama. Here, a few days later, a great battle was fought. The Spaniards outnumbered the invaders, and were better provided with munitions of war; yet the pirates, fighting with the bravery of desperate men, were victorious, and the city fell into their hands. Then followed days of murder, plunder, and debauchery. Morgan saw his followers, maddened by liquor, scoff at the idea of discipline and obedience. Fearing that while his men were helplessly drunk the Spaniards would rally and cut them to pieces, he set fire to the city, that the stores of rum might be destroyed. After sacking the town, the vandals packed their plunder on the backs of mules, and retraced their steps to the seaboard. Their booty amounted to over two millions of dollars. Over the division of this enormous sum great dissensions arose, and Morgan saw the mutinous spirit spreading rapidly among his men. With a few accomplices, therefore, he loaded a ship with the plunder, and secretly set sail; leaving over half of his band, without food or shelter, in a hostile country. Many of the abandoned buccaneers starved, some were shot or hanged by the enraged Spaniards; but the leader of the rapacious gang reached Jamaica with a huge fortune, and was appointed governor of the island, and made a baronet by the reigning king of England, Charles the Second.

Such were some of the exploits of some of the more notorious of the buccaneers. It may be readily imagined, that, with hordes of desperadoes such as these infesting the waters of the West Indies, there was little opportunity for the American Colonies to build up any maritime interests in that direction. And as the merchantmen became scarce on the Spanish Main, such of the buccaneers as did not turn landward in search of booty put out to sea, and ravaged the ocean pathways between the Colonies and England. It was against these pirates, that the earliest naval operations of the Colonies were directed. Several cruisers were fitted out to rid the seas of these pests, but we hear little of their success. But the name of one officer sent against the pirates has become notorious as that of the worst villain of them all.

It was in January, 1665, that William III., King of England, issued "to our true and well-beloved Capt. William Kidd, commander of the ship 'Adventure,'" a commission to proceed against "divers wicked persons who commit many and great piracies, robberies, and depredations on the seas." Kidd was a merchant of New York, and had commanded a privateer during the last war with France. He was a man of great courage, and, being provided with a stanch ship and brave crew, set out with high hopes of winning great reputation and much prize money. But fortune was against him. For months the "Adventure" ploughed the blue waves of the ocean, yet not a sail appeared on the horizon. Once, indeed, three ships were seen in the distance. The men of the "Adventure" were overjoyed at the prospect of a rich prize. The ship was prepared for action. The men, stripped to the waist, stood at their quarters, talking of the coming battle. Kidd stood in the rigging with a spy-glass, eagerly examining the distant vessels. But only disappointment was in store; for, as the ships drew nearer, Kidd shut his spy-glass with an oath, saying,—

"They are only three English men-o'-war."

Continued disappointment bred discontent and mutiny among the crew. They had been enlisted with lavish promises of prize money, but saw before them nothing but a profitless cruise. The spirit of discontent spread rapidly. Three or four ships that were sighted proved to be neither pirates nor French, and were therefore beyond the powers of capture granted Kidd by the king. Kidd fought against the growing piratical sentiment for a long time; but temptation at last overcame him, and he yielded. Near the Straits of Babelmandeb, at the entrance to the Red Sea, he landed a party, plundered the adjoining country for provisions, and, turning his ship's prow toward the straits, mustered his crew on deck, and thus addressed them:—

"We have been unsuccessful hitherto, my boys," he said, "but take courage. Fortune is now about to smile upon us. The fleet of the 'Great Mogul,' freighted with the richest treasures, is soon to come out of the Red Sea. From the capture of those heavily laden ships, we will all grow rich."

The crew, ready enough to become pirates, cheered lustily: and, turning his back upon all hopes of an honorable career, Kidd set out in search of the treasure fleet. After cruising for four days, the "Adventure" fell in with the squadron, which proved to be under convoy of an English and a Dutch man-of-war. The squadron was a large one, and the ships greatly scattered. By skilful seamanship, Kidd dashed down upon an outlying vessel, hoping to capture and plunder it before the convoying men-of-war could come to its rescue. But his first shot attracted the attention of the watchful guardians; and, though several miles away, they packed on all sail, and bore down to the rescue with such spirit that the disappointed pirate was forced to sheer off. Kidd was now desperate. He had failed as a reputable privateer, and his first attempt at piracy had failed. Thenceforward, he cast aside all scruples, and captured large ships and small, tortured their crews, and for a time seemed resolved to lead a piratical life. But there are evidences that at times this strange man relented, and strove to return to the path of duty and right. On one occasion, a Dutch ship crossed the path of the "Adventure," and the crew clamorously demanded her capture. Kidd firmly refused. A tumult arose. The captain drew his sabre and pistols, and gathering about him those still faithful, addressed the mutineers, saying,—

"You may take the boats and go. But those who thus leave this ship will never ascend its sides again."

The mutineers murmured loudly. One man, a gunner, named William Moore, stepped forward, saying,—

"You are ruining us all. You are keeping us in beggary and starvation. But for your whims, we might all be prosperous and rich."

At this outspoken mutiny, Kidd flew into a passion. Seizing a heavy bucket that stood near, he dealt Moore a terrible blow on the head. The unhappy man fell to the deck with a fractured skull, and the other mutineers sullenly yielded to the captain's will. Moore died the next day; and months after, when Kidd, after roving the seas, and robbing ships of every nationality, was brought to trial at London, it was for the murder of William Moore that he was condemned to die. For Kidd's career subsequent to the incident of the Dutch ship was that of a hardened pirate. He captured and robbed ships, and tortured their passengers. He went to Madagascar, the rendezvous of the pirates, and joined in their revelry and debauchery. On the island were five or six hundred pirates, and ships flying the black flag were continually arriving or departing. The streets resounded with shouts of revelry, with curses, and with the cries of rage. Strong drinks were freely used. Drunkenness was everywhere. It was no uncommon thing for a hogshead of wine to be opened, and left standing in the streets, that any might drink who chose. The pirates, flush with their ill-gotten gains, spent money on gambling and kindred vices lavishly. The women who accompanied them to this lawless place were decked out with barbaric splendor in silks and jewels. On the arrival of a ship, the debauchery was unbounded. Such noted pirates as Blackbeard, Steed Bonnet, and Avary made the place their rendezvous, and brought thither their rich prizes and wretched prisoners. Blackbeard was one of the most desperate pirates of the age. He, with part of his crew, once terrorized the officials of Charleston, S.C., exacting tribute of medicines and provisions. Finally he was killed in action, and sixteen of his desperate gang expiated their crimes on the gallows.

To Madagascar, too, often came the two female pirates, Mary Read and Anne Bonny. These women, masquerading in men's clothing, were as desperate and bloody as the men by whose side they fought. By a strange coincidence, these two women enlisted on the same ship. Each knowing her own sex, and being ignorant of that of the other, they fell in love; and the final discovery of their mutual deception increased their intimacy. After serving with the pirates, working at the guns, swinging a cutlass in the boarding parties, and fighting a duel in which she killed her opponent, Mary Read determined to escape. There is every evidence that she wearied of the evil life she was leading, and was determined to quit it; but, before she could carry her intentions into effect, the ship on which she served was captured, and taken to England, where the pirates expiated their crimes on the gallows, Mary Read dying in prison before the day set for her execution.

After some months spent in licentious revelry at Madagascar, Kidd set out on a further cruise. During this voyage he learned that he had been proscribed as a pirate, and a price set on his head. Strange as it may appear, this news was a surprise to him. He seems to have deceived himself into thinking that his acts of piracy were simply the legitimate work of a privateersman. For a time he knew not what to do; but as by this time the coarse pleasures of an outlaw's life were distasteful to him, he determined to proceed to New York, and endeavor to prove himself an honest man. This determination proved to be an unfortunate one for him; for hardly had he arrived, when he was taken into custody, and sent to England for trial. He made an able defence, but was found guilty, and sentenced to be hanged; a sentence which was executed some months later, in the presence of a vast multitude of people, who applauded in the death of Kidd the end of the reign of outlaws upon the ocean.


It is unnecessary to enter into an account of the causes that led up to the revolt of the American Colonies against the oppression of King George and his subservient Parliament. The story of the Stamp Act, the indignation of the Colonies, their futile attempts to convince Parliament of the injustice of the measure, the stern measures adopted by the British to put down the rising insubordination, the Boston Massacre, and the battles at Concord and Lexington are familiar to every American boy. But not every young American knows that almost the first act of open resistance to the authority of the king took place on the water, and was to some extent a naval action.

The revenue laws, enacted by the English Parliament as a means of extorting money from the Colonies, were very obnoxious to the people of America. Particularly did the colonists of Rhode Island protest against them, and seldom lost an opportunity to evade the payment of the taxes.

Between Providence and Newport, illicit trade flourished; and the waters of Narragansett Bay were dotted with the sail of small craft carrying cargoes on which no duties had ever been paid. In order to stop this nefarious traffic, armed vessels were stationed in the Bay, with orders to chase and search all craft suspected of smuggling. The presence of these vessels gave great offence to the colonists, and the inflexible manner in which the naval officers discharged their duty caused more than one open defiance of the authority of King George.

The first serious trouble to grow out of the presence of the British cruisers in the bay was the affair of the schooner "St. John." This vessel was engaged in patrolling the waters of the bay in search of smugglers. While so engaged, her commander, Lieut. Hill, learned that a brig had discharged a suspicious cargo at night near Howland's Ferry. Running down to that point to investigate, the king's officers found the cargo to consist of smuggled goods; and, leaving a few men in charge, the cruiser hastily put out to sea in pursuit of the smuggler. The swift sailing schooner soon overtook the brig, and the latter was taken in to Newport as a prize. Although this affair occurred early in 1764, the sturdy colonists even then had little liking for the officers of the king. The sailors of the "St. John," careless of the evident dislike of the citizens of the town, swaggered about the streets, boasting of their capture, and making merry at the expense of the Yankees. Two or three fights between sailors and townspeople so stirred up the landsmen, that they determined to destroy the "St. John," and had actually fitted up an armed sloop for that purpose, when a second man-of-war appeared in the harbor and put a final stopper to the project. Though thus balked of their revenge, the townspeople showed their hatred for the king's navy by seizing a battery, and firing several shots at the two armed vessels, but without effect.

During the same year, the little town of Newport again gave evidence of the growth of the revolutionary spirit. This time the good old British custom of procuring sailors for the king's ships by a system of kidnapping, commonly known as impressment, was the cause of the outbreak. For some months the British man-of-war "Maidstone" lay in the harbor of Newport, idly tugging at her anchors. It was a period of peace, and her officers had nothing to occupy their attention. Therefore they devoted themselves to increasing the crew of the vessel by means of raids upon the taverns along the water-front of the city.

The seafaring men of Newport knew little peace while the "Maidstone" was in port. The king's service was the dread of every sailor; and, with the press-gang nightly walking the streets, no sailor could feel secure. All knew the life led by the sailors on the king's ships. Those were the days when the cat-o'-nine-tails flourished, and the command of a beardless bit of a midshipmen was enough to send a poor fellow to the gratings, to have his back cut to pieces by the merciless lash. The Yankee sailors had little liking for this phase of sea-life, and they gave the men-of-war a wide berth.

Often it happened, however, that a party of jolly mariners sitting over their pipes and grog in the snug parlor of some seashore tavern, spinning yarns of the service they had seen on the gun-decks of his Majesty's ships, or of shipwreck and adventure in the merchant service, would start up and listen in affright, as the measured tramp of a body of men came up the street. Then came the heavy blow on the door.

"Open in the king's name," shouts a gruff voice outside; and the entrapped sailors, overturning the lights, spring for doors and windows, in vain attempts to escape the fate in store for them. The press-gang seldom returned to the ship empty handed, and the luckless tar who once fell into their clutches was wise to accept his capture good-naturedly; for the bos'n's cat was the remedy commonly prescribed for sulkiness.

As long as the "Maidstone" lay in the harbor of Newport, raids such as this were of common occurrence. The people of the city grumbled a little; but it was the king's will, and none dared oppose it. The wives and sweethearts of the kidnapped sailors shed many a bitter tear over the disappearance of their husbands and lovers; but what were the tears of women to King George? And so the press-gang of the "Maidstone" might have continued to enjoy unopposed the stirring sport of hunting men like beasts, had the leaders not committed one atrocious act of inhumanity that roused the long-suffering people to resistance.

One breezy afternoon, a stanch brig, under full sail, came up the bay, and entered the harbor of Newport. Her sides were weather-beaten, and her dingy sails and patched cordage showed that she had just completed her long voyage. Her crew, a fine set of bronzed and hardy sailors, were gathered on her forecastle, eagerly regarding the cluster of cottages that made up the little town of Newport. In those cottages were many loved ones, wives, mothers, and sweethearts, whom the brave fellows had not seen for long and weary months; for the brig was just returning from a voyage to the western coast of Africa.

It is hard to describe the feelings aroused by the arrival of a ship in port after a long voyage. From the outmost end of the longest wharf the relatives and friends of the sailors eagerly watch the approaching vessel, striving to find in her appearance some token of the safety of the loved ones on board. If a flag hangs at half-mast in the rigging, bitter is the suspense, and fearful the dread, of each anxious waiter, lest her husband or lover or son be the unfortunate one whose death is mourned. And on the deck of the ship the excitement is no less great. Even the hardened breast of the sailor swells with emotion when he first catches sight of his native town, after long months of absence. With eyes sharpened by constant searching for objects upon the broad bosom of the ocean, he scans the waiting crowd, striving to distinguish in the distance some well-beloved face. His spirits are light with the happy anticipation of a season in port with his loved ones, and he discharges his last duties before leaving the ship with a blithe heart.

So it was with the crew of the home-coming brig. Right merrily they sung out their choruses as they pulled at the ropes, and brought the vessel to anchor. The rumble of the hawser through the hawseholes was sweet music to their ears; and so intent were they upon the crowd on the dock, that they did not notice two long-boats which had put off from the man-of-war, and were pulling for the brig. The captain of the merchantman, however, noticed the approach of the boats, and wondered what it meant. "Those fellows think I've smuggled goods aboard," said he. "However, they can spend their time searching if they want. I've nothing in the hold I'm afraid to have seen."

The boats were soon alongside; and two or three officers, with a handful of jackies, clambered aboard the brig.

"Muster your men aft, captain," said the leader, scorning any response to the captain's salutation. "The king has need of a few fine fellows for his service."

"Surely, sir, you are not about to press any of these men," protested the captain. "They are just returning after a long voyage, and have not yet seen their families."

"What's that to me, sir?" was the response. "Muster your crew without more words."

Sullenly the men came aft, and ranged themselves in line before the boarding-officers. Each feared lest he might be one of those chosen to fill the ship's roll of the "Maidstone;" yet each cherished the hope that he might be spared to go ashore, and see the loved ones whose greeting he had so fondly anticipated.

The boarding-officers looked the crew over, and, after consulting together, gruffly ordered the men to go below, and pack up their traps.

"Surely you don't propose to take my entire crew?" said the captain of the brig in wondering indignation.

"I know my business, sir," was the gruff reply, "and I do not propose to suffer any more interference."

The crew of the brig soon came on deck, carrying their bags of clothes, and were ordered into the man-o'-war's boats, which speedily conveyed them to their floating prison. Their fond visions of home had been rudely dispelled. They were now enrolled in his Majesty's service, and subject to the will of a blue-coated tyrant. This was all their welcome home.

When the news of this cruel outrage reached the shore, the indignation of the people knew no bounds. The thought of their fellow-townsmen thus cruelly deprived of their liberty, at the conclusion of a long and perilous voyage, set the whole village in a turmoil. Wild plots were concocted for the destruction of the man-of-war, that, sullen and unyielding, lay at her anchorage in the harbor. But the wrong done was beyond redress. The captured men were not to be liberated. There was no ordnance in the little town to compete with the guns of the "Maidstone," and the enraged citizens could only vent their anger by impotent threats and curses. Bands of angry men and boys paraded the streets, crying, "Down with the press-gang," and invoking the vengeance of Heaven upon the officers of the man-of-war. Finally, they found a boat belonging to the "Maidstone" lying at a wharf. Dragging this ashore, the crowd procured ropes, and, after pulling the captured trophy up and down the streets, took it to the common in front of the Court-House, where it was burned in the presence of a great crowd, which heaped execrations upon the heads of the officers of the "Maidstone," and King George's press-gang.

After this occurrence, there was a long truce between the people of Newport and the officers of the British navy. But the little town was intolerant of oppression, and the revolutionary spirit broke out again in 1769. Historians have eulogized Boston as the cradle of liberty, and by the British pamphleteers of that era the Massachusetts city was often called a hot-bed of rebellion. It would appear, however, that, while the people of Boston were resting contentedly under the king's rule, the citizens of Newport were chafing under the yoke, and were quick to resist any attempts at tyranny.

It is noticeable, that, in each outbreak of the people of Newport against the authority of the king's vessels, the vigor of the resistance increased, and their acts of retaliation became bolder. Thus in the affair of the "St. John" the king's vessel was fired on, while in the affair of the "Maidstone" the royal property was actually destroyed. In the later affairs with the sloop "Liberty" and the schooner "Gaspee," the revolt of the colonists was still more open, and the consequences more serious.

In 1769 the armed sloop "Liberty," Capt. Reid, was stationed in Narragansett Bay for the purpose of enforcing the revenue laws. Her errand made her obnoxious to the people on the coast, and the extraordinary zeal of her captain in discharging his duty made her doubly detested by seafaring people afloat or shore.

On the 17th of July the "Liberty," while cruising near the mouth of the bay, sighted a sloop and a brig under full sail, bound out. Promptly giving chase, the armed vessel soon overtook the merchantmen sufficiently to send a shot skipping along the crests of the waves, as a polite Invitation to stop. The two vessels hove to, and a boat was sent from the man-of-war to examine their papers, and see if all was right. Though no flaw was found in the papers of either vessel, Capt. Reid determined to take them back to Newport, which was done. In the harbor the two vessels were brought to anchor under the guns of the armed sloop, and without any reason or explanation were kept there several days. After submitting to this wanton detention for two days, Capt. Packwood of the brig went on board the "Liberty" to make a protest to Capt. Reid, and at the same time to get some wearing apparel taken from his cabin at the time his vessel had been captured. On reaching the deck of the armed vessel, he found Capt. Reid absent, and his request for his property was received with ridicule. Hot words soon led to violence; and as Capt. Packwood stepped in to his boat to return to his ship, he was fired at several times, none of the shots taking effect.

Siege Of Charleston, S.C.

Siege Of Charleston, S.C., May, 1780.
Copyright, 1874, by Johnson, Wilson & Co.

The news of this assault spread like wildfire in the little town. The people congregated on the streets, demanding reparation. The authorities sent a message to Capt. Reid, demanding that the man who fired the shots be given up. Soon a boat came from the "Liberty," bringing a man who was handed over to the authorities as the culprit. A brief examination into the case showed that the man was not the guilty party, and that his surrender was a mere subterfuge. The people then determined to be trifled with no longer, and made preparations to take vengeance upon the insolent oppressors.

The work of preparation went on quietly; and by nightfall a large number of men had agreed to assemble at a given signal, and march upon the enemy. Neither the authorities of the town nor the officers on the threatened vessel were given any intimation of the impending outbreak. Yet the knots of men who stood talking earnestly on the street corners, or looked significantly at the trim navy vessel lying in the harbor, might have well given cause for suspicion.

That night, just as the dusk was deepening into dark, a crowd of men marched down the street to a spot where a number of boats lay hidden in the shadow of a wharf. Embarking in these silently, they bent to the oars at the whispered word of command; and the boats were soon gliding swiftly over the smooth, dark surface of the harbor, toward the sloop-of-war. As they drew near, the cry of the lookout rang out,—

"Boat ahoy!"

No answer. The boats, crowded with armed men, still advanced.

"Boat ahoy! Answer, or I'll fire."

And, receiving no response, the lookout gave the alarm, and the watch came tumbling up, just in time to be driven below or disarmed by the crowd of armed men that swarmed over the gunwale of the vessel. There was no bloodshed. The crew of the "Liberty" was fairly surprised, and made no resistance. The victorious citizens cut the sloop's cables, and allowed her to float on shore near Long Wharf. Then, feeling sure that their prey could not escape them, they cut away her masts, liberated their captives, and taking the sloop's boats, dragged them through the streets to the common, where they were burned on a triumphal bonfire, amid the cheers of the populace.

But the exploit was not to end here. With the high tide the next day, the hulk of the sloop floated away, and drifted ashore again on Goat Island. When night fell, some adventurous spirits stealthily went over, and, applying the torch to the stranded ship, burned it to the water's edge. Thus did the people of Newport resist tyranny.

It may well be imagined that so bold a defiance of the royal authority caused a great sensation. Prolonged and vigorous were the attempts of the servants of the king to find out the rebellious parties who had thus destroyed his Majesty's property. But their efforts were in vain. The identity of the captors of the "Liberty" was carefully concealed, and even to this day none of their names has become known. But, before the people of Newport had done talking about this affair, another outbreak occurred, which cast the capture and destruction of the "Liberty" into the shade.

This was the affair of the "Gaspee,"—considered by many historians the virtual opening of the revolutionary struggle of the Colonies against Great Britain. The "Gaspee," like the "St. John" and the "Liberty," was an armed vessel stationed in Narragansett Bay to enforce the revenue. She was commanded by Lieut. Dudingston of the British navy, and carried eight guns. By pursuing the usual tactics of the British officers stationed on the American coast, Duddingston had made himself hated; and his vessel was marked for destruction. Not a boat could pass between Providence and Newport without being subjected to search by the crew of the "Gaspee;" and the Yankee sailors swore darkly, that, when the time was ripe, they would put an end to the Britisher's officious meddling.

The propitious time arrived one bright June morning in the year 1772, when the "Gaspee" gave chase to a Newport packet which was scudding for Providence, under the command of Capt. Thomas Lindsey. The armed vessel was a clean-cut little craft, and, carrying no heavier load than a few light guns of the calibre then in vogue, could overhaul with ease almost any merchantman on the coast. So on this eventful day she was rapidly overhauling the chase, when, by a blunder of the pilot, she was run hard and fast upon a spit of sand running out from Namquit Point, and thus saw her projected prize sail away in triumph.

But the escape of her prize was not the greatest disaster that was to befall the "Gaspee" that day. Lindsey, finding himself safe from the clutches of the enemy, continued his course to Providence, and on arriving at that city reported the condition of the "Gaspee" to a prominent citizen, who straightway determined to organize an expedition for the destruction of the pest of marine traffic. He therefore gave orders to a trusty ship-master to collect eight of the largest long-boats in the harbor, and, having muffled their oars and rowlocks, place them at Fenner's Wharf, near a noted tavern.

That night, soon after sunset, as the tradesmen were shutting up their shops, and the laboring men were standing on the streets talking after their day's work, a man passed down the middle of each street, beating a drum, and crying aloud,—

"The schooner 'Gaspee' is ashore on Namquit Point. Who will help destroy her?"

All who expressed a desire to join in the enterprise were directed to repair to the Sabin House; and thither, later in the evening, flocked many of the townspeople carrying guns, powder-flasks, and bullet-pouches. Within the house all was life and bustle. The great hall was crowded with determined men, discussing the plan of attack. Guns stood in every corner, while down in the kitchen a half a dozen men stood about a glowing fire busily casting bullets. At last, all being prepared, the party crossed the street to the dock, and embarked,—a veteran sea-captain taking the tiller of each boat.

On the way down the harbor the boats stopped, and took aboard a number of paving-stones and stout clubs, as weapons for those who had no muskets. After this stoppage the boats continued on their way, until, when within sixty yards of the "Gaspee," the long-drawn hail. "Who comes there?" rang out over the water. No answer was made, and the lookout quickly repeated his hail. Capt. Whipple, one of the leaders of the attack, then responded,—

"I want to come on board."

Dudingston, who was below at the time, rushed on deck, exclaiming, "Stand off. You can't come aboard."

As Dudingston stood at the side of the "Gaspee" warning off the assailants, he presented a good mark; and Joseph Bucklin, who pulled an oar in the leading boat, turned to a comrade and said, "Ephe, lend me your gun, and I can kill that fellow." The gun was accordingly handed him, and he fired. Dudingston fell to the deck. Just as the shot was fired, the leader of the assailants cried out,—

"I am sheriff of the county of Kent. I am come for the commander of this vessel; and have him I will, dead or alive. Men, spring to your oars."

In an instant the boats were under the lee of the schooner, and the attacking party was clambering over the side. The first man to attempt to board seized a rope, and was clambering up, when one of the British cut the rope, and let him fall into the water. He quickly recovered himself, and was soon on deck, where he found his comrades driving the crew of the "Gaspee" below, and meeting with but little resistance.

A surgeon who was with the party of Americans led the boarders below, and began the task of tying the hands of the captured crew with strong tarred cord. While thus engaged, he was called on deck.

"What is wanted, Mr. Brown?" asked he, calling the name of the person inquiring for him.

"Don't call names, but go immediately into the cabin," was the response. "There is one wounded, and will bleed to death."

The surgeon went into the captain's cabin, and there found Dudingston, severely wounded, and bleeding freely. Seeing no cloth suitable for bandages, the surgeon opened his vest, and began to tear his own shirt into strips to bind up the wound. With the tenderest care the hurt of the injured officer was attended to; and he was gently lowered into a boat, and rowed up the river to Providence.

The Americans remained in possession of the captured schooner, and quickly began the work of demolition. In the captain's cabin were a number of bottles of liquor, and for these the men made a rush; but the American surgeon dashed the bottles to pieces with the heels of his heavy boots, so that no scenes of drunkenness were enacted. After breaking up the furniture and trappings of the craft, her people were bundled over the side into the boats of their captors, and the torch was set to the schooner. The boats layoff a little distance until the roaring flames satisfied them that the "Gaspee" would never again annoy American merchantmen. As the schooner's shotted guns went off one after the other, the Americans turned their boats' prows homeward, and soon dispersed quietly to their homes.

It is almost incredible that the identity of the parties to this expedition was kept a secret until long after the Revolution. Although the British authorities made the most strenuous efforts, and offered huge rewards for the detection of the culprits, not one was discovered until after the Colonies had thrown off the royal yoke, when they came boldly forward, and boasted of their exploit.

After the destruction of the "Gaspee," the colonists in no way openly opposed the authority of the king, until the time of those stirring events immediately preceding the American Revolution. Little was done on the water to betoken the hatred of the colonists for King George. The turbulent little towns of Providence and Newport subsided, and the scene of revolt was transferred to Massachusetts, and particularly to Boston. In the streets of Boston occurred the famous massacre, and at the wharves of Boston lay the three ships whose cargo aroused the ire of the famous Boston tea-party.

To almost every young American the story of the Boston tea-party is as familiar as his own name,—how the British Parliament levied a tax upon tea, how the Colonies refused to pay it; and determined to use none of the article; how British merchants strove to force the tea upon the unwilling colonists, and how the latter refused to permit the vessels to unload, and in some cases drove them back to England. At Philadelphia, Annapolis, Charleston, Newport, and Providence, disturbances took place over the arrival of the tea-ships; but at Boston the turbulence was the greatest.

The story of that dramatic scene in the great drama of American revolution has been told too often to bear repetition. The arrival of three ships laden with tea aroused instant indignation in the New England city. Mass meetings were held, the captains of the vessels warned not to attempt to unload their cargoes, and the consignees were terrified into refusing to have any thing to do with the tea.

In the midst of an indignation meeting held at the Old South Church, a shrill war-whoop resounded from one of the galleries. The startled audience, looking in that direction, saw a person disguised as a Mohawk Indian, who wildly waved his arms and shouted,—

"Boston Harbor, a tea-pot to-night! Hurrah for Griffin's Wharf."

In wild excitement the meeting adjourned, and the people crowded out into the streets. Other Indians were seen running down the streets in the direction of Griffin's Wharf, where the tea-ships were moored, and thither the people turned their steps.

On reaching the wharf, a scene of wild confusion was witnessed. The three tea-ships lay side by side at the wharf. Their decks were crowded with men, many of them wearing the Indian disguise. The hatches were off the hatchways; and the chests of tea were being rapidly passed up, broken open, and thrown overboard. There was little noise, as the workers seemed to be well disciplined, and went about their work in the bright moonlight with systematic activity. In about three hours the work was done. Three hundred and forty-two chests of tea had been thrown overboard, and the rioters dispersed quietly to their homes.

The incident of the destruction of the tea in Boston Harbor was the last of the petty incidents that led up to the American Revolution. Following quick upon it came Lexington, Concord, and Bunker Hill,—then the great conflict was fairly under way, and the Colonies were fighting for liberty. What part the sailors of the colonies took in that struggle, it is the purpose of this book to recount.


At the close of the civil war the United States had one of the most formidable navies afloat. The necessities of the war had forced the Navy Department to the utmost exertion in increasing the number and power of the vessels of the fleets. This work of naval upbuilding and strengthening had been carried on, moreover, till Fort Fisher fell and hostile operations ceased. The result was that at the close of the war the United States had upon its hands a large number of ships-of-war for which it had no use. The Secretary of the Navy at once began to reduce the number, and secretaries succeeding him followed the same policy. Old vessels which had outlived their usefulness as cruisers were one by one taken out of commission and were not replaced. Thus the navy moved steadily on a downward plane. Through the seventies and into the eighties this retrogression continued. The lowest ebb was reached in 1882, when the entire naval force numbered only thirty-one vessels in commission, all but four of which were built entirely of wood. They were old-fashionedships, which had been efficient in a past day, but were totally unfit to cope with the modern warships of foreign naval powers. Both their guns and engines were inferior. Their sole usefulness, in short, lay in displaying the national flag upon the seas and in the harbors of the commercial world in times of peace.

This condition of the navy was referred to by Secretary Chandler, in his report of 1882, as follows:

"It is not the policy of the United States to maintain a large navy, but its reputation, honor, and prosperity require that such naval vessels as it possesses shall be the best which human ingenuity can devise and modern artificers construct. Our present vessels are not such and cannot be made such. They should be gradually replaced by iron or steel cruisers, and allowed to go out of commission."

It may be of interest to add that in 1882 there was only one high-power cannon in the navy, while there were nearly nineteen hundred naval officers, making the proportion of fifty-nine officers for each ship, and one for every five seamen.

As the result of Secretary Chandler's recommendations in his report of 1882, three steel warships and an armed despatch-steamer were authorized by the next Congress. The building of these vessels, named the "Chicago," the "Boston," the "Atlanta," and the "Dolphin," may be regarded as the first movement toward the making of the new navy of the United States.

While progress in naval construction has been so rapid that these ships are a long distance behind the war-vessels of to-day in power, they were then considered to be equal to any afloat in their respective classes. All are unarmored. The "Chicago," of forty-five hundred tons displacement and a speed of fourteen knots an hour, was an example of the largest and best unarmored fighting and cruising vessel then built, and, according to Secretary Chandler, had no superior in speed, endurance, and armament. In the "Boston" and "Atlanta," each of three thousand tons displacement and a speed of thirteen knots an hour, speed and endurance were supposed to have been given their greatest development, and their fighting power was increased by placing the battery on a central superstructure on the spar-deck and adopting a brig rig, so that the extremities would be clear for a fore and aft fire. The "Dolphin," of fifteen hundred tons displacement and a speed of fifteen knots, was designed as an auxiliary in naval operations, and it was expected that she would furnish a model for high-speed commerce-destroyers to be subsequently built. These vessels were constructed at an aggregate cost of over $2,400,000, in the shipyard of John Roach, of Chester, Pa. The "Dolphin" was launched in 1884.

The Congress which authorized the building of the cruisers also directed that the double-turreted monitors, "Puritan," "Amphitrite," "Terror," and "Monadnock," whose keels had been laid several years before, be completed. In accordance with this order they were launched in 1883.

In order that the work of the reconstruction of the navy should be carried on as rapidly as possible, the secretary recommended, in 1883 and 1884, that seven unarmored cruisers, in addition to the four then in the process of construction, be built. Congress adopted his suggestion to the extent of authorizing, in 1884, the construction of two unarmored cruisers, two gunboats, and two armored cruisers.

The vessels with which the reconstruction of the navy began—namely the "Chicago," the "Boston," the "Atlanta," and the "Dolphin"—were completed about this time, and were in some measure disappointments. It was found that the "Dolphin" was better adapted for pleasure trips than for war service, because of the lack of protection against hostile fire. The engines had been so placed as to be exposed above water-line, which was condemned as a serious mistake in a war-vessel without armor-protection. It was realized, too, that the essential characteristic in an unarmored cruiser is great speed. The function she is expected to perform is to destroy commerce; and if she is slower than the merchant-vessels it is useless for her to go to sea; and if she is slower than the iron-clads, and consequently cannot escape from them, she could not long continue her service. The chief objection to the vessels was the lack of a speed equal to that of merchantmen and the cruisers of other countries. The type of protected cruiser with a maximum speed, in some cases as high as twenty knots, developed at this time as a result of the earlier experiments. The torpedo, too, was receiving constant attention, and money was freely spent for its improvement. It was found that vessels at anchor or under slow headway could be protected from torpedoes by being surrounded by a large net. This defence was generally adopted for armored vessels.

A stride forward in naval construction in the United States marked the year 1887. Before that time a serious obstacle in the way of building up the navy was the lack in the country of manufactories necessary to the construction and armament of a modern war-vessel, namely, that of steel forgings for the heavier guns, of armor for iron-clad vessels, and of secondary batteries, which are an essential portion of the armament. It was important that the country should not be dependent upon foreigners for these necessary implements of warfare, because they are contraband in time of war, and consequently could not then be obtained abroad. Secretary of the Navy Whitney, who succeeded Secretary Chandler, stipulated, in his advertisements for bids for the contracts of making the armor for the ships under construction, that this armor should be of domestic manufacture. Correspondence was also opened with the leading steel manufacturers of the country, offering them inducements to take the matter up. Interest was awakened, and it was found upon investigation that armor could be made in the United States as advantageously as abroad. A contract was drawn up with the Bethlehem Iron Company, under which a plant for the production of armor and gun steel was erected at Bethlehem, Pa., which was designed to be second to none in the world. In the matter of the second batteries, the policy of insisting upon home manufacture was also pursued, with the desired result.

Congress had authorized, in 1885, the construction of two additional cruisers and two gunboats. In 1886 there was further authorization of two armor-clad vessels, each of about six thousand tons, and each to cost, exclusive of armament, not more than $2,500,000. In 1887 the sum of $2,000,000 was appropriated for harbor and coast defence vessels. As a result of this reawakening on the part of Congress to the necessity of a respectable navy, and the manifestations of enlightenment in the form of substantial appropriations, Secretary Whitney was able to state in his report of 1888 that upon the completion of the ships under construction, the United States would rank second among the nations in the possession of unarmored cruisers or commerce-destroyers possessing the highest characteristics—namely, size of three thousand tons and upward and a speed of nineteen knots, and more. The vessels, inclusive of the monitors, completed and uncompleted, then composing the navy, were as follows: The "Dolphin," "Boston," "Atlanta," "Chicago," whose keels were laid in 1883; the "Charleston" "Baltimore," "Newark," "Philadelphia," "San Francisco," protected cruisers, whose keels were laid in 1887 and 1888; and the gunboats "Yorktown," "Petrel," "Concord," "Bennington," whose keels were laid in 1887 and 1888. In addition to these, there were under construction the dynamite cruiser "Vesuvius," with a guaranteed speed of twenty knots an hour, and a first-class torpedo-boat with a speed of twenty-three knots an hour. Besides these, five protected cruisers had been authorized, but were not yet in process of construction.

Dynamite Cruiser "Vesuvius."

The "Baltimore," "Charlestown," "Yorktown," and "Petrel" were given their trial trips in 1889, and were accepted by the Navy Department. The trip of the "Baltimore," in particular, was a brilliant success. The horse-power proved to be in excess of the contract requirement, and her highest speed for one hour was 20.39 knots—this result being then unparalleled by any warship in the world of the "Baltimore's" displacement.

When Benjamin F. Tracy became Secretary of the Navy, in 1889 he called attention to the fact that, while the United States had secured a number of excellent vessels of the cruiser type, it did not as yet possess an efficient navy. He pointed out that the country had two widely separated ocean frontiers to protect, and that there was only one way to protect them, namely, by two separate fleets of armored battle-ships. He said further that in addition to the battle-ships, the condition of the country required at least twenty vessels for coast and harbor defence, and, moreover, that the employment of these ships as floating fortresses demanded that they be equipped with the most powerful batteries and the heaviest of armor. It may be said parenthetically that eight vessels of this type, five of which were reconstructed monitors, were under construction or had been authorized at that time. Secretary Tracy recommended the authorization by the following Congress of eight armored battle-ships. He also said that the United States could not afford to neglect torpedo-boats, with which the foreign naval powers were well supplied, and he recommended that appropriations be made for the construction of at least five of these boats of the first and second class. The year before, the keel of the first of the battle-ships, the "Texas," had been laid in the navy-yard at Norfolk, Va., and in 1889 work was begun at the Brooklyn navy yard upon another vessel of the same class, the "Maine." These vessels are respectively of 6,314 and 6,648 tons displacement. The construction of a third battle-ship, which had been provided for, had not yet been begun.

Secretary Tracy's recommendations reveal clearly the naval condition in 1889. Previous to that year the additions to the navy had consisted chiefly of cruisers of from three to four thousand tons, and of gunboats under two thousand tons; but, acting upon the secretary's report, Congress, on June 10, 1890, authorized, in addition to another armored cruiser, three seagoing coast-line battle-ships. These were an entirely new class of vessels in the United States navy, and their authorization marks another distinct step in its reconstruction.

An appropriation was made in 1891 for an additional armored cruiser, designed to be a sister ship to the one provided for in 1890. It was the purpose to make these vessels more powerful than any of their type in the navy. Their tonnage was fixed at 7,500, and their maximum speed at twenty-two knots. They were to be given coal capacity that would enable them to cruise for great distances without recoaling. This, it will be seen, is an important advantage to a navy so destitute of coaling-stations abroad as that of the United States.

The vessels under construction in 1891 were the monitors "Puritan," "Amphitrite," "Monadnock," and "Terror," which had been begun in 1874, but had been neglected in subsequent years; the "Maine," the "Texas," the coast-defence vessel "Monterey," which was launched in 1891; the "New York," "Cincinnati," "Raleigh," "Detroit," and a practice-ship, which had been authorized by the act of 1887; the harbor-defence ram "Katahdin;" and gunboats "5" and "6," authorized in 1889; the three battle-ships, "Indiana," "Massachusetts," and "Oregon," and the protected cruiser "No. 12," authorized by the act of 1890; and protected cruiser "No. 13," provided for in 1891.

Three vessels, the "Newark," the "Concord," and the "Bennington," were given their trial trips in 1890. The behavior of the "Newark" proved her to be a valuable addition to the list of cruisers. The "Concord" and the "Bennington," vessels of the gunboat class, similar to the "Yorktown," also gave evidences of power and usefulness. They carry a comparatively heavy battery, while their light draught enables them to run into shallow rivers and bays, and thus perform services for which larger vessels are incapacitated.

The subject of the organization of a naval militia or reserve had been discussed for some time before Secretary Tracy assumed his office. He forcibly urged the necessity of such an organization in his first and in following annual reports, until, in 1891, Congress appropriated $25,000 for arms for the militia. This was a decided impetus toward its development, and at the close of the year it existed in six States, an effective, well-drilled, and organized force of eleven hundred men.

The year 1892 saw considerable progress in the development of the navy. Two important vessels, the "Iowa," a first-class, seagoing battle-ship of 11,296 tons displacement, and the "Brooklyn," an armored cruiser of 9,150 tons displacement, were provided for by Congress. The cruisers "Texas," "Columbia," "Olympia," "Raleigh," and "Cincinnati," and the gunboats "Machias" and "Castine" were launched.

Secretary Tracy's administration of the affairs of the navy, which closed in 1892, was one of marked progress and development; and this development was not confined to ships alone. Experiments extending over a period of three years had resulted in the adopting of an armor of new composition, namely, nickel-steel, which had been found to be far superior to any before known. The manufacture of torpedoes had been domesticated. Since 1889 the heavy, rapid-firing guns had been developed and proved successful. The manufacture of armor-piercing shells, of which two firms in Europe had had the monopoly, was begun in this period under the care and encouragement of the Navy Department; and the shells turned out soon surpassed the foreign product. Through investigation and experiment conducted by its own agencies, the Navy Department succeeded in developing a smokeless powder, which gave better results than that made abroad. Careful and protracted experiments with high explosives were also carried on, with the result of developing an explosive that can be safely used in shells fired from high-power guns.

In 1893, the first year of the administration of Secretary Herbert, the following vessels were launched: the armored battle-ships "Indiana" and "Massachusetts;" the protected cruiser "Minneapolis;" the unarmored and very rapid cruiser "Marblehead;" and the armed coast-defence ram "Katahdin." During the same year Congress authorized the construction of three new vessels, to be of the class known as light-draft protected gunboats. These are of about twelve hundred tons displacement, and are designed for river service in China and elsewhere. Several vessels, namely, the "Monterey," "Bancroft," "Detroit," "New York," armored cruiser of 8,480 tons displacement, and the gunboat "Machias," were given their trial trips in 1893. The results were in each case satisfactory, and the vessels were added to the effective fleet of the navy.

Before 1893 the United States had been behind the other important nations in the matter of small-arms equipment. The navy was still using the old-fashioned, large-calibre rifle, employing a charge of black powder, and effectively carrying only twelve hundred yards. Under Secretary Herbert's direction, a board of naval officers investigated the improved small arms in use in foreign navies, and made recommendations which resulted in the adoption of a small-calibre magazine rifle, in which is used smokeless powder, and which has an effective range of a mile and a half. A further advantage of the new rifle is that it employs cartridges of such a weight that no less than two hundred rounds can be carried by one man. The cartridges used in the old rifle were so heavy that one man could not carry more than fifty rounds.

Secretary Herbert recommended in his report of 1893 that Congress authorize the construction of at least one new battle-ship and six torpedo-boats. He said that for the defence of ports the latter are more effective according to cost than any class of vessels. The knowledge of their existence alone will make an enemy chary about approaching within bombarding distance. The value of this boat is recognized by all naval powers, and they are being built abroad in great numbers. The next naval appropriation contained a provision authorizing the construction of three additional torpedo-boats of the general type of the "Ericsson," which was then ready for trial. The design for the new boat called for a speed of not less than twenty-four and one-half knots an hour. The battle-ships "Indiana," "Texas," and "Oregon" underwent preliminary trial trips in 1894, and were accepted by the government in 1895. It is of interest to note that until these vessels were put in commission, the navy was still in the condition that existed when President Cleveland, in his first message to Congress in 1885, made the following statement: "We have not a single vessel that could keep the seas against a first-class vessel of any important power." It is true that vessels of size and power enough to hold their own against the battle-ships of other nations had been under construction for several years, but the United States was still without an available man-of-war of the first class until the "Indiana" and the "Oregon" joined the fleet.

Considerable progress in naval affairs marked the year 1895. One of the important events was the adding to the commissioned fleet of the coast-defence monitor "Amphitrite," whose keel was laid in 1874. The work of remodelling her was begun in 1889, under the appropriation made by Congress in 1887. The "Amphitrite" is in some respects an old-fashioned type of vessel, but is nevertheless capable of important service. Her displacement is 3,990 tons. Her armor and armament are heavy, although not so powerful as that of the battle-ships. Her main advantage, as with all of the monitors, is that she presents a comparatively small target for the enemy's fire.

Copyright, 1896, by J. S. Johnston.
United States Battle-ship "Indiana."

Adopting the spirit of Secretary Herbert's recommendations in his report of 1894, Congress, in 1895, authorized the construction of two coast-line battle-ships of most formidable equipment and power, their cost not to exceed $4,000,000 each. Further provision was made for the building of twelve torpedo-boats. An interesting feature of the bill was the stipulation that one of the battle-ships shall bear the historic name "Kearsarge," after the famous old man-of-war that was wrecked in 1894 on Roncador Reef. According to the plans of the new ships, they resemble in a general way the "Indiana," although they are longer and broader and have a greater displacement, and their batteries are more powerful. A new feature in the arrangement of the guns was decided upon. The vessels will carry two turrets of two stories each. Many objections to this plan were advanced, but it was said that all are outweighed by the opportunity which the turrets give of concentrating an enormous quantity of shot on a given point. An estimate has been made that the "Kearsarge" will carry enough ammunition to kill or disable a million persons, and that she will be able to discharge it all within a period of five hours. Accommodations will be provided for five hundred and twenty officers and men. The "Kearsarge" and her sister ship, which will be called the "Kentucky," will carry heavier armor and guns and a greater quantity of the latter than any foreign battle-ship in existence or in course of construction.

The ram "Katahdin" was rejected by the government in 1895, because, upon her official trials, she did not fulfil the speed requirements. She made 16.011 knots, while the contract called for 17 knots. Congress was asked to purchase the vessel, and finally did so.

The armored cruiser "Brooklyn," designed to be one of the fastest and most powerful vessels of her class afloat, was launched from Cramp's shipyard in Philadelphia in 1895. She is the sister ship to the "New York," which was put in commission in 1893. A matter of significance, as showing the rapid progress in the art of naval construction within a few years, was the taking out of commission in 1895 of the "Chicago," to be refitted with engines and boilers that will give her powers approaching those of the newer vessels. Two years will be required for this work, and when she is complete she will travel three knots an hour faster than heretofore, and in many respects will be substantially a new ship.

The official trial trip of the battle-ship "Massachusetts," which occurred in 1896, was a source of gratification to the Navy Department and to all others who are anxious to see the United States take respectable rank among the naval powers. The primary business of a battle-ship is to fight; hence her guns and not her speed are of the first importance. Naval experts have agreed that the "Massachusetts" and her sister ships, the "Indiana" and the "Oregon," have larger and more effective batteries than any man-of-war afloat or in progress of construction. The "Massachusetts" has now proved, by steaming at the rate of 16.15 knots for four hours, with a maximum speed of 17.03 knots, that she is superior to all other battle-ships in speed as well as in armament. Her performance is unparalleled in naval history, and makes her the foremost war-vessel of the world. The "Indiana" is a trifle slower. She steamed 15.61 knots for four hours, but under the disadvantage of a bottom that had never been cleaned. She would probably go half a knot faster with a clean bottom. As a representative specimen of the battle-ships which belong to the navy, a few details of the "Massachusetts'" armament may be of interest. She has thirty guns in all. The chief of these are four of thirteen-inch calibre, which are the largest in use in modern navies; a pair of them can be fired every three minutes. The eight-inch guns are next in size. There are four of them, and they can be fired every minute. In addition to these, there are two six-inch rifles, twenty six-pounders, and four one-pounders. The six-inch guns can be fired twice a minute, and the six-pounders twenty times in the same period. In a fight lasting thirty minutes, these guns would throw forty-one and a half tons of metal, of which forty-four thousand pounds would be the share of the thirteen-inch guns, thirty thousand pounds the share of the eight-inch, six thousand pounds of the six-inch, and thirty-six hundred pounds of the others. The total weight of the "Massachusetts'" broadside is 5,724 pounds, and of her head or astern fire 3,434 pounds.

Another of the monitors, the "Monadnock," was added to the navy in 1896. She was launched in 1883, and was then practically left alone until the acts of 1885, 1886, and 1887 provided for her completion. She is now a formidable vessel, with heavy guns which can be made to bear on a point a small boat's length from the ship's side, or can bombard at a distance of six miles.

While the successive Secretaries of the Navy, during the last fourteen years, have been chiefly active in increasing the number of ships-of-war, they have not altogether neglected defences on the coast. Some of the larger seacoast cities have succeeded in obtaining a part of the heavy gun and mortar batteries that would be necessary in repelling attacks without the aid of battle-ships. The cities of New York and San Francisco have now mounted and ready for action powerful pneumatic dynamite gun batteries, the most destructive engines of war in existence. Each of these guns is capable of hurling a projectile carrying five hundred pounds of the most powerful explosive known to man, and is able to destroy the strongest iron-clad. In the naval battle of Sinope in the Crimean War, a shell designed to explode on striking the object was used for the first time. When the high explosives, such as dynamite and gun-cotton, appeared, the idea suggested itself that they might be used in the shells with vastly greater effect than gunpowder, which had been employed. The objection, however was that these explosives are so sensitive that there was great danger of their exploding at the outset of the journey from the sudden shock of being hurled from the ordinary high-power guns and mortars. Captain Zalinski, of the United States Artillery, suggested a method of gun construction by which the shells could be projected by a steady pressure of compressed air instead of by the sudden force of powder gases. This system has been steadily improved until the pneumatic dynamite gun now works perfectly and is a marvel of destructiveness. The United States possesses six and Great Britain one of the seven dynamite guns that have thus far been manufactured for coast defence.

The "Iowa," a battle-ship of the first class whose keel was laid in 1893, was launched in March, 1895. She is the largest vessel of the navy now afloat, her displacement being 11,410 tons, which is over a thousand tons greater than that of the "Massachusetts," "Indiana," or "Oregon."

It will be seen that progress toward the building of the new navy of the United States has been steady since the first move was made in 1882. As a result of this development, the navy now consists, counting the vessels built and authorized by Congress, prior to 1896, the naval appropriations bill for that year still pending at this writing, of about seventy modern ships-of-war. These include eight battle-ships, six coast-defence steel-clads, two armored cruisers, one armored ram, thirteen protected cruisers, eighteen gunboats and unprotected cruisers, and about two dozen torpedo-boats. This fleet gives the United States sixth place in the list of naval powers, being outranked in number of vessels by England, France, Russia, Germany, or Italy, in the order named. A true idea of the comparative fighting strength of the United States navy is not conveyed, however, by its rank in the numerical strength of the fleet. The personnel  of the navy and the power of the individual ships must be considered. It is generally conceded that the United States has the finest fighting men and vessels in the world. These advantages would, in all probability, enable us to whip Germany or Italy in a series of naval contests; therefore, it is thought by naval critics that we really hold fourth position among the naval powers. England is still a long way ahead of us, the English navy now numbering nearly five hundred vessels, of which one hundred and twenty are armored cruisers. But, comparing the navies ship to ship, the United States fleet, so far as it goes, is superior even to that of Great Britain. The battle-ships, while somewhat smaller, are more effective fighters. The English navy has no armored cruisers as fast or as powerful as the "New York" and "Brooklyn;" and the commerce-destroyers, "Columbia" and "Minneapolis," are the fastest vessels, either of war or peace, that have gone to sea.

That this new navy of ours will ever have to meet so stern an ordeal as that through which the sailors of '61 went is wholly improbable. In multiplying the number and the effectiveness of fighting machines the nations of the world have seemingly lessened the likelihood of war. International disputes which once would have put the territory of all Europe ablaze are now settled by the peaceful devices of diplomacy. But behind the diplomat must be the gun, and it will be a sorry day for the United States when, if ever, the sense of security bred of an avowed national policy of non-intervention in foreign affairs shall lead this people to neglect the naval arm of the republic.


To chronicle in full the myriad exploits and experiences of the privateers and armed cruisers in the service of individual states during the Revolution, would require a volume thrice the size of this. Moreover, it is difficult and well-nigh impossible to obtain authentic information regarding the movements of this class of armed craft. An immense number of anecdotes of their prowess is current, and some few such narratives will be repeated in this chapter; but, as a rule, they are based only upon tradition, or the imperfect and often incorrect reports in the newspapers of the day.

The loss inflicted upon Great Britain by the activity of American privateers was colossal. For the first year of the war the Continental Congress was unwilling to take so belligerent a step as to encourage privateering; but, in the summer of 1776, the issuing of letters of marque and reprisal was begun, and in a short time all New England had gone to privateering. The ocean fairly swarmed with trim Yankee schooners and brigs, and in the two years that followed nearly eight hundred merchantmen were taken.

Discipline on the privateers was lax, and the profits of a successful cruise were enormous. Often a new speedy craft paid her whole cost of construction on her first cruise. The sailors fairly revelled in money at the close of such a cruise; and, like true jack-tars, they made their money fly as soon as they got ashore. A few days would generally suffice to squander all the earnings of a two-months' cruise; and, penniless but happy, Jack would ship for another bout with fortune.

A volume could be written dealing with the exploits of the privateers, but for our purpose a few instances of their dash and spirit will be enough. Though the purpose of the privateers was purely mercenary, their chief end and aim being to capture defenceless merchantmen, yet they were always ready to fight when fighting was necessary, and more than once made a good showing against stronger and better disciplined naval forces. In many cases audacity and dash more than made up for the lack of strength.

In 1777 two American privateers hung about the British Isles, making captures, and sending their prizes into French ports. The exploits of Paul Jones were equalled by these irregular cruisers. One of them, being in need of provisions, put into the little Irish port of Beerhaven, and lay at anchor for ten hours, while her crew scoured the town in search of the needed stores. A second privateer boldly entered a harbor on the Island of Guernsey. A castle at the entrance of the harbor opened fire upon her, whereupon she came about, and, keeping out of range of the castle guns, captured a large brig that was making for the port. When night fell, the privateer sent a boat's crew ashore, and took captive two officers of the local militia.

In 1778 occurred an action between a private armed ship and a British frigate, in which the privateer was signally successful. On the 19th of September of that year, the "Gen. Hancock," a stout-built, well armed and manned privateer, fell in with the "Levant," a British frigate of thirty-two guns. The "Hancock" made no attempt to avoid a conflict, and opened with a broadside without answering the enemy's hail. The action was stubbornly contested upon both sides. After an hour of fighting, the captain of the Yankee ship, peering through the smoke, saw that the colors no longer waved above his adversary.

"Have you struck?" he shouted.

"No. Fire away," came the response faintly through the roar of the cannon. Two hours longer the combat raged, with the ships lying yard-arm to yard-arm. A ball struck Capt. Hardy of the "Hancock" in the neck, and he was carried below, while the first lieutenant took command of the ship. A few minutes later there arose a deafening roar and blinding flash; a terrific shock threw the men on the American ship to the deck. Stifling smoke darkened the atmosphere; and pieces of timber, cordage, and even horribly torn bits of human flesh began to fall upon the decks. When the smoke cleared away, the Americans looked eagerly for their enemy. Where she had floated a minute or two before, was now a shattered, blackened hulk fast sinking beneath the waves. The surface of the sea for yards around was strewn with wreckage, and here and there men could be seen struggling for life. As ready to save life as they had been to destroy it, the Americans lowered their boats and pulled about, picking up the survivors of the explosion. The boatswain of the ill-fated ship and seventeen of the crew were thus saved, but more than fourscore brave fellows went down with her. The American vessel herself was damaged not a little by the violence of the explosion.

This was not the only case during this year in which a British man-of-war met defeat at the guns of a Yankee privateer. The "Hinchinbrooke," sloop-of-war fourteen; the "York," tender twelve; and the "Enterprise," ten guns,—all struck their colors to private armed vessels flying the stars and stripes.

By 1778 the privateers under the British flag were afloat in no small number. America had no commerce on which they might prey, and they looked forward only to recapturing those British vessels that had been taken by Yankee privateers and sent homeward. That so many British vessels should have found profitable employment in this pursuit, is in itself a speaking tribute to the activity of the American private armed navy.

During the Revolution, as during the second war with Great Britain in 1812, Salem, Mass., and Baltimore,Md., were the principal points from which privateers hailed. In all the early wars of the United States, the term "Salem privateer" carried with it a picture of a fleet schooner, manned with a picked crew of able seamen, commanded by a lanky Yankee skipper who knew the byways of old ocean as well as the highways of trade, armed with eight, four, or six pounders, and a heavy "Long Tom" amidships. Scores of such craft sailed from Salem during the Revolution; and hardly a week passed without two or three returning privateers entering the little port and discharging their crews, to keep the little village in a turmoil until their prize money was spent, or, to use the sailors' phrase, until "no shot was left in the locker."

One of the most successful of the Salem privateers was the "Pickering," a craft carrying a battery of sixteen guns, and a crew of forty-seven men. On one cruise she fought an engagement of an hour and a half with a British cutter of twenty guns; and so roughly did she handle the enemy, that he was glad to sheer off. A day of two later, the "Pickering" overhauled the "Golden Eagle," a large schooner of twenty-two guns and fifty-seven men. The action which followed was ended by the schooner striking her flag. A prize crew was then put aboard the "Golden Eagle," and she was ordered to follow in the wake of her captor. Three days later the British sloop-of-war "Achilles" hove in sight, and gave chase to the privateer and her prize. After a fifteen hours' chase the prize was overhauled; and the sloop-of-war, after taking possession of her, continued in pursuit of the privateer. But while the privateersmen had preferred flight to fighting while nothing was at stake, they did not propose to let their prize be taken from them without a resistance, however great the odds against them. Accordingly they permitted the "Achilles" to overhaul them, and a sharp action followed. The British tried to force the combat by boarding; but the Americans, with pikes and cutlasses, drove them back to their own ship. Then the two vessels separated, and during the rest of the conflict came no nearer each other than the length of a pistol-shot. At this distance they carried on a spirited cannonade for upwards of three hours; when the "Achilles," concluding that she had had enough, sheered off. Thereupon, the "Pickering" coolly ran back to her late prize, took possession of her, captured the lieutenant and prize crew that the "Achilles" had put in charge of her, and continued her cruise.

A good example of the Baltimore privateers was the "Revenge," mounting eighteen guns, with a crew of fifty men. In 1780 this vessel was commanded by Capt. Alexander Murray of the regular navy. She was engaged by a large number of Baltimore merchants to convoy a fleet of merchantmen, but had hardly started to sea with her charges when she fell in with a fleet of British vessels, and was forced to retreat up the Patuxent River. While there, the American fleet was strengthened by several privateers and armed merchant-vessels which joined it, so that it was felt safe to try again to get to sea. Accordingly the attempt was made; but, though the captains of the fleet had signed a solemn compact to stand together in case of the danger, the sudden appearance of a fleet of hostile armed vessels sent all scurrying up the Patuxent again, except one brig and a schooner. The British fleet consisted of a ship of eighteen guns, a brig of sixteen, and three privateer schooners. Leaving the schooners to his two faithful consorts, Murray threw himself between the two larger vessels and the flying merchantmen. Seeing themselves thus balked of their prey, the enemy turned fiercely upon the "Revenge," but were met with so spirited a resistance, that they hauled off after an hour's fighting. The other American vessels behaved equally well, and the discomfiture of the British was complete.

Philadelphia, though not looked upon as a centre of privateering activity, furnished one privateer that made a notable record. This was the "Holkar," sixteen guns. In April, 1780, she captured a British schooner of ten guns, and in May of the same year she fought a desperate action with a British privateer brig, the name of which has never been ascertained. Twice the Briton sheered off to escape the telling fire of the American; but the "Holkar" pressed him closely, and only the appearance of a second British armed vessel at the scene of the action saved the Englishman from capture. This battle was one of the most sanguinary ever fought by private armed vessels; for of the crew of the "Holkar" six were killed and sixteen wounded, including the captain and first lieutenant, while of the enemy there were about the same number killed and twenty wounded. Three months later this same privateer fell in with the British sixteen-gun cutter "Hypocrite," and captured her after a sharp conflict.

Perhaps the most audacious privateering exploit was that of the privateers "Hero," "Hope," and "Swallow," in July, 1782. The captains of these craft, meeting after an unprofitable season upon the high seas, conceived the idea of making a descent upon the Nova Scotian town of Lunenberg, some thirty-five miles from Halifax. Little time was wasted in discussion. Privateers are not hampered by official red tape. So it happened that early in the month the three privateers appeared off the harbor of the threatened town, having landed a shore party of ninety men. Before the invaders the inhabitants retreated rapidly, making some slight resistance. Two block-houses, garrisoned by British regulars, guarded the town. One of these fortresses the Americans burned, whereupon the British established themselves in the second, and prepared to stand a siege. Luckily for the Americans, the block-house was within range of the harbor; so that the three privateers took advantageous positions, and fired a few rounds of solid shot into the enemy's wooden citadel. The besieged then made haste to raise the white flag, and surrendered themselves prisoners-of-war. When the Yankee ships left the harbor, they took with them a large quantity of merchandise and provisions, and a thousand pounds sterling by way of ransom.

One more conflict, in which the irregular naval forces of the United States did credit to themselves, must be described before dismissing the subject of privateering. In September, 1781, the British sloop-of-war "Savage" was cruising off the southern coast of the United States. Her officers and men were in a particularly good humor, and felt a lively sense of self-satisfaction; for they had just ascended the Potomac, and plundered Gen.Washington's estate,—an exploit which would make them heroes in the eyes of their admiring countrymen.

Off Charleston the "Savage" encountered the American privateer "Congress," of about the same strength as herself,—twenty guns and one hundred and fifty men. In one respect the "Congress" was the weaker; for her crew was composed largely of landsmen, and her marines were a company of militia, most of whom were sadly afflicted with seasickness. Nevertheless, the Yankee craft rushed boldly into action, opening fire with her bow-chasers as soon as she came within range. Like two savage bull-dogs, the two ships rushed at each other, disdaining all manœuvring, and seemingly intent only upon locking in a deadly struggle, yard-arm to yard-arm. At first the "Savage" won a slight advantage. Swinging across the bow of the "Congress," she raked her enemy twice. But soon the two ships lay side by side, and the thunder of the cannon was constant. The militia-marines on the "Congress" did good service. Stationed in the tops, on the forecastle, the quarter-deck, and every elevated place on the ship, they poured down upon the deck of the enemy a murderous fire. The jackies at the great guns poured in broadsides so well directed that soon the "Savage" had not a rope left with which to manage the sails. Her quarter-deck was cleared, and not a man was to be seen to serve as a mark for the American gunners. So near lay the two vessels to each other, that the fire from the guns scorched the gunners on the opposite ship. The antagonists were inextricably entangled; for the mizzen-mast of the "Savage" had been shot away, and had fallen into the after-rigging of the "Congress." There was no flight for the weaker vessel. When she could no longer fight, surrender was her only recourse. Neither vessel showed any colors, for both ensigns had been shot away early in the action. Accordingly, when the boatswain of the "Savage" was seen upon the forecastle wildly waving his arms, it was taken as an evidence of surrender; and the fire slackened until his voice could be heard.

"Give us quarter," he cried hoarsely; "we are a wreck, and strike our flag."

The firing then ceased; but, when the lieutenant of the "Congress" ordered a boat lowered in which to board the prize, the old boatswain came back with the report,—

"Boats all knocked to pieces, sir. Couldn't find one that would float."

Accordingly the two vessels had to be slowly drawn together, and the boarding party reached the deck of the prize by clambering over a spar which served as a bridge. When they reached the prize, they found her decks covered with dead and wounded men. The slaughter had been terrible. Twenty-three men were killed, and thirty-one wounded. On the "Congress" were thirty, killed and wounded together. One of the wounded Americans was found lying with his back braced against the foot of the bowsprit, cheering for the victory, and crying,—

"If they have broken my legs, my hands and heart are still whole."

Throughout this sanguinary action both parties showed the greatest courage and determination. Two vessels of the two most perfectly organized regular navies in the world could not have been better handled, nor could they have more stubbornly contested for the victory.

A class of armed vessels outside the limits of the regular navy, but very active and efficient in the service of the country, was the maritime forces of the individual states. Before Congress had seen the necessity for a naval force, several of the colonies had been alive to the situation, and fitted out cruisers of their own. Even after the Revolution had developed into a war of the first magnitude, and after the colonies had assumed the title of states, and delegated to Congress the duty of providing for the common defence, they still continued to fit out their own men-of-war to protect their ports and act as convoys for their merchant fleets. Though vessels in this service seldom cruised far from the coast of their home colony, yet occasionally they met the vessels of the enemy, and many sharp actions were fought by them.

Of all the actions fought by the State cruisers, the most hotly contested was that between the Pennsylvania cruiser "Hyder Ali," and the British sloop-of-war "Gen. Monk." The "Hyder Ali" was a merchantman, bought by the state just as she was about departing on a voyage to the West Indies. She was in no way calculated for a man-of-war; but the need was pressing, and she was pierced for eight ports on a side, and provided with a battery of six-pounders. The command of this vessel was given to Joshua Barney, a young officer with an extensive experience of Yankee privateers and British prisons, and whose later exploits in the United States navy are familiar to readers of "Blue-Jackets of 1812."

Barney's instructions were, not to go to sea, but to patrol the Delaware River and Bay, and see that no privateer lay in wait for the merchant-vessels that cleared from the port of Philadelphia. In April, 1782, the "Hyder Ali" stood down Delaware Bay at the head of a large fleet of outward-bound merchantmen. When Cape May was reached, strong head-winds sprang up, and the whole fleet anchored to await more favorable weather before putting out to sea. While they lay at anchor, the "Hyder Ali" sighted a trio of British vessels, two ships and a brig, rounding the cape. Instantly Barney signalled his convoy to trip anchor and retreat, a signal which was promptly obeyed by all save one too daring craft, that tried to slip round the cape, and get to sea, but fell into the hands of the enemy. Soon the whole fleet, with the "Hyder Ali" bringing up the rear, fled up the bay. The British followed in hot pursuit.

At a point half-way up the bay the pursuers parted; one of the ships, a frigate, cutting through a side channel in the hope of intercepting the fugitives. The other two pursuers, a privateer brig and a sloop-of-war, continued in the wake of the "Hyder Ali." The brig proved herself a clipper, and soon came up with the American vessel, which promptly offered battle. The challenge was declined by the privateer, which fired a harmless broadside, and continued on up the bay. Barney let her pass, for he had determined to risk the dangers of an unequal combat with the sloop-of-war. This vessel came up rapidly; and as she drew near Barney luffed up suddenly, and let fly a broadside. This somewhat staggered the enemy, who had expected only a tame surrender; but she quickly recovered, and came boldly on. At this juncture Barney turned to his helmsman, and said,—

"Now, when I give the word, pay no attention to my order, but put the helm hard-a-starboard. Pay no heed to the actual command I may give you."

The British vessel was then within half pistol-shot, and her forward guns were beginning to bear. From his station on the quarter-deck Barney shouted to his steersman in stentorian tones,—

"Port your helm. Hard-a-port."

The order was clearly heard on board the enemy, and he prepared to manœuvre his ship accordingly. But the steersman of the "Hyder Ali" remembered his instructions; and before the enemy discovered the ruse, the American ship lay athwart the other's bow, and the bowsprit of the enemy was caught in the "Hyder Ali's" rigging, giving the latter a raking position. Quickly the Yankee gunners seized the opportunity. Not five miles away was a British frigate ready to rush to the assistance of her consort, and whatever was to be done by the bold lads of Pennsylvania had to be done with expedition. No cheer rose from their ranks; but with grim determination they worked at the great guns, pouring in rapid and effective broadsides. The explosions of the two batteries were like the deafening peals of thunder echoed and re-echoed in some mountain-gorge. Smoke hid the vessels from sight, and the riflemen in the tops could only occasionally catch sight of the figures of the enemy. The enemy had twenty guns to Barney's sixteen; but he was out-manœuvred at the start, and this disadvantage he never overcame. Half an hour from the time of the opening of the battle, his flag was struck, and the Americans, with lusty cheers, took possession of their prize. There was no time for ceremony. The frigate had seen the conflict from afar, and was bearing down upon the two antagonists. So without even asking the name of the captured vessel, Barney hastily threw a prize crew aboard, ordered her to proceed to Philadelphia, and himself remained behind to cover the retreat.

Some hours later, having escaped the British frigate, the two vessels sailed up to a Philadelphia wharf. The scars of battle had been in no way healed: the tattered sails, the shattered hulls and bulwarks, the cordage hanging loosely from the masts, told the story of battle. The crowd that rushed to the wharf, and peered curiously about the decks of the two vessels, saw a ghastly and horrible sight. For the battle had been as sanguinary as it was spirited, and the dead still lay where they fell. On the British vessel, the "Gen. Monk," lay the lifeless bodies of twenty men; while twenty-six wounded, whose blood stained the deck, lay groaning in the cock-pit below. On the "Hyder Ali" were four killed and eleven wounded.

This action, for steadiness and brilliancy, was not surpassed by any naval duel of the war of the Revolution. By it the name of Joshua Barney was put upon a plane with those of the most eminent commanders in the regular navy; and had not the war speedily terminated, he would have been granted a commission and a ship by the United States.

While the chief naval events of the war for independence have now been recounted, there still remain certain incidents connected more or less closely with the war on the water, which deserve a passing mention. One of these is the curious desultory warfare carried on in and about New York Harbor by fishermen and longshoremen in whale-boats, dories, sharpies, and similar small craft.

From 1776 until the close of the war, New York City and the region bordering upon the harbor were occupied by the British. Provisions were needed for their support, and were brought from Connecticut and New Jersey in small sailing craft, chiefly whale-boats. These boats the patriots often intercepted, and desperate encounters upon the water were frequent. Nor did the Yankee boatmen confine their attacks to the provision boats alone. In the summer of 1775 the British transport "Blue Mountain Valley" was captured by a band of hardy Jerseymen, who concealed themselves in the holds of four small sail-boats until fairly alongside the enemy's vessel, when they swarmed out and drove the British from the deck of their vessel.

Two New Jersey fishermen, Adam Hyler and William Marriner, were particularly active in this class of warfare. Twice the British sent armed forces to capture them, and, failing in that, burned their boats. But the sturdy patriots were undaunted, and building new boats, waged a relentless war against the followers of King George. Every Tory that fished in the bay was forced to pay them tribute; and many of these gentry, so obnoxious to the Yankees, were visited in their homes at dead of night, and solemnly warned to show more moderation in their disapproval of the American cause. When the occasion offered, the two Jerseymen gathered armed bands, and more than one small British vessel fell a prey to their midnight activity. Two British corvettes were captured by them in Coney Island Bay, and burned to the water's edge. With one of the blazing vessels forty thousand dollars in specie was destroyed,—a fact that Hyler bitterly lamented when he learned of it.

No narrative of the events of the Revolution would be complete, without some description of the floating prison-houses in which the British immured the hapless soldiers and sailors who fell into their hands. Of these the chief one was a dismasted hulk known as the "Old Jersey" prison-ship, and moored in Wallabout Bay near New York City. No pen can adequately describe the horrors of this prison; but some extracts from the published recollections of men once imprisoned in her noisome hold will give some idea of the miserable fate of those condemned to be imprisoned on her.

Thomas Andros, a sailor taken by the British with the privateer "Fair American," writes of the "Old Jersey:" "This was an old sixty-four-gun ship, which, through age, had become unfit for further actual service. She was stripped of every spar and all her rigging. After a battle with a French fleet, her lion figure-head was taken away to repair another ship. No appearance of ornament was left, and nothing remained but an old unsightly rotten hulk; and doubtless no other ship in the British navy ever proved the means of the destruction of so many human beings. It is computed that no less than eleven thousand American seamen perished in her. When I first became an inmate of this abode of suffering, despair, and death, there were about four hundred prisoners on board; but in a short time they amounted to twelve hundred. In a short time we had two hundred or more sick and dying lodged in the forepart of the lower gun-deck, where all the prisoners were confined at night. Utter derangement was a common symptom of yellow-fever; and to increase the horror of the darkness that surrounded us (for we were allowed no light between decks), the voice of warning would be heard, 'Take heed to yourselves. There is a madman stalking through the ship with a knife in his hand,' I sometimes found the man a corpse in the morning, by whose side I laid myself down at night. In the morning the hatchways were thrown open; and we were allowed to ascend on the upper deck all at once, and remain on the upper deck all day. But the first object that met our view in the morning was an appalling spectacle,—a boat loaded with dead bodies, conveying them to the Long Island shore, where they were very slightly covered."

Ebenezer Fox, another privateersman, has left his recollections of this dreadful prison. His description of the food upon which the unhappy prisoners were forced to subsist is interesting:—

"Our bill of fare was as follows: on Sunday, one pound of biscuit, one pound of pork, and half a pint of pease; Monday, one pound of biscuit, one pint of oatmeal, and two ounces of butter; Tuesday, one pound of biscuit, and two pounds of salt beef; Wednesday, one and a half pounds of flour, and two ounces of suet; Thursday was a repetition of Sunday's fare; Friday, of Monday's; and Saturday, of Tuesday's.

"If this food had been of good quality and properly cooked, as we had no labor to perform, it would have kept us comfortable, at least from suffering; but this was not the case. All our food appeared to be damaged. As for the pork, we were cheated out of it more than half the time; and when it was obtained, one would have judged from its motley hues, exhibiting the consistence and appearance of variegated fancy soap, that it was the flesh of the porpoise or sea-hog, and had been an inhabitant of the ocean rather than of the stye. The pease were generally damaged, and, from the imperfect manner in which they were cooked, were about as indigestible as grape-shot. The butter the reader will not suppose was the real 'Goshen;' and had it not been for its adhesive properties to hold together the particles of the biscuit, that had been so riddled by the worms as to lose all their attraction of cohesion, we should have considered it no desirable addition to our viands."

But it is unnecessary to prolong the painful description of the horrors of this floating charnel house. Its name and record must ever rest as a dark stain upon the name of England. It is seldom possible in war-time to house and care for the immense hordes of prisoners-of-war with the same regard for their comfort which is shown ordinarily to convicted felons. War is brutal; it is unfeeling, and the weaker party must always suffer. But such sufferings as those of the "Old Jersey" captives can be excused upon no ground. There was no need to crowd hundreds of men into a space hardly large enough for a few score. To starve her prisoners, should not be part of a great nation's policy. The one plea which England can urge in extenuation of the "Old Jersey" is that it had its day at a time when those broad principles of humanity, now so generally accepted, had not yet been applied to the rules of war.

With this chapter ends the narrative of the naval events of the war of the Revolution. It was not a great naval war, for the belligerent nations were not sufficiently well matched in naval strength. But it brought forth Paul Jones and more than one other brave and able commander. It established a new flag upon the seas, a flag that has ever since held an honorable position among the insignia of the foremost nations of the earth. And in the war of the Revolution, as in every war in which the United States has taken part since, there was manifested the wonderful ability of the American people to rush into a conflict half prepared, and gain daily in strength until the cause for which they fight is won. In 1776 that cause was liberty, and in its behalf none fought more bravely than the lads who wore the blue jackets of the American navy.


In the career of Paul Jones is to be found the record of the most stirring events of the Revolution; but there were other commanders in the young American navy no less daring than he. As the chief naval representative of the Colonies who cruised in European waters, Jones achieved a notoriety somewhat out of proportion to his actual achievements. But other brave seamen did gallant service along the Atlantic coast for the cause of the struggling nation, and, by their daring and nautical skill, did much to bring the war of the Revolution to its happy conclusion.

We abandoned our consideration of the general naval events of the war, to turn to a recountal of the exploits of Paul Jones at the close of the year 1776. Hostilities on the water during that year were confined to sharp, but short, actions between small men-of-war or privateers. The Americans lacked the discipline and experience necessary to win for themselves any great reputation on the water. Though they showed themselves full of dash and spirit, they were deficient in discipline and staying qualities. Nevertheless, the record of the year was by no means discreditable to so young a naval organization.

Aside from the naval operations on the ocean, the year 1776 had seen the thick clouds of gunpowder-smoke floating across the placid surface of Lake Champlain, while the wooded hills that surrounded that lake and Lake George more than once resounded with thunderous tones of cannon. The hostile meetings of the English and Americans on the interior lakes are hardly to be classed as naval engagements. The vessels were chiefly gondolas and galleys, and many of their crews had never seen salt water. On the British side the forces were more considerable. In October, 1776, the British had on Lake Champlain at least one full-rigged ship; and their schooners and galleys were all manned by trained sailors, drafted from men-of-war laid up in the St. Lawrence. This force was under the command of Capt. Douglass of the frigate "Isis." The Americans, on the contrary, had manned their fleet with recruits from the army; and the forces were under the command of an army-officer, Gen.Benedict Arnold, the story of whose later treachery is familiar to every American. It was late in October that the two hostile fleets met in deadly conflict, and a few short hours were enough to prove to the Americans that they were greatly overmatched. Such of their vessels as were not sunk were captured and burned by the enemy; while their crews escaped into the woods, and ultimately rejoined Arnold's army, from which they had been drafted.

We pass thus hastily over the so-called naval operations on Lake Champlain, because they were properly not naval operations at all, but merely incidents in the shore campaign. The fact that a few soldiers hastily build a small flotilla, and with it give battle to an enemy on the water, does not in any sense constitute a naval battle.

The year 1777 witnessed many notable naval events. Hostilities along the seaboard became more lively. New vessels were put into commission. England despatched a larger naval armament to crush her rebellious colonies. The records of the admiralty show, that at the beginning of that year Parliament voted to the navy forty-five thousand men. The Americans were able to array against this huge force only some four thousand, scattered upon thirteen small vessels-of-war.

One of the first ships to get to sea in this year was the "Randolph:" a new frigate commanded by Nicholas Biddle, who thus early in the war had won the confidence of the people and the naval authorities. In command of the little cruiser "Andrea Doria," Biddle had cruised off the coast of Newfoundland in 1776. His success upon that cruise has already been noted.

Biddle was a man possessing to the fullest degree that primary qualification of a good naval officer,—an indomitable will. In illustration of his determination, a story is related concerning an incident that occurred just as the "Andrea Doria" had left the Capes of the Delaware. Two of her crew had deserted, and, being apprehended by the authorities on shore, were lodged in Lewiston jail. But the sheriff and his deputies found it easier to turn the key on the fugitive tars, than to keep them in control while they lay in durance vile. Gathering all the benches, chairs, and tables that lay about the jail,—for the lockup of those days was not the trim affair of steel and iron seen to-day,—the unrepentant jackies built for themselves a barricade, and, snugly entrenched behind it, shouted out bold defiance to any and all who should come to take them. The jail authorities had committed the foolish error of neglecting to disarm the prisoners when they were captured; and, as each had a brace of ugly pistols in his belt, the position of the two behind their barricade was really one of considerable strength. The prison officials dared not attempt to dislodge the warlike tars. The militia company of the town was ordered to the scene, but even this body of soldiery dared not force the prison door. Accordingly they determined to let time do the work, and starve the rogues out of their retreat. At this juncture Capt. Biddle came ashore. He had no intention of letting his trim ship lie idly in the offing while two mutinous blue-jackets were slowly starved into subjection. The "Andrea Doria" needed the men, and there must be no more delay. A captain in the American navy was not to be defied by two of his own people.

Therefore, seizing a loaded pistol in each hand, Capt. Biddle walked to the prison, accompanied only by a young midshipman. As the two pounded upon the heavy barred door, the crowd outside fell back, expecting the bullets to fly.

"Open this door, Green," shouted Biddle to one of the prisoners, whom he knew by name.

"Try to open it yourself," came the reply from within, with an accompanying oath. "The first man that shows his head inside this door gets a bullet."

Green was known as a bold, desperate man; but Biddle did not hesitate a moment. Ordering the bystanders to break down the door, he waited quietly, until a crash, and the sudden scattering of the crowd, gave notice that the way into the prison was clear. Then gripping his pistols tightly, but with his arms hanging loosely at his sides, he advanced upon the deserters. Behind the barricade stood Green, his eyes blazing with rage, his pistol levelled. Biddle faced him quietly.

"Now, Green, if you don't take a good aim, you are a dead man," said he.

With a muttered curse, the mutineer dropped his weapon. The cool determination of the captain awed him. In a few minutes he, with his companion, was on his way to the ship in irons.

It was in February, 1777, that the stanch new frigate "Randolph," with Biddle in command, set sail from Philadelphia. Hardly had she reached the high seas when a terrific gale set in, from which the "Randolph" emerged, shorn of her tapering masts. As she lay a helpless wreck tossing on the waves, the hard work necessary to put her in decent shape again induced Biddle to accede to the request of a number of British prisoners on board, who wished to be enrolled among the crew of the "Randolph." This proved to be an unfortunate move; for the Englishmen were no sooner enrolled on the ship's list than they began plotting mutiny, and the uprising reached such a stage that they assembled on the gun-deck, and gave three cheers. But the firm and determined stand of the captain and his officers overawed the mutineers, and they returned to their places after the ringleaders had been made to suffer at the gratings. But the spirit of disaffection rife amid his crew, and the crippled condition of his ship, determined Biddle to proceed forthwith to Charleston to refit.

But a few days were spent in port. Getting to sea again, the "Randolph" fell in with the "True Briton," a twenty-gun ship, flying the British colors. Though the captain of the "True Briton" had often boasted of what he would do should he encounter the "Randolph," his courage then failed him, and he fled. The "Randolph" gave chase, and, proving to be a speedy ship, soon overhauled the prize, which struck without waiting for a volley. Three other vessels that had been cruising with the "True Briton" were also captured, and with her rich prizes the "Randolph" returned proudly to Charleston. Here her usefulness ceased for a time; for a superior force of British men-of-war appeared off the harbor, and by them the "Randolph" was blockaded for the remainder of the season.

Early in 1778 Biddle again took the sea with the "Randolph," supported this time by four small vessels, fitted out by the South Carolina authorities. They were the "Gen. Moultrie," eighteen guns; the "Polly," sixteen; the "Notre Dame," sixteen; and the "Fair American," sixteen. With this force Capt. Biddle set out in search of a British squadron known to be cruising thereabouts, and probably the same vessels that had kept him a prisoner during so much of the previous year.

On the 7th of March, 1778, the lookouts on the smaller vessels saw a signal thrown out from the masthead of the "Randolph," which announced a sail in sight. Chase was at once given; and by four o'clock she was near enough for the Americans to see that she was a large ship, and apparently a man-of-war. About eight o'clock the stranger was near enough the squadron for them to make out that she was a heavy frigate.

The Englishman was not slow to suspect the character of the vessels with which he had fallen in, and firing a shot across the bows of the "Moultrie," demanded her name.

"The 'Polly' of New York," was the response.

Leaving the "Moultrie" unmolested, the stranger ranged up alongside the "Randolph," and ordered her to show her colors. This Biddle promptly did; and as the American flag went fluttering to the fore, the ports of the "Randolph" were thrown open, and a broadside poured into the hull of the Englishman. The stranger was not slow in replying, and the action became hot and deadly. Capt. Biddle was wounded in the thigh early in the battle. As he fell to the deck, his officers crowded about him, thinking that he was killed; but he encouraged them to return to their posts, and, ordering a chair to be placed on the quarter-deck, remained on deck, giving orders, and cheering on his men. It is said that Capt. Biddle was wounded by a shot from the "Moultrie," which flew wide of its intended mark.

For twenty minutes the battle raged, and there was no sign of weakening on the part of either contestant. Suddenly the sound of the cannonade was deadened by a thunderous roar. The people on the other ships saw a huge column of fire and smoke rise where the "Randolph" had floated. The English vessel was thrown violently on her beam-ends. The sky was darkened with flying timbers and splinters, which fell heavily into the sea. The "Randolph" had blown up. A spark, a red-hot shot, some fiery object, had penetrated her magazine, and she was annihilated.

The horrible accident which destroyed the "Randolph" came near being the end of the "Yarmouth," her antagonist. The two battling ships were close together; so close, in fact, that after the explosion Capt. Morgan of the "Fair American" hailed the "Yarmouth" to ask how Capt. Biddle was. The English ship was fairly covered with bits of the flying wreck. Some heavy pieces of timber falling from the skies badly shattered her main-deck. An American ensign, closely rolled up, fell on her forecastle, not even singed by the fiery ordeal through which it had passed.

The "Yarmouth" wasted little time in wonder over the fate of her late antagonist. In all the mass of floating wreckage that covered the sea, there appeared to be no living thing. The four smaller American vessels, dismayed by the fate of their consort, were making good their escape. Without more ado, the "Yarmouth" set out in chase.

Four days later, the Americans having escaped, the "Yarmouth" was again cruising near the scene of the action. A raft was discovered on the ocean, which seemed to support some living creatures. Running down upon it, four wretched, emaciated men were discovered clinging to a piece of wreckage, and wildly waving for assistance. They were taken aboard the British man-of-war, and given food and drink, of both of which they partook greedily; for their sole sustenance during the four days for which they clung to their frail raft was rain-water sucked from a piece of blanket.

So died Capt. Nicholas Biddle, blown to atoms by the explosion of his ship in the midst of battle. Though but a young officer, not having completed his twenty-seventh year, he left an enduring name in the naval annals of his country. Though his service was short, the fame he won was great.

Among the more notable commanders who did good service on the sea was Capt. Samuel Tucker, who was put in command of the frigate "Boston" in the latter part of the year 1777. Tucker was an old and tried seaman, and is furthermore one of the most picturesque figures in the naval history of the Revolution. He first showed his love for the sea in the way that Yankee boys from time immemorial have shown it,—by running away from home, and shipping as a cabin-boy. The ship which he chose was the British sloop-of-war "Royal George," and the boy found himself face to face with the rigid naval discipline of the British service at that time. But he stuck manfully to the career he had chosen, and gradually mastered not only the details of a seaman's duty, but much of the art of navigation; so that when finally he got his discharge from the "Royal George," he shipped as second mate on a Salem merchantman. It was on his first voyage in this capacity that he first showed the mettle that was in him. Two Algerine corsairs, their decks crowded with men, their long low hulls cleaving the waves like dolphins, had given chase to the merchantman. The captain of the threatened ship grew faint-hearted: he sought courage in liquor, and soon became unable to manage his vessel. Tucker took the helm. He saw that there was no chance of escape in flight, for the corsairs were too fleet. There was no hope of victory in a battle, for the pirates were too strong. But the trim New England schooner minded her helm better than her lanteen-rigged pursuers, and this fact Tucker put to good account.

Putting his helm hard down, he headed the schooner directly for the piratical craft. By skilful manœuvring, he secured such a position that either pirate, by firing upon him, was in danger of firing into his fellow corsair. This position he managed to maintain until nightfall, when he slipped away, and by daylight was snugly at anchor in the port of Lisbon.

For some time after this episode, the record of Tucker's seafaring life is lost. Certain it is that he served in the British navy as an officer for some time, and was master of a merchantman for several years.

When the Revolution broke out, Samuel Tucker was in London. Being offered by a recruiting officer a commission in either the army or navy, if he would consent to serve "his gracious Majesty," Tucker very rashly responded, "Hang his gracious Majesty! Do you think I would serve against my country?"

Soon a hue and cry was out for Tucker. He was charged with treason, and fled into the country to the house of a tavern-keeper whom he knew, who sheltered him until he could make his escape from England.

Hardly had he arrived in America, when Gen. Washington commissioned him captain of the "Franklin," and instructed him to proceed directly to sea. An express with the commission and instructions was hurried off to Marblehead, then a straggling little city. He was instructed to find the "Hon. Samuel Tucker," and to deliver to him the packets in his charge. When the messenger arrived, Tucker was working in his yard. The messenger saw a rough-looking person, roughly clad, with a tarpaulin hat, and his neck bound with a flaming red bandanna handkerchief. Never once thinking this person could be the man he sought, he leaned from his horse, and shouted out roughly,—

"I say, fellow, I wish you would tell me whether the Hon. Samuel Tucker lives hereabouts."

Tucker looked up with a quizzical smile, and surveyed the speaker from under the wide rim of his tarpaulin, as he answered,—

"Honorable, honorable! There's none of that name in Marblehead. He must be one of the Tuckers in Salem. I'm the only Samuel Tucker here."

"Capt. Glover told me he knew him," responded the messenger, "and described his house, gable-end on the seaside, none near it. Faith, this looks like the very place!"

With a laugh, Tucker then confessed his identity, and asked the messenger his business. Receiving the commission and instructions, he at once began his preparations for leaving home, and at daybreak the next morning was on his way to Beverly, where lay anchored the first ship he was to command in the service of his country.

In the "Franklin" Capt. Tucker did some most efficient work. His name appears constantly in the letters of Gen.Washington, and in the State papers making up the American archives, as having sent in valuable prizes. At one time we read of the capture of "a brigantine from Scotland, worth fifteen thousand pounds sterling;" again, of six gunboats, and of brigs laden with wine and fruit. During the year 1776, he took not less than thirty—and probably a few more—ships, brigs, and smaller vessels. Nor were all these vessels taken without some sharp fighting.

Of one battle Tucker himself speaks in one of his letters. First telling how his wife made the colors for his ship, "the field of which was white, and the union was green, made of cloth of her own purchasing, and at her own expense," he goes on to write of one of his battles:—

"Those colors I wore in honor of the country,—which has so nobly rewarded me for my past services,—and the love of their maker, until I fell in with Col. Archibald Campbell in the ship "George," and brig "Arabella," transports with about two hundred and eighty Highland troops on board, of Gen. Frazer's corps. About ten P.M. a severe conflict ensued, which held about two hours and twenty minutes. I conquered them with great carnage on their side, it being in the night, and my small bark, about seventy tons burden, being very low in the water, I received no damage in loss of men, but lost a complete set of new by the passing of their balls; then the white field and pine-tree union were riddled to atoms. I was then immediately supplied with a new suit of sails, and a new suit of colors, made of canvas and bunting of my own prize-goods."

Another time, during the same year, Tucker took two British ships near Marblehead. So near was the scene of action to the house of Capt. Tucker, that his wife and her sister, hearing the sound of cannonading, ascended a high hill in the vicinity, and from that point viewed the action through a spy-glass.

Capt. Tucker kept the sea in the "Franklin" until late in the winter. When finally the cold weather and high winds forced him to put his ship out of commission, he went to his home at Marblehead. He remained there but a short time; for in March, 1777, he was put in command of the "Boston," a frigate of twenty-four guns. In this vessel he cruised during the year with varying success.

Feb. 10, 1778, Capt. Tucker was ordered to carry the Hon. John Adams to France, as envoy from the United States. The voyage was full of incidents. Feeling impressed with the gravity of the charge laid upon him, Capt.Tucker chose a course which he hoped would enable him to steer clear of the horde of British men-of-war which then infested the American coast. But in so doing he fell in with a natural enemy, which came near proving fatal. A terrific thunderstorm, gradually growing into a tornado, crossed the path of the ship. The ocean was lashed into waves mountain high. The crash of the thunder rent the sky. A stroke of lightning struck the main-mast, and ripped up the deck, narrowly missing the magazine. The ship sprung a leak; and the grewsome sound of the pumps mingled with the roar of the waves, and the shrieking of the winds. For several days the stormy weather continued. Then followed a period of calm, which the captain well employed in repairing the rigging, and exercising the men with the guns and small-arms. Many ships had been sighted, and some, evidently men-of-war, had given chase; but the "Boston" succeeded in showing them all a clean pair of heels.

"What would you do," said Mr. Adams one day, as he stood with the captain watching three ships that were making desperate efforts to overhaul the "Boston," "if you could not escape, and they should attack you?"

"As the first is far in advance of the others, I should carry her by boarding, leading the boarders myself," was the response. "I should take her; for no doubt a majority of her crew, being pressed men, would turn to and join me. Having taken her, I should be matched, and could fight the other two."

Such language as this coming from many men would be considered mere foolhardy boasting. But Tucker was a man not given to brag. Indeed, he was apt to be very laconic in speaking of his exploits. A short time after his escape from the three ships, he fell in with an English armed vessel of no small force, and captured her. His only comment on the action in his journal reads, "I fired a gun, and they returned three; and down went the colors."

John Adams, however, told a more graphic story of this capture. Tucker, as soon as he saw an armed vessel in his path, hastily called his crew to order, and bore down upon her. When the roll of the drum, calling the people to quarters, resounded through the ship, Mr. Adams seized a musket, and took his stand with the marines. Capt.Tucker, seeing him there, requested him to go below, and upon his desire being disregarded, put his hand upon the envoy's shoulder, and in a tone of authority said,—

"Mr. Adams, I am commanded by the Continental Congress to deliver you safe in France, and you must go below."

The envoy smilingly complied, and just at that moment the enemy let fly her broadside. The shot flew through the rigging, doing but little damage. Though the guns of the "Boston" were shotted, and the gunners stood at their posts with smoking match-stocks, Capt. Tucker gave no order to fire, but seemed intent upon the manœuvres of the ships. The eager blue-jackets begun to murmur, and the chorus of questions and oaths was soon so great that the attention of Tucker was attracted. He looked at the row of eager faces on the gun-deck, and shouted out,—

"Hold on, my men! I wish to save that egg without breaking the shell."

Soon after, Tucker brought his broadside to bear on the stern of the enemy, and she struck without more ado. She proved to be an armed ship, the "Martha."

After this encounter, nothing more of moment occurred on the voyage; and the "Boston" reached Bordeaux , and landed her distinguished passenger in safety. Two months later she left Bordeaux , in company with a fleet of twenty sail, one of which was the "Ranger," formerly commanded by Paul Jones. With these vessels he cruised for a time in European waters, but returned to the American coast in the autumn. His services for the rest of that year, and the early part of 1779, we must pass over hastily, though many were the prizes that fell into his clutches.

Many anecdotes are told of Tucker. His shrewdness, originality, and daring made him a favorite theme for story-tellers. But, unhappily, the anecdotes have generally no proof of their truth. One or two, however, told by Capt. Tucker's biographer, Mr. John H. Sheppard, will not be out of place here.

In one the story is told that Tucker fell in with a British frigate which he knew to be sent in search of him. Showing the English flag, he sailed boldly towards the enemy, and in answer to her hail said he was Capt.Gordon of the English navy, out in search of the "Boston," commanded by the rebel Tucker.

"I'll carry him to New York, dead or alive," said Tucker.

"Have you seen him?" was asked.

"Well, I've heard of him," was the response; "and they say he is a hard customer."

All this time Tucker had been manœuvring to secure a raking position. Behind the closed ports of the "Boston," the men stood at their guns, ready for the word of command. Just as the American had secured the position desired, a sailor in the tops of the British vessel cried out,—

"That is surely Tucker; we shall have a devil of a smell directly."

Hearing this, Tucker ordered the American flag hoisted, and the ports thrown open. Hailing his astonished foe, he cried,—

"The time I proposed talking with you is ended. This is the 'Boston,' frigate. I am Samuel Tucker, but no rebel. Fire, or strike your flag."

The Englishman saw he had no alternative but to strike. This he did without firing a gun. The vessel, though not named in the anecdote, was probably the "Pole," of the capture of which Tucker frequently speaks in his letters.

Of the part Tucker played in the siege of Charleston, of his capture there by the British, and of his exchange, we shall speak later. At that disaster four American frigates were lost: so many of the best naval officers were thrown out of employment. Among them was Tucker; but ever anxious for active service, he obtained the sloop-of-war "Thorn," which he himself had captured, and went out as a privateer. In this vessel he saw some sharp service. One engagement was thus described to Mr. Sheppard by a marine named Everett who was on board:—

"We had been cruising about three weeks when we fell in with an English packet of twenty-two guns and one hundred men. Not long after she was discovered, the commodore called up his crew, and said, 'She means to fight us; and if we go alongside like men, she is ours in thirty minutes, but if we can't go as men we have no business here.' He then told them he wanted no cowards on deck, and requested those who were willing to fight to go down the starboard, and those who were unwilling the larboard gangway. Every man and boy took the first, signifying his willingness to meet the enemy.

"As Mr. Everett was passing by, the commodore asked him,—

"'Are you willing to go alongside of her?'

"'Yes, sir,' was the reply.

"In mentioning this conversation, however, Mr. Everett candidly confessed, 'I did not tell him the truth, for I would rather have been in my father's cornfield.'

"After the commanders of these two vessels, as they drew near, had hailed each other in the customary way when ships meet at sea, the captain of the English packet cried out roughly from the quarter-deck,—

"'Haul down your colors, or I'll sink you!'

"'Ay, ay, sir; directly,' answered Tucker calmly. And he then ordered the helmsman to steer the 'Thorn' right under the stern of the packet, luff up under her lee quarters, and range alongside of her. The order was promptly executed. The two vessels were laid side by side, within pistol shot of each other. While the 'Thorn' was getting into position, the enemy fired a full broadside at her which did but little damage. As soon as she was brought completely alongside her adversary, Tucker thundered out to his men to fire, and a tremendous discharge followed; and, as good aim had been taken, a dreadful carnage was seen in that ill-fated vessel. It was rapidly succeeded by a fresh volley of artillery, and in twenty-seven minutes a piercing cry was heard from the English vessel: 'Quarters, for God's sake! Our ship is sinking. Our men are dying of their wounds.'

"To this heart-rending appeal Capt. Tucker exclaimed,—

"'How can you expect quarters while that British flag is flying?'

"The sad answer came back, 'Our halliards are shot away.'

"'Then cut away your ensign staff, or ye'll all be dead men.'

"It was done immediately. Down came the colors, the din of cannonading ceased, and only the groans of the wounded and dying were heard.

"Fifteen men, with carpenters, surgeon, and their leader, were quickly on the deck of the prize. Thirty-four of her crew, with her captain, were either killed or wounded. Her decks were besmeared with blood, and in some places it stood in clotted masses to the tops of the sailors' slippers. The gloomy but needful work of amputating limbs, and laying out the dead, was begun; and every effort was made to render the wounded prisoners as comfortable as possible."

Here we must take leave of Commodore Tucker and his exploits. As a privateersman, he continued to do daring work to the end of the war. He fought at least one more bloody action. He was captured once and escaped. But the recountal of his romantic career must now yield to our chronological survey of the lesser naval events of the Revolution.


While the events related in the two preceding chapters were occurring along the American coast, a few gallant vessels were upholding the honor of the stars and stripes in far distant lands. To cruise in waters frequented by an enemy's merchantmen, and capture, burn, sink, and destroy, is always a legitimate occupation for the navy of a belligerent nation. Yet the nation suffering at the hands of the cruisers invariably raises the cry of "wanton vandalism and cruelty," and brands the officers to whom falls so unpleasant a duty with the name of pirates. Such was the outcry raised against Paul Jones in the Revolutionary war; so it was the British described the brilliant service of the little brig "Argus" in 1813; and so the people of the North regarded the career of the "Alabama" and other Confederate cruisers in the great war for the Union. But perhaps no ship had ever a more adventurous career, or wrought more damage to the enemy's commerce, than the United States frigate "Essex," under the command of the able officer David Porter.

Of the circumstances which led to the famous cruise of the "Essex," some account has already been given. With a full crew, and stores enough to enable her to keep the sea for some months, the ship set sail from the Delaware in the autumn of 1812, and headed to the southward with the intention of joining the "Constitution" and "Hornet" at some point in the tropics. Her first point of call was at Porto Praya, a harbor in the Cape Verd Islands. To the captain's disappointment, he could learn nothing of Bainbridge at this place; and he soon departed, after scrupulously exchanging salutes with a rickety little fort, over which floated the flag of Portugal. Continuing her southward way, the "Essex" crossed the equator, on which occasion the jolly tars enjoyed the usual ceremonies attendant upon crossing the line. Father Neptune and his faithful spouse, with their attendant suite, came aboard and superintended the operation of shaving and dowsing the green hands, whose voyages had never called them before into the Southern seas. Capt. Porter looked upon the frolic indulgently. He was well known as a captain who never unnecessarily repressed the light-heartedness of his crew. Two hours daily were set aside during which the crew were free to amuse themselves in any reasonable way. At four o'clock every afternoon, the shrill piping of the boatswain's whistle rang through the ship, followed by the cry, "D'ye hear there, fore and aft? All hands skylark!" No order ever brought a quicker response, and in a minute the decks became a perfect pandemonium. The sailors rushed here and there, clad in all sorts of clothes; boxed, fenced, wrestled; ran short foot-races; played at leap-frog, and generally comported themselves like children at play. Fights were of common occurrence; and the two combatants soon became the centre of an interested ring of spectators, who cheered on their favorites with loud cries of "Go it, Bill. Now, Jack, lively with yer left." But a sailor has no better friend to-day than the man he fought yesterday; and the fights, like the play, only kept the crew in good spirits and contentment.

The day after crossing the equator, the "Essex" sighted a sail and gave chase. Towards evening the frigate had gained greatly upon the stranger, and Porter displayed all the British signals which he had in his possession. The chase made no response, but set a British ensign. By nine o'clock, the "Essex" was within musket-shot, and could easily have blown the fugitive out of water; but this Porter was loath to do, as he desired to take the brig without doing her any injury. However, as she showed no signs of surrendering, he ordered the marines to give her a volley of musketry. One man on the chase was killed, and a number wounded, upon which her flag was immediately hauled down. She proved to be the British packet "Nocton" of ten guns. In her hold was found fifty-five thousand dollars in specie, which was at once taken on board the "Essex;" and the "Nocton" was sent to the United States under the charge of a prize-crew. Before she could make a port, she fell in with a British man-of-war, and was captured after a few hours' chase.

Two days after parting with the "Nocton," the "Essex" hove in sight of the Island of Fernando Noronha, off the coast of Brazil. For a time the frigate abandoned her warlike character, battened down her ports, housed her guns, hid her large crew between decks, and sailed into the little harbor looking like a large but peaceable British merchantman. An officer clad in plain clothes went ashore, and, meeting the governor, stated that the ship was the "Fanny" of London, bound for Rio Janeiro. During the conversation, the governor remarked that His British Majesty's ships, the "Acosta" forty-four, and the "Morgiana" twenty, had but recently sailed from the port, and had left a letter for Sir James Yeo, requesting that it be forwarded to England as soon as possible. With this news, the lieutenant returned to the ship. On hearing his report, Porter at once surmised that the letter might have been left for him by Commodore Bainbridge; and he at once sent the officer back, bearing the message that the "Fanny" was soon going to London, and her captain would see the letter delivered to Sir James Yeo, in person. The unsuspecting governor accordingly delivered up the epistle, and it was soon in Porter's hands. The note read as follows:—

My Dear Mediterranean Friend ,—Probably you may stop here. Don't attempt to water: it is attended with too many difficulties. I learned, before I left England, that you were bound to Brazil coast. If so, perhaps we may meet at St. Salvador or at Rio Janeiro. I should be happy to meet and converse on our old affairs of captivity. Recollect our secret in those times.

Your friend of His Majesty's ship "Acosta,"
Sir James Yeo  of His British Majesty's ship "Southampton."

Porter read and pondered over this perplexing letter. He felt sure that the letter was from Bainbridge; and in the allusion to St. Salvador and Rio Janeiro, he perceived the commodore's wish for a rendezvous at one of those places. But what could be the secret of the times of captivity? Suddenly a thought struck him. Might there not be something written in sympathetic ink? Hurriedly calling for a candle, he held the letter above its flame, and saw, under the influence of the heat, words and sentences appearing where before all was blank paper.

"I am bound off St. Salvador," it read; "thence off Cape Frio, where I intend to cruise until the 1st of January. Go off Cape Frio to the northward of Rio, and keep a lookout for me."

That afternoon the governor of the island, looking out toward the harbor, was surprised to see the "Fanny" standing out under a full spread of canvas. Porter had gained all the information that he wished, and was off in search of his consorts. This search he continued until the 20th of January, cruising up and down off the Brazilian coast, and taking one or two small prizes. In this unprofitable service the ship's stores were being rapidly consumed. Among other things, the supply of rum began to run short; and in connection with this occurred a curious incident, that well illustrates the character of sailors. The daily rations of bread were reduced one-half, and the rations of salt meat one-third, without a word of remonstrance from the patient crew. Next the discovery was made that the rum was giving out, and a proportional reduction in the rations of grog was duly ordered. The jackies put in a vigorous and immediate protest. They were prepared, they said, to go without grog, should the supply of rum be unhappily exhausted; but so long as any of the precious fluid remained, their rations of grog should not be curtailed. But to this Porter would not accede, fearing that, should the men be altogether deprived of their grog, the health of the crew might suffer. Accordingly, when the crew were piped to "splice the main brace" the next day, they were told that half rations only would be issued; and, if the grog was not taken up in fifteen minutes, the tub would be overturned, and the rum spilled into the sea. So dire a threat was too much for the rebellious seamen: they sprang into line, with their tin cups, and drew their curtailed rations without more ado.

Some days after this occurrence, the "Essex" overhauled a Portuguese vessel, from the captain of which Porter learned that an American frigate had shortly before fought and sunk an English frigate off the coast of Brazil; also, that it was rumored that an American corvette of twenty-two guns had been brought into Rio, a prize to a British seventy-four. This intelligence placed Capt. Porter in some perplexity. He felt convinced that the successful American frigate was the "Constitution;" a conjecture in which he was correct, for the news referred to the celebrated action of that ship with the "Java." The captured American corvette, he concluded, must be the "Hornet;" but herein the captain was wrong, for the "Hornet" was at that moment blockading the "Bonne Citoyenne."

Porter now found it necessary to decide upon a course of action. The news which he had received made it appear most improbable that he would fall in with either of the United States vessels for which he was seeking. He was far from home, cruising in seas much frequented by British men-of-war. There were no naval stations or outposts belonging to the United States, into which he could put for protection or repairs; for then, as now, the nation ignored the necessity of such supply-stations. To return home was peculiarly distasteful to the captain, who had set sail with the intention of undertaking a long cruise. In this dilemma, he wasted but little time in thought. By rounding Cape Horn, he would carry the "Essex" into the Pacific Ocean, where British merchantmen abounded and men-of-war were few. It was an adventurous and a perilous expedition to undertake; but Porter, having decided upon it, wasted no time in getting under way. That very night he took his ship out of the snug harbor of St. Catherine's, and started upon his long voyage around the Horn.

A winter voyage around Cape Horn, even in the stoutest of ships, is an undertaking to be dreaded by the most courageous seamen. The "Essex" seemed to meet with more than her share of stormy weather. From the night when she set sail from St. Catherine's, until she dropped anchor in a harbor of the Island of Mocha, almost every day witnessed a struggle for supremacy between the raging ocean on the one side, and skilful seamanship and nautical science on the other. Capt. Porter, however, proved himself ready for every emergency. No peril of the deep was unforeseen, no ounce of prevention unprovided. The safety of his ship, and the health of his men, were ever in his thoughts; and accordingly, when the "Essex" rounded into the Pacific Ocean, both men and ship were in condition to give their best service to the enterprise in which they were embarked.

After rounding Cape Horn, the "Essex" made her way northward along the desolate coast of Chili, until she reached the Island of Mocha. Here she anchored for a day, giving the crew a much needed run on shore, which they enjoyed with all the zest of schoolboys out for a day's holiday. The island afforded little in the way of fresh stores; but some pigs and horses were shot, and devoured with gusto by men who for over two months had not tasted fresh meat. From this point the frigate made for Valparaiso, and, after reconnoitring the port, put in for water and stores. The officers were received with much hospitality by the townspeople, and, after a few days' stay, were tendered a complimentary ball,—an entertainment into which the young officers entered with great glee. But, unhappily for their evening's pleasure, the dancing had hardly begun, when a midshipman appeared at the door of the hall, and announced that a large frigate was standing into the harbor. Deserting their fair partners, the people of the "Essex" hastened to their ship, and were soon in readiness for the action; while the townspeople thronged the hills overlooking the sea, in the hopes of seeing a naval duel. But the frigate proved to be a Spaniard; and, of course, no action occurred.

The Peruvian Privateer.

The Peruvian Privateer.

The "Essex" remained several days at Valparaiso, and during her stay two or three American whalers put into the harbor. From the captains of these craft, Porter learned that the Peruvians were sending out privateers to prey upon American commerce, and that much damage had already been done by these marauders, who were no more than pirates, since no war existed between Peru and the United States. Porter determined to put an immediate stop to the operations of the Peruvian cruisers, and had not long to wait for an opportunity. A day or two after leaving Valparaiso, a sail was sighted in the offing, which was soon near enough to be made out a vessel-of-war, disguised as a whaler. Porter hung out the English ensign, and caused an American whaler, with which he had that morning fallen in, to hoist a British flag over the stars and stripes. At this sight, the stranger hoisted the Spanish flag, and threw a shot across the bow of the "Essex." Porter responded by a few shot that whizzed through the rigging just above the Spaniard's deck. The latter thereupon sent a boat to the "Essex;" and the officer who came aboard, thinking that he was on a British man-of-war, boasted of his ship's exploits among the American whalers. His vessel was the Peruvian privateer "Nereyda" of fifteen guns, and she had captured two American whalers, whose crews were even then in the hold of the privateer. He admitted that Peru had no quarrel with the United States, and no reason for preying upon her commerce. The confession, so unsuspectingly made, gave Porter ample grounds for the capture of the offending vessel. Curtly informing his astounded visitor that he was on a United States man-of-war, Porter ordered the gunners to fire two shots close to the privateer. This was done, and the Peruvian quickly hauled down his colors. The American officers, on boarding the prize, found twenty-three American sailors, who had been robbed of all that they possessed, stripped of half their clothing, and thrown into the hold. These unfortunate men were released and sent to the "Essex;" after which all the guns and ammunition of the privateer were thrown overboard, and the vessel ordered to return to Callao.

After this act of summary justice, the "Essex" continued in her northward course. She touched at Callao; but, much to the disappointment of all on board, there were no British vessels among the shipping at that port. Nor could the lookouts, for some days, discern from the masthead any craft other than the double-hulled rafts of logs, called catamarans, in which the natives along the Peruvian coast make long voyages. Weary of such continued ill-luck, Porter determined to make for the Galapagos Islands, where it was the custom of the British whaling-ships to rendezvous. But it seemed that ill-fortune was following close upon the "Essex;" for she sailed the waters about the Galapagos, and sent out boats to search small bays and lagoons, without finding a sign of a ship. Two weeks passed in this unproductive occupation, and Porter had determined to abandon the islands, when he was roused from his berth on the morning of April 29, 1813, by the welcome cry of "Sail, ho!"

All hands were soon on deck, and saw a large ship in the offing. All sail was clapped on the frigate; and she set out in hot pursuit, flying the British ensign as a ruse to disarm suspicion. As the chase wore on, two more sail were sighted; and Porter knew that he had fallen in with the long-sought whalers. He had no doubt of his ability to capture all three; for in those southern seas a dead calm falls over the ocean every noon, and in a calm the boats of the "Essex" could easily take possession of the whalers. By eight o'clock in the morning, the vessel first sighted was overhauled, and hove to in obedience to a signal from the frigate. She proved to be the "Montezuma,"Capt. Baxter, with a cargo of fourteen hundred barrels of sperm-oil. Baxter visited Capt. Porter in his cabin, and sat there unsuspectingly, giving the supposed British captain information for his aid in capturing American ships. The worthy whaler little knew, as he chatted away, that his crew was being transferred to the frigate, and a prize-crew sent to take charge of the "Montezuma."

By noon the expected calm fell over the water; and the boats were ordered away to take possession of the two whalers, that lay motionless some eight miles from the "Essex." The distance was soon passed, and the two ships were ordered to surrender, which they quickly did, much astonished to find a United States man-of-war in that region. A breeze shortly after springing up, all the prizes bore down upon the frigate; and the gallant lads of the "Essex" had the pleasure of seeing themselves surrounded with captured property to the value of nearly half a million dollars. One of the vessels, the "Georgiana," was a good sailer, strongly built, and well fitted for a cruiser. Accordingly she was armed with sixteen guns and a number of swivels, and placed under the command of Lieut.Downes. With this addition to his force, and with the other two prizes following in his wake, Porter returned to the Galapagos Islands. The first sight of the far-off peaks of the desert islands rising above the water was hailed with cheers by the sailors, who saw in the Galapagos not a group of desolate and rocky islands, but a place where turtle was plenty, and shore liberty almost unlimited. Porter remained some days at the islands, urging the crew of the "Essex," as well as the prisoners, to spend much time ashore. Signs of the scurvy were evident among the men, and the captain well knew that in no way could the dread disease be kept away better than by constant exercise on the sands of the seashore. The sailors entered heartily into their captain's plans, and spent hours racing on the beach, swimming in the surf, and wandering over the uninhabited islands.

After a few days of this sort of life, the squadron put to sea again. The "Georgianna" now separated from the fleet, and started on an independent cruise, with orders for a rendezvous at certain specific times. The "Essex" continued to hover about the Galapagos, in the hopes of getting a few more whalers. She had not long to wait; for the whale ship "Atlantic" soon fell in her way, and was promptly snapped up. The captain of this ship was a Nantucket man, who had deserted the flag of his country, to cruise under what he thought to be the more powerful flag of Great Britain. Great was his disgust to find that by his treachery he had lost all that he desired to protect. While in chase of the "Atlantic," a second sail had been sighted; and to this the "Essex" now gave chase. On being overhauled, the stranger at first made some show of fighting; but a shot or two from the guns of the frigate convinced him of the folly of this course, and he surrendered at discretion. The vessel proved to be the whale ship letter-of-marque "Greenwich;" a stout ship, of excellent sailing qualities. She carried ten guns, and was in every way a valuable prize.

Porter had now been in the Pacific Ocean about three months. On the 24th of February, the "Essex," solitary defender of the flag of the United States in the Pacific, had turned her prow northward from Cape Horn, and embarked on her adventurous career in the most mighty of oceans. Now in May, Porter, as he trod the deck of his good ship, found himself master of a goodly squadron instead of one stanch frigate. The "Essex," of course, led the list, followed by the "Georgianna," sixteen guns, forty-two men; "Atlantic," six guns, twelve men; "Greenwich," ten guns, fourteen men; "Montezuma," two guns, ten men; "Policy," ten men. Of these the "Georgianna" had already received her armament and authority as a war-vessel; and the "Atlantic" showed such seaworthy qualities that Porter determined to utilize her in the same way. Accordingly he set sail for Tumbez, where he hoped to get rid of some of his prisoners, perhaps sell one or two of his prizes, and make the necessary changes in the "Atlantic." While on the way to Tumbez, a Spanish brig was overhauled. Her captain vastly edified Capt. Porter by informing him that the "Nereyda," a Peruvian privateer, had recently attacked a huge American frigate, and inflicted great damage upon the Yankee. But the frigate proving too powerful, the privateer had been forced to fly, and hastened her flight by throwing overboard all her guns and ammunition.

On the 19th of June, the "Essex" with her satellites cast anchor in the harbor of Tumbez. The first view of the town satisfied Porter that his hopes of selling his prizes there were without avail. A more squalid, dilapidated little seaside village, it would be hard to find. Hardly had the ships cast anchor, when the governor came off in a boat to pay a formal visit. Though clothed in rags, he had all the dignity of a Spanish hidalgo, and strutted about the quarter-deck with most laughable self-importance. Notwithstanding his high official station, this worthy permitted himself to be propitiated with a present of one hundred dollars; and he left the ship, promising all sorts of aid to the Americans. Nothing came of it all, however; and Porter failed to dispose of any of his prizes. While the "Essex" with her train of captives lay in the harbor at Tumbez, the "Georgianna" came into port, and was greeted with three cheers by the men of the frigate. Lieut. Downes reported that he had captured three British ships, carrying in all twenty-seven guns and seventy-five men. One of the prizes had been released on parole, and the other two were then with the "Georgianna." This addition to the number of vessels in the train of the "Essex" was somewhat of an annoyance to Capt. Porter, who saw clearly that so great a number of prizes would seriously interfere with his future movements against the enemy. He accordingly remained at Tumbez only long enough to convert the "Atlantic" into an armed cruiser under the name of the "Essex Junior," and then set sail, in the hopes of finding some port wherein he could sell his embarrassing prizes. His prisoners, save about seventy-five who enrolled themselves under the American flag, were paroled, and left at Tumbez; and again the little squadron put to sea. The "Essex Junior" was ordered to take the "Hector," "Catherine," "Policy," and "Montezuma" to Valparaiso, and there dispose of them, after which she was to meet the "Essex" at the Marquesas Islands. On her way to the rendezvous, the "Essex" stopped again at the Galapagos Islands, where she was lucky enough to find the British whaler "Seringapatam," known as the finest ship of the British whaling fleet. By her capture, the American whalers were rid of a dangerous enemy; for, though totally without authority from the British Crown, the captain of the "Seringapatam" had been waging a predatory warfare against such luckless Americans as fell in his path. Porter now armed this new prize with twenty-two guns, and considered her a valuable addition to his offensive force. She took the place of the "Georgianna," which vessel Porter sent back to the United States loaded with oil.

Among the embarrassments which the care of so many prizes brought upon the leader of the expedition was the difficulty of finding commanding officers for all the vessels. This difficulty was enhanced while the flotilla lay off the Galapagos Islands; for two officers, falling into a dispute, settled their quarrel, after the manner of the day, by a duel. In the contest one, a lieutenant, aged only twenty-one years, was killed, and now lies buried in the sands of the desolate and lonely island. After this occurrence, the need for commanding officers became so imperative that even the purser and chaplain of the "Essex" were pressed into the service. Midshipmen twelve or fourteen years old found themselves in command of ships. David Farragut was one of the boys thus suddenly promoted, and in his journal has left a description of his experience as a boy commander.

The Duel At The Galapagos Islands.

The Duel At The Galapagos Islands.

"I was sent as prize-master to the 'Barclay,'" he writes. "This was an important event in my life; and, when it was decided that I was to take the ship to Valparaiso, I felt no little pride at finding myself in command at twelve years of age. This vessel had been recaptured from a Spanish guarda costa. The captain and his mate were on board; and I was to control the men sent from our frigate, while the captain was to navigate the vessel. Capt.Porter, having failed to dispose of the prizes as it was understood he intended, gave orders for the 'Essex Junior' and all the prizes to start for Valparaiso. This arrangement caused great dissatisfaction on the part of the captain of the 'Barclay,' a violent-tempered old fellow; and, when the day arrived for our separation from the squadron, he was furious, and very plainly intimated to me that I would 'find myself off New Zealand in the morning,' to which I most decidedly demurred. We were lying still, while the other ships were fast disappearing from view; the 'Commodore' going north, and the 'Essex Junior' with her convoy steering to the south for Valparaiso.

"I considered that my day of trial had arrived (for I was a little afraid of the old fellow, as every one else was). But the time had come for me at least to play the man: so I mustered up courage, and informed the captain that I desired the topsail filled away. He replied that he would shoot any man who dared to touch a rope without his orders; he 'would go his own course, and had no idea of trusting himself with a d—d nutshell;' and then he went below for his pistols. I called my right-hand man of the crew, and told him my situation; I also informed him that I wanted the main topsail filled. He answered with a clear 'Ay, ay, sir!' in a manner which was not to be misunderstood, and my confidence was perfectly restored. From that moment I became master of the vessel, and immediately gave all necessary orders for making sail, notifying the captain not to come on deck with his pistols unless he wished to go overboard; for I would really have had very little trouble in having such an order obeyed."

On the 30th of September, the squadron fell in with the "Essex Junior," which had come from Valparaiso.Lieut. Downes reported that he had disposed of the prizes satisfactorily, and also brought news that the British frigate "Phœbe," and the sloops-of-war "Raccoon" and "Cherub," had been ordered to cruise the Pacific in search of the audacious "Essex." More than this, he secured statistics regarding the fleet of British whalers in the Pacific, that proved that Porter had completely destroyed the industry, having left but one whaler uncaptured. There was then no immediate work for Porter to do; and he determined to proceed with his squadron to the Marquesas Islands, and there lay up, to make needed repairs and alterations.

The Marquesas are a desolate group of rocky islands lying in the Pacific Ocean, on the western outskirts of Oceanica. In formation they are volcanic, and rise in rugged mountain-peaks from the bosom of the great ocean. Sea-fowl of all sorts abound; but none of the lower mammals are to be found on the island, save swine which were introduced by Europeans. The people at the time of Porter's visit were simple savages, who had seldom seen the face of a white man; for at that early day voyagers were few in the far-off Pacific.

The island first visited by the "Essex" was known to the natives as Rooahooga. Here the frigate stopped for a few hours. During her stay, the water alongside was fairly alive with canoes and swimming natives. They were not allowed to come on board, but were immensely pleased by some fish-hooks and bits of iron let down to them from the decks of the frigate. Not to be outdone in generosity, the islanders threw up to the sailors cocoanuts, fruits, and fish. A boat-crew of jackies that went ashore was surrounded by a smiling, chattering throng of men, women, and children, who cried out incessantly, "Taya, taya " (friend, friend), and strove to bargain with them for fruits. They were a handsome, intelligent-looking people; tall, slender, and well formed, with handsome faces, and complexion little darker than that of a brunette. The men carried white fans, and wore bracelets of human hair, with necklaces of whales' teeth and shells about their necks,—their sole articles of clothing. Both men and women were tattooed; though the women seemed to content themselves with bands about the neck and arms, while the men were elaborately decorated from head to foot. Though some carried clubs and lances, they showed no signs of hostility, but bore themselves with that simple air of hospitality and unconscious innocence common to all savage peoples of tropical regions, uncorrupted by association with civilized white men.

Porter remained but a short time at this island, as its shallow bays afforded no safe anchorage for the vessels. But, charmed as he was with the friendly simplicity of the natives, he determined to remain some time in the vicinity, provided safe anchorage could be found. This essential was soon discovered at Nookaheevah, where the ships cast anchor in a fine harbor, which Porter straightway dubbed Massachusetts Bay. Hardly had the ship anchored, when a canoe containing three white men came alongside, and was ordered away by the captain, who thought them deserters from some vessel. The canoe then returned to the shore, and the three whites were joined by a vast assemblage of armed natives. Porter now began to fear lest he had offended the natives, and proceeded at once to the beach, with four boats well armed and manned. But, by the time the boats' prows grated upon the white sand, every native had disappeared; and the sole figure visible was that of a young man, who advanced, and, giving a formal naval salute, announced himself as Midshipman John M. Maury, U.S.N. Porter was greatly surprised to find a midshipman in so strange a place; but the latter explained it by stating that he was on furlough, and had been left there by a merchant-vessel, which was to call for him. She had never returned, however, and he now hailed the "Essex" as an opportunity for escape. A second white man, who then put in an appearance, naked and tattooed like an Indian, proved to be an Englishman who had been on the island for years, and who, by his knowledge of the language and character of the natives, proved of great assistance to the Americans, during the long stay upon which Capt. Porter had determined.


The return of Commodore Dale from the Mediterranean, and the reports which he brought of the continued aggressions and insolence of the Barbary powers, made a very marked change in the temper of the people of the United States. Early in 1802 Congress passed laws, which, though not in form a formal declaration of war, yet permitted the vigorous prosecution of hostilities against Tripoli, Algiers, or any other of the Barbary powers. A squadron was immediately ordered into commission for the purpose of chastising the corsairs, and was put under the command of Commodore Morris. The vessels detailed for this service were the "Chesapeake," thirty-eight; "Constellation," thirty-eight; "New York," thirty-six; "John Adams," twenty-eight; "Adams," twenty-eight; and "Enterprise," twelve. Some months were occupied in getting the vessels into condition for sea; and while the "Enterprise" started in February for the Mediterranean, it was not until September that the last ship of the squadron followed her. It will be remembered that the "Philadelphia" and "Essex," of Dale's squadron, had been left in the Mediterranean; and as the "Boston," twenty-eight, had been ordered to cruise in those waters after carrying United States Minister Livingstone to France, the power of the Western Republic was well supported before the coast-line of Barbary.

The "Enterprise" and the "Constellation" were the first of the squadron to reach the Mediterranean, and they straightway proceeded to Tripoli to begin the blockade of that port. One day, while the "Constellation" was lying at anchor some miles from the town, the lookout reported that a number of small craft were stealing along, close in shore, and evidently trying to sneak into the harbor. Immediately the anchor was raised, and the frigate set out in pursuit. The strangers proved to be a number of Tripolitan gunboats, and for a time it seemed as though they would be cut off by the swift-sailing frigate. As they came within range, the "Constellation" opened a rapid and well-directed fire, which soon drove the gunboats to protected coves and inlets in the shore. The Americans then lowered their boats with the intention of engaging the enemy alongshore, but at this moment a large body of cavalry came galloping out from town to the rescue. The Yankees, therefore, returned to their ship, and, after firing a few broadsides at the cavalry, sailed away.

Thereafter, for nearly a year, the record of the American squadron in the Mediterranean was uneventful. Commodore Morris showed little disposition to push matters to an issue, but confined his operations to sailing from port to port, and instituting brief and imperfect blockades.

In April, 1803, the squadron narrowly escaped being seriously weakened by the loss of the "New York." It was when this vessel was off Malta, on her way to Tripoli in company with the "John Adams" and the "Enterprise." The drums had just beat to grog; and the sailors, tin cup in hand, were standing in a line on the main deck waiting their turns at the grog-tub. Suddenly a loud explosion was heard, and the lower part of the ship was filled with smoke.

"The magazine is on fire," was the appalling cry; and for a moment confusion reigned everywhere. All knew that the explosion must have been near the magazine. There was no one to command, for at the grog hour the sailors are left to their own occupations. So the confusion spread, and there seemed to be grave danger of a panic, when Capt. Chauncey came on deck. A drummer passed hurriedly by him.

"Drummer, beat to quarters!" was the quick, sharp command of the captain. The drummer stopped short, and in a moment the resonant roll of the drum rose above the shouts and the tramping of feet. As the well-known call rose on the air, the men regained their self-control, and went quietly to their stations at the guns, as though preparing to give battle to an enemy.

When order had been restored, Capt. Chauncey commanded the boats to be lowered; but the effect of this was to arouse the panic again. The people rushed from the guns, and crowded out upon the bowsprit, the spritsail-yard, and the knightheads. Some leaped into the sea, and swam for the nearest vessel. All strove to get as far from the magazine as possible. This poltroonery disgusted Chauncey.

"Volunteers, follow me," he cried. "Remember, lads, it's just as well to be blown through three decks as one."

So saying he plunged down the smoky hatchway, followed by Lieut. David Porter and some other officers. Blinded and almost stifled by the smoke, they groped their way to the seat of the danger. With wet blankets, and buckets of water, they began to fight the flames. As their efforts began to meet with success, one of the officers went on deck, and succeeded in rallying the men, and forming two lines of water-carriers. After two hours' hard work, the ship was saved.

The explosion was a serious one, many of the bulkheads having been blown down, and nineteen officers and men seriously injured, of whom fourteen died. It came near leading to a still more serious blunder; for, when the flames broke out, the quartermaster was ordered to hoist the signal, "A fire on board." In his trepidation he mistook the signal, and announced, "A mutiny on board." Seeing this, Capt. Rodgers of the "John Adams" beat his crew to quarters, and with shotted guns and open ports took up a raking position astern of the "New York," ready to quell the supposed mutiny. Luckily he discovered his error without causing loss of life.

For a month after this incident, the ships were detained at Malta making repairs; but, near the end of May, the "John Adams," "Adams," "New York," and "Enterprise" took up the blockade of Tripoli. One afternoon a number of merchant vessels succeeded in evading the blockaders, and though cut off from the chief harbor of the town, yet took refuge in the port of Old Tripoli. They were small lanteen-rigged feluccas of light draught; and they threaded the narrow channels, and skimmed over shoals whither the heavy men-of-war could not hope to follow them. Scarcely had they reached the shore when preparations were made for their defence against any cutting-out party the Americans might send for their capture. On the shore near the spot where the feluccas were beached, stood a heavy stone building, which was taken possession of by a party of troops hastily despatched from the city. The feluccas were laden with wheat, packed in sacks; and these sacks were taken ashore in great numbers, and piled up on either side of the great building so as to form breastworks. So well were the works planned, that they formed an almost impregnable fortress. Behind its walls the Tripolitans stood ready to defend their stranded vessels.

That night Lieut. Porter took a light boat, and carefully reconnoitred the position of the enemy. He was discovered, and driven away by a heavy fire of musketry, but not before he had taken the bearings of the feluccas and their defences. The next morning he volunteered to go in and destroy the boats, and, having obtained permission, set out, accompanied by Lieut. James Lawrence and a strong party of sailors. There was no attempt at concealment or surprise. The Americans pushed boldly forward, in the teeth of a heavy fire from the Tripolitans. No attempt was made to return the fire, for the enemy was securely posted behind his ramparts. The Yankees could only bend to their oars, and press forward with all possible speed. At last the beach was reached, and boats-prows grated upon the pebbly sand. Quickly the jackies leaped from their places; and while some engaged the Tripolitans, others, torch in hand, clambered upon the feluccas, and set fire to the woodwork and the tarred cordage. When the flames had gained some headway, the incendiaries returned to their boats, and made for the squadron again, feeling confident that the Tripolitans could do nothing to arrest the conflagration. But they had underestimated the courage of the barbarians; for no sooner had the boats pushed off, than the Tripolitans rushed down to the shore, and strained every muscle for the preservation of their ships. The men-of-war rained grape-shot upon them; but they persevered, and before Porter and his followers regained their ships, the triumphant cries of the Tripolitans gave notice the flames were extinguished. Porter had been severely wounded in the thigh, and twelve or fifteen of his men had been killed or wounded; so that the failure of the expedition to fully accomplish its purpose was bitterly lamented. The loss of the enemy was never definitely ascertained, though several were seen to fall during the conflict. On both sides the most conspicuous gallantry was shown; the fighting was at times almost hand to hand, and once, embarrassed by the lack of ammunition, the Tripolitans seized heavy stones, and hurled them down upon their assailants.

For some weeks after this occurrence, no conflict took place between the belligerents. Commodore Morris, after vainly trying to negotiate a peace with Tripoli, sailed away to Malta, leaving the "John Adams" and the "Adams" to blockade the harbor. To them soon returned the "Enterprise," and the three vessels soon after robbed the Bey of his largest corsair.

On the night of the 21st of June, an unusual commotion about the harbor led the Americans to suspect that an attempt was being made to run the blockade. A strict watch was kept; and, before morning, the "Enterprise" discovered a large cruiser sneaking along the coast toward the harbor's mouth. The Tripolitan was heavy enough to have blown the Yankee schooner out of the water; but, instead of engaging her, she retreated to a small cove, and took up a favorable position for action. Signals from the "Enterprise" soon brought the other United States vessels to the spot; while in response to rockets and signal guns from the corsair, a large body of Tripolitan cavalry came galloping down the beach, and a detachment of nine gunboats came to the assistance of the beleaguered craft.

No time was lost in manœuvring. Taking up a position within point-blank range, the "John Adams" and the "Enterprise" opened fire on the enemy, who returned it with no less spirit. For forty-five minutes the cannonade was unabated. The shot of the American gunners were seen to hull the enemy repeatedly, and at last the Tripolitans began to desert their ship. Over the rail and through the open ports the panic-stricken corsairs dropped into the water. The shot of the Yankees had made the ship's deck too hot a spot for the Tripolitans, and they fled with great alacrity. When the last had left the ship, the "John Adams" prepared to send boats to take possession of the prize. But at this moment a boat-load of Tripolitans returned to the corsair; and the Americans, thinking they were rallying, began again their cannonade. Five minutes later, while the boat's-crew was still on the Tripolitan ship, she blew up. The watchers heard a sudden deafening roar; saw a volcanic burst of smoke; saw rising high above the smoke the main and mizzen masts of the shattered vessel, with the yards, rigging, and hamper attached. When the smoke cleared away, only a shapeless hulk occupied the place where the proud corsair had so recently floated. What caused the explosion, cannot be told. Were it not for the fact that many of the Tripolitans were blown up with the ship, it might be thought that she had been destroyed by her own people.

After this encounter, the three United States vessels proceeded to Malta. Here Commodore Morris found orders for his recall, and he returned to the United States in the "Adams." In his place Commodore Preble had been chosen to command the naval forces; and that officer, with the "Constitution," forty-four, arrived in the Mediterranean in September, 1802. Following him at brief intervals came the other vessels of his squadron,—the "Vixen" twelve, "Siren" sixteen, and "Argus" sixteen; the "Philadelphia" thirty-eight, and the "Nautilus" twelve, having reached the Mediterranean before the commodore. Three of these vessels were commanded by young officers, destined to win enduring fame in the ensuing war,—Stephen Decatur, William Bainbridge, and Richard Somers.

Before the last vessel of this fleet reached the Mediterranean, a disaster had befallen one of the foremost vessels, which cost the United States a good man-of-war, and forced a ship's crew of Yankee seamen to pass two years of their lives in the cells of a Tripolitan fortress. This vessel was the "Philadelphia," Capt. Bainbridge. She had reached the Mediterranean in the latter part of August, and signalled her arrival by overhauling and capturing the cruiser "Meshboha," belonging to the emperor of Morocco. With the cruiser was a small brig, which proved to be an American merchantman; and in her hold were found the captain and seven men, tied hand and foot. Morocco was then ostensibly on friendly terms with the United States, and Bainbridge demanded of the captain of the cruiser by what right he had captured an American vessel. To this the Moor returned, that he had done so, anticipating a war which had not yet been declared.

"Then, sir," said Bainbridge sternly, "I must consider you as a pirate, and shall treat you as such. I am going on deck for fifteen minutes. If, when I return, you can show me no authority for your depredations upon American commerce, I shall hang you at the yard-arm."

So saying, Bainbridge left the cabin. In fifteen minutes he returned, and, throwing the cabin doors open, stepped in with a file of marines at his heels. In his hand he held his watch, and he cast upon the Moor a look of stern inquiry. Not a word was said, but the prisoner understood the dread import of that glance. Nervously he began to unbutton the voluminous waistcoats which encircled his body, and from an inner pocket of the fifth drew forth a folded paper. It was a commission directing him to make prizes of all American craft that might come in his path. No more complete evidence of the treachery of Morocco could be desired. Bainbridge sent the paper to Commodore Preble, and, after stopping at Gibraltar a day or two, proceeded to his assigned position off the harbor of Tripoli.

In the latter part of October, the lookout on the "Philadelphia" spied a vessel running into the harbor, and the frigate straightway set out in chase. The fugitive showed a clean pair of heels; and as the shots from the bow-chasers failed to take effect, and the water was continually shoaling before the frigate's bow, the helm was put hard down, and the frigate began to come about. But just at that moment she ran upon a shelving rock, and in an instant was hard and fast aground.

The Americans were then in a most dangerous predicament. The sound of the firing had drawn a swarm of gunboats out of the harbor of Tripoli, and they were fast bearing down upon the helpless frigate. Every possible expedient was tried for the release of the ship, but to no avail. At last the gunboats, discovering her helpless condition, crowded so thick about her that there was no course open but to strike. And so, after flooding the magazine, throwing overboard all the small-arms, and knocking holes in the bottom of the ship, Bainbridge reluctantly surrendered.

Hardly had the flag touched the deck, when the gunboats were alongside. If the Americans expected civilized treatment, they were sadly mistaken, for an undisciplined rabble came swarming over the taffrail. Lockers and chests were broken open, storerooms ransacked, officers and men stripped of all the articles of finery they were wearing. It was a scene of unbridled pillage, in which the Tripolitan officers were as active as their men. An officer being held fast in the grasp of two of the Tripolitans, a third would ransack his pockets, and strip him of any property they might covet. Swords, watches, jewels, and money were promptly confiscated by the captors; and they even ripped the epaulets from the shoulders of the officers' uniforms. No resistance was made, until one of the pilferers tried to tear from Bainbridge an ivory miniature of his young and beautiful wife. Wresting himself free, the captain knocked down the vandal, and made so determined a resistance that his despoilers allowed him to keep the picture.

When all the portable property was in the hands of the victors, the Americans were loaded into boats, and taken ashore. It was then late at night; but the captives were marched through the streets to the palace of the Bashaw, and exhibited to that functionary. After expressing great satisfaction at the capture, the Bashaw ordered the sailors thrown into prison, while the officers remained that night as his guests. He entertained them with an excellent supper, but the next morning they were shown to the gloomy prison apartments that were destined to be their home until the end of the war. Of their life there we shall have more to say hereafter.

While this disaster had befallen the American cause before Tripoli, Commodore Preble in the flag-ship "Constitution," accompanied by the "Nautilus," had reached Gibraltar. There he found Commodore Rodgers, whom he was to relieve, with the "New York" and the "John Adams." Hardly had the commodore arrived, when the case of the captured Morocco ship "Meshboha" was brought to his attention; and he straightway went to Tangier to request the emperor to define his position with regard to the United States. Though the time of Commodore Rodgers on the Mediterranean station had expired, he consented to accompany Preble to Tangier; and the combined squadrons of the two commodores had so great an effect upon the emperor, that he speedily concluded a treaty. Commodore Rodgers then sailed for the United States, and Preble began his preparations for an active prosecution of the war with Tripoli.

It was on the 31st of October that the "Philadelphia" fell into the hands of the Tripolitans, but it was not until Nov. 27 that the news of the disaster reached Commodore Preble and the other officers of the squadron. Shortly after the receipt of the news, the commodore proceeded with his flag-ship, accompanied by the "Enterprise," to Tripoli, to renew the blockade which had been broken by the loss of the "Philadelphia."

It was indeed high time that some life should be infused into the war with Tripoli. Commodore Dale had been sent to the Mediterranean with instructions that tied him hand and foot. Morris, who followed him, was granted more discretion by Congress, but had not been given the proper force. Now that Preble had arrived with a sufficient fleet, warlike instructions, and a reputation for dash unexcelled by that of any officer in the navy, the blue-jackets looked for some active service. Foreign nations were beginning to speak scornfully of the harmless antics of the United States fleet in the Mediterranean, and the younger American officers had fought more than one duel with foreigners to uphold the honor of the American service. They now looked to Preble to give them a little active service. An incident which occurred shortly after the arrival of the "Constitution" in the Bay of Gibraltar convinced the American officers that their commodore had plenty of fire and determination in his character.

One night the lookouts reported a large vessel alongside, and the hail from the "Constitution" brought only a counter-hail from the stranger. Both vessels continued to hail without any answer being returned, when Preble came on deck. Taking the trumpet from the hand of the quartermaster, he shouted,—

"I now hail you for the last time. If you do not answer, I'll fire a shot into you."

"If you fire, I'll return a broadside," was the reply.

"I'd like to see you do it. I now hail you for an answer. What ship is that?"

"This is H. B. M. ship 'Donegal,' eighty-four; Sir Richard Strachan, an English commodore. Send a boat aboard."

"This is the United States ship 'Constitution,' forty-four," answered Preble, in high dudgeon; "Edward Preble, an American commodore; and I'll be d—d if I send a boat on board of any ship. Blow your matches, boys!"

The Englishman saw a conflict coming, and sent a boat aboard with profuse apologies. She was really the frigate "Maidstone," but being in no condition for immediate battle had prolonged the hailing in order to make needed preparations.

On the 23d of December, while the "Constitution" and "Enterprise" were blockading Tripoli, the latter vessel overhauled and captured the ketch "Mastico," freighted with female slaves that were being sent by the Bashaw of Tripoli to the Porte, as a gift. The capture in itself was unimportant, save for the use made of the ketch later.

The vessels of the blockading squadron, from their station outside the bar, could see the captured "Philadelphia" riding lightly at her moorings under the guns of the Tripolitan batteries. Her captors had carefully repaired the injuries the Americans had inflicted upon the vessel before surrendering. Her foremast was again in place, the holes in her bottom were plugged, the scars of battle were effaced, and she rode at anchor as pretty a frigate as ever delighted the eye of a tar.

From his captivity Bainbridge had written letters to Commodore Preble, with postscripts written in lemon-juice, and illegible save when the sheet of paper was exposed to the heat. In these postscripts he urged the destruction of the "Philadelphia." Lieut. Stephen Decatur, in command of the "Enterprise," eagerly seconded these proposals, and proposed to cut into the port with the "Enterprise," and undertake the destruction of the captured ship. Lieut.-Commander  Stewart of the "Nautilus" made the same proposition; but Preble rejected both, not wishing to imperil a man-of-war on so hazardous an adventure.

The commodore, however, had a project of his own which he communicated to Decatur, and in which that adventurous sailor heartily joined. This plan was to convert the captured ketch into a man-of-war, man her with volunteers, and with her attempt the perilous adventure of the destruction of the "Philadelphia." The project once broached was quickly carried into effect. The ketch was taken into the service, and named the "Intrepid." News of the expedition spread throughout the squadron, and many officers eagerly volunteered their services. When the time was near at hand, Decatur called the crew of the "Enterprise" together, told them of the plan of the proposed expedition, pointed out its dangers, and called for volunteers. Every man and boy on the vessel stepped forward, and begged to be taken. Decatur chose sixty-two picked men, and was about to leave the deck, when his steps were arrested by a young boy who begged hard to be taken.

"Why do you want to go, Jack?" asked the commodore.

"Well, sir," said Jack, "you see, I'd kinder like to see the country."

The oddity of the boy's reason struck Decatur's fancy, and he told Jack to report with the rest.

On the night of Feb. 3, 1804, the "Intrepid," accompanied by the "Siren," parted company with the rest of the fleet, and made for Tripoli. The voyage was stormy and fatiguing. More than seventy men were cooped up in the little ketch, which had quarters scarcely for a score. The provisions which had been put aboard were in bad condition, so that after the second day they had only bread and water upon which to live. When they had reached the entrance to the harbor of Tripoli, they were driven back by the fury of the gale, and forced to take shelter in a neighboring cove. There they remained until the 15th, repairing damages, and completing their preparations for the attack.

The weather having moderated, the two vessels left their place of concealment, and shaped their course for Tripoli. On the way, Decatur gave his forces careful instructions as to the method of attack. The Americans were divided into several boarding parties, each with its own officer and work. One party was to keep possession of the upper deck, another was to carry the gun-deck, a third should drive the enemy from the steerage, and so on. All were to carry pistols in their belts; but the fighting, as far as possible, was to be done with cutlasses, so that no noise might alarm the enemy in the batteries, and the vessels in the port. One party was to hover near the "Philadelphia" in a light boat, and kill all Tripolitans who might try to escape to the shore by swimming. The watchword for the night was "Philadelphia."

About noon, the "Intrepid" came in sight of the towers of Tripoli. Both the ketch and the "Siren" had been so disguised that the enemy could not recognize them, and they therefore stood boldly for the harbor. As the wind was fresh, Decatur saw that he was likely to make port before night; and he therefore dragged a cable and a number of buckets astern to lessen his speed, fearing to take in sail, lest the suspicions of the enemy should be aroused.

When within about five miles of the town, the "Philadelphia" became visible. She floated lightly at her anchorage under the guns of two heavy batteries. Behind her lay moored two Tripolitan cruisers, and near by was a fleet of gunboats. It was a powerful stronghold into which the Yankee blue-jackets were about to carry the torch.

About ten o'clock, the adventurers reached the harbor's mouth. The wind had fallen so that the ketch was wafted slowly along over an almost glassy sea. The "Siren" took up a position in the offing, while the "Intrepid," with her devoted crew, steered straight for the frigate. A new moon hung in the sky. From the city arose the soft low murmur of the night. In the fleet all was still.

On the decks of the "Intrepid" but twelve men were visible. The rest lay flat on the deck, in the shadow of the bulwarks or weather-boards. Her course was laid straight for the bow of the frigate, which she was to foul. When within a short distance, a hail came from the "Philadelphia." In response, the pilot of the ketch answered, that the ketch was a coaster from Malta, that she had lost her anchors in the late gale, and had been nearly wrecked, and that she now asked permission to ride by the frigate during the night. The people on the frigate were wholly deceived, and sent out ropes to the ketch, allowing one of the boats of the "Intrepid" to make a line fast to the frigate. The ends of the ropes on the ketch were passed to the hidden men, who pulled lustily upon them, thus bringing the little craft alongside the frigate. But, as she came into clearer view, the suspicions of the Tripolitans were aroused; and when at last the anchors of the "Intrepid" were seen hanging in their places at the catheads, the Tripolitans cried out that they had been deceived, and warned the strangers to keep off. At the same moment the cry, "Americanos! Americanos!" rang through the ship, and the alarm was given.

By this time the ketch was fast to the frigate. "Follow me, lads," cried Decatur, and sprang for the chain-plates of the "Philadelphia." Clinging there, he renewed his order to board; and the men sprang to their feet, and were soon clambering on board the frigate. Lieut. Morris first trod the deck of the "Philadelphia," Decatur followed close after, and then the stream of men over the rail and through the open ports was constant. Complete as was the surprise, the entire absence of any resistance was astonishing. Few of the Turks had weapons in their hands, and those who had fled before the advancing Americans. On all sides the splashing of water told that the affrighted Turks were trying to make their escape that way. In ten minutes Decatur and his men had complete possession of the ship.

Doubtless at that moment the successful adventurers bitterly regretted that they could not take out of the harbor the noble frigate they had so nobly recaptured. But the orders of the commodore, and the dangers of their own situation, left them no choice. Nothing was to be done but to set fire to the frigate, and retreat with all possible expedition. The combustibles were brought from the ketch, and piled about the frigate, and lighted. So quickly was the work done, and so rapidly did the flames spread, that the people who lit the fires in the storerooms and cock-pit had scarce time to get on deck before their retreat was cut off by the flames. Before the ketch could be cast off from the sides of the frigate, the flames came pouring out of the port-holes, and flaming sparks fell aboard the smaller vessel, so that the ammunition which lay piled amidships was in grave danger of being exploded. Axes and cutlasses were swung with a will; and soon the bonds which held the two vessels together were cut, and the ketch was pushed off. Then the blue-jackets bent to their sweeps, and soon the "Intrepid" was under good headway.

"Now, lads," cried Decatur, "give them three cheers."

And the jackies responded with ringing cheers, that mingled with the roar of the flames that now had the frame of the "Philadelphia" in their control. Then they grasped their sweeps again, and the little vessel glided away through a hail of grape and round shot from the Tripolitan batteries and men-of-war. Though the whistle of the missiles was incessant, and the splash of round-shot striking the water could be heard on every side, no one in the boat was hurt; and the only shot that touched the ketch went harmlessly through her main-sail. As they pulled away, they saw the flames catch the rigging of the "Philadelphia," and run high up the masts. Then the hatchways were burst open, and great gusts of flame leaped out. The shotted guns of the frigate were discharged in quick succession; one battery sending its iron messengers into the streets of Tripoli, while the guns on the other side bore upon Fort English. The angry glare of the flames, and the flash of the cannon, lighted up the bay; while the thunders of the cannonade, and the cries of the Tripolitans, told of the storm that was raging.

The ruddy light of the burning ship bore good news to two anxious parties of Decatur's friends. Capt.Bainbridge and the other American officers whom the Tripolitans had captured with the "Philadelphia" were imprisoned in a tower looking out upon the bay. The rapid thunder of the cannonade on this eventful night awakened them; and they rushed to their windows, to see the "Philadelphia," the Bashaw's boasted prize, in flames. Right lustily they added their cheers to the general tumult, nor ceased their demonstrations of joy until a surly guard came and ordered them from the windows.

Far out to sea another band of watchers hailed the light of the conflagration with joy. The "Siren" had gone into the offing when the "Intrepid" entered the harbor, and there awaited with intense anxiety the outcome of the adventure. After an hour's suspense, a rocket was seen to mount into the sky, and burst over Tripoli. It was the signal of success agreed upon. Boats were quickly lowered, and sent to the harbor's mouth to meet and cover the retreat of the returning party. Hardly had they left the side of the ship, when the red light in the sky told that the "Philadelphia" was burning; and an hour later Decatur himself sprang over the taffrail, and proudly announced his victory.

Not a man had been lost in the whole affair. As the expedition had been perfect in conception, so it was perfect in execution. The adventure became the talk of all Europe. Lord Nelson, England's greatest admiral, said of it, "It was the most bold and daring act of the ages." And when the news reached the United States, Decatur, despite his youth, was made a captain.


Decatur's brilliant exploit set the key-note for the year 1804; and, for the remainder of that year, the Americans carried on the war with no less spirit and dash. A high degree of daring had been infused into the men by so notable an example; and long before the year was out, the blue-jackets began to consider themselves invincible, and were ready to undertake any exploit for which their services might be required.

The lesser events of the year, we must pass over hastily. The maintenance of the blockade of Tripoli led to one or two slight actions, and an occasional capture of little consequence. Thus, in March, the "Siren" captured the "Transfer," privateer, which was trying to run the blockade. A month or two later, a coasting felucca, loaded with supplies, was chased ashore near Tripoli, and two boats' crews were sent to take possession of her. The Tripolitans, as usual, sent out a body of cavalry to protect the felucca, and the Americans were driven off. Thereupon the American blockading squadron took up a position within range, and threw solid shot into the felucca until she was a complete wreck. Nor did the Tripolitan cavalry escape without a shot or two.

But while the smaller vessels of the Mediterranean squadron were enforcing the blockade before Tripoli, Commodore Preble, with the flag-ship and the larger vessels, was at Malta preparing for a vigorous attack upon the city of the Bashaw itself. He had added to the fleet he had brought with him from the United States two bomb-vessels and six gunboats. He had also added somewhat to the armament of the "Constitution," and now proposed to try the effect upon Tripoli of a vigorous bombardment. By the 21st of July, the commodore was able to leave Malta with his fleet, fully prepared for active hostilities.

Tripoli was then defended by heavy batteries mounting a hundred and fifteen guns. In the harbor were moored nineteen gunboats, two galleys, two schooners, and a brig. The available force under the command of the Bashaw numbered not less than twenty-five thousand men. It was no pygmy undertaking upon which the Americans had embarked.

On the 31st of August, 1804, the first attack was made; and though only a bombardment of the town had been contemplated, there followed one of the most desperate hand-to-hand naval battles recorded in history.

It was a sultry midsummer day, and the white walls of the city of Tripoli glared under the fierce rays of a tropical sun. A light breeze stirred the surface of the water, and made life on the ships bearable. Before this breeze the American squadron ran down towards the town. All preparations had been made for a spirited bombardment; and as the Americans drew near the shore, they saw that the Tripolitans had suspected the attack, and had made ready for it.

The attacking forces formed into two lines, with the regular naval vessels in the rear, and the gunboats and bomb-vessels in front. As the vessels in the van were to bear the brunt of the battle, they were manned by picked crews from the larger vessels, and had for their officers the most daring spirits of the Mediterranean squadron. At half-past two the firing commenced, and soon from every vessel in the American line shells and shot were being thrown into the city of the Bashaw. The Tripolitan batteries returned the fire with vigor, and their gunboats pressed forward to drive the assailants back. At the approach of the Tripolitan gunboats, the Americans diverted their aim from the city, and, loading with grape and canister, turned upon their foes a murderous fire. Upon the eastern division of the enemy's gunboats, nine in number, Decatur led the four boats under his command. The advance of the enemy was checked; but still the Americans pressed on, until fairly within the smoke of the Tripolitans' guns. Here the boats were held in position by the brawny sailors at the sweeps, while the gunners poured grape and canister into the enemy. Fearfully were the Americans outnumbered. They could hope for no help from their friends in the men-of-war in the rear. They were hemmed in on all sides by hostile gunboats, more strongly manned, and heavier in metal, than they. They were outnumbered three to one; for gunboat No. 3, which had belonged to Decatur's division, had drawn out of the fight in obedience to a signal for recall, which had been displayed by mistake on the "Constitution." Then Decatur displayed his desperate courage. Signalling to his companions to close with their adversaries and board, he laid his vessel alongside the nearest gunboat; and in a trice every American of the crew was swarming over the enemy's bulwarks. Taken by surprise, the Turks retreated. The gunboat was divided down the centre by a long, narrow hatchway; and as the Yankees came tumbling over the bulwarks, the Turks retreated to the farther side. This gave Decatur time to rally his men; and, dividing them into two parties, he sent one party around by the stern of the boat, while he led a party around the bow. The Turks were dazed by the suddenness of the attack, and cowed by the fearful effect of the Americans' last volley before boarding. Their captain lay dead, with fourteen bullets in his body. Many of the officers were wounded, and all the survivors were penned into a narrow space by the two parties of blue-jackets. The contest was short. Hampered by lack of room in which to wield their weapons, the Turks were shot down or bayoneted. Many leaped over the gunwale into the sea; many were thrown into the open hatchway; and the remnant, throwing down their arms, pleaded piteously for quarter. Decatur had no time to exult in his victory. Hastily securing his prisoners below decks, and making his prize fast to his own vessel, he bore down upon the Tripolitan next to leeward.

While shaping his course for this vessel, Decatur was arrested by a hail from the gunboat which had been commanded by his brother James. He was told that his brother had gallantly engaged and captured a Tripolitan gunboat, but that, on going aboard of her after her flag had been struck, he had been shot down by the cowardly Turk who was in command. The murderer then rallied his men, drove the Americans away, and carried his craft out of the battle.

Decatur's grief for the death of his brother gave way, for the time, to his anger on account of the base treachery by which the victim met his death. Casting prudence to the winds, he turned his boat's prow towards the gunboat of the murderer, and, urging on his rowers, soon laid the enemy aboard. Cutlass in hand, Decatur was first on the deck of the enemy. Behind him followed close Lieut. Macdonough and nine blue-jackets. Nearly forty Turks were ready to receive the boarders. As the boarders came over the rail, they fired their pistols at the enemy, and then sprang down, cutlass in hand. The Turks outnumbered them five to one; but the Americans rallied in a bunch, and dealt lusty blows right and left. At last, Decatur singled out a man whom he felt sure was the commander, and the murderer of his brother. He was a man of gigantic frame; his head covered with a scarlet cap, his face half hidden by a bristly black beard. He was armed with a heavy boarding-pike, with which he made a fierce lunge at Decatur. The American parried the blow, and make a stroke at the pike, hoping to cut off its point. But the force of the blow injured the Tripolitan's weapon not a whit, while Decatur's cutlass broke short off at the hilt. With a yell of triumph the Turk lunged again. Decatur threw up his arm, and partially avoided the thrust; so that the pike pierced his breast, but inflicted only a slight wound. Grappling the weapon, Decatur tore it from the wound, wrested it from the Turk, and made a lunge at him, which he avoided. The combatants then clinched and fell to the deck, fiercely struggling for life and death. About them fought their followers, who strove to aid their respective commanders. Suddenly a Tripolitan officer, who had fought his way to a place above the heads of the two officers, aimed a blow at the head of Decatur. His victim was powerless to guard himself. One American sailor only was at hand. This was Reuben James, a young man whose desperate fighting had already cost him wounds in both arms, so that he could not lift a hand to save his commander. But, though thus desperately wounded, James had yet one offering to lay before his captain,—his life. And he showed himself willing to make this last and greatest sacrifice, by thrusting his head into the path of the descending scimetar, and taking upon his own skull the blow intended for Decatur. The hero fell bleeding to the deck; a pistol-shot from an American ended the career of the Turk, and Decatur was left to struggle with his adversary upon the deck.

But by this time the great strength of the Turkish captain was beginning to tell in the death-struggle. His right arm was clasped like an iron band around the American captain, while with his left hand he drew from his belt a short yataghan, which he was about to plunge into the throat of his foe. Decatur lay on his side, with his eyes fixed upon the face of his foe. He saw the look of triumph flash in the eyes of the Turk; he saw the gleaming steel of the yataghan  as it was drawn from its sheath. Mustering all his strength, he writhed in the grasp of his burly foe. He wrested his left arm clear, and caught the Turk's wrist just as the fatal blow was falling; then with his right hand he drew from his pocket a small pistol. Pressing this tightly against the back of his enemy, he fired. The ball passed through the body of the Turk, and lodged in Decatur's clothing. A moment later the Tripolitan's hold relaxed, and he fell back dead; while Decatur, covered with his own blood and that of his foe, rose to his feet, and stood amidst the pile of dead and wounded men that had gathered during the struggle around the battling chiefs.

The fall of their captain disheartened the Tripolitans, and they speedily threw down their arms. The prize was then towed out of the line of battle; and, as by this time the American gunboats were drawing off, Decatur took his prizes into the shelter of the flag-ship.

While Decatur had been thus engaged, the gunboats under his command had not been idle. Lieut. Trippe, in command of No. 6, had fought a hand-to-hand battle that equalled that of Decatur. Trippe's plan of attack had been the same as that of his leader. Dashing at the enemy, he had let fly a round of grape and canister, then boarded in the smoke and confusion. But his boat struck that of the enemy with such force as to recoil; and Trippe, who had sprung into the enemy's rigging, found himself left with but nine of his people, to confront nearly twoscore Tripolitans. The Americans formed in a solid phalanx, and held their ground bravely. Again the two commanders singled each other out, and a fierce combat ensued. The Turk was armed with a cutlass, while Trippe fought with a short boarding-pike. They fought with caution, sparring and fencing, until each had received several slight wounds. At last the Tripolitan struck Trippe a crushing blow on the head. The American fell, half stunned, upon his knees; and at this moment a second Tripolitan aimed a blow at him from behind, but was checked and killed by an American marine. Rallying all his strength, Trippe made a fierce thrust at his adversary. This time the sharp pike found its mark, and passed through the body of the Tripolitan captain, who fell to the deck. His men, seeing him fall, abandoned the contest, and the Americans were soon bearing away their prize in triumph. But in the excitement of victory no one thought to haul down the Tripolitan flag, which-still flaunted defiant at the end of the long lateen mast. So, when the prize came near the "Vixen," the American man-of-war, mistaking her for an enemy, let fly a broadside, that brought down flag, mast and all. Luckily no one was hurt, and the broadside was not repeated.

But by this time the wind had veered round into an unfavorable quarter, and the flag-ship showed a signal for the discontinuance of the action. The gunboats and their prizes were taken in tow by the schooners and brigs, and towed out of range of the enemy's shot. While this operation was going on, the "Constitution" kept up a rapid fire upon the shore batteries, and not until the last of the smaller craft was out of range, did she turn to leave the fray. As she came about, a shot came in one of her stern-ports, struck a gun near which Commodore Preble was standing, broke to pieces, and scattered death and wounds about.

When the squadron had made an offing, Preble hoisted a signal for the commanders to come aboard the flag-ship, and make their reports. He was sorely disappointed in the outcome of the fray, and little inclined to recognize the conspicuous instances of individual gallantry shown by his officers. He had set his heart upon capturing the entire fleet of nine Tripolitan gunboats, and the escape of six of them had roused his naturally irascible disposition to fury. As he stalked his quarter-deck, morose and silent, Decatur came aboard. The young officer still wore the bloody, smoke-begrimed uniform in which he had grappled with the Turk, his face was begrimed with powder, his hands and breast covered with blood. As he walked to the quarter-deck, he was the centre of observation of all on the flag-ship. Stepping up to the commodore, he said quietly,—

"Well, commodore, I have brought you out three of the gunboats."

Preble turned upon him fiercely, seized him with both hands by the collar, and shaking him like a schoolboy, snarled out,—

"Ay, sir, why did you not bring me more?"

The blood rushed to Decatur's face. The insult was more than he could bear. His hand sought his dagger, but the commodore had left the quarter-deck. Turning on his heel, the outraged officer walked to the side, and called his boat, determined to leave the ship at once. But the officers crowded about him, begging him to be calm, and reminding him of the notoriously quick temper of the commodore. While they talked, there came a cabin steward with a message. "The commodore wishes to see Capt. Decatur below." Decatur hesitated a moment, then obeyed. Some time passed, but he did not re-appear on deck. The officers became anxious, and at last, upon some pretext, one sought the commodore's cabin. There he found Preble and Decatur, sitting together, friendly, but both silent, and in tears. The apology had been made and accepted.

There is one humble actor in the first attack upon Tripoli, whom we cannot abandon without a word. This is Reuben James. That heroic young sailor quickly recovered from the bad wound he received when he interposed his own head to save his commander's life. One day Decatur called him aft, and publicly asked him what could be done to reward him for his unselfish heroism. The sailor was embarrassed and nonplussed. He rolled his quid of tobacco in his mouth, and scratched his head, without replying. His shipmates were eager with advice. "Double pay, Jack: the old man will refuse you nothing;" "a boatswain's berth;" "a pocket-full of money and shore leave," were among the suggestions. But James put them aside. He had decided.

"If you please, sir," said he, "let somebody else hand out the hammocks to the men when they are piped down. That is a sort of business that I don't exactly like."

The boon was granted; and ever afterwards, when the crew was piped to stow away hammocks, Reuben James sauntered about the decks with his hands in his pockets, the very personification of elegant leisure.

For modesty, the request of the preserver of Decatur is only equalled by that of the sailor who decided the battle between the "Bon Homme Richard" and the "Serapis." He had stationed himself on the yard-arm, and was dropping hand-grenades upon the deck of the "Serapis." At last a well-aimed grenade set fire to some powder on the enemy's ship, and virtually decided the day in favor of the Americans. When asked by Paul Jones what he would have as a reward for this great service, he suggested double rations of grog for the next week as the proper recompense. This he got, and no more.

But to return to the American fleet before Tripoli. Four days were spent in repairing damages, and on the 7th of August a second attack was made upon the town. The disposition of the American forces was much the same as on the occasion of the first attack, although the Americans were re-enforced by the three captured gunboats. The fighting was confined to long-range cannonading; for the enemy had been taught a lesson, and was afraid to try conclusions hand to hand with the Americans. About three o'clock in the afternoon, a tremendous explosion drew the gaze of every one to the spot where gunboat No. 8 had been anchored. At first only a dense mass of smoke, with the water surrounding it littered with wreckage, was to be seen. When the smoke cleared away, the extent of the disaster was evident. The gunboat had blown up. Her bow alone remained above water, and there a handful of plucky men were loading the great twenty-six-pound cannon that formed her armament. Lieut. Spence commanded the gunners, and urged them on.

"Now, lads, be lively," he cried. "Let's get one shot at the Turks before we sink."

Every ship in the squadron was cheering the devoted crew of No. 8. From every vessel anxious eyes watched the men who thus risked their lives for one shot. The water was rushing into the shattered hulk; and just as Spence pulled the lanyard, and sent a cast-iron shot into Tripoli, the wreck gave a lurch, and went down. Her crew was left struggling in the water. Spence, who could not swim, saved himself by clinging to an oar, while his men struck out for the nearer vessels, and were soon receiving the congratulations of their comrades.

In this attack, Richard Somers, a most courageous and capable officer, who a few weeks later met a tragic end, narrowly escaped death. He was in command of gunboat No. 1, and while directing the attack stood leaning against her flagstaff. He saw a shot flying in his direction. Involuntarily he ducked his head, and the next instant the flying shot cut away the flagstaff just above him. When the action was over, Lieut. Somers stood by the pole, and found that the shot had cut it at the exact height of his chin.

After firing for about three hours, the American squadron drew off. Little had been accomplished, for the stone walls and fortresses of Tripoli were not to be damaged very greatly by marine artillery. The Americans themselves had suffered seriously. Their killed and wounded amounted to eighteen men. They had lost one gunboat by an explosion, and all the vessels had suffered somewhat from the Tripolitan fire.

That night the Americans were gladdened by the arrival of the frigate "John Adams," bringing letters and news from home. She brought also the information that re-enforcements were coming. Accordingly Preble determined to defer any further attack upon Tripoli until the arrival of the expected vessels. In the mean time he had several interviews with the Bashaw upon the subject of peace; but, as the Turk would not relinquish his claim of five hundred dollars ransom for each captive in his hands, no settlement was reached.

While waiting for the re-enforcements, Preble continued his preparations for another attack. The ships were put into fighting trim, munition hauled over, and repeated and thorough reconnoissances of the enemy's works made. It was while on the latter duty, that the brig "Argus" narrowly escaped destruction. With Preble on board, she stood into the harbor, and was just coming about before one of the batteries, when a heavy shot raked her bottom, cutting several planks half through. Had the shot been an inch higher, it would have sunk the brig.

By the 24th of August, Preble's patience was exhausted; and, without waiting longer for the expected squadron, he began an attack upon the town. On the night of the 24th, a few shells were thrown into Tripoli, but did little damage. Four days later, a more determined attack was made, in which every vessel in the squadron took part. Two of the enemy's gunboats were sunk; but with this exception little material damage was done, though the Americans chose the most advantageous positions, and fired fast and well. It was becoming evident that men-of-war were no match for stone walls.

During this engagement, the American fleet came within range of the Bashaw's palace, and the flying shot and shell drove that dignitary and his suite to a bomb-proof dungeon. One heavy shot flew in at the window of the cell in which Capt. Bainbridge was confined, and striking the wall, brought down stones and mortar upon him as he lay in bed, so that he was seriously bruised. But the American captain was in no way daunted, and the next day wrote in sympathetic ink to Preble, telling him to keep up his fire, for the Tripolitans were greatly harassed by it.

On Sept. 3, yet another attack upon the town and fortress was made. As in the foregoing instances, nothing was accomplished except the throwing of a vast quantity of shot and shell. Capt. Bainbridge, in a secret letter to Preble, reported, that of the shells he had seen falling in the city very few exploded, and the damage done by them was therefore very light. Preble investigated the matter, and found that the fuse-holes of many of the shells had been stopped with lead, so that no fire could enter. The shells had been bought in Sicily, where they had been made to resist a threatened invasion by the French. It is supposed that they had been thus ruined by French secret agents.

But, before this time, Commodore Preble, and the officers under his command, had about reached the conclusion that Tripoli could not be reduced by bombardment. Accordingly they cast about for some new method of attack. The plan that was finally adopted proved unfortunate in this instance, just as similar schemes for the reduction of fortresses have prove futile throughout all history. Briefly stated, the plan was to send a fire-ship, or rather a floating mine, into the harbor, to explode before the walls of the fortress, and in the midst of the enemy's cruisers.

The ketch "Intrepid," which had carried Decatur and his daring followers out of the harbor of Tripoli, leaving the "Philadelphia" burning behind them, was still with the fleet. This vessel was chosen, and with all possible speed was converted into an "infernal," or floating mine. "A small room, or magazine, had been planked up in the hold of the ketch, just forward of her principal mast," writes Fenimore Cooper. "Communicating with this magazine was a trunk, or tube, that led aft to another room filled with combustibles. In the planked room, or magazine, were placed one hundred barrels of gunpowder in bulk; and on the deck, immediately above the powder, were laid fifty thirteen-and-a-half-inch shells, and one hundred nine-inch shells, with a large quantity of shot, pieces of kentledge, and fragments of iron of different sorts. A train was laid in the trunk, or tube, and fuses were attached in the proper manner. In addition to this arrangement, the other small room mentioned was filled with splinters and light wood, which, besides firing the train, were to keep the enemy from boarding, as the flames would be apt to induce them to apprehend an immediate explosion."

Such was the engine of death prepared. The plan of operations was simply to put a picked crew on this floating volcano, choose a dark night, take the "infernal" into the heart of the enemy's squadron, fire it, and let the crew escape in boats as best they might.

The leadership of this desperate enterprise was intrusted to Lieut. Richard Somers. Indeed, it is probable that the idea itself originated with him, for a commanding officer would be little likely to assign a subordinate a duty so hazardous. Moreover, there existed between Decatur and Somers a generous rivalry. Each strove to surpass the other; and since Decatur's exploit with the "Philadelphia," Somers had been seeking an opportunity to win equal distinction. It is generally believed, that, having conceived the idea of the "infernal," he suggested it to Preble, and claimed for himself the right of leadership.

But ten men and one officer were to accompany Mr. Somers on his perilous trip. Yet volunteers were numerous, and only by the most inflexible decision could the importunate ones be kept back. The officer chosen was Lieut. Wadsworth of the "Constitution," and the men were chosen from that ship and from the "Nautilus."

As the time for carrying out the desperate enterprise drew near, Preble pointed out to the young commander the great danger of the affair, and the responsibility that rested upon him. Particularly was he enjoined not to permit the powder in the ketch to fall into the hands of the Tripolitans, who at that time were short of ammunition. One day, while talking with Somers, Preble burned a port-fire, or slow-match, and, noting its time, asked Somers if he thought the boats could get out of reach of the shells in the few minutes it was burning.

"I think we can, sir," was the quiet response.

Something in the speaker's tone aroused Preble's interest, and he said,—

"Would you like the port-fire shorter still?"

"I ask no port-fire at all," was the quiet reply.

At last the day of the adventure was at hand. It was Sept. 4, the day following the last attack upon Tripoli. The sky was overcast and lowering, and gave promise of a dark night. Fully convinced that the time for action was at hand, Somers called together the handful of brave fellows who were to follow him, and briefly addressed them. He told them he wished no man to go with him who did not prefer being blown up to being captured. For his part, he would much prefer such a fate, and he wished his followers to agree with him. For answer the brave fellows gave three cheers, and crowded round him, each asking to be selected to apply the match. Somers then passed among the officers and crew of the "Nautilus," shaking hands, and bidding each farewell. There were few dry eyes in the ship that afternoon; for all loved their young commander, and all knew how desperate was the enterprise in which he had embarked.

It was after dusk when the devoted adventurers boarded the powder-laden ketch, as she lay tossing at her anchorage. Shortly after they had taken possession, a boat came alongside with Decatur and Lieut. Stewart in the stern-sheets. The officers greeted their comrades with some emotion. They were all about of an age, followed one loved profession, and each had given proofs of his daring. When the time came for them to part, the leave-taking was serious, but tranquil. Somers took from his finger a ring, and breaking it into four pieces, gave one to each of his friends. Then with hearty handshakings, and good wishes for success, Decatur and Stewart left their friends.

On the ketch was one man who had not been accepted as a volunteer. This was Lieut. Israel of the "Constitution," who had smuggled himself aboard. With this addition to his original force, Somers ordered sail made, and the "Intrepid" turned her prow in the direction of the Tripolitan batteries.

As far as the harbor's mouth, she was accompanied by the "Argus," the "Vixen," and the "Nautilus." There they left her, and she pursued her way alone. It was a calm, foggy night. A few stars could be seen glimmering through the haze, and a light breeze ruffled the water, and wafted the sloop gently along her course. From the three vessels that waited outside the harbor's mouth, eager watchers with night-glasses kept their gaze riveted upon the spectral form of the ketch, as she slowly receded from their sight. Fainter and fainter grew the outline of her sails, until at last they were lost to sight altogether. Then fitful flashes from the enemy's batteries, and the harsh thunder of the cannon, told that she had been sighted by the foe. The anxious watchers paced their decks with bated breath. Though no enemy was near to hear them, they spoke in whispers. The shadow of a great awe, the weight of some great calamity, seemed crushing them.

"What was that?"

All started at the abrupt exclamation. Through the haze a glimmering light had been seen to move rapidly along the surface of the water, as though a lantern were being carried along a deck. Suddenly it disappeared, as though dropped down a hatchway. A few seconds passed,—seconds that seemed like hours. Then there shot up into the sky a dazzling jet of fire. A roar like that of a huge volcano shook earth and sea. The vessels trembled at their moorings. The concussion of the air threw men upon the decks. Then the mast of the ketch, with its sail blazing, was seen to rise straight into the air, and fall back. Bombs with burning fuses flew in every direction. The distant sound of heavy bodies falling into the water and on the rocks was heard. Then all was still. Even the Tripolitan batteries were silent.

For a moment a great sorrow fell upon the Americans. Then came the thought that Somers and his brave men might have left the ketch before the explosion. All listened for approaching oars. Minutes lengthened into hours, and still no sound was heard. Men hung from the sides of the vessels, with their ears to the water, in the hopes of catching the sound of the coming boats. But all was in vain. Day broke; the shattered wreck of the "Intrepid" could be seen within the harbor, and near it two injured Tripolitan gunboats. But of Somers and his brave followers no trace could be seen, nor were they ever again beheld by their companions.

To Capt. Bainbridge in his prison-cell came a Tripolitan officer, several days later, asking him to go to a point of rocks, and view some bodies thrown there by the waves. Thither Bainbridge went, and was shown several bodies shockingly mutilated and burned. Though they were doubtless the remains of some of the gallant adventurers, they could not be identified.

The exact reason for this disaster can never be known. Many have thought that Somers saw capture inevitable, and with his own hand fired the fatal charge; others believed the explosion to be purely accidental; while the last and most plausible theory is, that a shot from the enemy's batteries penetrated the magazine, and ended the career of the "Intrepid" and her gallant crew. But however vexed the controversy over the cause of the explosion, there has been no denial of the gallantry of its victims. The names of all are honored in naval annals, while that of Somers became a battle-cry, and has been borne by some of the most dashing vessels of the United States navy.

It may be said that this episode terminated the war with Tripoli. Thereafter it was but a series of blockades and diplomatic negotiations. Commodore Barron relieved Preble, and maintained the blockade, without any offensive operations, until peace was signed in June, 1805. The conditions of that peace cannot be too harshly criticised. By it the United States paid sixty thousand dollars for American prisoners in the hands of the Bashaw, thus yielding to demands for ransom which no civilized nation should for a moment have considered. The concession was all the more unnecessary, because a native force of insurrectionists, re-enforced by a few Americans, was marching upon Tripoli from the rear, and would have soon brought the Bashaw to terms. But it was not the part of the navy to negotiate the treaty. That rested with the civilians. The duty of the blue-jackets had been to fight for their country's honor; and that they had discharged this duty well, no reader of these pages can deny.


While the "President" was thus roaming the seas, almost within sight of the shores of the British Isles, events were occurring along the American coast which were little likely to raise the spirits of the people of the United States. From the "President," the "Congress," the "Essex," and the smaller vessels that were upholding the honor of the flag upon the ocean, they could hear nothing. But worse than this was it for the good people of New York or Boston to go down to the water-side and see stanch United States frigates kept in port by the overwhelming forces of the enemy, that lay watchfully outside the harbor's mouth.

For there was no doubt about it: the blockade was daily becoming closer; and in the months of April and May a ship would have found it a hard task to run out of New York Harbor without falling into the hands of the British fleet stationed there. But, at that very time, three stout men-of-war floated on the waves of that noble bay, under the command of an officer little used to staying quietly in port in time of war. The officer was Stephen Decatur: and the ships were the flag-ship "United States;" the captured "Macedonian," repaired, and flying the stars and stripes, under the command of the gallant Capt. Jacob Jones; and the sloop-of-war "Hornet," Capt. Biddle.

With this force under his command, Decatur burned with the desire to get to sea. The watchfulness of the British at the Narrows made it useless to think of escaping that way: therefore, he determined to pass up the sound, and reach the ocean by way of the opening between Montauk Point and Block Island. At the very outset of this voyage, however, was a serious obstacle. Through the narrow channel of the East River, between Ward's Island and the Long Island shore, the tides rushed with a mad speed and turbulence, that had won for the strait the significant name of Hell Gate. The United States Government had not then bent its energies to undermining and blowing into bits the jagged rocks that at low tide reared their crests above the swirling eddies. With its tides like mill races, and rocks hidden beneath the treacherous water, Hell Gate was a fearful place for any ship to make its way through with the uncertain aid of sails alone. Still greater were its dangers for the ponderous and deep-laden men-of-war, that required deep water and plenty of sea-room for their movements. Such considerations, however, had no weight with Decatur, who had seen his ships lying idly at their anchorage off Staten Island long enough. In the night of May 24, he accordingly got up anchors and started for the sound.

Hell Gate was passed safely, thanks to a skilful pilot, whom neither the darkness of the night, nor the perils of the narrow channel, could daunt. Once past this danger, the three vessels made their way up the sound, with the flag-ship leading. They had gone but a little way when black clouds to the westward told of a coming storm. The cloud-bank came rolling up rapidly; and soon, with a burst of rain, the three vessels were enveloped in the thunder-shower. The lightning flashed through the black clouds, the thunder crashed and roared, and the wind shrieked fiercely through the cordage. The "United States" held her place at the head of the squadron; while behind, at the distance of half a cable's-length, came the "Macedonian." Suddenly the men on the deck of the latter vessel were horrified to see a jagged flash of lightning cut its zigzag course through the clouds, then dart, straight as an arrow, at the main-mast of the "United States." Hoarse cries were heard from the deck of the stricken frigate; and the captain of the "Macedonian," fearing lest the "States" should blow up, threw all aback on his ship, to escape the explosion. But happily the thunderbolt had done little serious injury. In its course it had cut away the pendant; shot into the doctor's cabin, extinguishing that worthy's candle, to his vast astonishment; then, gliding away, broke through the ship's hull near the water-line, and plunged into the sea, after ripping off a few sheets of copper from the ship's bottom. No delay was caused by the accident; though the superstitious sailors pronounced it an evil omen, and dismally predicted all sorts of disasters.

On the 29th of May the squadron reached the strait through which Decatur hoped to gain the ocean; but, to the intense disappointment of all on board, a formidable British fleet barred all egress. Three days later the Americans made an attempt to slip out unseen; but, failing in this, they returned to New London harbor, where the two frigates were kept rotting in the mud until the war was ended. The "Hornet" luckily managed to run the blockade, and of her exploits we shall hear later.

Upon the arrival of the three American ships at New London, the enemy guarded the coast with renewed vigilance. The inhabitants made every attempt to drive away the blockaders; and in the course of this prolonged struggle there appeared, for almost the first time in the history of warfare, that most terrible of offensive weapons, the submarine torpedo.

During the Revolution, two attempts had been made to blow up British men-of-war by means of torpedoes, invented by a Saybrook mechanic named Bushnell. Though the attempts failed, yet the torpedoes demonstrated their tremendous power. Before the declaration of the second war with England, Robert Fulton, the inventor of the steamboat, had made many improvements upon Bushnell's designs, and had so thoroughly spread the knowledge of torpedo warfare that it suggested itself to many New Englanders as a means of driving the enemy from their coast.

The first attempt was well planned, but failed through an entirely accidental combination of circumstances. Certain private citizens (for in that day it was thought ignoble for a government to embark in torpedo warfare) fitted out in New York a schooner, the "Eagle," in the hold of which ten kegs of powder, together with sulphur and piles of heavy stones, were placed. In the head of one of the casks were two gun-locks, primed, and held in place by two barrels of flour. Should either of the barrels be moved, the lock would spring, and the terrible mine would explode with tremendous force. With this dreadful engine of destruction, carefully covered by a cargo of flour and naval stores, the "Eagle" left New York, and made her way up the bay, until, near New London, she was overhauled and captured by the British frigate "Ramillies." Boats were sent out by the English to take possession of the prize; but the crew of the "Eagle," seeing the enemy coming, took to their small boats, and succeeded in safely reaching the shore. The captors, on boarding the vessel, were vastly pleased to find that its cargo consisted largely of flour, of which the "Ramillies" stood in great need. They at once attempted to get the frigate alongside the prize, that the captured cargo might be readily transferred. But a calm had fallen, and two hours' constant work with sweeps and towing was unavailing. Accordingly, this plan of action was abandoned, and the boats were ordered to lighter the cargo from the "Eagle" to the frigate. Hardly had the first barrel been moved, when, with a roar, and rush of flame and smoke as from a volcano, the schooner blew up. Huge timbers, stones, and barrels were sent flying high into the air. The lieutenant and ten men from the frigate, who were on the "Eagle" at the time, were blown to atoms; and the timbers and missiles, falling on all sides, seriously injured many men in the boats near by. Had the frigate been alongside, where her commander had endeavored to place her, she would have gone to the bottom, with all her crew.

An attempt so nearly successful as this could not be long in leading others to make similar ventures. Sir Thomas Hardy, the commander of the "Ramillies," was kept in a constant fever of apprehension, lest some night his ship should be suddenly sent to the bottom by one of the insidious torpedoes. Several times the ship was attacked; and her escapes were so purely matters of accident, that she seemed almost to be under the protection of some sailors' deity. A Norwich mechanic, who had invented a submarine boat with a speed of three miles an hour, succeeded in getting under the bottom of the blockader three times, but was each time foiled in his attempt to attach a torpedo to the ship's hull. Another American, a fisherman, succeeded in getting alongside in a whale-boat, unobserved, but was driven away before he could get his torpedo in position. Such constant attacks so alarmed Hardy, that at last he gave up bringing his ship to anchor, keeping her continually under way, and, as a further precaution, causing her bottom to be swept every two hours throughout the day and night.

The use of torpedoes was not confined to the people of New England. New York Harbor was closed with a row of them. The British seventy-four "Plantagenet," lying off Cape Henry, Virginia, was nearly sunk by one in the charge of Mr. Mix, an American naval officer. The attack was made near ten o'clock, on an unusually dark night. Mix and his associates pulled in a heavy boat to a point near the bow of the menaced vessel. The torpedo was then slipped into the water, with the clockwork which was to discharge it set in motion. The rushing tide carried the destructive engine down toward the frigate; and the Americans pulled away into the darkness, to await the explosion. But the clockwork had been badly adjusted, and the torpedo exploded just before it reached the ship. A huge column of water, gleaming with a ghostly sulphurous light, was thrown high in the air, falling with terrific force on the deck of the frigate, which was almost capsized by the shock.

A veritable storm of abuse and condemnation followed the introduction of torpedo warfare. All countries and all peoples pronounced it treacherous and cowardly, and the English press was particularly loud in its denunciations. Yet the torpedo had won its place in the armaments of nations; and to-day we see all the nations of Europe vieing with each other in the invention and construction of powerful and accurate torpedoes and swift torpedo-boats.

The germ of another feature of modern naval organization is to be found in the annals of the War of 1812. The first war-vessel propelled by steam was launched by the Americans for service in this war. She was designed by Robert Fulton, and bore the name of "Fulton the First." In model she was a queer craft, with two hulls like a catamaran, with the single propelling-wheel mounted between them amidships. Her armament was to consist of thirty thirty-two-pounder guns, and two one-hundred-pounder columbiads. A secondary engine was designed to throw floods of water upon the decks and through the port-holes of an enemy. While the vessel was building, reports concerning her reached England; and soon the most ludicrously exaggerated accounts of her power were current in that country. "She mounts forty-four guns," said an English paper, "four of which are one-hundred-pounders, mounted in bomb proofs, and defended by thousands of boarding-pikes and cutlasses wielded by steam; while showers of boiling water are poured over those boarders who might escape death from the rapidly whirling steel." Unfortunately for the American cause, this much dreaded vessel did not get into the water in time to take any active part in the war.

In June, 1813, while the British blockaders in the Sound were exercising all their ingenuity to keep off the torpedoes, there was fought off the Massachusetts coast, near Boston, an engagement which must go down to history as one of the most brilliant naval duels of the age of sails. The United States frigate "Chesapeake" was refitting at Boston, after a cruise of four months, during which she had more than justified her reputation as an unlucky ship. Though she sailed the waters most frequented by British merchantmen, she returned to port having captured only four vessels. Three men-of-war were sighted, but could not be spoken. Strangely enough, the frigate sailed over the spot where lay the sunken "Peacock" the very day after the "Hornet" had fought her famous fight. Ill-luck pursued the hapless ship even to her home port; for, as she was entering the port of Boston, a sudden squall carried away the topmast, with several men who were aloft at the time.

When the "Hornet" reached port, after her victory over the "Peacock," her gallant captain, James Lawrence, was appointed to the command of the "Chesapeake." On reaching his ship, he found affairs in a desperate condition. The sailors who had sailed on the long and unproductive cruise were firmly convinced that the frigate's bad luck was beyond remedy. The term of enlistment of many had expired, and they were daily leaving the ship. Those who remained were sullen, and smarting under fancied ill-treatment in the matter of the prize-money. To get fresh seamen was no easy task. Great fleets of privateers were being fitted out; and sailors generally preferred to sail in these vessels, in which the discipline was light, and the gains usually great. Some sailors from the "Constitution" were induced to join the "Chesapeake;" and these, with the remnant of the frigate's old crew, formed the nucleus of a crew which was filled up with merchant-sailors and foreigners of all nations. Before the lists were fairly filled, the ship put to sea, to give battle to an adversary that proved to be her superior.

The events leading to the action were simple, and succeeded each other hurriedly. The port of Boston was blockaded by two British frigates, the "Tenedos" thirty-eight, and the "Shannon" thirty-eight. The latter vessel was under the command of Capt. Philip Bowes Vere Broke, a naval officer of courage, skill, and judgment. His crew was thoroughly disciplined, and his ship a model of efficiency. No officer in the service understood better than he the difference between the discipline of a martinet and the discipline of a prudent and sagacious commander. His ship might not, like the "Peacock," merit the title of "the yacht;" but for active service she was always prepared. James, an English naval historian, turns from his usual occupation of explaining the American naval victories by belittling the British ships, and enormously magnifying the power of the victors, to speak as follows of the "Shannon:"—

"From the day on which he [Capt. Broke] joined her, the 14th of September, 1806, the 'Shannon' began to feel the effect of her captain's proficiency as a gunner, and zeal for the service. The laying of the ship's ordnance so that it may be correctly fired in a horizontal direction is justly deemed a most important operation, as upon it depends, in a great measure, the true aim and destructive effect of the shot; this was attended to by Capt. Broke in person. By drafts from other ships, and the usual means to which a British man-of-war is obliged to resort, the 'Shannon' got together a crew; and in the course of a year or two, by the paternal care and excellent regulations of Capt. Broke, the ship's company became as pleasant to command as it was dangerous to meet." Moreover, the historian goes on to relate that the ship's guns were carefully sighted, and her ammunition frequently overhauled. Often a cask would be thrown overboard, and a gun's crew suddenly called to sink it as it bobbed about on the waves astern. Practice with the great guns was of daily occurrence. "Every day for about an hour and a half in the forenoon, when not prevented by chase or the state of the weather, the men were exercised at training the guns; and for the same time in the afternoon in the use of the broad-sword, musket, pike, etc. Twice a week the crew fired at targets, both with great guns and musketry; and Capt. Broke, as an additional stimulus beyond the emulation excited, gave a pound of tobacco to every man that put a shot through the bull's-eye."

Such was the vessel that in June appeared alone off the entrance to Boston Harbor, and by her actions seemed to challenge the "Chesapeake" to give her battle. Indeed, Broke's wish to test the strength of the two vessels was so great, that he sent in, by the hands of an American prisoner, a written challenge, the terms and spirit of which showed the writer to be a courageous and chivalric officer and gentleman. "As the 'Chesapeake' now appears ready for sea," he wrote, "I request you will do me the honor to meet the 'Shannon' with her, ship to ship, to try the fortunes of our respective flags. To an officer of your character, it requires some apology for proceeding to further particulars. Be assured, sir, it is not from any doubt I can entertain of your wishing to close with my proposal, but merely to provide an answer to any objection which might be made, and very reasonably, upon the chance of our receiving any unfair support." Capt. Broke then proceeds to assure Lawrence that the other British ships in the neighborhood would be sent away before the day of combat. To the challenge was appended a careful statement of the strength of the "Shannon," that Lawrence might understand that the ships were fairly matched.

But before this challenge reached Boston, Lawrence had set out to seek the enemy. He had seen the "Shannon" lying off the entrance to the port; and, finding out that she was alone, he knew that her presence was in itself a challenge that he could not honorably ignore. Nor did he desire to avoid the battle thus offered. He had confidence in his crew, his frigate, and himself, and looked for nothing but victory. To the Secretary of the Navy, he wrote, "An English frigate is now in sight from my deck. I have sent a pilot-boat out to reconnoitre; and, should she be alone, I am in hopes to give a good account of her before night. My crew appear to be in fine spirits, and I hope will do their duty."

In truth, however, the condition of this same crew was such that the captain would have been justified in refusing the challenge. An unusual number of foreign sailors were enrolled, among whom was a Portuguese, who, in the ensuing battle, did incalculable injury to the cause of the "Chesapeake." The crew had never drilled together; many of the sailors came on board only a few hours before the ship sailed out to battle. All the old sailors were sullen over the delay in the payment of the prize-money of their last cruise. Lawrence attempted to allay their discontent by giving them checks for the prize-money; but the sense of injury still lingered in the minds of the men, and they were ill-fitted to do battle for the honor of the flag. Added to this evil was the fact that the first and second lieutenants and two acting lieutenants were away on sick-leave, and the ship was thus left short of officers on the eve of battle.

Regardless of the disadvantages under which he labored, Lawrence weighed anchor on the 1st of June, and started down the harbor. As he approached the ocean, Lawrence mustered his crew aft, and eloquently urged them to fight bravely, and do their duty to the country, which had entered upon this war in defence of seamen and their rights. Three ensigns were run up; and at the fore was unfurled a broad white flag, bearing the motto, "Free Trade and Sailors' Rights." When Lawrence closed his speech, and pointed out the flag floating at the fore, the men cheered and went forward, leaving the captain convinced that he could depend upon their loyalty.

The morning was bright and cool, with a fresh breeze blowing, before which the "Chesapeake" rapidly bore down upon the foe that awaited her. Following cautiously in her track came a number of small craft,—pilot-boats, sloops, fishing-smacks, and pleasure-boats,—that had come down the bay to see the outcome of the battle. Hundreds of people of Boston rode along the coast, in hopes of gaining an outlook from which the progress of the fight might be viewed.

At noon the ship rounded Boston Light, and made out into the open sea. The "Shannon" went ahead, under easy sail, making up the coast toward Salem. Towards five o'clock the "Chesapeake" luffed up for a moment; while the pilot clambered down the side, and put off in a small boat. A gun was then fired, as a signal that the Americans were ready for action.

The "Shannon" evidently understood the purport of the signal; for she quickly hove to, and troops of agile jackies clambered up her rigging, and began to take in sail. The "Chesapeake" followed suit, and was soon under only topsails and jib. She then laid her course straight for the enemy.

Beating To Quarters.

Beating To Quarters.

A ship preparing for action in that day was a scene of hurry and confusion that cannot be equalled in this era of machinery and few guns. At the short, broken, rolling beat of the drums, calling the men to quarters, the hurried rush of hundreds of feet began, as the men came pouring from all parts of the ship to their posts. Some clambered aloft to their stations in the tops; others invaded the sanctity of the quarter-deck and captain's cabin, where several guns are always mounted. But the most stirring scene is on the long gun-deck where the men gradually fall into their places at the two long rows of great guns that peer through the open ports on either side. All are stripped to the waist; and at many a gun the fair skin of the American sailor gleams white by the side of some swarthy Spaniard, or still darker negro.

The Only Shot Of The "Chesapeake".

The Only Shot Of The "Chesapeake".

All quiet down on reaching their stations; and, five minutes after the drum-beats, no sound is heard, save perhaps the steps of the black boys, taking rations of grog around, that the men may "splice the main brace" before going into the fight.

Thus silently did the "Chesapeake" bear down upon her adversary. There was no long-range firing; for the two commanders were veterans, whose chief desire was to settle the dispute yard-arm to yard-arm. Gradually the American ship ranged alongside the "Shannon," at a distance of half pistol-shot; and, as her foremast came in a line with the "Shannon's" mizzen-mast, the latter opened fire with her cabin-guns. For a moment the "Chesapeake" was silent, waiting for her guns to bear; then, with sulphuric flashes and a thunderous roar, she let fly her whole broadside. Then followed a duel with great guns. The two ships, lying side by side, dealt and received staggering blows. The spectators in small boats, who kept a safe distance, and the crowds of eager watchers on the far-off heights of Salem, saw through their spy-glasses the flash of the first broadsides, and the flying splinters that followed the course of the deadly shot. Then a heavy cloud of yellow smoke settled over the warring leviathans, and all further incidents of the battle were shut out from view. Only the top-masts of the ships, with the half-furled sails and the opposing ensigns flying, could be seen above the smoke.

Under this vaporous pall, the fighting was sharp and desperate. The first broadside of the "Shannon" so swept the decks of the American frigate, that, of one hundred and fifty men quartered on the upper deck, not fifty were upon their legs when the terrible rush of the shot was over. The sailors in the tops of the British frigate, looking down upon the decks of their enemy, could see nothing but a cloud of hammocks, splinters, and wreckage of all kinds, driven fiercely across the deck. Both men at the wheel fell dead, but their places were soon filled; while fresh gunners rushed down to work the guns that had been silenced by the enemy's fearful broadside. In a moment the "Chesapeake" responded with spirit, and for some time broadsides were exchanged with inconceivable rapidity. The men encouraged each other with cheers and friendly cries. They had named the guns of the frigate, and with each telling shot they cheered the iron-throated monster which had hurled the bolt. "Wilful Murder," "Spitfire," "Revenge," "Bull Dog," "Mad Anthony," "Defiance," "Raging Eagle," and "Viper" were some of the titles born by the great guns; and well the weapons bore out the names thus bestowed upon them. The gunnery of the Americans was good, their shot doing much damage to the enemy's rigging. But the effect of the "Shannon's" broadsides was such that no men, however brave, could stand before them. They swept the decks, mowing down brave fellows by the score. Officers fell on every side. At a critical moment the two ships fouled, exposing the "Chesapeake" to a raking broadside, which beat in her stern-ports, and drove the gunners from the after-port. At this moment, Lawrence was wounded in the leg, but remained at his post and ordered that the boarders be called up. Unhappily a negro bugler had been detailed for the duty usually performed by drummers; and, at this important moment, he could not be found. Midshipmen and lieutenants ran about the ship, striving to call up the boarders by word of mouth. In the confusion, the bugler was found skulking under the stem of the launch, and so paralyzed by fear that he could only give a feeble blast upon his instrument. In the din and confusion of battle, the oral orders of the officers only perplexed the men; and the moment for boarding was lost. At that very moment, the turning-point of the conflict, Capt. Lawrence was struck by a musket-ball, and fell mortally wounded to the deck. His officers rushed to his side, and, raising him gently, were carrying him below, when in a firm voice he cried,—

"Tell the men to fire faster, and not give up the ship. Fight her till she sinks."

With these words on his lips, he was carried to the wardroom.

At this moment, the upper deck was left without an officer above the rank of midshipman. The men, seeing their captain carried below, fell into a panic, which was increased by the explosion of an arm-chest, into which a hand-grenade, hurled by a sailor lying out on the yard-arm of the "Shannon," had fallen. Seeing that the fire of the Americans had slackened, Capt. Broke left his quarter-deck, and, running hastily forward, gained a position on the bow of his ship from which he could look down upon the decks of the "Chesapeake." His practised eye quickly perceived the confusion on the deck of the American frigate; and he instantly ordered that the ships be lashed together, and the boarders called up. An old quartermaster, a veteran in the British navy, set about lashing the ships together, and accomplished his task, although his right arm was actually hacked off by the cutlass of an American sailor. The boarders were slow in coming up, and but twenty men followed Broke as he climbed to the deck of the "Chesapeake." Broke led his men straight for the quarter-deck of the frigate. The Americans offered but little resistance. Not an officer was in sight to guide the men, and the newly enlisted sailors and foreigners fled like sheep before the advance of the boarders.

On Board The "Chesapeake."

On Board The "Chesapeake."

The British reached the quarter-deck with hardly the loss of a man. Here stood Mr. Livermore, the chaplain of the "Chesapeake," who had cruised long with Lawrence, and bitterly mourned the captain's fate. Determined to avenge the fallen captain, he fired a pistol at Broke's head, but missed him. Broke sprang forward, and dealt a mighty stroke of his keen cutlass at the chaplain's head, who saved himself by taking the blow on his arm. While the boarders were thus traversing the upper deck, the sailors in the tops of the "Chesapeake" were keeping up a well-directed fire, before which many of the Englishmen fell. But this resistance was not of long duration; for one of the "Shannon's" long nines, loaded with grape, swept clean the "Chesapeake's" tops. With this, the British were in full control of the upper deck.

Up to this time, the Americans on the gun-deck had known nothing of the events occurring on the deck above them. When the news of the British assault spread, Lieut. Budd called upon the men to follow him, and drive the boarders back to their own ship. A number of the marines (who behaved splendidly throughout the fight) and some twenty veteran sailors were all that responded to the call. Broke had in the mean time summoned the marines of the "Shannon" to his aid; and the British, led by their dashing commander, were pouring in a dense column down the companion-ways to the gun-deck. Budd and his handful of followers attacked them fiercely; and, by the very desperation of the onset, the British were forced back a few paces. Broke threw himself upon the Americans. With his cutlass he cut down the first man who attacked him, and bore down upon the others, dealing deadly blows right and left. His followers came close behind him. The Americans fell on every side, and began to retreat before the overwhelming force of their foes. Up from the wardroom came Lieut. Ludlow, already suffering from two dangerous wounds. He placed himself beside the younger officer, and the two strove in every way to encourage their men. But Ludlow soon fell, with a gaping wound across his forehead. Budd was cut down, and fell through the hatchway to the deck beneath. The sailors, seeing both officers fall, gave way in confusion; and the ship was in the hands of the British. A few marines kept up a fire through the hatchway, but soon were silenced.

An English officer, Lieut. Watts, ran to the halliards to haul down the American flag. But it would seem that the good genius which had watched over that starry banner throughout the war was loath to see it disgraced; for the officer had hardly finished his work, when a grape-shot from his own ship struck him, and he fell dead.

The noise of the battle had by this time died away, and the fresh breezes soon carried off the smoke that enveloped the combatants. It was an awful scene thus exposed to view. On the "Chesapeake" were sixty-one killed, and eighty-five wounded men. On the "Shannon" were thirty-three dead, and fifty wounded. On a cot in the wardroom lay Capt. Lawrence, his mortal wound having mercifully rendered him unconscious, so that he knew nothing of the loss of his ship. Broke had been made delirious by the fevered throbbing of the wound he had so long neglected. Everywhere were evidences of carnage and desolation.

Little time was lost in getting the ships in order after the surrender. The noise of the hammer and saw was heard in every quarter. The wounded were taken to the sick-bay, and the bodies of the dead were committed to the ocean. Floods of water and the heavy holystones took from the decks the stains of blood. The galley cooks marched up and down the decks, sprinkling hot vinegar with a lavish hand. The British prize-crew took possession of the captured ship, and in a few hours the captor and captive were well on their way toward Halifax.

They reached port on the 7th of June; and the sight of the "Shannon," followed by the "Chesapeake" with the British ensign flying proudly over the stars and stripes, stirred the little city to the utmost enthusiasm. As the two ships pursued their stately course up the harbor, the British men-of-war on all sides manned their yards, and fired salutes in honor of the victory. The thunders of the cannon brought the town's-people to the water-side, and their cheers rang out lustily to welcome their conquering countrymen to port.

Capt. Lawrence had died the day before; and his body, wrapped in an American flag, lay on the quarter-deck of his frigate. Three days later, his body, with that of his gallant lieutenant Ludlow, was laid to rest with imposing naval honors, in the churchyard of Halifax. But his country, honoring him even in the day of his defeat, was not content that his body should lie in the soil of an enemy's country. Two months after the battle, an American vessel, the "Henry" of Salem, entered the harbor of Halifax, under cover of a flag of truce, and took on board the bodies of Lawrence and Ludlow. They were conveyed first to Salem and later to New York, where they now lie under a massive monument of sandstone, in a corner of Trinity churchyard. A few feet away, the ceaseless tide of human life rolls on its course up and down Broadway; few of the busy men and women pausing to remember that in the ancient churchyard lies the body of the man whose dying words, "Don't give up the ship," were for years the watchword and motto of the United States navy.


The opening of the year 1814 found the American coast still rigidly blockaded by the British men-of-war. Two or three of the enemy lay off the mouth of every considerable harbor, and were not to be driven from their post by the icy winds and storms of midwinter on the American coast. It was almost impossible for any American vessel to escape to sea, and a matter of almost equal difficulty for such vessels as were out to get into a home port. The frigate "President" had put to sea early in December, 1813, and after a cruise of eight weeks, during which the traditional ill-luck of the ship pursued her remorselessly, managed to dash into New York Harbor past the blockading squadron. At Boston the blockade was broken by the "Constitution." She left port on the 1st of January, ran off to the southward, and cruised for some weeks in the West Indies. Here she captured the British man-of-war schooner "Pictou," fourteen guns, and several merchant-vessels. She also fell in with the British thirty-six-gun frigate "Pique," which fled, and escaped pursuit by cutting through a narrow channel during a dark and squally night. The "Constitution" then returned to the coast of the United States, and narrowly escaped falling into the clutches of two British frigates. She managed to gain the shelter of Marblehead Harbor, and there remained until the latter part of the year.

But, while the larger vessels were thus accomplishing little or nothing, two or three small sloops-of-war, of a class newly built, slipped through the enemy's lines, and, gaining the open sea, fought one or two notable actions. Of these, the first vessel to get to sea was the new sloop-of-war "Frolic;" but her career was short and inglorious, for she had been at sea but a few weeks when she fell in with the enemy's frigate "Orpheus" and the schooner "Shelburne." A chase ensued, in which the American vessel threw overboard her guns and anchors, and started the water; but to no avail, for she was overhauled, and forced to surrender. Her service afloat was limited to the destruction of a Carthagenian privateer, which sunk before her guns, carrying down nearly a hundred men.

The "Adams," a vessel that had suffered many vicissitudes,—having been built for a frigate, then cut down to a sloop-of-war, and finally been sawed asunder and converted into a corvette,—put to sea on the 18th of January, under the command of Capt. Charles Morris, formerly of the "Constitution." She laid her course straight to the eastward, and for some time cruised off the western coast of Africa and the Canary Isles. She met with but little success in this region, capturing only three brigs,—the cargo of one of which consisted of wine and fruit; and the second, of palm-oil and ivory. Abandoning the African coast, the corvette turned westward along the equator, and made for the West Indies. A large Indiaman fell in her way, and was brought to; but, before the Americans could take possession of their prize, a British fleet of twenty-five sail, with two men-of-war, hove in sight, and the "Adams" was forced to seek safety in flight. She put into Savannah for provisions and water, but, hearing that the enemy was in force near by, worked out to sea, and made sail for another cruise. Capt. Morris took up a position on the limits of the Gulf Stream, near the Florida coast, in the expectation of cutting out an Indiaman from some passing convoy. The expected fleet soon came, but was under the protection of a seventy-four, two frigates, and three brigs,—a force sufficient to keep at bay the most audacious of corvettes. Morris hung about the convoy for two days, but saw no chance of eluding the watchful guards. He then crossed the Atlantic to the coast of Ireland. Here the "Adams" narrowly escaped capture; for she was sighted by a frigate, which gave chase, and would have overhauled her, had not the Americans thrown overboard some small cannon, and cut away their anchors. Thus lightened, the corvette sped away, and soon left her pursuers behind.

Continued ill-fortune now reduced the spirits of the sailors of the "Adams" to very low ebb. They were forced to struggle unceasingly against the fierce gales which in winter sweep the Atlantic. Their stock of food and water was giving out; and, to add to their distress, scurvy, the sailors' worst enemy, began to show itself in the ship. They had boldly run into the very waters in which the "Argus" had won so rich a reward, yet not a sail gladdened the eyes of the lookout on the "Adams." It was then with great disappointment that the jackies saw the prow of the corvette turned homeward, after a cruise that would bring them neither honor nor prize-money. The passage homeward was quickly made, and on the 16th of August the vessel was in soundings off the coast of Maine. Night fell, with a dense fog concealing all landmarks from view. Through the darkness the corvette sped on at a pace of eleven miles an hour, until, just as day was breaking, the cry of "Breakers ahead!" was followed by a heavy blow, indicating that the ship had struck. The force of the blow had not been sufficient to stave in the bottom,—a fortunate fact, for the hold was full of prisoners. Nevertheless, she was hard and fast aground, on a ledge of rock that lifted her bow six feet above her stern. Morris, who had rushed upon deck at the first alarm, was unable to make out the ship's position, and feared that they were on Cashes Ledge, a reef so far from the land that it would have been impossible to save in the boats more than half the crew. He had determined, however, to instantly lower the boats and send them off in search of land, when a gust of wind, blowing away the fog, showed a beetling cliff not a hundred yards away. Rugged and inhospitable as was the coast thus exposed, it was better than an expanse of ocean; and at once Morris set to work landing his prisoners, and the sick, of whom the "Adams" had nearly sixty. With spare sails, tents were put up on the beach; and, stores having been landed, the comfort of all was assured, in case the ship should go to pieces. What the desolate shore was to which they were thus forced to turn for shelter, no one knew.

All hands now turned to at the capstan, in the hopes of getting the vessel off; and about noon, the tide having reached its flood, she gradually slid off the ledge into deep water. After trying the pumps, to see if any serious leak had been started, the difficult task of taking the ship out of the labyrinth of reefs in which she lay was begun. For more than two miles their course lay through a narrow and tortuous channel, bordered on either side with jagged reefs; but the corvette safely threaded her way between the rocks, and soon lay floating in deep water. The next morning the fog blew away; and the voyagers discovered to their astonishment that they were off Mount Desert, instead of near Portsmouth as they had expected.

To return into the cluster of reefs after the little colony of invalids and prisoners that had been left behind, would have been mere folly: so sending two fishing-boats to search out the shore party, and carry them to the nearest village, the "Adams" continued her course, intending to put into the Penobscot River. While making for this point, a sail was sighted, which proved to be the British brig-sloop "Rifleman." The corvette gave chase, but the Englishman kept well in the offing; and, as the condition of the American crew was such that to lead them into action would have been imprudent, Morris abandoned the pursuit, and, putting into the Penobscot, dropped anchor off Hampden. Here, for the present, we will leave the "Adams."

The "Peacock"—a second of the new sloops-of-war, bearing the name of a captured British vessel—put out from New York in March, and made her way to the southward, selecting as her cruising station the waters off the coast of Florida. For some time it seemed that the exertions of the sailors were to be of no avail. Not a sail was to be seen, and the chances for prize-money seemed to be small indeed. But on the 29th of March three merchant-vessels were made out in the offing; while a heavy-built, square-rigged, trim-looking craft that hovered about them was evidently a man-of-war. The strangers seemed to have sighted the American vessel; for the merchantmen were seen to hastily haul up and run off to the north-east, while the man-of-war edged away for the American ship.

The stranger was His British Majesty's brig sloop-of-war "Epervier," of eighteen guns, and carrying a crew of one hundred and twenty-eight men. The "Peacock" was a ship-sloop of twenty-two guns, with a crew of one hundred and sixty-six men. The advantage, therefore, lay with the Americans; but, in the battle that ensued, the damage they inflicted upon the enemy was out of any proportion to their excess of strength.

The two ships bore down gallantly upon each other, and at a little after ten in the morning passed, exchanging heavy broadsides. The shot of each took effect in the rigging; but the "Peacock" suffered the more, having her foreyard totally disabled,—an injury that compelled her to run large during the rest of the action, and forego all attempts at manœuvring. The two vessels having passed each other, the "Epervier" eased off, and returned to the fight, running on a parallel course with the American ship. The interchange of broadsides then became very rapid; but the British marksmanship was poor, and few of their shot took effect. The "Epervier," on the contrary, suffered severely from the American fire, which took effect in her hull, dismounting several guns, and so injuring the brig that a British naval officer, writing of the action some years later, said, "The most disgraceful part of the affair was that our ship was cut to pieces, and the enemy hardly scratched."

The injury aloft which both vessels sustained caused the battle to take on the character of an action at long range. Under such conditions, the victory was assured to the side showing the best gunnery. For a moment only did it seem that the vessels were likely to come to close quarters, and the English captain seized that occasion to call up his boarders. But they refused, saying, "She's too heavy for us." And a few minutes later the Englishman hauled down his flag, having lost nine killed or mortally wounded, and fourteen wounded. The Americans had suffered but little; only two men being injured, and these but slightly. The shot of the enemy had passed through the rigging of the "Peacock," while the "Epervier" had been hulled forty-five times.

The "Epervier" proved to be a valuable prize. In her hold specie to the amount of one hundred and eighteen thousand dollars was found; and, when the brig was sold to the United States Government, she brought fifty-five thousand dollars: so that the prize-money won by that action kept the sailors in good-humor for many months to come. But, before the prize could be safely carried into an American port, she had a gantlet to run, in which she narrowly escaped capture. After the wreck of battle had been cleared away, the brig and her captor made for Savannah, but were sighted and chased by two British frigates. The "Peacock," in the hope of drawing away the pursuers, left her prize, and headed out to sea. One frigate only followed her, and the other pressed on hotly after the "Epervier," which, to avoid capture, was forced to run into shallow water, whither the heavy frigate could not follow her. But she was not to escape so easily; for the boats of the frigate were lowered, filled with armed men, and set out in pursuit of the brig, which moved but slowly before the light breeze then blowing. The boats soon overhauled the fugitive, and escape seemed hopeless; for the "Epervier" was manned by a prize-crew of only sixteen men. But Lieut. Nicholson, who was in command, determined to try the effect of bluster. Accordingly he leaped upon the taffrail, with a speaking-trumpet in his hand, and shouted out orders as if calling a huge crew to quarters. The British, who were within easy range, stopped their advance, and, fearing a destructive broadside from the brig's guns, turned and fled precipitately. The "Epervier" continued her course, and reached Savannah in safety on the 1st of May. The "Peacock" reached the same port four days later.

At the moment when the captured "Epervier," flying the stars and stripes, was proudly making her way up the harbor of Savannah amid the plaudits of the people of the little city, there sailed from Portsmouth, N.H., a vessel that was destined to fight a good fight for the honor of that starry banner; and, after winning a glorious victory, to disappear forever from the face of the ocean, carrying to some unknown grave a crew of as brave hearts as ever beat under uniforms of navy blue.

This was the new sloop of war "Wasp," named after the gallant little craft that had been taken by the British after her capture of the "Frolic." She was a stanch three-master, carrying eleven guns to a broadside. Her crew was purely American, not a foreigner among them; but all trained seamen from the seaboard villages and towns of New England,—the homes at that time of probably the hardiest seafaring population in the world. Capt. Blakely, who commanded the vessel, had been attached to the "Enterprise" for some time, but had been ordered to the command of the "Wasp" a few days before the former vessel fought her successful battle with the "Boxer." Blakely, while in command of the "Enterprise," had greatly desired to meet an enemy worthy of his metal. Great, then, was his chagrin, when the "Enterprise," two weeks after he quitted her, fought her gallant battle. In a letter written in January, 1814, he says, "I shall ever view as one of the most unfortunate events of my life having quitted the 'Enterprise' at the moment I did. Had I remained in her a fortnight longer, my name might have been classed with those who stand so high. I cannot but consider it a mortifying circumstance that I left her but a few days before she fell in with the only enemy upon this station with which she could have creditably contended. I confess I felt heartily glad when I received my order to take command of the 'Wasp,' conceiving that there was no hope of doing any thing in the 'Enterprise.' But when I heard of the contest of the latter ship, and witnessed the great delay in the equipment of the former, I had no cause to congratulate myself. The 'Peacock' has ere this spread her plumage to the winds, and the 'Frolic' will soon take her revels on the ocean; but the 'Wasp' will, I fear, remain for some time a dull, harmless drone in the waters of her country."

Notwithstanding his impatience, Blakely was forced to endure the restraints of Portsmouth navy-yard for nearly three months, while the "Wasp" was fitting out; but when she did finally get to sea, on May 1, 1814, she proved herself to be far from a "dull, harmless drone." Slipping unobserved through the British blockading line, the "Wasp" made straight for the European coast before a fresh wind, and was soon cruising in the chops of the English channel, where the "Argus" had won her laurels and met with her defeat. Many English merchantmen were captured and burned, and the terror that spread in English shipping circles recalled the days of the "Argus."

At daylight on the 28th of June, the "Wasp" sighted two merchantmen, and straightway gave chase. Soon a third vessel was discovered on the weather-beam; and, abandoning the vessels first sighted, the American bore down upon the stranger. She proved to be the "Reindeer," a British brig-sloop of eighteen guns, carrying a crew of one hundred and eighteen men. Although the British vessel was by no means a match in weight of metal for the "Wasp," her captain, William Manners, brought her into action with a cool gallantry which well justified his reputation as one of the bravest men in the British navy.

Boarding the "Reindeer."

At ten o'clock in the morning the ships were near enough to each other to exchange signals, but several hours were spent in manœuvring for the weather-gage; so that it was not until after three in the afternoon that the action fairly opened. The day was admirably suitable for a naval battle. Light clouds floated across the sky, and the gentle breeze that was blowing had sufficient strength to propel the ships without careening them. The surface of the ocean was unusually calm for that quarter, in which a rather choppy sea is usually running. Before the light breeze the "Wasp" came down upon her foe, bows on, with her decks cleared for action, and the men at their quarters. On the top-gallant forecastle of the "Reindeer" was mounted a twelve-pound carronade, and the action was opened by the discharge of this piece. In the position she then held, the "Wasp" was unable to reply; and her crew had to bear five effective shots from this gun without being able to fire a shot in return,—an ordeal that less well-disciplined crews might not have endured. For nine minutes the Americans returned not a shot; but then the "Wasp" luffed up, firing the guns from aft forward as they bore. The two ships were now lying broadside to broadside, not twenty yards apart, and every shot told. For ten minutes this position was held, and the two crews worked like Furies in loading and firing the great guns. The roar of the cannon was incessant, and the recoil of the heavy explosions deadened what little way the ships had on when fire was opened. Capt. Manners was too old an officer not to know, that, in an artillery duel of that kind, the victory would surely rest with the side that carried the heaviest guns: so he ran his vessel aboard the "Wasp" on the starboard quarter, intending to board and carry the day with the stubborn, dashing gallantry shown by British seamen when once led to an enemy's deck. At the ringing notes of the bugle, calling up the boarders, the British gathered aft, their faces begrimed with gunpowder, their arms bare, and their keen cutlasses firmly clutched in their strong right hands. The Americans took the alarm at once, and crowded forward to repel the enemy. The marines, whose hard duty it is in long-range fighting to stand with military impassiveness, drawn up in line on deck, while the shot whistle by them, and now and then cut great gaps in their straight lines,—the marines came aft, with their muskets loaded and bayonets fixed. Before them were sailors with sharp-pointed boarding-pikes, ready to receive the enemy should he come aboard; while close under the bulwarks were grouped the boarders, ready with cutlass and pistol to beat back the flood of men that should come pouring over the side. The grating of the ships' sides told that the vessels were touching; and the next instant the burly British seamen, looming up like giants, as they dashed through the dense murkiness of the powder-smoke, were among the Americans, cutting and firing right and left. From the deck of the "Reindeer" the marines kept up a constant fire of musketry, to which the sea-soldiers of the "Wasp" responded vigorously. Marksmen posted in the tops of each vessel picked off men from their enemy's decks, choosing generally the officers.

The Captain of the "Reindeer."

Sharp and bloody though the British attack was, the boarders could make no way against the stubborn stand of the Americans. Capt. Manners, seeing his men beaten back, sprang forward to rally them. He was desperately wounded. A gun-shot had passed through his thighs, and a grape-shot had cut across the calves of his legs; but, maimed and bleeding to death as he was, he leaped into the rigging, and, cheering and waving his sword, called to his men to follow him to the decks of the Yankee. The Britons rallied nobly under the encouragement of their brave captain, and again advanced to the assault. But the figure of the daring officer, as he stood thus before his men, waving his sword and calling on them to come on, caught the eye of one of the men in the "Wasp's" maintop; and the next instant a ball crashed into the captain's brain, and he fell heavily to the deck, with his dying eyes turned upwards toward the flag in whose service he had given his life.

Seeing the British captain fall and the men waver, Capt. Blakely with a cheer called up the boarders of the "Wasp;" and in an instant a stream of shouting sailors, cutlass in hand, was pouring over the hammock-nettings, and driving the foe backward on his own decks. The British still fought stubbornly; but their numbers were terribly thinned, and their officers had fallen one by one, until now the captain's clerk was the highest officer left. Seeing his men falling back before the resistless torrent of boarders, this gentleman finally struck the flag; and the battle ended, twenty-seven minutes after the "Reindeer" had fired the opening gun, and eighteen after the "Wasp" had responded.

The End of the "Reindeer."

The execution and damage done on the "Reindeer" by the "Wasp's" shot were appalling. Of her crew of one hundred and eighteen men, thirty-three were killed or fatally wounded, and thirty-four were wounded. The havoc wrought among her officers has already been mentioned. Evidence of the accuracy and skill of the American gunners was to be seen in the fact that the brig was completely cut to pieces in the line of her ports. Her decks were swept clean of boats, spars, and rigging. Her masts were badly shattered, and her foremast soon went by the board. The "Wasp" had suffered severely, but was in much better condition than her captured adversary. Eleven of her crew were killed or mortally wounded, and fifteen were wounded severely or slightly. She had been hulled by six round and many grape shot, and her foremast had been cut by a twenty-four-pound shot. A few hours' work cleared from her decks all trace of the bloody fight, and she was in condition for another action. But it would have been folly to try to get the crippled "Reindeer" to port from that region, swarming with British cruisers: so Capt. Blakely took the prisoners on the "Wasp," put a few of the wounded on a neutral vessel that happened to pass, and, burning the prize, made his way to the harbor of L'Orient. He had fought a brave fight, and come out victor after a desperate contest. But, though defeated, the plucky British might well boast of the gallant manner in which they engaged an enemy so much their superior in strength. History nowhere records a more gallant death than that of the British captain, who fell leading his men in a dashing but vain attempt to retrieve the day by boarding. In its manœuvring, in the courage and discipline of the crews, and in the gallantry of the two captains, the action of the "Wasp" and the "Reindeer" may well go down to history as a model naval duel of the age of sails.

The "Wasp" remained in port for several weeks, occupying the time in refitting, and filling the gaps in her crew by enlistment from the American privateers which then were to be seen occasionally in every port of the world. She then put out to sea, and soon fell in with a convoy of ten British merchantmen, under the protection of the seventy-four "Armada." Though he had no intention of giving battle to the line-of-battle ship, Blakely determined to capture one of the merchantmen; and to this end the "Wasp" hung upon the skirts of the convoy, making rapid dashes now at one vessel, then at another, and keeping the seventy-four in constant anxiety. Finally the swift little cruiser actually succeeded in capturing one of the vessels, and escaping before the heavy seventy-four could get to the scene of the conflict. The prize proved to be a valuable one, for she was laden with iron and brass cannon and military stores.

Towards nightfall of the same day, Sept. 1, 1814, four more sail were sighted; and the "Wasp" at once made off in chase of the most weatherly. At eight o'clock the "Wasp" had gained so rapidly upon the chase, that the latter began firing with her stern chaser, and soon after opened with one of her lee guns. All the time the enemy kept up a vigorous signalling with rockets, lanterns, and guns. By half-past nine the "Wasp" was within hailing-distance, and an officer posted on the bow hailed the stranger several times; but as she returned no satisfactory answer, and refused to heave to, the "Wasp" opened upon her with a twelve-pound carronade, and soon after poured a broadside into her quarter. The two ships ploughed through the black water, under full sail, side by side. The Americans had no idea of the identity of their assailant, but, by the flashes of the guns, could see that she was a heavy brig. Her ports gleamed brightly with battle-lanterns; and the crowds of sailors in the tops, and the regularity of her fire, showed that she was a man-of-war with a well-disciplined crew, and no mere marauding privateer. For a time this running fight continued at such short range that the only American injured was struck by a wad from the enemy's cannon. The British gunners were poor marksmen, and the "Wasp" suffered but little; but it was evident that the American fire was taking effect, for gun after gun on the enemy was silenced. At ten o'clock the Americans, receiving no response to their carronade, stopped firing; and Capt. Blakely, seizing a speaking-trumpet, shouted across the water, "Have you struck?" No answer came, and the enemy began a feeble fire. The "Wasp" let fly another broadside, and Blakely repeated the question. This time an affirmative response came through the darkness; and the "Wasp" stopped firing, and made preparations to take possession of her prize. Just as the boat was being lowered from the davits, the lookout's cry of "Sail, ho!" checked the proceedings. Through the black night a cloud of canvas could be seen far astern, denoting the presence of another ship, probably an enemy. The drums of the "Wasp" beat fiercely; and the men trooped back to their quarters, ready for a second battle. But in the mean time two more sail hove in sight, and there remained to the "Wasp" nothing but flight. She accordingly made off into the darkness, receiving one broadside from one of the newly arrived men-of-war as she departed. So suddenly was she forced to fly, that she was unable to learn the name and condition of the vessel she had forced to surrender.

It became known in the United States later that the "Wasp's" adversary in the battle in the darkness was the British sloop-of-war "Avon," of eighteen guns. She was badly cut up by the fire of the American gunners, losing her mainmast early in the action. At the time she surrendered, she was in a sinking condition; and, had it not been for the timely arrival of the brig-sloop "Castilian" and the "Tartarus," both British, the crew of the "Avon" would have been prisoners on the "Wasp," or carried to the bottom in the shattered hulk of their own ship. The loss on the "Avon" was ten killed and thirty-two wounded, while on the "Wasp" but three men were injured.

Of all this the gallant Capt. Blakely was ignorant; and, indeed, it is probable that he never knew with whom he had fought his last battle. For the subsequent history of the "Wasp" is more tragic in its unfathomable mystery than is the fate of the bravest ship ever sent to the bottom by the broadsides of an enemy. What was the end of the "Wasp," and where her bones now lie, no one knows. For some little time after her battle with the "Avon," her movements can be traced. Sept. 12, she captured the British brig "Three Brothers," and scuttled her; two days later, the brig "Bacchus" met the same fate at her hands. Sept. 21, she took the brig "Atlanta," eight guns; and, this being a valuable prize, Midshipman Geisinger of the "Wasp" was put on board, and took her safely to Savannah. He brought the last news that was heard of the ill-fated cruiser for many years. Months passed, and lengthened into years; and still the "Wasp" came not into port, nor could any trace of her whereabouts be found. As time passed on, the attempts to account for her delay changed into theories as to the cause of her total disappearance. All sorts of rumors were afloat. According to one account, the ship was wrecked on the African coast, and her gallant lads were ending their weary lives as slaves to the turbaned Moors of Barbary. Another theory was based on the rumor that an English frigate went into Cadiz much crippled, and with her crew severely injured, and reported that she had been engaged with a heavy American corvette, which had so suddenly disappeared that she was thought to have sunk with all on board. But, as time passed on, the end of the "Wasp" was forgotten by all save a few whose hearts ached for some of the gallant lads thus blotted from the face of the earth.

Years after, the fate of the daring cruiser was again brought into remembrance by fresh news curiously found. When the officers and crew of the "Essex," after that vessel's gallant battle with the "Phœbe" and "Cherub," were sent to the United States under parole, two officers remained at Valparaiso, to give testimony before the prize-court. These gentlemen were Lieut. McKnight, and Mr. Lyman a master's mate. After going to Brazil in the "Phœbe," the two officers took passage in a Swedish brig bound for England. Months passed; and, nothing being heard from them, their friends became alarmed for their safety. In that time, before the day of the telegraph and steam transportation, many things might have easily detained the two officers for a year or more, and nothing be heard of them. But, when two years had passed, inquiries began to be made as to their fate, both by their friends and the naval authorities. The first step was to find the vessel upon which they had left Brazil. This was a work of time; so that it was many years after the disappearance of the officers when the brig was found lying at a London dock. She was the brig "Adonis," and the master proved to be the same who had commanded her when the two officers had taken passage. He readily recalled the circumstance, but claimed that the two passengers had left him in mid-ocean to go aboard an American man-of-war; and in proof of this he brought out the log-book, and, turning back to the year 1814, pointed out the following entries:—

The End of the "Wasp."

"Aug. 23.—Left Rio de Janeiro; Stephen Decatur McKnight and James Lyman, passengers for England.

"Oct. 9.—At eight o'clock in the morning discovered a strange sail giving chase to us, and fired several guns; she gaining very fast. At half-past ten o'clock hove to, and was boarded by an officer dressed in an English doctor's uniform; the vessel also hoisted an English ensign. The officer proceeded to examine my ship's papers, etc., likewise the letter-bags, and took from one of them a letter to the victualling office, London. Finding I had two American officers as passengers, he immediately left the ship, and went on board the sloop-of-war. He shortly after returned, took the American gentlemen with him, and went a second time on board the ship. In about half an hour he returned, with Messrs. McKnight and Lyman; and they informed me that the vessel was the United States sloop-of-war 'Wasp,' commanded by Capt. Blakely, or Blake, last from France, where she had refitted; had lately sunk the 'Reindeer,' English sloop-of-war, and another vessel, which sunk without their being able to save a single person, or learn the vessel's name; that Messrs. McKnight and Lyman had now determined to leave me and go on board the 'Wasp;' paid me their passage in dollars, at 5 s. 9 d.; and, having taken their luggage on board, the 'Wasp' made sail to the southward. Shortly after they had left, I discovered that Lieut. McKnight had left his writing-desk behind; and I immediately made signal for the 'Wasp' to return, and stood towards her. They, observing my signal, stood back, came alongside, and sent their boat on board for the writing-desk; after which they sent me a log-line and some other presents, and made all sail in a direction for the line, and, I have reason to suppose, for the convoy that passed on Thursday previous."

And so the "Wasp," with her ill-fated crew thus re-enforced, passed forever from the sight of man. What was her course after leaving the "Adonis," none may ever know. Whether some chance spark, touching the deadly stores of her magazine, sent vessel and crew to a sudden but merciful death; or whether, after gallantly battling with some fierce tropical hurricane, she drifted about the trackless ocean a helpless hulk, with a slowly dying crew, carried hither and yon before the winds and the currents, until her timbers, rotting asunder, gave a watery sepulchre to her crew of lifeless bodies, must remain a mystery until the day when the sea shall give up its dead. But, until that day comes, the gallant deeds done by vessel and crew for the flag under which they served should keep the names of the "Wasp" and her men ever memorable in the annals of the great nation whose infancy they so gallantly protected.


The year 1776 witnessed some good service done for the cause of liberty by the little colonial navy. The squadron, under the command of Ezekiel Hopkins, left the Delaware in February, as soon as the ice had left the river, and made a descent upon the island of New Providence, where the British had established a naval station. The force under Hopkins consisted of seven vessels-of-war, and one despatch-boat. The attack was successful in every way, a landing party of three hundred marines and sailors which was sent ashore meeting with but little resistance from the British garrison. By this exploit, the Americans captured over a hundred cannon, and a great quantity of naval stores.

After this exploit, Hopkins left New Providence, carrying away with him the governor and one or two notable citizens, and continued his cruise. His course was shaped to the northward, and early in April he found himself off the shore of Long Island. He had picked up a couple of insignificant British vessels,—one a tender of six guns, and the other an eight-gun bomb-brig. But his cruise had been mainly barren of results; and his crew, who had looked forward to sharp service and plenty of prize-money, were beginning to grumble. But their inactivity was not of long duration; for before daylight on the morning of April 6, the lookout at the masthead of the "Alfred" sighted a large ship, bearing down upon the American squadron. The night was clear and beautiful, the wind light, and the sea smooth; and so, although it lacked several hours to daylight, the commanders determined to give battle to the stranger. Soon, therefore, the roll of the drums beating to quarters was heard over the water, and the angry glare of the battle lanterns on the gun-decks made the open ports of the war-ships stand out like fiery eyes against the black hulls. The Englishman, who proved later to be the "Glasgow," twenty guns, carrying one hundred and fifty men, might easily have escaped; but, apparently undaunted by the odds against him, he awaited the attack. The little "Cabot" was the first American ship to open fire on the enemy. Her attack, though sharp and plucky, was injudicious; for two of the Englishman's heavy broadsides were enough to send her out of the battle for repairs. The "Glasgow" and the "Alfred" then took up the fight, and exchanged repeated broadsides; the American vessel suffering the more serious injuries of the two. After some hours of this fighting, the "Glasgow" hauled away, and made good her escape, although she was almost surrounded by the vessels of the American squadron. It would seem that only the most careless seamanship on the part of the Americans could have enabled a twenty-gun vessel to escape from four vessels, each one of which was singly almost a match for her. It is evident that the Continental Congress took the same view of the matter, for Hopkins was soon after dismissed from the service.

This action was little to the credit of the sailors of the colonial navy. Fortunately, a second action during the same month set them in a better light before the people of the country. This was the encounter of the "Lexington,"Capt. Barry, with the British vessel "Edward," off the capes of Virginia. The two vessels were laid yard-arm to yard-arm; and a hot battle ensued, in which the Americans came off the victors. The career of this little American brig was a rather remarkable one. The year following her capture of the "Edward," she was again off the capes of the Delaware, and again fell in with a British ship. This time, however, the Englishman was a frigate, and the luckless "Lexington" was forced to surrender. Her captor left the Americans aboard their own craft, and, putting a prize crew aboard, ordered them to follow in the wake of the frigate. That night the Americans plotted the recapture of their vessel. By a concerted movement, they overpowered their captors; and the "Lexington" was taken into Baltimore, where she was soon recommissioned, and ordered to cruise in European waters.

Shortly after the battle between the "Lexington" and the "Edward," there was fought in Massachusetts Bay an action in which the Americans showed the most determined bravery, and which for the courage shown, and losses suffered on either side, may well be regarded as the most important of the naval battles of that year. Early in May, a merchant seaman named Mugford had succeeded, after great importunity, in securing the command of the armed vessel "Franklin," a small cruiser mounting only four guns. The naval authorities had been unwilling to give him the command, though he showed great zeal in pressing his suit. Indeed, after the appointment had been made, certain damaging rumors concerning the newly appointed captain reached the ears of the marine committee, and caused them to send an express messenger to Boston to cancel Mugford's commission. But the order arrived too late. Mugford had already fitted out his ship, and sailed. He had been but a few days at sea, when the British ship "Hope," of four hundred tons and mounting six guns, hove in sight. More than this, the lookout reported that the fleet of the British commodore Banks lay but a few miles away, and in plain sight. Many a man would have been daunted by such odds. Not so Capt. Mugford. Mustering his men, he showed them the British ship, told them that she carried heavier metal than the "Franklin," told them that the British fleet lay near at hand, and would doubtless try to take a hand in the engagement; then, having pointed out all the odds against them, he said, "Now, my lads, it's a desperate case; but we can take her, and win lots of glory and prize-money. Will you stand by me?"

The jackies wasted no time in debate, but, cheering lustily for the captain, went to their posts, and made ready for a hot fight. The naval discipline of the present day was little known, and less observed, at that time in the American navy. The perfect order which makes the gun-deck of a ship going into action as quiet and solemn as during Sunday prayers then gave place to excited talk and bustle. The men stood in crews at the four guns; but most of the jackies were mustered on the forecastle, ready to board. All expected a desperate resistance. Great was their surprise, then, when they were permitted to take a raking position under the stern of the "Hope," and to board her without a shot being fired. But as Mugford, at the head of the boarders, clambered over the taffrail, he heard the captain of the "Hope" order the men to cut the topsail halliards and ties, with the intention of so crippling the ship that the British squadron might overhaul and recapture her.

"Avast there!" bawled Mugford, seeing through the plot in an instant, and clapping a pistol to the head of the captain; "if a knife is touched to those ropes, not a man of this crew shall live."

This threat so terrified the captured sailors, that they relinquished their design; and Mugford, crowding all sail on his prize, soon was bowling along before a stiff breeze, with the British squadron in hot pursuit. An examination of the ship's papers showed her to be the most valuable prize yet taken by the Americans. In her hold were fifteen hundred barrels of powder, a thousand carbines, a great number of travelling carriages for cannon, and a most complete assortment of artillery instruments and pioneer tools. While running for Boston Harbor, through the channel known as Point Shirley gut, the vessel grounded, but was soon floated, and taken safely to her anchorage. Her arrival was most timely, as the American army was in the most dire straits for gunpowder. It may well be imagined that there was no longer any talk about revoking Capt. Mugford's commission.

Mugford remained in port only long enough to take a supply of powder from his prize; then put to sea again. He well knew that the British fleet that had chased him into Boston Harbor was still blockading the harbor's mouth, but he hoped to evade it by going out through a circuitous channel. Unluckily, in thus attempting to avoid the enemy, the "Franklin" ran aground, and there remained hard and fast in full view of the enemy. He had as consort the privateer schooner "Lady Washington," whose captain, seeing Mugford's dangerous predicament, volunteered to remain near at hand and assist in the defence.

Mugford knew that his case was desperate, and made preparations for a most determined resistance. Swinging his craft around, he mounted all four of his guns on that side which commanded the channel in the direction from which the enemy was expected. Boarding-nettings were triced up, and strengthened with cables and cordage, to make an effective barrier against the assaults of boarders. The men were served with double rations of grog, and set to work sharpening the cutlasses and spears, with which they were well provided. The work of preparation was completed none too soon; for about nine o'clock Mugford heard the rattle of oars in rowlocks, and saw boats gliding towards the "Franklin" through the darkness.

"Boat ahoy!" he challenged. "Keep off, or I shall fire into you."

"Don't fire," was the response; "we are friends from Boston coming to your aid."

"We want none of your aid," cried Mugford with an oath. Then, turning to his crew, he shouted, "Let them have it, boys."

The roar of the cannon then mingled with the rattle of the musketry, the cries of the wounded, and the shouts and curses of the combatants, as the British strove to clamber up the sides of the "Franklin." Not less than two hundred men were engaged on the side of the British, who advanced to the fray in thirteen large barges, many of them carrying swivel guns. Several boats dashed in close under the side of the "Franklin," and their crews strove manfully to board, but were beaten back by the Yankees, who rained cutlass blows upon them. The long pikes with which the Americans were armed proved particularly effective. "One man with that weapon is positive of having killed nine of the enemy," says a newspaper of that day.

Unhappily, however, the heroic Mugford, while urging on his men to a more vigorous resistance, was struck by a musket-ball, which inflicted a mortal wound. At the moment the wound was received, he was reaching out over the quarter to catch hold of the mast of one of the barges, in the hope of upsetting her. As he fell to the deck, he called his first lieutenant, and said, "I am a dead man. Do not give up the vessel; you will be able to beat them off." Nearly forty years after, the heroic Lawrence, dying on the deck of the "Chesapeake," repeated Mugford's words, "Don't give up the ship."

For about half an hour the battle raged fiercely. The British, beaten back with great loss, returned again and again to the attack. The boats would come under the lee of the "Franklin;" but, not being provided with grappling-irons, the British were forced to lay hold of the gunwales of the enemy with their hands, which the Americans promptly lopped off with their cutlasses. Shots from the swivel guns of the Yankee soon stove in two of the boats of the enemy, which sunk, carrying down many of their crew. After nearly an hour of this desperate fighting, the British withdrew, having lost about seventy men. The only loss sustained by the Americans was that of their brave commander Mugford.

About a month after this battle, there occurred off the coast of Massachusetts a battle in which the Americans, though they fought with the most undaunted bravery, were forced to strike their colors to their adversary. The American was the privateer "Yankee Hero" of Newburyport. She sailed from that place for Boston on the 7th of June with only forty men aboard, intending to ship her full complement of one hundred and twenty at Boston. As the "Hero" rounded Cape Ann, she sighted a sail on the horizon, but in her short-handed condition did not think it worth while to give chase. The stranger, however, had caught sight of the "Hero;" and, a fresh southerly breeze springing up, she began to close with the American. As she came closer, Capt. Tracy of the "Yankee Hero" saw that she was a ship-of-war. Despite the desperate efforts of the Americans to escape, their pursuer rapidly overhauled them, and soon coming up within half a mile, opened fire with her bow chasers. The brig returned the fire with a swivel gun, which had little effect. Seeing this, Capt. Tracy ordered the firing to cease until the ships should came to close quarters. The stranger rapidly overhauled the privateer, keeping up all the time a vigorous fire. Tracy with difficulty restrained the ardor of his men, who were anxious to try to cripple their pursuer. When the enemy came within pistol-shot, Tracy saw that the time for action on his part had come, and immediately opened fire with all the guns and small-arms that could be brought to bear. The only possible chance for escape lay in crippling the big craft with a lucky shot; but broadside after broadside was fired, and still the great ship came rushing along in the wake of the flying privateer. Closer and closer drew the bulky man-of-war, until her bow crept past the stern of the "Yankee Hero," and the marines upon her forecastle poured down a destructive volley of musketry upon the brig's crowded deck. The plight of the privateer was now a desperate one. Her heavy antagonist was close alongside, and towered high above her, so that the marines on the quarter-deck and forecastle of the Englishman were on a level with the leading blocks of the Yankee. From the depressed guns of the frigate, a murderous fire poured down upon the smaller craft. For an hour and twenty minutes the two vessels continued the fight, pouring hot broadsides into each other, and separated by less than a hundred feet of water. The brisk breeze blowing carried away the clouds of smoke, and left the men on the deck of the Yankee no protection from sharp-shooters on the enemy's deck. Accordingly, the execution was frightful. Tracy, from his post on the quarter-deck, saw his men falling like sheep, while the continual volleys of the great ship had so cut the cordage of the weaker vessel that escape was impossible. At last a musket-ball struck Capt. Tracy in the thigh, and he fell bleeding to the deck. For a moment his men wavered at their guns; but he called manfully to them, from where he lay, to fight on boldly for the honor of the "Yankee Hero." Two petty officers had rushed to his assistance; and he directed them to lay him upon a chest of arms upon the quarter-deck, whence he might direct the course of the battle. But, strong though was his spirit, his body was too weak to perform the task he had allotted it; and, growing faint from pain and loss of blood, he was carried below.

He lay unconscious for a few minutes, but was recalled to his senses by the piteous cries of wounded men by whom he was surrounded. When he came to himself, he saw the cabin filled with grievously wounded people, bleeding and suffering for lack of surgical aid. The firing of the privateer had ceased, but the enemy was still pouring in pitiless broadsides. Enraged at this spectacle, Capt. Tracy ordered his men to re-open the conflict, and directed that he be taken in a chair to the quarter-deck. But, on getting into the chair, he was suddenly seized with a fainting spell, and gave orders, by signs, that the colors be struck.

When the inequality of the two enemies is considered, this action appears to be a most notable reason for pride in the powers of the Americans. The "Yankee Hero" was a low single-decked vessel of fourteen guns, while her captor was the British frigate of thirty-two guns. Yet the little American vessel had held her own for two hours, and by good gunnery and skilful manœuvring had succeeded in doing almost as much damage as she had suffered.

In reading of the naval engagements of the Revolution, one is impressed with the small sacrifice of life that attended the most protracted conflicts. Thus in the action just recorded only four men were killed upon the defeated ship, although for more than an hour the two vessels had exchanged broadsides a distance of less than a hundred feet apart. The execution done on the British frigate has never been recorded, but was probably even less.

Only the most fragmentary account can be given of any naval actions in the year 1776, except those in which America's great naval hero Paul Jones took part. Of the trivial encounters that go to complete the naval annals of the year, only the briefest recountal is necessary. The work of the little brig "Andrea Doria," Capt. Biddle, deserves a passing mention. This little fourteen-gun craft had the most wonderful luck in making prizes. Besides capturing two transports loaded with British soldiers, she took so many merchantmen, that on one cruise she brought back to port only five of her original crew, the rest having all been put aboard prizes.

On the 17th of June, the crew of the Connecticut cruiser "Defence," a fourteen-gun brig, heard the sound of distant cannonading coming faintly over the water. All sail was crowded upon the brig, and she made all possible speed to the scene of conflict. About nightfall, she fell in with four American schooners that had just been having a tussle with two heavy British transports. Three of the American vessels were privateers, the fourth was the little cruiser "Lee" in which Capt. John Manly had done such brilliant service. The four schooners had found the transports too powerful for them, and had therefore drawn off, but were eager to renew the fray with the help of the "Defence." Accordingly the "Defence" led the way to Nantasket Roads, where the transports lay at anchor.Capt. Harding wasted little time in manœuvring, but, laying his vessel alongside the larger of the two transports, summoned her commander to strike.

"Ay, ay—I'll strike," was the response from the threatened vessel; and instantly a heavy broadside was poured into the "Defence." A sharp action followed, lasting for nearly an hour. The "Defence" bore the brunt of the conflict, for the four schooners did not come to sufficiently close quarters to be of much assistance against the enemy. The gunnery of the Americans proved too much for the enemy, however; and after losing eighteen men, together with a large number wounded, the British surrendered. The American vessel was a good deal cut up aloft, and lost nine of her men. The next morning a third transport was sighted by the "Defence," and speedily overhauled and captured. More than five hundred British soldiers were thus captured; and the British thenceforward dared not treat the Americans as rebels, lest the colonial army authorities should retaliate upon the British prisoners in their hands.

It was in the year 1776 that the first naval vessel giving allegiance to the American Colonies showed herself in European waters. This vessel was the "Reprisal," Capt. Wickes, a small craft, mounting sixteen guns. Early in the summer of '76, the "Reprisal" made a cruise to Martinique, taking several prizes. When near the island, she encountered the British sloop-of-war "Shark," and a sharp battle ensued. In size and weight of metal, the two vessels were about evenly matched; but the "Reprisal" had been sending out so many prize-crews, that she was short eighty men of her full crew. Therefore, when, after a brisk interchange of broadsides, the British sloop sheered off, and left the "Reprisal" to continue her course, Capt. Wickes rejoiced in his escape as being almost equal to a victory.

After completing this cruise, the "Reprisal" was ordered to France for the purpose of conveying thither from Philadelphia Benjamin Franklin, the ambassador sent from the Colonies to interest the French in the cause of American liberty. While on the way over, she took two or three prizes, which were sold in France. After landing her distinguished passenger, she cruised about in the proverbially tempestuous Bay of Biscay, where she forced several British vessels to strike to the American flag, then first seen in those waters. On returning to France to sell his newly captured prizes, Capt. Wickes found trouble in store for him. The British ambassador at Paris had declared that the American cruiser was a detestable pirate; and that for France to permit the pirate to anchor in her harbors, or sell his prizes in her markets, was equal to a declaration of war against England. Wickes was, therefore, admonished to take his ships and prisoners away. But even in that early day Yankee wit was sharp, and able to extricate its possessor from troublesome scrapes. Wickes knew that there were plenty of purchasers to be had for his prizes: so, gathering a few ship-owners together, he took them out to sea beyond the jurisdiction of France, and there sold them to the highest bidder.

The money thus obtained Wickes used in purchasing vessels suitable for armed cruisers. While these were fitting out, the "Lexington" and the "Dolphin" arrived in France, and soon joined the "Reprisal" in a cruise around the British Islands. The little squadron fairly swept the Channel and the Irish Sea of merchantmen. The excitement in England ran high, and the admiralty despatched all the available men-of-war in search of the marauders. But the swift-sailing cruisers escaped all pursuers. Once indeed the "Reprisal" came near falling into the hands of the enemy, but escaped by throwing overboard every thing movable, sawing away her bulwarks, and even cutting away her heavy timbers.

The result of this cruise so aroused England, that France no longer dared to harbor the audacious Yankee cruisers. The "Lexington" and "Reprisal" were, therefore, ordered to leave European waters forthwith. The "Lexington" complied first, and when one day out from the port of Morlaix encountered the British man-of-war cutter "Alert." The "Alert" was the smaller of the two vessels, but her commander had in him all that pluck and those sterling seamanlike qualities that made the name of England great upon the ocean. A stiff breeze was blowing, and a heavy cross sea running, when the two vessels came together. The gunners sighted their pieces at random and fired, knowing little whether the shot would go plunging into the waves, or fly high into the air. As a result, they carried on a spirited cannonade for upwards of two hours, with the sole effect of carrying away the top hamper of the "Alert," and exhausting most of the powder on the American craft.

Finding his ammunition rapidly giving out, the captain of the "Lexington" clapped on all sail, and soon showed his crippled antagonist a clean pair of heels. But so great was the activity of the crew of the "Alert" that they repaired the damage done aloft, and in four hours overtook the "American," and opened fire upon her The battle now became one-sided; for the "Lexington," being short of powder, could make little resistance to the brisk attack of her persevering adversary. In less than an hour she was forced to strike her flag.

The fate of the "Reprisal" was even harder than that of her consort. While crossing the Atlantic on her way back to the coast of America, she was overtaken by a furious gale. With furled sails and battened hatches, the little craft made a desperate fight for life. But the fierce wind carried away her masts and spars, and the tossing waves opened her seams, so that it became apparent to all on board that the fate of the gallant craft, that had so nobly defended the cause of American liberty, was sealed. As the water rose higher and higher in the hold, the officers saw that it was no longer a question of the possibility of saving the ship, but that their lives and those of the crew were in the greatest danger. Boats were lowered; but the angry white-capped waves tossed them madly aloft, and, turning them over and over, sent the poor fellows that manned them to their long account. All hands then set to work at the construction of a huge raft; and just as the ship's stern settled, it was pushed off, and all that could reach it clambered on. A few poor fellows clung to the sinking ship; and their comrades on the raft saw them crowd on the forecastle, and heard their despairing cries as the good ship threw her prow high in the air, and sunk stern foremost to the placid depths of the stormy ocean. But those on the raft were not destined to escape the fate of their comrades. The haggard sufferers were doomed to see the frail structure on which their lives depended go slowly to pieces before the mighty power of the remorseless sea. Bit by bit their foothold vanished from beneath them. One by one they were swept off into the seething cauldron of the storm. At last but one man remained, the cook of the ill-fated vessel, who floated about for three days on a piece of wreckage, until, half-starved and nearly crazed, he was picked up by a passing vessel, and told the tale of the wreck. So ended the career of the patriotic and gallant Capt. Wickes and his crew, and such is the fate that every stout fellow braves when he dons his blue jacket and goes to serve his country on the ocean.

In addition to the exploits of the American cruisers upon the high seas, certain operations of the British navy along the American coast, during the year 1776, demand attention. Of these the most important was the attack by Sir Peter Parker upon Charleston, in September of that year,—an attack made memorable by the determined courage of the Americans, the daring exploit of Sergt. Jasper, and the discovery of the remarkable qualities of palmetto logs as a material for fortifications.

Charleston was then a town of but a few thousand inhabitants; but, small as it was, it had become particularly obnoxious to the British on account of the strong revolutionary sentiment of its people, and their many open acts of defiance of King George's authority. When the offensive Stamp Act first was published, the people of Charleston rose in revolt; and the stamps for the city being stored in an armed fortress in the bay, known as Castle Johnson, a party of a hundred and fifty armed men went down the bay, surprised the garrison, captured the castle, and, loading its guns, defied the authorities. Not until the promise had been made that the stamps should be sent back to England, did the rebellious Carolinians lay down their arms. Nor was their peace of long duration. When the news of the battle of Lexington reached the little Southern seaport, the people straightway cast about for an opportunity to strike a blow against the tyranny of England. The opportunity soon offered itself. An English sloop laden with powder was lying at St. Augustine, Fla. Learning this, the people of Charleston fitted out a vessel, which captured the powder-ship, and, eluding a number of British cruisers, returned safely to Charleston with fifteen thousand pounds of gunpowder for the colonial army. Soon after the colonial troops took possession of the forts in the harbor, and Charleston became a revolutionary stronghold.

Therefore, when the war authorities of Great Britain prepared to take active, offensive measures against the seaport cities of the rebellious colonies, Charleston was one of the first points chosen for attack. It was on the 4th of June, 1776, that the British fleet, under the command of the veteran admiral, Sir Peter Parker, appeared off Charleston bar. The colonists had learned of its approach some time before; and the town was crowded with troops, both regular and volunteer. Two forts, Johnson and Sullivan, were erected at points commanding the entrance to the harbor. Troops were thrown out to oppose the advance of landing parties. The wharves were covered with breastworks, and the streets leading up from the water-side were barricaded. There was a great scarceness of lead for bullets; and to supply that need the leaden sashes, in which window-panes were at that time set, were melted down. When the fleet of the enemy appeared in the offing, Charleston was quite ready to give the invaders a warm reception.

Fort Sullivan was the chief work in the harbor, and against this Parker began a vigorous cannonade early on the morning of the 28th of June. The fort had been built of logs of palmetto wood, and was looked upon with some distrust by its defenders, who did not know how well that material could withstand cannon-shot; but the opening volley of the fleet re-assured them. The balls penetrated deep in the soft, spongy wood without detaching any of the splinters, which, in a battle, are more dangerous than the shot themselves. The fort soon replied to the fire of the fleet; and the thunder of three hundred cannon rang out over the bay, while dense clouds of sulphurous smoke hid the scene from the eager gaze of the crowds of people on the housetops of the city.

When the stately ships of the British squadron swung into line before the little wooden fort, there was hardly a sailor who did not take his station without a feeling of contempt for the insignificant obstacle that they were about to sweep from their path. But as the day wore on, and the ceaseless cannonade seemed to have no effect on the bastions of the fort, the case began to look serious.

"Mind the commodore, and the fifty-gun ships," was the command Moultrie gave to the gunners in the fort when the action commenced, and right well did they heed the injunction. The quarter-decks of the ships-of-the-line were swept clean of officers. The gunners in the fort soon found that the fire of the enemy was doing little or no execution, and they sighted their guns as coolly as though out for a day's target practice. The huge iron balls crashed through the hulls of the ships, or swept their decks, doing terrific execution. The cable of the "Bristol" was shot away, and she swung round with her stern to the fort. In this position she was raked repeatedly; her captain was killed, and at one time not an officer remained on her quarter-deck except the admiral Sir Peter Parker. When the conflict ceased, this ship alone contained forty killed and seventy-one wounded men. The other ships suffered nearly as severely. The twenty-eight-gun ship "Actæon" grounded during the course of the engagement; and when, after ten hours' fruitless cannonading, the British abandoned the task of reducing the fort, and determined to withdraw, she was found to be immovable. Accordingly Admiral Parker signalled to her officer to abandon the ship, and set her on fire. This was accordingly done; and the ship was left with her colors flying, and her guns loaded. This movement was observed by the Americans, who, in spite of the danger of an explosion, boarded the ship, fired her guns at the "Bristol," loaded three boats with stores, and pulled away, leaving the "Actæon" to blow up, which she did half an hour later.

While the battle was at its hottest, and the shot and shell were flying thick over the fort, the flagstaff was shot away; and the flag of South Carolina, a blue ground, bearing a silver crescent, fell on the beach outside the parapet. Sergt. William Jasper, seeing this, leaped on the bastion, walked calmly through the storm of flying missiles, picked up the flag, and fastened it upon a sponge-staff. Then standing upon the highest point of the parapet, in full view of the ships and the men in the fort, he calmly fixed the staff upright, and returned to his place, leaving the flag proudly waving. The next day the governor of the colony visited the fort, and seeking out the brave sergeant, handed him a handsome sword and a lieutenant's commission. But Jasper proved to be as modest as he was brave; for he declined the proffered promotion, with the remark,—

"I am not fit to keep officers' company; I am but a sergeant."

The complete failure of the attack upon Charleston was a bitter pill for the English to swallow. They had brought against the raw, untrained forces of the colony some of the finest ships of the boasted navy of Great Britain. They had fought well and pluckily. The fact that Sir Peter Parker was in command was in itself a guaranty that the attack would be a spirited one; and the tremendous loss of life in the fleet affords convincing proof that no poltroonery lurked among the British sailors. The loss of the British during the engagement, in killed and wounded, amounted to two hundred and twenty-five men. The Americans had ten men killed and twenty-two wounded. Moultrie, the commandant of the fort, says that after the battle was over they picked up more than twelve hundred solid shot of different sizes, and many thirteen-inch shells. Most of the shells that fell within the fort fell into a large pool of water, which extinguished their fuses, thus robbing them of their power for evil.

In his report of this battle, Admiral Parker fell into a queer error. He reports that a large party of men entering the fort met a man going out, whom they straightway hanged to a neighboring tree, in full view of the fleet. From this the admiral concluded that there was an incipient mutiny in the fort, and the ringleader was hanged as an example. Col. Moultrie, however, explained this by stating that the man hanging in the tree was simply the coat of a soldier, which had been carried away by a cannon-shot, and left hanging in the branches.


In considering the naval operations on the Great Lakes, it must be kept in mind, that winter, which checked but little naval activity on the ocean, locked the great fresh-water seas in an impenetrable barrier of ice, and effectually stopped all further hostilities between the hostile forces afloat. The victory gained by Commodore Perry on Lake Erie in September, 1813, gave the Americans complete command of that lake; and the frozen season soon coming on, prevented any attempts on the part of the enemy to contest the American supremacy. But, indeed, the British showed little ability, throughout the subsequent course of the war, to snatch from the Americans the fruits of the victory at Put-in-Bay. They embarked upon no more offensive expeditions; and the only notable naval contest between the two belligerents during the remainder of the war occurred Aug. 12, 1814, when a party of seventy-five British seamen and marines attempted to cut out three American schooners that lay at the foot of the lake near Fort Erie. The British forces were at Queenstown, on the Niagara River; but by dint of carrying their boats twenty miles through the woods, then poling down a narrow and shallow stream, with a second portage of eight miles, the adventurers managed to reach Lake Erie. Embarking here, they pulled down to the schooners. To the hail of the lookout, they responded, "Provision boats." And, as no British were thought to be on Lake Erie, the response satisfied the officer of the watch. He quickly discovered his mistake, however, when he saw his cable cut, and a party of armed men scrambling over his bulwarks. This first prize, the "Somers," was quickly in the hands of the British, and was soon joined in captivity by the "Ohio," whose people fought bravely but unavailingly against the unexpected foe. While the fighting was going on aboard the vessels, they were drifting down the stream; and, by the time the British victory was complete, both vessels were beyond the range of Fort Erie's guns, and safe from recapture. This successful enterprise certainly deserves a place as the boldest and best executed cutting-out expedition of the war.

On the Way to Lake Erie.

Long before this occurrence, Capt. Arthur Singleton, who had succeeded to Perry's command, despairing of any active service on Lake Erie, had taken his squadron of five vessels into Lake Huron, where the British still held the supremacy. His objective point was the Island of Michilimackinac (Mackinaw), which had been captured by the enemy early in the war. On his way, he stopped and burned the British fort and barracks of St. Joseph. At Mackinaw he was repulsed, with the loss of seventy men; after which he returned to Lake Erie, leaving two vessels, the "Scorpion" and "Tigress," to blockade the Nattagawassa River. The presence of these vessels irritated the British, and they at once set about preparations for their capture. On the night of the 3d of September the "Tigress" was captured after a sharp struggle, which, as the British commanding officer said, "did credit to her officers, who were all severely wounded." At the time of the attack, the "Scorpion" was several miles away, and knew nothing of the misfortune of her consort. Knowing this, the British sent their prisoners ashore, and, hoisting the American flag over the captured vessel, waited patiently for their game to come to them. They were not disappointed in their expectations. On the 5th the "Scorpion" came up, and anchored, unsuspectingly, within two miles of her consort. At early dawn the next morning the "Tigress" weighed anchor; and, with the stars and stripes still flying, dropped down alongside the unsuspecting schooner, poured in a sudden volley, and, instantly boarding, carried the vessel without meeting any resistance.

With these two skirmishes, the war upon Lake Erie and Lake Huron was ended. But on Lake Ontario the naval events, though in no case comparable with Perry's famous victory, were numerous and noteworthy.

In our previous discussion of the progress of the war upon Lake Ontario, we left Commodore Chauncey in winter quarter at Sackett's Harbor, building new ships, and making vigorous efforts to secure sailors to man them. His energy met with its reward; for, when the melting ice left the lake open for navigation in the spring of 1813, the American fleet was ready for active service, while the best vessels belonging to the British were still in the hands of the carpenters and riggers. The first service performed by the American fleet was aiding Gen. Pike in his attack upon York, where the Americans burned an almost completed twenty-four-gun ship, and captured the ten-gun brig "Gloucester." The land forces who took part in this action were terribly injured by the explosion of the powder-magazine, to which the British had applied a slow-match when they found they could no longer hold their position. This battle was fought April 27, 1813. One month later, the naval forces co-operated with the soldiery in driving the British from Fort George, on the Canada side of the Niagara River, near Lake Ontario. Perry came from Lake Erie to take part in this action, and led a landing party under the fire of the British artillery with that dashing courage which he showed later at the battle of Put-in-Bay. The work of the sailors in this action was cool and effective. Their fire covered the advance of the troops, and silenced more than one of the enemy's guns. "The American ships," writes a British historian, "with their heavy discharges of round and grape, too well succeeded in thinning the British ranks."

But by this time the British fleet was ready for sea, and left Kingston on the 27th of May; while Chauncey was still at the extreme western end of the lake. The enemy determined to make an immediate assault upon Sackett's Harbor, and there destroy the corvette "Gen. Pike," which, if completed, would give Chauncey supremacy upon the lake. Accordingly the fleet under Sir James Lucas Yeo, with a large body of troops under Sir George Prescott, appeared before the harbor on the 29th. Although the forces which rallied to the defence of the village were chiefly raw militia, the British attack was conducted with so little spirit that the defenders won the day; and the enemy retreated, leaving most of his wounded to fall into the hands of the Americans. Yeo then returned to Kingston; and the American fleet came up the lake, and put into Sackett's Harbor, there to remain until the completion of the "Pike" should give Chauncey control of the lake. While the Americans thus remained in port, the British squadron made brief incursions into the lake, capturing a few schooners and breaking up one or two encampments of the land forces of the United States.

Not until the 21st of July did the Americans leave their anchorage. On that day, with the formidable corvette "Pike" at the head of the line, Chauncey left Sackett's Harbor, and went up to Niagara. Some days later, Yeo took his squadron to sea; and on the 7th of August the two hostile fleets came in sight of one another for the first time. Then followed a season of manœuvring,—of challenging and counter-challenging, of offering battle and of avoiding it,—terminating in so inconclusive an engagement that one is forced to believe that neither commander dared to enter the battle for which both had been so long preparing. The American squadron consisted largely of schooners armed with long guns. In smooth weather these craft were valuable adjuncts to the larger vessels, while in rough weather they were useless. Yeo's squadron was mostly square-rigged, and was therefore equally serviceable in all kinds of weather. It seems likely, therefore, that the Americans strove to bring on the conflict in smooth weather; while the British were determined to wait until a heavy sea should lessen the force of their foes. In this dilemma several days passed away.

On the night of the 7th of August the wind came up to blow, and the rising waves soon demonstrated the uselessness of schooners for purposes of war. At early dawn a fierce gust of wind caused the schooners "Hamilton" and "Scourge" to careen far to leeward. Their heavy guns broke loose; then, crashing down to the submerged beams of the schooners, pulled them still farther over; and, the water rushing in at their hatches, they foundered, carrying with them to the bottom all their officers, and all but sixteen of the men. This loss reduced Chauncey's force to more of an equality with that of the British; yet for two days longer the manœuvring continued, without a shot being fired. On the night of the 10th the two squadrons formed in order of battle, and rapidly approached each other. At eleven o'clock a cannonade was begun by both parties, and continued for about an hour; though the shot did little material damage on either side. At midnight the British, by a quick movement, cut out and captured two American schooners, and sailed away, without suffering any damage.

A month then intervened before the next hostile meeting. In his despatches to his superior authorities, each commander stoutly affirms that he spent the time in chasing the enemy, who refused to give him battle. Whether it was the British or the Americans that avoided the battle, it is impossible to decide; but it seems reasonable to believe, that, had either party been really determined upon bringing matters to an issue, the other could have been forced into giving battle.

On the 11th of September, the enemies met near the mouth of the Genesee River, and exchanged broadsides. A few of the British vessels were hulled, and, without more ado, hauled off into the shallow waters of Ambert Bay, whither the Americans could not follow them. Then ensued another long period of peace, broken at last by a naval action in York Bay, on the 28th, in which the British were worsted and obliged to fly, though none of their ships were destroyed or captured. On Oct. 2, Chauncey accomplished a really important work, by capturing five British transports, with two hundred and sixty-four men, seven naval and ten army officers. With this achievement, the active work of the Ontario squadron ended for the year, as Chauncey remained blockading Yeo at Kingston, until the approach of winter rendered that precaution no longer necessary.

The navigable season of 1814 opened with the British first upon the lake. The long winter had been employed by the belligerents in adding to their fleets; a work completed first by Yeo, who put out upon the lake on the 3d of May, with eight square-rigged vessels, of which two were new frigates. The Americans had given up their unseaworthy schooners, and had a fleet of eight square-rigged vessels nearly ready, but still lacking the cordage and guns for the three new craft. Yeo thus had the lake to himself for a time, and began a vigorous campaign by an attack upon Oswego, aided by a large body of British troops. Succeeding in this enterprise, he set sail for Sackett's Harbor, and, taking up his position just outside the bar, disposed his vessels for a long and strict blockade. This action was particularly troublesome to the Americans at that time; for their new frigates were just ready for their guns and cables, which could not be brought overland, and the arrival of which by water was seemingly prevented by the blockade. It was in this emergency that the plan, already described, for transporting the great cable for the "Niagara" overland, on the backs of men, was decided upon. Yeo remained on guard at the mouth of the harbor until the 6th of June, then raised the blockade, and disappeared down the lake. For six weeks the Americans continued working on their fleet, to get the ships ready for service. During this time the British gunboat "Black Snake" was brought into the harbor, a prize to Lieut. Gregory, who had captured it by a sudden assault, with a score of sailors at his back. On the 1st of July, the same officer made a sudden descent upon Presque Isle, where he found a British vessel pierced for fourteen guns on the stocks, ready for launching. The raiders hastily set fire to the ship, and retreated before the enemy could get his forces together.

It was July 31 before Chauncey set sail from Sackett's Harbor. He now had under his command a squadron of eight vessels, two of which were frigates, two ship sloops-of-war, and eight brig-sloops of no mean power. Yeo had, to oppose this force, a fleet of no less respectable proportions. Yet, for the remainder of the year, these two squadrons cruised about the lake, or blockaded each other in turn, without once coming to battle. As transports, the vessels were of some service to their respective governments; but, so far as any actual naval operations were concerned, they might as well never have been built. The war closed, leaving the two cautious commanders still waiting for a satisfactory occasion for giving battle.

Such was the course of the naval war upon the Great Lakes; but the thunder of hostile cannon and the cheers of sailors were heard upon yet another sheet of fresh water, before the quarrel between England and the United States was settled. In the north-east corner of New York State, and slightly overlapping the Canada line, lies Lake Champlain,—a picturesque sheet of water, narrow, and dotted with wooded islands. From the northern end of the lake flows the Richelieu River, which follows a straight course through Canada to the St. Lawrence, into which it empties. The long, navigable water-way thus open from Canada to the very heart of New York was to the British a most tempting path for an invading expedition. By the shore of the lake a road wound along; thus smoothing the way for a land force, whose advance might be protected by the fire of the naval force that should proceed up the lake. Naturally, so admirable an international highway early attracted the attention of the military authorities of both belligerents; and, while the British pressed forward their preparations for an invading expedition, the Americans hastened to make such arrangements as should give them control of the lake. Her European wars, however, made so great a demand for soldiers upon Great Britain, that not until 1814 could she send to America asufficient force to undertake the invasion of the United States from the north. In the spring of that year, a force of from ten thousand to fifteen thousand troops, including several thousand veterans who had served under Wellington, were massed at Montreal; and in May a move was made by the British to get control of the lake, before sending their invading forces into New York. The British naval force already in the Richelieu River, and available for service, consisted of a brig, two sloops, and twelve or fourteen gunboats. The American flotilla included a large corvette, a schooner, a small sloop, and ten gunboats, or galleys, propelled with oars. Seeing that the British were preparing for active hostilities, the Americans began to build, with all possible speed, a large brig; a move which the enemy promptly met by pushing forward with equal energy the construction of a frigate. While the new vessels were on the stocks, an irregular warfare was carried on by those already in commission. At the opening of the season, the American vessels lay in Otter Creek; and, just as they were ready to leave port, the enemy appeared off the mouth of the creek with a force consisting of the brig "Linnet" and eight or ten galleys. The object of the British was to so obstruct the mouth of the creek that the Americans should be unable to come out. With this end in view, they had brought two sloops laden with stones, which they intended to sink in the narrow channel. But, luckily, the Americans had thrown up earthworks at the mouth of the river; and a party of sailors so worked the guns, that, after much manœuvring, the British were forced to retire without effecting their purpose.

About the middle of August, the Americans launched their new brig, the "Eagle;" and the little squadron put out at once into the lake, under command of Capt. Thomas Macdonough. Eight days later, the British got their new ship, the "Confiance," into the water. She possessed one feature new to American naval architecture,—a furnace in which to heat cannon-balls.

By this time (September, 1814), the invading column of British veterans, eleven thousand strong, had begun its march into New York along the west shore of the lake. Two thousand Americans only could be gathered to dispute their progress; and these, under the command of Brigadier-Gen. Macomb, were gathered at Plattsburg. To this point, accordingly, Macdonough took his fleet, and awaited the coming of the enemy; knowing that if he could beat back the fleet of the British, their land forces, however powerful, would be forced to cease their advance. The fleet that he commanded consisted of the flagship "Saratoga," carrying eight long twenty-four-pounders, six forty-two-pound and twelve thirty-two-pound carronades; the brig "Eagle," carrying eight long eighteens, and twelve thirty-two-pound carronades; schooner "Ticonderoga," with eight long twelve-pounders, four long eighteen-pounders, and five thirty-two-pound carronades; sloop "Preble," with seven long nines; and ten galleys. The commander who ruled over this fleet was a man still in his twenty-ninth year. The successful battles of the War of 1812 were fought by young officers, and the battle of Lake Champlain was no exception to the rule.

The British force which came into battle with Macdonough's fleet was slightly superior. It was headed by the flagship "Confiance," a frigate of the class of the United States ship "Constitution," carrying thirty long twenty-fours, a long twenty-four-pounder on a pivot, and six thirty-two or forty-two pound carronades. The other vessels were the "Linnet," a brig mounting sixteen long twelves; and the "Chubb" and "Finch" (captured from the Americans under the names of "Growler" and "Eagle"),—sloops carrying respectively ten eighteen-pound carronades and one long six; and six eighteen-pound carronades, four long sixes, and one short eighteen. To these were added twelve gunboats, with varied armaments, but each slightly heavier than the American craft of the same class.

The 11th of September had been chosen by the British for the combined land and water attack upon Plattsburg. With the movements of the land forces, this narrative will not deal. The brunt of the conflict fell upon the naval forces, and it was the success of the Americans upon the water that turned the faces of the British invaders toward Canada.

The village of Plattsburg stands upon the shore of a broad bay which communicates with Lake Champlain by an opening a mile and a half wide, bounded upon the north by Cumberland Head, and on the south by Crab Island. In this bay, about two miles from the western shore, Macdonough's fleet lay anchored in double line, stretching north and south. The four large vessels were in the front rank, prepared to meet the brunt of the conflict; while the galleys formed a second line in the rear. The morning of the day of battle dawned clear, with a brisk north-east wind blowing. The British were stirring early, and at daybreak weighed anchor and came down the lake. Across the low-lying isthmus that connected Cumberland Head with the mainland, the Americans could see their adversaries' topmasts as they came down to do battle. At this sight, Macdonough called his officers about him, and, kneeling upon the quarter-deck, besought Divine aid in the conflict so soon to come. When the little group rose from their knees, the leading ship of the enemy was seen swinging round Cumberland Head; and the men went to their quarters to await the fiery trial that all knew was impending.

The position of the American squadron was such that the British were forced to attack "bows on," thus exposing themselves to a raking fire. By means of springs on their cables, the Americans were enabled to keep their broadsides to the enemy, and thus improve, to the fullest, the advantage gained by their position. The British came on gallantly, and were greeted by four shots from the long eighteens of the "Eagle," that had no effect. But, at the sound of the cannon, a young game-cock that was running at large on the "Saratoga" flew upon a gun, flapped his wings, and crowed thrice, with so lusty a note that he was heard far over the waters. The American seamen, thus roused from the painful revery into which the bravest fall before going into action, cheered lustily, and went into the fight, encouraged as only sailors could be by the favorable omen.

Soon after the defiant game-cock had thus cast down the gage of battle, Macdonough sighted and fired the first shot from one of the long twenty-four pounders of the "Saratoga." The heavy ball crashed into the bow of the "Confiance," and cut its way aft, killing and wounding several men, and demolishing the wheel. Nothing daunted, the British flagship came on grandly, making no reply, and seeking only to cast anchor alongside the "Saratoga," and fight it out yard-arm to yard-arm. But the fire of the Americans was such that she could not choose her distance; but after having been badly cut up, with both her port anchors shot away, was forced to anchor at a distance of a quarter of a mile. But her anchor had hardly touched bottom, when she suddenly flashed out a sheet of flames, as her rapid broadsides rung out and her red-hot shot sped over the water toward the American flagship. Her first broadside killed or wounded forty of the Americans; while many more were knocked down by the shock, but sustained no further injury. So great was the carnage, that the hatches were opened, and the dead bodies passed below, that the men might have room to work the guns. Among the slain was Mr. Gamble, the first lieutenant, who was on his knees sighting a gun, when a shot entered the port, split the quoin, drove a great piece of metal against his breast, and stretched him dead upon the deck without breaking his skin. By a singular coincidence, fifteen minutes later a shot from one of the "Saratoga's" guns struck the muzzle of a twenty-four on the "Confiance," and, dismounting it, hurled it against Capt. Downie's groin, killing him instantly without breaking the skin; a black mark about the size of a small plate was the sole visible injury.

In the mean time, the smaller vessels had become engaged, and were fighting with no less courage than the flag-ships. The "Chubb" had early been disabled by a broadside from the "Eagle," and drifted helplessly under the guns of the "Saratoga." After receiving a shot from that vessel, she struck, and was taken possession of by Midshipman Platt, who put off from the flagship in an open boat, boarded the prize, and took her into Plattsburg Bay, near the mouth of the Saranac. More than half her people were killed or wounded during the short time she was in the battle. The "Linnet," in the mean time, had engaged the "Eagle," and poured in her broadsides with such effect that the springs on the cables of the American were cut away, and she could no longer bring her broadsides to bear. Her captain therefore cut his cables, and soon gained a position from which he could bring his guns to bear upon the "Confiance." The "Linnet" thereupon dashed in among the American gunboats, and, driving them off, commenced a raking fire upon the "Saratoga." The "Finch," meanwhile, had ranged gallantly up alongside the "Ticonderoga," but was sent out of the fight by two broadsides from the American. She drifted helplessly before the wind, and soon grounded near Crab Island. On the island was a hospital, and an abandoned battery mounting one six-pound gun. Some of the convalescent patients, seeing the enemy's vessel within range, opened fire upon her from the battery, and soon forced her to haul down her flag. Nearly half her crew were killed or wounded. Almost at the same moment, the United States sloop "Preble" was forced out of the fight by the British gunboats, that pressed so fiercely upon her that she cut her cables and drifted inshore.

Hiram Paulding fires the Guns.

The "Ticonderoga" fought a gallant fight throughout. After ridding herself of the "Finch," she had a number of the British gunboats to contend with; and they pressed forward to the attack with a gallantry that showed them to be conscious of the fact, that, if this vessel could be carried, the American line would be turned, and the day won by the English. But the American schooner fought stubbornly. Her gallant commander, Lieut. Cassin, walked up and down the taffrail, heedless of the grape and musket-balls that whistled past his head, pointing out to the gunners the spot whereon to train the guns, and directing them to load with canister and bags of bullets when the enemy came too near. The gunners of the schooner were terribly hampered in their work by the lack of matches for the guns; for the vessel was new, and the absence of these very essential articles was unnoticed until too late. The guns of one division were fired throughout the fight by Hiram Paulding, a sixteen-year-old midshipman, who flashed his pistol at the priming of the guns as soon as aim was taken. When no gun was ready for his services, he rammed a ball into his weapon and discharged it at the enemy. The onslaught of the British was spirited and determined. Often they pressed up within a boat-hook's length of the schooner, only to be beaten back by her merciless fire. Sometimes so few were left alive in the galleys that they could hardly man the oars to pull out of the fight. In this way the "Ticonderoga" kept her enemies at bay while the battle was being decided between the "Saratoga" and the "Confiance."

For it was upon the issue of the conflict between these two ships, that victory or defeat depended. Each had her ally and satellite. Under the stern of the "Saratoga" lay the "Linnet," pouring in raking broadsides. The "Confiance," in turn, was suffering from the well-directed fire of the "Eagle." The roar of the artillery was unceasing, and dense clouds of gunpowder-smoke hid the warring ships from the eyes of the eager spectators on shore. The "Confiance" was unfortunate in losing her gallant captain early in the action, while Macdonough was spared to fight his ship to the end. His gallantry and activity, however, led him to expose himself fearlessly; and twice he narrowly escaped death. He worked like a common sailor, loading and firing a favorite twenty-four-pound gun; and once, while on his knees, sighting the piece, a shot from the "Confiance" cut in two the spanker-boom, a great piece of which fell heavily upon the captain's head, stretching him senseless upon the deck. He lay motionless for two or three minutes, and his men mourned him as dead; but suddenly his activity returned, and he leaped to his feet, and was soon again in the thick of the fight. In less than five minutes the cry again arose, that the captain was killed. He had been standing at the breach of his favorite cannon, when a round shot took off the head of the captain of the gun, and dashed it with terrific force into the face of Macdonough, who was driven across the deck, and hurled against the bulwarks. He lay an instant, covered with the blood of the slain man; but, hearing his men cry that he was killed, he rushed among them, to cheer them on with his presence.

And, indeed, at this moment the crew of the "Saratoga" needed the presence of their captain to cheer them on to further exertion. The red-hot shot of the "Confiance" had twice set fire to the American ship. The raking fire from the "Linnet" had dismounted carronades and long guns one by one, until but a single serviceable gun was left in the starboard battery. A too heavy charge dismounted this piece, and threw it down the hatchway, leaving the frigate without a single gun bearing upon the enemy. In such a plight the hearts of the crew might well fail them. But Macdonough was ready for the emergency. He still had his port broadside untouched, and he at once set to work to swing the ship round so that this battery could be brought to bear. An anchor was let fall astern, and the whole ship's company hauled in on the hawser, swinging the ship slowly around. It was a dangerous manœuvre; for, as the ship veered round, her stern was presented to the "Linnet," affording an opportunity for raking, which the gunners on that plucky little vessel immediately improved. But patience and hard pulling carried the day; and gradually the heavy frigate was turned sufficiently for the after gun to bear, and a gun's crew was at once called from the hawsers to open fire. One by one the guns swung into position, and soon the whole broadside opened with a roar.

Meanwhile the "Confiance" had attempted the same manœuvre. But her anchors were badly placed; and, though her people worked gallantly, they failed to get the ship round. She bore for some time the effective fire from the "Saratoga's" fresh broadside, but, finding that she could in no way return the fire, struck her flag, two hours and a quarter after the battle commenced. Beyond giving a hasty cheer, the people of the "Saratoga" paid little attention to the surrender of their chief enemy, but instantly turned their guns upon the "Linnet." In this combat the "Eagle" could take no part, and the thunder of her guns died away. Farther down the bay, the "Ticonderoga" had just driven away the last of the British galleys; so that the "Linnet" now alone upheld the cause of the enemy. She was terribly outmatched by her heavier foe, but her gallant captain Pring kept up a desperate defence. Her masts and rigging were hopelessly shattered; and no course was open to her, save to surrender, or fight a hopeless fight. Capt. Pring sent off a lieutenant, in an open boat, to ascertain the condition of the "Confiance." The officer returned with the report that Capt. Downie was killed, and the frigate terribly cut up; and as by this time the water, pouring in the shot-holes in the "Linnet's" hull, had risen a foot above the lower deck, her flag was hauled down, and the battle ended in a decisive triumph for the Americans.

Terrible was the carnage, and many and strange the incidents, of this most stubbornly contested naval battle. All of the prizes were in a sinking condition. In the hull of the "Confiance" were a hundred and five shot-holes, while the "Saratoga" was pierced by fifty-five. Not a mast that would bear canvas was left standing in the British fleet; those of the flagship were splintered like bundles of matches, and the sails torn to rags. On most of the enemy's vessels, more than half of the crews were killed or wounded. The loss on the British side probably aggregated three hundred. Midshipman William Lee of the "Confiance" wrote home after the battle, "The havoc on both sides was dreadful. I don't think there are more than five of our men, out of three hundred, but what are killed or wounded. Never was a shower of hail so thick as the shot whistling about our ears. Were you to see my jacket, waistcoat, and trousers, you would be astonished to know how I escaped as I did; for they are literally torn all to rags with shot and splinters. The upper part of my hat was also shot away. There is one of the marines who was in the Trafalgar action with Lord Nelson, who says it was a mere flea-bite in comparison with this."

The Americans, though victorious, had suffered greatly. Their loss amounted to about two hundred men. The "Saratoga" had been cut up beyond the possibility of repair. Her decks were covered with dead and dying. The shot of the enemy wrought terrible havoc in the ranks of the American officers. Lieut. Stansbury of the "Ticonderoga" suddenly disappeared in the midst of the action; nor could any trace of him be found, until, two days later, his body, cut nearly in two by a round shot, rose from the waters of the lake. Lieut. Vallette of the "Saratoga" was knocked down by the head of a sailor, sent flying by a cannon-ball. Some minutes later he was standing on a shot-box giving orders, when a shot took the box from beneath his feet, throwing him heavily upon the deck. Mr. Brum, the master, a veteran man-o'-war's man, was struck by a huge splinter, which knocked him down, and actually stripped every rag of clothing from his body. He was thought to be dead, but soon re-appeared at his post, with a strip of canvas about his waist, and fought bravely until the end of the action. Some days before the battle, a gentleman of Oswego gave one of the sailors a glazed tarpaulin hat, of the kind then worn by seamen. A week later the sailor re-appeared, and, handing him the hat with a semi-circular cut in the crown and brim, made while it was on his head by a cannon-shot, remarked calmly, "Look here, Mr. Sloane, how the damned John Bulls have spoiled my hat!"

The last British flag having been hauled down, an officer was sent to take possession of the "Confiance." In walking along her gun-deck, he accidentally ran against a ratline, by which one of her starboard guns was discharged. At this sound, the British galleys and gunboats, which had been lying quietly with their ensigns down, got out oars and moved off up the lake. The Americans had no vessels fit for pursuing them, and they were allowed to escape. In the afternoon the British officers came to the American flagship to complete the surrender. Macdonough met them courteously; and, on their offering their swords, put them back, saying, "Gentlemen, your gallant conduct makes you worthy to wear your weapons. Return them to their scabbards." By sundown the surrender was complete, and Macdonough sent off to the Secretary of the Navy a despatch, saying, "Sir,—The Almighty has been pleased to grant us a signal victory on Lake Champlain, in the capture of one frigate, one brig, and two sloops-of-war of the enemy."

Some days later, the captured ships, being beyond repair, were taken to the head of the lake, and scuttled. Some of the guns were found to be still loaded; and, in drawing the charges, one gun was found with a canvas bag containing two round shot rammed home, and wadded, without any powder; another gun contained two cartridges and no shot; and a third had a wad rammed down before the powder, thus effectually preventing the discharge of the piece. The American gunners were not altogether guiltless of carelessness of this sort. Their chief error lay in ramming down so many shot upon the powder that the force of the explosion barely carried the missiles to the enemy. In proof of this, the side of the "Confiance" was thickly dotted with round shot, which had struck into, but failed to penetrate, the wood.

The result of this victory was immediate and gratifying. The land forces of the British, thus deprived of their naval auxiliaries, turned about, and retreated to Canada, abandoning forever their projected invasion. New York was thus saved by Macdonough's skill and bravery. Yet the fame he won by his victory was not nearly proportionate to the naval ability he showed, and the service he had rendered to his country. Before the popular adulation of Perry, Macdonough sinks into second place. One historian only gives him the pre-eminence that is undoubtedly his due. Says Mr. Theodore Roosevelt, in his admirable history, "The Naval War of 1812," "But Macdonough in this battle won a higher fame than any other commander of the war, British or American. He had a decidedly superior force to contend against, and it was solely owing to his foresight and resource that we won the victory. He forced the British to engage at a disadvantage by his excellent choice of position, and he prepared beforehand for every possible contingency. His personal prowess had already been shown at the cost of the rovers of Tripoli, and in this action he helped fight the guns as ably as the best sailor. His skill, seamanship, quick eye, readiness of resource, and indomitable pluck are beyond all praise. Down to the time of the civil war, he is the greatest figure in our naval history. A thoroughly religious man, he was as generous and humane as he was skilful and brave. One of the greatest of our sea captains, he has left a stainless name behind him."


No narrative of the naval exploits of the Americans in the second war with Great Britain can be complete without some account of the achievements of the fleets of privateers which for three years swept the seas, destroying a vast amount of the enemy's property; and, while accomplishing their end by enriching their owners, did, nevertheless, much incidental good to the American cause. Seldom has the business of privateering been so extensively carried on as in the War of 1812. For this the reason lay in the rich bait offered by the world-wide commerce of Great Britain, whose fleets whitened every known sea. Privateering must ever be a weapon wielded by the weaker nation against the stronger. And Congress, in the very Act by which it declared war, authorized the President to issue letters of marque and reprisal to private armed vessels.

The declaration of war had hardly been made public, when the hundreds of shipyards from Maine to Savannah resounded with the blows of hammers and the grating of saws, as the shipwrights worked, busily refitting old vessels, or building new ones, destined to cruise against the commerce of John Bull. All sorts of vessels were employed in this service. The Atlantic and Gulf Coasts fairly swarmed with small pilot-boats, mounting one long gun amidships, and carrying crews of twenty to forty men. These little craft made rapid sallies into the waters of the Gulf Stream, in search of British West Indiamen homeward bound. Other privateers were huge three-masters, carrying heavy batteries, and able to outsail any of the enemy's ships. On leaving port for a long cruise, these vessels would carry enormous crews, so that captured vessels might be manned and sent home. After a successful cruise, such a privateer returned to port seldom bringing more than one-fifth of the crew with which she had set out. But the favorite rig for a privateer was that of the top-sail schooner,—such a rig as the "Enterprise" carried during the war with France. The famous shipyards of Baltimore turned out scores of clean-cut, clipper-built schooners, with long, low hulls and raking masts, which straightway took to the ocean on privateering cruises. The armament of these vessels generally consisted of six to ten carronades and one long pivot-gun, going by the pet name of "Long Tom," mounted amidships. The crew was usually a choice assortment of cut-throats and seafaring vagabonds of all classes,—ready enough to fight if plunder was to be gained, but equally ready to surrender if only honor was to be gained by fighting. Yet history records a few actions in which the privateersmen showed a steadiness and courage worthy of seamen of the regular service.

The limitations of this work do not permit a complete account of the work of the privateers during the war. Although an interesting subject, and one of historical importance, but a few pages can be devoted to it here. Properly treated, it would fill a volume; and, indeed, one of the most noted privateersmen has left a narrative of the exploits of the principal privateers, which forms a very considerable tome. The fact that two hundred and fifty private armed cruisers under the American flag captured or destroyed over sixteen hundred British vessels will indicate the importance and extent of the subject. For us a mere sketch of the exploits of some of the principal privateers must suffice.

One of the first things to attract the attention of the reader, in the dingy files of some newspaper of 1812-15, is the grotesque names under which many of the privateers sailed. The grandiloquent style of the regular navy vanishes, and in its place we find homely names; such as "Jack's Favorite," "Lovely Lass," "Row-boat," "Saucy Jack," or "True-blooded Yankee." Some names are clearly political allusions,—as the "Orders in Council" and the "Fair Trade." The "Black Joke," the "Shark," and the "Anaconda" must have had a grim significance for the luckless merchantmen who fell a prey to the vessels bearing these names. "Bunker Hill" and "Divided we fall," though odd names to sail under, seemed to bring luck to the two vessels, which were very successful in their cruises. "United we stand" was a luckless craft, however, taking only one prize; while the achievements of the "Full-blooded Yankee" and the "Sine qua non" were equally limited. Of the "Poor Sailor," certainly little was to be expected; and it is with no surprise that we find she captured only one prize.

Among the most successful privateers was the "Rossie" of Baltimore, commanded by the Revolutionary veteran Capt. Barney, who left her, finally, to assume command of the American naval forces on Chesapeake Bay. She was a clipper-built schooner, carrying fourteen guns, and a crew of one hundred and twenty men. The destruction wrought by this one cruiser was enormous. In a ninety days' cruise she captured, sunk, or otherwise destroyed British property to the amount of a million and a half dollars, and took two hundred and seventeen prisoners. All this was not done without some hard fighting. One prize—His Britannic Majesty's packet-ship "Princess Amelia"—was armed with nine-pounders, and made a gallant defence before surrendering. Several men were killed, and the "Rossie" suffered the loss of her first lieutenant. The prisoners taken by the "Rossie" were exchanged for Americans captured by the British. With the first body of prisoners thus exchanged, Barney sent a cool note to the British commander at New Brunswick, assuring him that before long a second batch of his captured countrymen should be sent in.

Several Northern seaports shared with Baltimore the business of fitting out and manning privateers. The hardy seamen of Maine and Massachusetts were ever ready for a profitable venture of this kind; and, as the continuation of the war caused the whale-fishery to languish, the sailors gladly took up the adventurous life of privateersmen. The profits of a successful cruise were enormous; and for days after the home-coming of a lucky privateer the little seaport into which she came rang with the boisterous shouts of the carousing sailors. "We still, in imagination, see our streets filled with privateersmen," writes a historian of Portsmouth, "in groups, with blue ribbons tied around their hats, inscribed in large letters, 'Success to the "Fox,"' or whatever vessel they were to sail in. And then another scene, of sailors paid off with so much money that they knew not what to do with it. It was one of these men that, in Market Square, put his arm around a cow, kissed her, and put a five-dollar bill in her mouth, for a good cud. Sometimes they might be seen, finely dressed, walking down the sunny streets, carrying parasols." One Portsmouth privateer came to grief in the West Indies, and was captured by a British vessel of heavier metal. In the hold of the privateer was a considerable sum of money in gold coin, the existence of which was known only to the captain and his body-servant, a bright negro. The British, on capturing the vessel, put a prize-crew on board, and, while taking the Yankee captain upon their own ship, left his negro servant on the prize. Watching his opportunity, the negro brought up the gold coin, and dropped it unobserved into a tub of greasy black slush with which he had been slushing down the masts. Some days later, the captured vessel reached the port to which she had been sent, and was tied up at a wharf to await condemnation. The faithful servant lingered about the ship for a time, saying that he had no place to go. At last he was gruffly ordered to leave; but, before going, he astonished the mate by begging for the tub of slush, which he said might enable him to earn a few cents along the docks. The mate carelessly told him to take the stuff, and be off; which he promptly did, carrying away with him his tub of slush, with its concealed treasure. It is worthy of note, that this negro, far from home and from the owners of the money, paid it into a bank to the credit of the captain whom he had served.

Salem, Mass., was another great port for privateers to hail from. Not less than twenty-five of these predatory gentry fitted out at the quiet little seaside village; and, when the war was ended, few of the inhabitants were unable to tell some tale of personal adventures, cruising against the enemy. Indeed, Salem had the honor of receiving the first prize captured on the ocean after the declaration of war; for into the harbor came, on the 10th of June, 1812, the trim privateer schooner "Fame," followed close by two ships, from the halliards of which waved the British flag surmounted by the stars and stripes. Then the whole town turned out as one man to greet and cheer the captors; but, long before the war was ended, the appearance of a prize in the harbor aroused little excitement. One of the most successful of the rovers sailing from this port was the "Dolphin," whose record during the war shows a list of twenty-two captured vessels. Her faculty for making long cruises, and turning up in the most unexpected places, made her the dread of all British sea-captains. She was manned by a gallant set of lads, who had no fear of hard fighting; and many of her prizes were won at the cannon's mouth. In January, 1813, the "Dolphin" fell in with a British ship and brig cruising together off Cape St. Vincent. Though the enemy outnumbered the privateersmen, and carried heavier metal, yet the "Dolphin" went gallantly into the fight, and after a severe battle succeeded in taking both vessels. Great was the astonishment of the British at being thus snapped up by a Yankee privateer almost under the guns of the Rock of Gibraltar. The luckless Britons were carried to America as prisoners; but so kind was the treatment they met with at the hands of the privateers, that on leaving the "Dolphin," at Boston, they published a card in which they said, "Should the fortune of war ever throw Capt. Stafford or any of his crew into the hands of the British, it is sincerely hoped he will meet with similar treatment."

Perhaps the foremost of all the fighting privateers was the "Gen. Armstrong" of New York; a schooner mounting eight long nines and one long twenty-four on a pivot. She had a crew of ninety men, and was commanded on her first cruise by Capt. Guy R. Champlin. This vessel was one of the first to get to sea, and had cruised for several months with fair success, when in March, 1813, she gave chase to a sail off the Surinam River on the coast of South America. The stranger seemed to evince no great desire to escape; and the privateer soon gained sufficiently to discover that the supposed merchantman was a British sloop-of-war, whose long row of open ports showed that she carried twenty-seven guns. Champlin and his men found this a more ugly customer than they had expected; but it was too late to retreat, and to surrender was out of the question: so, calling the people to the guns, Champlin took his ship into action with a steadiness that no old naval captain could have exceeded. "Close quarters and quick work," was the word passed along the gun-deck; and the "Armstrong" was brought alongside her antagonist at a distant of half pistol-shot. For nearly an hour the two vessels exchanged rapid broadsides; but, though the American gunners were the better marksmen, the heavy build of the sloop-of-war enabled her to stand against broadsides which would have cut the privateer to pieces. Capt. Champlin was hit in the shoulder early in the action, but kept his station until the fever of his wound forced him to retire to his cabin. However, he still continued to direct the course of the action; and, seeing that the tide of battle was surely going against him, he ordered the crew to get out the sweeps and pull away from the enemy, whose rigging was too badly cut up to enable her to give chase. This was quickly done; and the "Gen. Armstrong," though badly injured, and with her decks covered with dead and dying men, escaped, leaving her more powerful adversary to repair damages and make the best of her way home. Capt. Champlin, on his arrival at New York, was the hero of the hour. For a privateer to have held out for an hour against a man-of-war, was thought a feat worthy of praise from all classes of men. The merchants of the city tendered the gallant captain a dinner, and the stockholders in his vessel presented him with a costly sword.

But the "Gen. Armstrong" was destined to fight yet another battle, which should far eclipse the glory of her first. A new captain was to win the laurels this time; for Capt. Champlin's wound had forced him to retire, and his place was filled by Capt. Samuel C. Reid. On the 26th of September, 1814, the privateer was lying at anchor in the roadstead of Fayal. Over the land that enclosed the snug harbor on three sides, waved the flag of Portugal, a neutral power, but unfortunately one of insufficient strength to enforce the rights of neutrality. While the "Armstrong" was thus lying in the port, a British squadron, composed of the "Plantagenet" seventy-four, the "Rota" thirty-eight, and "Carnation" eighteen, hove in sight, and soon swung into the harbor and dropped anchor. Reid watched the movements of the enemy with eager vigilance. He knew well that the protection of Portugal would not aid him in the least should the captain of that seventy-four choose to open fire upon the "Armstrong." The action of the British in coming into the harbor was in itself suspicious, and the American had little doubt that the safety of his vessel was in jeopardy. While he was pacing the deck, and weighing in his mind the probability of an assault by the British, he caught sight of some unusual stir aboard the hostile ships. It was night; but the moon had risen, and by its pale light Reid saw four large barges let fall from the enemy's ships, and, manned by about forty men each, make toward his vessel. In an instant every man on the privateer was called to his post. That there was to be an attack, was now certain; and the Americans determined not to give up their vessel without at least a vigorous attempt to defend her. Reid's first act was to warp his craft under the guns of a rather dilapidated castle, which was supposed to uphold the authority of Portugal over the island and adjacent waters. Hardly had the position been gained, when the foremost of the British boats came within hail, and Capt. Reid shouted, "Boat ahoy! What boat's that?" No response followed the hail; and it was repeated, with the warning, "Answer, or I shall fire into you." Still the British advanced without responding; and Reid, firmly convinced that they purposed to carry his ship with a sudden dash, ordered his gunners to open on the boats with grape. This was done, and at the first volley the British turned and made off. Capt. Reid then warped his vessel still nearer shore; and bending springs on her cable, so that her broadside might be kept always toward the enemy, he awaited a second attack. At midnight the enemy were seen advancing again, this time with fourteen barges and about five hundred men. While the flotilla was still at long range, the Americans opened fire upon them with the heavy "Long Tom;" and, as they came nearer, the full battery of long nine-pounders took up the fight. The carnage in the advancing boats was terrible; but the plucky Englishmen pushed on, meeting the privateer's fire with volleys of musketry and carronades. Despite the American fire, the British succeeded in getting under the bow and quarter of the "Armstrong," and strove manfully to board; while the Americans fought no less bravely to keep them back. The attack became a furious hand-to-hand battle. From behind the boarding-nettings the Americans thrust pikes, and fired pistols and muskets, at their assailants, who, mounted on each other's shoulders, were hacking fiercely at the nettings which kept them from gaining the schooner's deck. The few that managed to clamber on the taffrail of the "Armstrong" were thrust through and through with pikes, and hurled, thus horribly impaled, into the sea. The fighting was fiercest and deadliest on the quarter; for there were most of the enemy's boats, and there Capt. Reid led the defence in person. So hot was the reception met by the British at this point, that they drew off in dismay, despairing of ever gaining the privateer's deck. Hardly did Reid see the enemy thus foiled on the quarter, when a chorus of British cheers from the forecastle, mingled with yells of rage, told that the enemy had succeeded in effecting a lodgement there. Calling his men about him, the gallant captain dashed forward and was soon in the front rank of the defenders, dealing furious blows with his cutlass, and crying out, "Come on, my lads, and we'll drive them into the sea." The leadership of an officer was all that the sailors needed. The three lieutenants on the forecastle had been killed or disabled, else the enemy had never come aboard. With Reid to cheer them on, the sailors rallied, and with a steady advance drove the British back into their boats. The disheartened enemy did not return to the attack, but returned to their ships, leaving behind two boats captured and two sunk. Their loss in the attack was thirty-four killed and eighty-six wounded. On the privateer were two killed and seven wounded.

Privateersmen at Home.

But the attack was not to end here. Reid was too old a sailor to expect that the British, chagrined as they were by two repulses, were likely to leave the privateer in peace. He well knew that the withdrawal of the barges meant not an abandonment, but merely a short discontinuance, of the attack. Accordingly he gave his crew scarcely time to rest, before he set them to work getting the schooner in trim for another battle. The wounded were carried below, and the decks cleared of splinters and wreckage. The boarding-nettings were patched up, and hung again in place. "Long Tom" had been knocked off his carriage by a carronade shot, and had to be remounted; but all was done quickly, and by morning the vessel was ready for whatever might be in store for her. The third assault was made soon after daybreak. Evidently the enemy despaired of his ability to conquer the privateersmen in a hand-to-hand battle; for this time he moved the brig "Carnation" up within range, and opened fire upon the schooner. The man-of-war could fire nine guns at a broadside, while the schooner could reply with but seven; but "Long Tom" proved the salvation of the privateer. The heavy twenty-four-pound shots from this gun did so much damage upon the hull of the brig, that she was forced to draw out of the action; leaving the victory, for the third time, with the Americans.

But now Capt. Reid decided that it was folly to longer continue the conflict. The overwhelming force of the enemy made any thought of ultimate escape folly. It only remained for the British to move the seventy-four "Plantagenet" into action to seal the doom of the Yankee privateer. The gallant defence already made by the Americans had cost the British nearly three hundred men in killed and wounded; and Reid now determined to destroy his vessel, and escape to the shore. The great pivot-gun was accordingly pointed down the main hatch, and two heavy shots sent crashing through the bottom. Then applying the torch, to make certain the work of destruction, the privateersmen left the ship, giving three cheers for the gallant "Gen. Armstrong," as a burst of flame and a roar told that the flames had reached her magazine.

This gallant action won loud plaudits for Capt. Reid when the news reached the United States. Certainly no vessel of the regular navy was ever more bravely or skilfully defended than was the "Gen. Armstrong." But, besides the credit won for the American arms, Reid had unknowingly done his country a memorable service. The three vessels that attacked him were bound to the Gulf of Mexico, to assist in the attack upon New Orleans. The havoc Reid wrought among their crews, and the damage he inflicted upon the "Carnation," so delayed the New Orleans expedition, that Gen. Jackson was able to gather those motley troops that fought so well on the plains of Chalmette. Had it not been for the plucky fight of the lads of the "Gen. Armstrong," the British forces would have reached New Orleans ten days earlier, and Packenham's expedition might have ended very differently.

The "Plantagenet" and her consorts were not the only British men-of-war bound for New Orleans that fell in with warlike Yankee privateers. Some of the vessels from the Chesapeake squadron met a privateer, and a contest ensued, from which the American emerged with less glory than did the lads of the "Gen. Armstrong." A young British officer in his journal thus tells the story:—

"It was my practice to sit for hours, after nightfall, upon the taffrail, and strain my eyes in the attempt to distinguish objects on shore, or strange sails in the distance. It so happened that on the 30th I was tempted to indulge in this idle but bewitching employment even beyond my usual hour for retiring, and did not quit the deck till towards two o'clock in the morning of the 31st [of October]. I had just entered my cabin, and was beginning to undress, when a cry from above of an enemy in chase drew me instantly to the quarter-deck. On looking astern I perceived a vessel making directly after us, and was soon convinced of the justice of the alarm, by a shot which whistled over our heads. All hands were now called to quarters, the small sails taken in; and having spoken to our companion, and made an agreement as to position, both ships cleared for action. But the stranger, seeing his signal obeyed with so much alacrity, likewise slackened sail, and, continuing to keep us in view, followed our wake without approaching nearer. In this state things continued till daybreak,—we still holding our course, and he hanging back; but, as soon as it was light, he set more sail and ran to windward, moving just out of gun-shot in a parallel direction with us. It was now necessary to fall upon some plan of deceiving him; otherwise, there was little probability that he would attack. In the bomb, indeed, the height of the bulwarks served to conceal some of the men; but in the transport no such screen existed. The troops were therefore ordered below; and only the sailors, a few blacks, and the officers kept the deck. The same expedient was likewise adopted in part by Capt. Price of the 'Volcano;' and, in order to give to his ship a still greater resemblance than it already had to a merchantman, he displayed an old faded scarlet ensign, and drew up his fore and main sail in what sailors term a lubberly manner.

"As yet the stranger had shown no colors, but from her build and rigging there was little doubt as to her country. She was a beautiful schooner, presenting seven ports of a side, and apparently crowded with men,—circumstances which immediately led us to believe that she was an American privateer. The 'Volcano,' on the other hand, was a clumsy, strong-built ship, carrying twelve guns; and the 'Golden Fleece' mounted eight: so that in point of artillery the advantage was rather on our side; but the American's sailing was so much superior to that of either of us, that this advantage was more than counter-balanced.

"Having dodged us till eight o'clock, and reconnoitred with great exactness, the stranger began to steer gradually nearer and nearer, till at length it was judged that she was within range. A gun was accordingly fired from the 'Volcano,' and another from the transport; the balls from both of which passed over her, and fell into the sea. Finding herself thus assaulted, she now threw off all disguise, and hung out an American ensign. When putting her helm up, she poured a broadside with a volley of musketry into the transport, and ran alongside of the bomb, which sailed to windward.

"As soon as her flag was displayed, and her intention of attacking discerned, all hands were ordered up; and she received two well-directed broadsides from the 'Volcano,' as well as a warm salute from the 'Golden Fleece.' But such was the celerity of her motion, that she was alongside of the bomb in less time than can be imagined, and actually dashing her bow against the other, attempted to carry her by boarding. Capt. Price, however, was ready to receive them. The boarders were at their posts in an instant; and Jonathan finding, to use a vulgar phrase, that he had caught a Tartar, left about twenty men upon the 'Volcano's' bowsprit, all of whom were thrown into the sea, and filling his sails sheered off with the same speed with which he had borne down. In attempting to escape, he unavoidably fell somewhat to leeward, and exposed the whole of his deck to the fire of the transport. A tremendous discharge of musketry saluted him as he passed; and it was almost laughable to witness the haste with which his crew hurried below, leaving none upon deck except such as were absolutely wanted to work the vessel.

"The 'Volcano' had by this time filled and gave chase, firing with great precision at his yards and rigging, in the hope of disabling him. But, as fortune would have it, none of his important ropes or yards were cut; and we had the mortification to see him in a few minutes beyond our reach."

Prison Chaplain and Jailor.

An exploit of yet another privateer should be chronicled before the subject of the private armed navy can be dismissed. On the 11th of October, 1814, the brigantine privateer "Prince de Neufchatel," seventeen guns, was encountered near Nantucket by the British frigate "Endymion,"—the same ship which was so roughly handled by the "President" in her last battle. About nine o'clock at night, a calm having come on, the frigate despatched a boarding party of a hundred and eleven men in five boats to capture the privateer. The latter vessel was short-handed, having but forty men; but this handful of Yankee tars gallantly prepared to meet the attack. The guns were charged with grape and canister, the boarding-nettings triced up, and cutlasses and pistols distributed to the crew. As the British came on, the Americans opened fire, notwithstanding which the enemy dashed alongside, and strove fiercely to gain the deck. But in this they were foiled by the gallantry of the defenders, who fought desperately, and cut down the few British who managed to gain a foothold. The conflict was short, and the discomfiture of the enemy complete. After but a few minutes' fighting, one boat was sunk, one captured, and the other three drifted helplessly away, filled with dead and dying. The total loss of the British in this affair was twenty-eight killed and thirty-seven wounded. Of the crew of the privateer, seven were killed, and nine only remained unhurt.

A narrative of the exploits of, and service done by, the American sailors in the War of 1812 would be incomplete if it said nothing of the sufferings of that great body of tars who spent the greater part of the war season confined in British prisons. Several thousand of these were thrown into confinement before the war broke out, because they refused to serve against their country in British ships. Others were prisoners of war. No exact statistics as to the number of Americans thus imprisoned have ever been made public; but the records of one great prison—that at Dartmoor—show, that, when the war closed, six thousand American seamen were imprisoned there, twenty-five hundred of whom had been detained from long before the opening of the war, on account of their refusal to join the ranks of the enemy. As I write, there lies before me a quaint little book, put out anonymously in 1815, and purporting to be the "Journal of a Young Man captured by the British." Its author, a young surgeon of Salem, named Waterhouse, shipped on a Salem privateer, and was captured early in the war. His experience with British prisons and transport-ships was long; and against his jailors he brings shocking charges of brutality, cruelty, and negligence.

The Yankee seamen who were captured during the war were first consigned to receiving-prisons at the British naval stations in America. Sometimes these places of temporary detention were mouldering hulks, moored in bays or rivers; sometimes huge sheds hastily put together, and in which the prisoners were kept only by the unceasing vigilance of armed guards. "The prison at Halifax," writes Waterhouse, "erected solely for the safe-keeping of prisoners of war, resembles an horse-stable, with stalls, or stanchions, for keeping the cattle from each other. It is to a contrivance of this sort that they attach the cords that support those canvas bags or cradles, called hammocks. Four tier of these hanging nests were made to hang, one above the other, between these stalls, or stanchions.... The general hum and confused noise from almost every hammock was at first very distressing. Some would be lamenting their hard fate at being shut up like negro slaves in a Guinea ship, or like fowls in a hen-coop, for no crime, but for fighting the battles of their country; others, late at night, were relating their adventures to a new prisoner; others, lamenting their aberrations from rectitude, and disobedience to parents, and headstrong wilfulness, that drove them to sea, contrary to their parents' wish; while others, of the younger class, were sobbing out their lamentations at the thoughts of what their mothers and sisters suffered after knowing of their imprisonment. Not unfrequently the whole night was spent in this way; and when, about daybreak, the weary prisoner fell into a doze, he was waked from his slumber by the grinding noise of the locks, and the unbarring of the doors, with the cry of 'Turn out! All out!' when each man took down his hammock, and lashed it up, and slung it on his back, and was ready to answer to the roll-call of the turnkey."

From prisons such as this, the prisoners were conveyed in droves to England, in the holds of men-of-war and transports. Poorly fed, worse housed, and suffering for lack of air and room, their agony on the voyage was terrible. When they were allowed a few hours' time on deck, they were sure to arouse the anger of the officers by turbulent conduct or imprudent retorts. "One morning as the general and the captain of the 'Regulus' (transport) were walking as usual on the quarter-deck, one of our Yankee boys passed along the galley with his kid of burgoo. He rested it on the hatchway while he adjusted the rope ladder to descend with his swill. The thing attracted the attention of the general, who asked the man how many of his comrades eat of that quantity for their breakfast. 'Six, sir,' said the man, 'but it is fit food only for hogs.' This answer affronted the captain, who asked the man in an angry tone, 'What part of America he came from?' 'Near to Bunker Hill, sir, if you ever heard of that place,' was the answer." On another occasion, a Yankee and a slightly wounded British marine got into a dispute, and came to blows. The British captain saw the occurrence, and accused the American of cowardice in striking a wounded man. "I am no coward, sir," said the Yankee. "I was captain of a gun on board the 'Constitution' when she captured the 'Guerriere,' and afterward when she took the 'Java.' Had I been a coward, I should not have been there."

King Dick and his Chaplain.

On one occasion the prisoners on the transport "Crown Prince," lying in the River Medway, took an uncontrollable dislike to the commander of a second transport lying close alongside. Their spite was gratified quickly and with great effect. The rations served out to the luckless captives at that time consisted of fish and cold potatoes. The latter edible being of rather poor quality, the prisoners reserved for missiles; and the obnoxious officer could not pace his quarter-deck without being made a mark for a shower of potatoes. Vainly did he threaten to call up his marines and respond with powder and lead: the Americans were not to be kept down; and for some days the harassed officer hardly dared to show himself upon deck.

The place of final detention for most of the prisoners taken in the war with America was Dartmoor Prison; a rambling collection of huge frame buildings, surrounded by double walls of wood. The number of prisoners confined there, and the length of time which many of them had spent within its walls, gave this place many of the characteristics of a small State, with rulers and officials of its own. One of the strangest characters of the prison was King Dick, a gigantic negro, who ruled over the five or six hundred negro prisoners. "He is six feet five inches in height," says one of the prisoners, "and proportionally large. This black Hercules commands respect, and his subjects tremble in his presence. He goes the rounds every day, and visits every berth, to see if they all are kept clean. When he goes the rounds, he puts on a large bear-skin cap, and carries in his hand a huge club. If any of his men are dirty, drunken, or grossly negligent, he threatens them with a beating; and if they are saucy they are sure to receive one. They have several times conspired against him, and attempted to dethrone him; but he has always conquered the rebels. One night several attacked him while asleep in his hammock: he sprang up, and seized the smallest by his feet, and thumped another with him. The poor negro, who had thus been made a beetle of, was carried the next day to the hospital, sadly bruised, and provokingly laughed at." King Dick, to further uphold his dignity as a monarch, had his private chaplain, who followed his royal master about, and on Sundays preached rude but vigorous sermons to His Majesty's court. On weekdays the court was far from being a dignified gathering. King Dick was a famous athlete, and in the cock-loft, over which he reigned, was to be seen fine boxing and fencing. Gambling, too, was not ruled out of the royal list of amusements; and the cries of the players, mingled with the singing of the negroes, and the sounds of the musical instruments upon which they played, made that section of the prison a veritable pandemonium.

The last Volley of the War.

But although some few incidents occurred to brighten momentarily the dull monotony of the prisoners' lot, the life of these unfortunate men, while thus imprisoned, was miserable and hateful to them. Months passed, and even years, but there seemed to be no hope for release. At last came the news of the declaration of peace. How great then was the rejoicing! Thoughts of home, of friends and kindred, flooded the minds of all; and even strong men, whom the hardships of prison-life had not broken down, seemed to give way all at once to tears of joy. But the delays of official action, "red-tape," and the sluggishness of travel in that day, kept the poor fellows pent up for months after the treaty of peace had been announced to them. Nor were they to escape without suffering yet more severely at the hands of their jailors. Three months had passed since peace had been declared; and the long delay so irritated the prisoners, that they chafed under prison restraint, and showed evidences of a mutinous spirit. The guards, to whom was intrusted the difficult task of keeping in subjection six thousand impatient and desperate men, grew nervous, fearing that at any moment the horde of prisoners would rise and sweep away all before them. An outbreak was imminent; and the prisoners were like a magazine of gunpowder, needing but a spark of provocation to explode. On April 6, 1815, matters reached a crisis. The soldiers, losing all presence of mind, fired on the defenceless Americans, killing five men and wounding thirty-four. Thus the last blood shed in the War of 1812 was the blood of unarmed prisoners. But the massacre, horrible and inexcusable as it was, had the effect of hastening the release of the survivors; and soon the last of the captives was on his way home to the country over which peace at last reigned again.


The period of peace which followed the close of the War of 1812 was, perhaps, the longest which any nation has ever enjoyed. For the navy of the United States, it was a time of absolute peace, inactivity, even stagnation. The young nation was living literally up to Washington's rule of avoiding entanglements abroad, and its people looked with suspicion on the naval branch of the service which had rendered such a good account of itself in the war with Great Britain. They feared to build and man ships lest possession of a navy might prove an incentive to war. And so when war did come—war, not with Europe, but with our nearest neighbor—the United States had little floating force to join in it. Fortunately, little was needed.

Though war was not declared by the United States against Mexico until May, 1846, it had been a possibility ever since the establishment of the Texan Republic by the defeat of the Mexicans at San Jacinto in 1834, and it had been a great probability since 1841, when it was discovered that both England and France were holding out prospects of assistance to the Mexicans in case of conflict with the United States. Neither of these European powers was sincere in the diplomatic game which deceived the proud but ignorant Mexicans, but neither did either of them scruple to foment a quarrel out of which some selfish, though indefinite, advantage might be gained. Indeed they played the diplomatic game so skilfully that they deceived a considerable minority in the United States and made these believe that the admission of Texas to the United States would be unwise and inexpedient, and the probable war with Mexico a wickedness dire and dreadful. Even General Grant, when he wrote his book, said that such were his views at the time, though he was then an army officer and trusting to war for advancement. But when hostilities were begun, and victory for American arms followed victory, the protests of the peace party were unheard amid the enthusiastic shoutings of those who took a saner view of the conditions which led to the conflict.

Mexico claimed title not only to Texas, but to California, and if the United States had not gone to war in regard to the former, she would have had to do so in defence of her conquest of the latter. In securing California the navy bore a conspicuous part, and as early as 1842, Captain Thomas Ap-Catesby Jones, commanding the Pacific squadron, was as active as though war had already been declared. In September of that year, with his squadron of four ships, he was at anchor in the harbor of Callao, and noticing the suspicious conduct of the British frigate "Dublin," which shoved off the port and then bore away, he concluded to follow her and see just what game she sought, as he had been informed by the Navy Department that England was plotting in Mexico against the United States; he had also read in a Mexican newspaper that war was likely to be declared, if indeed hostilities had not already begun. Captain Jones reached Monterey on the 19th of October, and though he saw nothing of the "Dublin," he at once insisted on the surrender of the place. The next day he learned that his action had been premature and made what amends he could. So the navy really struck the first official blow that led to this war.

When war had been declared, the Pacific squadron did not learn of it until after the victories of Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma. Captain Sloat, in command, at once took prompt action. Landing two hundred and fifty seamen and marines under Captain Mervine, he captured Monterey on the 2d of July. A week later he formally took possession of the splendid bay of San Francisco and the neighboring country. He also occupied Sutter's Fort, on Sacramento River, and the towns of Bodega and Sonoma. In this war it will be noticed throughout this narrative that the naval forces were constantly required to do shore duty, a duty to which they were unaccustomed but which they performed with entire efficiency. The Mexicans had no navy worthy of the name and the American sailors were auxiliary to the soldiers. Though untrained to this kind of service, and though it was always hard, and sometimes quite ungrateful, they responded to orders with entire cheerfulness; when the service was most perilous then the blue-jackets entered upon it with a gayety that laughed at danger.

On the 19th of July, Fremont and his corps of topographical engineers met Captain Sloat and thereafter co-operated with him. In the "Cyane," Commander Du Pont, Fremont was sent to San Diego with one hundred and fifty riflemen and that place was occupied. On the 30th of July, the "Congress" took possession of San Pedro, the port of Los Angeles, the seat of the Mexican government in California. About this time the command of the Pacific squadron devolved upon Captain Robert F. Stockton, who was not a whit less vigilant than his predecessors had been. Having all the California seaports, Captain Stockton planned an expedition against Los Angeles before the well-armed Mexican soldiers in the province could be brought together. He landed three hundred and fifty sailors and marines and established a camp at San Pedro. Captain Stockton's biographer says: "There were only about ninety muskets in the whole corps. Some of the men were armed with carbines, others had only pistols, swords, or boarding-pikes. They presented a motley and peculiar appearance, with great variety of costume. Owing to their protracted absence from home the supplies of shoes and clothing had fallen short, and the ragged and diversified colors of their garments, as well as the want of uniformity in their arms and accoutrements, made them altogether a spectacle both singular and amusing." The Mexican forces at Los Angeles outnumbered Captain Stockton's land forces three to one, so he resorted to a stratagem to deceive the enemy as to his force. A flag of truce having appeared on the hills, "he ordered all his men under arms and directed them to march three or four abreast, with intervals of considerable space between each squad, directly in the line of vision of the approaching messengers, to the rear of some buildings on the beach, and thence to turn in a circle and continue their march until the strangers had arrived. Part of the circle described in the march was concealed from view, so that to the strangers it would appear that a force ten times greater than the actual number was defiling before them. When the two bearers of the flag of truce had arrived he ordered them to be led up to him alongside of the artillery, which consisted of several six-pounders and one thirty-two-pound carronade. The guns were all covered with skins so as to conceal their dimensions except the huge mouth of the thirty-two-pounder at which the captain was stationed to receive his guests.... As his purpose was intimidation he received them with much sternness." They asked for a truce, but Stockton demanded and secured an immediate and absolute surrender, as the evident object of the Mexicans was to gain time. Stockton at once began his tedious march to Los Angeles, his men dragging the cannon through the sand. On the 12th of August, he received a message from the Mexican general, saying "if he marched on the town he would find it the grave of his men." He replied: "Then tell your general to have the bells ready to toll at eight o'clock in the morning. I shall be there at that time." He was as good as his word. The next morning he was joined by Fremont and his men, who had come up from San Diego and they entered Los Angeles unopposed. He organized a civil government for the entire state, with Major Fremont as the head of it, and returning to his ships sailed northward on the 5th of September, 1846. The news of these operations was sent to Washington overland by the famous scout, Kit Carson.

Meantime the other ships of the Pacific squadron were cruising along the coast and capturing everything with a semblance of Mexican ownership. But Captain Stockton was much disconcerted in October to learn that two Mexican generals, released on parole after the fall of Los Angeles, had gathered a force and were besieging the small garrison there. The "Savannah" at once went to the scene. At San Pedro it was learned that the garrison had been compelled to capitulate and was awaiting an American cruiser. Captain Mervine, of the "Savannah," landed a detachment of sailors and marines and began the march to the capital. He could not cope with the superior force and had to retire. Indeed nearly all the places captured by the active sailors seemed likely now to fall into the hands of the Mexicans again. The garrison at Monterey was threatened by an uprising of the people; the garrison at San Diego was besieged; Los Angeles was in the hands of the enemy, and the force at the enemy's camp at San Bernardino was getting stronger each day. But Captain Stockton was equal to all demands upon him and made up for inadequate forces by celerity of movement. Just when matters were most critical the naval forces learned of the repulse of General Stephen Kearny by the Mexicans under Pico. It was indeed with great difficulty that Kearny and his dragoons were rescued by the sailors from their invested position near San Bernardino.

Having got what men he could together, Captain Stockton determined to recapture Los Angeles. On the 29th of December, 1846, he began his march of 145 miles to the capital. There were no roads, but the route was through deep ravines, sand-hills, and deserts. The men were poorly armed and badly clothed, and there were few horses to assist in drawing the artillery. Never did an American commander have before him a more disagreeable prospect. The men, many of them without foot-covering, became worn-out in the march and begged to rest, but the captain insisted that they must go on, as the Mexicans were getting stronger every day. The men responded as best they could.

On the 7th of January, the intrepid Stockton found that the enemy was intrenched between him and the San Gabriel River. The Mexican general changed his mind and crossed the river with the object of interrupting the crossing. But Stockton would not be denied, and repulsed the enemy on every side, though outnumbered three to one. This was on the 8th of January, the anniversary of the battle of New Orleans. The next day he fought again, resisting three furious charges of the enemy. On the 10th he entered Los Angeles unopposed, and on the 15th he was joined there by Fremont and his corps. These seaports in California were not seriously harassed during the remainder of the war, but they needed to be garrisoned, while the whole coast required watching. A part of the squadron was sent south and also into the Bay of California. Before the end of 1847 every Mexican gun on the western coast, save those at Acapulco, had been silenced. Loreto, La Paz, Mazatlan, San Blas, Manzanilla, San Antonio, Guaymas, and Mulye fell to the squadron. Sometimes it only needed for a ship or two to appear before a town and it would surrender, but generally an assault or the appearance of a storming party on land was necessary. But the seamen and marines were always invincible in this part of the war, where they were entirely without aid from the army.

The most serious predicament in which the Americans found themselves in this Pacific Coast campaign was when Lieutenant Heywood, of the "Dale," with four midshipmen and twenty marines, were shut up in the Mission House at San José, a small village near San Lucas. He was surrounded by a large force before he knew it, and two of his midshipmen were taken unawares and captured by an enemy not known to be near. Lieutenant Heywood maintained himself from the 19th of November, 1847, till the 17th of February, 1848, when Commander Du Pont, in the "Cyane," came to his rescue. A party of ninety-four seamen and marines, under Lieutenant Rowan, went ashore and fought its way against six hundred Mexicans until they were defeated and Heywood and his men rescued. There was nothing after this on the western coast more serious than guerrilla forays.

The operations on the western coast were probably, in result, much more important than those of the home squadron in the Mexican Gulf and the Rio Grande River. But the latter squadron was the larger, and as it was in constant co-operation with the conquering armies which finally captured the capital of the country, much more has been heard of the doings of the fleet in the east, which was at first commanded by Commodore David Conner and then by Commodore Matthew C. Perry. The operations on this coast also came in for much criticism, for the various ships were filled with young men overflowing with valor and mad with desire of glory. They were also comparatively close to home and saw the newspapers from New York, Washington, and New Orleans. In these papers the army was accorded all the glory while the navy was almost ignored. This neglect rankled in the minds of the madcaps, and they blamed Commodore Conner, an officer of much experience and distinguished record, for not storming every fort and citadel near the coast instead of carrying out his instructions to maintain an efficient blockade of the ports and to co-operate with the army whenever possible. These duties, tiresome and inglorious as they seemed, were of the first importance to the scheme of the campaign, and they were performed with a patience which rose superior to weariness, sickness, and death. The duty required of the blockaders did not require much fighting, but the men were in danger of the coast fevers all the time, and hundreds died. And then at some seasons the fleet was likely to be blown ashore by the fierce "northers" which prevailed. Many accidents resulted during these storms, the most serious being the capsizing of the brig "Somers," Lieutenant Raphael Semmes (afterward commanding the Confederate ship "Alabama") commanding, and the loss of more than half her crew.

When the war began at Palo Alto, Commodore Conner was with his squadron off Point Isabel, at the mouth of the Rio Grande River. Not knowing the issue of the battle, five hundred seamen and marines were sent to strengthen the garrison at Point Isabel, where the army supplies were stored, while Captain Aulick, of the "Potomac," with two hundred men, pulled up the Rio Grande in boats for fifteen miles and until a junction with the army was established at Barita. At this time the squadron consisted of the frigates "Cumberland" (flagship), "Potomac," and "Raritan"; the steam frigate "Mississippi"; the sloops-of-war "Falmouth," "John Adams," and "St. Mary's"; the steam-sloop "Princeton"; and the brigs "Lawrence," "Porpoise," and "Somers." Before the close of the war some of these ships were recalled, at least one was wrecked, and the squadron was from time to time largely reinforced.

The squadron, now that war had begun, was ordered to blockade the ports of Matamoras, on the Rio Grande; Tampico, on the Tampico River; Alvarado, on the Alvarado; Coatzalcoalcos, on the river of the same name; Tabasco, on the Tabasco River; and Vera Cruz, on the Gulf. The rivers mentioned, except the Rio Grande, are mere creeks, not fit for vessels of any size, and their mouths simply open roadsteads. Vera Cruz was the only place with anything like a harbor. The ports in Yucatan, such as Laguna and Campeachy, were only visited for supplies of fresh meat. The State of Yucatan was not assisting in the war and did not need to be blockaded. By the time General Taylor took possession of Matamoras, Commodore Conner's fleet had been considerably augmented by the addition of the sloops-of-war "Germantown," "Albany," "Saratoga" and "Decatur"; the steamers "Spitfire," "Vixen," "Alleghany," "Scorpion" and "Scourge"; the brig "Truxton"; the gunboats "Reefer," "Bonita," and "Rebel." A little later, and just before the bombardment of Vera Cruz, the "Ohio," with seventy-four guns, joined, together with the bomb-vessels "Vesuvius," "Hecla," and "Stromboli." There were also a number of small steamers and gunboats to operate in shallow water. These constituted what was called the "mosquito fleet." With so formidable a fleet the sailors felt they were equal to anything, and whenever a larger part of it was operating at one place, it was difficult to restrain the men. The youngsters even thought Commodore Conner's prudence and conservatism to be timidity, and the writer has before him now a book written twenty-five years after these events, by one who was a midshipman on the flagship, and he quotes the familiar lines about daring to put things to the touch. All this was most unfair, but it indicated that the blue jackets of the Mexican War were buttoned over hearts that knew no fear.

The blockade of the Mexican ports that was maintained was not by any means a paper blockade. It was actual, and the very opposite of the merely formal closing of ports which the United States had so long protested against in other countries. The hardships of the men and officers were fearful and the casualties very great. The tediousness of the service was relieved now and again by daring expeditions into the rivers and ports, where boats were cut out and taken away from beneath batteries on shore. The record of such ventures shows that the navy in 1846 and 1847 was no whit inferior in dash to the one which made the flag glorious some years before in the war with England. One instance of such a venture is quoted from the "Recollections of a Naval Officer," by Captain William Harwar Parker. He was telling of the blockade at Vera Cruz in 1846. He says: "One of the finest fellows in the service I often met on Green Island. I allude to Passed Midshipman Hynson, of Maryland. He was drowned in the brig 'Somers,' when she capsized in the fall of this year. At the time of her sinking, Hynson had both of his arms bandaged and in a sling, and was almost helpless. It was said that when the brig sank he managed to get hold of a spar with another man, and finding it would not support two he deliberately let go his hold. It was like him. The way he happened to have his arm in a sling was this: While the 'Somers' was maintaining the blockade of Vera Cruz, a vessel managed to slip in—I think she was a Spanish schooner. The Mexicans moored her to the walls of the Castle of San Juan for safety; but the officers of the 'Somers' resolved to cut her out or burn her. Hynson was the leading spirit in the affair, though Lieutenant James Parker, of Pennsylvania, was the senior officer. They took a boat one afternoon and pulled in to visit the officers of an English man-of-war lying under Sacrificios Island. It was quite usual to do this. After nightfall they left the British ship and pulled directly for the schooner, which they boarded and carried. This, be it observed, was directly under the guns of the castle and the muskets of its garrison. The crew was secured, and finding the wind would not serve to take the vessel out, it was resolved to burn her. Her captain made some resistance, and the sentinel on the walls called out to know what was the matter. Parker, who spoke Spanish remarkably well, replied that his men were drunk and he was putting them in irons. The party then set fire to the vessel and got safely away with their prisoners. It was in setting fire to the schooner that Hynson got so badly burned."

In regard to the personal heroism shown by Hynson and others when the "Somers" went down, Lieutenant Raphael Semmes, in his book, "Service Afloat and Ashore During the Mexican War," said: "Those men who could not swim were selected to go into the boat. A large man by the name of Seymour, the ship's cook, having got into her, he was commanded by Lieutenant Parker to come out, in order that he might make room for two smaller men, and he obeyed the order. He was afterward permitted to return to her, however, when it was discovered that he could not swim. Passed Midshipman Hynson, a promising young officer, who had been partially disabled by a bad burn received in firing the 'Creole' a few days previously, was particularly implored to go into the boat. A lad by the name of Nutter jumped out of the boat and offered his place to Hynson, and a man by the name of Powers did the same thing. Hynson refusing both offers, these men declared that then others might take their places, as they were resolved to abide in the wreck with him. Hynson and Powers were drowned. Nutter was saved. When the plunge was made into the sea, Sailing-Master Clemson seized a studding-sail boom, in company with five of the seamen. Being a swimmer, and perceiving that the boom was not sufficiently buoyant to support them all, he left it and struck out alone. He perished—the five men were saved."

Just about this time the first of the gunboats reached the squadron, and the young men of the steerage were intensely amused at the smallness of the vessel. A midshipman from the flagship visited the "Reefer." He went alongside of her in the barge, and, not knowing any better, stepped over her port-quarter. Lieutenant Sterrett, in command, said in his least gentle voice: "Sir, there is a gangway to this vessel!" Before long even the youngsters learned to respect these little steamers. Commodore Conner now made an expedition to capture Alvarado, but just as he was about ready to begin a bombardment his pilots predicted a "norther," and he hoisted the signal, "Return to the anchorage off Vera Cruz." This was popularly regarded as a fiasco , but doubtless the Commodore was entirely right, as Alvarado might be taken at any time, and subsequently was taken in a manner which has been a joke in the navy ever since. Of this something will presently be said. Tampico, a town of 7,000 inhabitants, 210 miles north of Vera Cruz, was next proceeded against. The bar at the mouth of the Tampico River is considered the most dangerous on the coast, and the larger vessels did not try to cross it. But the smaller steamers and gunboats of the "mosquito fleet" went in, and the town was surrendered without firing a shot. It was then occupied by the army. The next movement was against Frontera, at the mouth of the Tabasco River, and Tabasco, some seventy miles up that little stream. Frontera was taken by surprise, and Commodore Perry, now second in command to Commodore Conner, moved up the stream with vessels of too heavy draught. He came near losing the "Cumberland" in the mud, and, as it was, she was so disabled that when she was pulled from her perch on a bar she had to be sent home for repairs. Perry, however, defeated the Mexican flotilla and captured all the boats. Two of the prizes had to be blown up, but the "Champion," a fast river boat, which had run between Richmond and Norfolk, was taken out and afterward usefully employed as a despatch-boat. In this expedition there was considerable fighting and also some losses both of officers and men.

In blockading the port of Tuspan, some 120 miles northwest of Vera Cruz, the brig "Truxton," Captain Carpenter, was stationed. The ship was blown ashore and was under the Mexican guns. The Captain sent a boat to tell the Commodore of the disaster, but before relief could reach him he surrendered. In doing this he was opposed bitterly by all his officers, and the quarter-master on duty positively refused to obey the order to haul down the flag. Lieutenant Bushrod Hunter, who first went for assistance, reached the squadron off Vera Cruz, as did also Lieutenant Otway Berryman, with a boat's crew, which left before the surrender had been effected. The remainder of the crew were taken to Vera Cruz as prisoners of war. As soon as Commodore Conner heard of the disaster he sent Captain Engle with the "Princeton" to Tuspan. He made short work of it. He drove the Mexicans out of the brig, took what armament was left, and then burned her. The guns taken out of the "Truxton" were placed in forts erected to protect Tuspan. But these were captured next year by Commodore Perry and Captain Breese. The officers and men of the navy had a grudge against Tuspan, and the landing detachment which carried the works fought as though each man in it were a demon. It lost three killed, while five officers and six seamen were wounded.

During the summer of 1847, the men of the squadron operating in the Gulf suffered severely from yellow fever and also from scurvy brought on by a lack of fresh food. It was so bad on the "Mississippi" that she had to been sent to Pensacola. Commodore Perry was himself stricken, but he refused to leave, and changed his flag to the "Germantown," which remained. This was after the fall of Vera Cruz, and when the duty of the naval forces was once again only that of blockaders. The investment of Vera Cruz was the most considerable single piece of work performed by the navy during the war. Commodore Conner had gathered at Vera Cruz all his available forces and anxiously awaited the coming of General Scott and his army, who were at Lobos Island, 150 miles north of Vera Cruz. General Taylor, with 5,000 men, had just defeated Santa Anna with 20,000 men at Buena Vista, and two days later, that is, on the 24th of February, 1847, General Scott gave his final orders to his fleet of transports which was to take his army to Vera Cruz. Early in March the transports with 12,600 men arrived in front of Vera Cruz. Captain Parker, in his book previously quoted, says: "No words can express our excitement as ship after ship crowded with enthusiastic soldiers successively came in; some anchoring near us and others continuing on for the anchorage at Anton Lizardo. We had been so long on our ships, and for some months so inactive, that we were longing for something to do. I cannot answer for others, but the scene of that day—and I recollect that it was Sunday—is so vivid, and the events so firmly fixed in my memory, that I can almost see the ship "Diadem" as she grazed our spanker-boom in her desire to pass near enough to speak us, and I can to this day whistle the waltz played by an infantry band on board a transport anchored near us that night, though I have never heard it since."

Indeed, the naval contingent was most anxious to be in some of the heavy fighting, and the chance seeming near, all was enthusiasm aboard the ships of the squadron. A few days after General Scott's arrival he and Commodore Conner and a large number of principal officers, including Captain Joseph E. Johnston, of the "Engineers," made a reconnaissance to decide on the best place to land the army. They selected the mainland abreast of Sacrificios Island.

On the 9th of March, the steamers "Spitfire" and "Vixen" and several gunboats ran close inshore and shelled the sand-hills and chaparral in which the enemy might be concealed. Only a few horsemen were made to scamper away. The Government for this very landing had sent out a number of surf-boats, flat on the bottom and sharp at both ends. Each of these carried one hundred men with their arms and accoutrements. They proved most admirable for the service, as the whole army was landed with out a mishap, and, singularly enough, the Mexicans did not molest the Americans in the least while this important movement was in progress. By midnight of the 9th of March the whole of the army was ashore. Landing the troops having been accomplished, the work of taking the artillery pieces, the ammunition, and supplies was begun, and this consumed a week, each day lasting from four in the morning till ten at night.

While this was in progress, General Scott was so arranging his troops that he should entirely invest the city, and by the 20th of March the bombardment began. General Scott summoned the authorities to surrender, and gave them a chance to send the women and children out of the city. Both invitation and opportunity were declined. And so it came about that many non-combatants were killed in the siege that followed. The sailors not only had to land the army and the materials of war, but they were obliged to help get the siege guns in place. The blue-jacket ashore is nearly always alive to the importance of having a lark, and even in this arduous service they acted very much as though they were on a spree. On one occasion a "norther" came up, and for several days the seamen could not get back to their ships. Being idle they had a good time to their hearts' content. It is said that before the end of the first day every Jack of them had a horse and was a mounted marine. One of these, a very tough old salt, had for his charger a donkey, and on this animal he rode by General Scott's quarters in great pride. "Some officers standing by observing that he was, as they thought, seated too far back, called out to him to shift his seat more amidships. 'Gentlemen,' said Jack, drawing rein, 'this is the first craft I ever commanded, and it's d—d hard if I can't ride on the quarter-deck.'"

But there was more serious work immediately in store for the navy than fetching and carrying for the army and rewarding themselves in boyish pranks. The day before the serious bombardment began the squadron was notified by signal from the flagship: "Commodore Perry commands the squadron." There was rejoicing at this, for Perry was regarded as a man who preferred a fight for its own sake rather than to have no fight at all. In this command he proved that he was a good fighter, but he proved also that he knew how to be conservative when necessity made such a course wise. Commodore Conner went home because his health demanded that he should. The Navy Department was not dissatisfied with him. But the opportunity for heavy fighting came after Perry took the command. From the beginning of the siege the fleet kept up a heavy firing on the city and castle so as to divert the fire from the land forces.

General Scott soon saw that his guns were not strong enough to batter down the walls of the city, so he requested Commodore Perry to send him some heavy guns. The Commodore's gallant reply was: "Certainly, General, but I must fight them." And fight them he did, as we shall see. Six heavy pieces of ordnance were landed, and about 200 seamen and volunteers were attached to each gun. Three of these were sixty-eight-pounder shell guns and three thirty-two-pounder solid-shot guns. Each of these guns weighed about three tons. Now each of these had to be dragged through the loose sand, almost knee-deep, for something like three miles before it could be put in the position the engineers had assigned to it. This battery, by the way, was protected by bags of sand piled on each other, and this was the first time that this device had been used. When the battery was in position the officers and men of the ships were so anxious to fight it that, to prevent jealousy, the officers first to be assigned drew lots for the honor. The first day Captain Aulick commanded, and the next day Captain Mayo. The naval battery fired with such precision that they did amazing damage to the enemy's works, and on the second day the guns in Vera Cruz were silenced. Then began a parley as to terms, but on the 28th there was an unconditional surrender. Now Scott had a foothold in the part of Mexico which counted for something, and he was able to begin that masterly march through the Valley of Mexico and on to the capital of the country. But he never could have obtained this foothold without the assistance of the navy. The country did not recognize this at once, and the newspapers being printed by landsmen, all of the immediate glory was bestowed on General Scott.

Now that Vera Cruz had fallen and General Scott's plans called for a movement toward the interior, it was most desirable for him to have better cavalry. But he lacked horses. Singular as it may seem, he called upon the navy to assist in supplying this deficiency. It was known that there were Mexican horsemen in and about Alvarado, so it was determined to proceed against this place by land and sea, so that the town could be reduced, and the horses secured at the same time. General Quitman, with a brigade, was sent by land, so as to keep the horsemen from running away, while the "Potomac," Captain Aulick, and the "Scourge," Lieutenant Charles G. Hunter, were sent to appear in front of Alvarado. It was evidently intended that Captain Aulick and General Quitman would move on the place on some appointed day. Lieutenant Hunter did not know what the plans were, and as his boat was much faster than the "Potomac" he arrived in front of Alvarado long before Captain Aulick. When the "Potomac" did come in sight, a great commotion was noticed in the harbor. The "Albany," which had been doing blockading service, came out and informed Captain Aulick that Alvarado had been taken.

"By whom?" asked the Captain.

"By Lieutenant Hunter, in the 'Scourge,'" was the reply.

The "Scourge," it should be explained, was a very small steamer, carrying one gun and forty men. Hunter went up pretty close and observing indications of flinching, he fired three guns and dashed boldly in and captured the place. The horsemen, the capture of whom was the main object of the expedition, were frightened off before General Quitman could intercept them. Having taken possession of Alvarado, Lieutenant Hunter placed in the town a garrison consisting of a midshipman and two men, and hurried his steamer up the river to a place called Tlacotalpan, which he also captured. When General Quitman arrived in Alvarado with his brigade and the place was gravely handed over to him by Passed Midshipman William G. Temple (afterward a very distinguished officer of high rank) he was greatly amused and laughed heartily. But Commodore Perry was annoyed and angry. As soon as he could get hold of Hunter—not an easy matter, as Hunter had gone on his conquering way still further up the river with the intention of taking all the rest of Mexico not subjugated by Taylor and Scott—he placed him under arrest and preferred charges against him. When Hunter was shortly tried by court-martial, he was sentenced to be reprimanded by the Commodore, the reprimand to be read from the quarter-deck of every vessel in the squadron.

The reprimand, prepared by Commodore Perry, was thought by pretty nearly all the officers of the squadron to be entirely too severe. A military offence had been committed, but it amounted to a mere trifle, and the time was ripe for the people to laugh over such an occurrence. In effect the reprimand was something like this: "Who told you to take Alvarado? You were sent to watch Alvarado, not to take it. You have taken Alvarado with but a single gun and not a marine to back you!" Then the announcement was made that the squadron would soon move against Tabasco, and that Hunter should not accompany it, but that he should be dismissed the squadron. And he was sent home. In New York the people made a hero of him, giving him swords and dinners, and securing for him the command of the schooner "Taney," in which he made a roving cruise to the Mediterranean. As long as he lived he was always spoken of as "Alvarado" Hunter. A sense of humor is sometimes a dangerous cargo for a public man to carry; but the absence of it also is often dangerous. In this instance Commodore Perry, because he did not see the amusing aspect of Hunter's escapade, made himself so ridiculous that he came near cutting short his own career, which, as will afterward be seen in this history, was destined for greater achievements than any in the past.

Blue-Jackets before Vera Cruz.

The next objective point for the navy was Tuspan, where the "Truxton" had been lost. The bar at Tuspan is dangerous, and even the small steamers of the squadron had their masts hoisted out of them to lighten them. Commodore Perry hoisted his flag on the "Spitfire" and led the way up the river with the boats of the squadron in tow. The first fort on the river below the town, called the Pana, was silenced by the gun of the "Spitfire" and then stormed by the sailors; two other forts were taken in the same way and the town was occupied. The Mexicans made a spirited defence, but did little damage, only one man being killed. Among the wounded were Captain Tatnall, Commander Whittle, and Lieutenant James Parker. The guns taken from the "Truxton" were found in one of the forts and restored to the fleet.

The last naval operation of the war was against Tabasco. Commodore Perry took all of the fleet which could possibly go up the river from Frontera. This town was easily captured, but when the ascent of the river began the boats were continually fired upon from the trees and chaparral along the banks. At a place called Devil's Bend, the passage of the river was interrupted by a sunken obstruction, technically called a chevaux de frise. Commodore Perry did not mean to let this stop him, so he organized a land force of seamen and marines and concluded to march to Tabasco. He had numerous skirmishes, but was not stopped. One day his own ships passed him, the chevaux de frise  having been raised by attaching rubber bags to it and then inflating them with air. When Perry arrived at Tabasco he found the American flag flying, the town having fallen without resistance to his own ships. So his own arduous march across country had been all for nothing. This was the last work of the sailors, but the marines of the navy still saw glorious service, as a detachment of them was with General Scott, participating in the attack on Chapultepec. They were also among the first to enter the City of Mexico when that capital surrendered.

The navy in the War with Mexico did itself credit as it always had before, and reflected honor upon the country, whose flag was upheld with brilliant courage and untiring zeal.


The remaining work of the British blockading squadrons along the Atlantic Coast demands some attention, and some account must be given of certain land actions which were inseparably connected with the course of naval events. This narrative can well be divided into two parts, each dealing with the operations of one section of the blockading fleet; thus tracing the course of events up to the close of the war on the New England coast, before taking up the proceedings on the Chesapeake station.

It will be remembered that Decatur had been checked in his attempt to break the blockade at the eastern end of Long Island Sound, and was forced to take the frigates "United States" and "Macedonian," and the sloop-of-war "Hornet," into New London Harbor. Early in December, 1813, he determined to try to slip out; and choosing a dark night, when wind and tide were in his favor, he dropped down the bay, and was about to put to sea, when bright blue lights blazed up on either side of the harbor's mouth, and the plan was exposed by the treachery of some party never detected. After this failure, the two frigates returned up the river, where they remained until the end of the war. The "Hornet" managed to get to sea, and did good service before peace was declared.

In April, 1814, the British blockaders on the New England coast began active operations by sending an expedition up the Connecticut River to Pautopaug Point, where the invaders landed, spiked the guns of a small battery, and destroyed twenty-two vessels. Thence they proceeded down the river, burning a few more craft on the way, and escaped safely to their ships; although a party of militia, and sailors and marines from Decatur's vessels, attempted to cut them off. Shortly after this occurrence, a fleet of American gunboats attacked the blockading squadron off New London, and succeeded in inflicting serious damages upon the enemy.

In June, the enemy's depredations extended to the Massachusetts coast. The little village of Wareham was the first sufferer. A sudden descent made by boats' crews from the frigates "Superb" and "Nimrod" so completely surprised the inhabitants, that the enemy burned the shipping at the wharves, set fire to a factory, and retreated before the villagers fully comprehended the blow that had fallen upon them. Like occurrences took place at other coastwise towns; and, in every case, the militia proved powerless to check the enemy. All up and down the New England coast, from Maine to the mouth of the Connecticut River, the people were panic-stricken; and hardly a night passed without witnessing the flames of some bonfire kindled by the British out of American property.

The Descent on Wareham.

In August, 1814, Commodore Hardy appeared off Stonington with a fleet of several vessels, headed by the seventy-four "Ramillies." Casting anchor near shore, he sent to the mayor and selectmen the following curt note: "Not wishing to destroy the unoffending inhabitants residing in the town of Stonington, one hour is granted them, from the receipt of this, to remove out of town." This message naturally caused great consternation; and, while messengers were sent in all directions to call together the militia, the answer was returned to the fleet: "We shall defend the place to the last extremity. Should it be destroyed, we will perish in its ruins." And, having thus defied the enemy, the farmers and fishermen who inhabited the town set about preparing for its defence. The one battery available for service consisted of two eighteen-pounders and a four-pounder, mounted behind earth breastworks. The gunners were put under the command of an old sailor, who had been impressed into the British navy, where he served four years. The skill he thus acquired in gunnery, he now gladly used against his former oppressors. It was near nightfall when the British opened fire; and they kept up a constant cannonade with round shot, bombs, Congreve rockets, and carcasses until near midnight, without doing the slightest damage. The bursting shells, the fiery rockets, and the carcasses filled with flaming chemicals, fairly filled the little wooden village with fire; but the exertions of the people prevented the spread of the flames. The fleet ceased firing at midnight, but there was no peace for the villagers. Militia-men were pouring in from the country round about, laborers were at work throwing up breastwork, carriers were dashing about in search of ammunition, and all was activity, until, with the first gleam of daylight, the fire of the ships was re-opened. The Americans promptly responded, and soon two eighteen-pound shot hulled the brig "Despatch." For an hour or two a rapid fire was kept up; then, the powder giving out, the Americans spiked their largest gun, and, nailing a flag to the battery flagstaff, went in search of more ammunition. The British did not land; and the Americans, finding six kegs of powder, took the gun to a blacksmith, who drilled out the spike, and the action continued. So vigorous and well directed was the fire of the Americans, that the "Despatch" was forced to slip her cables and make off to a place of safety. That afternoon a truce was declared, which continued until eight the next morning. By that time, the Americans had assembled in sufficient force to defeat any landing party the enemy could send ashore. The bombardment of the town continued; but the aim of the British was so inconceivably poor, that, during the three days' firing, no damage was done by their shot. A more ludicrous fiasco could hardly be imagined, and the Americans were quick to see the comical side of the affair. Before departing, the British fired over fifteen tons of lead and iron into the town. A quantity of this was picked up by the Americans, and offered for sale. In a New York paper appeared the advertisement,—

"Just received, and offered for sale, about three tons of round shot, consisting of six, nine, twelve, eighteen, twenty-four, and thirty-two pounds; very handsome, being a small proportion of those which were fired from His Britannic Majesty's ships on the unoffending inhabitants of Stonington, in the recent brilliant attack on that place. Likewise a few carcasses, in good order, weighing about two hundred pounds each. Apply," etc.

A popular bard of the time set forth in rollicking verse the exploits of the British gunners:—

"They killed a goose, they killed a hen,
Three hogs they wounded in a pen;
They dashed away,—and pray what then?
That was not taking Stonington.

"The shells were thrown, the rockets flew;
But not a shell of all they threw—
Though every house was full in view—
Could burn a house in Stonington."

With this affair, in which the British expended ammunition to the amount of fifty thousand dollars, and lost twenty men killed and fifty wounded, active offensive operations along the Connecticut coast ended. Farther north, however, the British still raided towns and villages, showing more spirit in their attacks than did Hardy at Stonington. Eastport, Me., was captured in July, and converted into a veritable British colony. The inhabitants who remained in the town were forced to take an oath of allegiance to Great Britain; fortifications were thrown up, and an arsenal established; King George's officials were placed in the custom-house, and thenceforward until the end of the war the town was virtually British. Encouraged by this success, the enemy undertook a more difficult task. A formidable fleet of men-of-war and transports, bearing almost ten thousand troops, was fitted out at Halifax for the purpose of reducing to British rule all that part of Maine lying between Passamaquoddy Bay and the Penobscot River. This expedition set sail from Halifax on the 26th of August, bound for Machias; but on the voyage down the coast of Maine the brig "Rifleman" was encountered, and from her the presence of the United States corvette "Adams" in the Penobscot River was learned. It will be remembered that the "Adams," before entering the river, had chased the British brig. Upon learning this, the British naval commander, Admiral Griffiths, pressed forward to the mouth of the Penobscot, and, anchoring there, despatched a land and naval expedition up the river for the capture of the corvette.

When the news of this advancing force reached Capt. Morris, the "Adams" was partially out of water, dismantled, and in the hands of the ship carpenters, who were repairing the injuries she had received on the rocks off Mount Desert. The ship herself was utterly defenceless, but Morris made strenuous attempts to collect a land force to defend her. He managed to rally a few hundred militia-men, who, with the sailors and marines, were routed by the enemy on the night of the 3d of September. Finding that the enemy's forces were not to be driven back by so small a body of men, Morris retreated, first setting fire to the corvette, which was totally destroyed before the British came up.

The retreating sailors were then forced to march over rugged roads to Portsmouth, N.H.; and, as walking was an exercise they were little accustomed to, many suffered severely from the unusual exertion. The difficulty of getting provisions along the road led the men to separate into several parties; but, notwithstanding the opportunities thus afforded for desertion, all who were not broken down by the long march ultimately reported for duty at the Portsmouth navy-yard.

Along the Southern seaboard the course of the war was even more disastrous to the Americans. Intelligence which reached the national authorities in the spring of 1814 led them to believe that the British were planning an expedition for the capture of Washington. Grave as was the danger, the authorities were slow to move; and though in July the Government called for fifteen thousand troops, and gave their command to Gen. Winder, yet the actual defensive force about the national capital consisted of but a few hundred militia. The naval defence was intrusted to the veteran Commodore Barney, who had served with distinction in the Revolution, and during the early years of the second war with Great Britain had commanded the Baltimore privateer "Rossie." The force put under Barney's command consisted of twenty-six gunboats and barges, manned by nine hundred men. Chiefly by his own energetic exertions, this force was ready for service in April; and by June the crews were drilled and disciplined, and the commanders schooled in the tactics of squadron evolutions. On the 1st of that month occurred the first brush with the enemy. The American flotilla was then lying in Chesapeake Bay, a little below the mouth of the Patuxent; and, a portion of the enemy's squadron coming within range, Barney ordered out his forces in chase. The British, outnumbered, fled down the bay; but, though Barney was rapidly overhauling them, he saw his hopes of victory shattered by the sudden appearance of His Britannic Majesty's seventy-four gun ship "Dragon." Thus re-enforced, it became the turn of the British to pursue; and the Americans retreated, firing constantly as they fled. The British continuing their advance, Barney was forced to take shelter in the Patuxent River; and he was gradually forced up that stream as far as the mouth of St. Leonard's Creek. The enemy then, feeling certain that the Americans were fairly entrapped, anchored at the mouth of the river, and awaited re-enforcements. These soon arrived; and on the 8th of the month the enemy's forces, consisting of a frigate, brig, and two schooners, moved up the river to the mouth of the creek. Farther they could not go, owing to shoal-water; but they fitted out a small flotilla of barges, and sent them on up the creek. With this enemy Commodore Barney was ready to come to close quarters; and he moved down upon the British, who quickly retreated to the shelter of their ships. Two or three such sham attacks were made by the enemy, but not until the 10th of the month did they actually give battle to the Americans.

On the morning of that day the British advanced in force to the attack; and the peaceful little creek was ablaze with flags and bright uniforms, and the wooded shores echoed back the strains of martial music. Twenty-one barges, one rocket-boat, and two schooners formed the British column of attack, which moved grandly up the creek, with the bands playing patriotic airs, and the sailors, confident of victory, cheering lustily. Eight hundred men followed the British colors. Against this force Barney advanced with but five hundred sailors. His sloop and gun-vessels he left at anchor, as being too unwieldy for the narrow shoal-waters of St. Leonard's Creek; and he met the enemy's flotilla with but thirteen barges. The enemy opened the action at long range with rockets and howitzers. The former were terrible missiles in an action of this character, corresponding to the shells of modern naval warfare. Some idea of their destructiveness may be derived from the fact, that one of them, fired at long range, exploded and set fire to a boat, after having first passed through the body of one of her crew. Barney had no rockets; and, as the combat at long range was telling upon his men, he at once dashed forward into the midst of the enemy. Soon the barges were engaged in desperate hand-to-hand conflicts. The sailors, grappling with their adversary's craft, fought with pistol and cutlass across the gunwales. Barney, in a small barge with twenty men, dashed about, now striking a blow in aid of some overmatched American boat, then cheering on some laggard, or applauding some deed of gallantry that occurred in his sight. Major William Barney, son of the commodore, saw an American barge on fire, and deserted by her crew who feared the explosion of her magazine. Running his boat alongside, he jumped into the flaming craft; and by dint of bailing in water, and rocking her from side to side, he succeeded in saving the barge. For more than an hour the action raged, both sides fighting with great vigor and gallantry; but the Americans having pierced the British line, the enemy, falling into confusion, turned, and strained every muscle to gain the protection of their ship's guns. The Americans followed in hot pursuit; but their course was abruptly checked at the mouth of the creek by a British schooner, whose eighteen guns commanded respect. For a moment the pursuing barges fell back; then, choosing advantageous positions, they opened fire upon the schooner with such effect that she soon turned to escape. She succeeded in getting under the protecting guns of the frigate and sloop-of-war, but was so cut to pieces in the short action that she was run aground and abandoned. The larger vessels now opened fire upon Barney's forces; and the flotilla, after a few shots of defiance, returned to its quarters up the creek.

The Battle of the Barges.

For the next two weeks all was quiet along the shores of the Patuxent and St. Leonard's Creek. The enemy had learned wisdom from their late defeat, and contented themselves with blockading the mouth of the creek, and leaving Barney undisturbed in his retreat. But the doughty commodore had no idea of being thus confined, and during the time of quiet made preparations for an attempt to break the blockade. Land forces from Washington were sent down to aid in this attempt; and two pieces of artillery were to be mounted on a hill at the mouth of the creek, and thence throw red-hot shot into the enemy's ships. The land forces, however, rendered not the slightest assistance; and a too cautious colonel posted the battery at such a point that no shot could reach the enemy without first passing through a hill. Accordingly, when Barney led his flotilla gallantly down to the attack, he found that the issue of the conflict rested upon the sailors alone. From the battery, which was expected to draw the enemy's fire, not a single effective shot was fired. The sailors fought nobly, using their heavy long twelves and eighteens with great effect. But they were sadly hampered by their position; for the mouth of the creek was so narrow that but eight barges could lie abreast, and the others coming down from above soon packed the little stream from shore to shore, giving the enemy a mark that the poorest gunner could hardly miss. Against the storm of grape and canister that the British poured upon them, the sailors had absolutely no protection. The barges were without bulwarks, and the blue-jackets at the guns and at the oars were exposed to the full force of the British fire. Yet in this exposed situation the gallant fellows kept up the fight for nearly an hour, only withdrawing when the last ray of hope for help from the shore battery had vanished. Shortly after the Americans abandoned the attack, the blockading squadron got under way and stood down the bay. From the way in which one of the frigates was working her pumps, the Americans saw that their fire had not been entirely without effect.

Barney's flotilla had now given the British so much trouble that they determined to destroy it without delay; and an expedition of more than five thousand men—composed of regulars, marines, and a few negroes—was carried up the Patuxent, and landed at Benedict, where an armed brig had been stationed to cover the disembarkation. It was early dawn when the signal to land was given, and the river was covered in an instant with a well-manned and warlike flotilla. It was hard work for the British sailors, for a strong current was running; but by three o'clock in the afternoon the whole army was landed, and encamped in a strong position on a hill overlooking the village. Though no American troops were anywhere in the vicinity, the landing was conducted with the utmost caution. As the prow of each boat grated on the sand, the soldiers leaped on the beach, and instantly drew up in line, ready to repel any attack. After the infantry was landed, about a hundred artillerymen followed, and the same number of sailors dragging howitzers.

It is easily understood that this powerful force was not organized solely to destroy Barney's pitiful little flotilla. The real purpose of the British commander was to press on into the interior, and capture Washington, which the Americans had foolishly left without any defences whatever. It came to Barney's ears that Admiral Cockburn had boasted that he would destroy the American flotilla, and dine in Washington the following Sunday. This news the American commodore sent off to the authorities at the capital, and they then began to make futile preparations to repel the invader. In the mean time the British commenced their march up the shores of the Patuxent, meeting with no opposition. Barney, knowing that the defence of the national capital was of far greater importance than the fate of his flotilla, landed with four hundred men, and hastened to the American lines before Washington. He left the barges under the command of the second lieutenant, Mr. Frazier, with instructions to set fire to every boat on the appearance of the enemy, and then join the commodore with all the men left under his charge. Accordingly, when the invading column reached Nottingham, Mr. Frazier took the flotilla still higher up the creek,—a move that vastly disconcerted the British, who saw their prey eluding them. "But in the main object of our pursuit we were disappointed," wrote a British officer. "The flotilla which had been stationed opposite to Nottingham retired, on our approach, higher up the stream; and we were consequently in the situation of a huntsman who sees his hounds at fault, and has every reason to apprehend that his game will escape." But the game never fell into the hands of the ardent hunters; for the next day Mr. Frazier fulfilled his orders by setting fire to every barge, and, after seeing several of the larger boats blow up, mustered his men, and cut across the country, to join his superior officer. The British naval forces soon after reached Pig Point, the scene of this destruction, and there remained; while the land forces immediately turned away from the river, and marched upon Washington.


It is not necessary to give in detail the incidents of the series of skirmishes by which the British fought their way to the American capital. They were opposed by raw militia, and the few sailors and marines under Barney. The former fled with promptitude at the very first fire, but the sailors and marines fought gallantly. The fighting was sharpest at Bladensburg; and here Barney's blue-jackets won praise from everybody, even from the enemy whose advance they disputed. Barney himself led the Americans, and sighted a favorite gun of the sailors' battery, until he fell desperately wounded. This battery commanded the road by which the main column of British advanced; and by its hail of grape and canister it beat back the advancing regiments, and for some time checked their further progress. The British thereupon opened with rockets, and sent out sharp-shooters to pick off the Yankee gunners. One of these riflemen was observed by the Americans to deliberately build for himself a small redoubt of stones from an old wall; and, lying down behind it, he began a deliberate fire upon the Americans. His first bullet went through the cap of one of the sailors, and the second sent a poor fellow to his long account. The marines answered with their muskets; but the fellow's stone rampart saved him, and he continued his fire. Barney vowed to put an end to that affair, and, carefully sighting one of his cannon, pulled the lanyard. The heavy round shot was seen to strike the sharp-shooter's defence, and stones and man disappeared in a cloud of dust. Meantime, the enemy had thrown out flanking parties under cover of the woods, and had nearly surrounded the little band of sailors. A musket-ball struck Barney in the thigh, and he began to grow faint with loss of blood; and, finding that the militia had fled, and the sailors were becoming exhausted, the commodore ordered a retreat. The blue-jackets left the field in good order; but their gallant commander had gone but a few steps, when the pain of his wound forced him to lie down under a tree, and await the coming of the enemy. The British soon came up, led by Gen. Ross and Capt. Wainwright of the navy. After learning Barney's rank, and courteously offering to secure surgical aid, the general turned to his companion, and, speaking of the stubborn resistance made by the battery, said, "I told you it was the flotilla men."—"Yes. You were right, though I could not believe you," was the response. "They have given us the only fighting we have had."

Meanwhile, the British, having routed the Americans at every point, pressed on to Washington. The inhabitants fled before them, and the town was almost deserted when the British marched in with banners flying and bands playing. The enemy held the city for only a day; but in that time they did such deeds of vandalism, that even the people and the press of London cried out in indignation. The President's house, the Capitol, all the public buildings except the Patent Office, were burned to the ground. The navy-yard, with the uncompleted ships on the stocks, was likewise burned; but in this the enemy only acted in accordance with the rules of war. It was their destruction of the public buildings, the national archives, and the Congressional library, that aroused the wrathful indignation of all fair-minded people, whether Americans or Europeans. "Willingly," said one London newspaper, "would we throw a veil of oblivion over our transactions at Washington. The Cossacks spared Paris, but we spared not the capital of America." A second English journal fitly denounced the proceedings as "a return to the times of barbarism."

The March on Washington.

But, if the invaders are rightly to be blamed for the useless vandalism they encouraged, the American authorities are still more culpable for their neglect of the most ordinary precautions of war. That a national capital, close to the sea, should be left virtually unprotected while the enemy was massing his forces only a few miles away, seems almost unbelievable. But so it was with Washington; for five hundred flotilla men were forced to bear the brunt of the attack of five thousand British. True it is that the military authorities had massed seven thousand militia-men for the defence of the city; but such was the trepidation of these untrained soldiers, that they fled before the main body of the British had come into the fight. That the sailors and marines fought bravely, we have the testimony of the British themselves. Mr. Gleig, a subaltern in the attacking army, writes, "Of the sailors, however, it would be injustice not to speak in the terms which their conduct merits. They were employed as gunners; and not only did they serve their guns with a quickness and precision which astonished their assailants, but they stood till some of them were actually bayonneted with fuses in their hands; nor was it till their leader was wounded and taken, and they saw themselves deserted on all sides by the soldiers, that they quitted the field." Therefore, in the battle of Bladensburg, the blue-jackets won nothing but honor, though the results of the battle were so mortifying to the national pride of the people of the United States.

On the 25th of August the British left the smoking ruins of Washington behind them, and made for their fleet lying in the Patuxent. They feared that the outraged nation would rise upon them, and turn their march into a bloody retreat, like that of the British soldiery from the historic field of Lexington. Accordingly their departure was by night, immediately after a furious storm of rain and wind. Strict orders were issued to all the Americans in Washington, warning them, under penalty of death, not to leave their houses until the sun rose the next morning. Then the British stealthily marched out of the town. "No man spoke above his breath," says subaltern Gleig. "Our very steps were planted lightly, and we cleared the town without exciting observation." A two days' march brought them to Benedict, where the fleet lay in waiting for their reception.

The Burning of Washington.

In the mean time, a portion of the British fleet had ascended the Potomac as far as Alexandria, and, finding that town defenceless, proceeded to dictate to the inhabitants the terms upon which they could save their village from desolation. The British demanded that all naval stores and ordnance, all the shipping and its furniture, all merchandise, and all provisions in the town should be surrendered. Several vessels had been scuttled, to prevent their falling into the hands of the enemy; these, the British demanded, should be raised, repaired, and delivered to them Time, however, did not permit the fulfilment of this condition; but to the others, harsh and humiliating though they were, the inhabitants were forced to accede. Heavy laden with the spoils of the village, the pillagers weighed anchor and started down the Potomac. But they were not destined to carry away their booty unmolested. News of the expedition reached Baltimore, and a large party of the sailors at the navy-yard were sent to the banks of the Potomac to cut off the enemy's retreat. They were officered by four men famous in American naval annals,—Perry, Rodgers, Porter, and Creighton. At Indian Head, just below Mount Vernon, the Potomac River narrows and flows swiftly between densely wooded bluffs. At this point the Americans threw up redoubts, and, mounting all the cannon that could be gathered on such short notice, prepared to dispute the enemy's passage. When the British fleet hove in sight, they were greeted with a storm of shot from the unsuspected batteries; and they recoiled in confusion. Practised American hunters lined the woody shores, and picked off the British sailors with musket-balls. For some time the fleet was thus checked in its progress. Finally the admiral determined that only by a bold dash could he escape; and accordingly, massing his vessels and concentrating his fire on the chief battery, he dashed past, and rejoined his superior officer, Cockburn, not without paying dearly for his exploit at Alexandria.

While the British were thus devastating the shores of Chesapeake Bay, they cast more than one longing look toward the thriving city of Baltimore, which, by its violent patriotism, had done much to urge on the war. From the shipyards of Baltimore came more than one stout naval vessel that had forced the enemy to haul down his colors. But that which more than any thing else aroused the hatred of the British was the share Baltimore took in fitting out and manning those swift privateers, concerning whose depredations upon British commerce we shall have something to say in a later chapter. "It is a doomed town," said Vice-admiral Warren. "The truculent inhabitants of Baltimore must be tamed with the weapons which shook the wooden turrets of Copenhagen," cried the editor of a great London paper. But, nevertheless, Baltimore did not fall before the invader, although for some time the army and navy of the enemy were united in the attempt to bring desolation upon the obnoxious city.

Planning the Attack.

After the fall of Washington, the depredations of the British along the shores of Chesapeake Bay redoubled, and the marauding expeditions thus employed were really feelers thrown out to test the strength of the defenses of Baltimore. That the marauders found some opposition, is evident from a passage in the journal of a British officer. "But these hasty excursions, though generally successful, were not always performed without loss to the invaders." On one of these expeditions, Sir Peter Parker, captain of the frigate "Menelaus," lost his life. He had been ordered down to the mouth of the bay just after the fall of Washington. "I must first have a frolic with the Yankees," said he. And accordingly, after a jovial dinner aboard his frigate, he led a night expedition of sailors and marines ashore, expecting to surprise a small body of Maryland militia stationed at Moorfields. Sir Peter's frolic turned out disastrously; for the Marylanders were on the watch, and received the invaders with a fierce volley. Sir Peter was gallantly cheering on his men, when a musket-ball cut the main artery in his thigh. "They have hit me, Pearce," he said faintly to his lieutenant; "but it's nothing. Push on, my brave boys, and follow me." But even thus cheering, he fell back, the words died away in his throat, and he bled to death before a surgeon could be found. It is but right to say, that, though he sailed in Cockburn's command, he had none of the cruel brutality which his admiral too often showed.

On the 12th of September a more serious assault was made upon Baltimore. The British naval and military forces united in the attack, which was made by land and sea. A force of nine thousand men, including two thousand marines and two thousand sailors, was landed fifteen miles from Baltimore, and under the command of Gen. Ross and Admiral Cockburn marched gayly inland, never doubting that they would find the Americans unprepared, and repeat their exploits at Washington. In this expectation they were sadly disappointed; for the Maryland militia, aided by a few regulars and seamen, outfought the British at every point, and checked their farther advance. Among the slain was Gen. Ross, who was shot down as he was leading the advance of the British skirmishers. In the mean time, the British fleet had been taking its share in the engagement by attempting to reduce Fort McHenry. A large flotilla of frigates, schooners, sloops, and bomb-ketches entered the Patapsco River on the morning of the 12th, and, casting anchor out of the reach of the fort's guns, opened a furious fire. The fort was manned by militia-men and a large detachment of the gallant sailors from Barney's flotilla. When the continual falling of shells within the fort told that the enemy had come within range, the guns of Fort McHenry opened in response. But, to the intense chagrin of the Americans, it was found that their works mounted not a single gun that would carry to the enemy's fleet. There then remained to the garrison only the trying duty of holding their post, and enduring without response a galling fire from the enemy. All the garrison stood to the guns without flinching; while the shrieking shells fell on all sides, and, exploding, scattered deadly missiles in all directions. One shell struck and dismounted one of the twenty-four-pounders, killing and wounding several of its men. Admiral Cochrane, who commanded the attacking fleet, saw this incident, and ordered three of his bomb-vessels to move up nearer to the fort. This gave the Americans the opportunity for which they had been longing, and instantly every gun in the fort opened upon the three luckless ketches. Half an hour of this fire sufficed to drive the three vessels back to their original station.

Night fell, but brought no cessation of the bombardment. But the enemy, while never slackening his fire, had determined to take advantage of the darkness to send out a landing party to take two small batteries on the banks of the Patapsco, and then assault Fort McHenry from the rear. Twelve hundred and fifty men, with scaling-ladders and fascines, left the fleet in barges, and moved up the Patapsco towards Fort Covington and the City Battery. But their plan, though well laid, was defeated by the vigilance and courage of the garrisons of the two threatened positions,—sailors all, and many of them men from Barney's flotilla, a training-school which seems to have given to the region about Chesapeake Bay its most gallant defenders. Just as the storming party turned the prows of the barges towards the shore, they were discovered; and from McHenry, Covington, and the City Battery burst a thunderous artillery-fire, that shook the houses in Baltimore, and illumined the dark shores of the river with a lurid glare. Bold as the British sailors were, they could advance no farther under so terrible a fire. Two of the barges were shot to pieces, leaving their crews struggling in the water. A ceaseless hail of grape and canister spread death and wounds broadcast among the enemy; and, after wavering a moment, they turned and fled to their ships. Cochrane, seeing his plan for taking the American positions by assault thus frustrated, redoubled the fury of his fire; hoping that, when daybreak made visible the distant shore, nothing but a heap of ruins should mark the spot where Fort McHenry stood the night before.

A night bombardment is at once a beautiful and a terrible spectacle. The ceaseless flashing of the great guns, lighting up with a lurid glare the dense clouds of smoke that hang over the scene of battle; the roar of the artillery; the shriek of the shell as it leaves the cannon's mouth, slowly dying into a murmur and a dull explosion, as, with a flash of fire, the missile explodes far away,—combine to form a picture, that, despite the horrors of wounds and death, rouses the enthusiasm and admiration of the beholder. When viewed from the deck of one of an attacking fleet, the scene is even more impressive. At each discharge of the great guns, the vessel reels and trembles like a huge animal in agony. The surging waters alongside reflect in their black depths the flash of the cannon and the fiery trail of the flying shell. Far in the distance can be seen the flashes of the enemy's guns, each of which may mean the despatch of a missile bringing death and pain in its track. One who has witnessed such a spectacle can readily understand the fascination which men find in the great game of war.

The Star Spangled Banner.

Pacing the deck of the one of the British vessels was a young American, whose temperament was such that he could fully appreciate all the beauties of the scene, even though harassed by anxious fears lest the British should be successful. This man was Francis S. Key, who had visited the fleet with a flag of truce, but was unable to get away before the bombardment began. When the sun set on the evening of the 13th, Key saw his country's flag waving proudly over the ramparts at which the British guns had been so furiously pounding. Would that flag still be there when the sun should rise again? That was the question which Key asked himself as he anxiously walked the deck throughout the night, striving to pierce the darkness, and make out, by the lurid lightnings of the cannon, whether the flag was still there. As the night wore on, Key took an old letter from his pocket, and on the blank sheet jotted down the lines of the immortal national song, "The Star Spangled Banner." Its words merely voice the writer's thoughts; for often during that night he looked anxiously shorewards, to see if

"the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof, through the night, that our flag was still there."

When the anxiously awaited daylight came, Fort McHenry still stood; and over it waved defiantly the starry folds of the United States flag. The British saw that, by land and sea, their attack had failed; and early in the morning the fleet, after taking on board the remnant of the land forces, sailed suddenly away, and left Baltimore safe. They had bombarded Fort McHenry for twenty-five hours, throwing nearly two thousand shells. Yet, wonderful as it may appear, only four of the Americans were killed, and twenty-four wounded. With this failure the British ended their chief offensive operations along the shores of the Chesapeake. The greater part of the fleet and the soldiery then moved southward, to take part in the operations along the Gulf coast, that culminated in the disastrous defeat of the invaders at New Orleans.


The year 1813, that brought to American sailors upon the lakes such well-earned laurels, opened auspiciously for the stars and stripes upon the ocean. It will be remembered that the "Constitution," while on the cruise in the South Atlantic that ended with the destruction of the "Java," had left the "Hornet" off San Salvador, blockading the British ship "Bonne Citoyenne." For eighteen days the "Hornet" remained at her post. Her captain continually urged the enemy to come out and give him battle, but to no avail. The remembrance of his valuable cargo deterred the Englishman, and he remained snug in his harbor. Months after, when the occurrence became known in the United States, an unreasoning outcry was raised against the commander of the "Bonne Citoyenne" for thus avoiding the conflict; but naval men have always agreed that his action was wise and commendable.

After eighteen days' service on this blockade, the "Hornet" saw a British seventy-four bearing down upon her, bent upon releasing the treasure-ship. Against such odds it would have been folly to contend; and the Americans, taking advantage of a dark night, slipped away, and were soon beyond pursuit. The vessel continued her cruise in the waters south of the equator, meeting with good fortune, and taking many valuable prizes, from one of which twenty-three thousand dollars in specie were taken. But her cruise was not destined to proceed without serious opposition.

On the 24th of February, as the "Hornet" was giving close chase to a suspicious brig near the mouth of the Demarara River, a second stranger was sighted in the offing. Giving no heed to the newly sighted vessel, the "Hornet" continued her chase until the rapidly approaching vessel was clearly made out to be a brig, flying the British flag, and evidently a man-of-war. The "Hornet" was immediately cleared for action; and the two hostile vessels began manœuvring for the weather-gage, as two scientific pugilists spar cautiously for an opening. In this contest of seamanship, Capt. Lawrence of the "Hornet" proved the victor; and a little after five o'clock in the afternoon, the two enemies stood for each other upon the wind, the "Hornet" having the weather-gage. As they rapidly neared each other, no sound was heard save the creaking of the cordage, and the dashing of the waves against the vessels' hulls. Not a shot was fired until the enemies were dashing past each other, going in opposite directions. The first broadsides were exchanged at half pistol-shot, with very unequal effects. The shot of the "Hornet" penetrated the hull of her antagonist, doing terrible execution; while the broadside let fly by the "Peacock" whistled through the rigging of the American ship, cutting away the pennant, and killing a topman, who was struck by a round shot, and dashed from his station in the mizzen-top, to fall mangled and lifeless into the sea.

Hardly were the ships clear, when the British captain put his helm hard up,—a manœuvre executed with the intention of securing a raking position. But the plan was balked by the cool seamanship of Capt. Lawrence, who quickly followed up the British vessel, and, getting a position on his quarter, poured in so rapid and accurate a fire that the enemy was fain to haul down his colors and confess defeat. The British ensign had hardly touched the deck, when it was run up again, with the union down, as a token of distress. At this sight, the Yankee tars, who had been cheering lustily over their quickly won victory, stopped their rejoicings, and set about giving assistance to the injured Britons with as hearty good-will as they had lately shown in their vigorous cannonade.

With all possible despatch, a boat was lowered, and Lieut. Shubrick proceeded on board the prize. He found the "Peacock" a complete wreck. Shortly after the surrender her main-mast had gone by the board, and her hull was fairly honeycombed with shot-holes. Returning to his ship, Shubrick reported the condition of the prize. He was immediately ordered to return to the "Peacock," and make every effort to save her. Accompanied by three boats' crews of American sailors, he again boarded the sinking ship, and bent every energy to the attempt for her salvation. Bulwarks were cut away, and the heavy guns were rolled out of the gaps thus made, and cast into the sea. Deep down in the hold, and swinging like spiders over the sides of the vessels, sailors tried to stop up with felt-covered blocks of wood the great holes through which the water was pouring. All the time boats were plying between the sinking vessel and the "Hornet," transferring the wounded and the prisoners. Twilight fell before the work was ended, and it became evident to all that the "Peacock" must sink during the night. But the end came even quicker than had been expected. Some new rent must have opened in the brig's side; for, with a sudden lurch, she commenced to sink rapidly, bow foremost. Several of the English crew were below, searching for liquor; and, caught by the inpouring flood, they found a watery grave in the sinking hulk. Three Americans were also ingulfed; and five narrowly escaped death by climbing up the rigging to the foretop, which remained above water when the hull rested upon the bottom. In the midst of the excitement and confusion, four British seamen slyly clambered out of the cabin-windows, and, dropping into a boat that was made fast to the stern, made off in the darkness. The Americans, eagerly watching the sinking ship, did not detect the fugitives until the boat was far beyond the possibility of recapture.

The vessel so quickly destroyed by the "Hornet" was the British man-of-war brig "Peacock," mounting ten guns, and carrying a crew of two hundred and ten men. In one respect, she was a model ship. Among naval men, she had long been known as "the yacht," on account of the appearance of exquisite neatness she always presented. Her decks were as white as lime-juice and constant holystoning could keep them. The brasswork about the cabins and the breeches of the guns was dazzling in its brilliancy. White canvas lined the breechings of the carronades. Her decks everywhere showed signs of constant toil in the cause of cleanliness. The result of the battle, however, seemed to indicate that Capt. Peakes had erred, in that, while his ship was perfect, his men were bad marksmen, and poorly disciplined. While their shot were harmlessly passing through the rigging of the "Hornet," the Americans were pouring in well-directed broadsides, that killed and wounded thirty-eight men, and ended the action in fifteen minutes. The Americans lost but one man in the fight, though three more went down in the sinking prize.

Capt. Lawrence now found himself far from home, short of water, and crowded with prisoners. For a time, he feared that to these evils was to be added a second action, while his crew was still fatigued with the labors of the first. During the battle with the "Peacock," a second British man-of-war brig, the "Espiègle," lay quietly at anchor only four miles away. Why she had not joined in the strife, has never been explained. She was clearly visible from the tops of the "Hornet" throughout the action, and Lawrence expected every moment to see her bear down to the assistance of her consort. But she made no movement; and even after the fight ended, and the "Peacock" lay on the bottom of the ocean, the mysterious stranger awoke not from her lethargy. Not wishing to engage a second adversary while his ship was crowded with prisoners, Lawrence immediately left the scene of action, and laid his course for home. The homeward voyage was rapid and uneventful. No pains were spared to secure the comfort of the prisoners who crowded the ship. The British officers were treated with the greatest consideration; so that, as one said on quitting the ship, they "ceased to consider themselves as captives." The tars, who were consigned to the care of the blue-jackets in the forecastle, were met with less courtesy, but certainly with no less good feeling. They were not spared an occasional taunt or triumphant joke; but when it was learned that by the sinking of their ship the Britons had lost all their "toggery," the "Hornet's" lads turned to, and soon collected clothing enough to fit out each prisoner with a respectable kit.

It was the middle of March before the long, homeward voyage was ended, and the anchor was dropped in the snug harbor of Holmes's Hole in the island of Martha's Vineyard. The usual rejoicings followed the news of the victory. Lawrence was the hero of the hour; and songs innumerable appeared in the newspapers, extolling the courage and devotion of the brave lads of the "Hornet."

Indeed, the arrival of the "Hornet" with her glorious news came at an opportune moment, to cheer the spirits of the American people. The war had begun to assume a serious aspect. Continued reverses on the ocean had roused the British ministry to the fact that they were dealing with no contemptible enemy, and the word had gone forth that the Americans must be crushed into submission. Troops were hurriedly sent to Canada, and all the vessels that could be spared were ordered to the coast of the United States. The English had determined upon that most effective of all hostile measures,—a rigorous blockade of their enemy's coast. Up and down the coast from New Jersey to the Carolinas, British frigates and sloops kept up a constant patrol. Chesapeake Bay was their chief rendezvous; and the exploits of the blockading squadron stationed there, under Admiral Cockburn, led often to scenes more befitting savage warfare then the hostilities of two enlightened and civilized peoples. On the New England coast, the blockade was less severely enforced. The people of that section had been loud in their denunciations of the war; and the British hoped, by a display of moderation, to seduce the New Englanders from their allegiance to the United States,—a hope that failed utterly of fulfilment. Even had the British desired to enforce the blockade along the New England shore, the character of the coast, and the skill and shrewdness of the Yankee skippers, would have made the task of the blockaders a most difficult one.

The annals of the little seafaring-villages along the coast of Maine and Massachusetts abound in anecdotes of hardy skippers who outwitted the watchful British, and ran their little schooners or sloops into port under the very guns of a blockading man-of-war.

Among the blockade-runners of the New England coast, Capt. Dan Fernald of Portsmouth stood foremost. When a shipload of Maine timber was needed at the Portsmouth navy-yard, to be converted into a new man-of-war, to Capt. Fernald was assigned the task of bringing it down from Portland past the British frigates, that were ever on the watch for just such cargoes. When the preparations for the building of the seventy-four-gun ship "Washington" were making at the navy-yard, Capt. Fernald was sent to Portsmouth for a load of ship's-timber. His cargo was to consist of forty-eight "knees" and the breast-hook of the seventy-four. Loaded down with this burden, the schooner "Sally" left Portland, and headed for her destination. Caution led her captain to keep his craft close to the shore, and for a day or two she crept along the coast without being discovered. But head-winds and calms delayed the "Sally," and on her fourth day out she was sighted by the British frigate "Tenedos." The "Sally" was not an imposing craft, and under ordinary circumstances she might have been allowed to proceed unmolested; but on this occasion a number of the oaken knees for the new war-vessel were piled on the deck, and the British captain could clearly make out, through his glasses, that the "Sally" was laden with contraband of war. Accordingly, he set out in hot pursuit, in the full expectation of overhauling the audacious coaster. Capt. Fernald, however, had no idea of letting his schooner fall into the hands of the British. He was a wily old skipper, and knew every nook and corner of the Maine and New Hampshire coasts better than he knew the streets of his native village. Apparently unmoved by the pursuit of the man-of-war, he stood at the tiller, and, beyond ordering his crew to shake out the reefs in the sails, seemed to make no great attempt to elude the enemy. But soon the crew noticed that the skipper was taking his schooner rather dangerously close to the shore; and a cry came from a sailor on the bow, that the "Sally" was ploughing through the kelp, and would soon be on the rocks.

"No matter," sung out the captain; "just heave over a few of them knees, and I guess she'll float clear."

Overboard went a dozen heavy timbers, and the "Sally" sailed smoothly on over the rocks. Then the captain glanced back over his shoulder, and chuckled slyly as the majestic frigate, following closely in his track, brought up all of a sudden on the rocks, and was quickly left a fixture by the receding tide. The exasperated Englishman sent two eighteen-pound shot skipping over the water after the "Sally," but without effect. One shot buried itself in the sand of the beach; and Capt. Fernald, after picking up the knees that had been thrown overboard, coolly went ashore, dug up the ball, and carried it away as a trophy. He reached his moorings at the navy-yard safely, and was warmly greeted by Commodore Hull, who asked if the "Sally" had been fired upon; and, on being presented with the eighteen-pound shot for a token, exclaimed, "You are a good fellow, and stand fire well."

The "Tenedos" came not so luckily out of the adventure. By the time a flood tide lifted her clear of the reef, the jagged points of the rocks had pierced her hull, so that she leaked badly, and was forced to go to Halifax for repairs.

One more adventure in which the "Sally" and her wily captain figured is worth recounting. Again the dingy schooner was edging her way along the rugged shore, bound for the Portsmouth navy-yard. No vessel could have seemed more harmless. Her patched and dirty canvas was held in place by oft-spliced ropes and rigging none too taut. Her bluff bows butted away the waves in clouds of spray, that dashed over the decks, which seldom received other washing. Her cargo seemed to be cord-wood, neatly split, and piled high on deck. While off Casco, the wind dropped down, and the "Sally" was left floating idly upon the glassy ocean. Far in the distance lay an English man-o'-war, also becalmed; but from which a long-boat, stoutly manned, soon put out, and made for the becalmed schooner. The boat was soon within hail, and a trim young officer in the stern-sheets sung out,—

"What craft's that?"

"Schooner 'Sally' of Portsmouth," came the answer, in the drawling tones of a down-east skipper.

"Where from?"


"Where bound?"


"What's your cargo."

"Firewood," responded Capt. Fernald with a carelessness he was far from feeling; for deep down in the hold, under the cord-wood, were two twenty-four-pounder cannon, thirteen thousand pounds of powder, and about one hundred boarding pikes and cutlasses.

The British officer hesitated a moment, as if the little coaster was of too little importance for further examination.

"Well, I think I'll come aboard," said he carelessly, and soon stood with three or four of his men on the deck of the "Sally."

After glancing contemptuously about the ill-kept decks, he turned to his men with the sharp order: "Clear away some of that wood from the hatchways, and see what's in the hold."

The men set to work, passing the cord-wood away from the hatch ways, and piling it upon the after-deck. Soon they had worked their way into the hold, and were going deeper and deeper down toward the munitions of war.Capt. Fernald's blood seemed to stop coursing in his veins. He knew that but one layer of cord-wood then lay above the cannon, and he expected every instant to see the black iron uncovered. But the British officer grew impatient.

"That's enough of that work," said he; "there's nothing but wood there. Captain, you can proceed on your course."

A momentary murmur arose from the English sailors. The "Sally" was theirs by right of capture, and they saw no reason for her liberation. "Why, lads," said the officer, "it would cost just as much to get this poor fellow's wood-schooner condemned as it would a large ship. As for the prize-money, it would not make a penny apiece." So, tumbling into their boat, the jackies pulled away; shouting to the captain of the "Sally" to stow his cargo again, or his old tub would capsize. Capt. Fernald took their jeers good-naturedly, for he was the victor in that encounter.

The occurrence had been observed from the shore; and, when the British sailors were seen swarming over the side of the "Sally," a horse-man set off for Portsmouth to notify Commodore Hull that the schooner was captured. It was a sore blow; for the guns and powder were thought to be lost, and munitions of war were hard to be had at that time. But Hull soon threw aside the disappointment, and was busily engaged with plans for the vessels then building, when a sentry came in, and reported the "Sally" in sight. Hull rushed to the water-side. Sure enough, there came the battered old schooner, butting her way through the waves of the channel; and, before long, the two cannon were safe in the storehouses, while Capt. Fernald found himself vested with a reputation for almost superhuman sagacity and luck.

Not all the encounters between the blockaders and the blockade-runners terminated so happily for the Americans. Many a coasting-vessel was sent to Halifax to swell the coffers of the British prize-courts, or, after being set on fire, was left to lie charred and ruined upon the rocky shore, as a warning to all who violated the blockade.

The capture of one United States war-vessel graced the English naval annals of January, 1813; for the little brig "Viper," carrying twelve guns, fell in the way of the British, thirty-two, "Narcissus," and straightway surrendered to the overwhelming force of her enemy.

Among the United States war-vessels caught and held in port by the blockade was the frigate "Constellation." She was at the opening of the war the favorite ship of the American navy; her exploits in the war with France having endeared her to the American people, and won for her among Frenchmen the name of "the Yankee race-horse." Notwithstanding her reputation for speed, she is said to have been very crank, and had an awkward way of getting on her beam-ends without much provocation. An almost incredible tale is told of her getting "knocked down" by a squall while chasing a French privateer, and, notwithstanding the delay, finally overhauling and capturing the chase.

When war was declared with England, the "Constellation" was so thoroughly dismantled, that some months were occupied in refitting before she was ready to put to sea. In January, 1813, she dropped anchor in Hampton Roads, expecting to set out on an extended cruise the next morning. Had she been a day earlier, her career in the War of 1812 might have added new lustre to her glorious record in the war with France; but the lack of that day condemned her to inglorious inactivity throughout the war: for on that very night a British squadron of line-of-battle ships and frigates dropped anchor a few miles down the bay, and the "Constellation" was fairly trapped.

When, by the gray light of early morning, the lookout on the "Constellation" saw the British fleet lying quietly at their anchorage down the bay, he reported to Capt. Stewart; and the latter saw that, for a time, he must be content to remain in port. Stewart's reputation for bravery and devotion to his country leaves no doubt that the prospect of prolonged idleness was most distasteful to him. But he had little time to mourn over his disappointment. The position of the frigate was one of great danger. At any moment she might be exposed to attack by the hostile fleet. Accordingly, she dropped down abreast of Craney Island, where she was secure from attack by the British vessels, but still open to the assaults of their boats.

To meet this danger, Capt. Stewart took the most elaborate precautions. His ship was anchored in the middle of the narrow channel; and on either side were anchored seven gunboats, officered and manned by the men of the frigate. Around the gunboats and frigate extended a vast circle of floating logs, linked together by heavy chains, that no boarders might come alongside the vessels. The great frigate towered high above the surrounding gunboats, her black sides unbroken by an open port; for the gun-deck ports were lashed down, and the guns housed. Not a rope's end was permitted to hang over the side; the stern ladders were removed, and the gangway cleats knocked off. An enemy might as well hope to scale the unbroken front of a massive wall of masonry, as that dark, forbidding hull. From the bulwarks rose on all sides, to the ends of the yards, a huge net made of ratlin stuff, boiled in pitch until it would turn the edge of a cutlass, and further strengthened by nail-rods and small chains. The upper part of the netting was weighted with kentledge, the pigs of iron used for ballast; so that, should the hardy assailants succeed in coming alongside and scaling the side, a few blows of an axe would let fall the heavily weighted nettings, sweeping the boarders into the sea, and covering boats and men with an impenetrable mesh, under which they would be at the mercy of the sailors on the frigate's decks. The carronades and howitzers were loaded with grape; and the officers and men felt that only bravery on their part was essential to the defeat of any force that Great Britain could send against the ship.

Heedless of these formidable preparations for their reception, the enemy set under way two expeditions for the capture of the "Constellation." In neither case did the antagonists actually come to blows, for the approach of the British was discovered before they came within pistol-shot; and, as their only chance lay in surprising the Americans, they retired without striking a blow. The coming of the first expedition was known upon the "Constellation" the day before it actually set out. A Portuguese merchantman, trying to beat out of the bay, had been stopped by the British, and anchored a few miles below the American frigate. A guard and lookout from the English fleet were stationed on the Portuguese to watch the "Constellation." In an unguarded moment, these men let fall a hint of the movement under way; and an American passenger on the Portuguese vessel quickly carried the news to Capt. Stewart, and volunteered to remain and aid in the defence. The next night was dark and drizzly; and the British, to the number of two thousand, set out in boats for the "Constellation." Hardly were they within gunshot, when two lanterns gleamed from the side of a watchful guard-boat; and the roll of drums and sound of hurrying feet aboard the frigate told that the alarm was given. The assailants thereupon abandoned the adventure, and returned to their ship. The next night they returned, but again retreated discomfited. Several nights later, a third expedition came up. This time the guard-boat was far down the bay; and, seeing the huge procession of boats, the Americans calmly edged in among them, and for some time rowed along, listening to the conversation of the British, who never dreamed that an enemy could be in their midst. Suddenly a sailor, more sharp-eyed than the rest, caught sight of the interlopers; and the cry was raised, "A stranger!" The Americans tugged at their oars, and were soon lost to sight; but, not being pursued, returned, and accompanied their foes up the bay, and even anchored with the flotilla at a point above the "Constellation." The enemy, finding the Americans constantly on the watch, abandoned their designs on the ship, and vowed that Capt. Stewart must be a Scotchman, as he could never be caught napping. Some days later, an officer, sent with a flag of truce to the British fleet, vastly chagrined the officers there by repeating their remarks overheard by the guard-boat officers who joined the British flotilla in the dark. These three escapes confirmed the reputation borne by the "Constellation," as a "lucky ship;" and although she remained pent up in port throughout the war, doing nothing for her country, her luck was unquestioned in the minds of the sailors. With her they classed the "Constitution" and "Enterprise," while the "Chesapeake" and "President" were branded as unlucky. Certainly the career of these ships in the War of 1812 went far to confirm the superstitious belief of the sailors.

In the course of the next two months, Chesapeake Bay was the scene of two gallant adventures, in which American privateersmen were opposed to the British sailors. On Feb. 8, the privateer schooner "Lottery" was standing down the bay under easy sail, out-bound on a voyage to Bombay. The schooner was one of the clipper-built craft, for which Baltimore ship-builders were famous the world over. Her battery consisted of six twelve-pounder carronades, and her crew numbered twenty-five men. Near the point at which the noble bay opens into the Atlantic ocean, a narrow sheet of water extends into the Virginia shore, winding in sinuous courses several miles inland. This is known as Lynnhaven Bay; and on its placid surface there lay, on the morning of the "Lottery's" appearance, four powerful frigates flying the British flag. From their tops the approaching schooner could be seen across the low-lying neck of land that separated the smaller bay from the main body of water. The cry of "Sail, ho!" roused the fleet to sudden activity; and an expedition of two hundred men was quickly organized to proceed against the privateer. Fortune seemed to favor the British; for hardly had the boats left the fleet, when the fresh breeze died away, and the schooner was left at the mercy of the boats, which, propelled by the long, swinging strokes of man-o'-war oarsmen, bore down rapidly upon her. Capt. Southcomb of the "Lottery" was an American sailor, who had smelt powder before; and he had no idea of yielding up his ship without a struggle. The formidable force sent against him merely moved him to more desperate resistance. When the boats came within range, the guns of the "Lottery" opened upon them with a hail of grape and round shot. Still the assailants pressed on, and soon came beneath the schooner's lee. Dropping their oars, the plucky British tars sprang into the chains, swarmed up the bobstay and over the bow, and used each other's backs as ladders to aid them to reach the schooner's deck. The little crew of privateersmen fought viciously, guarding the side with cutlasses and pistols, hurling the boarders back into the sea, or cutting them down as they reached the deck. Cold shot and kentledge were dashed upon the boats, in the hopes of sinking them; while the carronades poured a destructive fire upon such boats as could be reached by their shot. But the conflict was too unequal to last long. The English sailors swarmed over the gunwale on all sides, and, cheering lustily, drove the small remnant of defenders below. Capt. Southcomb was cut down, and lay mortally wounded upon the deck when the enemy took possession of the ship. When the victors came to look about the captured vessel, they found such proofs of a desperate resistance, that their admiration was open and pronounced. Five only of the schooner's crew were unhurt, while the British paid for their success with the loss of thirteen men. Capt. Southcomb, in a dying condition, was taken aboard the frigate "Belvidera," where he received the tenderest treatment, and was shown marked respect on account of his bravery.

Awaiting The Boarders.

Awaiting The Boarders.

In the next encounter between the blockaders and a privateer, the British bore away the palm for gallantry. This time the privateersmen had every advantage, while the British carried the day by pure courage. The captured vessels were the privateer schooner "Dolphin," of twelve guns, and the letters-of-marque "Racer," "Arab," and "Lynx," of six guns each. The crews of the four vessels aggregated one hundred and sixty men. Against this force came five boats manned by one hundred and five British sailors, who pulled fifteen miles in order to attack their foes. Wearied though they were by the long pull, the sight of the privateers seemed to arouse new strength in the plucky tars; and, without a thought of the odds against them, they dashed forward, cheering, and calling upon the Americans to surrender. Had the four schooners been manned by such brave men as those who defended the "Lottery," the assailants might have been beaten off. As it was, two vessels surrendered without firing a shot. The crew of the "Racer" fought pluckily for a time, but were soon overpowered, and the vessel's guns turned upon the "Dolphin." When fire was opened upon this last vessel, her crew, affrighted, leaped overboard from every side; and the "Dolphin" was soon in the hands of her enemies, who had lost but thirteen men in the whole action.

Many a gallant adventure, such as this, is to be laid to the credit of the British tars on the American station during the continuance of the blockade. Right dashing fellows were they, at cutting out a coasting-schooner as she lay under the guns of some American earthworks. The lads that have won for England her supremacy upon the seas have never been behindhand at swarming up the sides of an enemy, leaping his taffrail, and meeting him on his own deck with the cold steel. And as the year rolled on, and the blockade along the American coast was made more strict, the meetings between the enemies became more frequent. From every seaport town, Yankee privateers were waiting to escape to sea; and they seldom won clear without a brush with the watchful enemy. The British, too, had begun to fit out privateers, though American commerce offered but little enticement for these mercenary gentry. Between the ships of the two private armed navies, encounters were common; and the battles were often fought with courage and seamanship worthy of the regular navy.

Little glory was won by the navy of the United States during the opening months of the year. Many ships were laid up in port; while some, like the "Constellation," were blockaded by the enemy. The "President" and the "Congress" managed to get to sea from Boston in April, and entered upon a protracted cruise, in which the bad luck of the former ship seemed to pursue her with malevolent persistence. The two ships parted after cruising in company for a month, and scoured the ocean until the following December, when they returned home, experiencing little but continual disappointments. The "Congress" could report only the capture of four British merchantmen, as the result of her eight months' cruise; while the long service had so seriously injured her hull, that she was condemned as unseaworthy, and ended her career, a dismantled hulk reduced to the ignoble service of store-ship at a navy-yard.

The "President" was little more fortunate in her search for prizes. After parting with her consort, she beat about in the vicinity of the Gulf Stream, in the hopes of getting a ship or two returning from the West Indies. But day after day passed, and no ship appeared. Changing his plan, Commodore Rodgers made for the North Sea, feeling sure that there he would find in plenty the marine game for which he was seeking. But, to his astonishment, not an English ship was to be found. It was then the middle of summer, and the frigate had been at sea for nearly three months. The jackies on the forecastle were weary of the long voyage, and fairly at the end of their occupations for "teasing time." The officers, well knowing the effect of long idleness upon the sailors, were tireless in devising means of employment. The rigging was set up weekly, so that the shrouds and stays were like lines drawn with a ruler. Enough rope-yarn was pulled, and spun-yarn spun, to supply a navy-yard for months. Laggards were set to scrubbing the rust off the chain cables, and sharpening with files the flukes of the anchors. When such work failed, the men were drilled in the use of cutlasses and single sticks; forming long lines down the gun-deck, and slashing away with right good will at the word of the instructor. But the monotony of a long cruise without a prize cannot long be beguiled by such makeshifts; and it was with the heartiest pleasure that the sailors heard that the commodore had determined to put into port for a time, and take on board stores.

It was North Bergen, Norway, that Rodgers chose for this purpose; and an unfortunate choice it proved to be, for a famine prevailed in the country, and only water could be obtained for the ship. Leaving the inhospitable port, the "President" was soon again upon the ocean. She quickly took two British merchantmen, from which she replenished her stores. Shortly after, two hostile frigates hove in sight, and the "President" fled for her life before them for more than eighty hours. At that season, in those high latitudes, no friendly darkness settled over the ocean to give the fugitive a chance to escape. Bright daylight persisted throughout the chase, and the sun never dipped below the horizon. Sheer good sailing saved the American frigate, and enabled her to leave her pursuers far in her wake.

For some days thereafter, better luck seemed to attend the frigate that so pluckily kept up her operations in seas thousands of miles from a friendly port. With true Yankee audacity, she extended her cruise even into the Irish Channel, and there preyed upon British commerce until the enemy was moved to send a squadron to rout out the audacious intruder. Then Rodgers set sail for home.

On the voyage to the United States, the "President" captured a British armed schooner by a stratagem which taught at least one British officer to respect "Yankee cuteness."

It was near the last of September that the frigate was flying along before a fresh breeze. Her yards were spread with a cloud of snowy canvas, and the wind sung through the straining cordage a melody sweet to the ears of the sailor homeward bound. Towards evening, a small sail was made out in the distance; and, as time wore on, it was seen that she was rapidly approaching the "President." Rodgers surmised that the stranger might be a British vessel, and determined to lure her within range by strategy. In some way he had obtained knowledge of some of the private signals of the British navy; and in a few minutes from the masthead of the American frigate, there fluttered a row of flags which announced her as the British frigate "Sea-Horse." The stranger promptly responded, and was made out to be the schooner "Highflyer," a little craft noted for her sailing qualities. Unsuspectingly the "Highflyer" came under the stern of the American frigate, and waited for a boat to be sent aboard. Soon the boat came; and one of Rodgers's lieutenants, clad in British uniform, clambered up the side, and was received with due honor. He was the bearer of a message from Commodore Rodgers, requesting that the signal-books of the "Highflyer" be sent on board the fictitious "Sea-Horse" for comparison and revision. This the British captain hastened to do, and soon followed his books to the deck of the frigate, where a lieutenant met him, clothed in full British uniform. A file of marines, dressed in the scarlet coats of the British service, stood on the deck; and the duped Englishman greatly admired the appearance of the frigate, remarking to the officer who escorted him to Rodgers's cabin, that so trim a craft could only be found in His Majesty's service.

On entering the cabin, the English officer greeted Commodore Rodgers with deference, and proceeded at once to tell of naval matters.

"I have here," said he, placing a bundle of papers in the commodore's hands, "a numbers of despatches for Admiral Warren, who is on this station. You may not know that one of the principal objects of our squadron cruising here is the capture of the Yankee frigate 'President,' which has been greatly annoying British commerce."

Rodgers was naturally much interested in this statement, and asked the visitor if he knew much about the commander of the "President."

"I hear he is an odd fish," was the response; "and certainly he is devilish hard to catch."

Rodgers started. He had hardly expected so frank an expression of opinion.

"Sir," said he emphatically, "do you know what vessel you are on board of?"

"Why, certainly,—on board of His Majesty's ship 'Sea-Horse.'"

"No, sir, you are mistaken," was the startling response. "You are on board of the United States frigate 'President,' and I am Commodore Rodgers."

The astounded Englishman sprang to his feet, and rushed to the deck. The sight he saw there was still more startling. The quarter-deck was crowded with officers in United States uniform. The scarlet coats of the marines had vanished, and were replaced by Yankee blue. Even as he looked, the British flag came fluttering down, the American ensign went up, and the band struck up "Yankee Doodle."

Nothing was left to the Englishman but to submit; and, with the best grace possible, he surrendered his vessel and himself to the "odd fish," who had so cleverly trapped him.

"I Am Commodore Rodgers."

"I Am Commodore Rodgers."

Three days later, the "President," with her prize, and crowded with prisoners, dropped anchor in the harbor of Newport, after a cruise of one hundred and forty-eight days. In actual results, the cruise was far from satisfactory, for but eleven vessels had been taken. But the service rendered the country by annoying the enemy's merchantmen, and drawing the British war-vessels away in chase, was vast. At one time more than twenty British men-of-war were searching for the roving American frigate; and the seafaring people of the United States were thus greatly benefited by the "President's" prolonged cruise.


The year 1779 is chiefly known in American naval history as the year in which Paul Jones did his most brilliant service in the "Bon Homme Richard." The glory won by the Americans was chiefly gained in European waters. Along the coast of the United States, there were some dashing actions; but the advantage generally remained with the British.

Perhaps the most notable naval event of this year, aside from the battle between the "Bon Homme Richard"and the "Serapis," was the expedition sent by the State of Massachusetts against the British post at Castine, on the banks of the Penobscot River. At this unimportant settlement in the wilds of Maine, the British had established a military post, with a garrison of about a thousand men, together with four armed vessels. Here they might have been permitted to remain in peace, so far as any danger from their presence was to be apprehended by the people of New England. But the sturdy citizens of Massachusetts had boasted, that, since the evacuation of Boston, no British soldier had dared to set foot on Massachusetts soil; and the news of this invasion caused the people of Boston to rise as one man, and demand that the invaders should be expelled.

Accordingly a joint naval and military expedition was fitted out under authority granted by the Legislature of the State. Congress detailed the United States frigate "Warren," and the sloops-of-war "Diligence" and "Providence," to head the expedition. The Massachusetts cruisers "Hazard," "Active," and "Tyrannicide" represented the regular naval forces of the Bay State; and twelve armed vessels belonging to private citizens were hired, to complete the armada. The excitement among seafaring men ran high. Every man who had ever swung a cutlass or sighted a gun was anxious to accompany the expedition. Ordinarily it was difficult to ship enough men for the navy; now it was impossible to take all the applicants. It is even recorded that the list of common sailors on the armed ship "Vengeance" included thirty masters of merchantmen, who waived all considerations of rank, in order that they might join the expedition.

To co-operate with the fleet, a military force was thought necessary; and accordingly orders were issued for fifteen hundred of the militia of the district of Maine to assemble at Townsend. Brig.-Gen. Sullivan was appointed to the command of the land forces, while Capt. Saltonstall of the "Warren" was made commodore of the fleet.

Punctually on the day appointed the white sails of the American ships were seen by the militiamen at the appointed rendezvous. But when the ships dropped anchor, and the commodore went ashore to consult with the officers of the land forces, he found that but nine hundred of the militiamen had responded to the call. Nevertheless, it was determined, after a brief consultation, to proceed with the expedition, despite the sadly diminished strength of the militia battalions.

On the 23d of July, the fleet set sail from the harbor of Townsend. It was an extraordinary and impressive spectacle. The shores of the harbor were covered with unbroken forests, save at the lower end where a little hamlet of scarce five hundred people gave a touch of civilization to the wild scene. But the water looked as though the commerce of a dozen cities had centred there. On the placid bosom of the little bay floated forty-four vessels. The tread of men about the capstans, the hoarse shouts of command, the monotonous songs of the sailors, the creaking of cordage, and the flapping of sails gave an unwonted turbulence to the air which seldom bore a sound other than the voices of birds or the occasional blows of a woodman's axe. Nineteen vessels-of-war and twenty-five transports imparted to the harbor of Townsend an air of life and bustle to which it had been a stranger, and which it has never since experienced.

The weather was clear, and the wind fair; so that two days after leaving Townsend the fleet appeared before the works of the enemy. Standing on the quarter-deck of the "Warren," the commodore and the general eagerly scanned the enemy's defences, and after a careful examination were forced to admit that the works they had to carry were no mean specimens of the art of fortification. The river's banks rose almost perpendicularly from the water-side, and on their crest were perched the enemy's batteries, while on a high and precipitous hill was built a fort or citadel. In the river were anchored the four armed vessels.

Two days were spent by the Americans in reconnoitring the enemy's works; and on the 28th of July the work of disembarking the troops began, under a heavy fire from the enemy's batteries. The "Warren" and one of the sloops-of-war endeavored to cover the landing party by attacking the batteries; and a spirited cannonade followed, in which the American flag-ship suffered seriously. At last all the militia, together with three hundred marines, were put on shore, and at once assaulted the batteries. They were opposed by about an equal number of well-drilled Scotch regulars, and the battle raged fiercely; the men-of-war in the river covering the advance of the troops by a spirited and well-directed fire. More than once the curving line of men rushed against the fiery front of the British ramparts, and recoiled, shattered by the deadly volleys of the Scotch veterans. Here and there, in the grass and weeds, the forms of dead men began to be seen. The pitiable spectacle of the wounded, painfully crawling to the rear, began to make the pulse of the bravest beat quicker. But the men of Massachusetts, responsive to the voices of their officers, re-formed their shattered ranks, and charged again and again, until at last, with a mighty cheer, they swept over the ramparts, driving the British out. Many of the enemy surrendered; more fled for shelter to the fort on the hill. The smoke and din of battle died away. There came a brief respite in the bloody strife. The Americans had won the first trick in the bloody game of war.

Only a short pause followed; then the Americans moved upon the fort. But here they found themselves overmatched. Against the towering bastions of the fortress they might hurl themselves in vain. The enemy, safe behind its heavy parapets, could mow down their advancing ranks with a cool and deliberate fire. The assailants had already sacrificed more than a hundred men. Was it wise now to order an assault that might lead to the loss of twice that number?

The hotheads cried out for the immediate storming of the fort; but cooler counsels prevailed, and a siege was decided upon. Trenches were dug, the guns in the outlying batteries were turned upon the fort, and the New Englanders sat down to wait until the enemy should be starved out or until re-enforcements might be brought from Boston.

So for three weeks the combatants rested on their arms, glaring at each other over the tops of their breastworks, and now and then exchanging a shot or a casual volley, but doing little in the way of actual hostilities. Provisions were failing the British, and they began to feel that they were in a trap from which they could only emerge through a surrender, when suddenly the situation was changed, and the fortunes of war went against the Americans.

One morning the "Tyrannicide," which was stationed on the lookout down the bay, was seen beating up the river, under a full press of sail. Signals flying at her fore indicated that she had important news to tell. Her anchor had not touched the bottom before a boat pushed off from her side, and made straight for the commodore's flag-ship. Reaching the "Warren," a lieutenant clambered over the side, and saluted Commodore Saltonstall on the quarter-deck.

"Capt. Cathcart's compliments, sir," said he, "and five British men-of-war are just entering the bay. The first one appears to be the 'Rainbow,' forty-four."

Here was news indeed. Though superior in numbers, the Americans were far inferior in weight of metal. After a hasty consultation, it was determined to abandon the siege, and retreat with troops and vessels to the shallow waters of the Penobscot, whither the heavy men-of-war of the enemy would be unable to follow them. Accordingly the troops were hastily re-embarked, and a hurried flight began, which was greatly accelerated by the appearance of the enemy coming up the river.

The chase did not continue long before it became evident the enemy would overhaul the retreating ships. Soon he came within range, and opened fire with his bow-guns, in the hopes of crippling one of the American ships. The fire was returned; and for several hours the wooded shores of the Penobscot echoed and re-echoed the thunders of the cannonade, as the warring fleets swept up the river.

At last the conviction forced itself on the minds of the Americans, that for them there was no escape. The British were steadily gaining upon them, and there was no sign of the shoal water in which they had hoped to find a refuge. It would seem that a bold dash might have carried the day for the Americans, so greatly did they outnumber their enemies. But this plan does not appear to have suggested itself to Capt. Saltonstall, who had concentrated all his efforts upon the attempt to escape. When escape proved to be hopeless, his only thought was to destroy his vessels. Accordingly his flag-ship, the "Warren," was run ashore, and set on fire. The action of the commodore was imitated by the rest of the officers, and soon the banks of the river were lined with blazing vessels. The "Hunter," the "Hampden," and one transport fell into the hands of the British. The rest of the forty-nine vessels—men-of-war, privateers, and transports—that made up the fleet were destroyed by flames.

It must indeed have been a stirring spectacle. The shores of the Penobscot River were then a trackless wilderness; the placid bosom of the river itself had seldom been traversed by a heavier craft than the slender birch-bark canoe of the red man; yet here was this river crowded with shipping, the dark forests along its banks lighted up by the glare of twoscore angry fires. Through the thickets and underbrush parties of excited men broke their way, seeking for a common point of meeting, out of range of the cannon of the enemy. The British, meantime, were striving to extinguish the flames, but with little success; and before the day ended, little remained of the great Massachusetts flotilla, except the three captured ships and sundry heaps of smouldering timber.

The hardships of the soldiers and marines who had escaped capture, only to find themselves lost in the desolate forest, were of the severest kind. Separating into parties they plodded along, half-starved, with torn and rain-soaked clothing, until finally, footsore and almost perishing, they reached the border settlements, and were aided on their way to Boston. The disaster was complete, and for months its depressing effect upon American naval enterprise was observable.

In observing the course of naval events in 1779, it is noticeable that the most effective work was done by the cruisers sent out by the individual States, or by privateers. The United States navy, proper, did little except what was done in European waters by Paul Jones. Indeed, along the American coast, a few cruises in which no actions of moment occurred, although several prizes were taken, make up the record of naval activity for the year.

The first of these cruises was that made in April by the ships "Warren," "Queen of France," and "Ranger." They sailed from Boston, and were out but a few days when they captured a British privateer of fourteen guns. From one of the sailors on this craft it was learned that a large fleet of transports and storeships had just sailed from New York, bound for Georgia. Crowding on all sail, the Americans set out in pursuit, and off Cape Henry overhauled the chase. Two fleets were sighted, one to windward numbering nine sail, and one to leeward made up of ten sail. The pursuers chose the fleet to windward for their prey, and by sharp work succeeded in capturing seven vessels in eight hours. Two of the ships were armed cruisers of twenty-nine and sixteen guns respectively, and all the prizes were heavy laden with provisions, ammunition, and cavalry accoutrements. All were safely taken into port.

In June, another fleet of United States vessels left Boston in search of British game. The "Queen of France" and the "Ranger" were again employed; but the "Warren" remained in port, fitting out for her ill-fated expedition to the Penobscot. Her place was taken by the "Providence," thirty-two. For a time the cruisers fell in with nothing of importance. But one day about the middle of July, as the three vessels lay hove to off the banks of Newfoundland, in the region of perpetual fog, the dull booming of a signal gun was heard. Nothing was to be seen on any side. From the quarter-deck, and from the cross-trees alike, the eager eyes of the officers and seamen strove in vain to penetrate the dense curtain of gray fog that shut them in. But again the signal gun sounded, then another; and tone and direction alike told that the two reports had not come from the same cannon. Then a bell was heard telling the hour,—another, still another; then a whole chorus of bells. Clearly a large fleet was shut in the fog.

Shortening Sail On The "Lancaster".

Shortening Sail On The "Lancaster"—the Oldest U. S. Cruiser In Commission.

About eleven o'clock in the morning the fog lifted, and to their intense surprise the crew of the "Queen of France" found themselves close alongside of a large merchant-ship. As the fog cleared away more completely, ships appeared on every side; and the astonished Yankees found themselves in the midst of a fleet of about one hundred and fifty sail under convoy of a British ship-of-the-line, and several frigates and sloops-of-war. Luckily the United States vessels had no colors flying, and nothing about them to betray their nationality: so Capt.Rathburn of the "Queen" determined to try a little masquerading.

Bearing down upon the nearest merchantman, he hailed her; and the following conversation ensued,—

"What fleet is this?"

"British merchantmen from Jamaica, bound for London. Who are you?"

"His Majesty's ship 'Arethusa,'" answered Rathburn boldly, "from Halifax on cruise. Have you seen any Yankee privateers?"

"Ay, ay, sir," was the response. "Several have been driven out of the fleet."

"Come aboard the 'Arethusa,' then. I wish to consult with you."

Soon a boat put off from the side of the merchantman, and a jolly British sea-captain confidently clambered to the deck of the "Queen." Great was his astonishment to be told that he was a prisoner, and to see his boat's crew brought aboard, and their places taken by American jackies. Back went the boat to the British ship; and soon the Americans were in control of the craft, without in the least alarming the other vessels, that lay almost within hail. The "Queen" then made up to another ship, and captured her in the same manner.

But at this juncture Commodore Whipple, in the "Providence," hailed the "Queen," and directed Rathburn to edge out of the fleet before the British men-of-war should discover his true character. Rathburn protested vigorously, pointing out the two vessels he had captured, and urging Whipple to follow his example, and capture as many vessels as he could in the same manner. Finally Whipple overcame his fears, and adopted Rathburn's methods, with such success that shortly after nightfall the Americans left the fleet, taking with them eleven rich prizes. Eight of these they succeeded in taking safe to Boston, where they were sold for more than a million dollars.

In May, 1779, occurred two unimportant engagements,—one off Sandy Hook, in which the United States sloop "Providence," ten guns, captured the British sloop "Diligent," after a brief but spirited engagement; the second action occurred off St. Kitts, where the United States brig "Retaliation" successfully resisted a vigorous attack by a British cutter and a brig. The record of the regular navy for the year closed with the cruise of the United States frigates "Deane" and "Boston," that set sail from the Delaware late in the summer. They kept the seas for nearly three months, but made only a few bloodless captures.

The next year opened with a great disaster to the American cause. The Count d'Estaing , after aimlessly wandering up and down the coast of the United States with the fleet ostensibly sent to aid the Americans, suddenly took himself and his fleet off to the West Indies. Sir Henry Clinton soon learned of the departure of the French, and gathered an expedition for the capture of Charleston. On the 10th of February, Clinton with five thousand troops, and a British fleet under Admiral Arbuthnot, appeared off Edisto Inlet, about thirty miles from Charleston, and began leisurely preparations for an attack upon the city. Had he pushed ahead and made his assault at once, he would have met but little resistance; but his delay of over a month gave the people of Charleston time to prepare for a spirited resistance.

The approach of the British fleet penned up in Charleston harbor several United States men-of-war and armed vessels, among them the "Providence," "Queen of France," "Boston," "Ranger," "Gen. Moultrie," and "Notre Dame." These vessels took an active part in the defence of the harbor against Arbuthnot's fleet, but were beaten back. The "Queen," the "Gen. Moultrie," and the "Notre Dame" were then sunk in the channel to obstruct the progress of the enemy; their guns being taken ashore, and mounted in the batteries on the sea-wall. Then followed days of terror for Charleston. The land forces of the enemy turned siege guns on the unhappy city, and a constant bombardment was kept up from the hostile fleet. Fort Sumter, the batteries along the water front, and the ships remaining to the Americans answered boldly. But the defence was hopeless. The city was hemmed in by an iron cordon. The hot-shot of the enemy's batteries were falling in the streets, and flames were breaking out in all parts of the town. While the defence lasted, the men-of-war took an active part in it; and, indeed, the sailors were the last to consent to a surrender. So noticeable was the activity of the frigate "Boston" in particular, that, when it became evident that the Americans could hold out but a little longer, Admiral Arbuthnot sent her commander a special order to surrender.

"I do not think much of striking my flag to your present force," responded bluff Samuel Tucker, who commanded the "Boston;" "for I have struck more of your flags than are now flying in this harbor."

But, despite this bold defiance, the inevitable capitulation soon followed. Charleston fell into the hands of the British; and with the city went the three men-of-war, "Providence," "Boston," and "Ranger."

It will be noticed that this disaster was the direct result of the disappearance of Count d'Estaing  and the French fleet. To the student of history who calmly considers the record of our French naval allies in the Revolution, there appears good reason to believe that their presence did us more harm than good. Under De Grasse, the French fleet did good service in co-operation with the allied armies in the Yorktown campaign; but, with this single exception, no instance can be cited of any material aid rendered by it to the American cause. The United States navy, indeed, suffered on account of the French alliance; for despite the loss of many vessels in 1779 and 1780, Congress refused to increase the navy in any way, trusting to France to care for America's interests on the seas. The result of this policy was a notable falling-off in the number and spirit of naval actions.

The ship "Trumbull," twenty-eight, one of the exploits of which we have already chronicled, saw a good deal of active service during the last two years of the war; and though she finally fell into the hands of the enemy, it was only because the odds against her were not to be overcome by the most spirited resistance. It was on the 2d of June, 1780, that the "Trumbull," while cruising far out in the Atlantic Ocean in the path of British merchantmen bound for the West Indies, sighted a strange sail hull down to windward. The "Trumbull" was then in command of Capt. James Nicholson, an able and plucky officer. Immediately on hearing the report of the lookout, Nicholson ordered all the canvas furled, in order that the stranger might not catch sight of the "Trumbull." It is, of course, obvious that a ship under bare poles is a far less conspicuous object upon the ocean, than is the same ship with her yards hung with vast clouds of snowy canvas. But apparently the stranger sighted the "Trumbull," and had no desire to avoid her; for she bore down upon the American ship rapidly, and showed no desire to avoid a meeting. Seeing this, Nicholson made sail, and was soon close to the stranger. As the two ships drew closer together, the stranger showed her character by firing three guns, and hoisting the British colors.

Seeing an action impending, Nicholson called his crew aft and harangued them, as was the custom before going into battle. It was not a promising outlook for the American ship. She was but recently out of port, and was manned largely by "green hands." The privateers had so thoroughly stripped the decks of able seamen, that the "Trumbull" had to ship men who knew not one rope from another; and it is even said, that, when the drums beat to quarters the day of the battle, many of the sailors were suffering from the landsman's terror, seasickness. But what they lacked in experience, they made up in enthusiasm.

With the British flag at the peak, the "Trumbull" bore down upon the enemy. But the stranger was not to be deceived by so hackneyed a device. He set a private signal, and, as the Americans did not answer it, let fly a broadside at one hundred yards distance. The "Trumbull" responded with spirit, and the stars and stripes went fluttering to the peak in the place of the British ensign. Then the thunder of battle continued undiminished for two hours and a half. The wind was light, and the vessels rode on an even keel nearly abreast of each other, and but fifty yards apart. At times their yard-arms interlocked; and still the heavy broadsides rang out, and the flying shot crashed through beam and stanchion, striking down the men at their guns, and covering the decks with blood. Twice the flying wads of heavy paper from the enemy's guns set the "Trumbull" a-fire, and once the British ship was endangered by the same cause.

At last the fire of the enemy slackened, and the Americans, seeing victory within their grasp, redoubled their efforts; but at this critical moment one of the gun-deck officers came running to Nicholson, with the report that the main-mast had been repeatedly hit by the enemy's shot, and was now tottering. If the main-mast went by the board, the fate of the "Trumbull" was sealed. Crowding sail on the other masts, the "Trumbull" shot ahead, and was soon out of the line of fire, the enemy being apparently too much occupied with his own injuries to molest her. Hardly had she gone the distance of a musket-shot, when her main and mizzen top-masts went by the board; and before the nimble jackies could cut away the wreck the other spars followed, until nothing was left but the foremast. When the crashing and confusion was over, the "Trumbull" lay a pitiable wreck, and an easy prey for her foe.

But the Briton showed a strange disinclination to take advantage of the opportunity. The Yankee sailors worked like mad in cutting away the wreck; then rushed to their guns, ready to make a desperate, if hopeless, resistance in case of an attack. But the attack never came. Without even a parting shot the enemy went off on her course; and before she was out of sight her main topmast was seen to fall, showing that she too had suffered in the action.

Not for months after did the crew of the "Trumbull" learn the name of the vessel they had fought. At last it was learned that she was a heavy letter-of-marque, the "Watt." Her exact weight of metal has never been ascertained, though Capt. Nicholson estimated it at thirty-four or thirty-six guns. The "Trumbull" mounted thirty-six guns. The captain of the "Watt" reported his loss to have been ninety-two in killed and wounded; the loss of the "Trumbull" amounted to thirty-nine, though two of her lieutenants were among the slain. This action, in severity, ranked next to the famous naval duel between the "Bon Homme Richard" and the "Serapis."

As the "Trumbull" fought her last battle under the flag of the United States a year later, and as our consideration of the events of the Revolution is drawing to a close, we may abandon chronological order, and follow Nicholson and his good ship to the end of their career. In August, 1781, the "Trumbull" left the Delaware, convoying twenty-eight merchantmen, and accompanied by one privateer. Again her crew was weakened by the scarcity of good seamen, and this time Nicholson had adopted the dangerous and indefensible expedient of shipping British prisoners-of-war. There were fifty of these renegades in the crew; and naturally, as they were ready to traitorously abandon their own country, they were equally ready for treachery to the flag under which they sailed. There were many instances during the Revolution of United States ships being manned largely by British prisoners. Usually the crews thus obtained were treacherous and insubordinate. Even if it had been otherwise, the custom was a bad one, and repugnant to honorable men.

So with a crew half-trained and half-disaffected, the "Trumbull" set out to convoy a fleet of merchantmen through waters frequented by British men-of-war. Hardly had she passed the capes when three British cruisers were made out astern. One, a frigate, gave chase. Night fell, and in the darkness the "Trumbull" might have escaped with her charges, but that a violent squall struck her, carrying away her fore-topmast and main-top-gallant-mast. Her convoy scattered in all directions, and by ten o'clock the British frigate had caught up with the disabled American.

The night was still squally, with bursts of rain and fitful flashes of lightning, which lighted up the decks of the American ship as she tossed on the waves. The storm had left her in a sadly disabled condition. The shattered top hamper had fallen forward, cumbering up the forecastle, and so tangling the bow tackle that the jibs were useless. The foresail was jammed and torn by the fore-topsail-yard. There was half a day's work necessary to clear away the wreck, and the steadily advancing lights of the British ship told that not half an hour could be had to prepare for the battle.

There was no hope that resistance could be successful, but the brave hearts of Nicholson and his officers recoiled from the thought of tamely striking the flag without firing a shot. So the drummers were ordered to beat the crew to quarters; and soon, by the light of the battle-lanterns, the captains of the guns were calling over the names of the sailors. The roll-call had proceeded but a short time when it became evident that most of the British renegades were absent from their stations. The officers and marines went below to find them. While they were absent, others of the renegades, together with about half of the crew whom they had tainted with their mutinous plottings, put out the battle-lanterns, and hid themselves deep in the hold. At this moment the enemy came up, and opened fire.

Determined to make some defence, Nicholson sent the few faithful jackies to the guns, and the officers worked side by side with the sailors. The few guns that were manned were served splendidly, and the unequal contest was maintained for over an hour, when a second British man-of-war came up, and the "Trumbull" was forced to strike. At no time had more than forty of her people been at the guns. To this fact is due the small loss of life; for, though the ship was terribly cut up, only five of her crew were killed, and eleven wounded.

The frigate that had engaged the "Trumbull" was the "Iris," formerly the "Hancock" captured from the Americans by the "Rainbow." She was one of the largest of the American frigates, while the "Trumbull" was one of the smallest. The contest, therefore, would have been unequal, even had not so many elements of weakness contributed to the "Trumbull's" discomfiture.

Taking up again the thread of our narrative of the events of 1780, we find that for three months after the action between the "Trumbull" and the "Watt" there were no naval actions of moment. Not until October did a United States vessel again knock the tompions from her guns, and give battle to an enemy. During that month the cruiser "Saratoga" fell in with a hostile armed ship and two brigs. The action that followed was brief, and the triumph of the Americans complete. One broadside was fired by the "Saratoga;" then, closing with her foe, she threw fifty men aboard, who drove the enemy below. But the gallant Americans were not destined to profit by the results of their victory; for, as they were making for the Delaware, the British seventy-four "Intrepid" intercepted them, and recaptured all the prizes. The "Saratoga" escaped capture, only to meet a sadder fate; for, as she never returned to port, it is supposed that she foundered with all on board.

The autumn and winter passed without any further exploits on the part of the navy. The number of the regular cruisers had been sadly diminished, and several were kept blockaded in home ports. Along the American coast the British cruisers fairly swarmed; and the only chance for the few Yankee ships afloat was to keep at sea as much as possible, and try to intercept the enemy's privateers, transports, and merchantmen, on their way across the ocean.

One United States frigate, and that one a favorite ship in the navy, was ordered abroad in February, 1781, and on her voyage did some brave work for her country. This vessel was the "Alliance," once under the treacherous command of the eccentric Landais , and since his dismissal commanded by Capt. John Barry, of whose plucky fight in the "Raleigh" we have already spoken. The "Alliance" sailed from Boston, carrying an army officer on a mission to France. She made the voyage without sighting an enemy. Having landed her passenger, she set out from L'Orient , with the "Lafayette," forty, in company. The two cruised together for three days, capturing two heavy privateers. They then parted, and the "Alliance" continued her cruise alone.

On the 28th of May the lookout reported two sail in sight; and soon the strangers altered their course, and bore down directly upon the American frigate. It was late in the afternoon, and darkness set in before the strangers were near enough for their character to be made out. At dawn all eyes on the "Alliance" scanned the ocean in search of the two vessels, which were then easily seen to be a sloop-of-war and a brig. Over each floated the British colors.

A dead calm rested upon the waters. Canvas was spread on all the ships, but flapped idly against the yards. Not the slightest motion could be discerned, and none of the ships had steerage-way. The enemy had evidently determined to fight; for before the sun rose red and glowing from beneath the horizon, sweeps were seen protruding from the sides of the two ships, and they gradually began to lessen the distance between them and the American frigate. Capt. Barry had no desire to avoid the conflict; though in a calm, the lighter vessels, being manageable with sweeps, had greatly the advantage of the "Alliance," which could only lie like a log upon the water. Six hours of weary work with the sweeps passed before the enemy came near enough to hail. The usual questions and answers were followed by the roar of the cannon, and the action began. The prospects for the "Alliance" were dreary indeed; for the enemy took positions on the quarters of the helpless ship, and were able to pour in broadsides, while she could respond only with a few of her aftermost guns. But, though the case looked hopeless, the Americans fought on, hoping that a wind might spring up, that would give the good ship "Alliance" at least a fighting chance.

As Barry strode the quarter-deck, watching the progress of the fight, encouraging his men, and looking out anxiously for indications of a wind, a grape-shot struck him in the shoulder, and felled him to the deck. He was on his feet again in an instant; and though weakened by the pain, and the rapid flow of blood from the wound, he remained on deck. At last, however, he became too weak to stand, and was carried below. At this moment a flying shot carried away the American colors; and, as the fire of the "Alliance" was stopped a moment for the loading of the guns, the enemy thought the victory won, and cheered lustily. But their triumph was of short duration; for a new ensign soon took the place of the vanished one, and the fire of the "Alliance" commenced again.

The "Alliance" was now getting into sore straits. The fire of the enemy had told heavily upon her, and her fire in return had done but little visible damage. As Capt. Barry lay on his berth, enfeebled by the pain of his wound, and waiting for the surgeon's attention, a lieutenant entered.

"The ship remains unmanageable, sir," said he. "The rigging is badly cut up, and there is danger that the fore-topmast may go by the board. The enemy's fire is telling on the hull, and the carpenter reports two leaks. Eight or ten of the people are killed, and several officers wounded. Have we your consent to striking the colors?"

"No, sir," roared out Barry, sitting bolt upright. "And, if this ship can't be fought without me, I will be carried on deck."

The lieutenant returned with his report; and, when the story became known to the crew, the jackies cheered for their dauntless commander.

"We'll stand by the old man, lads," said one of the petty officers.

"Ay, ay, that we will! We'll stick to him right manfully," was the hearty response.

But now affairs began to look more hopeful for the "Alliance." Far away a gentle rippling of the water rapidly approaching the ship gave promise of wind. The quick eye of an old boatswain caught sight of it. "A breeze, a breeze!" he cried; and the jackies took up the shout, and sprang to their stations at the ropes, ready to take advantage of the coming gust. Soon the breeze arrived, the idly flapping sails filled out, the helmsman felt the responsive pressure of the water as he leaned upon the wheel, the gentle ripple of the water alongside gladdened the ears of the blue-jackets, the ship keeled over to leeward, then swung around responsive to her helm, and the first effective broadside went crashing into the side of the nearest British vessel. After that, the conflict was short. Though the enemy had nearly beaten the "Alliance" in the calm, they were no match for her when she was able to manœuvre. Their resistance was plucky; but when Capt. Barry came on deck, with his wound dressed, he was just in time to see the flags of both vessels come fluttering to the deck.

The two prizes proved to be the "Atlanta" sixteen, and the "Trepassy" fourteen. Both were badly cut up, and together had suffered a loss of forty-one men in killed and wounded. On the "Alliance" were eleven dead, and twenty-one wounded. As the capture of the two vessels threw about two hundred prisoners into the hands of the Americans, and as the "Alliance" was already crowded with captives, Capt. Barry made a cartel of the "Trepassy," and sent her into an English port with all the prisoners. The "Atlanta" he manned with a prize crew, and sent to Boston; but she unluckily fell in with a British cruiser in Massachusetts Bay, and was retaken.

Once more before the cessation of hostilities between Great Britain and the United States threw her out of commission, did the "Alliance" exchange shots with a hostile man-of-war. It was in 1782, when the noble frigate was engaged in bringing specie from the West Indies. She had under convoy a vessel loaded with supplies, and the two had hardly left Havana when some of the enemy's ships caught sight of them, and gave chase. While the chase was in progress, a fifty-gun ship hove in sight, and was soon made out to be a French frigate. Feeling that he had an ally at hand, Barry now wore ship, and attacked the leading vessel, and a spirited action followed, until the enemy, finding himself hard pressed, signalled for his consorts, and Barry, seeing that the French ship made no sign of coming to his aid, drew off.

Irritated by the failure of the French frigate to come to his assistance, Barry bore down upon her and hailed. The French captain declared that the manœuvres of the "Alliance" and her antagonist had made him suspect that the engagement was only a trick to draw him into the power of the British fleet. He had feared that the "Alliance" had been captured, and was being used as a decoy; but now that the matter was made clear to him, he would join the "Alliance" in pursuit of the enemy. This he did; but Barry soon found that the fifty was so slow a sailer, that the "Alliance" might catch up with the British fleet, and be knocked to pieces by their guns, before the Frenchman could get within range. Accordingly he abandoned the chase in disgust, and renewed his homeward course. Some years later, an American gentleman travelling in Europe met the British naval officer who commanded the frigate which Barry had engaged. This officer, then a vice-admiral, declared that he had never before seen a ship so ably fought as was the "Alliance," and acknowledged that the presence of his consorts alone saved him a drubbing.

This engagement was the last fought by the "Alliance" during the Revolution, and with it we practically complete our narrative of the work of the regular navy during that war. One slight disaster to the American cause alone remains to be mentioned. The "Confederacy," a thirty-two-gun frigate built in 1778, was captured by the enemy in 1781. She was an unlucky ship, having been totally dismasted on her first cruise, and captured by an overwhelming force on her second.

Though this chapter completes the story of the regular navy during the Revolution, there remain many important naval events to be described in an ensuing chapter. The work of the ships fitted out by Congress was aided greatly by the armed cruisers furnished by individual States, and privateers. Some of the exploits of these crafts and some desultory maritime hostilities we shall describe in the next chapter. And if the story of the United States navy, as told in these few chapters, seems a record of events trivial as compared with the gigantic naval struggles of 1812 and 1861, it must be remembered that not only were naval architecture and ordnance in their infancy in 1776, but that the country was young, and its sailors unused to the ways of war. But that country, young as it was, produced Paul Jones; and it is to be questioned whether any naval war since has brought forth a braver or nobler naval officer, or one more skilled in the handling of a single ship-of-war.

The result of the war of the Revolution is known to all. A new nation was created by it. These pages will perhaps convince their readers that to the navy was due somewhat the creation of that nation. And if to-day, in its power and might, the United States seems inclined to throw off the navy and belittle its importance, let the memory of Paul Jones and his colleagues be conjured up, to awaken the old enthusiasm over the triumphs of the stars and stripes upon the waves.


Not many months had elapsed after the close of the war between the United States and France, when the pride of the nation in the navy that had won such laurels in that conflict began to wane. In the place of poems and editorials singing the praises and pointing out the value of the navy, the newspapers began to be filled with demands for its reduction. It was an unwarrantable expense, exclaimed the critics of the press, for a nation so young, and so far from the warring peoples of Europe, to maintain a navy at all. A few gunboats to guard the coast would be enough. All the consequences of the reduction of the navy at the close of the Revolution were forgotten in an instant. A penny-wise and pound-foolish spirit came over all the political leaders; and the Democratic party, then newly come into power, determined to endear itself to the hearts of the people by cutting down the expenses of the Government, and to this end they attacked first the appropriations for the navy. A gallant fight was made against the total abolition of the navy; and finally it was decided to retain thirteen of the ships-of-war on the list, while the others should be sold. With these thirteen vessels, of which the most noted were the "Constitution," the "Constellation," and the "United States," the navy was placed upon a peace footing. Even this moderate squadron, however, brought out much opposition from economically minded statesmen; but the aggressions of the Barbary pirates, and the war with Tripoli which opened in 1801, gave the sailor lads active employment, and for the time the outcry of the economists against the navy ceased.

Of the various wars with Tripoli and the other states of Barbary, we have already given some account. The political bearing of the Tripolitan war upon the war which afterwards followed with Great Britain was slight; but, as discipline for the sterner reality of naval warfare with the nation long reputed to be "mistress of the seas," the experience of the Yankee tars with the turbaned infidels was invaluable.

Let us, then, return to the shameful recountal of the injuries committed by the British upon the American flag on the high seas. Even while the United States was at war with France, and thus aiding the British, the outrages never ceased. American sailors were still impressed. American vessels were boarded, and often seized, on the slightest pretexts. Even the ships of the Government were not exempt, for the British respected no right save that of greater power.

It was in November, 1798, that the United States sloop-of-war "Baltimore," of twenty guns, and under command of Capt. Phillips, was in charge of a convoy of merchantmen bound to Havana. On the morning of the 16th of that month, the sloop, with her convoy, were in sight of their destination, and could even see the solid, towering walls of the Moro, rising high above the low-lying shores about Havana. The breeze was fresh and fair; and all hands expected to cast anchor before night in the beautiful bay, oh the shores of which stands the chief city of the island of fruits and spices. On the "Baltimore" the jackies were busily at work holystoning the decks, until they glistened with the milky whiteness dear to the eye of the sailor of the days before the era of yellow pine or black, unsightly iron ships. The shrouds and standing rigging had been pulled taut with many a "Yo, heave ho!" until the wind hummed plaintively through the taut cordage, as through the resounding strings of an Æolian harp. The brasswork and polished breeches of the guns were polished by the vigorous rubbing by muscular sailors, until they shone again. All told of a coming season in a friendly port.

While the work of preparation for port was thus going busily on, the lookout hailed the deck, and reported a squadron in sight. A moment's glance convinced Capt. Phillips that the strangers were British war-vessels; and, as they were still accustomed to annoy American merchantmen, he hastily signalled his convoy to carry sail hard, and make port before the British came up, while the "Baltimore" bore up to speak to the British commodore.

Before the merchantmen could escape, however, the British cut off three of them, under some peculiar and mistaken ideas of the law of blockades. More than this, when Capt. Phillips paid his visit to the English commodore in the latter's cabin, he was calmly informed that it was intended to take from the "Baltimore" into the British service every sailor who had not a regular American protection; this under the new English doctrine, that every sailor was an Englishman unless proved to be otherwise. The avowal by the British captain of this intention filled Phillips with indignation, and he warmly protested against any such action.

The British Squadron.

The British Squadron.

It would, he insisted, be an outrage on the dignity of the nation which he served; and, as the overpowering force of the British rendered resistance impossible, he should insist upon surrendering his ship should they persist in their undertaking, which was no more nor less than open warfare. With this he arose from his seat, and leaving the cabin, to which he had been invited as the guest of a friendly nation, returned to his own ship.

Here he found a state of affairs that still further added to his indignation. At the foot of the gangway of the "Baltimore" floated a boat from one of the British ships, and on the deck of the sloop was a lieutenant in British uniform in the act of mustering the American crew. Capt. Phillips at once seized the muster-roll, and ordered the officious Briton to walk to leeward, while the crew of the "Baltimore" were sent to their quarters.

But, having done this, he became doubtful as to the course for him to pursue. Successful resistance was out of the question; for he was surrounded by five British vessels, one of which carried ninety-eight guns, while the smallest mounted thirty-two, or twelve more than the "Baltimore." Even had the odds against him been less great,Capt. Phillips felt grave doubts as to his authority to resist any armed vessel. He had sailed under instructions that "the vessels of every other nation (France excepted) are on no account to be molested; and I wish particularly to impress upon your mind," wrote the Secretary of the Navy, "that should you ever see an American vessel captured by the armed ship of any nation at war, with whom we are at peace, you cannot lawfully interfere, for it is to be taken for granted that such nation will compensate for such capture, if it should prove to have been illegally made." After some deliberation over this clause in his instructions, Capt. Phillips concluded that for him to make even a formal resistance would be illegal; and accordingly the flag of the "Baltimore" was lowered, and the British were told that the ship was at their disposal. They immediately seized upon fifty-five men from the American crew, who were taken away to the British fleet. But in this wholesale impressment they did not persist. Fifty of the men were sent back; and the squadron set sail, carrying away the five pressed men, and leaving the men of the "Baltimore," from the captain down to the smallest cabin-boy, smarting under the sense of an indignity and insult offered to the flag under which they served.

Capt. Phillips hoisted his flag again, and continued his cruise. News travelled slowly in those days; and the tidings of this latest British insult did not reach the United States until the "Baltimore," returning home, brought it herself. Hardly had the ship reached port, when Capt. Phillips hastened to Philadelphia, then the national capital, and laid his report of the affair before the Government. In a week's time, without even the formality of a trial, he was dismissed from the navy.

After the lapse of more than eighty years it is impossible to look back upon this affair without indignation, mortification, and regret. That the naval officers of Great Britain should have been able, by the mere force of arms, to inflict so cruel an insult upon our flag, can but arouse indignation in the breast of every true American. And the humiliation was great enough, without having added to it the obviously hasty and unjust action of the authorities, in dismissing, without a trial, an officer who had faithfully served his country. It is indeed possible that Capt. Phillips erred gravely in his course; but justice alone demanded for him a fair trial, and the nature of his instructions certainly afforded him some justification for his action.

The years that opened the nineteenth century were full of events that exerted the greatest influence over the growth of the United States. The continuance of the Napoleonic wars in Europe, our own war with the Barbary powers, the acquisition of Louisiana,—all these had their effect on the growth of the young Republic of the West. But, at the same time, England was continuing her policy of oppression. Her cruisers and privateers swarmed upon the ocean; and impressment of seamen and seizure of vessels became so common, that in 1806 memorials and petitions from seamen and merchants of the seaport towns poured in upon Congress, begging that body to take some action to save American commerce from total destruction. Congress directed the American minister in London to protest; but to no avail. Even while the correspondence on the subject was being carried on, the British gave renewed evidence of their hostility to their former Colonies, and their scorn for the military or naval power of the United States. From the far-off shores of the Mediterranean came the news that boats from the fleet of the British Admiral Collingwood had boarded the United States gunboat No. 7, and taken from her three sailors, under the pretence that they were Englishmen. But an occurrence that shortly followed, nearer home, threw this affair into oblivion, and still further inflamed the national hatred of the English.

A small coasting sloop, one of hundreds that made voyages along the American coast from Portland to Savannah, was running past Sandy Hook into New York Bay, when she was hailed by the British ship "Leander," and ordered to heave to. The captain of the coaster paid no attention to the order, and continued on his way, until a shot from the cruiser crashed into the sloop, and took off the head of the captain, John Pearce of New York. This was murder, and the action of the British in firing upon the sloop was gross piracy. Such an outrage, occurring so near the chief city of the United States, aroused a storm of indignation. The merchants of New York held meetings at the old Tontine Coffee-House, and denounced not only the action of the British cruiser, but even impeached the Government of the United States; declaring that an administration which suffered foreign armed ships to "impress, wound, and murder citizens was not entitled to the confidence of a brave and free people." The fact that the captain of the offending cruiser, on being brought to trial in England, was honorably acquitted, did not tend to soothe the irritation of the Americans.

Occurrences such as this kept alive the American dislike for the English, and a year later an event happened which even the most ardent peace-lover could not but condemn and resent with spirit.

In 1807 the United States frigate "Chesapeake," then lying at the navy-yard at Washington, was put in commission, and ordered to the Mediterranean, to relieve the "Constitution." Nearly a month was consumed in making necessary repairs to hull and cordage, taking in stores, shipping a crew, and attending to the thousand and one details of preparation for sea that a long time out of commission makes necessary to a man-of-war. While the preparations for service were actively proceeding, the British minister informed the naval authorities that three deserters from His British Majesty's ship "Melampus" had joined the crew of the "Chesapeake;" and it was requested that they should be given up. The request was made with due courtesy; and, although there is no principle of international law which directs the surrender of deserters, yet the United States, as a friendly nation, was inclined to grant the request, and an inquiry was made into the case. The facts elicited put the surrender of the men out of the question; for though they frankly confessed to have deserted from the "Melampus," yet they claimed to have been impressed into the British service, and proved conclusively that they were free Americans. This was reported to the British minister; and, as he made no further protests, it was assumed that he was satisfied.

Some weeks later the vessel left the navy-yard, and dropped down the river to Hampton Roads. Even with the long period occupied in preparation for sea, the armament of the ship was far from being in order; a fact first discovered as she passed Mount Vernon, as she was unable to fire the salute with which at that time all passing war-vessels did honor to the tomb of Washington. After some days stay at Hampton Roads, during which time additional guns and stores were taken on, and the crew increased to three hundred and seventy-five men, the ship got under way, and started on her voyage.

It was on a breezy morning of June that the "Chesapeake" left the broad harbor of Hampton Roads, the scene of so many of our naval glories. From the masthead of the frigate floated the broad pennant of Commodore Barron, who went out in command of the ship. The decks were littered with ropes, lumber, and stores, which had arrived too late to be properly stowed away. Some confusion is but natural on a ship starting on a cruise which may continue for years, but the condition of the "Chesapeake" was beyond all excuse; a fact for which the fitting-out officers, not her commander, were responsible.

As the American ship passed out into the open ocean, there was a great stir on the decks of four English cruisers that lay quietly at anchor in Lynn Haven Bay; and almost immediately one of these vessels hoisted her anchor, set her sails, and started out in the track of the frigate. A stiff head-wind blowing, the American was forced to tack frequently, in order to get ahead; and her officers noticed that the British ship (the "Leopard," of fifty guns) tacked at the same time, and was evidently following doggedly in the wake of the "Chesapeake." No suspicion that the pursuer had other than peaceful motives in view entered the minds of the American officers; and the ship kept on her course, while the sailors set about putting the decks in order, and getting the vessel in trim for her long voyage. While all hands were thus busily engaged, the "Leopard" bore down rapidly, and soon hailed, saying that she had a despatch for Commodore Barron. The "Chesapeake" accordingly hove to, and waited for a boat to be sent aboard.

The two ships now lay broadside to broadside, and only about a half pistol-shot apart. No idea that the Englishman had any hostile designs seems to have occurred to Commodore Barren; but some of the younger officers noticed that the ports of the "Leopard" were triced up, and the tompions taken out of the muzzles of the cannon. The latter fact was of the gravest import, and should have been reported at once to the commander; but it appears that this was not done.

In a few moments a boat put off from the "Leopard," and pulled to the American ship, where an officer stood waiting at the gangway, and conducted the visitor to Barron's cabin. Here the English lieutenant produced an order, signed by the British Admiral Berkeley, commanding all British ships to watch for the "Chesapeake," and search her for deserters. Commodore Barron immediately responded, that the "Chesapeake" harbored no deserters, and he could not permit his crew to be mustered by the officer of any foreign power. Hardly had this response been made, when a signal from the "Leopard" recalled the boarding officer to his ship.

The officers of the "Chesapeake" were now fully aroused to the dangers of the situation, and began the attempt to get the ship in readiness for action. Commodore Barron, coming out of his cabin for the first time, was forcibly struck by the air of preparation for action presented by the "Leopard." Capt. Gordon, the second in command, was ordered to hasten the work on the gun-deck, and call the crew to quarters. The drummers began to beat the call to quarters, but hasty orders soon stopped them; and the men went to their places quietly, hoping that the threatening attitude of the "Leopard" was mere bravado.

The most painful suspense was felt by all on board the American ship. The attitude of the "Leopard" left little doubt of her hostile intentions, while a glance about the decks of the "Chesapeake" told how little fitted she was to enter into action. Her crew was a new one, never exercised at the guns, and had been mustered to quarters only three times. On the gun-deck lay great piles of cumbrous cables, from the coiling of which the men had been summoned by the call to quarters. On the after-deck were piles of furniture, trunks, and some temporary pantries. What little semblance of order there was, was due to the efforts of one of the lieutenants, who, suspecting trouble when the "Leopard" first came up, had made great exertions toward getting the ship clear. While the captain stood looking ruefully at the confusion, still more serious troubles were reported. The guns were loaded; but no rammers, powder-flasks, matches, wads, or gun-locks could be found. While search was being made for these necessary articles, a hail came from the "Leopard." Commodore Barron shouted back that he did not understand.

"Commodore Barron must be aware that the orders of the vice-admiral must be obeyed," came the hail again.

Barron again responded that he did not understand. After one or two repetitions, the British determined to waste no more time in talking; and a single shot fired from the bow of the "Leopard" was quickly followed by a full broadside. The heavy shot crashed into the sides of the "Chesapeake," wounding many of the men, and adding to the confusion on the gun-deck. No answer came from the American frigate; for, though the guns were loaded, there was no way of firing them. Matches, locks, or loggerheads were nowhere to be found. Mad with rage at the helpless condition in which they found themselves, the officers made every effort to fire at least one volley. Pokers were heated red-hot in the galley-fire, and carried hastily to the guns, but cooled too rapidly in the rush across the deck. In the mean time, the "Leopard," none too chivalric to take advantage of an unresisting foe, had chosen her position, and was pouring in a deliberate fire. For nearly eighteen minutes the fire was continued, when the flag of the "Chesapeake" was hauled down. Just as it came fluttering from the masthead, Lieut. Allen, crying, "I'll have one shot at those rascals, anyhow," ran to the galley, picked up a live coal in his fingers, and carried it, regardless of the pain, to the nearest gun, which was successfully discharged. This was the only shot that the "Chesapeake" fired during the affair,—battle it cannot be called.

A boat with two British lieutenants and several midshipmen on board speedily boarded the "Chesapeake," and the demand for the deserters was renewed. Four seamen were seized, and borne away in triumph; but the British commander refused to receive the ship as a prize, and even went so far as to express his regret at the loss of life, and proffer his aid in repairing the damages. Both sympathy and assistance were indignantly rejected; and the disgraced ship went sullenly back to Norfolk, bearing a sorely mortified body of officers and seamen. Of the four kidnapped sailors, it may be stated here, that one was hanged, and the other three forced to enter the British service, in which one died. His comrades, five years later, were restored to the deck of the ship from which they had been taken.

Lieut. Allen Fires A Shot.

Lieut. Allen Fires A Shot.

The news of this event spread like wildfire over the country, and caused rage and resentment wherever it was known. Cities, towns, and villages called for revenge. The President issued a proclamation, complaining of the habitual insolence of British cruisers, and ordering all such vessels to leave American waters forthwith. As in the reduced state of the navy it was impossible to enforce this order, he forbade all citizens of the United States to give aid to, or have any intercourse with, any such vessels or their crews. War measures were taken both by the Federal and State Governments. As usual, the popular wrath was vented upon the least culpable of the people responsible for the condition of the "Chesapeake." Commodore Barren was tried by court-martial, and sentenced to five years' suspension from the service, without pay. The cool judgment of later years perceives the unjustness of this sentence, but its execution cast a deep shadow over the remainder of the unhappy officer's life.

For some years after this episode, little occurred to change the relations of the two nations. The war spirit grew slowly, and was kept alive by the occasional reports of impressments, or the seizure of American ships by British privateers. The navy held its place amid the national defences, although a plan devised by President Jefferson came near putting an end to the old organization. This plan provided for the construction of great numbers of small gunboats, which should be stationed along the coast, to be called out only in case of attack by an armed enemy. A contemporary writer, describing the beauties of this system, wrote, "Whenever danger shall menace any harbor, or any foreign ship shall insult us, somebody is to inform the governor, and the governor is to desire the marshal to call upon the captains of militia to call upon the drummers to beat to arms, and call the militia men together, from whom are to be drafted  (not impressed) a sufficient number to go on board the gunboats, and drive the hostile stranger away, unless during this long ceremonial he should have taken himself off." Fortunately the gunboat system did not work the total extinction of the old navy.

In 1811 the British aggressions began again, and the situation became more and more warlike. So bold had the privateers become, that they captured a richly laden vessel within thirty miles of New York. Shortly after, the British frigate "Guerriere" stopped an American brig eighteen miles from New York, and took from her a young sailor. The sea was running very rough, and a stiff breeze blowing, when the "Spitfire" was halted by the frigate; but the American captain went with the captured lad to the war-vessel, and assured the commander that he had known the young man as a native of Maine from his boyhood. The reply was, "All that may be so; but he has no protection, and that is enough for me." With these memories fresh, it is not surprising that Americans rejoiced when the news of an encounter terminating in favor of the United States ship was received.

On May 7, 1811, the United States frigate "President" was lying quietly at anchor off Fort Severn, Annapolis. Every thing betokened a state of perfect peace. The muzzles of the great guns were stopped by tompions. The ports were down. In the rigging of the vessel hung garments drying in the sun. At the side floated half a dozen boats. Many of the crew were ashore on leave. The sailing-master was at Baltimore, and the chaplain and purser were at Washington. From the masthead floated the broad pennant of Commodore Rodgers, but he was with his family at Havre de Grace ; and the executive officer, Capt. Ludlow, was dining on the sloop-of-war "Argus," lying near at hand. But the captain's dinner was destined to be interrupted that bright May afternoon; for in the midst of the repast a midshipman entered, and reported that the commodore's gig was coming up rapidly, with Rodgers himself on board. The dinner party was hastily broken up, and the captain returned to his ship to receive his superior officer. On his arrival, Commodore Rodgers said that he had received orders to chase the frigate that had impressed the sailor from the "Spitfire," and insist upon the man's being liberated, if he could prove his citizenship. This was good news for every man on the frigate. At last, then, the United States was going to protect its sailors.

Three days were spent in getting the crew together and preparing for sea; then the stately frigate, with all sails set and colors flying, weighed anchor, and stood down the Chesapeake with the intention of cruising near New York. She had been out on the open ocean only a day, when the lookout, from his perch in the cross-trees, reported a strange sail on the horizon. The two vessels approached each other rapidly; and, as the stranger drew near, Rodgers saw, by the squareness of her yards and the general trim, symmetrical cut of her sails, that she was a war-vessel. Perhaps she may be the offender, thought he, and watched eagerly her approach.

As the stranger came up, the "President" set her broad pennant and ensign; on seeing which the stranger hoisted several signal flags, the significance of which was not understood by the Americans. Finding her signals unanswered, the stranger wore ship, and bore away to the southward, hotly followed by the "President." During all these manœuvres, Rodgers's suspicion of the strange vessel had increased; and her apparent flight only convinced him the more of the hostile character of the stranger. It was a stern chase and a long one, for at the outset the stranger was hull down on the horizon. After an hour it became evident that the "President" was gaining, for the hull of the fugitive was plainly seen. The breeze then died away, so that night had fallen over the waters before the ships were within hailing distance.

A little after eight in the evening the "President" was within a hundred yards of the chase, which could be seen, a dark mass with bright lights shining through the rows of open ports, rushing through the water directly ahead. Rodgers sprang upon the taffrail, and putting a speaking-trumpet to his lips, shouted, "What ship is that?" A dead silence followed. Those on the "President" listened intently for the answer; but no sound was heard save the sigh of the wind through the cordage, the creaking of the spars, and the rush of the water alongside. Rodgers hailed again; and, before the sound of his words had died away, a quick flash of fire leaped from the stern-ports of the chase, and a shot whizzed through the rigging of the "President," doing some slight damage. Rodgers sprang to the deck to order a shot in return; but, before he could do so, a too eager gunner pulled the lanyard of his piece in the second division of the "President's" battery. The enemy promptly answered with three guns, and then let fly a whole broadside, with discharges of musketry from the deck and the tops. This exhausted Rodgers's patience. "Equally determined," said he afterwards, "not to be the aggressor, or to suffer the flag of my country to be insulted with impunity, I gave a general order to fire." This time there was no defect in the ordnance or the gunnery of the American ship. The thunderous broadsides rang out at regular intervals, and the aim of the gunners was deliberate and deadly. It was too dark to see what effect the fire was having on the enemy, but in five minutes her responses began to come slowly and feebly. Unwilling to continue his attack on a ship evidently much his inferior in size and armament, Rodgers ordered the gunners to cease firing; but this had hardly been done when the stranger opened again. A second time the guns of the "President" were run out, and again they began their cannonade. The stranger was soon silenced again; and Commodore Rodgers hailed, that he might learn the name of his adversary. In answer came a voice from the other vessel,—

"We are his Majesty's ship ——." A gust of wind carried away the name, and Rodgers was still in doubt as to whom he had been fighting. Hoisting a number of bright lights in her rigging, that the stranger might know her whereabouts, the "President" stood off and on during the night, ready to give aid to the disabled ship in case of need.

Commodore Rodgers Hails.

Commodore Rodgers Hails.

At early dawn every officer was on deck, anxious to learn the fate of their foe of the night before. Far in the distance they could see a ship, whose broken cordage and evident disorder showed her to have been the other party to the fight. A boat from the "President" visited the stranger, to learn her name and to proffer aid in repairing the damages received in the action. The ship proved to be the British sloop-of-war "Little Belt;" and her captain stated that she was much damaged in her masts, sails, rigging, and hull, and had been cut several times between wind and water. He declined the proffered aid, however, and sailed away to Halifax, the nearest British naval station. Commodore Rodgers took the "President" to the nearest American port.

When the "President" reached home, and the news of her exploit became known, the exultation of the people was great, and their commendations of Rodgers loud. "At last," they cried, "we have taught England a lesson. The insult to the 'Chesapeake' is now avenged." Rodgers protested that he had been forced unwillingly into the combat, but his admirers insisted that he had left port with the intention of humbling the pride of some British ship. Indeed, the letter of an officer on the "President," printed in "The New York Herald" at the time, rather supported this theory. "By the officers who came from Washington," wrote this gentleman, "we learn that we are sent in pursuit of a British frigate, who had impressed a passenger from a coaster. Yesterday, while beating down the bay, we spoke a brig coming up, who informed us that she saw the British frigate the day before off the very place where we now are; but she is not now in sight. We have made the most complete preparations for battle. Every one wishes it. She is exactly our force; but we have the "Argus" with us, which none of us are pleased with, as we wish a fair trial of courage and skill. Should we see her, I have not the least doubt of an engagement. The commodore will demand the person impressed; the demand will doubtless be refused, and the battle will instantly commence.... The commodore has called in the boatswain, gunner, and carpenter, informed them of all circumstances, and asked if they were ready for action. Ready, was the reply of each."

No consequences beyond an intensifying of the war spirit in America followed this rencounter. Before dismissing the subject, however, it is but fair to state that the account as given here is in substance Commodore Rodgers's version of the matter. The British captain's report was quite different. He insisted that the "President" fired the first shot, that the action continued nearly an hour, that it was his hail to which no attention was paid, and finally he intimated that the "President" had rather the worse of the encounter. The last statement is easily disproved, for the "President" was almost unscathed, and the only injury to her people was the slight wounding of a boy, in the hand. On the "Little Belt," thirty-one were killed or wounded. The other points led to a simple question of veracity between the two officers. Each government naturally accepted the report of its officer; and, so far as the governments were concerned, the matter soon passed into oblivion.

Not long after this episode, a somewhat similar occurrence took place, but was happily attended with no such serious consequences. The frigate "United States," cruising under the broad pennant of Commodore Decatur, fell in with two British ships near New York. While the commanders of the vessels were amicably hailing, a gun was suddenly fired from the battery of the "United States," owing to the carelessness of a gunner in handling the lanyard. It was a critical moment, for the British would have been justified in responding to the fire with broadsides. Happily, they were cool and discreet, and Decatur made such explanations as showed that no attack or insult was intended. This little incident is interesting, as showing the distrust of the British which led an American captain to keep his guns primed and cocked, while conversing with English men-of-war.

Another incident showed that the hatred of the British service that prevailed among seamen was a matter of deep-seated conviction. While the United States ship "Essex" was lying in an English port, it became known that one of her crew was a deserter from the British navy, and his surrender was immediately demanded. Although the man stoutly protested that he was an American, yet no proof could be shown; and, as the ship was in British waters, it was determined to surrender him. A British officer and squad of marines boarded the "Essex" and waited on the deck while the sailor went below to get his kit. Bitterly complaining of the hardness of his fate, the poor fellow went along the gun-decks until he passed the carpenter's bench. His eye fell upon an axe; and after a minute's hesitation he stepped to the bench, seized the axe in his right hand, and with one blow cut off the left. Carrying the severed member in his hand, he again sought the deck and presented himself, maimed, bleeding, and forever useless as a sailor, to the British officer. Astonished and horrified, that worthy left the ship, and the wounded man was sent to the sick-bay. The incident was a forcible commentary on the state of the British service at that time, and left a deep impression on the minds of all beholders.

In the next contest over deserters, however, the Americans rather secured the best of the argument. The "Constitution" was lying at anchor in Portsmouth roads, when one of the crew slily slipped overboard and swam down with the tide to the British ship "Madagascar" that lay at anchor near by. When he had reached the Englishman, he was too exhausted to speak; and the officers, supposing that he had fallen overboard accidentally, sent word to the "Constitution" that her man had been saved, and awaited the orders of his commander. The next morning a boat was sent down to the "Madagascar" to fetch the man back; but, to the astonishment of the visiting officer, he was told that the sailor claimed to be a British subject and wished to escape from the American service.

"Have you any evidence," asked the American officer of the British admiral, "beyond the man's own word, that he is an Englishman?"

"None whatever, sir," was the response, "but we are obliged to take his declaration to that effect."

The American officer returned to his ship, vowing vengeance on the harborers of the deserter. His opportunity came that very night.

In the dead watches of the night, when all was still on deck save the monotonous tramp of the sentries, there suddenly rang out on the still air the sharp crack of a musket. The officer of the deck rushed to see what was the matter, and was shown a dark object floating near the ship, at which a sentry had fired. A boat was lowered and soon came back, bringing in it a sailor who had deserted from the "Madagascar," and reached the "Constitution" by swimming. Capt. Hull asked the fellow his nationality.

"Sure, O'im a 'Merricun, your honor," he answered in a rich brogue that would have branded him as a Paddy in any part of the world. With a twinkle in his eye, Hull sent the Irishman below, and told the sailors to take good care of him.

Early in the morning, a boat came from the "Madagascar;" and a trim young lieutenant, clambering aboard the American frigate, politely requested that the deserter be given up. With great dignity, Capt. Hull responded that the man was a citizen of the United States, and should have protection. The visiting officer fairly gasped for breath. "An American!" he exclaimed. "Why, the man has never been out of Ireland except on a British man-of-war."

"Indeed!" responded Hull blandly. "But we have his statement that he is an American, and we are obliged to take his declaration to that effect." And the man was never given up.

During the day, two British frigates cast anchor so near the "Constitution" that Capt. Hull suspected them of hostile intentions, and moved his ship to a new anchorage. A frigate followed closely in her wake. At eight in the evening, Capt. Hull determined to meet the show of force with force. The drums beat, and the men were called to quarters. The battle-lanterns were lighted fore and aft. The tops were crowded with sailors, armed with short carbines, to pick off the men on the enemy's decks. Along the gun-deck stood the men at the guns; and an officer, describing the scene, says they took hold of the ropes as if they were about to jerk the guns through the ship's sides. All were enthusiastic over the prospect of the coming action.

"Now, then, my lads," said an officer to a group of sailors, "if a fight comes of this, it will be in the cause of you sailors; and I expect you to fight like men."

"Ay, ay, sir," was the response. "Let the quarter-deck look out for the colors, and we'll keep the guns going."

All the preparations for battle were made openly, and the attitude taken by the "Constitution" was an open challenge. No notice of it was taken by the British ship; and, after maintaining her hostile attitude for some time, the "Constitution" hoisted her anchor, and left the harbor.

The time of the formal declaration of war was now rapidly approaching. The long diplomatic correspondence between the two nations had failed to lead to any amicable solution of the difficulties that were fast urging them to war. Great Britain still adhered to her doctrine that a man once an Englishman was always an English subject. No action of his own could absolve him from allegiance to the flag under which he was born. Upon the trade of the United States with France, the English looked with much the sentiments with which, during our civil war, we regarded the thriving trade driven with the Confederacy by the British blockade-runners. Upon these two theories rested the hateful "right of search" and the custom of impressment.

It is needless to say that the views of the United States on these questions were exactly contrary to those of the English. Such vital differences could, then, only be settled by war; and war was accordingly declared in June, 1812. It was a bold step for the young nation, but there was enough of plausibility in the English claims to make it evident that they could never be set aside by diplomacy; and so, with hardly a thought of the odds against her, the United States dashed in to win justice at the muzzles of her cannon.

That the odds were tremendous, is not to be denied. Of the military strength of the two nations, it is not the purpose of this book to treat. Indeed, a recountal of the land battles of the war of 1812 would hardly be pleasant reading for Americans. It was on the sea that our laurels were chiefly won. Yet, at the time of the declaration of war, the navy of the United States consisted of twenty vessels, of which the largest carried forty-four guns, and the majority rated under thirty. For years this navy had been a butt of ridicule for all the European naval powers. The frigate "Constitution" was scornfully termed by an English newspaper "a bunch of pine boards sailing under a bit of striped bunting." Not long after the publication of this insolent jeer, the "Constitution" sailed into an American port with a captured British frigate in tow. Right merrily then did the Americans boast of their "bunch of pine boards."

This miniature navy of the United States was about to be pitted against the greatest naval power of the world. The rolls of the navy of Great Britain bore at this time the names of over one thousand ships. Of these, no less than two hundred and fifty-four were ships-of-the-line, mounting over seventy-four guns each. Behind this great navy were the memories of long years of conquests, of an almost undisputed supremacy upon the ocean. Small wonder was it, then, that the British laughed at the idea of the Americans giving battle to their hitherto unconquered ships.

What, then, was the secret of the success which, as we shall see, attended the American arms on the sea? The answer is, that men, not ships, carried the day. Yet Great Britain had the more sailors on her muster-rolls. True, but they were only too often unwilling slaves. Instead of enlisting, like free men, they were hunted down like brutes and forced to enter the service. No sailor was safe from the press-gang, and even sober citizens were often kidnapped to serve the 'King' on the ocean. From the ships of other nations, from their homes and from taverns, the unlucky sailors were dragged away. Even in the streets of populous cities, they were not safe; and it was no uncommon sight to see pitched battles being fought between the press-gangs and sailors whom they were trying to capture. Generally, the inhabitants and landsmen sided with the victims; and a sailor running through the streets of the town would be given every assistance by people, who filled with obstacles the path of his pursuers. Could he reach the water-side, the fugitive would find every boat at his service; while his pursuers, on coming up, found every water-man very busy and very gruff. But the wonder is, that, with this unjust and repulsive system of impressments, the British sailors were so loyal, and fought with the dogged courage that they invariably showed.

In the American navy, on the contrary, the enlistments were voluntary. The service was popular, and the seamen entered it without the feeling of outraged liberty inspired by the British system. Officers were readily obtained from the ranks of the adventurous American navigators. Officers and men alike often brought into the service personal memories of British oppression; and this, with their free and independent spirit, enabled them to wage an unequal war with glorious results for the supporters of the stars and stripes.


Let us now abandon for a time our consideration of the progress of the great naval war on the ocean, and turn our attention to a humbler theatre, in which the drama of battle was proceeding with no less credit to the American participants, though with less grand and inspiring accessories. On the great fresh-water lakes which skirt the northern frontier of the United States, the two warring powers contended fiercely for the mastery. But there were no desperate duels between well-matched frigates; nor, indeed, did either the British or American squadron of the lake station boast a craft of sufficient armament to be termed a frigate, until the war was nearly at an end. Barges, gunboats, sloops, schooners, and brigs made up the squadrons that fought for the possession of the fresh-water seas; and few either of the jackies of the forecastle or the officers of the quarter-deck were bred to the regular service. With such forces it could only happen that the encounters of the foes should be little more than skirmishes, and that neither in immediate loss of life nor in direct results should these skirmishes be important. Such, in fact, was the general character of the hostilities on the lakes, with two noteworthy exceptions,—Perry's victory at Put-in-Bay, and McDonough's successful resistance of the British on Lake Champlain.

That the war should invade the usually peaceful waters of Ontario, Erie, and Champlain, was inevitable from the physical characteristics of the northern frontier of the United States. Great Britain held Canada; and an invasion of her enemy's territory from that province was a military measure, the advisability of which was evident to the most untaught soldier. No overland expedition could hope to make its way through the dense forests of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, or the Adirondack region of New York. But the lakes offered a tempting opening for invasion. Particularly did the placid, navigable waters of Lake Champlain, stretching, from the Canada line far into the heart of New York, invite the invader; while Lakes Erie and Ontario afforded an opportunity for attacking the Americans on what was then, practically, their western frontier.

The Americans were not slow in perceiving the dangers that threatened their north-western frontier, and began to prepare for its defence most energetically at the first declaration of war. It was a work that taxed to the utmost the resources of the young country. The shores of the lakes as far west as Detroit were open to the attacks of the enemy, and, although part of the territory of the United States, were really more accessible to the invaders than to the American defenders. The population was sparse, and the means of transportation very primitive. Before the days of railroads, canals, or even well-kept turnpikes, troops, seamen, ordnance, and all munitions of war could only be transported from the cities on the seacoast by the most laborious hauling over roads hardly worthy of the name. Nor was the transportation problem solved during the continuance of the war. When in May, 1814, the new United States frigate "Superior" lay at her dock at Sackett's Harbor, her ordnance, stores, and cordage had to be brought from Oswego Falls, some fifty miles away. A clear water-route by the Oswego River and the lake offered itself; but Sir James Yeo, with his squadron, was blockading the mouth of the harbor, and the chance for blockade-runners was small indeed. To carry the heavy ordnance and cables overland, was out of the question. The dilemma was most perplexing, but Yankee ingenuity finally enabled the "Superior" to get her outfit. The equipment was loaded upon a small fleet of barges and scows, which a veteran lake captain took to a point sixteen miles from the blockaded harbor. By sailing by night, and skulking up creeks and inland water-ways, the transports reached this point without attracting the attention of the blockading fleet. They had, however, hardly arrived when news of the enterprise came to the ears of the British, and an expedition was sent to intercept the Americans, which expedition the Yankees successfully resisted. The question then arose as to how the stores were to be taken across the sixteen miles of marsh and forest that lay between the boats and the navy-yard at Sackett's Harbor. The cannon and lighter stores were transported on heavy carts with great difficulty, but there still remained the great cable. How to move this was a serious question. No cart could bear its ponderous weight of ninety-six hundred pounds. Again Yankee ingenuity and pluck came to the rescue. Two hundred men volunteered to carry the great rope on their shoulders, and in this way it actually was transported. Along the shore of the little creek the great cable was stretched out with prodigious labor, and lay there looking like a gigantic serpent. The two hundred men ranged themselves along the line at regular intervals, and at a given signal hoisted the burden to their shoulders. At the word of command, all stepped off briskly together, and the long line wound along the narrow path through the forests. They started out cheerily enough, enlivening the work with songs and jests; but at the end of the first mile all were glad enough to throw down the load, and loiter a while by the roadside. A few minutes' rest, and up and on again. Now arms began to ache, and shoulders to chafe, under the unusual burden; but the march continued until noon of the next day, when the footsore and weary carriers marched proudly into Sackett's Harbor, to find sailors and soldiers assembled to greet them with bands and cannon-firing. In accordance with the custom of the time, these demonstrations of honor were supplemented by the opening of a barrel of whiskey, in honor of the arrival of the cable.

This incident, trivial in itself, is typical of that ingenuity and fertility of resource, which, more than any thing else, contributed to the success of the Americans, not only in the lake operations of the war of 1812, but in every war the nation has since undertaken. But the advantages gained by Yankee enterprise and ingenuity were, perhaps, more evident in the operations on Lake Ontario and Lake Erie than in the operations of the armies, or of the fleets upon the ocean. The great contest lay more in the rapid building of ships than in fighting them. At the outset the enemy were better equipped for the struggle than were the Americans. The Canadian frontier had been longer settled, and could lend more men to the needs of the nation. More than this, the route to the ocean by the St. Lawrence River made it really easier to transport naval stores from far-off Liverpool to the British naval station on the shores of Lake Ontario, than to carry like goods across the wooded hills of New York. Nor were the British altogether without naval resources upon the lakes at the hour when war was declared. On Lake Erie the English flag waved over the "Royal George," twenty-two; "Prince Regent," sixteen; "Earl of Moira," fourteen; "Gloucester," ten; "Seneca," eight; and "Simcoe," eight. Opposed to this squadron was but one United States vessel,—the "Oneida," a man-of-war brig carrying sixteen twenty-four-pound carronades. On Lake Erie the British had a squadron of six vessels, carrying in all forty-six guns.

Hostilities opened early on Lake Ontario. For some time before the formal declaration of war, a desultory warfare had been waged by the Americans and Canadians about Niagara. Canadian schooners had been seized on account of alleged violations of the revenue and embargo regulations of the United States. The resentment of the sufferers was aroused, and they only awaited a suitable opportunity to retaliate. The opportunity soon came, in the form of the declaration of war; and a body of Canadian volunteers attacked eight American schooners, near the Thousand Isles, and burned two of them.

With the opening of the war, the United States authorities had fixed upon Sackett's Harbor as the naval station for Lake Ontario. In the harbor, on the 19th of July, 1812, lay the "Oneida," which had lately come into port after a short cruise in search of British schooners. At early dawn of the day mentioned, the lookout reported five ships in the offing, and a few minutes later hailed the deck, to report them to be British ships-of-war. The alarm quickly spread over the little town. Puny though the British fleet would have appeared upon the ocean, it was of ample power to take the "Oneida" and destroy the village. Before the villagers fairly understood their peril, a small boat came scudding into the harbor before the wind. It bore a message from the British commander, demanding that the "Oneida" and the "Lord Nelson" (a captured Canadian vessel) be surrendered. Should the squadron be resisted, he warned the inhabitants that their town should be burned to the ground.

Commander Woolsey, who commanded the "Oneida," was a United States officer of the regular service, and a man of courage and fertility of resource. Unable to take his vessel out into the lake, he moored her at the entrance of the harbor in such a way that her broadside of nine guns might be brought to bear on the enemy. All hands then set to work getting the other broadside battery ashore; and, by the aid of the villagers, these guns were mounted on a hastily thrown up redoubt on the shore. At the foot of the main street of the village was planted a queerly assorted battery. The great gun, on which the hopes of the Americans centred, was an iron thirty-two-pounder, which had lain for years deeply embedded in the muddy ooze of the lake-shore, gaining thereby the derisive name of the "Old Sow." This redoubtable piece of ordnance was flanked on either side by a brass six-pounder; a pair of cannon that the Yankee sailors had, with infinite pains and indomitable perseverance, dredged up from the sunken hulk of a British war-vessel that had filled a watery grave some years. Two brass nine-pounders completed this novel armament.

It was about eight o'clock in the morning when the British vessels came up within range. Alarm guns had been firing from the shore all the morning; and by that time the village was filled with militiamen, who flocked to the scene of action. Woolsey, who had taken charge of the shore-batteries, ordered a shot from the thirty-two pounder. The "old sow" spoke out bravely, but the shot missing, only roused the enemy to laughter, which could be heard on shore. The British vessels then began a vigorous cannonade, keeping well out of range of the small guns on shore; although so weak were the American defences, that a vigorous onslaught by the enemy would have quickly reduced the town to submission. As it was, a harmless fire was kept up for about two hours. Not a shot took effect, and nothing save the noise and excitement of the cannonading need have deterred the good people of Sackett's Harbor from observing that Sunday morning in accordance with their usual sabbath customs. It was reserved for one shot to put an end to this strange engagement. Just as the artillerists who served the iron thirty-two pounder were loading the gun, a cannon-ball struck the ground near the battery. One of the Americans ran, and, picking up the spent ball, brought it into the battery, saying, "I've been playing ball with the redcoats, and have caught them out. Let's see now if they can catch back again." So saying, he rammed the missile down the muzzle of the long thirty-two, and sent it back with deadly aim. The captured ball crashed into the stern of the "Royal George," raked her from stem to stern, killing fourteen men, and wounding eighteen in its course. The marksman, watching the course of his shot, saw the splinters fly from the deck of the British ship; and the Americans cheered loudly for the "old sow" as the British squadron put about, and left the Sackett's Harbor people to celebrate their easily won victory.

Insignificant though this engagement was, it was the chief battle of the year on Lake Ontario. The Americans strained every nerve to put more armed vessels afloat, and, being left unmolested by the British, managed to have quite a flotilla in commission before winter set its icy seal upon the lake. In September, Capt. Isaac Chauncey was appointed commander-in-chief of the lake navy; and, on his arrival, he proved himself the very man for the place. He rushed ahead the building of new ships, arranged for the transportation of seamen from the seacoast to man the vessels on the lakes, and then, not content with attending only to the building of the ships, took command of the squadron in commission, and fairly swept the lake clear of the enemy's vessels. He met with little opposition as the British retired to their naval station at Kingston, remaining there until all further naval operations were checked by the ice.

Winter, which seriously impeded the work of the British by putting an end to navigation upon the St.Lawrence, did away with many of the difficulties of transportation which had so hampered the Americans. The roads to the seacoast grew hard, and were soon covered with snow, over which long teams of oxen plodded to and fro until the path was well broken. Then began the hauling of supplies from the seaboard. From his post at Sackett's Harbor, Chauncey sent out requisitions for ship-timber, cordage, ordnance, and ship-carpenters. Long trains of heavily laden wagons and sledges wound their way across the State from New York or Albany to the station at Sackett's Harbor. Agents were appointed in the seacoast towns to enlist seamen for service on the lakes,—a work that required no small powers of persuasion; for the true salt-water jack looks with great disfavor upon the "fish-ponds" of fresh water. But, by dint of munificent offers of bounties and prize-money, several hundred sailors were induced to leave their ships on the ocean, and take service in the infant navy of the lakes.

Most of the sailors were sent across the State in the dead of winter. The trip was made in huge sleds, drawn by several pairs of horses, and carrying a score or more men each. The jackies enlivened the journey with rollicking songs and stories as the sleds sped over the well-packed roads through the sparsely settled country. One of the largest parties was accompanied by a brass band, with the aid of which the sailors made their entrance to the villages along the road in truly royal style. The sleighs and horses were gayly decked with the national colors. The band led in the first sleigh, closely followed by three other sledges, filled with blue-coated men. Before the little tavern of the town the cortége  usually came to a halt; and the tars, descending, followed up their regulation cheers with demands for grog and provender. After a halt of an hour or two, the party continued its way, followed by the admiration of every villager, and the envy of every boy large enough to have seafaring ambitions.

With all his energy and unswerving fidelity to the cause of his country, Chauncey probably did nothing of more direct benefit to the United States than writing a letter to a young naval officer, then stationed at Newport, asking him to come West and take charge of the naval operations on Lake Erie. The name of this young officer was Oliver Hazard Perry, and a year later no name in American history carried with it more fame.

Hostilities on Lake Erie had been unimportant up to the time that Chauncey sent for Perry. The Americans had no naval vessel to oppose to the fleet of Canadian craft that held the lake. One war-vessel only had shown the American flag on the lake; and she had been fitted out by the army, and had fallen into the hands of the enemy at the surrender of Detroit. But this prize was not destined to remain long in the hands of the Canadians. Early in the autumn of 1812, Chauncey had sent Lieut. Elliott to Lake Erie, with instructions to begin at once the creation of a fleet by building or purchasing vessels. Elliott chose as the site of his improvised navy-yard Black Rock, a point two miles below Buffalo; and there pushed ahead his work in a way that soon convinced the enemy, that, unless the young officer's energy received a check, British supremacy on Lake Erie would soon be at an end. Accordingly, two armed brigs, the "Caledonia" and the "Detroit," recently captured by the British, came down to put an end to the Yankee ship-building. Like most of the enemy's vessels on the lakes, these two brigs were manned by Canadians, and had not even the advantage of a regular naval commander.

On the morning of the 8th of October, the sentries on the river-side at Black Rock discovered the two British vessels lying at anchor under the guns of Fort Erie, a British work on the opposite side of the Niagara River, that there flows placidly along, a stream more than a mile wide. Zealous for distinction, and determined to checkmate the enemy in their design, Elliott resolved to undertake the task of cutting out the two vessels from beneath the guns of the British fort. Fortune favored his enterprise. It happened that on that very day a detachment of sailors from the ocean had arrived at Black Rock. Though wearied by their long overland journey, the jackies were ready for the adventure, but had no weapons. In this dilemma Elliott was forced to turn for aid to the military authorities, from whom he obtained pistols, swords, and sabres enough to fit out his sailors for the fray. With the arms came a number of soldiers and a small party of adventurous citizens, all of whom enlisted under the leadership of the adventurous Elliott. In planning the expedition, the great difficulty lay in getting rid of the too numerous volunteers.

By nightfall, the preparations for the expedition were completed. In the underbrush that hung over the banks of the river, two large boats were concealed, ready for the embarkation. At midnight fifty men, armed to the teeth, silently took their places in each of the great barges, and pushed out upon the black surface of the river. All along the bank were crowds of eager watchers, who discussed the chances of success with bated breath, lest the merest whisper should alarm the British sentries on the farther shore. With steady strokes of the muffled oars, the two boats made their way toward the two brigs that could just be seen outlined against the sky. Elliott, in the first boat, directed the movements of his men, and restrained the too enthusiastic. So stealthy was the approach, that the foremost boat was fairly alongside of the "Detroit" before the British took the alarm. Then the quick hail of the sentry brought an answering pistol-shot from Elliott; and, amid volleys of musketry, the assailants clambered up the sides of the brigs, and with pistol and cutlass drove the startled crew below. So complete was the surprise, that the British made but little resistance; and the cables of the brigs were cut, sails spread, and the vessels under way, before the thunder of a gun from Fort Erie told that the British on shore had taken the alarm.

At the report of the first shot fired, the dark line of the American shore suddenly blazed bright with huge beacon fires, while lanterns and torches were waved from commanding points to guide the adventurous sailors in their navigation of the captured brigs. But the victors were not to escape unscathed with their booty. The noise of the conflict, and the shouts of the Americans on the distant bank of the river, roused the British officers in the fort, and the guns were soon trained on the receding vessels. Some field-batteries galloped along the bank, and soon had their guns in a position whence they could pour a deadly fire upon the Americans. Nor did the spectators on the New York side of the river escape unharmed; for the first shot, fired by the field-battery missed the brigs, but crossed the river and struck down an American officer. Almost unmanageable in the swift current and light wind, the two brigs seemed for a time in danger of recapture. The "Caledonia" was run ashore under the guns of an American battery; but the "Detroit," after being relieved of the prisoners, and deserted by her captors, was beached at a point within range of the enemy's fire. The British made several determined attempts to recapture her, but were beaten off; and, after a day's fighting around the vessel, she was set on fire and burned to the water's edge. The "Caledonia," however, remained to the Americans, and some months later did good service against her former owners.

It was shortly after this occurrence that Lieut. Perry offered his services for the lakes; and four months later he received a letter from Chauncey, saying, "You are the very person that I want for a particular service, in which you may gain reputation for yourself, and honor for your country." This letter was quickly followed by orders from the Secretary of the Navy to report at once for duty to Chauncey at Sackett's Harbor. Perry was overjoyed. The dull monotony of his duties at Newport suited little his ardent nature. He longed for active service, and an opportunity to win distinction. His opportunity had at last come; and twenty hours after the receipt of his orders, he and his thirteen-year-old brother were seated in a sleigh and fairly started on the long drive across the country. Travelling was a serious matter in those days, and the journey from Newport to Sackett's Harbor required twelve days.

On his arrival, Perry found that the special service for which he was needed was the command of a naval force on Lake Erie. He stopped but a short time at Sackett's Harbor, and then pressed on to Erie, the base of the naval operations on the lake of the same name. It was late in March when Perry arrived; and the signs of spring already showed that soon the lake would be clear of ice, and the struggle for its control recommence. The young lieutenant was indefatigable in the labor of preparation. He urged on the building of vessels already begun. He arranged for the purchase of merchant schooners, and their conversion into gunboats. He went to Pittsburg for supplies, and made a flying trip to Buffalo to join Chauncey in an attack upon Fort George at the mouth of the Niagara River. All the time, he managed to keep up a constant fire of letters to the Secretary of the Navy and to Chauncey, begging for more sailors. By summertime, he had five vessels ready for service, but no men to man them. The enemy blockaded him, and he dared not accept the challenge. In July he wrote to Chauncey: "The enemy's fleet of six sail are now off the bar of this harbor. What a golden opportunity if we had men!... Give me men, sir, and I will acquire both for you and myself honor and glory on this lake, or perish in the attempt." Again he wrote: "For God's sake, and yours and mine, send me men and officers; and I will have them all [the British squadron] in a day or two." When the men finally did arrive, he was much disgusted with their appearance, pronouncing them to be "a motley set,—blacks, soldiers, and boys." Nevertheless, this same motley crew, headed by the critical young officer, won a victory that effectually crushed the pretensions of the enemy to the control of Lake Erie.

Perry's Recruits.

Perry's Recruits.

His crews having arrived, Perry was anxious to get out upon the lake, and engage the enemy at once. But this course of action was for a long time impossible. The flotilla lay snugly anchored within the harbor of Erie, the entrance to which was closed by a bar. To cross this bar, the ships would have been obliged to send all heavy ordnance ashore; and, as the enemy kept close watch outside the harbor, the American fleet was practically blockaded. For several weeks the Americans were thus kept prisoners, grumbling mightily at their enforced inaction, and longing for a chance to get at the enemy. One morning in August word was brought to Perry that the blockading fleet had disappeared. Instantly all was life and bustle in the harbor. The crews of all the vessels were ordered aboard; and the flotilla dropped down to the bar, intending to cross early in the morning. At dawn the movement was begun. The schooners and other small craft were easily taken outside; but, when it came to the turn of the two gun-brigs, "Lawrence" and "Niagara," it became evident that mechanical assistance was required. Accordingly, a powerful "camel" was hastily improvised, by the aid of which the two vessels were dragged across the bar. Hardly had the second brig made the passage in safety, when the British fleet appeared in the offing. Tradition says that the opportune absence of the enemy's fleet was caused by a public banquet to which the citizens of Port Dover had invited Commodore Barclay and his officers. While the dinner was going merrily on, the Americans were hard at work, escaping from the trap in which the British had left them. In responding to a toast at the banquet, Barclay said, "I expect to find the Yankee brigs hard and fast on the bar at Erie when I return, in which predicament it will be but a small job to destroy them." His anticipations were not realized; for, on his arrival, he found the entire squadron safely floating in the deep water outside the bar.

Had Barclay but known it, he would even then have found it "but a small job to destroy them;" for the two brigs, having been stripped of their ordnance, would have been easy prey for the British squadron. But Perry's bold action in sending forward two schooners to engage the enemy seemed to alarm the too prudent commodore; and the British bore away, and were soon out of sight.

By night Perry's flotilla was in readiness for cruising, and set out immediately in pursuit of the foe. Barclay seemed to avoid the conflict; and, after some weeks' cruising, the Americans cast anchor at Put-in-Bay, and awaited there the appearance of the enemy.

The little flotilla that lay anchored on the placid waters of the picturesque bay consisted of nine vessels, ranging in size from the "Trippe," a puny sloop carrying one gun, to the "Lawrence" and "Niagara," brigs carrying each two long twelves and eighteen short thirty-twos. No very formidable armada was that of a handful of pygmy vessels, commanded by a young officer who had never heard the thunderous cannonade of a naval battle, or seen the decks of his ships stained with the blood of friends and daily companions. Yet the work of the little squadron saved the United States from invasion, won for the young commander a never-dying fame, and clothed the vine-clad hills, the pebbly beaches, and the crystal waters of Put-in-Bay with a wealth of proud, historical associations.

Drilling The Raw Recruits.

Drilling The Raw Recruits.

Day after day the vessels lay idly at their anchorage, and the sailors grew restless at the long inactivity. Perry alone was patient; for to him had come the knowledge that the hostile fleet was getting short of supplies, and would soon be starved out of its retreat at Malden. Knowing this, he spared no pains to get his men into training for the coming conflict. They were exercised daily at the great guns, and put through severe drills in the use of the cutlass, in boarding, and repelling boarders. By constant drill and severe discipline, Perry had made of the motley crew sent him a well-drilled body of seamen, every man of whom had become fired with the enthusiasm of his commander.

As the time passed, and the day of battle drew nearer, Perry's confidence in his men increased; and he looked upon the coming conflict as one certain to bring glory to his country. At early dawn the jackies on the ships could see the slender form of their commander perched upon the craggy heights of one of the islands, called to this day "Perry's Lookout," eagerly scanning the horizon in the direction of Malden. On the night of Sept. 9, 1813, the commodore felt convinced that on the next day the British would come out to battle. Accordingly, a conference of captains was called in the cabin of the flag-ship, and each received directions as to his course of action during the fight. They were urged to force the fighting to close quarters. Said Perry, "Nelson has expressed my idea in the words, 'If you lay your enemy alongside, you cannot be out of your place.'" As the officers were about to depart, Perry drew from a locker a large, square blue flag, on which appeared, in white letters, the dying words of the gallant Lawrence, "Don't give up the ship!" "This," said Perry, "shall be the signal for action; and when it appears at the masthead, remember your instructions." The conference then ended; and the captains returned to their ships across the bay, silvered by the light of the moon, to spend the greater part of the night in preparations for the great danger of the coming day.

Morning dawned bright and clear, with a light breeze blowing, that broke into ripples the surface of the land-locked bay. The rosy light of the rising sun was just reddening the eastern horizon, when, from the lookout in the foretop of the "Lawrence," came the long-drawn hail of "Sail, ho!" quickly repeated from the other vessels.

Perry was already on deck. "What does it look like?" he shouted to the lookout.

"A clump of square rigged, and fore and afters, sir," was the response.

In a few minutes the signals "Enemy in sight," and "Get under way," were flying from the masthead of the flag-ship; and the merry piping of the boatswains' whistles, and the measured tramp of the sailors around the capstans, told that signals were observed, and were being obeyed.

The fleet was soon threading its way through the narrow channels, filled with islands, at the entrance to the bay, and finally came into line on the open lake. Not a cloud was in the sky. The lake was calm, with enough wind blowing to admit of manœuvring, yet gentle enough to be of advantage to the schooners that made up the greater part of each fleet.

For some time the Americans held back, manœuvring to get the weather-gauge; but Perry's impatience for the fray got the better of his caution, and he determined to close at once. His first officer remonstrated, saying, "Then you'll have to engage the enemy to leeward."

"I don't care," responded the commodore. "Leeward or windward, they shall fight to-day." Then, turning to the quartermaster, he called for the battle-flag, which being brought, he mustered the crew aft, and addressed them briefly, telling them of the task before them, and urging them to fight bravely for the victory. "My brave lads," he concluded, "this flag bears the last words of Capt. Lawrence. Shall I hoist it?"

"Ay, ay, sir!" cried the jackies, in unison; and, as the flag was swiftly run to the masthead, the cheers of the sailors on the deck of the "Lawrence" were echoed from the neighboring vessels, as the white letters showed boldly against the blue flag, bearing to each commander the exhortation, "Don't give up the ship!"

The battle-signal being thus displayed, the vessels moved onward to the attack. As the crew of the "Lawrence" stood at their guns, the cooks passed along the decks, handing to each man a bit of food, that his strength might not leave him in the coming struggle. Then followed boys with boxes of sand, which they strewed upon the decks, to afford a firm foothold for the men at the guns. The hammocks were stowed along the nettings, to serve as some little protection against flying shot. The men stood silent and pale at their quarters, each occupied with his own grave thoughts, but all determined to fight like brave men and true for the honor of the flag. By Perry's side stood his brother, a boy thirteen years old, armed and ready to do his duty as well as the older men.

The British came on gallantly. Barclay had lost all his diffidence, and brought up his vessels like a veteran. His ships were kept close together; the ship "Detroit" under short sail, that the pygmy sloop "Little Belt" might not be left in the rear. The Americans came down in single file, headed by the schooner "Scorpion." Suddenly through the still air rang out the sharp notes of a bugle-call on the enemy's flag-ship. It was the signal for action; and, as the last notes died away, the bands struck up "Rule, Britannia." The Americans answered with cheers; and in the midst of the cheering, a jet of smoke and fire spurted from the side of the "Detroit," and a heavy shot splashed into the water near the "Lawrence," while a dull, heavy report came booming over the water.

The battle was opened, but five minutes elapsed before a second shot was fired. When it did come, it crashed through the bulwarks of the "Lawrence," and sped across her deck, doing no great damage. "Steady, lads, steady," cried Perry, from his post on the quarter-deck, as he saw an uneasy stir among his men, who longed to return the fire. The commodore was determined to fight at close quarters, and hung out signals for each ship to choose its antagonist, and fight the fight out for itself.

It was then high noon, and the battle soon became general. The little schooners "Scorpion" and "Ariel" pluckily kept their place in the van of the American line, but the fire of the enemy fell most fiercely upon the flag-ship "Lawrence." No less than four vessels at one time were grouped about the "Lawrence," pouring in a destructive fire, and bent upon destroying the flag-ship and her brave commander; then taking the smaller vessels in detail. The "Lawrence" fought bravely, but the odds were too great. The carronades with which she was armed were no match for the long guns of her adversaries. For two hours the unequal combat raged, and no American vessel came to the aid of the sorely smitten flag-ship. Amid the hail of cannon-balls and bullets, Perry seemed to bear a charmed life. He saw his officers and men falling all about him. John Brooks, the lieutenant of marines, fought by the commodore's side. While speaking cheerfully to the commodore, a cannon-ball struck the young lieutenant on the hip, dashing him across the deck against the bulwark, and mutilating him so, that he plead piteously with Perry, imploring that he might be put out of his misery with a pistol-shot. From this awful spectacle Perry turned to speak to the captain of a gun, when the conversation was abruptly cut short by a shot which killed the seaman instantly. Perry returned to the quarter-deck. The first lieutenant came rushing up, his face bloody, and his nose swelled to an enormous size from a splinter which had perforated it. "All the officers in my division are killed," he cried. "For God's sake, give me more!" Perry sent some men to his aid; but they soon fell, and the cry for more men arose again. One of the surgeons who served in the cock-pit on that dreadful day states, that, in the midst of the roar of battle, Perry's voice was heard calling down the hatchway, and asking any surgeon's mates who could be spared, to come on deck and help work the guns. Several went up; but the appeal was soon repeated, and more responded. When no more men could be obtained, the voice of the commodore took a pleading tone. "Can any of the wounded pull a rope?" said he; and such was his ascendency over the men, that several poor mangled fellows dragged themselves on deck, and lent their feeble strength to the working of the guns.

Commodore Perry At The Battle Of Lake Erie.

Commodore Perry At The Battle Of Lake Erie.

Amid all the carnage, the sailors were quick to notice the lighter incidents of the fray. Even the cock-pit, filled with the wounded, and reeking with blood that dripped through the cracks in the deck above, once resounded with laughter as hearty as ever greeted a middy's after-dinner joke in the steerage. Lieut. Yarnall received a bad scalp-wound, which fairly drenched his face with blood. As he groped his way towards the cock-pit he passed a lot of hammocks stuffed with "cat-tails" which had been stowed on the bulwarks. The feathery down of the "cat-tails" filled the air, and settled thick upon the head and face of the officer, robbing his countenance of all semblance to a human face. As he descended the ladder to the cock-pit, his owl-like air roused the wounded to great shouts of laughter. "The Devil has come among us," they cried.

Perry's Victory.

Perry's Victory—the Battle Of Lake Erie. September 10, 1813.
Copyright, 1893, by C. Klackner.

While talking to his little brother, Perry to his horror saw the lad fall at his feet, dashed to the deck by an unseen missile. The commodore's agony may be imagined; but it was soon assuaged, for the boy was only stunned, and was soon fighting again at his post. The second lieutenant was struck by a spent grape-shot, and fell stunned upon the deck. He lay there for a time, unnoticed. Perry raised him up, telling him he was not hurt, as no blood could be seen. The lieutenant put his hand to his clothing, at the point where the blow had fallen, and discovered the shot lodged in his coat. Coolly putting it in his pocket, he remarked, "You are right: I am not hurt. But this is my shot," and forthwith returned to his duty.

It was a strange-looking body of men that fought at the guns of the "Lawrence." Lean, angular Yankee sailors from the seafaring communities of New England stood by the side of swarthy negroes, who, with their half-naked black bodies, in the dense powder-smoke, seemed like fiends in pandemonium. In the rigging were stationed a number of Kentucky riflemen, who had volunteered to serve during the battle. The buckskin shirts and leggings gave an air of incongruity to their presence on a man-of-war. Their unerring rifles, however, did brave service for the cause of the stars and stripes. At the opening of the action, two tall Indians, decked in all the savage finery of war-paint and feathers, strode the deck proudly. But water is not the Indian's element, and the battle had hardly begun when one fled below in terror; the other remained on deck, and was killed early in the action.

Making Ready To Leave The "Lawrence."

Making Ready To Leave The "Lawrence."

Courageous and self-confident though the American commander was, the moment came when he could no longer disguise the fact that his gallant flag-ship was doomed to destruction before the continuous and deadly fire of her adversaries. There was but one course of action open, and upon this he determined at once. He would transfer his flag to the "Niagara," and from the deck of that vessel direct the movements of his fleet. Accordingly, the only uninjured boat of the "Lawrence" was lowered; and Perry sprang into the stern, followed by his little brother. Before the boat pushed off, the battle-flag was thrown into her; and, wrapping it about him, Perry took a standing position in the stern, and ordered the oarsmen to give way. He steered straight for the "Niagara," through the very centre of the fight. The enemy quickly grasped the purpose of the movement, and great guns and muskets were trained on the little boat. Shot of all sizes splashed in the water about the boat, splintered the oars, and buried themselves in the gunwale. The crew begged their commander to sit down, and make himself a less conspicuous target for the fire of the enemy; but Perry paid but little attention to their entreaties. Suddenly the men rested on the oars, and the boat stopped. Angrily the commodore demanded the cause of the stoppage, and was told that the men refused to row unless he sat down. With a smile he yielded, and soon the boat was alongside the "Niagara." Perry sprang to the deck, followed by his boat's crew and a plucky sailor who had swum just behind the boat across the long stretch of water. Hardly a glance did the commodore cast at the ship which he had left, but bent all his faculties to taking the new flag-ship into the battle.

The "Niagara" was practically a fresh ship; for, up to this time, she had held strangely aloof from the battle. Now all was to be changed. The battle-flag went to her masthead; and she plunged into the thick of the fight, striking thunderous blows at every ship she encountered. As she passed the American lines, the sailors greeted with cheers their gallant commander. The crippled "Lawrence," an almost helpless hulk, left far behind, was forced to strike her flag; although her crew protested loudly, crying out, "Sink the ship, and let us go down with her." But the conquered vessel was not destined to fall into the hands of her enemies. Already the sight of their commodore on a fresh vessel stimulated the American tars; so that in half an hour the British line was broken, their ships cut to pieces, and the "Detroit," their flag-ship, a prize to the "Niagara." A white handkerchief was waved at the end of a pike by one of the crew of the "Princess Charlotte." The firing stopped, the flag was again run up to the masthead of the "Lawrence," while a few feeble cheers came faintly over the water from the remnant of her crew.

The dense clouds of smoke blowing away, Perry saw, by the disposition of his squadron, that the victory was secure. Hastily catching off his navy-cap, he laid upon it a sheet of paper torn from an old letter, and wrote to Gen. Harrison the famous despatch, "We have met the enemy, and they are ours,—two ships, two brigs, one schooner, and one sloop."

Then, with true chivalry, he determined that to his flag-ship "Lawrence," that had so stoutly borne the brunt of battle, should belong the honor of receiving the British captains, when they came to surrender their vessels. He returned to the "Lawrence;" but the scene there was such that even the excitement of victory could raise no feelings of exultation in his breast. He saw on every side the bodies of officers with whom, but the night before, he had dined in perfect health. The decks were red with blood, and from the cock-pit arose the groans of the wounded.

After the formal surrender, to make which the officers picked their way over the deck covered with slain to the quarter-deck, the work of burying the dead of both squadrons was begun. It was about sundown that the sad ceremonies were held; and, as the deep tones of the chaplains reading the burial service arose upon the evening air, the dull, mournful splashing of heavy bodies in the water told that the last scene in the great victory was drawing to an end.


It was now the last of October, 1813. Capt. Porter saw that the work he desired done upon the ships under his charge would occupy about six weeks, and he at once set about forming such relations of peace and amity with the natives as should enable him to procure the necessary supplies and prosecute his work unmolested. Much to his dismay, he had hardly begun his diplomatic palaver with the chiefs, when he learned that to keep one tribe friendly he must fight its battles against all other tribes on the island. The natives of Nookaheevah were then divided into a large number of tribal organizations. With three of these the Americans were brought into contact,—the Happahs, the Taeehs, and the Typees. The Taeehs lived in the fertile valley about the bay in which the American squadron was anchored. With these people Porter treated first, and made his appearance in their village in great state, being accompanied by the band, the marines, and several boats' crews of jackies. He was hospitably received by the natives, who crowded about to listen to the band, and wonder at the military precision of the marines, whom they regarded as supernatural beings. Gattanewa, the chief, expressed his abounding love for the captain, and exchanged names with him, after the custom of the people; but ended by saying that the lawless Happahs were at war with the Taeehs, and the Americans, to gain the friendship of the latter tribe, must make common cause with them against their enemies. To this Porter demurred, but the wily chief thereupon brought forward a most conclusive argument. He said that the Happahs had cursed his mother's bones; and that, as he and Porter had exchanged names, that estimable woman was the captain's mother also, and the insult to her memory should be avenged. It is probable that even this argument might have proved unavailing, had not the Happahs the next night descended upon the valley, and, having burned two hundred bread-fruit trees, departed, leaving word that the Americans were cowards, and dared not follow them into their mountain fastnesses. Porter saw that his food supplies were in danger from these vandals, and his knowledge of savage character convinced him that he could have no peace with any of the natives until the insolence of this tribe was punished. Accordingly he notified the Taeehs, that, if they would carry a gun to the top of one of the mountain peaks, he would send a party against the Happahs. The Taeehs eagerly agreed; and, after seeing the gun fired once or twice (a sight that set them fondling and kissing it, to show their reverence for so powerful a weapon), they set off up the steep mountain sides, tugging the gun after them. Lieut. Downes led the American forces. They had hardly reached the mountain tops, when the fighting began. The Happahs were armed with spears, and with slings, from which they threw heavy stones with terrific velocity. They seemed to know no fear, and stood gallantly before the advancing Americans, fairly darkening the air with clouds of stones and spears. The Americans, though few in number,—forty, opposed to nearly four thousand savages,—pressed forward, suffering but little from the weapons of their foes. From the deck of his frigate in the bay, Porter could see the steady advances of his forces, as they drove the Happahs from peak to peak. Before the Americans a huge native strode along, waving wildly the American flag. The howitzer came in the rear, and was every now and then discharged, to drive the foe from some formidable stronghold. So ignorant of fire-arms were the enemy, that they had no idea of their power, often fighting until the muzzle of a musket was laid to their temples before the discharge. But before nightfall this warlike spirit was broken, and the victors returned to their ships, their native allies carrying five dead bodies slung on poles. Two only of the Americans were wounded. The next day Happah ambassadors came to sue for peace; and soon every tribe on the island joined the alliance, save the Typees, and a distant tribe that proudly bore the unpronounceable name of Hatecaaheottwohos. For two or three weeks peace reigned undisturbed. Work was pushed on the vessels. The rats with which the "Essex" was infested were smoked out, an operation that necessitated the division of the crew between the shore and the other vessels. Porter himself, with his officers, took up his quarters in a tent pitched on the shore. Under some circumstances, such a change would have been rather pleasant than otherwise; but the rainy season had now come on, and the tent was little protection against the storms. Noticing this, the natives volunteered to put up such buildings as the captain desired, and proceeded to do so in a most expeditious manner. At early dawn four thousand men set about the work, and by night had completed a walled village, containing a dwelling-house for the captain, another for his officers, a cooper's shop, hospital, bake-house, guard-house, and a shed for the sentinel to walk under. For their services the men received old nails, bits of iron hoop, and other metal scraps, with which they were highly delighted. The Americans were then living on the terms of the most perfect friendship with the natives. Many of the jackies had been taken into the families of the islanders, and all had formed most tender attachment for the beautiful island women; who, in their turn, were devoted to the "Malleekees," who were such mighty men of war, and brought them such pretty presents of beads and whales' teeth. The Americans entered into the celebrations and festivities of the islanders, watched their dances, joined their fishing expeditions, and soon were on the friendliest footing with their dusky hosts.

Firing The Howitzer.

Firing The Howitzer.

But so pleasant and peaceful an existence was not destined to continue long. The Typees, who inhabited the interior of the island, were beginning to stir up strife against the Americans; and Porter saw that their insolence must be crushed, or the whole native population would unite in war against him. But to begin a war with the Typees was far from Porter's wish. The way to their country lay over rugged precipices and through almost impenetrable jungles. The light-footed natives could easily enough scale the peaks, or thread the forests; but to Porter's sailors it would be an exhausting undertaking. No artillery could be taken into the field, and the immense number of natives that might be arrayed against the sailors made the success of the expedition very uncertain. Porter, therefore, determined to try to adjust the difficulty amicably, and with this purpose sent an ambassador to the Typees, proposing a peaceful alliance. The reply of the natives is an amusing example of the ignorant vainglory of savage tribes, unacquainted with the power of civilized peoples. The Typees saw no reason to desire the friendship of the Americans. They had always got along very well without it. They had no intention of sending hogs or fruit to sell to the Americans. If the Americans wanted supplies, let them come and take them. The Americans were cowards, white lizards, and mere dirt. The sailors were weaklings, who could not climb the Nookaheevan hills without aid from the natives. This, and much more of the same sort, was the answer of the Typees to Porter's friendly overtures.

This left no course open to the Americans save to chastise the insolent barbarians. The departure of the expedition was, however, delayed until a fort could be built for the protection of the American village. This work, a sand-bag battery, calculated to mount sixteen guns, was completed on the 14th of November, and preparations for the expedition were then begun. And, indeed, it was time that the Americans showed that they were not to be insulted with impunity. Already the Taeehs and Happahs were beginning to wonder at the delay, and rumors spread about the village that the whites were really the cowards for which the Typees took them. One man, a chief among the Happahs, was rash enough to call Porter a coward to his face; whereat the choleric captain seized a gun, and, rushing for the offender, soon brought him to his knees, the muzzle of the weapon against his head, begging for mercy. That man was ever after Porter's most able ally among the natives.

The preparations for war with the Typees were completed, and the expedition was about to set out, when a new difficulty arose, this time among the white men. First, a plot was discovered among the British prisoners for the recapture of the "Essex Junior." Their plan was to get the crew drunk, by means of drugged rum, and then rise, seize the vessel, and make off while the American forces were absent on the Typee expedition. This plot, being discovered, was easily defeated; and the leaders were put in irons. Then Porter discovered that disaffection had spread among his crew, which, for a time, threatened serious consequences. But this danger was averted by the captain's manly actions and words, which brought the jackies to his side as one man.

On the 28th of November the long-deferred expedition against the Typees left the snug quarters on the shore of Massachusetts Bay. The expedition went by sea, skirting the shore of the island, until a suitable landing-place near the territory of the hostile tribe was reached. The "Essex Junior" led the way, followed by five boats full of men, and ten war-canoes filled with natives, who kept up an unearthly din with discordant conches. When the forces landed, the friendly natives were seen to number at least five thousand men; while of the Americans, thirty-five, under the command of Capt. Porter, were considered enough for the work in hand. From the time the fighting began, the friendly natives kept carefully in the rear, and seemed to be only waiting to aid the victors, whether they should be Americans or Typees.

Capt. Porter and his followers, upon landing, sat down upon the beach for breakfast; but their repast was rudely disturbed by a shower of stones from an ambuscade of Typees in the edge of the wood. Stopping but a moment to finish their food, the jackies picked up their cutlasses and muskets, and started for the enemy. They were soon in the shady recesses of the tropical forest, but not a Typee was to be seen. That the enemy was there, however, was amply attested by the hail of stones that fell among the invaders, and the snapping of slings that could be heard on all sides. This was a kind of fighting to which the sailors were not accustomed; and for a moment they wavered, but were cheered on by their brave leader, and, pushing through the woods, came to a clearing on the banks of a narrow river. But here a sad disaster befell them in the loss of Lieut. Downes, whose ankle was broken by a stone. He was sent back to the ship, with an escort of five men; and the party, thus reduced to twenty-nine, forded the river, and scaled its high bank, cheering lustily, under a heavy fire from the Typees, who made a dogged stand on the farther shore. By this time, the last of their savage allies had disappeared.

The advance of the Americans was now checked by a jungle of such rank underbrush that the cutlasses of the men made no impression upon it; and they were forced to crawl forward on their hands and knees, under a constant fire from the enemy. From this maze, they burst out upon a clearing, and, looking about them, saw no sign of their savage foes, who had suddenly vanished. The solution of this mystery was soon discovered. After marching a few rods totally unmolested, a sudden turn in the path brought the Americans in sight of a formidable stone fortress, perched on a hill commanding the road, and flanked on either side by dense jungles. The wall of the fortress was of stone, seven feet high; and from it, and from the thickets on either side, came such demoniac yells, and such showers of stones, as convinced the Americans that they were in front of the Typee stronghold. For a time the invaders seemed in danger of annihilation. They were totally unprotected, and flanked by concealed foes, whose missiles were plunging down upon them with deadly effect. Some few secured places behind trees, and began a musketry fire; but the alarming cry soon arose that the ammunition was exhausted. Five men were immediately despatched to the beach for more cartridges, while the few remaining determined to hold their position at any cost. But to this determination they were unable to adhere. Had the Typees charged, the whole American force would have been swept away like driftwood before a springtime flood. But the savages neglected their opportunity; and the Americans first gained the protection of the bushes, then fell back across the river, and so to the beach.

Here a council of war was held. They had been beaten back by savages; enormously outnumbered, to be sure, but still opposed by undisciplined warriors armed with rude weapons. The stain of that defeat must be washed out by a victory. Upon one point, all were agreed. The Happahs had played them false by leading them over the most dangerous roads, and into ambuscades of the enemy. To such treacherous guides, they would not again trust themselves. Before he again led his men to battle, Porter wished to try diplomacy. Although he knew that he had been beaten in the engagement, it would never do to confess defeat before so many savages (for the Taeehs and Happahs were now swarming about him, discussing the fight). Accordingly a messenger was sent to tell the Typees that a handful of white men had driven them into their fort, killing and wounding many. Now a large re-enforcement of white men was on the beach, ready to drive them from their valley, but that if they would sue for peace they might yet save their lives and their villages. At this the Typees laughed. "Tell Opotee," said they, "that we have plenty of men to spare; while his men are few. We have killed his chief warrior, and wounded many of his people. We are not afraid of his bouhies  [muskets]: they often miss fire, and, when they wound, don't hurt much. If the Malleekees can drive us from our valley, why don't they come and do it?—not stay on the beach and talk."

When Porter received this letter, he knew that he must again take the field against the Typees, or his half-hearted allies would abandon him and join his foes, giving him endless trouble, and putting a stop to the refitting of the ships in Massachusetts Bay. He now understood the power of his foes, and accordingly chose two hundred men to go with him on the second expedition. He also determined to leave behind the friendly savages, whose friendship was a very doubtful quality. The forces left the beach that very night, and began their weary march up the mountain-side. It was bright moonlight; so that the narrow mountain paths, the fearful precipices, the tangled jungles, and the swamps and rivers were visible to the marching column. By midnight the Americans found themselves perched on the summit of a rocky peak overlooking the Typee valley, from which arose sounds of drum-beating, singing, and loud shouts of revelry. The guides who had led the American column said that the savages were rejoicing over their triumph, and were calling upon their gods to send rain and spoil the "Malleekees' bouhies." Porter knew the time was ripe for a surprise, and the men were eager to be led against the enemy; but the guides protested that no mortal men could descend the path leading to the Typee village, at night, so precipitous was the descent. The Americans were therefore forced to wait patiently until morning. Throwing themselves on the ground, the weary sailors were soon asleep, but were waked up in an hour by a heavy burst of rain. They saw the rain falling in sheets, and the sky banked with black clouds that gave little hope of a stoppage. From the valley below rose the triumphant yells of the Typees, who were convinced that their gods had sent the shower to spoil the white men's weapons. And, indeed, the floods poured down as though sent for that very service; so that at daybreak the Americans found that more than half their powder was spoiled. To make matters worse, the precipitous path leading down into the valley was so slippery that it would have been madness to attempt the descent. Accordingly Porter determined to retreat to the Happah village, and there wait for better weather. Before falling back, however, he ordered a volley fired, to show the savages that the fire-arms were not yet useless. The noise of the volley was the first intimation to the Typees that the Americans were so near them, and their village was at once thrown into the direst confusion. Cries of surprise mingled with the beating of drums, the blowing of horns, the shrieks of women and children, and the squealing of pigs being driven to places of safety. In the midst of the tumult the Americans retired to the Happah village, where they spent the remainder of that day and the following night.

The next morning dawned bright and cool after the rain; and the Americans sallied forth, determined to end this annoying affray in short order. They soon reached their former station on the cliffs, and, looking down upon the Typee territory, saw a beautiful valley, cut up by stone walls into highly cultivated farms, and dotted with picturesque villages. But though their hearts may have been softened by the sight of so lovely a spot, so soon to be laid desolate, they were soon nerved to their work by a party of Typees, who were posted on the farther bank of a river that skirted the base of the cliff, and were calling out to the Americans, calling them cowards, and daring them to come down and fight. Porter gave the command; and the jackies were soon clambering down the cliffs, in the face of a rapid fire from their enemies. The bank of the river once gained, the Americans halted to rest for a few minutes, and then, fording the stream, pushed forward straight for the nearest village. The Typees hung upon the flank of the advancing column; now and then making fierce charges but always beaten back with severe losses. The sailors suffered but little, and were soon in possession of the village, behind the walls of which the main body halted, while scouting parties were sent out to reconnoitre. After a short halt at this point, the invaders pushed forward to the next village, and so on up the valley, burning each village as soon as it was captured. Undismayed by their continued reverses, the Typees fought doggedly, scornfully refusing to listen to the peaceful overtures made by the American commander. After marching three or four miles, and fighting for every foot of the way, the Americans found themselves before an extensive village, which, from its size, and the strength of its fortifications, was evidently the Typee capital. Here the savages made a last determined stand, but to no avail. The Americans poured over the wall, and were soon in possession of the town. The beauty of the village, the regularity of its streets, and the air of comfort and civilization everywhere apparent, made it hard for Porter to give the fateful order that should commit all to the flames. But his duty was clear, and the order was given. Leaving the blazing capital behind them, the sailors retraced their steps to the ships, having completed the devastation of the valley that a day before was so peaceful, fertile, and lovely. The spirit of the Typees was thoroughly broken by this crushing blow; and for the next few days the ships were besieged by ambassadors from all the island tribes, begging for peace.

Feeling assured that he should have no further trouble with the natives, Porter now exerted all his energies to complete the repairs on the ships, that he might again take the sea. So rapidly did the work progress, that by the 9th of December the "Essex" and "Essex Junior" were refitted, and stocked with fresh provisions of hogs, cocoanuts, and bananas; the "New Zealander," loaded with oil from the other prizes, was ordered to proceed to New York; while the "Greenwich," "Seringapatam," and "Hammond" were to remain at the islands until the "Essex" should return for them. These arrangements being made, the war-ships made ready to depart.

But now arose a difficulty, ludicrous in its cause, but which threatened to be serious in its effects. The ships had been lying in harbor for about two months; and during that time the sailors, with unlimited shore liberty, had made such ties as bound them closely to the native people. The young girls of the islands, with their comely faces and fair complexions, had played sad havoc with the hearts of the gallant tars of the "Essex;" and deep was the grumbling among the sailors when they heard that the time had come for them to bid farewell to their sweethearts. No openly mutinous demonstration was made; but so old a commander could not overlook the fact that some disaffection existed among his crew, and a little investigation disclosed the trouble. There could be no half-way measures adopted in the case, and Porter at once gave orders that all further intercourse with the shore should cease. That very night three sailors slipped into the sea, and swam ashore to meet their sweethearts; but the wily captain had stationed a patrol upon the beach, and the three luckless Leanders were sent back to the ship in irons. All the next day the native girls lined the shore of the bay, and with pleading gestures besought the captain to let the sailors come ashore, but to no avail. Some fair maidens even swam off to the ship, but were gruffly ordered away by the officers. All this was very tantalizing to the men, who hung over the bulwarks, looking at the fair objects of their adoration. But one man only showed signs of rebellion against the captain's authority; and Porter, calling him out before the crew, rebuked him, and sent him ashore in a native canoe: while the rest of the jackies sprang into the rigging, set the canvas, and the ship soon left the island, with its sorrowing nymphs, far in her wake.

The two vessels turned their heads toward Valparaiso, and made the port after an uneventful voyage of fifty-six days. The frigate entered the harbor at once, and cast anchor; while the "Essex Junior" was ordered to cruise about outside, keeping a close watch for the enemy's ships. The friendship of the people of the town seemed as great as during the first visit of the frigate to the port; and a series of entertainments was begun, that culminated in a grand ball upon the "Essex" on the night of the 7th of February, 1814. For that one night the officers of the "Essex Junior" were absolved from their weary duty of patrolling the sea at the mouth of the harbor. The vessel was anchored at a point that commanded a view of the ocean; and her officers, arrayed in the splendor of full dress, betook themselves on board of the frigate. At midnight, after an evening of dancing and gayety, Lieut.Downes left the "Essex," and returned to his vessel, which immediately weighed anchor and put to sea. The festivities on the frigate continued a little time longer; and then, the last ladies having been handed down the gangway, and pulled ashore, the work of clearing away the decorations began. While the ship's decks were still strewn with flags and flowers, while the awnings still stretched from stem to stern, and the hundreds of gay lanterns still hung in the rigging, the "Essex Junior" was seen coming into the harbor with a signal flying. The signal quartermaster rushed for his book, and soon announced that the flags read, "Two enemy's ships in sight." At this moment more than half the crew of the "Essex" were on shore; but a signal set at the ship's side recalled the men, and in an hour and a half the ship was ready for action; while the "Essex Junior" cast anchor in a supporting position.

The two strange vessels were the "Cherub" and the "Phœbe," British men-of-war. They rounded into the harbor about eight A.M., and bore down towards the American ships. The "Phœbe," the larger of the two Englishmen, drew close to the "Essex;" and her commander, Capt. Hillyar, sprang upon the taffrail, and asked after Capt.Porter's health. Porter responded courteously; and, noticing that the "Phœbe" was coming closer than the customs of war-vessels in a neutral port permitted, warned the Englishman to keep his distance, or trouble would result. Hillyar protested that he meant no harm, but nevertheless continued his advance until the two ships were almost fouled. Porter called the boarders to the bow; and they crowded forward, armed to the teeth, and stripped for the fight. The "Phœbe" was in such a position that she lay entirely at the mercy of the "Essex," and could not bring a gun to bear in her own defence. Hillyar, from his position on the taffrail, could see the American boarders ready to spring at the word of command, and the muzzles of the cannon ready to blow the ship out of water. There is little doubt that he was astonished to find the "Essex" so well prepared for the fray, for he had been told that more than half her crew had gone ashore. Relying upon this information, he had probably planned to capture the "Essex" at her moorings, regardless of the neutrality of the port. But he had now brought himself into a dangerous position, and Porter would have been justified in opening fire at once. But the apologies and protestations of the British captain disarmed him, and he unwisely let the "Phœbe" proceed unmolested.

In his journal, Farragut thus describes this incident: "We were all at quarters, and cleared for action, waiting with breathless anxiety for the command from Capt. Porter to board, when the English captain appeared, standing on the after-gun, in a pea-jacket, and in plain hearing said,—

"'Capt. Hillyar's compliments to Capt. Porter, and hopes he is well.'

"Porter replied, 'Very well, I thank you. But I hope you will not come too near, for fear some accident might take place which would be disagreeable to you.' And, with a wave of his trumpet, the kedge-anchors went up to our yard-arms, ready to grapple the enemy.

"Capt. Hillyar braced back his yards, and remarked to Porter, that, if he did fall aboard him, he begged to assure the captain that it would be entirely accidental.

"'Well,' said Porter, 'you have no business where you are. If you touch a rope-yarn of this ship, I shall board instantly.'"

Notwithstanding Porter's forbearance, the incident came near leading to a battle, through the action of one of the crew, who had come off from shore with his brain rather hazy from heavy drinking. This man was standing by a gun, with a lighted brand in his hand, ready to fire the piece, when he thought he saw an Englishman grinning at him through one of the open ports of the "Phœbe." Highly enraged, he shouted out, "My fine fellow, I'll soon stop your making faces!" and reached out to fire the gun; when a heavy blow from an officer, who saw the action, stretched him on the deck. Had that gun been fired, nothing could have saved the "Phœbe."

The two hostile ships cast anchor within long gunshot of the Americans, and seemed prepared for a long season in port. For the next few weeks the British and American officers and seamen met frequently on shore; and a kind of friendship sprang up between them, although they were merely waiting for a favorable moment to begin a deadly strife. Some incidents, however, took place which rather disturbed the amicable relations of the two parties. At the masthead of the "Essex" floated a flag bearing the motto, "Free Trade and Sailors' Rights." This flag gave great offence to the British, who soon displayed a flag with the inscription, "God and Country, British Sailors' Best Rights. Traitors offend both." To this Americans responded with, "God, our Country and Liberty. Tyrants offend them." Here the debate closed, and seemed to arouse no unfriendly feeling; for Porter and Hillyar talked it over amicably on shore. In the course of this conversation, Porter challenged the "Phœbe" to meet the "Essex" alone; but Hillyar declined the proposition. Shortly after this, the crews of the hostile ships began the practice of singing songs at  each other; the Americans beginning with "Yankee Doodle," while the British retorted with "God save the King." Then the poets of the forecastle set to work, and ground out verses that would prove particularly obnoxious to the enemy. One of the American songs recited at full length the capture of the "Guerriere." The character of the poetry may be judged by the first verse.

"Ye tars of our country, who seek on the main
The cause for the wrongs your country sustain,
Rejoice and be merry, for bragging John Bull
Has got a sound drubbing from brave Capt. Hull."

The British responded with triumphant verses upon the capture of the "Chesapeake," news of which had just reached Valparaiso. Their poetry was quite as bad.

"Brave Broke he waved his sword,
And he cried, 'Now, lads, aboard;
And we'll stop their singing,
Yankee Doodle Dandy, O!'"

Porter now wished to get rid of some of the prizes with which he was encumbered. He could not burn them in the harbor, and the British ships kept too close a watch upon him to permit his ships to leave the harbor for an hour: so he was forced to wait many days for an opportunity. On the 14th of February the opportunity came; and the "Hector" was towed out to sea, and set a-fire. Two weeks later, the "Phœbe" came alone to the mouth of the harbor, and, after showing her motto-flag, hove to, and fired a gun to windward. This Porter understood to be a challenge, and he at once put out in the "Essex." But the "Phœbe" had no intention of entering a fair and equal fight; for she quickly joined her consort, and the two then chased the "Essex" back to port. Much talk and a vast deal of correspondence grew out of this affair, which certainly did not redound to the credit of the British.

On the 28th of March the wind blew with such force that the larboard cable of the "Essex" parted; and the ship, drifting before the wind, dragged her starboard cable out to sea. Knowing that the British ships were in waiting outside, Porter lost no time in getting on sail and trying to beat back into the harbor. But, just as the ship was rounding the point, there came up a heavy squall, which carried away the main topmast, throwing several topmen into the sea. In her disabled state the frigate could not regain the harbor; but she ran into a little cove, and anchored within half pistol-shot of the shore. Here she was in neutral waters; and, had Capt. Hillyar been a man of his word, the "Essex" would have been safe: for that officer, on being asked by Porter whether he would respect the neutrality of the port, had replied with much feeling, "You have paid so much respect to the neutrality of the port, that I feel bound in honor to respect it." But he very quickly forgot this respect, when he saw his enemy lying crippled and in his power, although in neutral waters.

Hardly had the "Essex" cast anchor, when the two British ships drew near, their actions plainly showing that they intended to attack the crippled frigate. The "Essex" was prepared for action, the guns beat to quarters; and the men went to their places coolly and bravely, though each felt at his heart that he was going into a hopeless fight. The midshipmen had hardly finished calling over the quarter-lists, to see that every man was at his station, when the roar of the cannon from the British ships announced the opening of the action. The "Phœbe" had taken up a position under the stern of the American frigate, and pounded away with her long eighteens; while the "Essex" could hardly get a gun to bear in return. The "Cherub" tried her fortune on the bow, but was soon driven from that position, and joined her consort. The two kept up a destructive fire, until Porter got three long guns out of the cabin-windows, and drove the enemy away. After repairing damages, the British took up a position just out of range of the "Essex's" carronades, and began a rapid and effective fire from their long eighteens.

Such an action as this was very trying to the crew of the "Essex." The carronades against which Porter had protested when his ship was armed were utterly useless against an enemy who used such cautious tactics. On the deck of the frigate men were falling on every side. One shot entered a port, and killed four men who stood at a gun, taking off the heads of the last two. The crash and roar of the flying shots were incessant. As the guns became crippled for lack of men, the junior officers took a hand in all positions. Farragut writes, "I performed the duty of captain's aid, quarter-gunner, powder-boy, and, in fact, did every thing that was required of me.... When my services were not required for other purposes, I generally assisted in working a gun; would run and bring powder from the boys, and send them back for more, until the captain wanted me to carry a message; and this continued to occupy me during the action." Once during the action a midshipman came running up to Porter, and reported that a gunner had deserted his post. Porter's reply was to turn to Farragut (the lad was only twelve years old), and say, "Do your duty, sir." The boy seized a pistol, and ran away to find the coward, and shoot him in his tracks. But the gunner had slipped overboard, and made his way to the shore, and so escaped.

After the "Essex" had for some time suffered from the long-range fire of the enemy, Capt. Porter determined to make sail, and try to close with his foes. The rigging had been so badly shot away that the flying jib was the only sail that could be properly set. With this, and with the other sails hanging loose from the yards, the "Essex" ran down upon the British, and made such lively play with her carronades, that the "Cherub" was forced to haul off for repairs, and the tide of war seemed to be setting in favor of the Americans. But, though the gallant blue-jackets fought with desperation, their chances for success were small. The decks were strewn with dead, the cock-pit was full, and the enemy's shot were constantly adding to the number of dead and dying. Young Farragut, who had been sent below after some gun-primers, was coming up the ladder, when a man standing at the opening of the hatchway was struck full in the face by a cannon-ball, and fell back, carrying the lad with him. The mutilated body fell full upon the boy, who lay for a time unconscious; then, jumping to his feet, ran, covered with blood, to the quarter-deck. Capt. Porter saw him, and asked if he was wounded. "I believe not, sir," answered the midshipman. "Then," said the captain, "where are the primers?" Farragut remembered his errand, and dashed below to execute it. When he emerged the second time, he saw the captain (his adopted father) fall, and running up asked if he was wounded. "I believe not, my son," was the response; "but I felt a blow on the top of my head." He had probably been knocked down by the wind of a passing shot.

But the end of the action was now near. Dreadful havoc had been made in the ranks of both officers and men. The cock-pit would hold no more wounded; and the shots were beginning to penetrate its walls, killing the sufferers waiting for the surgeon's knife. Lieut. McKnight was the only commissioned officer on duty. The ship had been several times on fire, and the magazine was endangered. Finally, the carpenter reported that her bottom was so cut up that she could float but a little while longer. On learning this, Porter gave the order for the colors to be hauled down, which was done. The enemy, however, kept up their deadly fire for ten minutes after the "Essex" had struck.

David Farragut narrates some interesting incidents of the surrender. He was sent by the captain to find and destroy the signal book before the British should come aboard; and, this having been done, he went to the cock-pit to look after his friends. Here he found Lieut. Cornell terribly wounded. When Farragut spoke to him, he said, "O Davy, I fear it's all up with me!" and died soon after. The doctor said, that, had this officer been operated upon an hour before, his life might have been saved; but when the surgeons proposed to drop another man, and attend to him, he replied, "No, no, doctor, none of that. Fair play's a jewel. One man's life is as dear as another's; I would not cheat any poor fellow out of his turn." Surely history nowhere records more noble generosity. Soon after this, when Farragut was standing on the deck, a little negro boy came running up to inquire about his master, Lieut.Wilmer, who had been knocked over by a shot. On learning his master's fate, he leaped over the taffrail into the sea, and was drowned.

After the "Essex" had been formally surrendered, boats were sent to convey the prisoners to the British ships. In one of these Farragut was carried to the "Phœbe," and there fell into a second battle, in which the victory remained with him. "I was so mortified at our capture that I could not refrain from tears," he writes. "While in this uncomfortable state, I was aroused by hearing a young reefer call out,—

"'A prize! a prize! Ho, boys, a fine grunter, by Jove.'

"I saw at once that he had under his arm a pet pig belonging to our ship, called 'Murphy.' I claimed the animal as my own.

"'Ah,' said he, 'but you are a prisoner, and your pig also!'

"'We always respect private property,' I replied; and, as I had seized hold of 'Murphy,' I determined not to let go unless 'compelled by superior force.'

"This was fun for the oldsters, who immediately sung out,—

"'Go it, my little Yankee. If you can thrash Shorty, you can have your pig.'

"'Agreed,' cried I.

"A ring was formed in an open space, and at it we went. I soon found that my antagonist's pugilistic education did not come up to mine. In fact, he was no match for me, and was compelled to give up the pig. So I took Master Murphy under my arm, feeling that I had in some degree wiped out the disgrace of the defeat."

When the British ships with their prize returned to the quiet waters of the harbor, and began to take account of damages, it was found that the "Essex" had indeed fought a losing fight. On the "Phœbe," but four men were killed, and seven wounded; on the "Cherub," one killed and three wounded, made up the list of casualties. But on the "Essex" were fifty-eight killed, and sixty-six wounded; while an immense number of men were missing, who may have escaped to the shore or may have sunk beneath the waves. Certain it is some swimmers reached shore, though sorely wounded. One man had rushed on deck with his clothing all aflame, and swam ashore, though scarcely a square inch could be found on his body which was not burned. Another seaman had sixteen or eighteen scales of iron chipped from the muzzle of his gun driven into his legs, yet he reached the shore in safety.

After some delay, the "Essex Junior" was disarmed; and the prisoners, having given their paroles, were placed on board her, with a letter of safe-conduct from Capt. Hillyar to prevent their capture by any British man-of-war in whose path they might fall. But this letter availed them little; for, after an uneventful voyage to the northward, the "Essex Junior" found herself brought to by a shot from the British frigate "Saturn," off Sandy Hook. The boarding-officer took Capt. Hillyar's letter to the commander of the "Saturn," who remarked that Hillyar had no authority to make any such agreement, and ordered the "Essex Junior" to remain all night under the lee of the British ship. Capt. Porter was highly indignant, and handed his sword to the British officer, saying that he considered himself a prisoner. But the Englishman declined the sword, and was about to return to his ship, when Porter said, "Tell the captain that I am his prisoner, and do not consider myself any longer bound by my contract with Capt. Hillyar, which he has violated; and I shall act accordingly." By this Porter meant that he now considered himself absolved from his parole, and free to escape honorably if an opportunity should offer.

Accordingly at seven o'clock the following morning, a boat was stealthily lowered from the "Essex Junior;" and Porter, descending into it, started for the shore, leaving a message, that, since British officers showed so little regard for each other's honor, he had no desire to trust himself in their hands. The boat had gone some distance before she was sighted by the lookout on the "Saturn," for the hull of the "Essex Junior" hid her from sight. As soon as the flight was noticed, the frigate made sail in chase, and seemed likely to overhaul the audacious fugitives, when a thick fog set in, under cover of which Porter reached Babylon, L.I., nearly sixty miles distant. In the mean time, the "Essex Junior," finding herself hidden from the frigate by the fog-bank, set sail, and made for the mouth of the harbor. She was running some nine knots an hour when the fog showed signs of lifting; and she came up into the wind, that the suspicion of the British might not be aroused. As it happened, the "Saturn" was close alongside when the fog lifted, and her boat soon came to the American ship. An officer, evidently very irate, bounded upon the deck, and said brusquely,—

"You must have been drifting very fast. We have been making nine knots an hour, and yet here you are alongside."

"So it appears," responded the American lieutenant coolly.

"We saw a boat leave you, some time ago," continued the Englishman. "I suppose Capt. Porter went in it?"

"Yes. You are quite right."

"And probably more of you will run away, unless I cut away your boats from the davits."

"Perhaps that would be a good plan for you to adopt."

"And I would do it very quickly, if the question rested with me."

"You infernal puppy," shouted the American officer, now thoroughly aroused, "if you have any duty to do, do it; but, if you insult me further, I'll throw you overboard!"

With a few inarticulate sounds, the Englishman stepped into his boat, and was pulled back to the "Saturn," whence soon returned a second boat, bearing an apology for the boarding-officer's rudeness. The boarders then searched all parts of the ship, mustered her crew on the plea that it contained British deserters, and finally released her, after having inflicted every possible humiliation upon her officers. The "Essex Junior" then proceeded to New York, where she was soon joined by Capt. Porter. The whole country united in doing honor to the officers, overlooking the defeat which closed their cruise, and regarding only the persistent bravery with which they had upheld the cause of the United States in the far-off waters of the Pacific.

Before closing the account of Porter's famous cruise, the story of the ill-fortune which befell Lieut. Gamble should be related. This officer, it will be remembered, was left at Nookaheevah with the prizes "Greenwich," "Seringapatam," and "Hammond." Hardly had the frigate disappeared below the horizon, when the natives began to grow unruly; and Gamble was forced to lead several armed expeditions against them. Then the sailors under his charge began to show signs of mutiny. He found himself almost without means of enforcing his authority, and the disaffection spread daily. The natives, incited by the half-savage Englishman who had been found upon the island, began to make depredations upon the live-stock; while the women would swim out to the ships by night, and purloin bread, aided by their lovers among the crews. To the lieutenant's remonstrances, the natives replied that "Opotee" was not coming back, and they would do as they chose; while the sailors heard his orders with ill-concealed contempt, and made but a pretext of obeying them. In the middle of April three sailors stole a boat from the "Greenwich," and, stocking it well with ammunition and provisions, deserted, and were never again seen. One month later, mutiny broke out in its worst form. Lieut. Gamble and his two midshipmen, being upon the "Seringapatam," were knocked down by the sailors, gagged, bound, and thrust into the hold. The mutineers then went ashore, spiked the guns in the fort, and then, hoisting the British colors over the captured ship, set sail.Lieut. Gamble was badly wounded in the foot by a pistol-shot fired by one of his guards. Notwithstanding his wound, he, with the two lieutenants and two loyal seamen, was turned adrift in an open boat. After long and painful exertions, they reached the shore, and returned to the bay, where the "Greenwich" still lay at anchor. The mutineers, thirteen of whom were Englishmen who had enlisted in the American service, steered boldly out to sea, and were nevermore heard of. The half-savage Englishman, Wilson, was supposed to be at the bottom of this uprising, and some days later a boat's crew from the "Greenwich" went ashore to capture him. Soon after, Gamble, anxiously watching the shore, saw a struggle upon the beach, the natives rushing down on all sides, the boat overturned in the surf, and two white men swimming towards the ship, making signals of distress. Mr. Clapp, with two men, sprang into a boat, and put off to the aid of the swimmers, leaving Gamble alone on the ship. Two large canoes loaded with savages then left the beach, and swiftly bore down towards the "Essex;" but Gamble, lamed though he was, seized a lighted brand, and hobbled along the deck of the ship, firing her guns with such effect that the savages were driven back, the beach cleared, and Mr. Clapp enabled to save the two struggling men. When the boat returned to the ship, it was learned that Midshipman Feltus and five men had been basely murdered by the savages. There were now left but seven Americans; and of these but two were well, and fit for duty. Setting the "Greenwich" on fire, this little band boarded the "Hammond," and made their way to sea. But between the Sandwich Islands and Honolulu they fell in with the "Cherub," by whom they were captured, and kept prisoners for nine months, when, peace being declared, they were released.

So ended the last incident of the gallant cruise of the "Essex." History has few more adventurous tales to relate.


The naval incidents of the latter part of 1814 conferred little honor upon either of the belligerents. Seldom did the meetings between hostile ships rise to the dignity of battles. One or two small American brigs fell a prey to British frigates; but in every instance the disparity of force was so great that the weaker surrendered without striking a blow. Such was the case with the sixteen-gun brig "Rattlesnake," which escaped from one British frigate by throwing overboard all her guns, only to immediately fall a prey to the "Leander." In July of the same year, the United States brig "Siren" was captured by the British frigate "Medway," off the coast of Africa, after a long chase, during which the American hove overboard every thing movable on the brig. Not all these petty encounters ended so favorably for the enemy. Off New York a cutting-out party of volunteers surprised and captured the British tender "Eagle," a small craft carrying one thirty-two-pound howitzer, and fourteen men. Ten days later, the frigate "Tenedos," which had done such good service on the blockade, suffered the loss of her tender, which was gallantly carried away by the crew of a Yankee gunboat. Some very desperate combats between American privateers and British naval vessels were fought about this time, and will be duly noted in detail in the chapter treating of the exploits of the private armed navy.

As the autumn came on, the British naval forces began to rendezvous in the Gulf of Mexico, preparatory to the campaign before New Orleans. On Sept. 14, a squadron of four British sloops-of-war appeared off Mobile, and opened fire upon Fort Bowyer, which guarded the entrance to Mobile Bay. The attack was vigorous, and the defence determined. A British land expedition moved upon the fort from the landward side; and the little garrison found itself surrounded by enemies, many of whom were Indians, whose savage assistance the British had accepted from the very opening of the war. A small force, only, defended the fort. Percy, the British admiral, knew the weakness of the garrison; and, thinking of the ninety-two guns he could bring to bear against the twenty worked by the Americans, announced proudly, that he would give the garrison just twenty minutes to surrender. The twenty minutes passed quickly, and still the fort responded savagely to the fire of its assailants. The flag of the British ship "Hermes" was shot away; and soon after, a round shot cut her cable, and she drifted upon a sand-bank, and lay helpless, and exposed to a raking fire. Her captain, having set her afire, abandoned her; and she soon blew up. The other vessels kept up the attack gallantly for a time. The flagstaff of the fort was shot away; but the flag soon re-appeared, waving from a sponge-staff. The Americans then redoubled their fire, which soon told so severely upon the British ships that they were forced to withdraw. In the mean time, the assault of the Indians and troops had been checked, and the forces driven back in disorder, thus leaving the victory to the Americans.

It is not within the province of this work to treat of the military operations that led up to the battle of New Orleans. But the last months of 1814 witnessed a series of naval incidents trivial in themselves, but deriving importance from their connection with Gen. Jackson's great victory. Over certain incidents in the preparations of the Americans for repelling the invasion hangs a shade of romance.

To the southward of the quaint, rambling, rose-covered city of New Orleans, the tawny flood of the Mississippi winds towards the gulf in huge serpentine curves. The shores between which it flows rise scarce higher than the surface of the river itself; and a slight increase in the volume of water, or a strong wind, will serve to turn the whole region into a great, watery marsh. From the mouth of the great river, the whole coast of Louisiana, extending north and west, is a grassy sea, a vast expanse of marsh-grass, broken here and there by inlets of the Mexican Gulf, and sluggish, winding bayous that lead up into the higher lands of the State,—waterways that lead even to the back door of the Crescent City herself, but known only to oyster-gatherers, or in 1814 to the adventurous men who followed the banner of Lafitte the Baratarian pirate.

Pirate he was called then; but it is doubtful whether his misdeeds ever exceeded smuggling, or, at worst, privateering under the protecting flag of some belligerent nation. When all nations were warring, what was easier than for a few gallant fellows, with swift-sailing feluccas, to lurk about the shores of the gulf, and now under the Spanish flag, now under the French, or any colors which suited the case, sally out and capture the richly laden Indiamen that frequented those summer seas? And when a power known as the United States Government, that had its quarters more than a thousand miles from the country of the Creoles, passed an outrageous law known as the embargo, what was more natural than that the Baratarians, knowing the mysterious waterways that led up to the Crescent City, should utilize their knowledge to take ships and cargoes in and out without the formality of a custom-house examination? Such were the times that led to the formation and growth of the "piratical" colony of Barataria. Its leaders and rulers were John and Pierre Lafitte; one of whom lived in New Orleans in the character of a prosperous merchant, while the other led the expeditions which brought in merchandise to stock the former's stores. Under the influence of the warlike state of Europe, the trade of these worthies throve, and their settlement at Grande Isle took on the appearance of a prosperous colony and naval station. Storehouses and dwellings stood close to the sea. The fertile face of the island was cut up into fruitful plantations and orange-groves. Breastworks, well dotted with the muzzles of cannon, commanded the approach by sea. More than once, from behind those ramparts, the Baratarians had proved that they could fight, and that they acknowledged the authority of no flag. The Creoles of New Orleans looked indulgently upon the conduct of the outlaws; but the few Americans in the city were highly incensed to see the authority of the United States thus set aside, and vowed that when the war was over the audacious adventurers should be crushed. However, the end came even sooner.

On the 3d of September, a British armed brig anchored near the buccaneers' retreat, and sent a flag of truce ashore. Lafitte, with great dignity, received the envoys in his tent, and assured them of his protection, though the whole village was up in arms clamoring for the death of the intruders. The British officer then announced that he had come to secure the aid of Lafitte and his followers in the campaign against New Orleans. He offered the pirate captain forgiveness for all piracies committed against the British flag,—whereat the chief smiled sardonically,—also thirty thousand dollars in cash, a captain's commission in the British navy, and lands for himself and his followers. It was a tempting bribe; for at that moment Lafitte's brother lay in the calaboza  at New Orleans awaiting trial for piracy, and the Americans were preparing rapidly for a descent upon the Baratarian stronghold. But, little as he liked the American flag, Lafitte liked the British still less: so, asking the Englishman to wait a few days for his answer, he sent a report of the occurrence to the New Orleans authorities, and offered to co-operate with the Americans, if he could be assured of pardon for all offences committed against the government. This document caused some hesitation at New Orleans; but the military authorities determined to refuse the offer, and break up the outlaws' nest. Accordingly, a few days later, the war schooner "Carolina," six gunboats, a tender, and a launch, dropped down the Mississippi, and, rounding into the deep blue waters of the gulf, headed for Barataria. Lafitte had too many friends in New Orleans not to know of the force thus sent against him; and, when the Americans reached Grande Terre, they found the pirates at their batteries, and the Baratarian flotilla drawn up in order of battle. The contest was sharp, but ended in the rout of the Baratarians. Their village was burned, their fortifications razed; and, when the triumphant Americans returned to New Orleans, they brought in their train ten armed prizes and a number of prisoners, although Lafitte was not to be found among the latter. Thereafter, the Baratarians, as an organization, vanished from history. Lafitte was afterwards occasionally heard of as a desperado on the more western shores of the Mexican Gulf; and it is further noticeable, that two guns were served by Baratarians under their old lieutenant, Dominique Yon, on that bloody day when Packenham's forces were beaten back on the field of Chalmette.

Early in December the movement of the British upon New Orleans took definite shape. On the 8th of that month, the calm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, off the Chandeleur Islands, were the scene of a grand rendezvous of British naval and military forces. All the vessels of Cockburn's Chesapeake fleet were there, with other men-of-war, transports, and schooners, to the number of fifty vessels. At the head was the towering two-decker "Tonnant," carrying the Admiral's flag. Frigates, corvettes, and sloops-of-war came trooping in the rear; and the transports bore seven thousand men for the capture of the Southern city. The British were in high good-humor as the anchors were let fall and the ships swung round with their heads to the tide. The voyage across the gulf from the rendezvous at Jamaica had been like a holiday trip. The weather had been fine, and the sea smooth; and the soft air of that semi-tropical region was a never-ending source of delight to sailors who had been suffering the hardships of a Northern station.

The point at which the British fleet had come to anchor lay about fifty miles due east of New Orleans. In that day of sailing-vessels, no enemy could breast the waters of the rolling Mississippi and crush the resistance of the city's defenders, as did Farragut in 1862. Knowing that they could not hope to take their ships up to the levee of the city, the enemy determined to cast anchor near the entrance of Lake Borgne, and send through a chain of lakes and bayous a mammoth expedition in barges, to a point within ten miles of the city. But this well-laid plan had been betrayed to the Americans by Lafitte; and a little band of American sailors, under the command of Lieut. Catesby Jones, had taken up a position at the Rigolets, and were prepared to dispute the farther progress of the invading forces. Five gunboats, and one hundred and eighty-five men, constituted the American force, which for a time held the British in check. Finally, the enemy, finding that the swift American cutters could easily evade the lumbering war-vessels, fitted out a fleet of forty-five barges, manned by a thousand veteran British sea-dogs, who had seen service in half a dozen naval wars. The Americans had news of the contemplated attack, and made skilful preparations to meet it. The gunboats were moored in a fore and aft line, at a point near the Rigolets. Their broadsides bore upon the enemy, and the shallowness of the water was such that by no means could they be surrounded. The sailors were prepared for a desperate conflict, and spent the night before the battle in tricing up the boarding-nettings, sharpening cutlasses, and getting small-arms in good trim. In the morning the British came on to the attack. It was a long pull from the fleet to the place of battle: so their commander brought his flotilla to anchor just out of range of the American guns; and there the grim old veterans devoured their dinners, and took their rations of grog, with appetites undisturbed by the thought of the coming conflict. Dinner over, the enemy weighed anchor, and dashed forward, with long, swift strokes, into the very flashes of the Americans' cannon. The Americans knew that their one chance of victory was to keep the overwhelming forces of their foe out of boarding distance, and they worked their guns with a rapidity born of desperation. Musket-bullets, grape-shot, and canister poured in a murderous fire upon the advancing boats. But the sturdy old British veterans knew that the best way to stop that fire was to get at the base of it; and they pressed on undauntedly, responding vigorously, meanwhile, with their bow guns. Soon they were up to the gunwales of the American flotilla, and the grappling-irons were fixed; then, with sharp blows of cutlasses, deadly play of the pikes, and a ceaseless rattle of small-arms, they poured upon the decks of the Americans. The boarding-nettings could not long check so furious a foe, and fell before the fierce slash of the cutlasses. The decks once gained, the overpowering numbers of the Englishmen crushed all further resistance; and the flotilla was finally taken, after about one hundred of the enemy and fifty Americans had fallen.

The American flotilla being thus shattered, there remained no further obstacle to prevent the landing of the invading army. Of the advance of that brilliant body of veteran troops over sands and marshes, and through sluggish bayous and canals half-full of stagnant water, until they emerged on the bank of the river, nine miles below New Orleans, it is not my purpose to speak further. Nor does an account of Gen. Jackson's vigorous measures of defence and glorious victory come within the province of this narrative. The interesting story of Jackson's creation of an army from leather-shirted Kentucky riflemen, gay Creoles from the Creole Quarter of the Crescent City, swarthy Spaniards and mulattoes, nondescript desperadoes from the old band of Lafitte, and militia and regulars from all the Southern States, forms no part of the naval annals of the war. It is enough to say that the flower of the British army, led by a veteran of the Peninsula, recoiled before that motley crew of untrained soldiers, and were beaten back, leaving their gallant leader and thousands of their brave men dead upon the field. The navy was not without some share in this glorious triumph. On the 23d of December the schooner "Carolina" dropped down from New Orleans, and opened fire upon the enemy. "Now, then, for the honor of America, give it to them!" sung out her commander, as the first broadside was fired. The attack, unexpected as it was, created a panic in the British camp. A feeble reply was made with rockets and musketry; but even this was soon discontinued, and the enemy took refuge under the steep bank of the levee, whither the plunging shot could not follow them. All night the "Carolina" kept up her fire; and, when at daybreak she moved away, she left the camp of the enemy in confusion. During the day she renewed the attack, and persisted in her fire until the British threw up a heavy battery on the river's bank, and replied. The lads of the "Carolina" promptly accepted the challenge thus offered, and for a time a spirited combat was maintained. But the battery threw red-hot shot, and the schooner was soon set on fire and destroyed. Meanwhile the corvette "Louisiana" had come down to the scene of action, and in the subsequent engagements did some effective work. When the final onslaught of the British was made, on Jan. 7, 1815, the guns of the "Louisiana" were mounted on the opposite bank of the river, and the practised sailors worked them with deadly effect, until the flight of the American militia on that side exposed the battery to certain capture. The sailors then spiked their guns, and marched off unmolested. The sailors of the "Carolina," on that day of desperate fighting, were in the centre of Jackson's line, between the Creoles and the swarthy Baratarians under Dominique Yon. Here they worked their howitzers, and watched the scarlet lines of the enemy advance and melt away before that deadly blaze; advance and fall back again in hopeless rout. And among the many classes of fighting men whom Jackson had rallied before that British line, none did battle more valiantly for the honor of the nation and the safety of the flowery city of New Orleans than did those blue-jackets ashore.

It is a fitting commentary upon the folly of war, that the battle of New Orleans was fought after the two warring nations had signed a treaty of peace. The lives of some hundreds of brave Englishmen and Americans were needlessly sacrificed in a cause already decided. Far across the Atlantic Ocean, in the quaint old Dutch city of Ghent, representatives of England and the United States met, and, after some debate, signed the treaty on the 24th of December, 1814. But there was then no Atlantic cable, no "ocean greyhounds" to annihilate space and time; and it was months before the news of the treaty reached the scene of war. In the mean time, the hostilities were continued by land and sea.

The year 1815 found the American navy largely increased by new vessels, though the vigilance of the British blockaders kept most of these close in port. The "Constitution" was at sea, having run the blockade at Boston. In New York Harbor were the "President," "Peacock," "Hornet," and "Tom Bowline," awaiting a chance to slip out for a cruise to the East Indies. It was decided that the vessels should run out singly, and the "President" was selected to make the first attempt. The night of the 14th of January was dark and foggy, and the blockading fleet was nowhere to be seen. Then, if ever, was the time for escape; and the Yankee tars weighed anchor and started out through the Narrows. In the impenetrable darkness of the night, baffled by head-winds and perplexing currents, the pilots lost their reckoning, and the orders to the man at the wheel were quick and nervous, until an ominous grating of the ship's keel, followed by the loss of headway, told that the frigate was aground. For a time the ship lay helpless, straining all her timbers as each wave lifted her slightly, and then let the heavy hull fall back upon the shoal. By ten o'clock the rising tide floated her off; but, on examination, Capt. Decatur found that she was seriously injured. To return to port was impossible with the wind then blowing: so all sail was crowded on, in the hopes of getting safely away before the blockading squadron should catch sight of the ship. As luck would have it, the blockaders had been forced from their posts by the gale of the day before, and the "President" had laid her course so as to infallibly fall into their clutches. Before daylight the lookout reported two sail in sight, and at daybreak the ship was fairly surrounded by the enemy's vessels. All at once gave chase to the luckless American; and a few hours were enough to show that her sailing qualities were so seriously injured by her pounding on the bar, that the enemy was rapidly overhauling her. Decatur adopted every known expedient to increase his ship's speed, but to no avail. After she had been lightened by starting the water, cutting away boats and anchors, chopping up and heaving overboard the ponderous cables, together with spars and provisions, the enemy still gained; and the foremost pursuer, a razee, opened fire. The "President" responded with her stern-chasers, but her shot had no effect. "It is said that on this occasion," writes Cooper, "the shot of the American ship were observed to be thrown with a momentum so unusually small, as to have since excited much distrust of the quality of her gunpowder. It is even added, that many of these shot were distinctly seen, when clear of the smoke, until they struck." At six o'clock in the evening, the frigate "Endymion" led the British squadron in chase, and had gained a position so close upon the American's beam that her broadsides were rapidly crippling the fugitive. Thereupon Decatur determined upon a desperate expedient, that sounds like some of his reckless exploits in the war with Tripoli. His plan was to bring the "President" about, and run boldly alongside the enemy. Every thing was to be sacrificed to the end of getting to close quarters. When once the two ships had grappled, the Americans were to board, carry the British ship in a hand-to-hand battle, and then, abandoning the crippled "President," escape in the captured frigate. So desperate a plan needed the cordial co-operation of every man: so it was first presented to the commissioned officers, who gladly embraced the desperate project. The sailors were then sent aft, and Decatur addressed them from the quarter-deck.

"My lads," said he, "that ship is coming up with us. As our ship won't sail, we'll go on board of theirs, every man and boy of us, and carry her into New York. All I ask of you is to follow me. This is a favorite ship of the country. If we allow her to be taken, we shall be deserted by our wives and sweethearts. What, let such a ship as this go for nothing! 'Twould break the heart of every pretty girl in New York."

"President" and "Endymion."

With hearty cheers, the jackies returned to their guns. All were ready for the coming struggle. Over the main hatch was mounted a howitzer, with its black muzzle peering down into the hold, ready to scuttle the ship when the boarders should spring upon the enemy's deck. The sun, by this time, had sunk below the horizon, and the darkness of night was gathering over the ocean. The two ships surged toward each other,—great black masses, lighted up on either side by rows of open ports, through which gleamed the uncertain light of the battle-lanterns. On the gun-deck the men stood stern and silent; their thoughts fixed upon the coming battle, or perhaps wandering back to the green fields and pleasant homes they had so recently left, perhaps forever. The gray old yeoman of the frigate, with his mates, walked from gun to gun, silently placing a well-sharpened cutlass, a dirk, and a heavy leather boarding-cap at each man's side. The marines were drawn up in a line amidships; their erect, soldierly air and rigid alignment contrasting with the careless slouchiness of the sailors. Butts for the sailors' ridicule as they were during a cruise, the marines knew that, in hand-to-hand conflicts, their part was as dashing as that of their tormentors of the forecastle.

When the "President" had come within a quarter of a mile of her adversary, Decatur perceived that his enemy was determined to decide the contest at long range. As the "President" hauled down nearer, the "Endymion" sheered off, keeping up meanwhile a vigorous cannonade. To this the Americans responded in kind; and so much superior was the gunnery of the Yankee tars, that the rigging of the enemy was seen to be fast going to pieces, while her guns were being silenced one by one. But her fire did sad havoc among the men of the "President," and particularly among the officers. The first broadside carried away Decatur's first lieutenant, Mr. Babbitt, who was struck by a thirty-two-pound shot, which cut off his right leg below the knee, and hurled him through the wardroom hatch to the deck below, fracturing his wounded leg in two places. Shortly after, Decatur was knocked to the deck by a heavy splinter. For some time he lay unconscious; then opening his eyes, and seeing a throng of anxious seamen about him, he ordered them to their stations, and resumed his duties. The fire of the "Endymion" then slackened; and she lay upon the water, with her sails cut from the yards. At that moment Lieut. Howell turned to a midshipman standing at his side, and said gayly, "Well, we have whipped that ship, at any rate." A flash from the bow of the Englishman followed; and he added, "No: there she is again." The midshipman turned to reply, and saw Howell stretched dead at his feet, killed by the last shot of the battle.

The "President" tries to Escape.

The enemy was now helpless, and it would have been easy enough for the "President" to choose her position and compel her adversary to strike; but the presence of two more Englishmen, rapidly coming up astern, forced the Americans to abandon their prey and continue their flight. It was then late in the evening, and the night was dark and starless. Every light was extinguished on the American frigate, in the hope that by so doing she might slip away under cover of the night. But the British lookouts were sharp-eyed; and by eleven o'clock two frigates had closed in on the crippled ship, and a third was rapidly coming up astern. All were pouring in rapid broadsides, and the dark waters were lighted up like a fiery sea by the ceaseless flashing of the guns. Thus surrounded and overpowered, there remained open to the Americans no course but to surrender; and at eleven o'clock at night the "President" made signal that she had struck. Her fate, like that of the "Chesapeake," had accorded with the superstitious sailors' notion that she was an unlucky ship. In the long running fight, neither the Americans nor the British had escaped without severe loss. On the "President" were twenty-four killed and fifty-six wounded; the first, second, and third lieutenants being among the slain. The "Endymion" had eleven men killed and fourteen wounded. The two frigates were ordered to proceed to Bermuda; but the "President's" bad luck seemed to follow her, for on the way she encountered a terrific gale, by which her masts were carried away, and her timbers so strained that all the upper-deck guns had to be thrown overboard to save the ship.

The loss of the "President," at the very mouth of the New York Harbor, was certainly a most inauspicious opening for the naval operations of 1815. The people of New York and Philadelphia, to whom had come neither the news of peace nor of the glorious success of the American arms at New Orleans, were plunged into despondency. "Now that Great Britain is at peace with Europe," thought they, "she can exert all her power in the task of subjugating America;" and mournful visions of a return to British rule darkened their horizon. But, even while they were thus saddened by Decatur's defeat, a gallant vessel—the monarch of the American navy—was fighting a good fight for the honor of the nation; and out of that fight she came with colors flying and two captive men-of-war following in her wake.

It will be remembered that the "Constitution" left Boston in December, 1814, for an extended cruise. The gallant frigate, always a favorite among man-o'-war's men, carried with her on this cruise a full crew of native Americans,—thorough seamen, and as plucky fighters as ever pulled a lanyard or carried a cutlass. Her course lay due east; and in January, 1815, she was in the Bay of Biscay, where she fell in with, and captured, two prizes. After this she cruised about for a month, without encountering an enemy. American privateers and cruisers had fairly driven British merchantmen from the seas, and the tars of the "Constitution" found their time hanging heavily on their hands. The captain was an able and considerate officer, and much freedom was allowed the jackies in their amusements. With boxing, broadsword, and single-stick play, drill and skylarking, the hours of daylight were whiled away; and by night the men off duty would gather about the forecastle lantern to play with greasy, well-thumbed cards, or warble tender ditties to black-eyed Susans far across the Atlantic. Patriotic melodies formed no small part of Jack's musical repertoire. Of these, this one, written by a landsman, was for a long time popular among the tuneful souls of the forecastle, and was not altogether unknown in the wardroom.

"Now coil up y'r nonsense 'bout England's great navy,
And take in y'r slack about oak-hearted tars;
For frigates as stout, and as gallant crews have we,
Or how came their "Macedon" decked with our stars?
Yes, how came her "Guerriere," her "Peacock," and "Java,"
All sent broken-ribbed to old Davy of late?
How came it? Why, split me, than Britons we're braver;
And that they shall feel, too, whenever we meet.
Then charge the can cheerily,
Send it round merrily:
Here's to our country, and captains commanding;
To all who inherit
Of Lawrence the spirit
Disdaining to strike while a stick is left standing."

Many were the verses of this notable production; for, to be popular in the forecastle, a song must play a lengthy part in "teasing time." One verse, however, is enough to show the manly, if perhaps unreasoning, pride the blue-jackets took in the triumphs of the navy.

But the time of the sailors on this closing cruise of the war was not destined to be spent in sport and singing alone. The noble frigate was not to return to the stagnation of a season of peace in port, without adding yet another honor to her already honorable record. On the morning of the 20th of February, as the ship was running aimlessly before a light wind, some inexplicable impulse led Capt. Stewart to suddenly alter his course and run off some sixty miles to the south-west. Again the "Constitution's" good luck seemed to justify the sailors' belief, for at noon she ran into a group of vessels. The first vessel was sighted on the larboard bow, and, as the frigate overhauled her, proved to be a full-rigged ship. Soon after a second sail, also a ship, was sighted; and a few minutes more sufficed to show that both were men-of-war. The one first sighted was the frigate-built corvette "Cyane," of thirty-four guns; and the second was the sloop-of-war "Levant," of twenty-one guns. For either of these vessels singly, the "Constitution," with her fifty-two guns and crew of four hundred and fifty men, was more than a match. Yet to attack the two was a bold movement, and this Stewart determined to undertake. Hardly had the character of the strangers been made out, when the corvette was seen making signals to the sloop; and the two vessels, then about ten miles apart, made all sail to get together before the enemy should overhaul them. This juncture was precisely what Stewart wished to prevent; and in a trice the shrill notes of the boatswain's whistle sent the sailors in swarms into the rigging, and the frigate was as if by magic clothed with a broad expanse of canvas. Quickly she felt the effect, and bounded through the water after the distant ships like a dolphin chasing a school of flying-fish. The old tars on the forecastle looked knowingly over the side at the foamy water rushing past, and then cast approving glances aloft where every sail was drawing. But their complacency was shattered by a loud crash aloft, which proved to be the main royal-mast which had given way under the strain. Another spar was rigged speedily, and shipped by the active tars, and soon the snowy clouds aloft showed no signs of the wreck. At sundown the three vessels were so near each other that their colors could be seen. Stewart ran up the stars and stripes, to which the strangers responded by setting the British flag at their mastheads.

The purpose of the enemy was to delay the opening of the action until night should give him opportunity to manœuvre unobserved; but the "Constitution," suspecting this, pressed forward hotly, and opened fire a few minutes after six o'clock. By skilful seamanship Stewart kept the windward gage of both enemies; and the fight opened with the "Cyane" on the port-quarter, and the "Levant" on the port-bow of the American frigate. Fifteen minutes of fierce cannonading followed, the combatants being within musket-shot most of the time. Every gun was engaged; and the heavy broadsides shook the ships, and thundered far over the placid surface of the ocean, which was now faintly illumined by the rising moon. The triangular space between the ships was filled with the dense sulphurous smoke of the burning powder; so that the gunners could see nothing of the enemy at whom they were hurling their ponderous iron bolts. The men in the tops could now and again catch a glimpse of the top hamper of the enemy's ships, but those on the gun-deck were working almost at random. After a few minutes of rapid firing, the fire of the enemy slackened; and Stewart directed his gunners to cease until the smoke should have cleared away. At this command a silence, almost oppressive after the heavy cannonading, ensued, broken only by the occasional report of a gun from the unseen enemy, sounding like minute-guns of distress. Anxiously Stewart waited for the smoke to blow away. When it did so, the "Cyane" was seen luffing up, to come under the frigate's stern, and get in a raking broadside. The movement was discovered just in time to be checked. Stewart gave a heavy broadside to the "Levant;" then, bracing back his topsails, backed his ship down abreast of the "Cyane," pouring in rapid broadsides, before which the fire of the corvette died away. Two raking broadsides that crashed into the stern of the "Levant" sent that craft out of the action, to refit. The frigate then pressed down upon the "Cyane," and with a few heavy broadsides forced her to strike.

Capt. Douglass of the "Levant" then proved his bravery by standing by his captured consort; although he could have escaped easily, while the "Constitution" was taking possession of her prize. No thought of flight seems to have occurred to the gallant Briton, though he must have known that there was but little hope of his coming out of the combat victorious. Still he gallantly came back into the fight, meeting the "Constitution" ploughing along on the opposite tack. Broadsides were exchanged at such close range that the Yankee gunners could hear the ripping of the planks on the enemy's decks as the solid shot crashed through beam and stanchion. Having passed each other, the ships wore, and returned to the attack; but the weight of the American's metal told so severely upon the "Levant" that her flag was hauled down, and, firing a gun to leeward, she gave up the fight.

As an exhibition of seamanship, this action is unrivalled in naval annals. For Stewart to have taken his ship into action with two hostile vessels, and so handle her as not only to escape being raked, but actually rake his enemies, was a triumph of nautical skill. The action was hard fought by both parties. The loss upon the British vessels has never been exactly determined; but it was undoubtedly large, for the hulls were badly cut up by the American's fire. The "Constitution" had but three men killed, and twelve wounded. The officers all escaped unhurt.

After a few hours' pause to repair damages, Stewart took his prizes into Porto Praya in the Cape Verde Islands, where they arrived on the 10th of March. The day after the ships reached port, a heavy fog settled over the water, cutting off vision in all directions. As the first lieutenant of the "Constitution" was walking the quarter-deck, he heard a young midshipman among the prisoners suddenly exclaim, "There's a large ship in the offing." The lieutenant peered about on every side, but could see nothing, until, looking upward, he saw the top-gallant sails of a large ship moving along above the fog-bank. Capt. Stewart was quickly notified; and, coolly remarking that the stranger was probably a British frigate, he ordered that the men be sent to quarters, and the ship prepared for action. The lieutenant hastened on deck to execute the orders, but had hardly reached his station when he saw the sails of two more ships gliding along above the fog-bank. Hastily he returned to the captain's cabin with the report. Stewart showed no emotion or alarm, although he knew well that the fact that he was in a neutral port would be no protection against the British, should they once discover his presence. The affair of the "Essex" was still fresh in his mind. Calmly he ordered the lieutenant to make sail and take the ship to sea, signalling to the two prizes to follow. The orders were given quietly on deck; and in fifteen minutes the "Constitution," under full press of sail, was making her way out of Porto Praya roads. On the shore were more than a hundred prisoners whom Stewart had landed under parole. Regardless of the dictates of honor, these men rushed to a Portuguese battery, and opened fire on the ships as they passed out. Hearing the cannonade, the lookouts on the enemy's vessels looked eagerly for its cause, and caught sight, above the fog, of the rapidly receding topsails of the fugitives. At this sight the British set out in pursuit; and the fog soon clearing away revealed to the Americans two ships-of-the-line and a frigate following fast in their wake. The "Constitution" and the "Cyane" easily kept out of reach of their pursuers; but the "Levant" dropped behind, and finally, at a signal from Stewart, tacked, and stood back for Porto Praya. The enemy then abandoned the pursuit of the two foremost vessels, and followed the "Levant," but failed to overhaul her before she entered the harbor. This, however, checked the British not a whit. For the laws of nations and the authority of the Portuguese flag that floated over the little town, they cared nothing. On they came, and opened fire on the "Levant," which had dropped anchor under what was supposed to be a neutral battery. The Americans soon discovered their error. Not only did the British disregard the neutrality of the port, but the paroled prisoners on shore took possession of the battery, and opened fire upon the beleaguered craft. Thus caught between two fires, no hope remained to the Americans; and, after a few minutes' gallant but useless defence, the flag of the "Levant" was hauled down, and she passed again into the hands of the British.

It was late in May before the "Constitution" reached New York. Peace had then been declared; but none the less were Stewart and his men feasted and honored. The old frigate had won for herself a name ever to be remembered by the people of the nation, in whose service she had received and dealt so many hard knocks. "Old Ironsides," they called her; and even to-day, when a later war has given to the navy vessels whose sides are literally iron, the "Constitution" still holds her place in the hearts of the American people, who think of her lovingly by the well-won title of "Old Ironsides."

While we have been following thus Stewart and his gallant frigate in their final cruise, some smaller vessels were doing good work for the credit of the American flag. It will be remembered, that, when the "President" left New York Bay on her short and disastrous cruise of January, 1815, she left behind her, at anchor, the "Peacock," the "Hornet," and the "Tom Bowline." These vessels, knowing nothing of the fate of their former consort, awaited only the coming of a gale sufficient to drive away the blockading squadron. On the 22d of January it came up to blow; and the three craft, under storm canvas, scudded over the bar, and made for the rendezvous at Tristan d'Acunha. On the way thither they separated, the "Hornet" cruising alone. On the 23d she sighted a strange sail on the horizon, and, clapping on all sail, bore down upon her. At the same time the stranger sighted the "Hornet," and made for her, evidently with hostile intent. The two vessels approached each other until within musket-shot, when the stranger hoisted English colors, and fired a gun. Capt. Biddle of the American ship was ready for the fray, and opened fire with a broadside. The response of the enemy was vigorous and effective. For fifteen minutes the firing was constant; but the enemy, seeing that the Americans were getting the better of the fight, then strove to close and board. This Biddle determined to avoid, but called up the boarders to beat back the enemy, should they succeed in closing. "At the instant," he writes, in his official report, "every officer and man repaired to the quarter-deck, when the two vessels were coming in contact, and eagerly pressed me to permit them to board the enemy; but this I would not permit, as it was evident, from the commencement of the action, that our fire was greatly superior, both in quickness and effect. The enemy's bowsprit came between our main and mizzen rigging, on our starboard side, affording him an opportunity to board us, if such was his design; but no attempt was made. There was a considerable swell on; and, as the sea lifted us ahead, the enemy's bowsprit carried away our mizzen-shrouds, stern davits, and spanker-boom, and he hung upon our larboard quarter. At this moment an officer called out that they had surrendered. I directed the marines and musketry men to cease firing; and while on the taffrail, asking if they had surrendered, I received a wound in the neck."

This wound, to which the captain so casually alludes, merits more than a passing reference. The fire of both ships had ceased when Biddle stepped upon the taffrail; but he had stood there only a moment, when two or three of the officers on the quarter-deck cried out that a man on the Englishman was aiming at him. Biddle did not hear the caution; but two American marines saw the enemy's movement, and, quickly bringing up their muskets, sent two balls crashing into the brain of the English marksman. He fell back dead, but had fired his piece before falling. The bullet struck Biddle in the neck, inflicting a painful, but not serious, wound. The blood flowed freely, however; and two sailors, rushing up, were about to carry their commander to the cock-pit, when he stopped them. Determined to do something to stanch the flowing blood, a sailor tore his shirt into bandages, with which he bound up his captain's wound. But let us return to Biddle's narrative.

"The enemy just then got clear of us; and his foremast and bowsprit being both gone, and perceiving us wearing to give him a fresh broadside, he again called out that he had surrendered. It was with difficulty that I could restrain my crew from firing into him again, as he had certainly fired into us after having surrendered. From the firing of the first gun, to the last time the enemy cried out that he had surrendered, was exactly twenty-two minutes by the watch. She proved to be His Britannic Majesty's brig "Penguin," mounting sixteen thirty-two-pound carronades, two long twelves, a twelve-pound carronade on the top-gallant forecastle, with a swivel on the capstan in the tops."

On boarding the prize, Biddle found that she had suffered too severely from the American fire to ever be of service again. He accordingly removed the prisoners and wounded to his own ship, and scuttled the "Penguin." Hardly was this operation accomplished, when two sail were sighted, bearing rapidly down upon the scene of action. Nothing daunted, the lads of the "Hornet" went to their guns, but were heartily glad to find that the two vessels approaching were the "Peacock" and "Tom Bowline." On their arrival, the latter vessel was converted into a cartel, and sent into Rio de Janeiro with prisoners; while the "Hornet" and "Peacock" cruised on toward the Indian Seas. On April 28 a heavy line-of-battle ship was sighted, and gave chase. In the flight the two sloops parted; the "Peacock" going off unmolested, while the "Hornet" fled, hotly pursued by the enemy. For a time it seemed as if the little craft must fall a prey to her huge pursuer, which had come up within a mile, and was firing great shot at the scudding sloop-of-war. Overboard went cables, guns, spars, shot, every thing that would lighten the "Hornet." The sails were wet down, and every thing that would draw was set. By consummate skill Biddle at last succeeded in evading his pursuer; and on the 9th of June the "Hornet" entered New York Bay, without a boat or anchor, and with but one gun left. But she brought the report that the last naval battle of the war had ended in victory for the Americans.

Foundered at Sea.

Meanwhile the "Peacock" was returning from a cruise not altogether void of interest. On parting with the "Hornet," she had struck off to the southward, and in the Straits of Sundra, between Borneo and Sumatra, had fallen in with the East India Company's cruiser "Nautilus," of fourteen guns. Between these two vessels an unfortunate and silly rencounter followed. The captain of the "Nautilus" knew of the declaration of peace; and, as the "Peacock" bore down upon his vessel, he shouted through a speaking-trumpet that peace had been declared. To this Capt. Warrington of the "Peacock" paid no attention, considering it a mere ruse on the part of the enemy, and responded by simply ordering the British to haul down their flag. This the Englishman very properly refused to do, and gallantly prepared for the unequal combat. Two broadsides were then interchanged, by which the "Nautilus" was severely cut up, and eight of her crew killed. She then struck her colors. Capt. Warrington, on sending a boat aboard his adversary, found that the declaration of peace was no ruse, but a truthful statement of facts. His conduct had been almost criminally headstrong; and, though he was profuse in formal apologies, the wrong done could never be righted. The "Peacock" then continued her homeward voyage.

When this vessel reached port, the last of the cruisers had returned; and the war was over in fact, as it had long been over technically. It has become the fashion to say that it was a useless war, that served no purpose, because the treaty by which it was ended contained no reference to the hateful doctrine of the right of search, which, more than any thing else, had brought on the conflict. Yet, though the conduct of the war had not led the British to formally renounce their claims in this respect, the exploits of the American navy had shown that the Yankee blue-jackets were prepared to, and would, forcibly resent any attempt on the part of the British to put those claims into practice. The British had entered upon the war gaily, never dreaming that the puny American navy would offer any serious resistance to Great Britain's domination upon the ocean. Yet now, looking back over the three years of the war, they saw an array of naval battles, in the majority of which the Americans had been victorious; and in all of which the brilliancy of American naval tactics, the skill of the officers, and the courage and discipline of the crews, put the younger combatants on a plane with the older and more famous naval service. Fenimore Cooper, in his "History of the Navy of the United States," thus sums up the results of this naval war: "The navy came out of this struggle with a vast increase of reputation. The brilliant style in which the ships had been carried into action, the steadiness and accuracy with which they had been handled, and the fatal accuracy of their fire on nearly every occasion had produced a new era in naval warfare. Most of the frigate actions had been as soon decided as circumstances would at all allow; and in no instance was it found necessary to keep up the fire of a sloop-of-war an hour, when singly engaged. Most of the combats of the latter, indeed, were decided in about half that time. The execution done in these short conflicts was often equal to that made by the largest vessels of Europe in general actions; and, in some of them, the slain and wounded comprised a very large proportion of their crews.... The ablest and bravest captains of the English fleet were ready to admit that a new power was about to appear upon the ocean, and that it was not improbable the battle for the mastery of the seas would have to be fought over again."


The rejoicing over the success of the "Constitution" had not died away in the United States when the English newspapers began to appear with elaborate articles, showing just why the battle had terminated as it did. "The 'Constitution' is the crack frigate of the American navy," cried the apologists; but to this the Americans retorted by quoting the British description of the ship as "a bunch of pine boards." The "Guerriere" was an "old worn-out frigate," responded the English, returning to the charge. "She was on her way to Halifax to refit, when attacked." Again they were refuted by their own statements; for, but a month before, the "Guerriere" was said to be "able to drive the insolent striped bunting from the seas." Throughout the discussion, the shrewdness of the Americans enabled them to meet the arguments of the British at every point; but not until the charge was made, that the "Constitution" was chiefly manned by British sailors, did the people become thoroughly in earnest in the war of words.

Such a charge as this was adding insult to injury. Was not the British navy full of Americans who were forced against their will to serve against their own country, while the few Englishmen on the "Constitution" were enlisted with their own consent? For Capt. Dacres  to say that his ship was weakened by allowing the ten Americans to go below, and then beaten by the efforts of the Englishmen on the "Constitution," was merely tantamount to saying that the victory hinged on the fact that Americans would not fight against their own country, while Englishmen did so willingly. But for Great Britain to exclaim against the American navy because it harbored a few Englishmen, was the rankest hypocrisy. So said the American journalists of the day; and, in support of their statement, they printed long letters from American seamen impressed into and held in the British naval service. One writes that he was impressed into his British Majesty's ship "Peacock," in 1810, and after serving two years he heard of the declaration of war. After a consultation with two fellow-seamen, both Americans, all decided to refuse to serve longer, claiming to be prisoners of war. But the captain under whom they were enrolled looked upon the matter in a different light. He heard their claim, pronounced it a bit of "confounded insolence," and straightway ordered that they be put in irons. After some hours for meditation in "the brig," the three sailors were taken to the gangway, stripped naked, and tied up, while a sturdy boatswain's mate laid on a dozen and a half blows of the cat. Later, when the ship went into action with a United States vessel, the three sailors asked to be sent below, that they might not fight against their own countrymen; but the captain's sole response was to call up a midshipman, and order him to do his duty. This duty proved to consist in standing over the three malcontents with a loaded pistol, threatening to blow out the brains of the first who should flinch from his work.

Three sailors were impressed after the war had begun. Learning that the ship on which they found themselves was to cruise upon the American station, they with one accord refused to serve. The response to this was "five dozen lashes well laid on." Being still mutinous, they received four dozen lashes two days later, and after the lapse of two more days were flogged with two dozen more. But all the beating to which they were subjected could not compel them to serve against their country; and they were accordingly ironed and thrown into "the brig," where they lay for three months. When released from "the brig," they found the ship at London. Here they heard of the glorious victory of the "Constitution," and determined to celebrate it. By ripping up their clothing into strips, and sewing the strips together, a rude American flag was made; and with the most astonishing audacity the three sailors hung this emblem over a gun, and gave three cheers for the stars and stripes. This naturally brought them another flogging.

Flogging, however, could not always be resorted to in order to bring American sailors into subjection. It is estimated, that, when war was declared, there were five times as many American seamen in the British navy as were in the whole navy of the United States. To attempt to keep this immense body of disaffected seamen in order by the lash, would have been impracticable; and soon the custom arose of sending the more refractory tars into confinement at some English prison. Dartmoor prison was for a time the principal place of detention for pressed men; but, as it soon became crowded, it was given over to prisoners of war, and the hapless seamen were sent to languish in dismantled ships, known as "hulks." These hulks were generally old naval vessels, dismasted and stripped of all their fittings. Anchored midstream in tidal rivers, the rotting hulks tugged at their rusty chains, as the tide rose and fell, groaning in their bondage, and seeming as much imprisoned as the wretched sailors by whom they were tenanted. The captives lived in misery and squalor. Crowded together in stifling quarters between decks, they were the prey of vermin of all kinds. Their miserable diet, and lack of proper exercise, caused the scurvy in its most repulsive forms to break out among them. The only breath of fresh air they could obtain was when, in gangs, they were allowed to go on deck, and pace up and down under the watchful eyes of soldiery; then back to the crowded quarters below, to swelter in summer or freeze in winter. Such was their punishment for the crime of being loyal to their country.

Engagement Of The Frigates "United States" And "Macedonian".

Engagement Of The Frigates "United States" And "Macedonian," Christmas Day, 1812.
Copyright, 1892, by C. Klackner.

Careful estimates show that at this time there were at least twenty thousand American sailors in the British navy, each one of whom was liable at any moment to be ordered into this inhuman captivity. A British official document of 1812 reported that 2,548 American seamen had been imprisoned for refusing to serve against their country. Hundreds of these were sent to the living death in the hulks. Was it any wonder that, with such facts, before their eyes, Americans grew indignant at hearing that the victory of the "Constitution" had been won by the prowess of British seamen? But before many days had passed, a victory was recorded for the stars and stripes, wh