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1814.

1814.

Gamble of the marines, with twenty- mounted twenty-eight guns. The Esone men, and with orders to proceed sex at this time carried forty thirtyto Valparaiso after a certain period. two-pound carronades, and six long

After cruising on the coast of Chili twelves; her consort mounted twenty without success, Porter reached Valpa- guns. The Essex, for several weeks raiso, on the 12th of January, and was attempted, by maneuvring, to bring not without hope of signalizing his the Phæbe into action without the career in the Pacific with some bril- Cherub; but the British captain, actliant achievement in a contest with an ing under orders most probably, was English ship, which, he understood, had too wary to risk a conflict, in been sent in quest of him. While at which he must have been beatanchor in the port of Valparaiso, Com- en, and he (for his part) endeavored,

modore Hillyar, in the British by all means he could devise, to lure

frigate Phæbe, arrived, having the Essex into an engagement with long been searching in vain for the both his vessels.

One dark night, Essex, and almost despairing of ever Porter, having remarked that the meeting with her. Contrary to the ex Cherub occupied the same place for pectations of Porter, however, Hillyar, several nights before, prepared and beside his own frigate, was accompanied sent out a boat expedition to capture by the Cherub, sloop of war, strongly her; but it failed; for on reaching the armed and manned. These ships, hav- spot, the Cherub was not there, and ing been sent out expressly to seek for the sea all round was illuminated with the Essex, were in prime order and blue lights, so that, without a stroke equipment, with picked crews, and car given or received, the boats returned ried flags bearing the motto, “God and to their ship. our country, British sailors' rights; trai At length, on the 28th of March, tors offend them." Porter, in reply, hoping, by the superior sailing qualihoisted at his mizzen, “God, our coun ties of his ship, to escape from their try, and liberty; tyrants offend them.” tedious blockade, Porter endeavored On entering the harbor, the Phæbe fell to run out of the harbor, between the foul of the Essex in such wise, that she British vessels and the shore. Unforlay at the mercy of Porter, who declined tunately, in doubling the headland taking advantage of the occurrence, al- which closes it in, he lost his maintopthough Mr. Cooper thinks that he would mast, together with several of his men, have been justified in so doing. While who fell into the sea and were drowned. in Valparaiso, a neutral port, the crews There was no alternative now but to reand officers frequently interchanged gain the port, or to fight both the enccivilities with their respective enemies. my's ships, under the additional disad

The Phæbe mounted thirty long vantage of being crippled. Finding it eighteens, sixteen thirty-two-pound car- impossible to get back to the commun ronades, with one howitzer, and six anchorage, Porter ran close into a small threes in her tops; and the Cherub | bay about three quarters of a mile to

Ca. XIII.]

THE LOSS OF THE ESSEX.

269

leeward of the battery, on the east of to flinch from the contest, unequal and the harbor, and let go his anchor within discouraging as it was. pistol shot of the shore. Supposing Having speedily repaired damages, that the British would, as formerly, the action was renewed; both the respect the neutrality of the place, he Phæbe and the Cherub now availing considered himself secure, and thought themselves of their long guns, and fironly of repairing the damages he had ing with great and destructive precisustained. The menacing approach of sion; while scarcely one of Porter's the enemy's ships, however, displaying guns could be brought to bear upon their motto flags and having their jacks them, or thrown so far as the position at all their masts' heads, soon showed they had taken; and they cut down Porter the real danger of his situation. the people of the Essex with their With all possible dispatch, he got his plunging fire, and disabled her guns, ship ready for action, and endeavored almost at their pleasure. The carnage to get a spring on his cable, but had was so frightful, that one gun of the not succeeded, when, a few minutes be- American ship saw nearly three entire fore four, P. M., the attack was begun. crews fall round it, in the course of the

At first, the Phoebe placed herself action. Finding it impossible to connearly astern, and the Cherub lay off tend successfully against his antagonPorter's starboard bow; but the latter, ists, Porter now attempted to run his finding herself exposed to a hot fire, vessel ashore, and set her on fire; but soon changed her position, and with a sudden shift of the wind prevented her consort kept up a raking fire under it, and not only so, but brought her the Essex's stern. The American frig- round so

round so as to expose her to a raking ate, being unable to bring her broad- fire, worse than she had experienced side to bear on the enemy, was obliged before. Twice she took fire; part of to rely for defence against this tremen- her powder exploded; she was hulled dous attack, on three long twelve- at almost every shot; until at last, pounders, which were run out of the seventy-five men, officers included, were stern ports. These were worked with all that remained for duty; and the such bravery and skill, and so much colors were hauled down. injury to the enemy, as in half an hour The Essex lost fifty-eight men killed, to compel them to haul off and repair. and sixty-six wounded; or, including It was evident that Commodore Hill the drowned and the missing, a hunyar meant to risk nothing from the dred and fifty-two were lost out of two daring courage of our countrymen; all hundred and fifty-five. The British

his maneuvres were deliberate loss was only five killed, and ten wound

and wary; his antagonist was ed, but their ships were greatly cut up in his power, and his only concern was considering the circumstances in which to succeed with as little loss to himself they were placed. The fight lasted for as possible. The Essex, though having two hours and a half; was witnessed suffered greatly, showed no disposition with deep interest by great crowds on

1814.

1814.

the shore; and for desperate valor and in specie was found in the Epervier, fearful carnage was unequalled since the and some days later, notwithstanding days of the famous Paul Jones. she was chased by two frigates, the prize

The Essex Junior was converted into was brought in safety into Savannah. a cartel, and Porter and his surviving The Wasp, eighteen, Captain Blakely, companions were sent home on parole. was one of the new sloops of war just Detained off New York by a British spoken of. On the 1st of May, she vessel, and declared a prisoner of war, sailed from Portsmouth, New HampPorter determined to effect his escape, shire, and running across the Atlantic, and though thirty miles from land, suc- appeared off the English Channel, and ceeded in doing so in a whale boat, began to re-enact the part played there which landed him on Long Island. He by the Argus (p. 197). Very early on was received in New York and else- the 28th of June, she fell in with the where with great enthusiasm, as one British sloop, Reindeer, eighteen also, who had brought honor to the Ameri- and having in addition to her broadside can navy.

of nine guns, only a shifting carronade. At home, the newly built sloops of The British captain, nothing loth for war began to go to sea as soon as they the fight, gave chase, and the American,

were ready. On the 20th of equally ready, hove to, for the purpose

April, the Frolic, eighteen, com of meeting him. Soon after three, P. M., manded by Captain Bainbridge, soon the Reindeer began to fire, and it was after she had got out of port, was chased nearly a quarter of an hour before the by the British frigate Orpheus, of thir- Wasp could bring any guns to bear; ty-six guns; and having thrown most but when she did, the spirit and activity of her guns overboard to lighten her- of officers and men speedily brought self, after only two shots had been fired, the conflict to an issue. Twice or thrice was captured.

the British crew attempted to board The sloop of war Peacock, eighteen, their antagonist, and were repulsed; and Captain Warrington, sailed from New at last the Reindeer, cut to pieces by York, in March, and proceeded south- the heavy metal and terrible precision wardly, cruising along the Florida shore. of the Wasp's fire, with her On the 29th of April, three sail were one entire wreck, was carried by the discovered to windward, one of which | American boarders. There were twenproved to be the British brig Epervier, ty-five killed, and forty-two wounded, eighteen, Captain Wales. An engage- ten of them dangerously, on board the ment ensued soon afterwards, and re- Reindeer; the Wasp lost only five sulted, after forty-two minutes fight, in killed, and twenty-two wounded. It is the capture of the Epervier. The Brit- very properly pointed out by Mr. ish vessel suffered very greatly, and lost Cooper, that the advantage in nearly twenty-two men in killed and wounded. every particular rested with the Wasp; On board the Peacock, only two persons and the bravery of Captain Manners were wounded. The sum of $118,000 | and crew of the Reindeer, elicited well

upper works

CA. XIII.)

DECATUR IN THE PRESIDENT.

271

1814.

deserved commendation. The Reindeer took the British brig Atalanta, which was burned, and Captain Blakely went was put in charge of Mr. Geisenger, into L'Orient on the 8th of July. one of the midshipmen, and sent to

Leaving this port at the close of America. The Wasp, at the time, was August, Captain Blakely captured two off the Madeiras, and continued her

merchantmen, and on the 1st of cruise; but, we are sorry to say, this is

September, fell in with a fleet the last certain information that was of ten sail, under convoy of the Ar- had respecting this favorite vessel and mada, seventy-four, and a bomb-ship. her brave commander. She must have He stood for them, and succeeded in perished suddenly and entirely, in some cutting out of the squadron a brig laden one of those terrible gales to which veswith brass and iron cannon, and military sels are exposed in the southern seas.* stores, from Gibraltar. After taking The squadron under Commodore Deout the prisoners and setting her on fire, catur, in the harbor of New London, he endeavored to cut out another, but found it impossible to escape from the was chased off by the seventy-four. strict blockade maintained by the enThe same evening, Captain Blakely emy (p. 239). The United States and descried two vessels, one on his star- Macedonian were accordingly removed board and one on his larboard bow, and up the Thames above New London, and hauled for that which was farthest to in the month of April were dismantled. windward. At seven, P. M., she was Decatur, and his officers and discovered to be a brig of war, making crew, soon after were transsignals with flags which could not be ferred to the President, then at New distinguished, owing to the darkness, York, and the gallant commodore was and at twenty-nine minutes past nine, actively engaged in taking measures to she was under the lee bow of the Wasp. repel an expected attack

upon

that imAn action soon after commenced, which portant commercial city. The enemy lasted until ten o'clock, when Captain not having made any attempt upon Blakely, finding his antagonist to have New York, but devoted their energies ceased firing, paused, and asked if he to the invasion of Washington, and to had surrendered. No answer being re- plans of conquest in the south, Decatur turned, he commenced firing again; and was at liberty to carry out the project the enemy returned broadside for broad which had been formed of a cruise in side for twelve minutes. Perceiving the East Indies, where, it was thought, that his last two broadsides were not British trade and commerce offered a returned, he hailed again, and was in- fair field for enterprise and valor. The formed that she was sinking, and that frigate President, the sloops of war, Peaher colors were struck. She proved to cock and Hornet, and two store ships, be, as was subsequently learned, the were formed into a squadron, and DeAvon, eighteen, Captain Arbuthnot, and sank almost immediately afterwards.

On the 21st of September, the Wasp * See Cooper's “Naval History,” vol. ii., pp. 129, 30.

1814.

catur only waited for an opportunity and a close running fight ensued; the to get to sea.

vessels sailing under easy way, within New York being closely blockaded, half-musket-shot distance. Commodore Decatur determined to get out of the Decatur suffered so severely, especially harbor in his flag ship alone, at the ear in his rigging, under their fire, that he liest moment.* Accordingly, having took the gallant resolution of laying appointed a place of rendezvous for the himself alongside the Endymion, and, other vessels, Decatur, on the 14th of having scuttled the President, of carryJanuary, 1815, in a severe snow storm, | ing the enemy, by boarding. But the and a strong gale blowing off shore, British captain avoided that risk, with weighed anchor and stood down the commendable prudence, and yawing bay. Through a mistake of the pilot, his ship, preserved the advantage she in the darkness the President struck on had gained by a fire at half gunshot the bar, where she remained beating range. heavily for an hour and a half. The The fight continued for two hours, wind rendering it impossible to return, both vessels being skilfully handled, she was forced over the bar, and obliged when the Endymion, reduced almost to to proceed, notwithstanding the injuries a wreck, fell astern, and Decatur had she had received. At early dawn on some slight hope of being able to effect the 15th, she was espied by the block- his escape in the night, from the other ading squadron, and the Majestic, fifty- ships of the enemy. Resuning the six, the Endymion, forty, and the Po- course he had adopted in order to avoid mona, thirty-eight, gave chase. The the squadron, Decatur wished for the Tenedos, thirty-eight, joined in the pur- darkness to aid him in getting away; suit somewhat later. Decatur lightened | but he was disappointed. The clouds his vessel as well as he could, and for blew over, and a bright starlight refifty miles, along the coast of Long vealed his ship to the approaching ships. Island, kept ahead of his pursuers.

“We continued this course," says DeLate in the afternoon, the Endymion, catur, in his official letter, under date which had gained rapidly on the Pres- of the 18th of January, "until eleven ident, opened a fire with her bow-chas- o'clock, when two fresh ships of the eners,

which was vigorously returned by emy (the Pomona and Tenedos) had Decatur's ship from her stern guns. come up. The Pomona had opened her Meanwhile, the Majestic and Pomona fire on the larboard bow, within musfell behind out of gunshot. At length ket shot; the other, about two cables

the Endymion gained so much length astern, taking a raking position

on the President, as to permit on our quarter; and the rest, with the her first broadside guns to begin to bear, exception of the Endymion, within gun

shot. Thus situated, with about one

fifth of my crew killed and wounded, * For a more full account of the sailing and loss of the President, see Mackenzie's "Life of Stephen Deca my ship crippled, and a more than fourtur, ' pp. 207-33.

fold force opposed to me, without a

1815.

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