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ed the action by broadsides, both ships returning our fire with the greatest spirit for about 15 minutes, then the fire of the enemy beginning to slacken, and the great column of smoke collected under our lee, induced us to cease our fire to ascertain their positions and conditions. In about three minutes the smoke clearing away, we found ourselves abreast of the headmost ship, the sternmost ship luffing up for our larboard quarter; we poured a broadside into the head most ship, and then braced aback our main and mizen topsails, and backed astern under cover of the smoke, abreast the sternmost ship, when the action was continued with spirit and considerable effect, until 35 minutes past 6, when the enemy's fire again slackened, and we discovered the headmost bearing up; filled our topsails, shot ahead, and gave her two stern rakes. We then discovered the sternmost ship wearing also; wore ship immediately after her, and gave her a stern rake, she luffing to on our starboard bow, and giving us her larboard broadside. We ranged upon her larboard quarter, within hail, and was about to give her our starboard broadside, when she struck her colours, fired a lee gun and yielded. At 50 minutes past 6, took possession of his Britannic majesty's ship Cyane, captain Gordon Falcon, mounting 34 guns. At 8 P. M. filled away after her consort, which was still in sight to leeward. At half past 8, found her standing towards us, with her starboard tacks close hauled, with topgallant sails set and colours flying. At 50 minutes past 8, ranged close alongside to windward of her, on opposite tacks, and exchanged broadsides; wore immediately under her stern and raked her with a broadside. She then crowded all sail and endeavoured to escape by running; hauled on board our tacks, set spanker and flying jib in chase. At half past 9, commenced firing on her from our starboard bow chaser; gave her several shot, which cut her spars and rigging considerably. At 10 P. M. finding they could not escape, fired a gun, struck her colours, and yielded. We immediately took possession of his Britannic majesty's ship Levant, hon. captain George Douglass, mounting 21 guns. At 1 A. M. the damages of our rigging were repaired, sails shifted, and the ship in fighting condition.
CAPTAIN BIDDLE'S ESCAPE FROM A 74.
U. S. SHIP HORNET, ST. SALVADORE, June 10th, 1815.
Thave the honour to report, that the Peacock and this ship, having continued off Christian D'Acunha, the number of days directed by you, in your letter of instructions, proceeded in company to the eastward on the 12th of April, bound to the second place of rendezvous. Nothing of any importance occurred to us until the 27th of April, when at 7 A. M. in latitude 38 30 south and longitude 33 east, we made a strange sail to the south east to
which we gave chase. The wind was from the north east by north and light throughout the day, and by sun-down we had neared the chase considerably. It was calm during the night, and at day-light on the 28th he was still in sight. A breeze springing up from the north west, we crouded sail with steering sails on both sides; the chase standing to the northward upon a wind. At 2 45 P. M. the Peacock was about six miles ahead of this ship; and observing that she appeared to be suspicious of the chase, I took in starboard steering sails, and hauled up for the Peacock. I was still, however, of opinion that the chase was an Indiaman, though indeed the atmosphere was quite smoky and indistinct, and I concluded, as she was very large, that captain Warrington was waiting for me to join him, that we might together go along side of her. At 3 22 P. M. the Peacock made the signal that the chase was a ship of the line and an enemy. I immediately took in all steering sails, and hauled upon a wind; the enemy then upon our lee quarter, distant about eight miles. By sun-down I had perceived the enemy sailed remarkably fast, and was very weatherly. At 9 P. M. as the enemy was gaining upon us, and as there was every appearance that he would be enabled to keep sight of us during the night, I considered it necessary to lighten this ship. I therefore threw overboard 12 tons of kentledge, part of our shot, some of our heavy spars, cut away the sheet anchor and cable, and started the wedges of the masts. At 2 A. M. the enemy being rather before our lee-beam, I tacked to the westward; the enemy also tacked and continued in chase of us. At day-light, on the 29th, he was within gun shot upon our lee quarter. At 7 A. M. having hoisted English colours, and a rear admiral's flag, he commenced firing from his bow guns. As his shot went over us, I cut away the remaining anchor and cable, threw overboard the launch, six of our guns, more of our shot, and every heavy article that was at hand; the enemy fired about thirty shot, not one of which took effect, though most of them passed over us. While he was firing, I had the satisfaction to perceive that we slowly dropt him, and at 9 A. M. he ceased his fire.
At 11 A. M. the enemy was again coming up with us. I now therefore threw overboard all our remaining guns but one long gun, nearly all our shot, all our spare spars, cut away the topgallant forecastle, and cleared every thing off deck, as well as from below, to lighten us as much as possible. At noon the enemy again commenced firing. He fired many shot, only three of which came on board; two striking the hull and one passing through the jib. It is, however, extraordinary, that every shot did not take effect, for the enemy, the second time he commenced firing, was certainly within three quarters of a anile of this ship, and the sea quite smooth.
I perceived from his sails that the effect of his fire was to deaden his wind, and at 2 P. M. he again ceased firing. At 2 30 P. M. the wind which had previously, and greatly to our disadvantage, backed to the south east, hauled to the westward, and freshed up.
At sun-down the enemy was about four miles astern. The wind was fresh, and we went at the rate of nine knots throughout the night. We saw the enemy at intervals through the squalls during the night, and at day-light on the 30th he was about 12 miles astern, still in chase of us. At 9 30 A. M. he took in steering sails, reefed his top-sails and hauled to the eastward, and at 11 A. M. he was entirely out of sight. During the chase the enemy appeared to be very crank, and I therefore conclude he must have lightened while in chase of us. I did not at any time fire our stern chasers, because it was manifest the enemy injured his sailing by his firing.
As we had now no anchor, no cable, no boat, and but one gun, there was of course an absolute necessity for relinquishing our intended cruize; and as in our then condition, it would have been extremely hazardous on account of the enemy's cruizers, to approach our own coast, I considered it most advantageous to proceed for this port. I arrived here yesterday, and on my arrival received information of the peace between the United States and Great Britain. Permit me to state that it was with the most painful reluctance, and upon the fullest conviction that it was indispensable in order to prevent a greater misfortune, that I could bring my mind to consent to part with my guns; and I beg leave to request, that you will be pleased to move the honourable the Secretary of the Navy, to call a court of inquiry to investigate the loss of the armament of this ship. It will be very satisfactory to me to have such an investigation.
I have the honour to be, &c,
Extract from the journal of one of the officers of the Hornet. "During this tedious and anxious chace, the wind was variable, so as to oblige us to make a perfect circle round the enemy. Between 2 and 3 o'clock yesterday, not a person on board had the most distant idea that there was a possibility of escape. We all packed up our things, and waited until the enemy's shot would compel us to heave to and surrender, which appeared certain. Never has there been so evident an interposition of the goodness of a Divine Father; my heart with gratitude acknowledges his supreme power and goodness. On the morning of the 28th it was very calm, and nothing but murmurs were heard throughout the ship, as it was feared we should lose our anticipated prize; many plans had been formed by us for the disposal of our plunder. The seamen declared they would have the birth deck carpeted with East India silk, supposing her an Indiaman from India; while the officers, under the impression that she was from England, were making arrangements how we should dispose of the money, porter, cheese, &c. &c. Nothing perplexed us more than the idea that
we should not be able to take out all the good things, before we should be obliged to destroy her We were regretting our ship did not sail faster, as the Peacock would certainly capture her first, and would take out many of the best and most valuable articles before we should get up. (This very circumstance of our not sailing as fast as the Peacock, saved us in the first instance from inevitable capture; for when captain Warrington made the signal for the sail to be an enemy of superior force, we were four leagues to windward.) We all calculated our fortunes were made, but alas! "we caught a Tartar."
"During the latter part of the chace, when the shot and shells were whistling about our ears, it was an interesting sight to be hold the varied countenances of our crew. They had kept the deck during all the preceding night, employed continually in lighting the ship, were excessively fatigued, and under momentary expectation of falling into the hands of a barbarous and enraged enemy. The shot that fell on the main deck, struck immediately over the head of one of our gallant fellows, who had been wounded in our glorious action with the Penguin, where he was lying in his cot very ill with his wounds; the shot was near coming through the deck, and it threw innumerable splinters all around this poor fellow, and struck down a small paper American ensign, which he had hoisted over his bed. Destruction apparently stared us in the face, if we did not soon surrender, yet no officer, no man, in the ship showed any disposition to let the enemy have the poor little Hornet. Many of our men had been impressed and imprisoned for years in their horrible service, and hated them and their nation horror with the most deadly animosity; while the rest of the crew, struck by the relation of the sufferings of their ship-mates, who had been in the power of the English, and now equally flushed with rage, joined heartily in execrating the present authors of our misfortune.
"Captain Biddle mustered the crew and told them he was pleased with their conduct during the chase, and hoped still to perceive that propriety of conduct which had always marked their character, and that of the American tar generally, that we might soon expect to be captured, &c. Not a dry eye was to be seen at the mention of capture. The rugged hearts of the sailors, like ice before the sun, warmed by the divine power of sympathy, wept in unison with their brave commander. About 2 o'clock, the wind which had crossed us, and put to the test all our nautical skill to steer clear of the enemy, now veered in our favour and we left him. This was truly a glorious victory over the horrors of banishment and the terrors of a British floating dungeon. Quick as thought every face was changed from the gloom of despair to the highest smile of delight, and we began once more to breathe the sweets of liberty. The bitter sighs of regret were now changed, and I put forth my expression of everlasting gratitude to him, the supreme
Author of our being, who had thus signally delivered us from the power of a cruel and vindictive enemy."
NEW YORK, August 24th, 1815.
Conceiving it my duty to make known the treatment exhibited by British officers and men to those who are so unfortunate as to fall in their power, I am induced to acquaint you with the following circumstances.
After the surrender of the Syren to the Medway, the officers and crew of the former were removed to the latter, the crew not being allowed to take their clothing, &c. with them, so that the prize crew had a fair opportunity of plundering such articles as they thought proper, which opportunity they took care to profit by, as many of our men were pillaged of every article they possessed, excepting what they had on at the time; and the officers in like manner were plundered on board the Medway; the midshipmen, some of them, were completely stripped, others lost their watches, &c.
For my own part, I came off with the loss of about half my clothing, and thought myself well off when compared with the losses of my shipmates. The morning after our capture we were mustered on the quarter deck to undergo a search; the men were there stript to the skin, and their clothing not returned, so that many of them were left without any thing more than a shirt and trowsers; the next day Mr. Barton (the first lieutenant of the Medway) distributed the clothing he had taken from our men to his quarter masters and quarter gunners, in my presence. After being on board the Medway five weeks, we were landed at Simon's town, twenty-five miles to the eastward of the Cape of Good Hope, myself and brother officers paroled, and the men marched to Cape town under an escort of dragoons, being obliged to ford a lake on the march, where the boys were compelled to go over on the backs of the tall men; this march of twenty-five miles was performed in one day, and without shoes or food, the latter article they were kept without four and twenty hours; their shoes were stolen by the crew of the Medway while they were asleep. After remaining in this situation nearly eight months, without bed or bedding (they were not even furnished with straw, and their bammocks were taken on the plea of their being public property) we were all embarked in different men of war and Indiamen, for England; myself, with about sixty officers and men in the Cumberland 74, captain Baker: we were all put in the lower gun-deck without distinction, among their own crew, and fed on prisoners' allowance; and on my remonstrating with the captain for receiv ing such treatment, he ordered me off the quarter deck, with a threat at the same time to put me in irons. We remained in this situation eighteen days, after which, lieutenants German, Gordon,