Page images

under that excellent officer, Major Appling, arose from their concealment, and after a smart fire of about 10 minutes, succeeded in capturing all the boats and their crews, without one having escaped. At about 5 P. M. buried, with the honors of war, Mr. Hoare (a British midshipman) killed in the action.

The enemy's loss in this affair, is 4 gun boats, one carrying 124 pounder, and one 68 lb. carronade; each of the others carrying two heavy guns; two cutters and 1 gig. I have the honor to be, &c.



Killed none-wounded 5.


Killed 14-wounded 28-prisoners 169.

LOSS OF THE ESSEX. Capt. Porter to the Secretary of the Navy. Essex Junior, at sea, July 3, 1814. [Extract.] SIR-I sailed from the Delaware, Oct. 27, 1812, and repaired to Port Praya, Noronho, and Cape Frio. On my passage from Port Praya to Noronho, I captured his B. M. packet Norton; after taking out 11,000 pounds sterling in specie, sent her for America. Off Cape Frio I captured a schooner with hides and tallow, and sent her into Porto Rico. I proceeded to St. Catherines to supply my ship with provisions. From St. Catherines I shaped my course for the Pacific, and arrived at Valparaiso March 14, 1813. Of the success we met with in our next cruise you have been informed in my letter of July 2, 1813. I received information that the Phoebe frigate, and Racoon and Cherub sloops of war, were in pursuit of me. My ship, after being near a year at sea, required some repairs to put her in a state to meet them; which I determined to do, and repaired, with my prizes, to the Island of Nooaheevab, or Madison Island, where I completely overhauled my ship, and took on board, from the prizes, provisions and stores for upwards of four months, and sailed for the coast of Chili, Dec. 12, 1813. Previous to sailing I secured the Seringapatam, Greenwich, and Sir A. Hammond, under the guns of a battery which I had erected for their protection; (after taking possession of this fine Island, for

the United States, and establishing the most friendly intercourse with its natives) I left them under the care of Lieut. Gamble and 21 men, with orders to repair to Valparaiso, after a certain period. Believing Com. Hillyer would be most likely to appear at Valparaiso first, I therefore determined to craise about that place. Agreeably to my expectations the Com, arrived at that place; but, contrary to my wishes, he brought with him the Cherub stoop of war, mounting 28 guas, and a complement of 180 men. The force of the Phoebe, the Commodore's flag ship, was 30 long 18 pounders, 16 32 lb. carronades, and 7 3 pounders in her tops, in all 53 guns, and a crew of 320 men; making a force of 81 guns and 500 men. The force of the Essex was 40 32 lb. carrosades and 6 long twelves, and her crew had been reduced by manning out her prizes to 255 men. They provisioned, and went off the port for the purpose of blockading ine, Foften endeavored to provoke a challenge, and bring the Pooebe alone to action with the Essex, but without success. There were no hopes of any advantages to my country from a longer stay in port; I therefore determined to put to sea the first opportunity The 28th of march, the day after this resolution was formed, the wind blew fresh from the south, when I parted my larboard cable and dragged directly out to sea. Not a moment was to be lost in getting sail on the ship. On rounding the point a heavy squall struck us, and carried away our main top-mast, precipitating four men into the sea, who drowned. Both ships now gave chase; seeing I could not recover my former anchorage in my disabled state, I ran close to a small bay, and anchored within pistol shot of the shore, under cover of iwo batteries off Valparaiso, which being neutral were bound to protect me ; at least till I had repaired damages. I had not succeeded in repairing or getting a spring on my cable when the enemy at 54 minutes past 3, P. M. inade his attack. The Phoebe placing herself us der my stern, and the Cherub on my starboard bow; but finding that situation a hot one, she bore up and run under my stern also, where both ships kept up a raking fire. I had got 3 long 12 pounders out of the stern poris, which were worked with so much bravery that in half an hour we so disabled both as to compel them to haul off to repair damages. My ship had received, many

injuries, and several had been killed and wounded, but all appeared determined to defend the ship to the last, and to die in preference to a shameful surrender. The enemy. soon repaired his damages, and made a fresh attack with; both ships on my starboard quarter, out of reach of my carronades, and where my stern guns could not be brought to bear he there kept up a galling fire which it was out of my power to return. The only rope not cut was the flying. gib halliards, and that being the only sail I could set, caused it to be hoisted, my cables to be cut, and run down on both ships, with an intention of laying the Phoebe on board.

[ocr errors]

The firing on both sides was now tremendous; 1 had let fall my fore-topsail and foresail, but the want of tacks and sheets rendered them useless, yet were we enabled for a short time to close with the enemy, although our decks were strewed with the dead, our cockpit filled with wounded, our ship had been several times on fire, and a perfect wreck, we were still encouraged to hope to save her, as the Cherub in her crippled state, had been compelled to haul off. The Phoebe, from our disabled state, was enabled to edge off, and choose her distance, for her long guns, and kept up such a tremendous fire, as to mow down ny brave companions by the dozen. I now gave up all hopes of closing with him, and determined to run on shore, land my men, and destroy the vessel. We had approached the shore within musket shot, when in an instant the wind shifted, and payed our head down on the Phoebe.My ship was now totally unmanageable; yet, as her head was toward the enemy, and he to the leeward of me, I still hoped to be able to board him. Finding the enemy was determined to avoid being boarded, and my ship alarmingly on fire, and the slaughter on board having become most horrible, I directed a hawser to be bent to the sheet. anchor, and the bow anchor to be cut, to bring her head round: this succeeded, and we again got our guns to bear; but the hawser soon gave way, and left us a perfect wreck. The flames were bursting up the hatchway, and no hopes were entertained of saving the ship, as a quantity of pow der had already exploded, and the fire had nearly reached the magazine, which served to increase the horrors of our situation. I therefore directed those who could swim, to

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

jump overboard, and gain the shore. Some reached itsome were taken by the enemy-and some perished. We who remained, turned our attention wholly to extinguishing the flames; when we had succeeded, went again to our guns, where the firing was kept up for some minutes. Almost every gun having been dismounted, and the impossibility of making further attempts to capture our antagonists, and the entreaties of the remainder of my brave crew, to surrender to save the wounded, I sent for the officers of divisions to consult them, but what was my surprise, to find only acting Lieut. M'Knight remaining. I was informed that the cockpit, steerage, wardroom, and birth-deck would contain no more wounded; and that the ship was filling with water yery fast. The enemy were enabled from the smoothness of the water, to take aim at us as a target-in fine, I saw no hopes of saving my vessel, or making my escape, and at 20 minutes past 6 P. M. gave the painful order to strike the colors. Seventy-five men, including officers, were all that remained of my crew when the colors were struck, capable of doing duty. I directed an opposite gun fired to shew we intended no further resistance; but they did not desist; a number of men were killed by my side and in other parts of the ship. I now believed he intended to show us no quarter, and thought it would be as well to die with my flag flying as struck, and was on the point of again hoisting it, when 10 minutes after hauling the colors down, he ceased firing.

I must, in justification of myself and crew observe, that with our six twelve pounders only, we fought this action, our carronades being almost useless.

Our loss is 58 killed-65 wounded-and 31 missing→→→→ total 154. I have the honor to be, &c.


Col. Mitchell to Gen. Brown.

H. Q. Oswego, May 8, 1814. [Extract] SIR-I informed you of my arrival at fort Oswego on the 30th ult. This post being but occasionally and not recently occupied by regular troops, was in a bad state of defence. Of cannon we had but five old guns, three of which had lost their trunnions. What could be done in the way of repair was effected. On the 5th inst

the British naval force consisting of four large ships, three brigs and a number of gun and other boats were descried at reveille beating about seven miles from the fort. Infor mation was immediately given to Capt. Woolsey of the navy, (who was at Oswego village) and to the neighboring militia. It being doubtful on which side of the river the enemy would attempt to land, and my force (290 effectives) being too small to bear division, I ordered the tents in store to be pitched on the village side, while I occupied the other with my whole force. It is probable that this artifice had its effeet, and determined the enemy to attack where, from appearances, they expected the least opposition. About 1 o'clock the fleet approached. Fifteen boats, large and crowded with troops, at a given signal, moved slowly to the shore. These were preceded by gunboats sent to rake the woods and cover the landing, while the larger vessels opened a fire upon the fort. Capt. Boyle and Lieut. Legate, (so soon as the debarking boats got within range of our shot) opened upon them a very successful fire from the shore battery, and compelled them twice to retire. They at length returned to the ships and the whole stood off from the shore for better anchorage. One of the enemy's boats which had been deserted, was taken up by us, and some others by the militia. The first mentioned was sixty feet long, carried thirty-six oars and three sails, and could accommodate 150 men. She had received a ball through her bow, and was nearly filled with water.

At day break on the 6th the fleet appeared bearing up under easy sail. They took a position directly against the fort and batteries, and for three hours kept up a heavy fire of grape, &c. Finding that the enemy had effected a landing, I withdrew my small disposable force into the rear of the fort, and with two companies met their advancing columns, while the other companies engaged the flanks of the enemy. Lieut. Pierce of the navy and some seamen, joined in the attack and fought with their characteristic bravery. We maintained our ground about thirty minutes, and as long as consisted with my further duty of defending the public stores deposited at the falls, which no doubt formed the principal object of the expedition on the part of the enemy. Nor was this movement made precipi

« PreviousContinue »