« PreviousContinue »
THE AMERICAN PRIVATEERS.
PREPARATION FOR WAR - DISPATCH PILOT BOAT TO GOTTENBURG -- COMMENCE WITH
SMALL PRIVATEERS SEVERAL PRIVATEERS SAIL FROM NEW YORK PRIVATEERS FITTING OUT FROM THE EASTERN STATES — TABLE OF PRIVATEERS BELONGING TO NEW YORK —AN EMBARGO BY THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT TABLE OF PRIVATEERS BELONGING TO BALTIMORE — PRIVATEERS FROM RHODE ISLAND AND SOUTII CAROLINA CONSTITUTION, CAPTAIN HULL, OFF NEW YORK - - COXSTITUTION CIIASED BY A BRITISH FLEET CHASE CONTINUED FOR THREE DAYS --THREE SHIPS SAIL FROM LISBON, VIZ., AMERICA, ELIZA GRACIE, AXD OROXOKO ---- TWO OF THEM CAPTURED -CAPTAIN HULL ARRIVES AT BOSTON HIS KIND RECEPTION AT THAT PLACE — REFITS FOR ANOTHER CRUISE SAILS FROM BOSTON ON THE 2ND OF AUGUST CRUISE OFF THE COAST OF NOVA SCOTIA - JOURXAL OF HIS CRUISE -- ANXIETY OF THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE FATE OF THE CONSTITUTION - CAPTAIN HULL MEETS WITH THE GUERRIERE ON THE 19TH OF AUGUST DEFEAT OF THE GUERRIERE REMARKS ON THE BATTLE BETWEEN THE TWO SHIPS -- CAPTAIN HUIL RETURNS TO
BOSTON - HIS RECEPTION AT THAT PLACE.
ALTHOUGH the clouds of war had, for a long tinte, been gathering in the political horizon, and everything looked dark and threatening, still there was a secret feeling in the bosom of a large portion of the nation that they would be dispelled, and that something would eventually transpire to divert the wide-spread calamity and distress that war, and its evil attendants, would inevitably produce. But, alas! this hope was delusive, and the consequence was, when it did actually arrive, it fo:ind the country quite unprepared to meet the conflict. or to carry it on with energy and success for a considerable tiine. We had everything to do, and but a
short time to perform the work. The general government called upon the States for men and money, and requested them to organize their militia, and prepare to protect their own States, and, if necessary, to march at a moment's warning to any point where their services might be required, particularly along the Atlantic seaboard. The Merchants were, of course, anxious to get home their ships and vessels from every quarter of the globe before they should become a prey to the enemy. Very soon, a small dispatch pilot boat was sent out in haste to Gottenburg, with news of the war, and with directions to all our commercial marine in the harbors of Sweden, Denmark, Prussia, and Russia, to remain in * port until the war should cease. This enterprise fortunately succeeded, so that the greatest part of our ships and vessels in the north of Europe were saved from capture. When the war was declared, we had but a few sharp, fast sailing clipper vessels suited for privateers and letters of marque. There were, however, a few in the most of our Atlantic ports, namely, at Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Paltimore, and these were brigs and schooners which had been employed in a sort of forced running trade to France, and to the islands in the West Indies : for even before the war, such vessels were preferred, on account of their speed, to avoid the British cruisers, for in numberless instances it happened, that when our merchant vessels had made a distant voyage, and were returning home with the fruits of their enterprising industry, they were often detained, and sometimes captured and sent into British ports for adjudication, and if permitted to escape condemnation, their voyages were broken up, and ruined by the exorbitant expenses in what were falsely called their courts of justice. Fortunately, we still had several of these vessels, which
together with the pilot boats belonging to our principal ports, very soon enabled our merchants to be on the alert, and ready to assail our adversary. Several of these small pilot boats were forthwith dispatched to sea in search of British merchantmen. One large centre gun, commonly called Long Tom, with a crew of fifty or sixty men, and a suitable number of muskets, sabres, and boarding pikes, etc., was quite enough to capture almost any British merchantman, at this stage of the war. Of this character were the pilot boats Teazer. Captain Dobson ; Black Joke, Captain Brown ; Jack's Favourite, Captain Johnson, and several other privateers, which were fitted out of the port of New York. These small vessels were only suitable to make short cruises about the Gulf of Florida, and among the islands in the West Indies. The same course was pursued by Boston, Salem, and other eastern ports. At the first breaking out of the war, these privateers from the eastern ports were dispatched to cruise along the coast of Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, and among the British Windward Islands in the Caribbean Sea. On the 1st of July, I find the following notice in the newspapers of that day: “The people in the eastern States are laboring almost night and day to fit out privateers. Two have already sailed from Salem, and ten others are getting ready for sea. This looks well, and does credit to our eastern friends." A Baltimore newspaper, dated July the 4th, 1812, remarks that "several small, swift privateers, will sail from the United States in a few days. Some have already been sent to sea, and many others of a larger class, better fitted and better equipped, will soon follow.”
About the middle of October, say four months after the declaration of war, I find the following list of privateers belonging to the port of New York alone.
Dobson Paul Jones
Campan Benjamin Franklin Ingersol Black Joke
Ferris Orders in Council Howard Saratoga
Riker United We Stand
Storey Divided We Fall Cropsey Governor Tompkins Skinner Retaliation
Miller General Armstrong
Barnard Jack's Favorite Johnson Yorktown
At this period there was quite a number of large brigs anci schooners, on the pilot-boat construction, being built at New York, and also at different ports in Connecticut.
On the 3d of April, 1812, seventy-five days previous to the declaration of war, the American Government wisely laid an embargo on all American ships and vessels in our own ports, which judicious law doubtless prevented a large amount of property from falling into the hands of our enemies.
I will now proceed to quote from a Baltimore paper of the same date, the number of privateers and letters of marque belonging to that place. The list is as follows:
Notwithstanding the numerous British ships of war on our coast and off the entrance of our harbors, a great