C.H.J.Snider, Under the Red Jack: privateers of the Maritime Provinces of Canada in the War of 1812 (London: Martin Hopkinson & Co. Ltd, 1928), 225-258
1. Sloop GENERAL
SMYTH of St.
John, N.B. A sloop, with one mast, like the
sloop-yachts of to-day, and no larger than
many of these. She was named for Major Gen.
George Stracey Smyth, Lieutenant Governor
or President of the Province of New Brunswick.
But the General Smyth was among the first provincial privateers at sea in 1812; perhaps the first. In ten weeks she made four prizes which brought £7,119 in prize money. Then she vanishes—possibly upon the chilling discovery that her well-meant activities were unauthorized by the Admiralty. Whitehall was very slow to act in 1812.
Her first prize was the brig Penelope, of St. John's, Newfoundland, which she recaptured from the American privateer Orlando, August 13th, 1812. The brig Reward of Salem, another prize, was well named. She was a huge merchantman for her time, 590 tons, ten times the General Smyth's bulk, and she sold for £5,232, which more than paid all costs connected with the privateer in her apparently short life.
Three commanders are named—Joseph Rideout, George Raymond, and a Capt. Borlas—and two prize-masters: Edward Freeman, sent in with the Fortune, August 28th, and Wm. Mitchell, with the Lydia, October 24th.
A Capt. Rideout, of St. John, was master
of the New Brunswick schooner Young
William, which, at the end of a trying
passage from the Danish West Indies, in March,
1813, rescued the mate, the owner, and four
seamen from the sinking Spanish schooner Safarina. This
vessel had been plundered by a French picaroon
in November, and drifted helplessly all winter,
until the last rat in the hold had been eaten
by the starving crew. Then the captain died,
and was eaten by his men. The survivors drew
lots, and five sailors had been killed and
devoured when Rideout came to the rescue.
2. Schooner LIVERPOOL PACKET of Liverpool, N.S., nicknamed the BLACK JOKE, brig; also called the YOUNG TEAZER'S GHOST and PORTSMOUTH PACKET. August 24th, 1812. Best bargain privateers- man ever made. Bought for £420, her prizes were worth $264,000; perhaps $ 1,000,000.
Her owners: Enos Collins of Halifax, in association with John and James Barss, Benjamin Knaut and Caleb Seely, all Liverpool privateersmen, and Joseph Allison of Halifax.
Her captains: John Freeman.
Canaling Cape Cod, a work which had to wait a century for fulfilment, was suggested as a remedy for the terror of the blockade caused by this one privateer; and it was said that the losses she inflicted on American commerce in two cruises alone would have paid for this project.
She was the first Nova Scotian privateer to get to sea, and she fought and harried to the war's long end. Her escapes, her exploits, her disappearances, her triumphant return, are a saga worthy of the Viking scalds. An attempt is made to log them in one section of this book.
Famous members of her famous crew—all prize-masters :
3. Schooner NONSUCH, of Halifax. Not finding a commission for her one is tempted to class this vessel with the famous " H.M.S. None Such, three decks and no bottom," but she is said to have been a " small schooner mounting five guns with a crew of thirty men which arrived with two valuable ships " in August, 1812 . This was before commissions were granted against American commerce. The name may be a disguise for the Liverpool Packet, which sailed from Halifax immediately upon the news of war coming in.
4. Schooner FLY, of St. John's, Newfoundland. Said to have sent in an American brig and two schooners in August, 1812. Commission not found.
5. Brigantine AMELIA, of Pictou, N.S. Not mentioned in the prize courts, but reputed to have been built and outfitted by Pictou men for the war.
6. Sloop BRUNSWICKER, of
St. John, N.B. This was the American revenue
cutter Commodore Barry, of twenty-five
tons, captured by H.M.S. Maidstone and
H.M.S. Spartan, July 19th,
1812, and bought by the province
of New Brunswick and manned for protection
against American privateers. Twenty volunteers
from the shipping in the harbour of St.
John and several citizens
7. Schooner HUNTER, of St. John, N.B. Successor to the Brunswicker as the province's privateer chaser. She accompanied the Bream on a cruise down the Bay of Fundy, December 16th, 1812. Privateer-chasing was no picnic. American privateers were just as great a menace to our commerce as ours were to theirs; and like wolves in a pack their courage rose as their numbers increased. From the Acadian Recorder :
"St. John, N.B., Jan. 7, 1814—The Landrail cutter, Lieut. Rochefort, was one of the vessels which took the last convoy to Castine (then in British possession). On her voyage thither she fell in with five American privateers, which she engaged, and after a desperate battle of two hours' continuance succeeded in beating them off. According to accounts which reached Castine the Americans had a great many killed and wounded. The force opposed to the Landrail was the Charles Stewart, of Boston, 10 guns; Cumberland, of Portland, 4 guns; Fame of Thomastown, 4 guns; a schooner, name and force unknown; and Crowninshield's sloop (the Jefferson) of Salem. No less than eight American privateers were known to be hovering about Castine and the Bay of Fundy."
Brave little Landrail, of four guns! She was a King's cutter of the Royal Navy, and despite her classification, schooner rigged. She was captured once, by a very large American privateer, but was retaken.
8. Schooner CROWN, of
Halifax, February 2nd, 1813. Tiniest
privateer commissioned; so small the
9. Schooner RETALIATION, of Liverpool, N.S., February 10th, 1813. Nova Scotia sea-captain's expression of patriotic resentment—and a successful one. Once the Salem privateer Revenge, and before that the John and George. She, too, has a chapter of her own.
Her owners: Thomas Freeman and Snow Parker, of Liverpool, N.S., associated with John Roberts, James Gorham and Gordon De Wolfe, of Liverpool, N.S.
Her crew: James Knowles and Stephen Harrington, lieutenants; Alexander More, Joseph Burnaby, James Dolliver and James Harrington, all of Liverpool, N.S.; and these prize-masters, several of them veterans of the Liverpool Packet and other privateers:
10. Brig SIR JOHN SHERBROOKE, of Halifax, once American privateer Thorn, February 11th, 1813. Finest privateer of the provinces-278 tons, eighteen guns, 150 men. Her commander a veteran who did everything in navy fashion, co-operated with the navy, and had the same respect as a naval officer. Her career as a privateer short and glorious, with a score of prizes in three months. As an armed merchantman very successful until her fiery end near the close of the war.
Commander, Col. Joseph Freeman, of
Liverpool, N.S.; 1st lieutenant, John
Barss; 2nd lieutenant, John Freeman,
Owners: Enos Collins, Jos. Allison, of Halifax; Jos. Freeman, John and Joseph Barss, sr., and Benjamin Knaut, of Liverpool, N.S. She has a section to herself in the book.
11. Jebacco-boat RATTLER. Cape Ann smack captured by the Sir John Sherbrooke in March, 1813, and used by her as a tender, capturing the American schooner Valerius and sloop Betsey among others.
12. Sloop DART, of St. John, N.B., May 4th, 1813. Daring New Brunswick privateer. She also has a chapter of her own.
13. Schooner MATILDA, of Annapolis Royal, May 4th, 1813. Fifty-ton spitfire from Annapolis Basin whose rivalry with the largest and finest privateer of Nova Scotia resulted in bluenose boarding pikes meeting across the hatches of an American prize—as told in Chapter VII.
Her commander, John Burkett, jr.
She privateered with a fine-toothed
comb, taking at least thirteen prizes
in three months. Her list ends
abruptly in August, 1813, with fisherman victims from the Nantucket shoals. She reappears as a cartel, arriving at Halifax with English prisoners from Salem, July 16th, 1814.
14. Schooner RETRIEVE, of Windsor, May 21st, 1813. " A staunch sea-boat, nearly new, and a remarkably fast sailer," according to advertisements for her sale at Elisha De Wolfe's wharf in Windsor, N.S., April 30th, 1814. On May 21st, 1813, Silas Crane, her commander, was
" by these presents authorized to set forth in a warlike manner the said schooner Retrieve, of 55 tons, having four carriage guns, two 12-pounder carronades, one q-pounder long gun and one 4-pounder gun, 40 muskets, 10 pistols and a crew of 40 men."
Silas Crane and Wm. Young, of Falmouth or Horton, N.S., near Windsor, were the Retrieve's first owners. Thos. Leonard and Messrs. Starr and Shannon, of Halifax, were associated owners when William Allen became commander, September 21st, 1813. By warrant of July 9th, 1814, Wm. Young, of Windsor, early owner, became commander. Edward Crane went as lieutenant at one time, and John Moore as gunner. Prize-masters and prizes they brought in, to Halifax or Windsor, were: brig Christina, June 10th, 1813; James Wilcox, sloop Betsey, June, 1813; Loran Fox, schooner Valerius, the prize the Sherbrooke lost, July 6th; Job Card, sloop Hannah, July 10th; James Forsyth, brig John Adams, July 11th. These captures were all made under Stephen Crane. Towards the end of 1814 the Retrieve fell a victim to the famous Fox, of Portsmouth, N.H., and was burnt at sea.
15. Schooner FLY, of
May 28th, 1813. Well-named buzzer
of fifty tons, with one 9-pounder
Lieutenant, George Bootler, probably of the Boutillier family.
It is manifest from the "Coppy of the schooner FLY'S commishum exam & approved of by me Enoch Stanwood," a terrible scrawl written out for the protection of a prize crew of two men placed on board the American sloop Packet, of Salem, that the office of captain's clerk was not filled by a skilled practitioner on board the Nova Scotian privateer. Yet the bold Enoch had a clerk of some sort, it would appear, for his signature is in a different hand from the body of the statement. This said :
" State of Massachusetts, Cranberry Harbour
" June 17, 1813.
" This is to certify all whom
it may concern that on the 17th June
at 6 p.m. of the Clock in the afternoon
the schooner Fly was standing
into Cranberry Harbour and discovered
a Sloop at anchor. Stood towards her
and at Which time the Sloop got anchor
Wayed and stood up the Harbour. The Fly gave
chase and Fiered five Shots Beforne
she hove two. We sent a Boat on Board
the Sloop and took her in Charge and
stood down the Harbour for Sea. Brought
the prisoners on board in number Two
one by name of Thomas Bumper who proved
to be Captain of the Sd. Sloop and a
Passenger the name of Mr. Richardson.
By questioning the Captn. he Said the
Sloop was owned by Mr. Wallace of Salem.
We demanded his papers his reply was
that he had sent his papers on shore
in his Trunk at the Time we were in
Chace. Said Sloop's name is
" ENOCH STANWOOD Capn. of Schooner Fly."
Maybe not a literary man, but bold enough to steer into an American harbour, fire five shots as he chased an American vessel up and down, and carry her out to sea under the noses and muskets of the Massachusetts militia. This first prize of his was recaptured by the American privateer Fame, and recaptured for the Fly again, with three of the Fame's marines, by the Matilda, of Annapolis Royal.
The day after taking the Packet Enoch Stanwood sailed into Owl's Head harbour in Maine after a fleet of seven coasters. Four he drove ashore. Three he captured, and out he sailed with them, mooring for the night in a cove in White Island. But the countryside had been roused, and a hundred volunteers crept to the shore in the darkness, and as soon as it was light enough to see they began firing on the Fly from all sides. She cut her cable and ran, leaving her prizes behind, but she saved all her prize crews but four men.
After this misadventure Enoch Stanwood, commander of the Fly, like his great namesake " was not." Perhaps he was killed while valorously fighting his way out of the hostile harbour. The Acadian Recorder's reference is inconclusive but ominous :
"We learn from a gentleman direct from Wiscasset (Me.) that the four men belonging to the Fly privateer (late Stanwood) who were in the prizes retaken at White Island were in the jail at that place, all well, but confined to narrow limits and poor fare."
Messrs. Harding and Hill got a new commission
and a new commander for the privateer on the
6th of July,
" Newburyport, Aug. , 2I--A Cape Ann boat came in this morning with fourteen prisoners, men, women and children, put on board from a prize to the Fly, British privateer. The sloop Dolphin, from Portland for Boston, with thirteen passengers, was fallen in with and captured by the Fly off the Isles of Shoals. Soon after the U.S. brig-of-war Enterprise hove in sight out of Portsmouth. Capt. Clements, of the Fly left it to the option of the prizemaster of the Dolphin to release the prize (and escape in the Fly) or retain her, and the officer decided on the latter, and succeeded in carrying her off. Next day the prizemaster put the prisoners on board a boat and stood off with the sloop for Nova Scotia. The privateersmen of the Fly treated the people of the Dolphin well, giving them up their trunks without a search."-Acadian Recorder's correspondent.
With the vengeful Enterprise swooping
down on him Capt. Clements generously first
gave prize-master John N. Sinnott, of the Dolphin, a
chance to return on board, and then spread
his wings and fled. For eight hours the Enterprise pursued.
In the chase the Fly settled for
a moment on the large American brig Diamond, which
happened to be in her way. Flinging James
Wier, prize -master, and half a dozen on
board, Capt. Clements ordered her for Yarmouth.
She was too tempting to pass, for with her
cargo of molasses she was worth $20,000.
But the delay was fatal. The Fly, so
short-handed that even
Both the Dolphin and the Diamond eventually reached Halifax, on the same day, after reporting at Yarmouth.
" Ship Jerusalem, 28 days from Havana, for Boston, detained by H.M S. Majestic, anchored at the Beach (Halifax) on Wednesday evening. About 9 o'clock the brig Diamond, prize to the privateer Fly, arrived. In passing the Jerusalem she was hailed and ordered to heave to and immediately after two muskets were fired into her. She was hailed a second time and ordered to come under the ship's stern, but the wind being light, and but few hands of the prize crew to work the vessel, some time was spent before they could veer ship, when two 12-pounders were discharged at her. The ship then sent her boat on board and took out the prizemaster and one man, kept them on board the ship all night, during which time the officer used the most abusive language towards them, and actually ordered his men to Hang the d d rascals up at the yard arm.' Does not,"—asked generous Tony Holland, of the .Acadian Recorder—" such conduct deserve to be noticed? "
Probably a drunken prize-master from the Majestic showing his little brief authority to a prize-master from a privateer. The navy, from Nelson down, professed to despise privateering, but privateersmen sometimes set the navy a better example.
16. Schooner STAR, of St. John, Newfoundland, Possibly confused with the Star, of St. John, N.B. " In May, 1813, the Star, of St. John's, Nfld., returned to that port from a cruise of twenty-two days, having taken five prizes, all of which were safely brought in." —Cruikshank's Colonial Privateers.
17. Pinky WEAZEL, of
Halifax, May 28th, 1813. Sharp in the stern,
bluff in the bow, schooner rigged,
Prize-masters and prizes : Wm. Nickerson, sloop Franklin, July 3rd ; Thos. Perry (late lieutenant of the Crown) schooner Calson, July 6th; Sylvanus Brown, sloop Leonidas, July 7th ; Don Carlos, " Spanish " schooner American-built, August 12th; and Wm. Smith, who found $3,808 in six bags in the sand ballast of the American schooner Minerva, of Wiscasset, coming from Barbados with a British license.
Prize-master Smith, per affidavit, told the Minerva's captain the Weazels had orders " Not to respect licenses, but to burn, sink and destroy everything they met under American colours, and that they did not care a damn " (yes, the whole naughty word, written out, and no blanks) " for Sir George Beckwith, Governor of Barbados, or his licenses, or anybody else." But the prize court gave the Minerva back to her American owners, sand ballast, specie and all.
18. Schooner BROKE, of Annapolis
Royal, July 3rd, 1813. The Juliana Smith, shoal-draught
Boston privateer schooner of fifty-one
feet length, sixteen feet beam and five feet
depth, was to prowl from Nova Scotia to the
Gulf of St. Lawrence, for British ships bound
to Halifax, Newfoundland or Quebec.
That was the best spirit of privateering, British and American; as far removed from piracy as submarining is close to it.
The Juliana Smith was captured by H.M.S. Nymph, May 11 th, 1813, bought by Phineas Lovat, jr., merchant, of Annapolis Royal, and renamed the Broke in honour of the great naval hero of the Shannon-Chesapeake duel. Daniel Waid, her first British commander, got his commission a month to a day after Broke brought the Chesapeake into Halifax in triumph. Waid made seventeen prizes with the Broke, sending some into Halifax and some into Yarmouth. Many he carried off from under the guns of defending batteries.
Honest John Ridley was one of those sent off in the boarding boat with Lieutenant Henry Crooks, of the privateer, to capture the sloop Freeport, anchored close to the fort on Horse Island, Portland, Me., August 4th, 1813. He made this modest deposition :
" He never saw her till he went on board in the Broke' s boat, but the batteries from the shore fired on them while taking possession of the prize. She was steering for Portland when first chased by the Broke and continued steering for the land till brought to by the shots from the privateer. He believes she was bound for Portland, but as the batteries were firing on them there were no questions asked the sloop's crew in deponent's hearing on this subject."
should say not. The Freeport had
run within half a mile of the blazing batteries
when she was brought
Capt. Waid was succeeded by Wm. Smith, of Halifax, September 27th, 1813. The Broke had four 12 - pounder carronades, one long 9-pounder, and two swivels, thirty muskets, two blunderbusses, twelve cutlasses, and twenty-five pikes for her crew of thirty-five men. Her prize-masters included James Watson, James Hickson, Wm. Williams, Richard Smith, of Killarney, in Ireland, and John Miles. In her crew were John Ridley, of New Providence, in the Bahamas, James Babrican of Shubenacadie and Roger Williams, a boy from Liverpool, in England.
19. Provincial sloop GLEANER, of Halifax, July 9th, 1813. An American privateer sloop, chased off the mouth of Halifax harbour by H.M. brig Colibri, July 24th, 1812, and captured after she had thrown six of her seven guns overboard. Taken into the service of the province of Nova Scotia she was refitted with five guns and Prince Kinny was placed in command of her, with Samuel Kimball, mate, and a crew of twenty men. John George Pyke " owned " her on behalf of the province, and obtained a privateer commission for her, but when Prince Kinny recaptured the Annapolis schooner Sally from the American privateer Industry, September 15th, 1813, he set an example to an avaricious horde of fee hungry officials by waiving claims to salvage.
20. Schooner GEORGE, of
Halifax, August 11th, 1813. With four barrels
of gunpowder and 300 rounds
21. Schooner STAR, of St. John, N.B. Caleb Seely's command before he graduated to the famous Liverpool Packet. Prizes she made in 1813 were : sloop Elizabeth, August 25th, Wm. Vaughan, prize-master; sloop Resolution, Vineyard Sound, September iith, Wm. McLeod, prize-master; and the pinky Flower, September 14th, John Danby, prize-master.
22. Schooner WOLVERINE, of
Liverpool, N.S., August 20th, 1813. She was
the Tom or Thomas, of
Portsmouth, that captured the Liverpool
Packet, and with grim humour Joseph
Barss, sr., whose two sons were captured
with the Packet and were held
in Portsmouth jail, bought the American privateer
when a British man-of - war captured her.
His brother Thomas, and his sons James and
John, and Benjamin Knaut and Joseph Freeman,
all Liverpool shipowners and merchants, contributed
to the purchase. They renamed her the Wolverine, and
sent her privateering with a crew of eighty
men, under Charles William Shea as captain
and Andrew Little,
John Roberts did not love his enemies, nor did his enemies love him. Letter from S. B. Edes, commanding American privateer Rambler, to Charles W. Green, merchant of Boston, June, 1814—the gentleman who had owned the Wily Reynard:
" This morning fell in with and captured the British brig Madeira. Capt. John Roberts, bound to Nova or Dam'd Scotia, took from him 8o casks Madeira wine, a good article, with olives and prunes and some dollars, &c., &c."
The plundered etceteras included Capt. Roberts' small boat, so that he had no resource left in event of shipwreck; all his light sails and studding sails and gear, so that the vessel was helpless in light winds ; his carpenter's tools and marline spikes, so that no repairs could be effected ; his logline and glasses, preventing him from keeping a reckoning; his cabin furniture, clothing, $ 3 oo in cash, poultry, provisions, and the ship's cables. The Madeira was left a wreck by the privateer, and had the further misfortune of being struck by lightning on July 7th, when her mainmast was split. Her crew would have perished of thirst and starvation if she had not fallen in with H.M. brig Arab on July11th.
Prize-masters with Capt. Roberts when he commanded
the Wolverine were : John Morine, John
Freeman, Andrew Little, Jacob Randall, Siphorus
Cole and Isaiah Barss, one of the brothers captured
in the Packet. Apparently Joseph Barss,
jr., commander of the Packet, took the
23. Schooner SHANNON, of Liverpool, N.S., September 2nd, 1813. No better name was ever bestowed on British fighting ship than Shannon ; and, after Joseph Barss, no more successful privateersman ever commanded a Nova Scotian letter-of-marque than Benjamin Ellenwood, who captained this schooner when twenty-five years of age. She was the captured American privateer Growler, of Salem, renamed by her purchaser, Snow Parker, of Liverpool, in honour of Capt. Broke's famous frigate and her victory of June 1st, 1813. The privateer Shannon measured 146 tons and had five guns and a crew of fifty. Benjamin Ellenwood had only six men left when he manned out her sixteenth prize on November 2nd, 1813. In all, nineteen of the prizes he made reached port safely. John Brown, one of his prize - masters, succeeded to the command of the Shannon in June, 1814, and made three prizes before going to the Rover. The Shannon's first lieutenant was James Knowles, and among her other prize-masters were Lothrop Knowles, Henry Hopkins, Joseph Bartlett, who later commanded three privateers, Thomas Stubbs, John Gardner, James Godfrey, Theodosius Ford, George Teale, Nicholas Anderson, and Jacob Brown. Gallant Capt. Ellenwood was murdered on Dolby's wharf, Halifax, in February, 1815, on the eve of sailing home for Liverpool.
24. Lugger INTREPID, of
Guernsey, October 10th, 1813. Here we have the
craft beloved of French and English smugglers
and extolled by Cooper in Wing and Wing. The
rig was ever rare on this side
25. Sloop DART, of Liverpool, N.S. Rigged like her New Brunswick namesake. Henry Fader or Feader was her commander. After the capture of the New Brunswick Dart the Nova Scotian one arrived in Liverpool on November 3rd, 1813, from a cruise of which the Acadian Recorder laconically remarks : " Taken six."
26. Sloop HARE, of
St. John, N.B., November 29th, 1813. Thirty-eight
ton sloop, with a pair of six - pounder guns, ten
muskets, fourteen pikes and five cutlasses for
a crew of twenty-five men. James Reid, who afterwards
commanded the Snap Dragon, took the Hare to
the New England coast in mid-winter and made
prizes. He was succeeded by James Godsoe, who
first went with him as lieutenant. Capt. Godsoe,
in the Hare, drove an American privateer
of four guns on shore in Mispeck Reach, in March,
1814, and captured her with a boat's crew of
five. In working out of the Reach the five men
from the Hare grounded the privateer
on a ledge. Here
27. Schooner ROLLA of Liverpool, N.S., June 10, 1814. In the year 1820 a weed-covered and water worn hulk was hurled on the beach of Essex County, Massachusetts, torn from the ocean's bed by a great gale and extraordinarily high tide. It was without spars and almost without shape; so long submerged that it seemed a sea growth rather than what had been a ship, but on one broken plank were the remains of carven letters—" R 0 L L 1 ." The last letter might have been an " I " or the left half of an " A." The broken plank was the first and only enlightenment upon an event which had devastated the Nova Scotian town of Liverpool five years before.
pick of the privateering profession went out with
the Liverpool privateer schooner Rolla when
she sailed on her last cruise, in January, 1815.
This was weeks after the treaty of peace had been
signed, but two months before the news of it reached
Halifax. Every third man on board was a captain.
Fifteen in her crew of forty-five were masters
of vessels, and most of them seasoned privateersmen.
Capt. John Freeman, who gave up the Liverpool
Packet early in her career, had later sailed
Weeks passed. No more prizes came in from the Rolla, and they began to fear she had been taken; months, and the war was over, and still no word. They sought in vain for news of her along the Massachusetts coast. Slowly twenty-two wives in Liverpool realized that they were widows, and almost a hundred children were orphans. The Rolla had been lost with all hands, forty-two privateersmen, and the nine men taken out of the Comet and kept as prisoners.
Capt. John Freeman's widow lived in Liverpool
till she was ninety years old, always waiting for
her sailor to come home from sea. Capt. Seth Freeman
was another privateersman who perished. He had
been prize-master in the Sherbrooke and
the Liverpool Packet. Wm. Hayes was
another veteran lost; and Nathaniel Gorham, a lad
of eighteen, was yet another of the Liverpool victims.
No privateering port had ever so severe a blow
William Darrow, brother of John Lewin Darrow, the prize-master who escaped the disaster by being sent back with the Comet, was the first lieutenant of the Rolla, but he did not go in her for that fatal cruise; yet he, too, was lost at sea soon afterwards, with the ex-privateer Wolverine. After the war she went into the West Indian trade, and vanished with all hands.
Two of the Darrow brothers, John Lewin and Robert,
went to the West Indies in September, 1814, with
the Liverpool Packet's prize schooner Julian, purchased
" You," said Capt. Fish, of the David Porter, to Robert Darrow, " will have to go with the Julian to whatever port in the States the prize crew can get her into. We want you for a Davy-man "—the member of the original crew of a prize retained to make affidavit before the prize court as to her nationality. " The rest of you," he continued, including Capt. John Darrow with a sweep of his arm, " will have to stay aboard here with us as prisoners. I'm not going to have you recapturing your vessel from the prize crew."
Robert Darrow looked at John and John looked at Robert.
" Now that's too bad," mourned Robert, the mate, " for here I am barely able to feed myself with this crippled hand of mine, and who's to fend for me all the way home? "
" You'll be less likely to try to retake the vessel," laughed Capt. Fish. " That's why I'm sending you as the Davy - man."
" All right," said Robert resignedly. " But you might send that brat of a cabin boy of ours along, to look after me. He's only one more mouth to feed aboard your privateer. I tell you what I'll do. Send him along and I'll help your prize-master work up his sights and so forth."
The American privateersman hesitated.
He was short
handed. Four greenhorns were all he could spare for
a prize crew. But they would be enough to knock this
Nova Scotian on the head if he attempted a rescue.
if he was willing to help navigate the vessel he
have a shorter and more comfortable passage, that
" Take the youngster," said he, and Robert
fourteen-year-old Tommy Knight were forthwith transferred
Asa Weston, of Duxbury, was a prize-master after Robert Darrow's own heart. He loved the Julian's cargo of rum, and he loathed working up reckonings. He rejoiced to find this lame-handed Nova Scotian so helpful with logarithms and cosecants. He was surprised that you had to make so little westing to reach Portland—but the late mate of the Julian proved conclusively that this was so. All the time Robert Darrow was edging the Julian north and east for Nova Scotia.
At dusk one evening the " Davy-man " laid down his lead pencil with a satisfied sigh.
" We should sight land to-morrow," said he, pushing over the much marked chart.
" Grand," said the prize-master. " Just as I thought. Well, suppose we celebrate ! "
So they broached a puncheon of rum and made merry in the cabin.
" No place for you, boy," said Robert Darrow to the little Liverpool lad. " Up on deck with you, now, with some liquor for the poor fellow at the helm. Then go forward and turn in. But bring the can back first."
" Yes, sir," said Tommy Knight, meekly.
But he did not come back.
" Drat that boy," hiccupped Robert, with drunken indignation. " This ish rank dishobediensh. Musht tend toot myshelf."
Forthwith he staggered up the companionway.
" Close that companion slide ! " his boon companions bellowed after him. " It's cold down here ! "
On Robert Darrow the fresh air they dreaded had
a marvellous effect. Immediately he was as sober
as a judge, and his lame hand was healed.
" Good boy ! " whispered Robert back. Then bang ! bang ! bang ! bang ! he beat on the slide top, spiking the whole thing down so that only a narrow slot remained open.
" What you doin'? " demanded the one privateersman on deck at the helm.
" Shut up, and do as you're told," said Robert Darrow savagely. " Now, keep her away nor'-east-and-by-east, and steer a straight course, or you'll never see to-morrow's sun ! "
The privateersman looked up from the glare of the binnacle to contemplate the hose-like mouth of an old - fashioned horse pistol.
" Don't shoot," said he. " Nor'-east-and-by-east it is till you say something else, captain ! "
The crowd in the cabin drank themselves under the table, oblivious of all that had happened and was happening. The late November morning dawned on a weary helms man; a weary man with a pistol and cutlass, eyeing him narrowly; and a child curled up in a greatcoat.
Soon there were sounds from below. The imprisoned prize crew, under the spiked companion, had raging thirsts. The man with the cutlass and pistol had control of the water-butt lashed on deck. " Tell 'em, Tommy," said he, poking the cabin boy, " that we'll trade 'em pint for pound. Let 'em pass out some biscuits and cheese and a bit of bacon, from the cabin stores as we need 'em, and we'll give 'em a little water—if they're good ! "
There was much cursing from below, much silence
above. Soon the sea biscuits came popping out through
the slot, and some cheese and bacon and coffee,
and empty flasks. The flasks went back, full of
water; accompanied by the announcement that if
any attempt was made to break through the stout
cabin bulkhead bullets would stop it
The first man he met, as he came out of the Court of Vice-Admiralty, was his brother John, who had been transferred from the David Porter into another prize full of released prisoners, and had hurried to Halifax on the wings of the wind !
Four hundred dollars from the insurance company (which would have lost £2,064 on the Julian's cargo alone) was Robert Darrow's reward; Tommy Knight shared.
28. Schooner LIVELY, of Liverpool, N.S., July 4th, 1814 . Next to the Crown, or perhaps the Thinks-I to-Myself, smallest of the privateers of the War of 1812. Thirty tons measurement, thirty men, and five guns, probably a nine-pounder and four swivels. Joseph Bartlett, of Liverpool, commanded her, and between July 4th, 1814, when she got her commission, and mid-September, when she was captured by the Surprise of Salem, she sent in ten prizes—trading sloops from Long Island Sound, coasting schooners, and Nantucket Shoals fishermen.
and some of the prizes : James Godfrey, sloop Nancy, July
28th ; Joseph Burnaby (who was pressed out of the
privateer Retaliation), schooner Sukey, July
The Lively had only seventeen men and one gun when captured. Capt. Bartlett either escaped or was exchanged almost immediately, for he was at sea again in October with the Minerva and in December with the Saucy jack. He was lost in the Rolla, in January, 1815.
29. Schooner LUNENBURG, of
Lunenburg, August 8th, 1814. The finding fifty
years ago of a leathern bag of Spanish dollars,
wrapped in sail cloth, under the sills of an old
barn on the farm of William Mosher, at Felzen South,
near Lunenburg, N.S., may have no connection with
this privateer, but the incident is recalled by
the vessel's name, the fact that the dollars were
dated from 1773 up to 1814, and the coincidence
of a Henry Mosher being one of the owners of the Lunenburg, and
the Spanish silver being found on the Mosher farm.
William Mosher had heard his father say that in
the old days—his father was born in 1785
and died in 1869—the privateersmen used to
come close in and frighten the people, and that
sometimes, quarrelling among themselves, they tried
to rob each other, and would hide the money on
shore. There are many Mosher families, and Henry,
part owner of the Lunenburg privateer,
was not, so far as is known, one who occupied this
farm. The first holder was Jacob, then David, then
William, then William his son, who as a little
lad found the first Spanish dollar, and is still
living. How much there was in the hoard is not
known; there appeared to be a bushel of the coins.
Some were scattered far, for rats had
The Mosher name has long been honoured in the annals of Nova Scotian seafaring. When the twenty-five ton schooner Golden Hind, homeward bound for Sydney, Cape Breton, with a Christmas load of produce from Prince Edward Island, struck on the rocks of Craignish, Inverness County, in a December snowstorm in 1926, it was Capt. Wilson Mosher, her master, who swam ashore with the lifeline through three hundred yards of surf, rescued his crew, and then swam back again to the vessel, " so that he could be the last man to leave the ship, in accordance with British traditions of the sea."
Thoroughly practical protest was made by Lunenburg shipowners and sailors when a Lunenburg fleet from the West Indies, convoyed by Capt. John Nicholas Oxner's armed brig, was snapped up by a large American privateer, attracted by the sunrise gun which the brig fired to re assemble her flock.
Capt. Oxner, Henry Wollenkaupt, Philip Rudolf
and Henry Mosher went to Halifax and bought a captured
American privateer of ninety-three tons and five
guns, " a long low craft and a very fast sailer." Judge
Des Brisay's description fits the Sherbrooke's prize,
the Portsmouth privateer Governor Plumer. The
indignant townsmen renamed their schooner the Lunenburg, and
sent her a-privateering, with a crew of forty-five
men. Two at least of her prize - masters, John
Arenburg, who brought the prize pinky Lucy into
Lunenburg September 1 5th, 1814, and Conrad
The privateer had two captains, Joseph Falt, jr., August 18th, 1814, and Thos. H. Chamberlain, November 29th, 1814. Falt swept the seas of everything he found under the American flag, from fishing pinkies upward. The largest prize of the seven he sent in was the schooner Minerva, of Wiscasset. Bought by La Have Nova Scotians, enlarged, rigged as a brig, and renamed the Lord Exmouth, she was chased by the American privateer Fox as soon as she left the La Have river. Off Rose Head, near Lunenburg, her captain told his crew to pack their clothes, for he was going to run her ashore; but three boats, manned by thirty brave Lunenburgers, put out and assisted the Lord Exmouth into their harbour. Here she lay for three days, with the hungry Fox leaping in vain at her outside; and one black night she threaded the maze of islands of Mahone Bay and the Sambro Ledges and got safely into Halifax, where she was to complete her cargo for the West Indies.
Capt. Chamberlain was the prize-master who had brought in the Minerva. One of the prizes he made in command of the Lunenburg was the sloop Experiment, on January 21st, 1815. The sloop had ventured out from New York with corn and flour for the inhabitants of Nantucket, which island suffered severely from the British blockade. No one on this side of the Atlantic knew yet that the war was over. The Experiment carried peace offerings to the Admiral of the British blockading squadron.
" She sailed from New York bound to Nantucket
but to stop at the British squadron on the way,
which they did, and remained alongside H.M.S. Superb about
three hours and put on board a
Four hours after leaving the Admiral the Experiment was captured by the Lunenburg, off Point Judith. The prize court restored her to her owners. It was not the first time she had ventured into the lion's paws. She had carried a committee from the Quakers of Nantucket in the preceding August, and they had made arrangements with Admiral Hotham that while their island remained in its state of abhorrence of the war the inhabitants would be allowed to bring in flour and grain and such necessities of life through the British blockade.
The Lunenburg apparently changed hands early in 1815, before the news of peace had been received. She is reported to have captured three American sloops and one schooner, as late as February 15th, 1815, when she is described as having only three guns and sixteen men, and belonging to Annapolis. She was offered for sale at Halifax on March 27th, 1815—" the remarkable fast sailing schooner Lunenburg, ninety-three tons burthen, copper bottomed and copper fastened, the sails nearly new, pork, beef, and stores, &c."
30. Schooner ROVER, of Liverpool, N.S., September 23rd, 1814. Formerly the American privateer Armistice, renamed after the famous brig Rover, of Liverpool, which fought and conquered the armed Spanish schooner Santa Ritta and three gunboats on the Spanish Main, killing fifty-three of the enemy without losing a man.
The schooner Rover was of eighty-five
tons, five guns, and fifty men. Plain John Brown
late of the Shannon
Snow Parker, member of the Provincial Parliament, was an owner of the Rover as well as of the Retaliation and the Shannon.
31. The THINKS-I-TO-MY SELF of Castine. Perhaps a jebacco-boat, or even a " shaving mill," a large whaler manned by a score of sturdy fellows with oars and muskets, and a couple of small guns to ensure a hearing for her when she wished to speak with some hostile merchantman. Not commissioned, as far as a search of letters-of-marque shows; originally an American.
" Portland, (Maine) April 13, 1814: Arrived, boat Thinks-I-to Myself, G. Perkins, from Castine, with passengers."
Castine was captured by a British force in August,
The first quotation is from the Acadian Recorder, the last from George Coggeshall, an American privateersman who wrote a history of the privateers in his time. By inference the date of the capture by the Dash was October or November, 1814 . Coggeshall gives no further light, prize court records do not mention the " English privateer," and the reader's imagination will have to explain how the craft got her name.
32. Sloop MINERVA, of Liverpool, N.S., October 3rd, 1814. Sixty-four ton single-sticker with three 4-pounder guns, ten pistols, twenty muskets, twenty boarding pikes, and a crew of forty-five men. She was the command of Joseph Bartlett, of Liverpool, who was also part owner, along with Joseph and Thomas Barss and Andrew Webster. Capt. Bartlett, who commanded the Lively, captured in mid-September, 1814 , did not linger long in American captivity, for his warrant for the Minerva is dated October 3rd, and on a Sunday evening, October 30th, he chased the sloop Eliza Ann ashore on Block Island with the Minerva, got her off, and sent her into Liverpool with her cargo of 1,500 bushels of corn. Isaiah Barss, at one time of the Liverpool Packet, was her prize-master.
33. Schooner TELEGRAPH, of
Halifax. No letters of-marque found but;
Dec.10—Schooner Mary from Philadelphia
for Havana has been captured by
the schooner Telegraph and
If not a privateer the Telegraph was a man-of-war schooner or naval tender.
34. Sloop DOLPHIN, of Liverpool, N.S. Tender fitted out by the Liverpool privateer Rolla, and captor of the sloop Gleaner ten miles west of Newhaven, December 3rd, 1814 . No letters-of-marque for her found.
35. Schooner SAUCY JACK, of Liverpool, N.S., December 14th, 1814. American schooner of pilot boat model, captured in the Potomac by a British brig-of-war after her crew had fled; sold at Pryor's wharf, Halifax, at a prize-sale, November 29th, 1814 , to Joseph Piscott Boyle, Halifax, merchant, Thos. Barss and Joseph Bartlett, and possibly others, of Liverpool, N.S. Commissioned December 4 th, 1814 , for a two months' cruise as a Nova Scotian privateer; 100 tons burthen, three guns, long nine-pounders, twenty muskets, eleven pistols. Joseph Bartlett (of the Lively and Minerva) commander; crew, forty-five men. The Saucy Jack which attacked the St John Sherbrooke was apparently a larger vessel, but may have been the same schooner.
36. Schooner SAUCY
Liverpool, N.S. Perhaps a nickname for the Saucy
of prizes condemned before the Court of Vice-Admiralty
do not mention either the Saucy Jack or Saucy
Sixteen, but James F. More, Queen's County
magistrate, who knew the privateers as a boy,
writing in 1873 said that the Saucy Sixteen was
owned by sixteen merchants and mariners of Liverpool,
and made one cruise of three
37. Schooner DOVE, of Liverpool, N.S., January 24th, 1815. Neatly named, for peace had been agreed upon and the terms signed a month to a day before she received her war-papers. The fact was not known in Halifax, however, until March, 1815.
Joseph Cottingham Bates, merchant, of Liverpool, N.S., was owner of the Dove, and John Moody and Charles Hill, jr., of Halifax, her sureties. She was a little square sterned schooner of thirty tons, with one 4-pounder gun and four swivels, like the toy cannons at yacht clubs; and her total outfit of " spare cordage " weighed just eighty-four pounds.
James Harrington, of Liverpool, a namesake of the Harrington pressed out of the Retaliation, commanded her. He had a crew of twenty, and eighteen muskets, twenty pikes and twenty cutlasses for them. John Barker was his lieutenant. On February 10th, 1815, he brought into Liverpool the last prize of the war, the American brig George, of New Bedford, captured by the Dove off Cape Ann Light.
Another olive leaf pluckt off by the warlike Dove ere the waters of strife abated was the pinky Atlas, captured off Chatham, Cape Cod, February 9th, 1815, and brought in by John Harvey, prize-master. Although the war was officially ended before these captures were made both vessels were held, under the terms of the peace treaty, to be lawful prizes, and amply repaid the Dove's venture.