HMS Rifleman

Naval Database

| Previous Page | Next Page | Index

Rifleman, 1846
Type: Surveying Vessel ; late Gunboat, ; Armament 9
Launched : 10 Aug 1846 ; Disposal date or year : 1869
BM: 486 tons ; Displacement: 592 tons
Propulsion: Screw
Machinery notes: 710 hpi 202

Jan, 1846, Rifleman, 4, Admiralty, half built, at Portsmouth

15 July 1848 Squadron departed from Portsmouth ; Lieutenant Crofton - see St Vincent for article from the Morning Chronicle dated 17 Jul 1848

20 Dec 1848 Steam gun vessel. Particular service.

28 Jun 1849 detained the Brazilian slave brigantine Turam.

12 Dec 1849 when in company with the Cormorant boarded and detained the Brazilian slave barque Astrea after a chase, following which Lieutenant Crofton sent the following letter to Commander Schomberg, his senior officer in the Cormorant.
Lieut Crofton to Cdr Schomberg,
at sea 10 Dec 1849,
I have the honour to report to you, for the information of the Commander-in-chief, that on the 12th instant, the “Cormorant” being in chase at the same time, I boarded and captured the Brazilian slave barque Astrea, ID No 4635, late “Chester,” of New York, having on board a full cargo of leaguers, the one-half filled with fresh water, the rest with salt water, for ballast ; part of the slave-deck laid; and from the extremely offensive smell, she had just landed her slave cargo ; 750 slaves ; 70 having died on the middle passage ; the filth of the slaves was on everything, and the fittings in main hold for slave-deck in place ; she had neither log nor legal documents of any description ; and the only papers that I could discover, were a transfer of the vessel from American to Brazilian property, unstamped, unsealed, and without any official attestation from the authorities of either nation ; also a paper intended for a manifest, both of which written on ordinary paper, and the ink of the latter not dry when put into my hands, and dated only the day previously ; she was evidently very unseaworthy.
I beg further to state that, last night, agreeably to your orders, I destroyed the barque, by firing and scuttling her ; this morning she had totally disappeared. I have, &c. (Signed) J.S.S. Crofton. More details available in Google Books.

10 Jan 1850 detained in lat. 23° 56' S., long. 45° 55' W., the Brazilian steam slave brig Paquete de Santos (late Providencia), 99 ft. long, 25 ft. broad, 18 ft. deep and was condemned at the Vice-Admiralty Court, St. Helena, the vessel being ordered to be broken up and cargo, materials and stores ordered to be sold. Net proceeds paid into the commissariat chest.

3 May 1850 detained the Brazilian slave schooner Cinco Irmaos, Joao Richardo, master.

Letter from Lieutenant Crofton to Rear Admiral Reynolds,
"Rifleman," at sea, off the Alcatrasses, 22 May 1850.
Sir, I have the honour to report to you, that being officially informed of the expected arrival of two large ships on this spot, I have been vigilantly cruizing to intercept them ; and that on the evening of the 15th, the weather having cleared up fine, I detached the cutter, with ten men, under the command of Mr. Ryan, master's assistant, with orders to cruize between the Moela and Monte de Trigo, whilst the "Rifleman" watched to the southward of Quimada Grande, both being the expected points of arrival.
On the morning of the 16th the weather suddenly became bad, and increased to a gale, which obliged the cutter to run for the mainland, and seek shelter under the lee of a small island adjacent to a slave barracoon about six miles to the eastward of Moela. After securing their boat, the men being drenched with wet, they lit a fire on the rocks, and commenced drying their clothes and cooking their victuals, when suddenly they were surprised by a large party of men armed with muskets, not less than fifty, the majority white men, who at once attacked them, and unfortunately shot one of our men dead in getting to the boat. Mr. Ryan weighed, and pulled out under a very heavy fire, the boat and the men's clothes being perforated with shot-holes ; in consequence of this the boat was blown out to sea, and the crew exposed for three days to a heavy sea and rain.
This cowardly and unprovoked attack on men seeking shelter from the gale is in character with these ruffians, who are all slave-crew men waiting to assist, and, if possible, to defend the vessel, should they be molested by us in discharging their cargoes.
Mr. Ryan finally got into the entrance of the Bertioga River; and although he showed his ensign and pendant to the officer of the fort, he was detained, and treated with great incivility, notwithstanding his remonstrances that he was a British officer.
The schooner which I seized on the 3rd instant was employed by the owner of the barracoon near which this outrage was committed.
Mr. Ryan throughout has behaved with resolute firmness and discretion ; in the first place in being prepared with his arms ready and in order, although totally unsuspicious of annoyance ; and secondly, in defending his party with a few muskets until all were embarked and the boat out of gun-shot. My impression is, from my knowledge of these men's characters, that but for Mr. Ryan's coolness, the boat's crew would have been massacred.
On the weather moderating, I proceeded to the locality of the above outrage, and there discovered, in a house adjacent, the missing articles belonging to the boat, and the men's wearing apparel. Being satisfied from this, that these were the parties implicated, I destroyed the house as being the nest of a horde of pirates.
I have reported the entire circumstances to the authorities of Santos, through the Acting Vice-Consul, Mr. Glynn, and they appear to have taken it up very warmly. Of my proceedings in destroying the premises, the authorities expressed themselves gratified, as being part of the slave establishment at Perrequé.
I beg, Sir, to inform you that there are two brigs at Santos, both of them slavers, and ready to sail with the first fair wind ; and that I have been watching for them in the offing for some days ; their destination is the coast of Africa ; and being the only cruizer on this coast, and other vessels daily expected at Perrequé, I shall remain on this cruizing ground, and if necessary, shall purchase coals at Santos to enable me to intercept them, which I hope, Sir, will meet your approval.
I am, &c. (Signed) S. S. L. CROFT ON, Lieutenant Commanding,

5 Oct 1850 Is reported en route from the River Plate to Rio.

17 Jun 1851 Accounts for bounties etc due from the capture of the brig Paquete de Santos deposited at the High Court of Admiralty.

10 Feb 1851 At Rio de Janeiro - gone on a cruise.

30 Aug 1851 South America

31 Mar 1857 at Buenos Ayres.

1860 Woolwich

15 Nov 1861 Woolwich. Commissioned.

1864 China station. Medical report : number of Cases of Disease and Injury.

1870 Surveying Vessel, Hong Kong