1808 - Remarks on the 4-gun schooners, British schooners and French privateers

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1808 Light Squadrons and Single Ships 46

rigged as cutters) of 111 tons each, pierced to mount, but too small conveniently to carry, ten 18-pounder carronades, with a crew of 50 men and boys. In the course of the year 1808, the schooner class received a more decided improvement, in the construction of the Bramble, Holly, Juniper, Misletoe, Shamrock, and Thistle, of 150 tons each, with the same guns and complement as the last.

A case or two, which we have now to relate, will show the propriety of our remarks, as to the unfitness of any of the first or 4-gun class of these schooners, to traverse the ocean unattended by a consort to defend her from the attacks of an enemy, or, should a gale come on, and the accompanying vessel not be quite large enough to hoist her in, to take out the crew and let the worthless hull go to the bottom. Some time in the month of January, 1807, the Jackdaw, Lieutenant Nathaniel Brice, cruising off the Cape de Verd islands, was fallen in with, and captured by, " a Spanish row-boat. " In the following month the prize was recaptured by the 32-gun frigate Minerva, Captain George Ralph Collier; and Lieutenant Brice, on his return to England, was tried by a court-martial and dismissed the service. He was, however, shortly afterwards reinstated in his rank. In fact, there was many a row-boat privateer, that was a full match for the Jackdaw ; and 18 or 20 smart hands in a frigate's launch, armed with her 18-pounder carronade, would have felt themselves quite equal to the task of capturing her. Steel has made the affair appear worse than it was, by giving the Jackdaw 10 guns instead of four. In April, the Pike, Lieutenant John Ottley, cruising off Altavella, was fallen in with and captured by the French privateer Marat, of four times her force. Shortly afterwards the 18-gun brig-sloop Moselle, Captain Alexander Gordon, recaptured the Pike, and restored her to the British navy. A similar fate attended the Kingfish, whereby her valuable services were only lost for a time.

On the 18th of August, 1808, the Rook, one of the 4-gun schooners, commanded by Lieutenant James Lawrence, being off the mole of Cape St.-Nicholas, on her way from Port-Royal, Jamaica, to England with despatches, was fallen in with and attacked by two French schooner privateers, one of 12, the other of 10 guns. After an action of one hour and a half, during which the lieutenant was killed, the next officer, master's mate Thomas Seaward, mortally wounded, and 13 out of the remaining 18 men of the crew killed or mortally wounded, the privateersmen made a prize of the Rook. This very gallant action more than redeemed the fate of the Jackdaw. Three other schooners of this class were captured by privateers, but in later years. In short, the whole 30 vessels composing this class, except three sold out of the service, came to an untimely end ;

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