1813 - Alexandria and President


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1813 Alexandria and President 215

on, until, at 6 h. 40 m. p.m., Captain Cathcart, who was then eight miles in the east-north-east of his consort, considerately signalled the Spitfire to close. As soon as the latter had done so, sail was again made; and the chase continued throughout that night, and until 10 A.M. on the 23d ; when the President had run completely out of sight of both " the line-of-battle ship and the frigate, " or, as an American historian says, of the " two line-of-battle ships," * which had so long been pursuing her.

Among the prisoners on board the President at the time of the chase, were the master and mate of the British snow Daphne, of Whitby According to the journal of these men, published in the newspapers, they, as well as many of the President's officers and men, were convinced that the chasing ships were a small frigate and a sloop of war. They describe, in a ludicrous manner, the preparations on board the President, to resist the attack of this formidable squadron. During each of the three days a treble allowance of grog was served out to the crew, and an immense quantity of star, chain, and other kinds of dismantling shot got upon deck, in readiness for action. It appears also that, when the Eliza-Swan whaler hove in sight a few days afterwards, she was supposed to be a large ship of war, and the ceremony with the grog and dismantling shot was repeated. After a very cautious approach on the part of the President, the chase was discovered to be a clump of a merchantman, and made prize of accordingly.

In the above, as the American commodore accurately states it, " 80 hours' chase," what a contrast appears in the gallantry of one party, and the pusillanimity of the other. Will any one pretend, that the flight of Commodore Rodgers was all the effect of delusion? What! mistake a ship of 422 tons for a frigate of 662 tons for a " line-of-battle ship " ? Well was it for the commodore that he did not belong to the British navy. Well was it, too, for Captains Cathcart and Ellis, that the Alexandria sailed so ill ; for it was physically impossible that she and the Spitfire should have come off victorious. Yet, that gallantry, which had urged their captains to the pursuit of so formidable a ship, a ship known by her ensign and broad pendant to be a similar frigate to those that had captured, in succession, the Guerrière, Macedonian, and Java, would have impelled them to stand by each other, until both ships had either been buried in the deep, or become the trophies of the American commodore.

Overjoyed at his escape, Commodore Rogers determined to quit a region where constant daylight afforded an enemy so many advantages over him : he therefore crowded sail to the westward. On the 2d of August, after the President had been

* Naval Monument, p. 230.

* See Vol. iv., p. 268.

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