1814 - Sir Thomas Hardy and Commodore Decatur


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1814 Light Squadrons and Single Ships 322

Ætna, a gallant young officer, killed, by musketry from the shore. Against so powerful a force, when once landed, the few militia could not be expected to stand : they fired a volley and fled, and the troops advanced past Northumberland court-house, five miles into the interior. After taking and scuttling two or three worthless schooners, and, according to the American editors, plundering the inhabitants, the troops re-embarked, and stood down the river to their ships. The latter soon afterwards descended the Potomac ; and on the 14th, taking, with him the Royal-Oak, Asia, and Ramillies 74s, one or two frigates, and all the troop-ships and bombs, Rear-admiral Malcolm quitted the Chesapeake for the grand rendezvous at Negril bay, Jamaica.

In our account of the last year's proceedings before the blockaded port of New-London, we related the disgraceful attempt made to destroy the British 74-gun ship Ramillies, and her crew of 590 or 600 men, by an explosion-vessel fitted out at New-York. * We remember frequently hearing it said, that the plan originated with " mercenary merchants ; " and it was even hinted, that the projectors were adopted, not native, Americans, the latter being, too " high-minded " to countenance such a proceeding. Above all things, no one, who wished to escape a tar-and-feathering, dare have whispered a supposition, that an American naval officer would lend his ear to so dishonourable a mode of freeing himself from the presence of his enemy. Those, the most ready to fly out on these occasions, did not of course recollect the attempt made in the bay of Chesapeake, with the sanction, if not under the direction, of Captain Charles Stewart of the American navy, to blow up the Plantagenet 74, by a torpedo conducted by Mr. Mervine P. Mix, one of the Constellation's midshipmen; nor of a second plan to blow up the Ramillies, projected by that " excellent man, " that " ornament to his country," Commodore Stephen Decatur, but of which, very fortunately, Sir Thomas Hardy received intelligence in time to place him on his guard. Nay, an officer and boat's crew from the Ramillies actually succeeded in capturing one of the crew of the frigate United-States, who was to conduct the whale-boat containing the torpedo, and which whale-boat lay for several weeks, waiting a fit opportunity to push off, at Southold on Long island.

The British force at anchor off New-London in January, 1814, consisted, besides the Ramillies, of the 24-pounder 40-gun frigate Endymion, Captain Henry Hope, and the 38-gun frigate Statira, Captain Hassard Stackpoole. In the hearing of an American privateer-captain, named Moran, about to quit the Ramillies for the shore, Captains Hope and Stackpoole, happened to express a desire to meet the United-States and Macedonian. This soon became known all over New-London. Feeling his

* See p. 240. Brenton, vol. v., pp. 61, 202.

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