Lossing's Field Book of the War of 1812, Chapter XXXII - Cruise of the Essex.






Weakness of the American Navy. – Beginning of the wonderful Cruise of the Essex. – The Nocton a Prize to the Essex. – A Search for Bainbridge. – An English Governor deceived. – Failure to find Bainbridge. – The Essex sails for the Pacific Ocean. – Her Arrival at Valparaiso. – Friendliness of the Chilians. – The Essex in Search of British Whalers. – Cruise among the Galapagos Islands. – Capture of the Georgiana and other English armed Whaling-ships. – Porter in Command of a Squadron. – Capture of the dreaded Seringapatam. – Successful cruising among the Galapagos Islands. – Porter warned of Danger. – Porter, with his Squadron, sails for the Marquesas Islands. – Arrival at Nooaheevah. – White Residents on the Island. – Civil War in Nooaheevah. – Porter threatens to engage in it. – The "mighty Gattanewa." – Battles with the Natives. – Porter victorious. – Change in the Name of the Island and Harbor. – The Typee Valley desolated. – The Women of Nooaheevah. – Porter arrives at Valparaiso. – Incidents in the Harbor of Valparaiso. – Porter’s Generosity. – He tries to fight, or run the Blockade. – The Essex crippled. – Porter’s Generosity not reciprocated. – Battle between the Essex and two British ships. – Surrender of the Essex. – The Conduct of the British Commander. – Porter returns Home. – Honors to Commodore Porter. – His subsequent Career. – His Death and Monument. – Rodgers’s unsuccessful Cruise. – Capture of Merchant Vessels and the Highflyer. – How Rodgers captured the Highflyer. – Astonishment of her Commander. – Rodgers’s Service to his Country. – Another Cruise of the President. – She runs the Blockade at New York. – Honors to Commander Rodgers.


"War-doom’d the wide expanse to plow
Of ocean with a single prow,
Midst hosts of foes with lynx’s eye
And lion fang close hovering by,
You, Porter, dared the dangerous course,
Without a home, without resource,
Save that which heroes always find
In nautic skill and power of mind;
Save where your stars in conquest shone,
And stripes made wealth of foes your own."



As we take a survey from a stand-point at mid-autumn, 1813, we observe with astonishment only three American frigates at sea, namely, the President, 44; the Congress, 38; and the Essex, 32. The Constitution, 44, was undergoing repairs; the Constellation, 38, was blockaded at Norfolk; and the United States, 44, and Macedonian, 38, were prisoners in the Thames above New London. The Adams, 28, was undergoing alterations and repairs, while the John Adams, 28, New York, 36, and Boston, 28, were virtually condemned. All the brigs, excepting the Enterprise, had been captured, and she was not to be trusted at sea much longer.

The Essex, Commodore Porter, was the only government vessel of size which was then sustaining the reputation of the American Navy, and she was in far distant seas, with a track equal to more than a third of the circumference of the globe between her and the home port from which she sailed. She was then making one of the most remarkable cruises on record. Let us here consider it.

We have observed the Essex starting from the Delaware in the autumn of 1812 [October 28.], with orders to seek a junction with the Constitution and Hornet, under Commodore Bainbridge, at designated places, but allowed, in the event of failure to do so, to follow the dictates of the judgment of her commander. 1 She did not fall in with her consorts of Bainbridge’s little squadron, and she sailed on a long cruise in the South Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. In anticipation of such cruise Captain Porter took with him a larger number of officers and crew than was common for a vessel of that size, Her muster-roll contained three hundred and nineteen names; and her supplies were so ample that she sank deep in the water, which greatly impaired her sailing quality.

The Essex took a southeast course for the purpose of crossing the tracks of vessels bound from England to Bermuda, but met only a few Portuguese traders with whom she had no hostile business. On the 27th of November she sighted the bold mountains of St. Jago, and ran into the harbor of Port Praya in search of the commodore. There Porter received unbounded hospitalities from the Portuguese governor; and when he had waited a proper time for the expected arrival of Bainbridge, he departed with his ship loaded with pigs, sheep, fowls, and tropical fruits of every kind. He concealed his destination from the governor, and, sailing eastward when he left port, gave the impression that he was bound for the coast of Africa. When beyond telescopic range he changed his course, stood to the southwest, and crossed the equator on the 11th of December in longitude 30° west. On the following day he captured his first British prize, the Nocton, 10, a government packet, with a crew of thirty-one men, bound for Falmouth. She had fifty-five thousand dollars in specie on board. This treasure and her crew were transferred to the Essex, and Lieutenant Finch (afterward Captain William Compton Bolton), with a crew of seventeen men, was directed to go to the United States with her. She was captured by a British frigate between Bermuda and the Capes of Virginia. Only the specie of the Nocton was secured by Porter.

Two days after this victory [December 14, 1812.] the pyramidal mountain peak of the dreary penal island of Fernando de Noronha, whereon no woman was allowed to dwell, loomed up sullenly from the waste of waters. This was one of the specified places of rendezvous of Bainbridge’s squadron. Disguising the Essex as a merchantman, and hoisting English colors, Porter sailed close to the island, anchored, and sent Lieutenant Downes to the governor with a polite message, asking the privilege of procuring water and other refreshments. Downes soon returned with a present of fruit from the governor, and intelligence that only the week before the British ships Acasta, 44, and Morgiana, 20, had sailed from the island, and left with the magistrate a letter for Sir James Yeo, of His Majesty’s ship Southampton. Porter was satisfied that the "British ships" spoken of were the Constitution and Hornet; that the writer of the letter was Commodore Bainbridge, and the Sir James Yeo addressed was himself. With this conviction, he sent Downes back to the governor with the truly English present of porter and cheese, and the assurance that a gentleman on board his vessel, intimately acquainted with Sir James, and who intended to sail directly to England from Brazil, would be happy to carry the letter to the baronet. The governor sent the letter to Porter. The latter broke the seal and read as follows:



"Probably you may stop here. Don’t attempt to water; it is attended with too much difficulty. I learned before I left England that you were bound to the Brazil coast; if so, we may meet at St. Salvador or Rio Janeiro. I should be happy to meet and converse on our old affairs of captivity. Recollect our secret in those times.

"Your friend of His Majesty’s ship Acasta,



The last clause in this letter gave Porter a needed hint. He called for a lighted candle, and, holding the sheet of paper near the flame, the following note, written in sympathetic ink, 2 was revealed by the heat:


"I am bound off St. Salvador, thence off Cape Frio, where I intend to cruise until the 1st of January. Go off Cape Frio, to the northward of Rio Janeiro, and keep a look-out for me.



With these instructions Porter sailed for Cape Frio. He came in sight of it three days before the Constitution captured the Java, 4 and for some time cruised up and down the Brazilian coast between Cape Frio and St. Catharine. He met many Portuguese vessels, but could obtain no reliable information concerning the squadron. His situation was becoming more and more perplexing. English influence was powerful all along the coasts of the South American continent, while the power of his own government was little known or respected. He was, in a degree, in an enemy’s waters, with no friendly port into which he might run for shelter, carry prizes if he should catch them, or procure necessary supplies. He was compelled, as he says in his Journal, to choose between "capture, a blockade, or starvation." He was left to his own resources, for he could not find the commodore, and he resolved to sweep around Cape Horn, pounce upon the English whalers in the Pacific Ocean, and live upon the enemy. The specie obtained from the Nocton would be a reliable resource in an hour of need, and he could not doubt his success. With this determination he spread the sails of the Essex to the breeze in the harbor of St. Catharine on the 26th of January, 1813, and after a most tempestuous and perilous voyage made Cape Horn on the 14th of February. At the close of that month the pleasant southwest breezes came over the calmer ocean, and under their gentle influence the inhospitable coasts of Patagonia and Lower Chili were soon passed. On the 5th of March the glittering peaks of the Andes were seen hundreds of miles distant, and on the evening of that day the anchor of the Essex was cast at the island of Mocha, off the coast of Araucania, for the first time after leaving St. Catharine. Its solitary mountain peak towered more than a thousand feet in the clear blue firmament; immense flocks of birds hovered over its unpeopled shores, and in its surrounding waters shoals of seals were sporting in the surf. A joyous hunt for a day by the delighted crew brought to the ship an ample supply of coveted fresh meat, for the island, inhabited by Spaniards before the reign of the buccaneers in that region, abounded with fat wild hogs and horses. The flesh of the latter proved more savory than that of the former, and was preferred by the people of the Essex.

Porter had now spent two months without falling in with a hostile vessel. His supplies of naval stores were portentously diminishing, and he anxiously hoped for prey by which he might replenish his exhausted materials. With that hope he cruised northward, enveloped for several days in thick fogs, when suddenly, on the 14th of March, as the Essex swept around the Point of Angels, the city of Valparaiso, the chief sea-port town of Chili, burst upon the vision like the creation of a magician’s wand. She had been running gallantly before a stiff breeze; now she was suddenly becalmed under the guns of a battery, so unexpectedly and near had the turning of that point brought her to the town. The harbor and its shipping were in full view. Several Spanish vessels were about departing; and an armed American brig, heavily laden, seeing the English colors at the mast-head of the Essex, had triced up her ports and prepared for action. Unwilling to have a knowledge of the arrival of an American frigate in those waters spread by the Spanish vessels along the coast, and perceiving a British whaler preparing for sea, Porter bore off to the northward, and in an hour or two lost sight of the town. He returned on the following day, ran into port and anchored, and soon learned two important facts, namely, that Chili had just become independent of Spain, and the people were prepared to give him a cordial reception; and that the Viceroy of Peru had sent out cruisers against the American shipping in that quarter. Porter’s appearance with a strong frigate was therefore exceedingly opportune, for American commerce lay at the mercy of English privateers among the whalers, and the Peruvian corsairs.

The Essex was welcomed by the Chilian authorities by a salute of twenty-one guns at the forts, and of nine guns from the American brig, which proved to be the Colt, 18; and Mr. Poinsett, the American Consul General, hastened from Santiago, the capital of Chili, to join in the festivities which had been arranged for giving Porter a formal reception. Dinners, balls, excursions on land and water followed, and the officers of the Essex never forgot the delightful hours which they spent with the Chilian beauties, by whom they were exceedingly petted. In this welcome, these entertainments, and the bright prospects of usefulness to their countrymen and a profitable cruise for themselves, the people of the Essex found full compensation for all their hardships during the terrible voyage from the stormy Atlantic around the dark cape into the Pacific Sea.

As soon as she was tolerably victualed the Essex put to sea, and on the 25th fell in with an American whaler, from whom Porter learned that two other vessels, the Walker and Barclay, had just been captured by a Peruvian corsair off Coquimbo, accompanied by an English ship. Porter pressed on up the coast, and soon overhauled the corsair. She was the Nereyda. He took from her all her captured Americans, and, after casting her cannon, ammunition, and small-arms overboard, sent her to Callao with a letter to the Peruvian viceroy, in which he denounced the piratical conduct of the commander of the cruiser, and asked for punishment due for his crime. The Essex then looked into Coquimbo, but, seeing nothing discernible, sailed for Callao. As she neared the harbor she recaptured the Barclay, and, making her her consort, sailed for the Galapagos Islands, the alleged resort of English whalers. From the master and crew of the Barclay Porter ascertained that there were twenty-three American and about twenty English whale-ships in that region. The latter were, in general, fine vessels of between three and four hundred tons burden, and would afford good prizes for the Essex. The most of them were armed, and bore letters of marque.

On his way over the quiet Pacific toward the Galapagos, Porter made preparations for fierce struggles with the armed English whalers. The ships were put in perfect order, and then seven small boats were arranged as a flotilla and placed under the command of Lieutenant Downes. 5 They made Chatham Island on the 17th of April, but found no enemy there. Similar disappointment awaited them at Charles Island on the following day. Lieutenant Downes went ashore, and found a box nailed to a post, over which was a black sign with the words HATHAWAY’S POST-OFFICE painted on it in white letters. The contents of the post-office were conveyed on board the Essex, and gave, by a list of English whalers that had touched there a few months before, positive evidence that those islands were a resort for British vessels in that service. With this assurance Porter cruised eagerly among the Galapagos, but almost a fortnight was spent without seeing a single vessel. On the morning of the 29th [April, 1813.] the welcome cry of "Sail, ho!" was heard, and a ship was seen to the westward. Soon afterward two others were observed a little farther to the south. Porter immediately gave chase to the first-seen vessel, and at nine o’clock in the morning she was his prize. She was the English whale-ship Montezuma, with fourteen hundred barrels of oil on board. Placing a prize-crew in her, he made sail after the other two vessels. The wind fell, and there was a dead calm. The flotilla of small boats under Downes pushed forward. They pulled for the larger of the two vessels, which kept training her guns upon the flotilla as it approached; but between two and three in the afternoon she surrendered without firing a shot. She was the English whale-ship Georgiana. Her companion was captured in like manner. She was the Policy, also a whaler. These three prizes furnished Porter with many needed supplies. Among these were beef, pork, cordage, water, and a large number of the huge Galapagos turtles, whose flesh is delightful to the appetite and healthful to the stomach.

Captain Porter fitted up the Georgiana as a cruiser. She had been built for the service of the East India Company, and had the reputation of being a fast sailer. She was pierced for eighteen guns, and had six mounted when taken. The Policy was also pierced for eighteen guns, and had ten mounted. These were added to the armament of the Georgiana, and she became a fitting consort of the Essex, with sixteen light guns, under the command of the gallant Lieutenant Downes, with forty-one men. He raised the American pennant over her on the 8th of May [1813.], and it was saluted by seventeen guns. The crew of the Essex, officers and men, was now reduced to two hundred and sixty-four souls.

The reputation of the Georgiana for fleetness was unmerited, yet Porter expected to make her useful. She and the Essex parted company on the 12th of May, with a clear understanding concerning places for rendezvous at specified times. The Essex, accompanied by the Policy, Montezuma, and Barclay, did not cruise far from the Galapagos, and it was sixteen days before a strange sail was seen by her. On the afternoon of the 28th [May.] one was seen ahead, and a general chase was made. At sunset she was visible from the frigate’s deck, and she was still in sight on the following morning. It was not long before the Essex got alongside of and captured her. She was the English whale-ship Atlantic, mounting eight 18-pounder carronades, and manned by twenty-three men, under the command of a renegade Nantucket captain. She was pierced for twenty guns.

During this chase another vessel was seen. With characteristic energy, Porter placed Lieutenant M‘Knight, of the Montezuma, in command of the Atlantic, and ordered him to chase the newly-discovered stranger. The Essex also joined in the pursuit, and the Greenwich, a vessel little lighter than the Atlantic, mounting ten guns, and manned by twenty-five men, was added to the list of prizes in Porter’s hands. The Atlantic and Greenwich had letters of marque, and, being fast sailers, were very dangerous to American commerce.

With all his prizes but the Georgiana, now five in number, Porter sailed for the mouth of the Tumbez, in the Gulf of Guayaquil, on the South American Continent, where he anchored on the 19th of June, off the miserable village of Tumbez. There the little squadron was joined by the Georgiana [June 24.], bringing with her two prizes, the Hector, 11, and Catharine, 8. Downes had captured a third, the Rose, 8, which he had filled with the superabundant prisoners and sent to St. Helena. She was a dull sailer. He removed her oil, threw her guns overboard, and gave the prisoners the ship on condition that they should sail for that rocky isle in the Atlantic.

Porter now found himself; at the end of eight months after he sailed from the Delaware, in command of a squadron of nine armed vessels ready for formidable warfare. The Atlantic being every way superior to the Georgiana, Lieutenant Commanding Downes was transferred to her, with his crew. Twenty guns were mounted in her, and she was named Essex Junior. She was manned by sixty picked men. The Georgiana was also armed with twenty guns, and converted into a store-ship, under the command of "Parson" Adams, the chaplain of the Essex.

The squadron left Tumbez on the 30th of June, the Essex and Essex Junior sailing in company until the 9th of July [1813.], when the latter was dispatched for Valparaiso with the Catharine, Hector, Montezuma, Policy, and Barclay in convoy. The Essex at the same time, accompanied by the Georgiana and Greenwich, sailed westward toward the Galapagos. On the 13th [July, 1813.] she captured the English whale-ship Charlton, armed with ten guns, and manned by twenty-one men. Two other vessels had been seen in her company, the larger of which, the prisoners from the Charlton said, was the Seringapatam, mounting fourteen guns, and manned by forty men. She had been built in England for the Sultan Tippoo Saib for a cruiser, and was the most formidable enemy of American shipping in the Pacific Ocean. Porter longed for her capture, and was soon gratified. The Greenwich bore gallantly down upon her, and, after exchanging a few broadsides, the English vessel surrendered. She soon afterward made an unsuccessful effort to escape. The smaller vessel, called the New Zealander, was captured without difficulty.

Porter’s prisoners were now so numerous that he was compelled to admit a large number to parole. These were placed in the Charlton, and sent to Rio de Janeiro under a pledge of honor. The guns were taken out of the New Zealander and placed in the Seringapatam, giving her an armament of twenty-two heavy pieces, but with an insufficient crew. She was thus converted into a formidable cruiser. The Georgiana, with a hundred thousand dollars worth of spermaceti oil, was sent to the United States, bearing in irons the captain of the Seringapatam, who was found without a commission as privateer, and liable to the penalties of piracy.

The Essex, with the Greenwich, Seringapatam, and New Zealander, now sailed for Albemarle Island, the largest of the Galapagos group. On the morning of the 28th [July.] they discovered a strange sail. Chase was given, and continued all day, but she eluded her pursuers during the ensuing night. This was the first time that the Essex had failed to place herself alongside of an antagonist since she entered the Pacific Ocean, and Porter and his people were much mortified. The cruise continued, and on the 4th of August the little squadron anchored off James’s Island, a short distance from Albemarle. There they remained more than a fortnight, and on the 22d anchored in Banks’s Bay, between Narborough Island and the north head of Albemarle, where the prizes were moored, and from whence the Essex proceeded [August 24.] on a short cruise alone. After sailing for some time along the Galapagos without meeting any vessels, Porter was gratified by the apparition of a strange sail on the 15th of September, apparently lying to, far to the southward and to the windward. The Essex, disguised, approached her, and discovered her to be an English whale-ship engaged in the process of "cutting in," or getting on board the ship the blubber of the great fish. When the Essex was within about four miles of the whaler, the latter became alarmed, cast off her fish, and made sail. The Essex threw off her disguise and pursued, and at four o’clock in the afternoon had the stranger within range of her guns. A few shots brought her to, and she became a prize. She was the Sir Andrew Hammond, armed with twelve guns, and manned by thirty-one men. She was the vessel that escaped the Essex on the night of the 28th of July. She had on board a large supply of beef, pork, bread, wood, and water, of which the Essex was in need. With this prize she returned to Banks’s Bay, where she was soon afterward joined by the Essex Junior from Valparaiso. Downes had there moored three of the prizes, and sent the fourth, the Policy, to the United States with a cargo of spermaceti oil.

While at Valparaiso Downes learned two important facts, namely, that the exploits of the Essex had produced great excitement in the British Navy, and caused the government to send out the frigate Phœbe, with one or two consorts, to attempt her capture; and that the Chilian authorities were becoming more friendly to the English than to the Americans. Surveying the situation in the light of this information, Porter resolved to go to the Marquesas Islands, refit his vessels, and return to the United States. His cruise had been remarkably successful. He had captured almost every English whale-ship known to be off the coasts of Peru and Chili, and had deprived the enemy of property to the amount of two and a half millions of dollars, and three hundred and sixty seamen. He had also released the American whalers from danger, and inspired the Peruvians and Chilians with the most profound respect for the American Navy. Accordingly, on the 2d of October, he spread the sails of the Essex to the breeze, and she sailed westward from Banks’s Bay, followed by the Essex Junior, Seringapatam, New Zealander, Sir Andrew Hammond, and Greenwich. Most of these were slow sailers, and kept the Essex back. The impatient Porter, fearing the delay might cause him to miss an English vessel bound for India of which he had heard, sent the Essex Junior forward to the Marquesas with instructions to attempt to intercept and capture her. Meanwhile the squadron crept lazily over the calm sea, and on the 23d of October the group of the Marquesas was seen looming up from the western horizon. On the following day they neared the shores, and saw the natives thronging the beaches and swiftly navigating the waters in light canoes. After passing among the islands a few days, the Essex finally anchored in a fine bay of Nooaheevah with her prizes, except the Essex Junior, which came in soon afterward.

"The situation of the Essex," says Cooper, 6 "was sufficiently remarkable at this moment to merit a brief notice. She had been the first American to carry the pennant of a man-of-war around the Cape of Good Hope, and now she had been the first to bring it into this distant ocean. More than ten thousand miles from home, without colonies, stations, or even a really friendly port to repair to, short of stores, without a consort, and otherwise in possession of none of the required means of subsistence and efficiency, she had boldly steered into this distant region, where she had found all that she had acquired through her own activity; and having swept the seas of her enemies, she had now retired to these little-frequented islands to refit with the security of a ship at home. It is due to the officer who so promptly adopted and so successfully executed this plan, to add, that his enterprise, self-reliance, and skill indicated a man of bold and masculine conception, of great resources, and of a high degree of moral courage – qualities that are indispensable in forming a naval captain."

The bay in which the squadron was moored, and its surroundings, presented very picturesque scenery to the navigators. A beautiful valley was seen extending back from it among the lofty hills, and here and there a native village dotted its margins. Rich vegetation crowned the eminences, and cultivated fields smiled along the slopes and beautiful intervales. The natives every where among the group of islands had appeared very friendly, and Captain Porter expected nothing but quiet and full success in fitting his vessels for his long homeward voyage. In this he was disappointed, for during his stay he was compelled to engage in a military campaign, and take possession of Nooaheevah by force of arms. It happened in this wise:

The anchor of the Essex had just been cast when a canoe shot out from the shore and came alongside the frigate. It contained three white men, one of whom was naked and tattooed like the natives. This man was an Englishman, named Wilson, and had been on the island twenty years. One of his companions was Midshipman John Maury, of the United States Navy, who had been left on the island to gather sandal-wood while the merchant vessel that bore him to it should go to China and return. He was accompanied by a seaman. These were the only white men on Nooaheevah. They informed Porter that war was raging on the island between the native tribes who inhabited the different valleys, and that it was quite fierce between the Taeehs, who dwelt in the one before them, and the Happahs over the mountains. He was farther informed that he would probably be compelled to take the part of the Taeehs against the Happahs in order to get from them such supplies as he desired and the island afforded.

Wilson understood the native language well, and became Porter’s interpreter. With him the captain landed, and was met on the beach by a throng of men, women, and children, who not only welcomed him, but gave cordial greetings to the marines, who followed him with beating drums, and fired volleys of musketry in the air. These unusual sounds brought swarms of the Happahs to the crest of the mountain, where they brandished their spears and clubs in the most threatening manner. They had lately spread desolation through portions of the valley of the Taeehs, destroying houses, plantations, and bread-fruit-trees. Porter immediately sent them word that he had come with force sufficient to take possession of the whole island, and that if they ventured into the Tienhoy Valley as enemies while he remained he would punish them severely. He gave them permission to bring hogs and fruit to the shore, and promised them protection while trafficking. This bold message delighted the Taeehs, and filled the Happahs with awe, because of the powerful ally which good fortune had brought to their enemies.


Porter had just returned to his ship when he was informed that the great Gattanewa, the mighty King of the Taeehs, a descendant of Oateia, or Daylight, through eighty-eight generations, had returned from a tour of inspection to one or two of his strong-holds among the mountains. A boat was sent to bring the monarch on board the Essex, and all hands waited in expectation of seeing a most dignified personage, for their eyes had already seen the really beautiful and stately granddaughter of the monarch. They were disappointed. Before them appeared a tottering man leaning upon a rude stick, bent with the weight of years, naked, excepting temples covered with withered palm-leaves and loins swathed in dirty tappa or native cloth, his skin black with tattooing, and made almost leprous in appearance by the effects of excessive indulgence in the use of kava, a native intoxicating drink. He was then stupefied by its effects, and it was not until after he had slept long in the cabin of the Essex that he was able to talk of public affairs.

Porter agreed to assist Gattanewa against the Happahs and Typees, his chief enemies. He established a camp in a shady plain not far from the beach, and at the same time active labor was commenced in the service of preparing the Essex for her long voyage. Days passed on, and so peaceful did the Americans appear that the Happahs were emboldened. They poured into the valley, menaced the camp, and sent a messenger to Porter to tell him that he was a coward. The old monarch and his chief warriors urged Porter to strike a withering blow. He complied with their request. He landed a 6-pounder cannon, and the natives carried it to the summit of the mountain. He then sent Lieutenant Downes, with forty men with muskets, to attack the Happahs. They were driven from hill to hill until they reached one of their forts on the brow of an eminence. There, four thousand strong, they made a stand, and hurled spears and stones at the assailants. The fort was stormed and captured, and the awe-struck Happahs fled in every direction. Their hostility was overcome, and they hastened to send messengers with prayers for peace. Within a week envoys from almost every tribe on the island appeared bearing tribute-treasures and tokens of friendship. Porter’s power was supreme. He took possession of a conical hill overlooking his encampment and the harbor, cast up a breastwork formed of water-casks filled with earth, mounted four guns upon it, raised the American flag over it, and on the 19th of November took formal possession of the island. He named Nooaheevah Madison Island, and the breastwork Fort Madison, in honor of the President of the United States; and to the beautiful expanse of water before him he gave the name of Massachusetts Bay, in token of his attachment to his birth-place.


The fort was placed in command of Lieutenant John M. Gamble, of the Marines, and Messrs. Feltus and Clapp, midshipmen, with twenty-one men, were placed under his orders, and remained there until the squadron was ready to sail. This was wise precaution to secure the speedy repairs of the Essex.

The powerful Typees had remained hostile, and became more and more defiant, to the great discomfort of Gattanewa’s people and the annoyance of the Americans. At length Porter resolved to make war upon them. An expedition, consisting of thirty-five Americans, including Captain Porter and five thousand Taeehs and Happahs, moved against the incorrigibles. The Typees, armed with slings and spears, met them with such overwhelming numbers and fierce determination, that at the end of the first day they were compelled to fall back to the beach, and numbering among their casualties a shattered leg belonging to Lieutenant Downes, caused by a blow from a sling-man’s stone. That night the valley of the Typees resounded with shouts of victory, and the sonorous reverberations of many beaten drums.


Porter renewed the attempt the next day, and led his motley army boldly over the rugged hills into the Typee Valley, in the midst of great exposure to hostile missiles from concealed foes, and many privations. Village after village was destroyed until they came to the principal town, in which were fine buildings, a large public square, temples and gods, huge war-canoes, and other exhibitions of half-savage life. These were all reduced to ashes, and by the broom of desolation that beautiful valley, four miles in width and nine in length, was made a blackened desert. The Typees, utterly ruined and humbled, now submissively paid tribute, and Porter could say

"I am monarch of all I survey;

My right there is none to dispute."

Porter had allowed his crew full indulgence while at Nooahevah. The natives were lavish in that species of savage hospitality which gives concubines to strangers in the persons of their wives and daughters. The women of that island were really beautiful in figure and feature, and not much darker in complexion than most Spanish women. Warm attachments were formed between them and the seamen, and when, on the eve of departure, Porter forbade his men going on shore, they were greatly discontented. For three days during this restraint they became almost mutinous. "The girls," says Porter in his Journal, "lined the beach from morning until night, and every moment importuned me to take the taboos off the men, and laughingly expressed their grief by dipping their fingers into the sea and touching their eyes, so as to let the salt water trickle down their cheeks. Others would seize a chip, and, holding it in the manner of a shark’s tooth, declared they would cut themselves to pieces in their despair; some threatened to beat their brains out with a spear of grass, some to drown themselves, and all were determined to inflict upon themselves some dreadful punishment if I did not permit their sweet-hearts to come on shore." 8 Porter’s men did not take the deprivation so good-naturedly. Their situation, they said, was worse than slavery; and a man named Robert White declared, on board the Essex Junior, that the crew of the Essex had come to a resolution not to weigh her anchor, or, if they should be compelled to get the ship under weigh, in three days’ time after leaving the port to seize the ship and hoist their own flag. Porter thought it necessary to notice the affair. He assembled his men and addressed them kindly. He spoke of the reported threat, expressed his belief that the rumor could not be true, but added, "should such an event take place, I will, without hesitation, put a match to the magazine and blow you all to eternity." He added that perhaps there might be some grounds for the report, and said, "Let me see who are and who are not disposed to obey my orders. You who are inclined to get the ship under weigh, come on the starboard side; and you who are otherwise disposed, remain where you are." All hastened to the starboard side. The men showed great willingness to be obedient. Then White, the ringleader of the mutineers, if there were any, was called out. After informing the crew that this was the man who had slandered them, Porter sent him ashore in one of the numerous canoes in which the natives were swarming around the ship, and left him behind.

The Essex was thoroughly fitted for her long voyage and for encountering enemies early in December, and on the 12th [1813.] she sailed, with her prizes, from Nooaheevah, taking with her Mr. Maury and his companion. They stretched away eastward to the South American continent, and early in January the peaks of the Andes were visible. On the 3d of February [1814.] Porter entered the harbor of Valparaiso, exchanged salutes with the fort, went on shore to pay his respects to the governor, and on the following day received a visit from his Excellency and his wife, and some other officers. Meanwhile the Essex Junior cruised off the port as a scout to give warning of the approach of any man-of-war. Notwithstanding the friendly demonstrations of the governor, it was evident to Captain Porter that the English were in higher favor than the Americans with the Chilian government.

Porter had not been long in Valparaiso when two English men-of-war were reported in the offing. They sailed into the harbor all prepared for action, and seemed ready to violate the hospitalities of a neutral port. These vessels were, the Phœbe, 36, Captain Hillyar, and the Cherub, 20, Captain Tucker. The former mounted thirty long 18-pounders, sixteen 32-pound carronades, and one howitzer, and six 3-pounders in her tops. Her crew consisted of three hundred and twenty men and boys. The Cherub mounted eighteen 32-pound carronades below, with eight 24-pound carronades and two long 9’s above, making a total of twenty-eight guns. Her crew mustered one hundred and eighty. The Essex at this time could muster only two hundred and twenty-five souls, and the Essex Junior only sixty. The Essex had forty 32-pound carronades, and six long 12-pounders; and the Essex Junior bore only ten 18-pound carronades, and ten short 6’s. The weight of men and metal was heavily in favor of the British vessels.

As the Phœbe came sweeping into the harbor with her men all at quarters, and ran close alongside the Essex, Porter warned Hillyar that if his vessel touched the American frigate he should open upon her, and much blood would be shed, for he was fully prepared for action. "I do not intend to board you," exclaimed the Englishman, who perceived Porter’s readiness to fight, but as he luffed up his ship was taken aback, and his jib-boom was thrown across the forecastle of the Essex in a menacing manner. Porter summoned his men and bade them spring upon the Phœbe, cutlasses in hand, the moment when the two vessels should touch each other. She was completely in the power of the Essex, and with the aid of the Essex Junior the American frigate might have sunk the Phœbe in fifteen minutes. Hillyar saw his helplessness, and, throwing up his hands in consternation, declared that his present position was an accident. The chivalrous Porter accepted the apology, and the frightened Englishman was allowed to pass on. It was afterward generally believed that Hillyar had positive orders to attack the Essex, even in a neutral South American port, and that his intentions were hostile until the moment when he discovered his imminent peril in the power of the gallant American.

After obtaining some supplies, the English vessels went out and cruised off Valparaiso. During a period of more than six weeks Porter tried in vain to bring on an engagement with the Phœbe singly, or with the Essex Junior in company. On the 27th of February he felt sure of a fight, for the Phœbe stood close in for the harbor, displaying a banner on which were the words "God and our Country; British Sailors’ best Rights; Traitors offend both." Porter accepted this as a challenge, quickly prepared his vessel, and hoisting a banner under his old motto, "Free Trade and Sailors’ Rights," with the words "God, our Country, and Liberty; Tyrants offend them," he sailed boldly out. Hillyar, who had doubtless been instructed not to fight the Essex alone, quickly showed the stern of his ship, and ran down to the Cherub, to the great disgust of the Americans.

Informed that other English cruisers might be expected soon, Porter determined to run the blockade and put to sea. On the 28th of March he spread his sails to a stiff southwest breeze, and made a bold dash for the open Pacific. A heavy squall struck the Essex as she rounded the Point of Angels, carrying away the maintopmast, and over into the deep the men who were aloft reefing. They were lost. The British ships, lying in wait outside, immediately gave chase, while the crippled frigate crawled toward the friendly port to repair damages. She could not reach her old anchorage in time to escape the enemy, so she took shelter in a bay not far from a battery, and anchored within pistol-shot of the shore. Notwithstanding that was neutral ground, the enemy’s vessels bore down upon the Essex, and Captain Hillyar, unmindful of the courtesy of Porter when the Phœbe was within his power, proceeded to attack her. The Essex prepared for conflict, and endeavored to place a spring on her cable. Before this could be accomplished the Phœbe got in an advantageous position, and, at a few minutes before five o’clock in the afternoon [March 28, 1814.], opened fire upon the stern of the American frigate with his long guns. The Cherub at the same time assailed the starboard bow of the Essex, while the Essex Junior was unable to render her consort any assistance.

The Cherub was soon driven off by the bow-guns of the Essex, and joined with the Phœbe in a severe raking fire on the American. For a while the latter was unable to reply, but at length three of her long twelves were run out of her stern ports, and were handled with so much dexterity and power that, at the end of half an hour after the action commenced, both of the English ships were compelled to haul off and repair damages. The Essex had been much bruised in the conflict, and many of her crew were killed or wounded. Her ensign at the gaff and her battle-flag had been shot away, but her banner, inscribed "FREE TRADE AND SAILORS’ RIGHTS," 9 was still flying at the fore. Every man, from the commander down, resolved to defend her to the last.

The Phœbe and Cherub soon renewed their attack in a position on the starboard quarter of the Essex where she could make no effectual resistance, the distance between her and her antagonists being too great to be reached by her carronades. Their fire was very galling, and Porter was driven to the alternative of surrendering, or running down to close quarters with his enemy. He decided on the latter movement, notwithstanding his ship had suffered a farther loss of important spars and rigging. So badly was she crippled that the only sail that could be made available was the flying jib. This was hoisted, the cable was cut, and slowly the Essex edged away toward the Phœbe until she was within range of the frigate’s carronades, when for a few minutes the firing on both sides was tremendous. The Phœbe changed her position to a long range, and kept up a terrific cannonade upon her helpless antagonist, whose deck was now strewn with the dead, her cockpit and ward-room filled with the wounded, and a portion of her hull in flames. Many of her guns were disabled; and at one of them no less than fifteen men – three entire crews – fell dead or mortally wounded. Yet she drove off the Cherub, and for two hours maintained the terrible combat with her principal antagonist.

Porter now perceived no chance for boarding the Phœbe, and the raking of her long guns was producing horrible carnage in his ship. He resolved to attempt to run her ashore, land her people, and set her on fire. The wind was favorable; but when she was within musket-shot distance from the beach, it shifted, paying the ship’s head broad off leaving her exposed to a raking fire from the Phœbe. At this moment of extreme peril, Lieutenant Downes came from the Essex Junior in an open boat to receive orders. He was directed to defend, or, if necessary, to destroy his own vessel. He returned with some of the wounded, and left three sound men who came with him.

The slaughter on the Essex continued, the enemy’s shot hulling her at almost every discharge. Still Porter held out, hoping to lay his ship alongside the cautious Phœbe. He let go an anchor, by which the head of his vessel was brought round and enabled to give his enemy a broadside. It was effectual. The Phœbe was crippled by it, and began drifting away with the tide. Porter was hopeful of success, when his hawser parted, and the Essex, an almost helpless wreck and on fire, floated toward her antagonist. The flames came up both the main and forward hatchways. There was no longer a chance for saving the ship. The magazine was threatened. Already an explosion of powder had added to the confusion. Porter was unhurt. He called a council of officers. Only one man (Lieutenant Stephen D. M‘Knight) 10 came! The rest were either slain or wounded. He then told his men that those who preferred to take the risk of drowning by jumping overboard and swimming for the shore, to the certainty of being blown up, might do so. Many accepted the offer. Some reached the beach; a large number were drowned. Porter hauled down his flag. The vessel was surrendered, and the flames were extinguished. Of the two hundred and twenty-five brave men who went into the fight, only seventy-five effective ones remained. Fifty-eight had been killed, sixty-six wounded, and thirty-one were missing. The two vessels of the enemy lost, in the aggregate, only five killed and ten wounded.


Thus ended the wonderful and brilliant cruise of the Essex. Her closing exploits were as gallant as her former career. "We have been unfortunate, but not disgraced," wrote her noble commander. "The defense of the Essex has not been less honorable to her officers and crew than the capture of an equal force; and I now consider my situation less unpleasant than that of Commodore Hillyar, who, in violation of every principle of honor and generosity, and regardless of the rights of nations, attacked the Essex in her crippled state within pistol-shot of a neutral shore, when for six weeks I had daily offered him fair and honorable combat." 12

By an arrangement with the victorious Hillyar the Essex Junior was made a cartel, and in her Porter and his surviving companions sailed for the United States. After a voyage of seventy-three days they arrived on the coast off Long Island, and fell in with the Saturn, a British ship of war, whose commander (Nash) questioned the papers of the Essex Junior, and detained her. The indignant Porter considered this treatment a violation of his arrangements with Hillyar, and escaped in a whale-boat. After sailing and rowing about sixty miles, he landed near Babylon, on the south side of Long Island, where he was suspected of being a British officer. His commission settled the question, and he enjoyed unbounded hospitality. He made his way to New York, where he was received with demonstrations of most profound respect; and when intelligence went over the country of the exploits of the Essex, every city, village, and hamlet was vocal with his praises. Municipal honors were lavished upon him; and several State Legislatures and the National Congress thanked him for his services. By universal acclamation he was called the Hero of the Pacific. Philip Freneau, the popular bard of the Revolution, wrote a dull ode on "The Capture of the Essex;" and a livelier poet, in his "Battle of Valparaiso," thus sang:

"From the laurel’s fairest bough

Let the muse her garland twine,
To adorn our Porter’s brow,
Who, beyond the burning line,
Led his caravan of tars o’er the tide.
To the pilgrims fill the bowl,
Who, around the southern pole,
Saw new constellations roll,
For their guide."

This cruise was Porter’s most eminent service afloat. He aided in the defense of Baltimore a few weeks after his return home; and at the close of the war he was appointed one of the commissioners on naval affairs. In 1817 he commanded a small fleet sent to break up a nest of pirates and freebooters in the Gulf of Mexico. In 1826 he resigned his commission in the navy, and afterward became the representative of the United States in Turkey, as resident minister, at Constantinople. He died near that city in 1843, at the age of sixty-three years. His remains were brought to the United States; landed at Philadelphia; borne to St. Stephen’s Church, South Tenth Street, wherein religious services for the occasion were performed; and he was buried on the north side of that church. They were afterward removed to the grounds of the Naval Asylum on the banks of the Schuylkill, and buried at the foot of the flag-staff. Once more they were removed, and now find a resting-place beneath a beautiful monument in Woodlawn Cemetery, Philadelphia. His countrymen remember him with just pride. 13


While Commodore Porter was in the Pacific with the Essex, Commodore Rodgers was on a long cruise in the North Atlantic in his favorite frigate, the President, 44. He left Boston on the 27th of April, 1813, and President Road on the 30th, in company with the Congress, 38, and, after a cruise of one hundred and forty-eight days, arrived at Newport, Rhode Island, having captured eleven sail of merchant vessels and the British armed schooner Highflyer.

Rodgers sailed northeasterly, in the direction of the southern edge of the Gulf Stream, until the 8th of May, when the President and Congress parted company, 14 the former cruising off more to the southward in quest of the British commercial ships in the West India trade. She was unsuccessful, and Rodgers turned her head in a direction that promised the good fortune of intercepting vessels trading between the West Indies and Halifax, St. John’s and Quebec. Again there was no success; and after beating about among almost perpetual fogs, the President was off the Azores early in June. Rodgers now determined to try his fortune in the North Sea in search of British merchantmen. Much to his astonishment, he did not meet with a single vessel until he made the Shetland Islands, and there he found only Danish ships trading to England under British licenses.

Rodgers’s supplies now began to fail, and he put into North Bergen, in Norway, for the purpose of replenishment. In this, too, he was disappointed. An alarming scarcity of food prevailed over all the country, and he was able to obtain only water. He put to sea, and cruised about in those high latitudes with the hope of falling in with a fleet of English merchantmen which were to sail from Archangel at the middle of July. At the moment when he expected to make prizes of some of them, he fell in with two British ships of war. Unable to contend with them, the President fled, hotly pursued by the foe. Owing to the perpetual daylight (the sun at that season being there several degrees above the horizon at midnight), they were enabled to keep up the chase more than eighty hours, during which time they were much nearer the President than was desirable on the part of the pursued. She finally escaped; and Rodgers, neither daunted nor disheartened, and having his stores somewhat replenished by those of two vessels which fell into his hands just before the appearance of the war-ships, turned westward to intercept merchantmen coming out of and going into the Irish Channel. Between the 25th of July and the 1st of August he captured three vessels, when, finding that the enemy had a superior force in that vicinity, he found it expedient to change his ground. After making a complete circuit of Ireland, and getting into the latitude of Cape Clear, he steered for the Banks of Newfoundland, near which he made two more captures. From one of these he learned that the Bellerophon, 74, and Hyperion frigate (both British vessels) were only a few miles from him. He did not fall in with them, however, and soon stood for the coast of the United States. 15

On the 23d of September the President toward evening fell in with the British armed schooner Highflyer, tender to Admiral Warren’s flag-ship St. Domingo. She was a fine vessel of her class; a fast sailer, and was commanded by Lieutenant Hutchinson. When discovered she was six or seven miles distant. By a stratagem Rodgers decoyed her alongside the President, and captured her without firing a gun. She did not even discover that the President was her enemy until the stratagem had succeeded. It was done in this wise: Previous to his departure on this cruise Rodgers was placed in possession of some of the British signals. These he had ordered to be made on board his ship, and he now resolved to try their efficacy. He hoisted an English ensign over the President. The Highflyer answered by displaying another, and at the same time a signal from a mast-head. To Rodgers’s delight, he discovered that he possessed its complement. He then signaled that his vessel was the Sea Horse, one of the largest of its class known to be then on the American coast. The Highflyer at once bore down, hove to under the stern of the President, and received one of Rodgers’s lieutenants on board, who was dressed in British uniform. He bore an order from Rodgers for the commander of the Highflyer to send his signal-books on board to be altered, as some of the Yankees, it was alleged, had obtained possession of some of them. The unsuspecting lieutenant obeyed, and Rodgers was put in possession of the key to the whole correspondence of the British Navy. 16

The commander of the Highflyer soon followed his signal-books. He was pleased with every thing on board the supposed Sea Horse, and admired even the scarlet uniform of Rodgers’s marines, whom he mistook for British soldiers. When invited into the cabin, he placed in the commodore’s hands a bundle of dispatches for Admiral Warren, and informed his supposed friend that the main object of the British naval commander-in-chief on the American station at that time was the capture or destruction of the President, which had been greatly annoying British commerce, and spreading alarm throughout British waters. The commodore inquired what kind of a man Rodgers was, when the lieutenant replied that he had never seen him, but had heard that he was "an odd fish, and hard to catch." "Sir," said Rodgers, with startling emphasis, "do you know what vessel you are on board of?" "Why, yes, sir," he replied, "on board His Majesty’s ship Sea Horse!" "Then, sir, you labor under a mistake," said Rodgers. "You are on board the United States frigate President, and I am Commodore Rodgers, at your service!" At the same moment the band struck up Yankee Doodle on the President’s quarter-deck, and over it the American ensign was displayed, while the uniforms of the marines were suddenly changed from red to blue! 17 The British commander could hardly be persuaded to believe the testimony of his own senses; and he was astounded when he found himself in the hands of Commodore Rodgers. He had been one of Cockburn’s subalterns when that marauder plundered and burned Havre de Grace 18 a few months before; and it is affirmed that Lieutenant Hutchinson had now in his possession a sword which he carried away from Commodore Rodgers’s house on that occasion. 19 He had been warned by Captain Oliver, when receiving his instructions as commander of the Highflyer, to take care and not be outwitted by the Yankees. "Especially be careful," said Oliver, "not to fall into the hands of Commodore Rodgers, for if he comes across you, he will hoist you upon his jib-boom and carry you into Boston!" 20 But Rodgers treated the sinner with all the courtesy due to a prisoner of war, and he was soon allowed to go at large on parole. 21

Three days after the capture of the Highflyer 22 Rodgers sailed into Newport Harbor, accompanied by his prize, her commander, and fifty-five other prisoners. His cruise, as he said, had not been productive of much additional lustre to the American Navy, but he had rendered his country signal service by harassing the enemy’s commerce, and keeping more than twenty vessels in search of him for several weeks. He had captured eleven merchant vessels, and two hundred and seventy-one prisoners. All of the latter, excepting the fifty-five, had been paroled, and sent home in the captured vessels.

Commodore Rodgers sailed from Newport on another cruise in the President on the 5th of December [1813.], with a stiff breeze from the north-northwest, and got well to sea without falling in with a British squadron, as he expected to. On the following day he captured the Cornet, which had been taken from the Americans by British cruisers, and then sailed southward. In the vicinity of Barbadoes he captured a British merchantman on the 5th of January [1814.], on the 7th another, and on the 9th another. He remained to the windward of Barbadoes until the 16th [January.], when he ran down into the Caribbean Sea, and cruised unsuccessfully in that region for a while. He finally captured and sunk a British merchantman, and then sailed for the coast of Florida. Proceeding northward, he was off Charleston Bar on the 11th of February [1814.], but did not enter. He continued his voyage up the coast, chasing and being chased, and, dashing through a vigilant British blockading squadron off Sandy Hook, he sailed into New York harbor on the evening of the 18th. 23 He was greeted with honors by the citizens of New York; and on the 7th of March a dinner was given in compliment to him at Tammany Hall. Most of the notables of the city were present; and it was on that occasion that Rodgers gave the following toast, which was received with great enthusiasm by the company present, and praised by the administration newspapers throughout the country: "Peace – if it can be obtained without the sacrifice of national honor or the abandonment of maritime rights; otherwise war until peace shall be secured without the sacrifice of either." More than three hundred gentlemen were at the dinner, among whom were many ship-masters. A toast to the commodore elicited eighteen cheers, and a song hastily written that morning was sung by one of the guests. 24

The President being in need of a thorough overhauling, the Secretary of the Navy offered to Commodore Rodgers the command of the Guerriere, which might much sooner be made ready for sea. 25 The commodore accepted the offer, and repaired to Philadelphia, where the Guerriere, 44, was being fitted out. Finding her not so nearly ready as he had supposed her to be, 26 the commodore informed the secretary that he preferred to retain command of the President. But the Secretary, in the interim, had offered the President to Decatur. Rodgers courteously allowed that commander to take his choice of vessels, when he chose that which had borne the broad pennant of Commodore Rodgers for several years. 27

Here closes the story of the naval operations of the war for the year 1813. Another field of observation now claims our consideration.



1 See page 458.

2 Sympathetic ink is composed of compounds which, when written with, will remain invisible until heated. Solutions of cobalt thus become blue or green, lemon-juice turns brown, and a very dilute sulphuric acid blackens.

3 Journal of a Cruise made to the Pacific Ocean by Captain David Porter, in the United States Frigate Essex, in the Years 1812, 1813, and 1814, i., 36.

4 See page 460.

5 John Downes was born in Massachusetts. He entered the naval service as midshipman in 1802, and was active in the attack on the shipping in the harbor of Tripoli. He accompanied Porter, as lieutenant, in the entire cruise of the Essex, and became commander of the Essex Junior. In 1831 he was promoted to captain, and commanded the Potomac in the punishment of the Quallah Battoo people for outrages on American commerce. His last sea service was in 1834. He died in Boston on the 11th of August, 1854, and was buried with the honors due to his rank. Secretary Dobbin directed the officers of the Navy and Marine Corps to wear crape on the left arm for thirty days.

6 Naval History of the United States, ii., 222.

7 From a drawing by Captain Porter.

8 See Porter’s Journal, ii., 137.

9 See page 441.

10 Stephen Decatur M‘Knight was a native of Connecticut. After the capture of the Essex, he, with a companion named James Lyman, were sent to Rio de Janeiro as prisoners of war, where they were shipped for England in a Swedish vessel. They were never heard of afterward. The vessel arrived in safety, but the captain of the vessel never gave any account of them.

11 From a drawing by Captain Porter.

12 Porter’s Dispatch to the Secretary of the Navy, July 3, 1813. Porter relates that when he was about to part with Hillyar at Valparaiso, he alluded to his conduct in attacking the Essex under such circumstances, when the British commander, with tears in his eyes, said, "My dear Porter, you know not the responsibility that hung over me with respect to your ship. Perhaps my life depended on taking her." "I asked no explanations at the time," says Porter, when writing of the affair several years afterward. "If he can show that the responsibility rests on his government, I shall do him justice with more pleasure than I now impeach his conduct." – Journal, ii., 157.

13 David Porter was born in Boston on the 1st of February, 1780. His first experience in the navy was in the frigate Constellation, in which he entered as midshipman in 1798. He was in the action between that vessel and L’Insurgente, in February, 1799, when his gallantry was so conspicuous that he was immediately promoted to lieutenant. He accompanied the first United States squadron that ever sailed to the Mediterranean in 1803, and was on board the Philadelphia when she struck on the rock in the Harbor of Tripoli. There he suffered imprisonment. In 1806 he was appointed to the command of the Enterprise, and cruised in the Mediterranean for six years. On his return to the United States he was placed in command of the flotilla station near New Orleans, where he remained until war was declared in 1812, when he was promoted to captain, and assigned to the command of the frigate Essex. His exploits in her have been recorded in the text of this chapter.

The following are the inscriptions on Porter’s monument in Woodlawn Cemetery, Philadelphia:

North Side. – "COMMODORE DAVID PORTER, one of the most heroic sons of Pennsylvania, having long represented his country with fidelity as minister resident at Constantinople, died at that city in the patriotic discharge of his duty, March 8, 1843."

South Side. – "In the War of 1812 his merits were exhibited not merely as an intrepid commander, but in exploring new fields of success and glory. A career of brilliant good fortune was crowned by an engagement against superior force and fearful advantages, which history records as an event among the most remarkable in naval warfare."

West Side. – "His early youth was conspicuous for skill and gallantry in the naval services of the United States when the American arms were exercised with romantic chivalry before the battlements of Tripoli. He was on all occasions among the bravest of the brave; zealous in the performance of every duty; ardent and resolute in the trying hour of calamity; composed and steady in the blaze of victory."

East Side. – No inscription. On the upper part of the column the word "PORTER," in a wreath. On the lower part a trident and anchor crossed.

14 The Congress continued at sea until the 12th of December, having cruised in the far-distant waters of the South American coast. She captured several British vessels, among them two armed brigs of ten guns each.

15 Letter of Commodore Rodgers to the Secretary of the Navy, dated Newport, September 27, 1813.

16 See a description of signals on pages 182-184.

17 Statement of Commodore Rodgers after the war to a friend at his own table in Washington City. Letter of Commodore Rodgers to the Secretary of the Navy, September 27, 1813.

18 See page 672.

19 National Advocate, November, 1813.

20 Niles’s Register, v., 129.

21 George Hutchinson entered the British navy as midshipman in 1796, and was active in the various official grades through which he passed up to that of commander in the autumn of 1821. He was commissioned a lieutenant in 1806, and in 1811 he was assigned to a station on the St .Domingo, preparing for the American coast. He first commanded the Dolphin, a vessel captured by the British from the Americans at the month of the Rappahannock early in April, 1813, and converted into a tender of the St. Domingo. See page 669. He was afterward commander of another tender of the flag-ship, the Highflyer, and was captured in her, as we have observed in the text, on the 26th of September, 1813. After his promotion to commander in the British navy in 1821, he retired from active service, and was yet on the half-pay list in 1849. See O’Byrne’s Naval Biography.

22 This was the only man-of-war ever captured by Rodgers.

23 Letter of Commodore Rodgers to the Secretary of the Navy, February 19, 1813.

24 See Niles’s Register, vi., 44.

25 "Commodore Rodgers," said a writer at this time, "is, we conjecture, between forty and forty-five years of age; a man of few words, and not conspicuous for the love of parade or dress; but his ship, for interior order, neatness, elegance, and taste, may vie with any that floats on the ocean. It is said that his discipline is perfect; and this, perhaps, may account for the opinion that he is distant and very reserved to those under him; but his reserve in company carries the air of the reserve of the studious man, without the least trait of haughtiness, for humanity and great attention to the care of the youth under his command is a pleasing trait in this brave man’s character." – The Polyanthus, Boston.

26 The Guerriere was launched on the 20th of July, and was the first two-decked ship that ever properly belonged to the American Navy. – Cooper.

27 Rodgers’s evasion of the blockade was a cause of deep mortification to the British, for three of their large ships of war were on the alert, the nearest of which was the Plantagenet, 74, Captain Lloyd. Rodgers expected a brush with them, and cleared his ship for action. He even fired a gun to windward as a proof of his willingness to fight, but he was not molested. On returning to England, Lloyd excused himself by alleging a mutiny in his ship, and on that charge several of the sailors were executed.



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