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LXXIV. THE AMERICAN PRIVATEER 6.
Fayal, October 15th, 1814. SIR-The American privateer brig General Armstrong, of New York, Captain Samuel C. Reid, of seven guns, and ninety men, entered here on the 26th ultimo, about noon, 17 days from that place, for the purpose of obtaining water. The captain, seeing nothing on the horizon, was induced to anchor. Before the lapse of many hours, his Majesty's brig Carnation came in, and anchored near her.
About six, his Majesty's ship, Plantagenet, of 74 guns, and the Rota frigate, came in and anchored also. The captain of the privateer and his friends consulted the first authorities here about her security. They all considered her perfectly secure, and that his Majesty's officers were too well acquainted with the respect due to a neutral port to molest her. But to the great surprise of every one, about 9 in the evening, four boats were dispatched, armed and manned from his Majesty's ships, for the purpose of cutting her out. being about the full of the moon, the night perfectly clear and calm, we could see every movement made. The boats approached rapidly towards her, when, it appears, the captain of the privateer hailed them, and told them to keep off, several times. They notwithstanding pushed on, and were in the act of boarding, before any defence was made from the privateer. A warm contest ensued on both sides. The boats were finally dispersed with great loss.
The American now calculating on a very superior force being sent, cut his cables and rowed the privateer close in alongside of the fort, within half cable's length, where he moored her, head and stern, with four lines.
The governor now sent a remonstrance to Captain Lloyd, of the Plantagenet, against such proceedings, and trusted that the privateer would not be further molested; she being in the dominions of Portugal, and under the guns of the castle, was entitled to Portuguese protection.
Captain Lloyd's answer was, that he was deter
ed to de
stroy the vessel, at the expense of all Fayal; and should any protection be given her by the fort, he would not leave a house standing in the village. All the inhabitants were gathered about the walls, expecting a renewal of the attack. At mid
night 14 launches were discovered to be coming, in rotation, for the purpose.
When they got within clear gun-shot, a tremendous and effectual discharge was made from the privateer, which threw the boats into confusion. They now returned a spirited fire; but the privateer kept up so continual a discharge, it was almost impossible for the boats to make any progress. They finally succeeded, after immense loss in getting alongside of her, and attempted to board at every quarter, cheered by the officers, with a shout of "no quarter," which we could distinctly hear, as well as their shrieks and cries. The termination was near about a total massacre.
Three of the boats were sunk, and but one poor solitary officer escaped death, in a boat that contained fifty souls; he was wounded. The Americans fought with great firmness; some of the boats were left without a single man to row them; others with three or four; the most that any one returned with, was about ten. Several boats floated on shore, full of
With great reluctance I state, that they were manned with picked men, and commanded by the first, second, third, and fourth lieutenants of the Plantagenet; first, second, third, and fourth ditto, of the frigate, and the first officers of the brig; together with a great number of midshipmen. Our whole force exceeded 400 men; but three officers escaped, two of which are wounded. This bloody and unfortunate contest lasted about 40 minutes,
After the boats gave out, nothing more was attempted till daylight next morning, when the Carnation hauled alongside and engaged her. The privateer still continued to make a most gallant defence. These veterans reminded me of Lawrence's dying words, of the Chesapeake, "Don't give up the ship!" The Carnation lost one of her topmasts, and her yards were shot away; she was much cut up in the rigging, and received several shot in her hull. This obliged her to haul off to repair, and to cease firing.
The Americans now finding their principal gun (Long.Tom) and several others dismounted, deemed it folly to think of saving her against so superior a force; they therefore cut away her masts to the deck, blew a hole through her bottom, took out their small arms, clothing, &c., and went on shore. I discovered only two shot-holes in the hull of the privateer although much cut up in the rigging.
Two boats' crews were afterwards dispatched from our vessels, which went on board, took out some provisions, and set her on fire.
For three days after, we were employed in burying the dead that washed on shore in the surf. The number of British killed exceeds 120, and 90 wounded. The enemy [the Americans], to the surprise of mankind, lost only two killed, and seven wounded. We may well say " God deliver us from our enemies," if this is the way the Americans fight.
After burning the privateer, Captain Lloyd made a demand of the governor to deliver up the Americans as prisoners- -which the governor refused. He threatened to send 500 men on shore, and take them by force. The Americans immediately retired with their arms to an old Gothic convent; knocked away the adjoining drawbridge, and determined to defend themselves to the last. The captain, however, changing his mind, made no further attempt; only demanded two men, which he said deserted from his vessel when in America. The governor sent for the men, but found none of the description given.
Many houses received much injury on shore from the guns of the Carnation. A woman, sitting in the fourth story of her house, had her thigh shot off; and a boy had his arm broken. The American Consul here has made a demand on the Portuguese government for a hundred thousand dollars for the privateer; which our Consul, Mr. Parkin, thinks in justice will be paid; and that they will claim on England. Mr. Parkin, Mr. Edward Bayley, and other English gentlemen, disapprove of the outrage and depredation committed by our vessels on this occasion. The vessel [a shipof-war] that was dispatched to England with the wounded, was not permitted to take a single letter from any person. Being an eye-witness to this transaction, I have given you a correct statement as it occurred.
With respect, I am, &c.,
H. K. F.
At sea, October 18th.
I HAVE emerged from my berth this morning, for the first time since we left the Capes. We have been running six or seven days before a strong northwest gale, which, by the scuds in the sky, is not yet blown out, and my head and hand, as
you will see by my penmanship, are any thing but at rights. If you have ever plunged about in a cold rain-storm at sea for seven successive days, you can imagine how I have amused myself.
The day of our sailing, some ten or fifteen vessels, bound on different voyages, lay in the roads waiting for a pilot-boat, and as she came down the river, they all weighed anchor together, and we got under way. It was a beautiful sightso many sail in close company under a smart breeze, and I stood on the quarter-deck, and watched them in a mood of mingled happiness and sadness, till we reached the Capes.
We made Cape Henlopen about sundown, and all shortened sail and came to. The little boat passed from one to another, taking off the pilots, and in a few minutes every sail was spread again, and away they went with a dashing breeze, some on one course and some on another, leaving us, in less than an hour, apparently alone on the sea. By this time the clouds had grown black, the wind had strengthened into a gale, with fits of rain; and as the order was given to "close-reef the topsails," I took a last look at Cape Henlopen, just visible in the far edge of the horizon, and went below.
This is the first day that I have been able to come on deck. It is a day to make one in love with life. The remains of the long storm, before which we have been driven for a week, lie in white, turreted masses around the horizon, the sky overhead is spotlessly blue, the sun is warm, the wind steady and fresh, but soft as a child's breath, and the sea-I must sketch it to you more elaborately. We are in the Gulf stream. The water here, as you know, even to the cold banks of Newfoundland, is always blood warm, and the temperature of the air mild at all seasons, and just now, like a south wind on land in June. Hundreds of seabirds are sailing around us -the spongy sea-weeds, washed from the West Indian rocks, a thousand miles away in the Southern latitudes, float by in large masses-the sailors, barefooted and bareheaded, are scattered over the rigging, doing "fair-weather work," and just in the edge of the horizon, hidden by every swell, stand two vessels, with all sail spread, making, with the first fair wind they have had in many days, for America.
I came on deck this morning and looked around, and for an hour or two I could scarce realize that it was not a dream. Much as I had watched the sea from our bold promontory at Nahant, and well as I thought I knew its character in storms
and calms, the scene which was before me surprised and bewildered me utterly. At the first glance, we were just in the gorge of the sea, and, looking over the leeward quarter, I saw, stretching up from the keel, what I can only describe as a hill of dazzling blue, thirty or forty feet in real altitude, but sloped so far away that the white crest seemed to me a cloud, and the space between, a sky of the most wonderful beauty and brightness. A moment more, and the crest burst over with a splendid volume of foam; the sun struck through the thinner. part of the swell in a line of vivid emerald, and the whole mass swept under us, the brig rising and riding on the summit with the buoyancy and grace of a bird.
The single view of the ocean which I got at that moment, will be impressed upon my mind for ever. Nothing that I ever saw on land at all compares with it for splendor. No sunset, no lake scene of hill and water, no fall, not even Niagara, no glen or mountain-gap ever approached it. The waves had had no time to "knock down" as the sailors phrase it, and it was a storm at sea, without the hurricane and the rain. I looked off to the horizon, and the long majestic swells were heaving into the sky upon its distant limit, and between it and my eye lay a radius of twelve miles, an immense plain flashing with green and blue and white, and changing place and color so rapidly as to be almost painful to the sight. I stood holding by the taffrail an hour, gazing on it with a child. ish delight and wonder. The spray had broken over me repeatedly, and as we shipped half a sea at the scuppers at every roll, I was standing half the time up to my knees in water; but the warm wind on my forehead, after a week's confinement to my berth, and the excessive beauty lavished upon my sight, were so delicious, that I forgot all, and it was only in compliance with the captain's repeated suggestion that I changed my position. I mounted the quarter-deck, and pulling off my shoes, like a schoolboy, sat over the leeward rails, and with my feet dipping into the warm sea at every lurch, gazed at the glorious show for hours. I do not hesitate to say that the formation, progress, and final burst of a sea-wave, in a bright sun, are the most gorgeously beautiful sight under heaven. N. P. WILLIS.