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British official Report of the Prince de Neufchatel vs Endymion battle

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From the PRO in Kew, Reference numbers ADMI/507, XC 22779A

 

"[To:] Honorable Alexander Cochrane, K.B.

Admiral of the Red, and

Commander in Chief, , Etc, etc,

 

Superb at Halifax

15th November, 1814.

Sir,

 

It is with extreme regret I do myself the honor to transmit to you herewith, a copy of a letter and its enclosures dated the 11th Ultimo, which I have received from Captain Hope of His Majesty's Ship Endymion detailing the particulars of a gallant but unsuccessful attack made by the boats of that ship under the direction of Lieutenants Hawkins, Armond, and Fanshaw on  an enemy privateer, under circumstances so trying and difficult as to reflect the highest credit on the officers and men engaged in the occasion and whilst  I deplore with Captain Hope the loss of so many valuable lives it is a consolation to [illegible] the spirit with which the attack was renewed affords an ample proof off the determined coolness and bearing of the officers and men, and that valor of His Majesty's Subjects was ... displayed.

 

... I have the honor to be,

 

Sir, your most obedient humble servant

 

Henry Hotham, Rear Admiral"

 

Hope's Letter:

 

"Copy, Henry Hotham, Rear Admiral

 

His Majesty's Ship Endymion

Off Nantucket, 11th October, 1814.

 

Sir,

 

I have the honor of informing you that yesterday returning to my station, a ship and a schooner were discovered to the Westward of Nantucket nearly becalmed under the low land endeavoring to pass between that island and the southern shoals. From the offing we continued to chase them until evening. The wind then entirely left us as it had previously done with the vessels in shore, who had made no progress whatever.

 

I sent all boats under the command of Lieutenants Hawkins, Armond and Fanshaw. In approaching the ship, an alarm was fired; the boats had been previously  rowing up under a shoal and had not felt the effects of a rapid tide which they almost instantaneously became exposed to;  the second barge, in taking the station assigned by Lieutenant Hawkins, on the schooner's starboard bow, having her larboard oars shot away instantaneously was swept by the stream athwart the first barge, thereby all the boats became entangled, and it is with extreme concern I acquaint you that the attack was in consequence at the moment was only partially made. Notwithstanding this disadvantage at the first  .... and every exertion that human skill and determined bravery could devise was resorted to , to revive the contest and they succeeded in again getting alongside, but not in the positions intended; their failure therefore is to be ascribed in the first instant to the velocity off the tide, the height of the vessel's side, not having channel plates to assist the men in getting on her deck and her very superior force.

 

(A schooner of the largest dimensions, the Prince de Neufchatel, three hundred and twenty tons, eighteen guns, long nine and twelve pounders, with a complement of one hundred and forty men of all nations, commanded by Mons. Jean Ordsonaux)

 

the boats painter now being shot away, they again fell astern without ever being able to repeat the attack, and with great difficulty regained the ship, with the exception of the second barge which I have every reason to believe sunk alongside the schooner.

 

In transmitting this report, I can not help but deplore the unhappy issue of the enterprise, it would be great injustice to the officers and men of the boats if I omitted to say that their bravery and coolness is deserving every praise, I therefore sir beg to impress you with the belief that in no instance could either the officers and men have conducted themselves with greater determination than on the present occasion. I lament exceedingly the deaths of Lieutenant Hawkins, and Mr. Dalzeel, midshipman, who fell early in the action with many other seamen and marines.

 

Enclosed you will find a return of the killed and wounded. the ship that was in company with the privateer is the Douglass at Nantucket on their parole.

 

Signed Henry Hope.

 

From Lieutenant Armond I learn that as much as we have suffered on this occasion, the enemy's loss was still greater, fifteen only of their crew having escaped the well directed and devastating fire from the boats."

 

[Note: then followed a detailed list of the casualties by name, which I will omit.]

 

Total Killed ,17

Total wounded and died of wounds, 45 [including the surgeon, severely wounded!]

 

Total killed and wounded, 62."

 

Here is the entry of the Captain's log of the Endymion, 11 Oct., 1814, reference ADM51/ 2324 XC1084:

 

"At 4 light airs and variable. Calm and fine. out boats. sent them manned and armed with 105 men and officers in chase of the schooner, which we supposed to be a  privateer and her prize and anchored S.W. from the S. end of Nantucket. Burnt blue lights and rockets to send our position to the boats. The enemy opened a fired on the boats which continued 20 minutes. Midnight calm and fine. 3 AM calm and fine. The launch, barge, cutter and gig returned being repulsed by the enemy with the loss of 10 killed and 31 wounded, lieuts Hawkins, Armond, 4 mids and 30 seamen and marines missing with our yawl. Daylight weighed and hoisted in the boats, and made all sail to the westward

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Now for the American version of events. The following comes from the Newburyport Herald and Country Gazette (Massachusetts), of October 18, 1814.

 

"... On the 11th, Nantucket bore north, about a quarter of a mile distant from the land, discovered a frigate off Gayhead which gave chase and came up with a fresh breeze, while we were becalmed. At 3 PM we took a breeze and took the Douglass in tow. The frigate was about four leagues from us At [/} the wind died away calm. At 7 P.M. was obliged to come to anchor, and supposing the frigate would send her boats to attempt to capture us, [we] prepared accordingly. At 8 P.M. a signal was made from the prize that the boats were coming - soon afterwards discovered them - five in number, and in a few minutes they were alongside. The action commenced and continued for 20 minutes, when the enemy were repulsed in every attempt to board, and obliged to surrender. When the launches and barges left the frigate, they had on board 104 souls including the officers.

 

One launch having on board 48 men was sunk with only two men saved; one which had 32 men on board at the commencement of the action was taken possession of, she had 8 men killed 20 wounded and 4 unhurt, the three others drifted from alongside the brig with the current without a man to be seen in them (supposed thy must have been killed or wounded), and had not a boat to go after them, and had only 4 men left not killed or wounded. The barges were two on each side and one under the privateer's stern. The barges and launch were from the Endymion frigate. Kept the launch with their prisoners in it along side all night, not daring to let them come on board, as we had only 8 men left for duty. In the morning permitted Mr. F. Ormond, 2nd lieutenant, 3 midshipmen and one masters mate, to come on board and after they signed a parole, pledging their honor for themselves and the rest of the prisoners (25 seamen and marines)  that they would not serve against the United States during the war until regularly exchanged, sent them ashore at Nantucket, not knowing the situation of the place with the British. At The commencement of the action, the Price of Neufchatel had 40 men at quarters, including officers, (and had 37 prisoners on board)  of which 6 were killed, 15 severely wounded, 9 slightly wounded and 10 unhurt. The next day sent 17 prisoners on shore, and put them in the hands of the Martial, and also sent on shore all of our severely wounded men. ... On Friday ... saw the Endymion also at anchor in Tarpaulin Cove. She had sent a boat to Nantucket to inquire what had become of her barges and men.   ... The boats which drifted from alongside the privateer, at the end of the action, had been picked up by her [Endymion] The report was that nearly all were killed and wounded in them."

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