Battle of Lake Borgne

14th December 1814
Part of : The War of 1812 (1812 - 1814)
Previous action : Attack on Balitimore 3.10.1814
Next action : Capture of the President 15.1.1815

 

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland

 
British Boats, Nicholas Lockyer
Ship NameCommanderNotes
 
Ship NameCommanderNotes
Tonnant (80) Charles Kerr
Assistance (74)  
Bedford (74) James Walker (1764-1831)
Norge (74) Charles Dashwood (1765-1847)
Ramillies (74) Thomas Masterman Hardy (1769-1839)
Diomede (26) George Kippen
Trave (22) Rowland Money
Alceste (38) Daniel Lawrence
Armide (38) Sir Edward Thomas Troubridge (2nd Baronet of Plymouth) (1787-1852)
Belle Poule (20) George Harris (d.1837), Francis Baker (d.1823)
Cydnus (38)  
Seahorse (38) James Alexander Gordon (1782-1869)
Gorgon (20) John Cornish, Richard Booth Bowden
Sophie (16) Nicholas Lockyer, James Barnwell Tattnell
 

United States of America

 
American Gunboats, Thomas ap Catesby Jones (d.1858)
Ship NameCommanderNotes
 
Ship NameCommanderNotes
Gunboat No. 156 (5) Thomas ap Catesby Jones (d.1858)
Gunboat No. 163 (3)  
Gunboat No. 5 (3)  
Gunboat No. 23 (3)  
Gunboat No. 162 (3)  
Seahorse (1) William Johnson
Alligator (1) Richard S. Sheppard
Tickler (1)  
 

Notes on Action


DescriptionTRN6

After leaving Baltimore the British prepared for a descent on New Orleans, and gathered a large fleet of line-of-battle ships, frigates and small vessels, under Vice-Admiral Sir Alexander F. I. Cochrane, convoying a still larger number of store ships and transports, containing the troops under Major-General Sir Edward Pakenham. The expedition made its appearance at the mouth of the Mississippi on December 8th. The first duty which fell to the boats of the squadron was to destroy five American gunboats which lay in the shallow bayou known as Lake Borgne. Accordingly, forty-two launches, each armed with a carronade in the bow, and carrying nine hundred and eighty seamen and Royal Marines all told, were sent off, under Commander Nicholas Lockyer, to effect their destruction. The gunboats carried an aggregate of one hundred and eighty-two men, under the command of Lieutenant Thomas Ap Catesby Jones, U.S.N. Each was armed with one heavy long-gun, and several light pieces. The attack was made on the morning of December 14th, 1814. Jones had moored his five gun-vessels in a head and stern line in the channel off Malheureux Island passage, with their boarding nettings triced up, and everything in readiness; but the force of the current drifted his own boat and another out of line, a hundred yards down. Jones had to deal with a force five times the size of his own, and to escape he had only to run his boats on shore; but he prepared very coolly for battle.

Commander Lockyer acted as coolly as his antagonist. When he had reached a point just out of gunshot, he brought the boats to a grapnel, to let the sailors eat breakfast and get a little rest, for they had been rowing most of the time for a day and a night, and a cutting-out expedition meant murderous work. When the men were refreshed he formed the boats in open order, and they pulled gallantly on against the strong current. At ten minutes past eleven the Americans opened fire, and, for a quarter of an hour, had the firing all to themselves. Then the carronades and light guns on both sides were brought into play. Lockyer led the advance in a barge of the Seahorse. The nearest gunboat was that of the American commander. Accordingly, it was these two who first came to close quarters, Lockyer laying his barge alongside Lieutenant Jones's boat. An obstinate struggle ensued, but the resistance of the Americans was very fierce, and the barge was repulsed, most of her crew being killed or crippled, while her gallant captain was severely, and the equally gallant Lieutenant George Pratt mortally, wounded. Another boat, under the command of Lieutenant James Barnwell Tatnall, grappled the gunboat and was promptly sunk. But the other boats pulled steadily up, and, one after another, were laid on board the doomed vessel. The boarding-nets were slashed through and cut away; with furious fighting the deck was gained; the American commander and many of his crew were killed or wounded, and the gunboat was carried. Her guns were turned on the second boat, which was soon taken, and then the British dashed at the third, which was carried with a rush after a gallant defence, her commander, Lieutenant Robert Spedden, being badly wounded. The next gunboat fell an easy prey, her long-gun having been dismounted by the recoil, and the fifth then hauled down her flag. Forty-one of the Americans, and ninety-four of the British, were killed or wounded.


Lieutenant Jones's account gives his full force as 5 gunboats, mounting in all three long 32's, two long 24's, twenty-two long 6's, four 12-pr. carronades, two 5-in. howitzers, and twelve swivels, and having 182 men on board. He had also with him the schooner Seahorse, which he detached to Bay St. Louis before the attack, and the little sloop Alligator



Sources


IDDescriptionAuthorType
TRN6The Royal Navy : a history from the earliest times to the present Vol VIWilliam Laid ClowesDigital Book

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