Nominal Guns14B173
NationalityUnited States of America
OperatorPrivate Owners
Ship TypeSchooner
Last known1815B173

Crew Complement

Date# of MenNotesSource
1813160 B173

Service History

1815/02/26Took the Unrated Schooner Saint Lawrence (14) off Havana


B173 The Navy of the United States from the commencement, 1775 to 1853George F EmmonsBook

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Posted by Robert Boon on Thursday 16th of February 2017 23:21

Capture of his Britannic Majesty's schooner St. Lawrence, lieut. James E. Gordon, commander, by the private armed brig Chasseur, of Baltimore, Thomas Boyle, Esq. commander.

Letter from Capt. Boyle, to Mr. George P. Stephenson, one of the owners of the Chasseur, dated At Sea, March 2, 1815.

Dear Sir — I have the honor to inform you, that on the 26th Feb. being about six leagues to windward of Havanna and 2 leagues from the land — At 11 A.M. discovered a schooner, bearing N.E. of us, apparently running before the wind; made every possible sail in chase, the convoy in sight from the mast head, to leeward, laying too off Havanna; at meridian, gaining fast on the chase, that appeared to be a large long, low pilot built schooner, With yellow sides — she hauled up more to the northward, and apparently was endeavoring to escape us. At half past meridian I fired a gun and hoisted the American flag, to ascertain, if possible, the nation which she belonged to; but she showed no colors — she was carrying a press of sail, and in a few minutes carried away her fore-topmast. She was at this time about three, miles from us — they cut away the wreck of the topmast immediately and trimmed her sails sharp by the wind. At 1 P.M. drawing up with him very fast. she fired a stern chase gun at us, and hoisted English colors, shewing at the same time only three ports in the side next to us.
Under the impression that she was a running vessel bound to Havana and weakly armed and manned, I tried every effort to close with him as quick as possible. Saw very few men on his deck, and hastily made small preparation for action, though my officers, myself and men, did not expect any fighting, of course we were not completely prepared for action. At 1 26 we were within pistol shot of him when he opened a tier of ten ports on a side, and gave his broad side of round, grape and musket balls. I then opened the Chasseur's fire from the great guns and musketry, and endeavored to close with him for the purpose of boarding; we having quick way at the time, shot ahead of him under his lee, he put his helm up, for the purpose of wearing across our stern and to give us a raking fire, which I prevented by timely taking notice of his intention, and putting our helm hard up also. He shot quick ahead, and I closed within ten yards of him, at this time both fires were heavy, severe and destructive. I now found his men had been concealed under his bulwark, and that I had an heavy enemy to contend with, and at 1 40 gave the order for boarding, which my brave officers and men cheerfully obeyed with unexampled quickness, instantly put the helm to starboard to lay him onboard, and in the act of boarding her, she surrendered. — Mr. W.N. Christie, prizemaster, from his courage and activity got on board of her, she proved to be his Britannic majesty's schooner St. Lawrence, commanded by lieut. James E. Gordon, formerly the famous privateer Atlas of Philadelphia, built in the Chesapeake, mounting 15 guns, 14 twelve pound carronades, upon an improved construction, and a long nine; allowed a complement of seventy-five men, and had on board a number of soldiers, marines and some gentleman of the navy passengers; bound express to the squadron off New Orleans; having by the report of her commander, six men killed, and seventeen wounded; but by various other reports, 15 killed and 23 wounded, most of them badly, and several mortally. She was a perfect wreck, cut to pieces in the hull, and scarcely a rope left standing, and, by report of her commander, not an officer on board, but was either killed or wounded, himself among the latter.
The C's sails, and rigging suffered much, and from the zeal and anxiety of her brave crew to do their duty, and thereby exposing themselves, I had five men killed and eight wounded, myself amongst the latter, though very slightly. Thus ended the action in fifteen minutes after its commencement, and about eight minutes close quarters, with a force in every respect equal to our own.
The Chasseur mounts six 12 pounders, and eight short 9 pound carronades, (the latter taken from one of her prizes) ten of our twelve pound carronades having been thrown overboard while hard chased by the Barross frigate; and she had on board 89 men, besides several boys.
From the number of hammocks, full of beds, clothes, &c. found on board of the St. Lawrence, it would lead to a belief that many more were killed than were reported. The St. Lawrence fired double the weight of shot that we did; from her twelves, at close quarters, she fired a stand of grape, and two bags, containing two hundred and twenty musket halls each — when, from the Chasseur's nines, she fired six and four pound round shot, having no other except some few grape. Was I to close this letter without mentioning the determined bravery of my first lieutenant, Mr. John Dieter, I should be acting very unjustly to my own feelings; my other lieutenants, Mr. Moran, and Mr. Hammond N. Stansbury,' as well as every other officer behaved with a firmness seldom, if ever, equalled, and, I believe, never surpassed.
Yours with respect,

Mr. G. P. Stephenson, Baltimore
P. S. On the night of the 26th the maintopmast of the St. Lawrence went by the board; such was her wretched condition and from motives of humanity and the solicitation of her commander, I made a flag or cartel of her to carry the wounded to the Havanna, for their better comfort and convenience, as I know you would wish that I should mitigate the sufferings of the unfortunate wounded. I hope you will not be displeased at what I have done — there was no other alternative but to make a cartel of her or destroy her. I should not willingly, perhaps, have sought a contest with a king's vessel, knowing it was not our object; but my expectations were at first a valuable vessel and a valuable cargo also — when I found myself deceived, the honor of the flag entrusted to my charge was not to be disgraced by flight. I sent to the wounded a parcel of shirts, and two bales of purser's slops to be distributed amongst them and the other prisoners. A copy of the correspondence between the captain of the St. Lawrence and myself you have here enclosed as well as my letter to your friends in Havanna.

Retnrn of killed and wounded on board the private armed brig Chasseur, of Baltimore, Thomas Boyle. Esq commandkr, in her action with H.B.M. schooner St. Lawrence, lieutenant James E. Gordon, commander, on the 26th February, 1815.

KILLED — Jacob Burk, carpenter; Alexander P. White, carpenter's mate; Hugh Crea, 2d gunner; Samuel McConnel, John Carpenter.

WOUNDED — Thomas Boyle, commander, slightly; Thomas Davis, seaman, severely; Aquilla Weaver, marine, do.: Thos. Lanter, seaman, do.; Yankee Sheppard, boy, do.; Hamilton Holston, ship-steward, slightly; Alfred Vincent, do.; Peter, (black man) since dead. TOTAL — Killed and wounded 13.

Niles Weekly Register, Saturday March 25, 1815

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