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The Triteul Stuies Frigate Esscr and hier fleet of British prizes, in harbor at the Island of Novah cerah,

in the Pacific Ocean.






THE three years' cruise of the United States Frigate Essex to the Pacific Ocean, in the last war with Great Britain, was one of the most remarkable enterprises in the history of the naval marine of this or any other nation. She was the first American man-of-war that ever weathered the storms of the Cape of Good Hope, the first that ever unfurled the star-spangled banner over the blue waters of the Pacific.

The journal of this cruise, by Captain Porter, the bold and skillful commander of the Essex, was published in two volumes in the year 1815, and is replete with novel and fascinating adventures. From it this narrative is mainly derived.

The Essex was a ship of considerable note in our navy. She was a small frigate of thirty-two guns, and was built in the year 1799. She was employed in the war with. Tripoli ; and in that with Great Britain, had the first successful combat with the enemy. This event occurred in the sum. mer of 1812, when, after an engagement of eight minutes, off our Atlantic coast, his majesty's ship Alert struck her flag to the Essex, then under the command of Captain Porter. It is true that she was far inferior to the American; but so exaggerated had become the opinion of the British prowess, that impossibilities were sometimes looked for, and hence the feebleness of her resistance excited surprise.

In the succeeding autumn, the Essex, Constitution, and Hornet were assigned to the command of Commodore Bainbridge. The last two were lying in the port of Boston, and the Essex in the Delaware. On the 26th of October, the last two got to sea; orders having been sent previously to Captain Porter, to rendezvous at Port Praya, in the island of St. Jago; and secondly at Fernando Noronha. Other places were also pointed out to him, until a time mentioned, when, if he failed to fall in with the other vessels, he was at liberty to follow his own discretion. As he did fail in his attempts, his independent action resulted in the memorable cruise which we here outline.

In obedience to instructions, Captain Porter left the capes of Delaware on the 28th of October, 1812. He had a very full crew, 319 officers and men,

and from the muster roll before us, it seems that they must nearly all have been natives of the United States, as is indicated by the names. Another fact is worthy of mentioning in this connection, as showing a custom of that day : out of the whole number, two hundred and eighty-eight had not any middle names, and of the thirty-one who had, eighteen were officers.

The vessel was well supplied with stores, and put in the best possible state for service. A double supply of clothing was provided, and fruit, vegetables, and lime juice, as anti-scorbutics. "We left the capes of the Delaware,” says Porter, “with the wind from the northward, which gradually hauled around to the westward, blowing fresh, with thick weather, and it was with difficulty we were enabled to weather the dangerous shoals of Chincoteague. On the morning of the 29th, the wind hauled around to the westward, and increased to a gale. Got the ship under snug sail, and secured our masts by setting up the rigging, which, being new, had stretched considerably. The ship being very deep, we found her unusually laborsome and uncomfortable : her straining, occasioned by her decp rolling, opened her water-ways, and kept the berth-deck full of water, damaged a great deal of our provisions stowed on it, and wet all the bedding and clothes of the crew; found also the coal-hole full of water; found a leak somewhere between the cutwater and stem, but in other respects found the ship tight; for, after scuttling the birth-deck and bulkhead of the coal-hole, found we could easily keep her free by pumping a few minutes every two hours.

Previous to leaving the river, the crew had been put on allowance of half a gallon of water each man per day; and being desirous of making our provisions hold out as long as possible, having views, at the same time, with regard to the health of the crew, I caused the allowance of the bread to be reduced one half, and issued in lieu of the remainder half a pound of potatoes, or the same quantity of apples. Every other article of provisions was reduced one third, excepting rum, of which the full allowance was served out raw to the cook of each mess (the crew being divided into messes of eight, and a cook being allowed to each), who were accountable for the faithful distribution of it. For the undrawn provisions the purser's steward was directed to issue due-bills, with assurances on my part that they should be paid the amount on our arrival in port. Orders were given to lose no opportunity of catching rain-water for the stock, of which we had a large quantity on board, every mess in the ship being supplied with pigs and poultry. The allowance of candles was reduced one half, and economy established respecting the consumption of wood and the expenditure of the ship's stores. Habits of cleanliness and care with respect to clothing were strongly recommended to the officers and crew. I now

I now gave a general pardon for all offenses committed on board; recommended the strictest attention to the discipline of the ship; held out prospects of reward to thoso who should be vigilant in the performance of their duty; and gave assurances that the first män I should feel myself under the necessity of punishing should receive three dozen lashes, expressing, however, a hope that punishment during the cruise would be altogether unnecessary. I directed, as a standing regulation, that the ship should be fumigated in every part each morning, by pouring vinegar on a red-hot shot, and confided to Lieuten. ant Finch the superintendance of the berth-deck, in order to preserve it in a cleanly and wholesome state. Lime being provided in tight casks, for the purpose of white-washing, and sand for dry-rubbing it, and orders given not to wet it if there should be a possibility of avoiding it, a comfortable place was fitted up for the accommodation of the sick on the berth-deck; cleats were put up for the slinging as many hammocks is possible on the gundeck; and orders given that no wet clothes or wet provisions should be permitted to remain on the berth-deck, or that the crew should be permitted to eat anywhere but on the gun-deck, except in bad weather. Having established the above and other regulations, as regarded the health and comfort of the crew, I exhorted the officers to keep them occupied constantly during working hours, in some useful employment, and directed that between the hours of four and six o'clock in the afternoon, should be allowed to them for amusement, when the duties of the ship would admit.

Prior to the pilot's leaving us, I caused him to deliver into my possession all letters which might have been given him by the crew, apprehensive that, from some accidental cause, they might have become possessed of a knowledge of our destination ; they all however contained only conjectures, except one, the writer of which asserted, as he stated from good authority, that we were bound on the coast of Africa : as some of their conjectures were not far from being correct, I thought it best to destroy the whole of them, and forbid the pilot's taking any more without my consent. To the officers who were desirous of writing to their friends, I enjoined particularly not to mention the movements of the ship in any way.

On the 23d of November, the Essex crossed the equator. The ceremony of crossing the line was duly performed. "We were honored,” says Porter, “ by a visit from the gods of the ocean, accompanied by Amphitrite and a numerous retinue of imps, barbers, etc., in his usual style of visiting, and in the course of the afternoon all the novices of the ship's company were initiated into his mysteries. Neptune, however, and most of his suite, paid their devotions so frequently to Bacchus, that before the ceremony of christening was half gone through, their godships were unable to stand; the business was therefore intrusted to the subordinate agents, who performed both the shaving and washing with as little regard to tenderness as his majesty would have done. On the whole, however, they got through the business with less disorder and more good humor than I expected ; and although some were most unmercifully scraped, the only satisfaction sought was that of shaving others in their turn with new invented tortures."

On the 27th, the Essex entered the harbor of Port Praya, in the Portuguese island of St. Jago. The town contained about three thousand inhabitants, of whom not over thirty were whites, the rest being negroes, slave and free. The soldiers numbered some 400 men; the officers were principally mulatoes, and their priest was an oily mannered gentleman of the negro race. The soldiers were generally naked from the waist upward, and in the whole place there were not five serviceable muskets. Most all of them were without any locks, their stocks broken off at the breech, their barrels tied into the stocks with a leather thong, or a cord made of the fibers of the cocoa-nut; and it was no uncommon thing to see a naked negro mounting guard shouldering a musket barrel only. Their cavalry were in a corresponding style, mounted on jackasses, and armed with broken swords,

The Essex remained several days getting on board refreshments and water. It is supposed that there had been collected on board not less than one hundred thousand oranges, together with a large quantity of cocoa-nuts, plantains, lemons, limes, casada, etc. Every mess on board were also supplied with pigs, sheep, fowls, turkeys, goats, etc., which were purchased very cheap; fowls at three dollars per dozen, and fine turkeys at one dollar each; many of the seamen also furnished themselves with monkeys and young goats as pets, and when they sailed from thence, the ship bore no slight resemblance, as respected the different kind on board her, to Noah's ark.

On leaving the port they shaped their course to the southeast, with a view of deceiving the people of Praya, and impressing a belief that they were bound to the coast of Africa ; when however they had got out of sight of the town, the ship's course was altered to a southwesterly direction.

My chief care,” says Porter," was now the health of my people, and every means that could suggest themselves to my mind to effect this great object were adopted. The utmost cleanliness was required from every person on board, directions were given for mustering the crew every morning at their quarters, where they were strictly examined by their officers. It was recommended to them to bathe at least once a day, and the officers were requested to show them the example in so doing themselves; they were required, also, to use every means in their power to provide constant employment for the men under their control during working hours, and amusement for them during the hours of recreation, and to be particularly careful not to harass them. by disturbing them unnecessarily during their watch below, and also to guard against any improper or unnecessary exposure to the weather; economy was recommended to the crew in the use of their supply of fruit, and permission was given to suspend it in the rigging and other airy parts of the ship, in nets made for the purpose, with a promise of the severest punishment to such as should be detected in stealing from others : with those precautions to procure exercise and cleanliness, with proper ventilations and fumigations, a young, active, healthy, and contented crew, a ship in good order for the service we were engaged in, well found with the best provisions, and the purest water, perfectly free from all bad taste and smell, I do not conceive why we should be in greater apprehension of disease originating on board now, than on the coast of North America. The clouds which overhung the atmosphere during the day, and nearly obscured the sun, served greatly to ameliorate the effects of its rays; a pleasant and steady breeze from the east contributed greatly to refresh the air; and sailing could not be more pleasant than was our passage toward the line. The landsmen on board were delighted with it, and the seamen felicitated themselves that it was not always the case at sea, 'or all the old women in the country-as they expressed themselves-would have been sailors.'»

On the 12th of December the Essex took her first prize. This was the British government packet Nocton, mnounting ten guns, with a crew of thirty-one men. On board was found fifty-five thousand dollars in specie,

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