John] 1793-1863 [Russell.

The history of the war, betwee the United States and Great-Britain, which commenced in June, 1812, and closed in Feb. 1815 .. online

. (page 16 of 38)
Online LibraryJohn] 1793-1863 [RussellThe history of the war, betwee the United States and Great-Britain, which commenced in June, 1812, and closed in Feb. 1815 .. → online text (page 16 of 38)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


As soon as there was reason to apprehend, that Mr.
Foster's functions might have ceased in America,
and that he mic^ht have been oblio:ed to viithdraw him-
self, in consequence of v\ ar having been declared, from
the United States, before the above mentioned Order
of the 23d of June, and the instructions consequent
thereupon, could have reached him, measures were
taken for authorising the British Admiral on the
American station, to propose to the government of
the Unitcil States, an immediate and reciprocal revo-
cation of all hostile Orders, with the tender of givmg
full effect, in the event of hostilities being discontinu-
ed, to the provisions of the said Order, upon the condi-
tions therein specified.

From this statement you will perceive that the view
you have taken of this part of the subject is incorrect ;
and that in the present state of the relations betv^ een
the two countries, the operation of the Order of the
23d June, can only be defeated by a refusal on the
part of your government to desist from hostilities, or
to comply with the conditions expressed in the said

Under the circumstances of your having no pow-
ers to negociate, I must decline entering into a de-
tailed discussion of the [»ropositious which you have
been directed to bring forward.

I cannot, however, refrain on one single point,
from expressing my surprise ; namely, that, as a con-
dition preliminary even to a suspension of hostilities,
the government of the United States, should have
thought fit to demand, that the British government
should desist from its anciejit and accustomed prac-
tice of impressing British seamen from the merchant


ships of aforeig^n state, simply on the assurance that
a law shall hereafter be passed to prohibit the employ-
ment ot British seamen m the pubhc or commercial
service ot that state.

The British government novr, as heretofore, is
ready to receive from the government of the United
States, and amicably to discuss, any pro| osition wliith
professes to have in view either to check abuse in tlkC
exeriise of the practice of impressment, or to aetom-
plish b> means less liable to vexation, the objtct for
which imj-ressment hitherto been found necessary,
but they cannot consent to suspend the exercise of a
right upon which the naval strength of the empire
mainly dej ends, until they are iuUy convinced that
means can be devised, and will be adopttd, by which
the object to be obtained by the exercise ot that right,
can be effectually secured.

I have the honor to be, sir, your most obedient
humble servant,


t/. Russell, Esq. &c.

JWr. liussell to lord Castlereayh.

LoND N, September 1, 1812.

My lord — I have heard with much regret, by your
lordship's note, dated llie 29ih uit. which I did not re-
ceive until th s morning, that the Prince Regent has
thought proper to decline to accede to the proposition
for a suspension of hostilities, contained in my note
of the 24ih oi August.

It has been matter of surprise to me that my view
with regard to the revocation ot the Order in Coun*
oil of the 2;3d of June last, should ha\e been consid-
ered to have been incorrect, when it appears by your
]<»rdship's note that the British government itself had
deemed it necessary to give powers to the British Ad-
miral to sti|>ulate tor its tull etTect, and thereby ad-
mitted Ihala new act was recjuircd for that purpose.

It now only remains for me to annouiice to your
lordship that it is my intention to embark imuiediat&ly


at Plymouth, on board the ship Laik, for the United
States, and to request that permission may be grant-
ed, as soon as may be, for the embarkation of my ser-
vants, baggag-e, and tlie eftects of this leg-ation, and
that the necessary passports may be furnished for my
own, and tlieir safe conduct to that destination.

I avail myself of this occasion to apprize your lord-
ship that I am authorised by the g'overnment of the
United States, to leave Reuben Gaunt Beasely, Esq.
as its agent for prisoners of viar in this country, and
to desire that every necessary facility may be afforded
him in the exercise of that trust, by the British gov-

I have the honor to be, my lord, your lordship'?
most obedient humble servant,


The Rl. hon. lord Viscount CaMereayh.

Mr. Russell to Mr. 3Ionro€.

London, Sept. 3, 1812.
SIR— T enclose herein a copy of a note, received
yesterday from lord Castlereagh, which will acquaint
you that I have obtained my passports to return to the
United Slates, and that Mr Beasely is permitted to
remain here as agent for prisoners of war

Immediately on demanding my passport I address-
ed to the consuls a circular of which you will also
(ind a copy enclosed.

I have the honor to be, &c.

The hon. Jmnes Monroe, 6(c.

Lord Casilereayh to Mr. Russell.

Foreign Office, Sept. 2, 1812.
SIR — I have laid before his Royal Highness, the
Prince Regent, your letter of the 1st inst. in which
you announce your intention to era))ark immediately
at Piyniouth on board the ship Lark, for the United


JW Ml^fbnr OF THE W AK.

I have already had llie honor of forwarding to yoo
an admiralty order for the protection of that ship as a
cartel, on her voyage to America, and I herewith en-
close to you a passport for the free embarkation of
J'.ourself and family, in conformity to your request.
The lords commissioners of his Majesty's treasury
will issue directions to the comissioners of ihe customs
to give every facility to the embarkation of your ef-

If previous to your departure from England, yon
can point out to me any particular manner in which (
can facilitate your arrangements, I beg that you will
command my services.

• His Royal Highness, has commaded me to signify
to you, for the information of your government, that
there will be no difficulty in allowing Mr. R. G.
Beasely, as stated in your letter, to reside in^this coun-
try, as the United States' agent for prisoners of war.

I have the honor to subscribe myself, with great
truth and consideration, sir, your most obedient hum-
ble servant,


J. Russell, Esq.


Halifax, Nova Scotia, Sept. 30, 1812.

SIR — The departure of Mr. Foster from America,
has devolved upon me the charge of making known
to you, for the information of the government of the U.
Stales, the sentiments entertained by bis Koyal High-
ness, the Prince Regent, upon the existing relations of
the two countries.

You will observe, from the enclosed copy of an
Order in Council bearing date the 23'd of June, 1812,
thatthe Orders in Council of the 7lh of January, 1807,
and the 26lh of April, 1809, ceased to exist nearly at
the same time that the government of the IT. State?
declared war against his Majesty.


Immediately on the receipt of this (kc'laration in
Loiulon, the Order in Council, of wliich a copy is
herewith enclosed to you, was issued on the 31st day
of July, for the embargo and detention of all Ameri-
can ships.

Under these circumstances, I am cpmmanded to
pro()ose to your g-overnment the immediate cessation
of hostilities between the two countries and I shall be
most happy to be the instrument of bringing about a
reconciliation, so interesting- and beneficial to Ameri-
ca, and Great Britain.

I therefore propose to you, that the government <»f
the U. States of America shall instantly recall their
letters of marque and reprisal against British ships,
together with all orders and instructions for any acts
of hostility whatever against the territories of his Ma-
jesty, or the persons or property of his subjects ; with
the understanding, that, immediately on my receiving
from you an official assurance to that effect, I shall in-
struct all the officers ijnder my command to desist from
corresponding measures of war, against the ships and
property of the United States, and that I shall transmit
without delay, corresponding intelligence to the sev-
eral parts of the world where hostilities may have
commenced. The British commanders in which,
will be required to discontinue hostilities from the re-
ceipt of such notice.

Should the American government accede to the
above proposal for terminating hostilities, I am author-
ised to arrange with you as to the revocation of the
laws which interdict the commerce and ships of war
of Great Britain from the harbors and waters of the
U. States ; in the default of which revocation within
such reasonable period as may be agreed Uj:;on, you
will observe by the order of the 2^d June, the Orders
in Council of January, 1807, and April, 1809, are to be

The officer who conveys this letter to the Ameri-
can coast has received my onlersto put to sea immedi-
ately upon the delivering of this dispatch to the com-


petent authority ; and I earnestly recommend that r\o
time may be lost in communicating^ to me the decision
of your government, persuaded as I feel that it cannot
but be of a nature to lead to a speedy termination of
the present differences.

The flag" of truce which you may charge with your
reply will find one of my cruisers at Sandy Hook, ten
days af^er the landing' of this despatch, which I have
directed to call there with a flag of truce for that pur-

I have the honor to be, with the highest considera-
tion, sir, your most obedient and most faithful humblo


Admiral of the BluCf and commander in cinefy 5cc.

Mr. 3Ionroe to sir J. B. Warren.
Department of State, Oct. 27, 1812.

SIR — I have had the honor to receive your letter
of the 30th ult. and to submit it to the consideration of
the President. :'

It appears that you are authorised to propose a ces-
sation of hostilities between the U. States and Great
Britain, on the ground of the repeal of the Orders in
Council, and in case the proposition is acceeded to,
to take measures in concert with this government, to
carry it into complete effect on both sides.

Yon stale, also that you have it in charge, in that
€vent, toent^r into an arrangement with the govern-
ment of the U. Slates for the repeal of the lawfe which
intiTdicl the ships of war and the commerce of G real
Britain from the harbors and waters of the U. Stales.
Am\ vou intimate, that if the proposition is not acced-
ed to, the Orders in Council (repealed conditionally
by that of ihe 23d of June last) will be revived against
the commerce of the U. Slates.

I am instructed to inform you, thai it will be very
saljsfaclor) to the President to meet the British govern-
Dienl in such arrangenjents as may terminate without
delay the hoslililjes which now exist between the U.


.Vi States and Great Britain, on conditions honorable to

''. boih nations.

At the moment of the declaration of war, the Presi-
dent g-ave a signal proof of the attachment of the U.
States to peace. Instructions were given at that ear-
ly period to the late charge des affairs of the U. States
at London, to propose to the British government an
ai'mistice on conditions which it was presumed would
have been satisfactory. It has been seen with regret
that the propositions made by Mr. Monroe, particu-
larly in regard to the important interest of impress-
ment, was rejected, and that none was offered through
that channel, as a basis on which hostilities might

As your government has authorised you to propose
a cessation of hostilities, and is doubtless aware of the
important and salutary effect which a satisfactory ad-
justment of this difference cannot fail to have on the
future relations between the two countries, 1 indulge
the hope that it has, ere this, given you full power for
the purpose. Experience has sufficiently evinced that
no peace can be duriwble mdess this object is provided
for. It is presumed, therefore, that it is equally the
inti; rest of both countries to adjust it at this time.

Without further discussing questions of right, ^ the
President is desirous to provide a remedy for the evils
complained of on both sides. The claim of the Bri-
tish government is to take from the merchant vessels
of other countries British subjects. In the practice, the
cunmianders of the British ships of war often take
from the merchant vessels of the U. States, American
citizens. If the United States prohibit the employ-
ment of British subjects in their service, and inforce
the prohibition of suitable regulations and penalties,
the motive for the practice is taken away. It is in
this mode that the President is willing to accommodate
this important controversy with the British govern-
ment, and it cannot be conceived on what ground the
arrangement can be refused.


A suspension of the practice of impressment, |>end-
\ng the armistice, seems to be a necessary conser
quence. Jt cannot be presumed, while the parties are
engaged in a negociation to adjust amicably
this important difference, that the U. States would ad-
mit the right or acquiesce in the practice of the oppor
pite party ; or that Great Britain would be unwilling
|o restrain her cruizers from a pactice which would
|iave the strongest tendency to defeat the negociation.
It is presumable that both parties would enter into the
negociation with a sincere desire to give it effect.
J^or this purpose it is necessary that a clear and disf
tinct understanding be first obtained between them, of
the accommodation which each is prepared to makci
Jf the British government is willing to suspend the
practice of impressment from American vessels, on
consideration that the U. States will exclude British
^eamen from their service, the regulations by which
this compromise should be carried into efi'ect would
\ie solely the object of negociation. The armistice
would be of short duration. If the parties agreed,
peace would be the result. If the negociation failed^
^ach would be restored to its former state, and to all
its pretentions, by recurring to war.

Lord Castlereagh, in his note to 'vh\ Russell, seems
to have supposed, that had the British government ac-
cepted the propositions made to it, G. Britain would
have suspended immediately the exercise of a right,
on the mere assurance of this government that a law
would be afterwards passed to prohibit the employ-
ment of British seamen in the service of the U. States,
and that Great Britain would have no agency in the
regulation to give efi'ect to that proposition. Such an
idea was not in the contemplation of this government,
nor is to be reasonably inferred from Mr. Russell's
note ; lest, however, by possibility such an inference
might be drawn from instructions to Mr. Russell, and
anxious that there should be no misunderstanding m
the case, subsequent instructions were given to Mr,
Russell with a view to obviate every objection of the


kind aHiuled to. As they bear date on tKe 27th Tulv
nnd were forwarded bv the British packet Allhe-» it
IS more than probable that tliey mav have been receiv-
ed and acted on.

I am happy to explain to you thus fully the views
ot my government on this important subject. The
President desnes that the war which exists between
our countries should be terminated on such conditions
as may secure a sold and durable peace. To accom
phsh this great object it is necessary that the interest
t)t impressment be satisfactorily arranged. He k
vvdhng that Great Britain should be secured a^^amst
the evils of which she complains. He seeks on the
other hand that the citizens of the United Stated
should be protected against a practice which while it
degrades the nation, deprives them of their rights as
Ireemen, takes them by force from the.r families and
he.r country into a foreign service, to^fij^ht the bat-
tles of a foreign power, perhaps against th^ir own kin-
tired and country.

I;J»^stain from entering, in this communication in-
to other grounds of difference. The Orders in Coun-
cil having been repealed, (with a reservation not im-
pairing a corresponding right on the part of the U
States; and no illegal blockades revived or instituted
in their stead, and an understanding being obtained

no . ':X'' «V"^^^''^^"^^"*^ ^" *'^^ modelier^in H o-
posed, he President is willing to agree to a cesXn
of hostilities, with a view to arrange by treat vn a
more distinct and ample manner, and to the s^^^
Hon of both parties, every other subject of controversv-.
X will only add that if there be no objection to ar,
accommodation of the difierence relating to impress
ment,in the mode proposed, other than the suspension
or the British claim to nnpressment during Uie armis-

-ami! !^r T *''"''"' .^^ proceeding, without the
armistice, to an immediate discussion and arran^re
ment ot an article on that subject. This great X'


tion being satisfactorily adjusted, the way will be
open either for an armistice or any other course lead*
ino- most conveniently and expeditiously to a genera!
pacification. I have the ^^^^^^'^^^^^^^^


lonorant of the fate of the blustering J^ocre^, ^ir
James Yeo, of the Southampton frigate,senttheto low-
ing polite challenge toCapt. D. Porter, commanderof
thi frigate Essex. The kwff, * the iounta.n ot honor,
dw66jSu- James, a A%A^- we wished Capt. Porter
the pleasure of drubbing him into a gentleman.

* A passenger of the brig Lyon from Havanna to
New- York, captured by the brig Southampton, sir
James Yeo, commander, is requested by sir James
Yeo, to present his compliments to captain Forter,
commander of the American frigate Essex, would
be <rlad to have 2^ iete-a^tete &ny where between the
capes of Delaware and the Havanna, when he woud
have the pleasure to break his own sword over his
damned head and put him down forward m irons.


Captain Porter, of the United States tn gate Essex,
presents his compliments to sir James Yeo, comma.ul-
injr his Britannic majesty's frigate Southampton, and
accepts wia. pleasure his ;,o/»7. invitation. It agreea-
ble to sir James, captain Porter would prefer meeting
near the Delaware, where, captain P. ])ledges his
honor to sir James, that no other American vessel
shall interrupt their tete-a-tete, ^ 1 • ,1 ^

The Essex may be known by a flag bearing the


. And when that is struck to the Soulhamptou cap-
tain Porter wUl deserve the treatment promised by

sir James.

Philadelphia, Sept. 18, 1812.




Capt. Jones to the Secretary of the Navy.

New-York, "Nov. 24, i812.

SIR — I here avail myself of the first opportunity
of iHformincc you of the occurrences ofourcrnise»
which terminated in the capture of the Wasp on the
18th of October, hy the Poictiers of 74 o^uns, while a
wreck from dama^i^es received in an engagement with
the British sloop of war Frolic, of 22 guns ; sixteen
of them thirty-two pound carronades, and four twelve
pounders on the main deck, and two twelve pounders,
carronades, on the top-galiant-forecastle, making her
superior in force to us by 4 twelve pounders. The
Frolic had struck to us, and was taken possession of
about two hours before our surrendering to the Poic-

We bad left the Delaware on the 13th. The 16th
had a heavy gale, in which we lost our jib-boom and
two men. Half past eleven, on the night of the 17th,
in the latitude of 37 deg. N. and Ion. 6.3 deg. W. we
saw several sail, two of them appearing very large ;
we stood from them for some time, then shortened
Sail and steered the remainder of the night the course
we had perceived them on. At day-light on Sunday
the l8th we saw them ahead — gave chase and soon
discovered them to be a convoy of six sad, under the
protection of a sloop of war ; four of them large ships,
mounting from 16 to 18 guns. At thirty-two min-
utes past 11, A. M. we engaged the sloop of war,
having tirst received her fire at tlie distance of fifty or
sixty yards, which space we gradually lessened until
we laid her on board, after a well supported tire of
forty-three minutes ; and although so near while load-
ing the last broadside that our rammers were shoved
against the side of the enemy, our men exhibited the
same alacrity which they had done during the wi>ole


of the action. They immediately surrendered upon
our g-aining their forecastle, so that no loss was sus-
tained on either side after boarding-.

Our main-top-mast was shot away between 4 and
5 minutes from the commencement of the firing, and
falling together with the main-topsail yard across the
larboard fore and fore-top-sail braces, rendered our
head-yards unmanageable the remainder of the action.
At eight minutes the gaft and and main-top-gallant
mast came down, and at 20 minutes from the begin-
ning of the action every brace and most of the rigginij
was shot away. A few minutes after separating
from the Frolic both her masts fell upon deck, the
mainmast going close by the deck, and the foremast
twelve or hfteen feet above it.

The courage and exertions of the officers and
crew fully answered my expectations and wishes.
Lieut. Biddle's active conduct contributed much to
our success, by the exact attention paid to every de-
partment during the engagement, and the animating
example he afforded the crevj' by his intrepidity.
Lieuts. Kodgers, Booth, and Mr. Rapp, shewed by
the incessant fire from their divisions that they were
not to be surpassed in resolution or skill. Mr. Knight
and every other officer acted with a courage and
promptitude highly honorable, and I trust have giv-
en assurance that they may be relied on whenever
their services may be required.

I could not ascertain the exact loss of the enemy,
as many of the dead lay buried under the masts and
spars that had fallen upon deck, which two hours' ex-
ertion had not sufficiently removed. IMr. Biddle,
who had charge, of the Frolic, states that from what
he saM' and from information from the officers, the
number of killed must have been about thirty, and
that of the wounded about forly or fifty — of the kil-
led is her first Lieut, and sailing master ; of the
wounded Capt. Whinyates, and her second Lieut.

We had five killed and five wounded as per list ;
the wounded are recovering. Lieut. Claxlon, who


was confinej by sickness, left liis bed a Utile previous
to the enjjag'enient, and though too weak to be at his
division remained upon deck and shewed by Ivis
composed manner of noting- icnidents, that we had
lost by his ilbiess the services of a brave officer.
I am respectfully, yours,

Hon. Paul Hamilton Secretary ot the Navy.


Com. Decatur to the Secretary of the Navy.
U. S. S. United States, at sea, Oct ao, l'«l-2.

SIR — I liave the honor to iid'orm you, that on the
2oth inst. being in lat. 29 deg. N. long. 29, 30 W.
we fell in with, aad, after an action of one hour and
a half, captured his Britannic Majesty's frigate Ma-
cedonian, commanded by Capt. John Carden, and
mounting- 49 carriage guns (the odd gun shifting.)
She is a frigate of the largest class, two years old,
four months out of dock, and reputed one of the best
saik rs in the British service. The enemy being to
windward, had the advantage of engaging us at his
own distance, which was so great, that for the fir-iit
half hour we did not use our carronades, and at no
moment was he within the complete eft'ect of our
musketry or grape — to this circumstance atid a heavy
swell, which was on at the time, 1 ascribe the unusual
length of the action.

The enthusiasm of every officer, seamen, and ma-
rine on board this ship, on discovering the enemy —
their steady conduct in battle, and precision of their
tire, could not be surpassed. Where all met my ful-
lest expectations, it would be unjust in me to discrim-
inate. Permit me, however, to recommend to your par-
ticular notice, my first Lieut. William H. Allen. He
has served with me upwards of live years, and to his
unremitted exertions in disciplining the crew, is to
be imjiuted the obvious superiority of our gunnery
exhibited in the result of the contest.

Suivjoined is a list of the killed and wounded on
both sides. Our loss, compared will) that of the en-


cniy, will appear small. Amongst our wounded,

Online LibraryJohn] 1793-1863 [RussellThe history of the war, betwee the United States and Great-Britain, which commenced in June, 1812, and closed in Feb. 1815 .. → online text (page 16 of 38)