THE PRINCE DE NEUFCHATEL IN HISTORY
Prince de Neufchatel
in War of 1812
With particular thanks to Wayne Drusch who supplied much of the data on the vessels career.
This page follows the Prize case of the American privateer Prince of Neufchatel.
The documents produced in the case were typical of the period, illustrating the variety of information these cases can contain.
The principal source for information are the answers given to the Standing Interrogatories: a standard set of questions put to members of the captured crew, to determine a vessel's identity. What ultimately became of the vessel is, as yet, unclear. However she was offered to the Navy who, though impressed by her sailing qualities, declined the offer. That she was sold can be seen from the Prize accounts and probably re-registered as a British vessel.
The following details are taken from the registry certificate which is now lodged amongst the Prize papers cited above.
The Prince of Neufchatel, a brig, had been built in 1813. Her dimensions were;
* Length 117 feet 3 inches.
The owners were;
* John Ordronaux of New York in the state of New York.
The Prince of Neufchatel had a successful commercial career which including fighting several notable actions before being captured by the frigate HMS Leander on 28th December 1814. The events surrounding her capture were recorded in the Captain's Log. The documents found aboard the privateer were the standard ship's papers for this type of vessel consisting of;
* A Letter of Marque which licensed her as a privateer.
The number of crew a Letter of marque carried was of considerable importance to the captor, the larger the captured crew the greater the reward. This was because of the bounty known as Head Money which was payable both to the crews of naval vessels as well as privateers.
Letter of Marque carried by Captain Millin of the American privateer Prince of Neufchatel during the War of 1812.
James Madison, President of the United States of America,
To all who shall see these presents, Greeting:
BE IT KNOWN,That in pursuance of an act of congress, passed on the 26th day of June one thousand eight hundred and twelve, I have Commissioned, and by these presents do commission, the private armed Brig called the Prince Neufchatel of the burden of three hundred & Nineteen tons, or thereabouts, owned by John Ordronaux & Peter E. Trevall of the City & State of New York and Joseph Beylle of Philadelphia in the State of Pennsylvania Mounting eighteen carriage guns, and navigated by one hundred & twenty nine men, hereby authorizing Nicholas Millin captain, and William Stetson lieutenant of the said Brig and the other officers and crew thereof, to subdue, seize, and take any armed or unarmed British vessel, public or private, which shall be found within the jurisdictional limits of the United States, or elsewhere on the high seas, or within the waters of the British dominions, and such captured vessel, with her apparel, guns, and appurtenances, and the goods or effects which shall be found on board the same, together with all the British persons and others who shall be found acting on board, to bring within some port of the United States; and also to retake any vessel, goods, and effects of the people of the United States, which may have been captured by any British armed vessel, in order that proceedings may be had concerning such capture or recapture in due form of law, and as to right and justice shall appertain.
The said Nicholas Millin is further authorized to detain, seize, and take all vessels and effects, to whomsoever belonging, which shall be liable thereto according to the law of nations and the rights of the United States as a power at war, and to bring the same within some port of the United States, in order that due proceedings may be had thereon.
This commission to continue in force during the pleasure of the president of the United States for the time being.
GIVEN under my hand and seal of the United States of America, at the City of Washington, the twelfth day of December in the year of our Lord, one thousand eight hundred and fourteen and of the independence of the said states the thirty ninth.
BY THE PRESIDENT James Madison
Letter of Marque
SHIPS MUSTER ROLL
The following list is taken from a manuscript copy of the Muster Roll of the Prince of Neufchatel.
HEAD MONEY VOUCHERS
The captors of an enemy Ship of War, national warship, privateer or letter of marque, were entitled to a bounty known as HEAD MONEY; this allowed that £5 would be paid for every member of the enemy crew whose was aboard the prize at the commencement of the action.
The three documents here comprise the HEAD MONEY papers for the capture of the American Privateer Prince of Neufchatel during the War of 1812.
Before a claim could be placed for Head Money the vessel in question had to be condemned in an Admiralty Prize Court, a sworn statement had to be taken from the surviving members of the captured crew as to the number of men aboard.
Having obtained these documents the Prize Agent, acting for the captors, could forward his claim, as shown below
The State of the Case of Messrs. Wm. Marsh & Rd. Creed and Mr. Edmd. Lockyer jointly and severally Thos. Collier Esq. and Messrs. James Sykes and James Sykes jun. claiming payment of Bounty Money of £5 per Head for one hundred and thirteen Men belonging to the Prince of Neufchatel American Ship of War, which was taken on the 28th. December 1814 by H Ma. Ships Leander, Newcastle and Acasta commanded by Sir Geo. Collier, Alex. Rob. Kerr and the Right Honourable George Stuart
* Proof of Condemnation of the said American Ship of War The Prince of Neufchatel in the High Court of Admiralty.
The Vouchers produced, being conformable to what are required by Act of Parliament, let a Bill be made out for the Head Money claimed.
[The supporting documents are the extract of the sentence of condemnation, given below, followed by the sworn statements from the officers of the Prince of Neufchatel as to the number of crew she carried.]
Extracted from the Registry of His Majesty's High Court of Admiralty of England.
On Friday the forth day of march in the Year of Our Lord one thousand eight hundred and fifteen before the Right Honourable Sir William Scott, Knight, Doctor of Laws, Lieutenant of the High Court of Admiralty of England, and in the same Court Official Principal and Commissary General and Special and President Judge thereof, and also to hear and determine all and all manner of Causes and Complaints as to Ships and Goods seized and taken as Prize specially constituted and appointed in the Common Hall of Doctors Commons London present James Farquhar one of the Deputy Registrars
PRINCE of NEUFCHATEL
Our Sovereign Lord the King against the said Ship her Tackle Apparel & Furniture and the Arms Stores and Ammunition therein taken by His Majesty's Ship Leander, Sir George Collier Bart, Commander in Company with His Majesty's Ship Newcastle and Frigate Acasta and brought to Penzance and against all persons in general.
In pain of Parties cited thrice called and not appearing Bishop [Acting for the Crown] gave the usual Allegation which in like pain the Judge at his Petition admitted and assigned the Cause for Sentence on the first and second assignations immediately, and having heard the Proofs read, on Motion of His Majesty's Advocate by Interlocutory Decree pronounced the said Ship her Tackle Apparel & Furniture, Arms Stores and Ammunition to have belonged at the time of the Capture & Seizure thereof to Enemies of the Crown of Great Britain and as such or otherwise subject and liable to Confiscation, and condemned the same as good and lawful Prize taken by His Majesty's Ship Leander Sir George Collier Knight Commander in Company with His Majesty's Ship Newcastle and Frigate Acasta.
And moreover pronounced the said Ship to have been a Ship of War in the Service of the Enemy, and that there were alive and on board the same at the commencement of the Engagement in which the same was taken one hundred and thirteen men.
Statement by the Officers of the Prince of Neufchatel as to the number of crew.
These are to certify the Principal Officers and Commissioners of His Majesty's Navy, or whom else it may concern that there came and personally appeared before me
* Nicholas Millin late Commander
on board of and belonging to an American Privateer called the Prince of Neufchatel, and Jointely and severally made Oath and said that:
Captains of the privateers of the War of 1812
The Prince de Neufchatel was built in New York in 1812-13 by the firm of Adam & Noah Brown. Her design is attributed to Christian Bergh.
She measured 110 ft. 8 in. long on deck, had an extreme beam of 25 ft. 8 in., and was of 320 tons burthen. She had a hermaphrodite rig and was thus a combination schooner and brigantine. She carried four sails on the foremast, one square sail on the main, and a large fore-and-aft sail with gaff abaft the fore, with large staysails over and three jibs. Her spanker boom projected far beyond the stern.
Eleven gun ports were cut in each side of her high bulwarks and two in her stern. Besides a couple of long chase guns, her main armament consisted of 12-pound carronades.
Following completion, the Neufchatel for some unknown reason lay inactive in New York for many months. It was not until October 28, 1813 that a commission was issued with Ordronaux as master and one Le Compte as lieutenant. Sureties for her bond were Madame Charreton, J. Ordronaux, C. G. Fontaine, and Stephen Perpignon, probably all French-Americans.
Captain Ordronaux took the vessel to sea virtually unarmed, and sailed to Cherbourg, France, arriving January 27, 1814. There she was fitted out as a privateer over the winter.
Papers filed with the District Court at Boston indicate that she captured the Hazard, Capt. John Anderson, from Rio de Janeiro for Greenock, with a cargo of barrels of beer on January 18th. This would indicate that the capture was made on the way over.
However, the first war cruise against they British originated from Cherbourg in early March 1814. Sailing into the English Channel six British vessels were captured, some of which were sent into French ports, and the others, not deemed valuable enough, were burned.
Lloyd's of London on May 2 reported-
The Achilles, 74 and Sybille frigate returned to Spithead --- The A. chased the American privateer Prince of Neufchatel (she had been several days cruising in the Channel) into Cherbourg on, Saturday the 23d ult. and we understand our new friends there immediately employed themselves in preventing her from breaking the peace in the Channel in future; they took out her guns, dismantled her, and released a prize which she had. sent into the port.
Despite the above report, the Prince de Neufchatel next sailed in early July 1814, first down the coast of Portugal, and then, about the 1st of August, back to the English Channel. It proved to be a very successful raid.
The Baltimore Patriot of October 24, 1814 gave extracts from her log:
Arrived, the privateer brig Prince of Neufchatel, Ordonaux, commander, of N. York, of 310 tons and 17 guns from a cruize, the particulars of which are taken from her journal, and follow, viz.
Sailed from Cherbourg, France, 4th July.
[July] 9th, captured sloop Jane, Bowen, (John Brown) of Cardigan, from St. Jean de Lux for Falmouth, cargo lumber, 70 tons burthen, 5 men -- burnt her.
[July] 11th, captured brig Steady, (Richard) Bulley, of Hull, from Bordeaux for St. Johns, NF cargo provisions (barley, pork, hams) and bale goods (9 bales), took out the latter and some of the former articles and burnt her--107 tons burthen, 11 men and 4 guns.
[July] 22nd, captured brig Triton, (James) Blance, of Peter Head, 127 tons, 8 men, 2 guns, from Cadiz for London, cargo coffee and wine, took out part of the cargo and then scuttled her.
(Ed. Note: subsequently fallen in with off Cape St. Vincents by the Tuscan sloop of war, almost under water, and towed to Gibraltar with about 65 pipes of wine still on board)
[July] 24th, captured transport brig Aaron, (Jacob) Pindall, of Scarborough, 142 tons, 8 men, 4 guns, from Gibraltar for Lisbon, in ballast, and scuttled her.
[July] 26th, spoke under English colors, (and kept in co. for some time) an English brig of 8 guns. and 30 men, from Lisbon for Gibraltar, in ballast, and ascertaining from her that she had parted a short time before with several men of war, which were looking after several American privateers said to be in the neighborhood, and knowing we should have to put all our prisoners on board and let her go, by which the enemy might get information of us, let her proceed undeceived of our being an American.
[July] 27th, captured brig Apollo, (William) Hardy, of Hull, 135 tons, 7 men, from St. Ubes for Riga, cargo salt, and burnt her.
[August] 9th, captured the cutter General Doyle, (Henry) Simpson, of Bristol, from Leghorn for Bristol, 83 tons, 7 men, 6 guns, coppered, cargo oil, took out most of the cargo, and burnt her.
[August] 14th, captured brig Barwick Packet, Crosby, from Cork, of and for Bristol, coppered, 94 tons, 7 men, 4 guns, with 50 passengers, and ballast, put on board a number of prisoners and gave her up. Same day captured sloop George, (William) Barber, of Ramsgate, 50 tons, 5 men, from Milford Haven for Plymouth, cargo coals, scuttled her.
[August] 16th, captured brig Sibson, (Michael) Clark, of Whitehaven, 200 tons, 4 men, 4 guns, from Greencock for Cork, in ballast, scuttled her.
[August] 18th, captured brig Nymphe, (James) Hutchinson, of Whitehaven, 150 tons, 10 men, from St. Jean de Luz for Cork, cargo whiskey and dry goods (350 cases), took out the latter, threw overboard the former, put on board a number of prisoners and gave her up. Same day, captured brig Albion, (John) Farquar, of Whitehaven, 185 tons, 8 men, 4 guns, from Greencock for Cork, cargo wine, gin, brandy and dry goods, took out the latter, and then burnt her.
[August] 20th, captured brig Harmony, (John) Wilson, of Greencock, 295 tons, 8 men, 4 guns, from Greencock for Cork, cargo dry goods, rum, and an assortment of other articles, took out part of the cargo, manned her, kept co. till the 24th, and saw her recaptured on that day by a sloop of war, then 8 leagues south of the Land's End.
[Sept.] 2d, lat. 44, lon. 35.12 (far off Nfld.) spoke and boarded brig William, prize to the York of Baltimore, and supplied her with bread.
[Sept]. 6th, lat. 41.12, long 45, (off Nfld.) captured ship Douglas, (Duncan) Cameron, of and for Liverpool, fr. Demerara with a cargo of 421 hhds sugar, 190 puncheons of rum, 6 hhds molasses, 254 bales cotton, 412 bags coffee, 3 bags ginger and 28 logs of mahogany, Of 420 tons, 21 men, and 4 guns, manned her to keep company.
All of the goods taken from the above captured vessels were libeled by the owners of the Neufchatel and Ordronaux in the District Court of Boston in early November. The decree was in favor of the libellants, and on December 2nd James Prince, agent for the owners, acknowledged receipt of ,436, being one half of the proceeds of the sale of the various goods, the other half going to the officers and crew of the Neufchatel. With the prize Douglas still in company, on the 10th of September he ran into the British 40-gun frigate Endymion, off the southeastern tip of Martha's Vineyard. A most desparate battle followed...
THE PRINCE DE NEUFCHATEL
One of the most remarkable actions of this war in which an American privateer was engaged was that between the British 40-gun frigate Endymion, Captain Henry Hope, and the armed ship Prince de Neufchatel, of New York. The extraordinary feature of this affair lies in the fact that a vessel fitted out at private expense actually frustrated the utmost endeavors of an English frigate, of vastly superior of force in guns and men, to capture the privateer. As the commander of the Endymion said, he lost as many men in his efforts to seize the Prince de Neufchatel as he would have done had his ship engaged a regular man-or-war of equal force, and he generously acknowledged that the people in the privateer conducted their defence in the most heroic and skilful manner.
That this declaration of Captain Hope was singularly prophetic will be seen in the fact that this same Endymion, only three months after her disastrous attack on the Prince de Neufchatel, had a running fight of two and a half hours' duration with the United States 44-gun frigatePresident, a sister ship of the famous Constitution, and a vessel "of equal force" to the Endymion. In the latter affair the Endymionhad eleven men killed and fourteen wounded, a total of twenty-five out of a complement of three hundred and fifty. In her attack on the privateer the Endymion had forty-nine killed, thirty-seven wounded, and thirty of her crew were made prisoners, a total of one hundred and sixteen as against the total of twenty-five in her encounter with the President. From these statements it will be seen that the privateer had quite as severe a fight as the President, and on this occasion contributed fully as much to the glory of American maritime prowess.
This notable action occurred off Nantucket on the night of October 11, 1814. The Prince de Neufchatel commanded by Captain J. Ordronaux, was considered a "splendid vessel" in her day. She was hermaphrodite-rigged craft of three hundred and ten tons-the Endymion measuring about one thousand four hundred tons-and mounted seventeen guns as against the Englishman's fifty guns to say nothing of the latter's immensely larger calibre. Her complement when she left New York on her most eventful cruise was about eighty men and boys, which number had been reduced by drafts for prize crews to thirty-seven. The Prince de Neufchatel belonged to the-- estate of Mrs Charrten, of New York, who had recently died. This privateer was one of the many " lucky vessels " of the war, and made several profitable cruises, in the course of which she was chased by seventeen different men-of-war, but always managed to escape through superior seamanship and her great speed. The goods captured by her from the enemy and brought safely into port sold for nearly three millions of dollars, besides which a large amount of specie was secured.
This vessel did not begin her. career as a war craft until the spring of 1814, at which time she was in Cherbourg, France. Here she was armed and fitted out as a privateer, and early in March she in the plunged into the thickest of British commerce in the English Channel, and in one brief cruise made nine valuable prizes, most of which arrived safely in French ports, while those of little value were burned.
In June the Prince de Neufchatel made another dash against the enemy's shipping, sending six prizes into Havre between the 4th and 10th of that month, which were sold. In August this commerce destroyer was in the English Channel, where she came across a brig that refused to surrender, whereupon a broadside was poured into the stubborn merchant craft and she sank. In September the Prince de Neufchatel destroyed the brigs Steady, James, Triton (of two guns, laden with coffee and wine) , Apollo, Sibron, Albion, Charlotte and Mary Ann besides the sloops Jane and George and the cutter General Doyle. She also captured and destroyed the transport Aaron, of four guns, from Gibraltar for Lisbon, and converted the following prizes into cartels in order to get rid of her constantly accumulating prisoners-the brigs Berwick Packet, from Cork for Bristol, which had fifty passengers aboard, and Nymph. She also captured the ship Harmony , of four guns, and an English privateer; but the latter was allowed to escape, as, just at the moment of taking possession, a suspicious sail hove in sight which proved to be a large war vessel, and the Prince de Neufchatel was compelled to make sail in flight. A prize crew had been placed in the Harmony, with orders to make for the United States, but a few days later that ship was recaptured. Instead of returning to a French port after her last cruise, as had been her custom, the Prince de Neufchatel made directly for Boston, where she refitted and put to sea again early in October.
Captain Ordronaux, of the Prince de Neufchatel, was a seaman of unusual ability. At the outbreak of hostilities between the United States and Great Britain he commanded the French privateer Marengo. It was this vessel that Captain Richard Byron, of the British 36-gun frigate Belvidera was so earnestly watching, on June 23, 1812, off these same -Nantucket Shoals, when Captain John Rodgers' squadron, having the President as a flagship, came along and chased the Englishman away. At that time the Marengo was in New London, quite as earnestly watching for a chance to pounce upon the English brig Lady Sherlock expected daily from Halifax bound for Jamaica with an exceedingly valuable cargo. It proved to be very much like a cat watching a mouse to prevent it from getting a morsel of cheese when the bulldog Rodgers came tumbling along, chased the cat, Belvidera, into Halifax, when the mouse, Marengo, pounced upon the unsuspecting Lady Sherlock as she was passing by and carried her safely into New York, August 10, 1812.
It was on the very scene of this cat-dog-mouse and-cheese comedy, enacted in 1812, that the Prince de Neufchatel, on the night of October 11, 1814, made one of the most heroic defences in maritime history. At this time the British squadron blockading the port of New York consisted of the 56-gun frigate Magestic, Captain John Hayes; the 40-gun frigate Endymion, Captain Henry Hope; and the 38-gun frigate Pomone, Captain John Richard Lumley. The Endymionhad been sent to Halifax for repairs, and it was while she was returning from that port to her station off New York that she fell in with the Prince de Neufchatel.
At noon, October llth -October 9th according to English accounts-while the Prince de Neufchatel, then only a few days out of Boston, was about half a mile to the south of Nantucket Shoals, Captain Ordronaux discovered a sail off Gay Head, and as it promptly gave chase he was satisfied that it was a ship of force, and made his preparations accordingly. Knowing that few, if any, of the American frigates were on the high seas at that time, owing to the rigor of the British blockade, Captain Ordronaux made every effort to escape, being satisfied that the stranger was a British frigate. Unfortunately for the privateer, she was so situated as to be becalmed at the moment, while the stranger was holding a fresh breeze and coming up very fast. The Prince de Neufchatel had in tow the prize she recently captured, the English merchant ship Douglas, which the Americans were anxious to get safely into port.
At three o'clock in the afternoon the privateer caught the breeze, and, as the Englishman was still some twelve miles distant, hopes were entertained of effecting a timely retreat. By seven o'clock in the evening it was calm at which time the three vessels were in sight of one another. Finding that the current was sweeping him shoreward, Captain Ordronaux cast off his tow, and the two vessels came to anchor about a quarter of a mile apart.
An hour and a half later, when it was quite dark, the people in the prize signalled, as previously agreed upon, that several boats were approaching from the frigate, apparently with the intention of attacking the privateer under cover of night. Observing the signal, Captain Ordronaux called all hands, and made every preparation for giving the British a warm reception. As soon as the English boats, which were under the command of Lieutenant Abel Hawkins, the first lieutenant of the Endymion, could be distinguished in the night, the privateer began a rapid discharge of her great guns and small arms. Paying no attention whatever to this the English gallantly dashed ahead, and in a few moments were alongside the Prince de Neufchateland endeavouring to clamber up her sides. The enemy had planned the attack with considerable skill, for almost at the same moment it was reported to Captain Ordronaux that an English boat was on each side, one on each bow and one under the stern-five craft in all, completely surrounding the privateer, and compelling her crew to face five different points of attack at once.
This was the beginning of a desperate and bloody, struggle, in which men fought like wild beasts and grappled with each other in deadly embrace. Knives, pistols, cutlasses, marline spikes, belaying pins-anything that could deal an effective blow were in requisition, while even bare fists, finger nails, and teeth came into play. Captain Ordronaux himself tired some eighty shots at the enemy. Springing up the sides of the vessel the British would endeavour-or to gain her deck, but every attempt was met with deadly blows b-v the sturdy defenders of the craft. A few of the British succeeded in gaining the decks and took the Americans in the rear, but the latter promptly turned on the enemy and dispatched them. It was well understood by the crew of the privateer that Captain Ordronaux had avowed his determination of never being taken alive by the British, and that lie would blow up his ship, with all hands, before striking his colours. At one period of the fight, when the British had gained the deck, and were gradually driven- the Americans back, Ordronaux seized a lighted match, ran to the companion way, directly over the magazine, and called out to his men that he would blow the-ship up if they retreated further. The threat had the desired effect, the Americans rallied for a final struggle, overpowered the enemy, and drove the few survivors into their boats.
Such a sanguinary fight could not be of long duration, and at the end of twenty minutes the English cried out for quarter, upon which the Americans ceased firing. It was found that of the five barges one had been sunk, three had drifted off from alongside apparently without a living person in them, and the fifth boat was taken possession of by the Americans. There were forty-three men in the barge that was sunk, of whom only two were rescued; the remainder, it is supposed, were caught by the swift current, carried beyond the reach of help, and drowned. The boat seized by the Americans contained thirty-six men at the beginning of the action, of whom eight were killed and twenty were wounded, leaving only eight unhurt. The entire number of men in the five barges was one hundred and twenty, including the officers, marines, and boys. The entire number of men in the privateer fit for duty at the beginning of the action was thirty-seven, of those seven were killed and twenty-four wounded. Among the killed was Charles Hilburn, a Nantucket Pilot, who had been taken out of a fishing vessel. Among the British killed were First Lieutenant Hawkins and a master's mate, while the second lieutenant, two master's mates, and two midshipmen were wounded.
"So determined amid effective a resistance," says an English naval historian, did great credit to the American captain and his crew. On the 31st the Endymion fell in with the 56-gun ship Saturn, Captain James Nash, bound for Halifax, and, sending on board, with her surgeon and his servant, twenty eight wounded officers and men, received from the Saturn, to replace the severe loss she had sustained, one lieutenant, four midshipmen, and thirty-three seamen and marines."
Captain Ordronaux now found himself in possession of so many prisoners that they outnumbered his own able-bodied men, there remaining only eight seamen unhurt in the privateer, while there were thirty prisoners to take care of. As a matter of precaution, Captain Ordronaux allowed only the second lieutenant of the Endymion three midshipmen-two of them desperately wounded-and one wounded master's mate to come aboard; while the other prisoners, after having all their arms, oars, etc., taken from them, were kept in the launch under the stern of the Prince de Neufchatel, where there would be less danger of attempting to overpower the few surviving Americans, capture the ship, and release their officers.
Anxious to be rid of his dangerous prisoners Captain Ordronaux, on the following morning, signed an agreement with the lieutenant, midshipmen, and master's mates, in behalf of themselves and the British seamen and marines, not to serve against the United States again in this war unless duly exchanged. Under this agreement the prisoners were placed on shore at -Nantucket by the privateer's launch, and were taken charge of by the United States marshal. Most of the American and English wounded also were sent ashore, where they could secure better attention.
Additional information on this action appears in the 1861 edition.
The Prince de Neufchatel, as soon as the wind served, got under way, and easily evading the Endymion, ran into Boston Harbour, October 15th. On gaining port Captain Ordronaux retired from the command of this lucky privateer and became a part owner.
Her first officer in the fight with the Endymion succeeded to the command after promising "never to surrender the craft." He is described by one of the crew as "a Jew by persuasion, a Frenchman by birth, an American for convenience, and so diminutive in stature as to make it appear ridiculous, in the eyes., of others, even for him to enforce authority among a hardy, weather-beaten crew should they do aught against his will." Her first officer is described as a man who never uttered an angry or harsh word, made no use of profane language, but was terrible, even in his mildness, when faults occurred through carelessness or neglect. He knew what each man's duty was and his capacity for fulfilling it, never putting more to the men's tasks than they were able to get through with; but every jot and tittle must be performed, and that to the very letter, without flinching, or the task would be doubled. While manoeuvring the men he would go through with the various duties without oaths, bluster, or even loud words, and do more in less time than all the other officers on board, with their harsh threatenings, profane swearings, or loud bawlings through their speaking trumpets. The men honored and obeyed him, and would have fought with any odds at his bidding." The second officer was put down as a " mere nobody."
The third officer had been a warrant officer in the Constitution during her engagements with the Guerriere and Java, but was discharged for " un-officer-like conduct, and had shipped in the Prince de Neufchatel. He proved to be an indifferent officer, and his negligence was the cause of the capture of the privateer on her next cruise.
On the night of December 21st the Prince de Neufchatel, in spite of the vigilance of the British blockading force off Boston, got to sea. On the fifth day out she encountered a terrific storm which lasted several days, and came near ending the career of this formidable craft. " The morning of December 28th," records one of the American crew, 'I broke with no prospect of the gale ceasing, and the brig looked more like a wreck than the stanch and proud craft of the week previous. She was stripped to her stumps, all her yards, except her fore and fore-topsail, were on deck, her rigging in disorder, and the decks lumbered and in confusion from the effects of the sea which had so often broken over them during the past night.
Much of this confusion was attributable to the third officer, who had the watch from 4 A. M. to 8A. M. When he was relieved by the first officer, at 8 A. M., the latter severely reprimanded the third officer, and, among other things, asked if a sharp lookout had been maintained, and replied that the last man sent to the masthead had left his post without being relieved, and without the third officer knowing that the brig had, been without a lookout all that time. . . . I saw the fire-or what was its equal, anger-flash from the first lieutenant's eves at this remissness of duty , and he instantly gave an order for the best man on board to go to the masthead, there to remain till ordered down."
This man had not been at his post ten minutes when he reported a large sail bearing down on the Prince de Neufchatel, and shortly afterward two others, apparently heavy men-of-war, making every effort to close on the privateer. These strangers were, in fact, the British frigates Leander, Newcastle, and Acasta, composing Sir George Collier's squadron, which had been off Boston, but was now hastening across the Atlantic in search of the Constitution had eluded them off Boston and was now at sea.
As soon as the strangers were discovered the Prince de Neufchatel was put on her best point of sailing, but in spite of every effort-the massive frigates having a great advantage over her in the heavy seas and wind-she was soon surrounded and captured. Only a few minutes after the surrender one of the frigates lost her jib boom, fore and main topgallant roasts and broke her mizzen topsail yard in the slings, while another frigate carried away her mizzen topsail, main topgallant yard, and strained her fore-topsail yard so as to endanger it by carrying sail. Had the approach of the enemy been discovered when they made out the privateer the Prince de Neufchatel would have escaped.
"At the time of our capture," said one of the privateer's crew, " there were on board five or six French and Portuguese seamen who had belonged to the brig during her former cruisings, and who appeared to be on good terms with the captain but had no intercourse with the crew. They messed by themselves and had as little to say to the Americans as the Americans manifested disposition to associate with them.. These men were overheard to say, more than once during the chase, that the brig, never would be taken by the frigates, assigning reason why only, I She shall never be under a British flag.' One of the men had been a prisoner of war ten times, and declared he would sooner go to the bottom of the ocean than again to prison. To this no one objected, provided he went without company; for he was a Frenchman by birth, a Calmuc in appearance, a savage in disposition, a cut-throat at heart, and a devil incarnate. Our first lieutenant kept a strict eye upon this coterie during the whole day that the chase continued, the idea strengthening, as the captain held on his course long after any hope remained of the chance of getting clear of the frigates, that all was not right. In the hurry of the moment [the surrender] at our rounding to, Jose, one of the men above spoken of, seized a brand from the caboose, proceeded toward the magazine, would have carried his diabolical intentions into effect only for the vigilance of our ever-watchful lieutenant, who checked him ere too late, brought him on deck, nor quit his hold till the brand was cast overboard and the dastard thrown thrice his length by an indignant thrust of the lieutenant's powerful arm."
With much difficulty a small boarding party from the Leander- took possession of the privateer, but as the sea and wind remained heavy it was found to be impossible to send a second detachment aboard. Realising their advantage, the American officers, about half an hour before midnight, rallied their men, with a view of recapturing the brig, but on gaining the deck they observed that the condition of her spars and sails was such as to render such a move hopeless and the attempt was given up.
On the following day the prisoners were taken aboard-the Leander, where the Americans noticed a large placard nailed to her mainmast, on which were written these words: " Reward of £100 to the man who shall first descry the American frigate Constitution provided she can be brought to, and a smaller reward should they not be enabled to come up with her." The Leander had been fitted out expressly to capture Old Ironside's, and had a picked crew of more than five hundred men. Every one [in the Leander]," continues the record, was eager in his inquiries about this far-fancied frigate, and most of the men appeared anxious to fall in with her, she being a constant theme of conversation, speculation, and curiosity. There were, however, two seamen and a marine-one of whom had had his shin sadly shattered from one of her [the Constitution's] grapeshot-who were in the frigate Java when she was captured. These I have often heard say, in return to their shipmates' boasting: If you had seen as much of the Constitution as we have, you would give her a wide berth, for she throws her shot almighty careless, tires quick, aims low, and is altogether an ugly customer."'
The thoroughly American spirit of the Prince de Neufchatel's crew is well brought out in the account of one of her men. After being taken aboard the Leander. the prisoners were stowed away in the cable tier-a miserable hole at the bottom of the ship, where the anchor cables were stored. Here the Americans were compelled to remain from 4 P. m. to 8 A. m. every twenty-four hours.
To while away the time they resorted to singing. " One night," says one of the men, " it was understood that some of our naval-victory songs were not well relished by the officers on deck, which only brought out others with a louder chorus than before and an extra I hurrah for the Yankee thunders.' At this half a dozen of the best English songsters were picked, with some dozen to join in their choruses. These assembled around the hatch above us for the purpose of silencing us, singing us down, or to rival us in noisy melody and patriotic verse. They were allowed to finish their songs unmolested by us, but the moment they were through we struck up with ours, each one striving to outdo his shipmate, especially in the choruses.
Knowing that the character of our country was at stake and that it depended much upon our zeal and good management whether it should be upheld in the face of our enemies, we strove accordingly to do our best as its representatives. . . . The contest was kept up for some time, evidently to our advantage, not only as to the quality of the singing-for in this our opponents could not hold their own a moment-but to the number and subject of the songs, they having run out with their victories over the Yankees before our party was fairly warm with the contest. That they should not flag at the game, they took up with the First of June, the Battle of the Nile, besides many others, and we told them, in plain English, that they :were dodging the contest. This they cared far less for than they did for a home-thrust victory over them from the Yankees to each one of theirs over the French. At last our fire became so warm that they were compelled to back out, chopfallen , and they had the satisfaction of having their defeat announced to all on board by three-times-three cheers from the victors, accompanied with the clapping of hands and such other noises as each and all could invent in our zeal to outdo one another and uphold the honour of the country we hailed from, whose emblem is the Stars and Stripes.
Word came from the deck that such noises could not be tolerated and that we must be quiet. This only aroused the prisoners to greater exertions. In a few minutes the officer of the deck came down with blustering threats. If the most savage tribe of Indians had at once broken loose with a terrific war whoop it could not have been louder nor more grating to the ear than the screaming that followed the termination of the watch officer's speech, who, when he could get a hearing, tried to reason as to the absurdity of the prisoners persisting, saying, " The order of the ship must and shall be maintained; if by no other means, I will order the marines to fire into the hold.' This threat also was responded to by jeers, and soon afterward a line of marines drew up at the hatchway and prepared to shoot. This menace was met with louder jeers than before.
"Crackaway, my Johnny! You can make killing no murder, but you can't easily mend the shot holes in your best bower cable!' 'Hurrah for Old Ironsides! 'Three cheers for the gallant Perry!' 'Down here, you Johnny Bull, and learn manners from your betters!' were a few of the shouts that saluted the ears of the marines. The officer, not daring to fire on the prisoners, now withdrew his marines, and was followed by the derisive shouts of the prisoners. . . . The noises were kept up till morning broke, not allowing the wardroom officers a moments rest, as they were situated on the deck immediately above us." The next night the prisoners began their pandemonium again, but the officers arranged a number of 42-pound shot on the deck, just over the prisoners heads, and started them rolling. " As they passed from one side to the other, at each roll of the ship, with a low, harsh, thunder-like rumbling, as deafening as dreadful and more horrible than the booming of ten thousand Chinese gongs, intermingling with as many bell clappers, set in motion by one who is sworn to drown all else by his own noisy clatter, they made a noise little less than a discharge of artillery." This proved to be too much for our gallant tars, and they gradually gave up the contest.
Arriving at Fayal, Sir George transferred his prisoners to the sloop of war Pheasant, in which they were taken to England.....
LOG OF HMS ENDYMION
Monday 10th October 1814
Lat. 40.51 Long. 70.37
A Scottish newspaper recorded the death of a local resident in this action;
THE SHIPS THAT CAPTURED HE PRINCE
The Sailing Navy List: all the ships of the Royal Navy 1688-1860
The following contains details of the vessels which comprised the squadron which captured the Prince of Neufchatel
Built: Blackwall, London
Built: Blackwall, London.
Built: Rotherhithe, London
Wednesday 28th December 1814
Position: Lat.40.38 N. Long.52.13 W.
4am Strong gales and squally with rain and a heavy sea squadron in company.
Daylight observed strange sail SE by S, made Newcastle signal to chase. Out 3rd. reefs and made sail in chase .
9.40 up Top-gallant masts and main-top gallant yard, out 2nd reefs.
11.10 swayed the gaff up and set the driver and reefed main top- gallant sail.
12. Strong breezes with heavy squalls, Newcastle S by E, Acaster W by N, Stranger NE 5 miles, trimmed sails occasionally. crew employed variously.
Opened pease weight of 5 bushels.
Water 224 1/2 tons.
PM Strong breezes and cloudy with squalls made and shortened sail occasionally. In the squalls carried away the trysail mast.
2.15 carried away the jib stay, spliced same and set the sail again, fired several shots at chase. Newcastle and this ship firing at chase.
4 fresh gales with heavy squalls. Observed chase shew American colours and bring to shortened sail, hove to close reefed the topsail furled, mizzen same and mainsail. Squadron in company.
4.30 sent Lieut. and 8 men on board prize, struck top-gallant yards and masts. DW by DW squadron and prize in company.
12 DW squadron and prize in company.
Thursday 29th December 1814
Position: Lat. 41.21 N. Long 52.21 W.
4 am. Strong breeze and heavy squalls squadron in company.
6.40 am. ran down to close Newcastle and rounded to again
8 am. DW squadron and prize in company.
9 am. sent a boat onboard prize discovered her to be the American privateer Prince of Neufchatel of 18 guns and and 129 men, 8 days from Boston, found that the jolly boat had swamped and broke adrift during the night from the prize employed remaining prisoners, received 48 sent mid. and 8 men on board with a months provisions.
12 am. moderate with heavy swell.
Opened Beef no.7 of 38 lbs, Pork No.7 and 8 of 56 pieces each, Sugar No. 395 of 280 lbs. Water 222 1/2 tons.
PM 3.45 pm. out 3rd. reefs and set mizen topsail supplied prize with a compass her being washed away.
4 pm. Lt. ? and fine fine with a heavy swell squadron and prize in company.
5 pm. bore up and set foresail.
6 pm. DW
7 pm. a breeze springing up from the SW trimmed sails
8 pm. moderate and cloudy braced the yards by to let prize come up. Newcastle WSW, Acasta NW by W, prize WNW .
9 pm. rounded to for prize.
11 pm. bore up and burnt a blue light.
12 pm. moderate and cloudy, lowered the topsails, Newcastle and Acaster in company.
The 32 questions listed here are the Standing Interrogatories which were used in the War of 1812.
They represent the questions which were put to the captured crew of a prize vessel and give a good indication of the range of material which can be found in Prize court records.
To be administered on behalf of Our Sovereign Lord George the Third, by Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith.
To all Commanders, Masters, Officers, mariners, and other Persons found on board any Ships and Vessels, which may have been, or shall be seized or taken as Prize by any of His Majesty's Ships or Vessels, which have or shall have Commissions or Letters of Marque and Reprisals, concerning such captured Ships, Vessels, or any Goods, Wares, and Merchandizes on board the same; examined as Witnesses in preparatory during the present hostilities with the United States of America.
Let each witness be interrogated to every of the following Questions; and their answers to each Interrogatory written down.
1. Where were you born, and where have you lived for these seven years past? Where do you live? and how long have you lived in that place? To what Prince or State, or to whom are you, or have you been a subject, and of what Cities or Towns have you be en admitted a Burgher or Freeman, and at what time and in what manner were you so admitted? How long have you resided there since you were admitted a Burgher or Freeman, or where have you resided since? What did you pay for your admission? Are you a married man, and if married, where do your wife and family reside?
2. Were you present at the time of the taking and seizing the ship or her lading, or any of the goods or merchandizes concerning which you are now examined, and Commission? What and from whom?
3. In what place, Latitude, or port, and in what year, month, day, was the ship and goods, concerning which you are now examined, taken and seized? Upon what pretence and for what reasons were they seized? Into what place or port were they carried, and under what colours did the said ship sail? What other colours had you on board, and for what reason had you such other colours? Was any resistance made at the time when the said ship was taken; and if yes how many guns were fired, and by whom, and by what ship or ships were you taken? Was such vessel a ship of war, or a vessel acting without any Commission as you believe? Were any other, and what ships, in sight at the time of capture?
4. What is the name of the Master or commander of the Ship or Vessel taken? How long have you know the said Master, and who appointed him to Command of the said ship? Where did such Master take possession of her, and at what time, and what was the name of the person who delivered the possession to the said Master? Where doth he live? Where is the said Master's fixed place of abode? If he has no fixed place of abode, then let him be asked, Where was his last place of abode, and where does he generally reside? How long has he lived there? Where was he born , and of whom is he now a subject? Is he married, if yes, where does his wife and family reside?
5. Of what tonnage or burthen is the Ship which has been taken? What was the number of Mariners, and of what country were the said Seamen or mariners? Did they all come on board at the same port, or at different ports, and who shipped or hired them, and when and where.
6. Had you, or nay of the Officers or Mariners belonging to the said Ship or Vessel. concerning which you are now examined, any and what part, share or interest in the said Ship or her Lading? If yes, set forth who and what goods or interest you or they have? Did you belong to the said Ship or vessel at the time she was seized and taken? In what capacity did you belong to her? How long have you known her? When and where did you first see her, and where was she built?
7. What is the name of the Ship? How long has she been so called? Do you know of any other name or Names by which she has been called; If yes what were they; Ha s she any Passport or Sea brief on board, and from whom? To what Ports or Places did she sail during her said Voyage before she was taken? Where did her last Voyage begin, and where was the said Voyage to have ended? Set forth the quality of every cargo t he ship has carried to the time of her capture from the time you have known her, and what ports such cargoes have been delivered at? From what Ports and at what time, particularly from the last clearing Port, did the said Ship sail, previously to the capture? Under whose direction and management has she usually been, with respect to her employment in Trade? With whom do you correspond on concerns of the Vessel and her cargoes? I what country was she built, as far as you know, or have reason to believe?
8. What Lading did the said Ship carry out at the time of her first setting sail on her last voyage, and what particular sort of Lading and goods had she on board at the time when she was taken? In what year and in what month was the same put on boar d? set forth the different species of Lading, and the Quantities of each sort.
9. Who were the Owners of the Ship or Vessel, concerning which you are now examined, at the time when she was seized? How do you know that they were the Owners of the said Ship at that time? Of what Nation or Country are such Owners by birth? Where do they reside, and where do their Wives and Families reside? How long have they resided there? where did they reside before, to the best of your knowledge? To whom are they Subjects?
10. Was any Bill of sale made, and by whom, to the aforesaid Owners of the said Ship; and if any such was made, in what month and year? Where, and in the presence of what Witnesses, was such Bill of Sale made? Was any and what engagement entered into concerning the Purchase further than what appears upon the Bill of sale? If yes, was it verbal or in writing? Where did you last see it? and what has become of it?
11. Was the said Lading put on board in one Port and at one time, or at several Ports and at several times, and at what Ports, by name? Set forth what quantities of each sort of Goods were shipped at each Port.
12. What are the names of the respective Laders or Owners, or Consignees, of the said Goods? What Countrymen are they? Where do they now live and carry on their business or trade? How long have they resided there? And where were the said Goods to be delivered, and for whose real account, risk or benefit? have any of the said Consignees or laders any, and what Interest, in the said goods? If yes, whereon do you found your belief that they have such Interest? Can you take upon yourself to swear that you believe, that at the time of the lading the Cargo, and at the present time, and also if the said Goods shall be restored and unladen at the destined Ports, the Goods did, do and will belong to the same Persons, and to none others? What is the ground of your knowledge or belief?
13. How many Bills of Lading were signed for the Goods seized on board the said S hip? Were any of those Bills of Lading false or colourable, or were any bills of Lading signed which were different in any respect from those which were on Board the Ship, at the time she was taken? What were the contents of such other Bills of Lading, and what became of them?
14. Are there, in Great Britain, any Bills of Lading, Invoices, Letters or Instruments, relative to the Ship and Goods, concerning which you are now examined? if yes, set forth where they are, and in whose possession, and what is the purport thereof, and when they were brought or sent into this Kingdom?
15. Was there any Charter-Party signed for the Voyage in which the Ship, concerning which you are now examined, was seized and taken? What became thereof? When, where and between whom, was such Charty-Party made? What were the contents of it?
16. What Papers, Bills of lading, Letters, or other Writings, were on board the Ship at the time she took her departure from the last clearing Port, before her being taken as Prize? Were any of them burnt, torn, thrown over board, destroyed or cancelled, concealed or attempted to be concealed, an when, and by whom, and who was then present?
17. Has the ship, concerning which you are know examined, been at any time, and when seized as prize, and condemned as such? If yes, set forth into what port she was carried, and by whom and by what authority, or on what account was she condemned?
18. Have you sustained any loss by the seizing and tasking the ship, concerning which you are know examined? If yes, in what manner do you compute such, your loss? have you already received any indemnity, satisfaction, or promise of satisfaction, for any part of the damage which you have sustained, or may sustain by this capture and detention, and when, and from whom?
19. Is the said Ship or Goods, or any, and what part, insured? If yes, for what Voyage is such Insurance made, and at what premium, and when and by what Persons, and in what Country was such Insurance made?
20. In case you had arrived at your destined Port, would your Cargo, or any Part thereof, on being unladen, have immediately become the property of the consignees or nay other Person, and whom? Or was the Lader to take the chance of the Market for the Sale of his Goods?
21. Let each Witness be interrogated of the Growth, Produce, and manufacture of what Country and place was the lading of the Ship or Vessel, concerning which you are know examined, or any part thereof?
22. Whether all the said Cargo, or any part thereof, was taken from Shore or Quay, or removed or trans shipped from one Boat, Barque, Vessel or Ship, to another? From what and to what Shore, Quay, Boat, Barque, Vessel, or Ship, and when and where, was the same so done?
23. Are there in any Country, besides Great Britain, and where, or on board any and what Ship or Ships, Vessel or Vessels, other than the Ship and Vessel, concerning which you are now examined, any Bills of Lading, Invoices, Letters, Instruments, Papers, or Documents, relative to the said Ship or Vessel and cargo, and of what Nature are such Bills of lading, Invoices, Letters, Instruments, Papers, or Documents, and what are the Contents?
24. Were any Papers delivered out of the said Ship or Vessel, and carried away in any manner whatsoever? And when and by whom, and to whom, and in whose custody, possession, or power, do you believe the same now are?
25. Was Bulk broken, during the Voyage in which you were taken, or since capture of the said Ship? And when and where, by whom, and by whose orders? And for what purpose, and in what manner?
26. Were any Passengers on board the aforesaid Ship? Were any of then secreted at the time of Capture? Who were the Passengers by name? Of what Nation, rank, profession, or occupation? Had they any Commission? For what purpose, and from whom? From what place were they taken on board, and when? To what place were they finally destined, and upon what business? Had any, and which, of the Passengers any and what property or concern, or authority, directly or indirectly, regarding the Ship and Cargo? Were there any Officers, Soldiers or Mariners, secreted on board, and for what reason were they secreted? Were any of His Britannic Majesty's Subjects on board, or secreted or confined at the time of capture? How long and why?
27. Were, and are, all the Passports, Sea Briefs, Charter-Parties, Bills of Sale, Invoices and Papers, which were found on board entirely true and fair? Or are any of them false or colourable? Do you know of any matter or circumstance to affect their credit? Were they obtained for this ship only? And upon what oath, or affirmation of the persons therein described, or were they delivered to, or on behalf of the person or persons who appear to have been sworn or to have affirmed thereto, without their having ever, in fact, made any such oath or affirmation? How long a time were they to last? Was any duty or fee payable and paid for the same? And is there any duty or fee to be paid on the renewal thereof? Have such Passports been renewed, and how often? And has the duty or fee been payable for such renewal? was the Ship in a Port in the Country where the Passports and Sea Briefs were granted? And if not, where was the Ship at t hat time? had any person on board any Let-Pass or Letters of Safe-conduct? If yes, from whom and for what business?
28. If it should appear that there are in Ireland, or the British American Colonies, or in any other Place or Country, besides Great Britain, any Bills of Lading, Invoices, Instruments, or Papers relative to the Ship and Goods, concerning which the Witness is now examined:- Then Interrogate, hoe were they brought into such a Place or Country? In whose possession are they, and do they differ from any of the Papers on board, or in great Britain, or Ireland, or elsewhere, and in what particulars do they differ? Have you written or signed any Letters or Papers, concerning the Ship and her Cargo? If yes, what was their Purport? To whom were they written and sent, and what is become of them?
29. Towards what Port or Place was the Ship steering her course at the Time of her being first pursued and taken? Was her Course altered upon the appearance of the Vessel by which she was taken? Was her Course at all times, when Weather would permit, directed to the Place or Port for which she appears to have been destined by the Ship Papers? Was the Ship before, or at the time of her capture, sailing beyond, or wide of the said Place or Port to which she was so destined by the said Ship Papers? At what distance was she therefrom? Was her course altered at any and, at what time, and to what other Port or Place, and for what reason?
30. By whom, and to whom hath the said Ship been sold or transferred, and how often? At what time and at what place, and for what sum or consideration, hath such sum or consideration been paid or satisfied? Was the sum paid, or to be paid, a fair and true equivalent? Or what security, or securities, have been given for the payment of the same, and by whom, and where do they live now? Do you know or believe in your conscience, such sale or transfer has been truly made? And for the purpose of covering or concealing the real property? Do you verily believe that if the Ship should be restored, she will belong to the persons now asserted to be the Owners, and to none others? Are there any private Agreements for the return of the Ship to her former Owners at the conclusion of the war, or at any other period?
31 . What Guns are mounted on board the Ship, and what arms and Ammunition were belonging to her? Why was she so armed? Were there on board any other Guns, Mortars, Balls, Shells, Handgranades, Muskets, Carbines, Fuzees, Halberts, Spontoons, Swords, Bayonets , Locks for Muskets, Flints, Ram-rods, Belts Cartridges, Cartridge-Boxes, Pouches. Gun-Powder, Salt Petre, Nitre, Camp Equipage, Military Tools, Uniforms, Soldiers Clothing or Accoutrements, or any sort of Warlike or Naval Stores? Were any such Warlike or Naval Stores, or things, thrown overboard, to prevent suspicion at the time of the Capture? And were, and are any such Warlike Stores, before described, concealed on board under the Name of Merchandize, or any other colourable appellation, in the Ships Papers? If yes, what are the marks on the Casks, Bales, and Packages, in which they were concealed? Are any of the before-named articles, and which, for the sole use of any Fortress or Garrison in the Port or Place to which such a Ship was destined? Do you know or have you heard of any Ordinance, Placart, or law existing, in such Kingdom or State, forbidding the Exportation of the same by private persons without a Licence? Were such Warlike or Naval Stores put on board by any Public Authority? When, and where, were they put on board?
32. What is the whole which you know or believe, according to the best of your knowledge and belief, regarding the real and true property and destination of the Ship and Cargo concerning which you are now examined, at the time of Capture?
33. Did the said Ship, on the Voyage in which she was captured, or on, or during any, and what former Voyage or Voyages, sail under the Convoy of any Ship or Ships of War, or other armed Vessel or Vessels? If yes, Interrogate for what reason, or purpose, did she sail under such Convoy? Of what force was or were such convoying Ship or Ships? And to what State or Country did such Ship or Ships belong? What Instructions or Directions had you, or did you receive on each and every such Voyages, when under Convoy, respecting your sailing or keeping in company with such armed or convoying Ship or Ships, and from whom did you receive such Instructions or Directions? had you any and what Instructions or directions, and from whom, for resisting or endeavouring to avoid or escape from capture, or for destroying, concealing, or refusing to deliver up your Ship's Documents and Papers? Or any and what other papers, that might be , or were put on board your said Ship? If yes, Interrogate particularly as to the Tenor of such Instructions, and all particulars relating thereto? let the Witness be asked if he is in possession of such Instructions, or Copies thereof, and, if yes, let him be directed to leave the same with the Examiner, to be annexed to his deposition.
34. Did the said Ship, during the voyage in which we was captured, or on or during any and what former voyage or Voyages, sail or attempt to enter any Port under Blockade by the arms or Forces of any, and which of the Belligerent Powers? If yes, when did you first learn or hear of such Port being so blockaded, and were you at any and at what time, and by whom warned no to proceed to, or to attempt to enter such blockaded Port? What Conversation or other Communication passed thereon? And what course did you pursue upon, and after, being so warned off.
This is a sworn statement taken from Benjamin Wells, sailmaker on the Prince of Neufchatel. The answers he gives are in response to a standard set of questions, 34 in this case, known as the Standing Interrogatories which should be read in conjunction with this document.
The answers here deal mainly, with the ownership of the vessel, but also have details of her final voyage.
1. He was born at Boston in the State of Massachusetts where he has always lived until within about three months before he embarked in this ship and he now lives there with his wife and family when at home. That he is a citizen of the Untied States of America and has always so been and has never been admitted as a Burgher or Freeman of any city or town but has a right to vote for the different officers and members of the American Government as possessing property which qualifies him so to do.
2. That he was present at the time of the taking and seizing of the ship and goods concerning which he is now examined and that the said ship was duly commissioned as a private ship of war by the President of the United States.
3. That the said ship was taken off the coast of America but in what latitude he is unable to set forth not being himself a mariner on or about the twenty ninth or thirtieth day of December last by three English Frigates of War [unclear] the Leander, Newcastle and Acasta on board of which the whole of her crew were distributed the Deponent excepted and the ship having been manned by English sailors with three officers as Prize Masters was ordered to accompany the frigates to the Western Isles but parting company with them about three days afterwards she was brought to Falmouth and from there to the Port of London. That the said seizure was made by reason of the Deponent's ship being an American Privateer and sailing under American colours. That she had also various other colours on board but for what reason he knows not And that no resistance was made to the capture That several guns were fired from the Newcastle and from the Leander as he believes during the chase but none were fired from the deponent's ship. That no other ships were in sight at the time of capture except the three English ships aforementioned.
4. That Nicholas Millin with whom he became acquainted about a fortnight or three weeks only before his ship was taken is the master of the said ship and was appointed to the command of her by Captain Ordronaux her principal owner who formerly commanded her himself and who gave the possession of her to Captain Millin at Boston when the said Ordronaux (who he believes to be a Frenchman by birth resided at the time the deponent left Boston That he has heard that Captain Millin is a native of New Orleans but knows not where he resides nor of whom he is now a subject nor whether he is single or married
5. That the ship taken is of the burthen of three hundred and twenty tons and had one hundred and thirteen mariners on board besides officers which mariners were all hired at Boston by Captain Ordronaux and Captain Millin in the month of December last That he knows not what countrymen they are having had little communication with them but believes most of them belong to Boston
6. That neither himself nor any of the officers or mariners belonging to the ship taken had any interest in her but that he believes Captain Millin may have had a share of her That he belongs to the said ship at the time she was taken in the capacity of a sail maker has known her only from the first day of December last when he first saw her at Boston That he believes she was built at New York
7. That the name of the ship taken is the Prince of neufchatel and that she has never bourne any other name to his knowledge That she had not any passport on board except the Commission aforesaid granted by the President of the United States That she sailed from Boston on the twenty second day of December last and was taken as aforesaid on the twenty ninth day of the same month without having put into any other port That she was destined from Boston on a four months cruize against the enemies of the united States and was to have returned again to the said States at the end of her cruize That the deponent believes the aforesaid Captain Ordronaux had the sole control of the ship taken but he the Deponent has never [unclear] with him nor any other person on her concerns
8. He answers that the ship taken had not any cargo on board her provisions stores and water excepted
9. That be believes the aforesaid Captain Ordronaux Peter E. Frevall and Joseph Beylle the persons mentioned in the ships register and respectively resident citizens in the United States of America were the owners of the ship concerning which he is now examined but he also believes that they may have granted certificates whereby other American citizens were constituted owners of certain parts thereof having heard that shares of five hundred dollars each have been sold.
10. That the aforesaid Captain Ordronaux purchased the said ship taken at Boston some time in the beginning of September last and further to the said interrogatory he knows not to answer.
11. To the 11th, 12th and 13th, he answers that there was not any lading on board the said ship taken, her provisions, stores and water excepted as already stated.
14. He answers that there are not to his knowledge in Great Britain any papers relating to the said ship.
15. That the said ship had not any charter party to his knowledge.
16. That he knows not what papers were on board the ship taken at the time she took her departure from Boston her last clearing port before the capture except her commission, muster roll, Register and clearance at this port That no papers whatsoever were burnt, torn or thrown over board destroyed or cancelled concealed or attempted to be concealed to his knowledge or belief.
17. He answers that the ship concerning which he is now examined has never been seized and condemned as Prize to his knowledge.
18. That he has not sustained any loss by the seizing and taking of the ship concerning which he is now examined neither has he received or been promised any indemnity for any loss he may sustain thereby
19. He answers that he does not think any insurance has been effected as interrogate.
20. To the 20th, 21st and 22nd he answers that the ship taken having been fitted out as a privateer for the purpose of war only had no cargo on board.
23. He answers that there are not to his knowledge in any country besides Great Britain or on board any other ship any papers or documents relating to the ship concerning which he is now examined.
24. He answers that no papers were taken out of the said ship save those delivered up to the captors.
25. He answers that bulk was not broken as interrogate.
26. He answers that there were not any passengers on board the ship taken nor any officers or soldiers or mariners secreted on board and further to the said interrogatory he knows not to answer.
27. He answers that he believes all the papers found on board the ship taken were entirely true and fair and he knows of no matter or circumstance to affect their credit That the commission was obtained upon the oath of the owner but he knows not what fee was paid for it nor how long it was to last.
28. He answers that he has not written or signed any letters or papers concerning the ship taken.
29. He answers that the ship taken was lying to when she first discovered the three English ships by afterwards taken and from which she endeavoured to make her escape by setting sail.
30. He answers that he knows of know no sale or transfer of the ship taken save that made as aforesaid to Captain Ordronaux which he believes was a true sale having been present when it took place and he believes the said ship will belong if returned to him and his co-partners therein.
31. he answers that the ship taken mounted eighteen guns and was provided with small arms and ammunition in proportion to the guns and numbers of men she had in her service That no warlike naval stores or things were thrown overboard to prevent suspicion at the time of the capture.
32. He answers that he has declared and set forth the whole which he knows or believes according to the best of his knowledge and belief regarding the real and true property and destination of the ship and cargo at the time of the capture.
33. He answers that he has never sailed under convoy of any ship or vessel of war.
34. He answers that when the ship taken entered the port of Boston prior to the present voyage it was blockaded by the Newcastle as he believes and she was he has heard aboard chased into the said port by that ship.
Repeated and acknowledged
The documents here deal with the correspondence between the Navy Board and the Admiralty over the suitability of the Prince of Neufchatel to be bought in for naval use. However it was found that she was not as strongly built as demanded by the navy.
Despite this her sailing qualities were so admired that the lines were to be taken off her so as a schooner could be built to the same hull form.
Navy Board to Admiralty
Prince de Neufchatel must be docked to acertain her form dimensions stated.
Mr. Barrow having on the 16th inst. signified to us the directions of the, Lord Commissioners of Admiralty to cause the Prince de Neufchatel American privateer, which has been tendered for H.M. service to be inspected, with a view of ascertaining her remarkable sailing qualities and to report her dimensions, with our opinion, we include a copy of a report on her dimensions made by the officers of the Deptford yard and in laying the same before their Lordships, we request you will state, as the opinion of the surveyor of the Navy, that an inspection into the form of the vessel (by which her sailing qualities are affected) cannot be made, unless she be taken into a dock, or on a slip, for that purpose
8th April 1815
Prince de Neufchatel
The American schooner the Prince de Neufchatel having been docked at Deptford, and a drawing of her lines taken, we transmit the drawing herewith to be laid before the Lord Commissioners of Admiralty in obedience to their Lordship's order of the 21 [or 27] February last.
Navy Board to Admiralty
25th April 1815
Prince de Neufchatel schooner.
On damage alleged to have been done to her.
In answer to Mr. Barrow's letter of the 21st instant, transmitting by command of the Lord Commissioners of Admiralty for our consideration and report thereon the accompanying application from Mr. Collier for compensation for damage alleged to have befallen the Prince of Neufchatel schooner while in the charge of the dockyard officers at Deptford, we desire you will be pleased to lay before their Lordships the enclosed copy of a report from the officers of the yard dated the 7th inst. by which it appears the vessel sustained no damage and inform their Lordships that upon the strength of that report we - when Mr. Collier's claim was under our consideration decided against it as stated in our letter to him of the 13th inst. of which he has produced a copy.
Navy Board to Admiralty
Schooner to be similar to Prince de Neufchatel
In obedience to the directions of the Lord Commissioners of Admiralty of the 10th ult. that we should cause a draft to be prepared of a facsimile of the hull of the Prince de Neufchatel to be built for H.M. service and to be commanded by a lieutenant and a propose an establishment for her; we transmit here with a sheer draft which is a facsimile of the Prince de Neufchatel schooner.
In arranging the internal accommodations (shewn in pencil lines on the draft and plans) we have added a platform deck, which appears absolutely necessary for the accommodation of the officers, the birthing of the seamen and the preservation of the stores: in order to however to keep the vessel proposed to be built, as light as possible we should suggest that the bulkheads should be panelled with canvas.
In the American schooner there are no such accommodations, the stores being promiscuously placed and the crew sleeping over them.
We feel it is our duty on this occasion to state that when the Prince de Neufchatel was docked at Deptford she exhibited a very unusual size of weakness; that she is of small scantlings with large openings and has a bottom of only two inches in thickness which in a vessel of 111 feet 10 inches in length and measures 328 tons, we consider to little to render her an efficient and safe cruizer in the Channel; but we do not think ourselves at liberty to make such alterations without their lordships express directions.
We would submit that the schooner to be built may be constructed at Woolwich and established with, 16 carronades 12lbs; 2 Guns 6lbs; and with a complement of 75 men, according to the enclosed scheme.
Prince de Neufchatel
Courtsey of Mr. B. Allan
These accounts show the various charges incurred in both bringing the captured vessel to port, as well as the costs of the court action.
Note the payment to one of the prisoners for mending the sails of the Prize.
PRINCE of NEUFCHATEL 23rd. April 1816
Appeared Personally Thomas Collier of Brick Court Temple London Navy Agent and made oath that he is one of the Agents for His majesty's Ships Leander, Acasta and Newcastle and that the account hereto annexed signed by him doth contain, to the best of his knowledge and belief, a just and true account of the sums received for the Hull, Stores and Head Money of the above Prize and the Disbursements thereon.
The same day the said Thomas Collier was duly sworn to the truth of this affidavit.
An Account of the gross produce, charges and net proceeds of the American Privateer Prince of Neufchatel (Hull Stores and Head Money) captured the 28 December 1814 by His Majesty's Ships Leander, Acasta and Newcastle.
(The information above is, with the editors permission, from: http://www.1812privateers.org)
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