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hailed Captain Warrington, and informed him that peace had been concluded, but no notice was taken of the assurance. Mr Macgregor, the British master-attendant at Angier, had come on board the Peacock to give the same information, some time before she attacked the Nautilus. He communicated it to more than one of the American officers; but the only reply given was, that they did not see how they could avoid a little brush' with the brig; and Mr Macgregor was sent below and detained. The Peacock then fired into the Nautilus, a vessel of less than one-third her force, killed and wounded fourteen of her people, and compelled her to strike her colours! The above facts Mr Macgregor has stated upon oath; his deposition has been officially made public; has been twenty years in print; and has never, in as far as we are aware, received the slightest contradiction. (James's Nav. Occ. App. p. 210.) We certainly expected that Mr Cooper would have made some effort to rescue the honour of an American officer, thus publicly and formally charged with an act so foul. But Mr Cooper, without taking the slightest notice of an accusation so utterly disgraceful to Captain Warrington and his officers, contents himself with calling the action an unfortunate mistake,' and saying that it occurred in consequence of Captain Warrington having no knowledge of the peace,' (vol. ii. p. 553.) With this achievement concluded the American war, and with that war Mr Cooper's history closes.
After having so frequently found occasion to dissent from Mr Cooper's observations, we may be expected to state our own opinion upon the general character of the naval actions which took place in the war. It is a custom with American writers, and one one most liberally patronised by Mr Cooper, to speak of the gunnery displayed on these occasions by American seamen, as something unprecedented in naval warfare. We have already endeavoured to show that it is unfair to expect a ship, when opposed by an overwhelming force, to do execution in proportion to her comparative strength. But assuming for argument's sake that the American cruisers, generally speaking, were really superior in gunnery to their opponents, what does this fact prove? Simply the truth of a complaint, then and for some years before too often heard from officers of experience, that a want of opponents had rendered British cruisers less diligent in practising this important art than they ought to have been. That the line-of-battle ships employed in blockading the French fleets, did not partake in this negligence, the tremendous execution done by them at Algiers sufficiently proves; but the ships on the North American station, from being, until war broke out with the United States, almost certain never to
encounter an enemy, must have been peculiarly liable to it. But that the best performance of an American man-of-war in action-was superior to what has been, and we trust long will be, common in the British navy, we utterly deny.
The most unerring test of a cruiser's proficiency in gunnery, is the proportion which the loss inflicted by her in action bears to her own force, to the duration of the firing, and to the number of men on board her opponent. This test we will apply to the actions of the late war; and for that purpose we will appeal to historical facts—a species of argument carefully avoided by Mr Cooper. We find, then, that of the captured British frigates, the Guerriere lost 78, the Macedonian 104, and the Java 124 killed and wounded. The best performance, therefore, of an American twenty-four-pounder frigate during, by her own account, more than two hours of close action, and with the exclusive advantage of giving numerous raking broadsides, was to disable 124 men out of 370, or about one man in three, on board a ship not two-thirds of her force. This execution was no doubt severe; but surely, under the circumstances, by no means unprecedented. None of the captured British sloops suffered a greater loss, in proportion, than the Java, except only the Frolic and the Reindeer, each of whom had about half her crew injured in the action. But, considering the utterly defenceless state of the former of these two brigs after the first few broadsides, and the desperate manner in which the crew of the latter, in their attempts to board, exposed themselves to be mowed down by the grape and musketry of their opponent, it will readily, we think, be conceded, that neither of these actions can be taken as a fair test of American gunnery. It would be easy to enumerate scores of actions, in each of which a British frigate has captured an equal opponent in less than two hours; and after inflicting a greater loss, in proportion to the force employed by the captor, than was suffered by the Java. But we shall go further than this, by producing a few examples, which a very slight search has discovered in Mr James's history, of execution so fearfully severe, as to make the achievement of the American frigate appear utterly insignificant. In 1794, the Sibylle, a French frigate of the Java's size and force, was taken by the Romney, one of the old two-decked fifty-gun ships, and therefore very little superior in guns, and inferior in men and size, to her opponent. The Sibylle lost 156 out of 380 men, in an action of little more than an hour, fought fairly broadside to broadside. In 1795, the Blanche, a small British twelve-pounder frigate, captured the Pique, a French ship of superior size, but equal force; the latter losing 186 out of 279 men. In 1798, the British seventy-four Mars captured the French ship Hercule,
of equal force, after an action of an hour and a quarter, in which the captured ship lost 290 out of 680 men. In the same year, the British ship Leander, of fifty guns, was taken by the French ship Genereux, of seventy-four guns, a vessel double the size and treble the force of the captured ship. The latter made a most desperate resistance for six hours, during which she lost 92 out of 282 men, and killed and wounded 288 out of 936 on board her opponent. In 1799 the Sibylle, already mentioned, captured the French frigate Forte, of superior force, after an action of two hours and a-half, during which the Sibylle planted more than 300 round shot in her opponent's hull, and disabled by her fire 145 out of 370 men. In 1801, the Bordelais, of twenty-four guns, being attacked by the Curieux, of eighteen guns, and two smaller vessels, sunk her principal opponent in thirty minutes, with a loss of 50 out of 158 men. About the same time the British frigate Phoebe captured the French frigate Africaine, of equal force, after an action of two hours, in which the latter, out of 715 men, (she having 400 troops on board,) sustained the dreadful loss of 343 killed and wounded, of whom scarcely 100 survived. In 1805, the British sixteengun-brig Curieux captured the French privateer Dame-Ernouf, of equal force, after disabling 70 out of 120 Frenchmen, in forty minutes' firing. In 1808, the British eighteen-pounder frigate Seahorse took the Turkish frigate Badere-Zaffer, of very superior size and force, with a loss of 370 out of 540 men; and the British frigate Amethyst captured the French frigate Thetis, of equal force, after an action of three hours, and with a loss of 236 out of 436 men. Lastly, in 1813, the British frigate Amelia and the French frigate Arethuse fought a desperate drawn battle of three hours and a-half, in which the former lost 141 out of 300, and the latter 105 out of 340 men.
Striking instances of destructive firing are also to be found in some of the engagements which have taken place between fleets. On the 1st of June 1793, Lord Howe's ship, the Queen Charlotte, is stated by the French accounts to have killed 100 men on board the French Admiral's three-decker by a single raking broadside. At the battle of the Nile, the Orion seventyfour sunk the French frigate Serieuse by a single broadside. At the battle of Trafalgar, Lord Collingwood, in the Royal Sovereign, poured into the Spanish first-rate Santa Anna a raking broadside, which alone, by the admission of the Spanish officers, killed and wounded nearly 400 of her crew, and disabled fourteen of her guns. The first broadside which the Victory fired into the French admiral's stern on the same occasion, was of an equally destructive character. It was stated by M. Villeneuve
himself to have disabled 400 Frenchmen, dismounted twenty-one guns, and rendered the ship nearly defenceless during the rest of the action. We think we have now cited instances enough to show that the execution done by an American frigate, equal in force to a British sixty-four, was not more than has been frequently inflicted, under less advantageous circumstances, by a British ship one-third inferior in force.
We shall make no reply to Mr Cooper's assertions respecting the surprise and alarm created in England by the naval successes of the Americans, and the anxiety and dejection with which good judges contemplated (and we are to suppose still contemplate) the rising navy of the United States. Such assertions are easy to make, and difficult to refute. They cannot be tested by facts, and are therefore peculiarly adapted for the use of such historians as desire to make as little use as possible of those stubborn and dangerous materials. But we think we are justified in asserting, that when Mr Cooper talks of the skill displayed by American ships as having produced a new 'era in naval warfare,' he displays a degree of ignorance of the previous naval history of England, sufficient to have prevented any man of common prudence from even alluding to the subject.
Passing over these assertions, and looking merely at the general result of our unsuccessful naval actions, we cannot perceive that any of them could, under the circumstances, be expected to terminate differently. In one of the eleven victories we have noticed, the Americans were doubly superior in force; in six, they were superior as three to two; in two, as four to three; in one, long guns were opposed to carronades out of range of the latter; and in the remaining one, the British vessel had been previously disabled. We appeal to facts and arithmetic to confirm this statement; and we put it to any reasonable man whether, if eleven such actions as these had occurred between two old-established naval belligerents, and the circumstances had been accurately known, they would have been likely to cause either discouragement on the one side, or exultation on the other? We acknowledge, however, that this remark is not applicable to the conflicts of which we are speaking. The American navy was then in its infancy, almost untried against civilized enemies, and obnoxious to the unmanly taunts of too many English party writers. The people of the United States felt a just and laudable pride when they saw their marine take its post among the best of Europe, and even assert its claim to the respect of the proudest maritime nation in the world. Such circumstances will easily excuse a somewhat overweening degree of patriotic exultation; they will even palliate the exaggerated encomiums
with which the public press of America rewarded their defenders. * But the time for such feelings is long past. It is now twenty-seven years since the Constitution captured the Guerriere, and twenty-four since the last warlike exploit of the American navy. During this time the United States have been constantly acknowledged and respected as a maritime power; and they should learn to contemplate their position, not with childish delight, but with the calmness of conscious merit. The illiberal enemies of the American nation are said to have boasted, that British sloops would shortly be considered a match for American frigates. They are now convinced of their presumption. The American navy encountered their rivals, generally speaking, with circumstances of decided advantage; but those advantages they used with skill and resolution, and by so doing deserved, and frequently obtained, success. This was enough to establish the reputation of an infant navy; but this is by no means enough to support a claim of supremacy by that navy when come to maturity. The American marine is now of age; and must learn to put away childish things. The fact is universally acknowledged, the occasion has been sufficiently celebrated, and all that remains is to submit its pretensions to the standard by which those of other maritime nations are measured.
Let the Americans then look at the naval actions between England and France. What British eighteen-pounder frigate ever captured a French ship of the Constitution's force? or what British eighteen-gun brig was successful against a French corvette, such as the Wasp or Peacock? It is well known that no British twelve-pounder frigate could ever succeed in capturing a French eighteen-pounder frigate, and that many suffered most severely in the attempt; and yet the disparity here was greatly inferior to that which existed between the Constitution and the Guerriere, or Java. The contrary, however, has occurred. In 1805, the Cleopatra, a British twelve-pounder frigate, was captured in single action, with a loss of fifty-eight men, by the Ville-deMilan, a French frigate, carrying eighteen-pounders. But what
* We cannot so easily make allowance for the singular unfairness which pervaded the proceedings of the American courts-martial held during the war. The reports of those which sat on the loss of the President and Chesapeake (the one signed by Commodore Murray, the other, we regret to say, by the gallant Decatur) are the most offensive. Of each of these we have already given a slight specimen. They abound in ridiculous bombast, and in mistatements alike numerous and extraordinary.