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The "Adams," Captain Morris, was also there;
having arrived from the coast of Africa on the day of the fight, and
sailing again a week after it, May 5, for another cruise.

On June 4 the "Peacock" also started upon a protracted cruise, from
which she returned to New York October 30, after an absence of one
hundred and forty-seven days.[252] She followed the Gulf Stream,
outside the line of British blockaders, to the Banks of Newfoundland,
thence to the Azores, and so on to Ireland; off the south of which,
between Waterford and Cape Clear, she remained for four days. After
this she passed round the west coast, and to the northward as far as
Shetland and the Faroe Islands. She then retraced her course, crossed
the Bay of Biscay, and ran along the Portuguese coast; pursuing in
general outline the same path as that in which the "Wasp" very soon
afterwards followed. Fourteen prizes were taken; of which twelve were
destroyed, and two utilized as cartels to carry prisoners to England.
Of the whole number, one only was seized from September 2, when the
ship was off the Canaries, to October 12, off Barbuda in the West
Indies; and none from there to the United States. "Not a single vessel
was seen from the Cape Verde to Surinam," reported Warrington; while
in seven days spent between the Rock of Lisbon and Cape Ortegal, at
the northwest extremity of the Spanish peninsula, of twelve sail seen,
nine of which were spoken, only two were British.

In these conditions were seen, exemplified and emphasized, the alarm
felt and precautions taken, by both the mercantile classes and the
Admiralty, in consequence of the invasion of European waters by
American armed vessels, of a class and an energy unusually fitted to
harass commerce. The lists of American prizes teem with evidence of
extraordinary activity, by cruisers singularly adapted for their work,
and audacious in proportion to their confidence of immunity, based
upon knowledge of their particular nautical qualities. The impression
produced by their operations is reflected in the representations of
the mercantile community, in the rise of insurance, and in the
stricter measures instituted by the Admiralty. The Naval Chronicle, a
service journal which since 1798 had been recording the successes and
supremacy of the British Navy, confessed now that "the depredations
committed on our commerce by American ships of war and privateers have
attained an extent beyond all former precedent.... We refer our
readers to the letters in our correspondence. The insurance between
Bristol and Waterford or Cork is now three times higher than it was
when we were at war with all Europe. The Admiralty have been
overwhelmed with letters of complaint or remonstrance."[253] In the
exertions of the cruisers the pace seems to grow more and more
furious, as the year 1814 draws to its close amid a scene of
exasperated coast warfare, desolation, and humiliation, in America; as
though they were determined, amid all their pursuit of gain, to make
the enemy also feel the excess of mortification which he was
inflicting upon their own country. The discouragement testified by
British shippers and underwriters was doubtless enhanced and
embittered by disappointment, in finding the movement of trade thus
embarrassed and intercepted at the very moment when the restoration of
peace in Europe had given high hopes of healing the wounds, and
repairing the breaches, made by over twenty years of maritime warfare,
almost unbroken.

In London, on August 17, 1814, directors of two insurance companies
presented to the Admiralty remonstrances on the want of protection in
the Channel; to which the usual official reply was made that an
adequate force was stationed both in St. George's Channel and in the
North Sea. The London paper from which this intelligence was taken
stated that premiums on vessels trading between England and Ireland
had risen from an ordinary rate of less than one pound sterling to
five guineas per cent. The Admiralty, taxed with neglect, attributed
blame to the merchant captains, and announced additional severity to
those who should part convoy. Proceedings were instituted against two
masters guilty of this offence.[254] September 9, the merchants and
shipowners of Liverpool remonstrated direct to the Prince Regent,
going over the heads of the Admiralty, whom they censured. Again the
Admiralty alleged sufficient precautions, specifying three frigates
and fourteen sloops actually at sea for the immediate protection of
St. George's Channel and the western Irish coast against depredations,
which they nevertheless did not succeed in suppressing.[255]

At the same time the same classes in Glasgow were taking action, and
passing resolutions, the biting phrases of which were probably
prompted as much by a desire to sting the Admiralty as by a personal
sense of national abasement. "At a time when we are at peace with all
the rest of the world, when the maintenance of our marine costs so
large a sum to the country, when the mercantile and shipping interests
pay a tax for protection under the form of convoy duty, and when, in
the plenitude of our power, we have declared the whole American coast
under blockade, it is equally distressing and mortifying that our
ships cannot with safety traverse our own channels, that insurance
cannot be effected but at an excessive premium, and that a horde of
American cruisers should be allowed, unheeded, unmolested, unresisted,
to take, burn, or sink our own vessels in our own inlets, and almost
in sight of our own harbours."[256] In the same month the merchants of
Bristol, the position of which was comparatively favorable to
intercourse with Ireland, also presented a memorial, stating that the
rate of insurance had risen to more than twofold the amount at which
it was usually effected during the continental war, when the British
Navy could not, as it now might, direct its operations solely against
American cruisers. Shipments consequently had been in a considerable
degree suspended. The Admiralty replied that the only certain
protection was by convoy. This they were ready to supply but could not
compel, for the Convoy Act did not apply to trade between ports of
the United Kingdom.

This was the offensive return made by America's right arm of national
safety; the retort to the harrying of the Chesapeake, and of Long
Island Sound, and to the capture and destruction of Washington. But,
despite the demonstrated superiority of a national navy, on the whole,
for the infliction of such retaliation, even in the mere matter of
commerce destroying,--not to speak of confidence in national prowess,
sustained chiefly by the fighting successes at sea,--this weighty blow
to the pride and commerce of Great Britain was not dealt by the
national Government; for the national Government had gone to war
culpably unprepared. It was the work of the people almost wholly,
guided and governed by their own shrewdness and capacity; seeking,
indeed, less a military than a pecuniary result, an indemnity at the
expense of the enemy for the loss to which they had been subjected by
protracted inefficiency in administration and in statesmanship on the
part of their rulers. The Government sat wringing its hands, amid the
ruins of its capital and the crash of its resources; reaping the
reward of those wasted years during which, amid abounding warning, it
had neglected preparation to meet the wrath to come. Monroe, the
Secretary of State, writing from Washington to a private friend, July
3, 1814, said, "Even in this state, the Government shakes to the
foundation. Let a strong force land anywhere, and what will be the
effect?" A few months later, December 21, he tells Jefferson, "Our
finances are in a deplorable state. The means of the country have
scarcely yet been touched, yet we have neither money in the Treasury
nor credit."[257] This statement was abundantly confirmed by a
contemporary official report of the Secretary of the Treasury. At the
end of the year, Bainbridge, commanding the Boston navy yard, wrote
the Department, "The officers and men of this station are really
_suffering_ for want of pay due them, and articles now purchased for
the use of the navy are, in consequence of payment in treasury notes,
enhanced about thirty per cent. Yesterday we had to discharge one
hundred seamen, and could not pay them a cent of their wages. The
officers and men have neither money, clothes, nor credit, and are
embarrassed with debts."[258] No wonder the privateers got the seamen.

The decision to abandon the leading contention of the war had been
reached long before.[259] In an official letter, dated June 27, 1814,
to the commissioners appointed to treat for peace, after enumerating
the threatening conditions confronting the country, now that the
European conflict was at an end, Monroe wrote, "On mature
consideration it has been decided that, under all the circumstances
above alluded to, incident to a prosecution of the war, _you may omit
any stipulation on the subject of impressment_, if found indispensably
necessary to terminate it. You will of course not recur to this
expedient until all your efforts to adjust the controversy in a more
satisfactory manner have failed."[260] The phraseology of this
instruction disposes completely of the specious plea, advanced by
partisans of the Administration, that the subject was dropped because
impressment was no longer a live issue; the maritime war of Europe
being over. It was dropped because it had to be dropped; because the
favorable opportunities presented in 1812 and 1813 had been lost by
the incompetency of the national Government, distributed over a period
of nearly a dozen years of idle verbal argumentation; because in 1814
there stood between it and disastrous reverse, and loss of territory
in the north, only the resolution and professional skill of a yet
unrecognized seaman on the neglected waters of Lake Champlain.

Before concluding finally the subject of the offensive maritime
operations against the enemy's commerce, it may be mentioned that in
the last six months of the war, that is within one fifth of its
duration, were made one third of the total captures.



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