HMS Guerriere (1806)


Depiction of HMS Gurriere's last battle, against the USS Constitution.
Career Great Britain
Class and type:fifth-rate frigate
Named after:French ship Guerrière
Laid down:
Launched:
Commissioned:1806
Captured:By the British 1806
By the United States 19 August 1812
Status:Captured & scuttled by USS Constitution
General Characteristics
Displacement:
Length:
Beam:
Propulsion:Sail
Speed:
Complement:
Armament:38 x eighteen-pounders
Honours and awards:War of 1812
HMS Guerriere was a British 3-masted frigate of 38 eighteen-pounder guns. It was originally captured from the French, and was famously commanded by Captain James Richard Dacres when she was captured by the USS Constitution in the War of 1812.

During the afternoon of 19 August 1812, Latitude 40.20 N and Longitude 55.00 West about 400 miles S.E. of Halifax, Nova Scotia, a sail was sighted on the weather beam bearing down on them. She was soon made out to be a man-o-war and Guerriere prepared for action mustering 244 men and 19 boys at quarters. When the enemy hoisted American colours, Captain Dacres permitted the Americans in his crew to quit their guns.

The two ships exchanged broadsides for half an hour before the enemy closed her starboard beam and sent HMS Guerriere's mizzen mast overboard. Switching to the other bow, the enemy raked HMS Guerriere and swept her decks with grapeshot and musket fire, and then attempted to board. Samuel Grant, master's mate commanding the fo'csle, was badly wounded and at about the same time Robert Scott, the master, was shot through the knee and the Captain severely wounded. Captain Dacres ordered Lieutenant Bartholomew Kent to lead the marines and boarders from the main deck towards the forecastle but the two ships parting at that moment meant that they were able to bring some of the bow guns to bear on the enemy. William J. Snow, master's mate, commanded the fore-most main deck guns and John Garby, acting purser, the after quarter deck guns.

The two ships were clear of each other when Guerriere's fore and main-masts went over the side leaving her an unmanageable wreck. They managed to clear the wreckage but while they were rolling with the main deck guns under water, the enemy came within pistol range to rake them. At this point Captain Dacres called his remaining officers together and they agreed to strike the colours to avoid further loss of life. Fifteen men were killed, including the second lieutenant, Mr Henry Ready; six mortally wounded, 39 severely and eighteen slightly wounded. Lieutenant Kent was wounded by a splinter early on.

They found that the enemy was the heavy frigate USS Constitution under Captain Isaac Hull armed with thirty 24-pounders on the main deck, twenty-four 32-pounders and two bored out 18-pounders on the upper deck. Out of 476 men, nine were killed and thirteen wounded. Captain Dacres was surprised and shocked to find a large proportion of British seamen amongst her crew, a number of whom had joined in the boarding party.

The Guerriere was too badly damaged to take in, so as soon as the wounded had been taken out, she was set on fire by her captors, and the Constitution returned to Boston.

Letter from Captain James R. Dacres, RN, to Vice Admiral Herbert Sawyer, RN

Boston 7th September 1812

Sir, I am sorry to inform you of the Capture of His Majesty's late Ship Guerriere by the American Frigate Constitution after a severe action on the 19th of August in Latitude 40.20 N and Longitude 55.00 West At 2 PM being by the Wind on the starboard Tack, we saw a Sail on our Weather Beam, bearing down on us. At 3 made her out to be a Man of War, beat to Quarters and prepar'd for Action. At 4, She closing fast wore to prevent her raking us. At 4.10 hoisted our Colours and fir'd several shot at her. At 4.20 She hoisted her Colours and return'd our fire. Wore several times, to avoid being raked, Exchanging broadsides. At 5 She clos'd on our Starboard Beam, both keeping up a heavy fire and steering free, his intention being evidently to cross our bow. At 5.20, our Mizen Mast went over the starboard quarter and brought the Ship up in the Wind. The Enemy then plac'd himself on our larboard Bow, raking us, a few only of our bow Guns bearing and his Grape and Riflemen sweeping our Deck. At 5.40 the Ship not answering her helm, he attempted to lay up on board at this time. Mr [Samuel] Grant who commanded the Forecastle was carried below badly wounded. I immediately order'd the Marines and Boarders from the Main Deck; the Master was at this time shot thro the knee, and I receiv'd a severe wound in the back. Lieutenant [Bartholomew] Kent was leading on the Boarders, when the Ship coming too, we brought some of our bow guns to bear on her and had got clear of our opponent when at 6.20 our Fore and Main Masts went over the side, leaving the Ship a perfect unmanageable Wreck. The Enemy shooting ahead, I was in hopes to clear the Wreck and get the Ship under Command to renew the Action but just as we had clear'd the Wreck our Spritsail yard went and the Enemy having rove new Braces &c, wore round within Pistol Shot to rake us, The Ship laying in the trough of the Sea and rolling her Main Deck Guns under Water and all attempts to get her before the Wind being fruitless, when calling my few remaining officers together, they were all of opinion that any further resistance would be a needless waste of lives, I order'd, though reluctantly, the Colours to be struck. The loss of the Ship is to be ascribed to the early fall of the Mizen Mast which enabled our opponent to choose his position. I am sorry to say we suffered severely in killed and wounded and mostly whilst she lay on our Bow from her Grape and Musketry, in all 15 kill'd and 63 wounded, many of them severely; none of the wounded Officers quitted the Deck till the firing ceas'd. The Frigate prov'd to be the United States Ship Constitution, of thirty 24 Pounders on her Main Deck and twenty four 32 Pounders and two 18 Pounders on her Upper Deck and 476 Men-her loss in comparison with ours was triffling, about twenty, the first Lieutenant of Marines and eight killed and first Lieutenant and Master of the Ship and eleven Men wounded, her lower Masts badly wounded; and stern much shattered and very much cut up about the Rigging. The Guerriere was so cut up, that all attempts to get her in would have been useless. As soon as the wounded were got out of her, they set her on fire, and I feel it my duty to state that the conduct of Captain Hull and his Officers to our Men has been that of a brave Enemy, the greatest care being taken to prevent our Men losing the smallest trifle, and the greatest attention being paid to the wounded who through the attention and skill of Mr [John] Irvine, Surgeon, I hope will do well. I hope though success has not crown'd our efforts, you will not think it presumptuous in me to say the greatest Credit is due to the Officers and Ship's Company for their exertions, particularly when exposed to the heavy raking fire of the Enemy. I feel particularly obliged for the exertions of Lieutenant Kent who though wounded early by a Splinter continued to assist me; in the second Lieutenant the Service has suffered a severe loss; Mr [Robert] Scott, the Master, though wounded was particularly attentive and used every exertion in clearing the Wreck as did the Warrant Officers. Lieutenant [William] Nicoll of the Royal Marines and his party supported the honorable Character of their Corps, and they suffer'd severely. I must particularly recommend Mr [William] Snow, Masters Mate, who commanded the foremost Main Deck guns in the absence of Lieutenant [John] Pullman and the whole after the fall of Lieutenant [Henry] Ready, to your protection, he having serv'd his time and received a severe contusion from a Splinter. I must point out Mr [John] Garby, Acting Purser, to your notice, who volunteer'd his Services on Deck, and commanded the after quarter Deck Guns and was particularly active as well as Mr [John W.] Bannister, Midshipman who has passed. I hope, in considering the circumstances, you will think the Ship entrusted to my charge was properly defended; the unfortunate loss of our Masts, the absence of the third lieutenant, second Lieutenant of Marines, three Midshipmen, and twenty four Men considerably weakened our Crew, and we only muster'd at Quarters 244 Men and 19 Boys, on coming into action; the Enemy had such an advantage from his Marines and Riflemen, when close and his superior sailing enabled him to choose his distance. I enclose herewith a List of killed and wounded on board the Guerriere and have the Honor to be Sir, Your most obedient &c.

Sign'd J R Dacres
Vice Admiral Sawyer
Commander in Chief
&c &c &c Halifax

References

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    In the Royal Navy, a fifth-rate was a sailing frigate mounting 32 to 44 guns with the main battery on a single deck.

    Fifth-rate ships acted as fast scouts or independent cruisers and included a variety of gun arrangements from 32 or 36 x 12 pounders to 36, 38, 40 or
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      For the bird, see Frigatebird.


      A frigate is a warship. The term has been used for warships of many sizes and roles across eras.
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      August 19 is the 1st day of the year (2nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 0 days remaining.

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      USS Constitution, known as "Old Ironsides," is a wooden-hulled, three-masted heavy frigate of the United States Navy. Named after the United States Constitution, she is the oldest commissioned ship afloat in the world.
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      beam of a ship is its width at the widest point, or a point alongside the ship at the mid-point of its length. Generally speaking, the wider a ship (or boat)'s beam, the more initial stability she will have, at expense of reserve stability in the event of a capsize, where more
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      United States
      Regular Army: 35,800
      Rangers: 3,049
      Militia: 458,463*
      US Navy & US Marines: (at start of war):
      •Frigates:6
      •Other vessels: 14
      Indigenous peoples
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      British Empire was the largest empire in history and for a substantial time was the foremost global power. It was a product of the European age of discovery, which began with the maritime explorations of the 15th century, that sparked the era of the European colonial empires.
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        For the bird, see Frigatebird.


        A frigate is a warship. The term has been used for warships of many sizes and roles across eras.
        ..... Click the link for more information.
        Vice Admiral James Richard Dacres, RN (August 22, 1788 – December 4, 1853) was an English naval officer, born at Lowestoft. He entered the navy in 1796, accompanied the expedition sent against Ferrol, and in 1806 was promoted captain and put in command of the sloop
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        USS Constitution, known as "Old Ironsides," is a wooden-hulled, three-masted heavy frigate of the United States Navy. Named after the United States Constitution, she is the oldest commissioned ship afloat in the world.
        ..... Click the link for more information.
        United States
        Regular Army: 35,800
        Rangers: 3,049
        Militia: 458,463*
        US Navy & US Marines: (at start of war):
        •Frigates:6
        •Other vessels: 14
        Indigenous peoples
        ..... Click the link for more information.
        August 19 is the 1st day of the year (2nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 0 days remaining.

        Events

        • 43 BC - Octavian, later known as Augustus, compels the senate to elect him Consul.

        ..... Click the link for more information.
        19th century - 20th century
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        City of Halifax (dissolved)
        Map of the boundaries of the present day Community and former City of Halifax, and its relationship to the rest of the Halifax Regional Municipality

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        Man O' War may refer to:

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        • Man-O-War Cay, an island in the Bahamas
        • Man o' War Boulevard, Lexington, Kentucky, U.S.
        • Man O'War, Dublin, Ireland
        Animals
        • Portuguese Man o' War, a marine invertebrate

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        mast of a sailing ship is a tall vertical pole which supports the sails. Larger ships have several masts, with the size and configuration depending on the style of ship.
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        Grapeshot is a type of anti-personnel ammunition used in cannons. Instead of solid shot, a mass of loosely packed metal slugs is loaded into a canvas bag. Grapeshot can also be improvised from chainlinks, shards of glass, rocks, etc.
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        musket is a muzzle-loaded, smoothbore long gun, which is intended to be fired from the shoulder. The date of origin of muskets remains unknown, but they are mentioned as early as the late 14th century in Chinese military books such as Huo Long Jing.
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        Forecastle", also spelled fo'c's'le (pronounced /'fəʊksəl/), originally meant the upper deck of a sailing ship, forward of the foremast.
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        Lieutenant is a military, naval, paramilitary, fire service or police officer rank.

        Lieutenant may also appear as part of a title used in various other organizations with a codified command structure.
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        A ship's purser (also purser or pusser[1]) is the person on a ship responsible for the handling of money on board. On modern merchant ships the purser is the officer responsible for all administration and supply; frequently the cooks and stewards answer to
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        USS Constitution, known as "Old Ironsides," is a wooden-hulled, three-masted heavy frigate of the United States Navy. Named after the United States Constitution, she is the oldest commissioned ship afloat in the world.
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        Isaac Hull (March 9, 1773 – February 13, 1843), was a Commodore, in the United States Navy.[1]

        Isaac Hull was born in Derby, Connecticut (some sources say Huntington, now Shelton, Connecticut, see postcard picture).
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        Boston, Massachusetts

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        Location in Suffolk County in Massachusetts, USA
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