From The War, June 21, 1814
Not all naval battles of the War of 1812 involved large frigates. There were many battles fought by coasting vessels, among which, the following was considered, a BRILLIANT AFFAIR.
Capt. Allen, of the schr. William & John of Sedgwick, Maine, was bound to Boston with a cargo of lumber. On the 20th May, the British schr. Bream discovered her, and gave chase. Capt. Allen put into Rowbare, in Dyer’s Bay. He soon discovered the Bream’s barge approaching. After she had got within 50 yards, capt. A.. hailed the barge, but received no answer. He then hailed them again. They answered, it was no matter what boat it was. Capt. A. then ordered them to keep off, upon which they asked him if it was an English schooner. Capt. A. replied, the William & John, of Sedgwick; and seeing them still paddling towards him, called out to them to keep off. Two of the men in the barge then crowed, and one of the marines swung his match to touch the swivel in her bows. Capt. A. then ordered his men to fire, one after the other, and take good aim. Four of his men fired their pieces; the captain reserving his fire for fear of the others not doing execution. One of the marines discharged a musket at capt. Allen; and about the same moment, the midshipman seeing capt. Allen have his musket presented at his breast, swang his hat and said, ‘I’ll give up to you.’ Capt. A. then said, ‘Keep off next time.’ ‘I will,‘ said the midshipman, and began to row off. ‘Come on board, (said capt. Allen) or I will put every man of you to instant death.’ The midshipman then answered, ‘I will, as quick as possible.’ The barge then came close alongside, having 2 killed and 2 wounded, and 3 others on board. They attempted to come on board the schooner all together. Capt. Allen told them to come on board one by one, but first hand up all their arms, and the muskets but-end foremost, which they did. He then took them on board the schooner, one by one, and them tied them all, but afterwards untied the midshipman, on giving his word of honor. He sent all down the cabin, and moved his vessel two miles further up the cove, and took off his mainsail. This took place on Friday, about 5 o’clock. On Saturday, at 12, the Bream sent in a flag of truce, manned by two prisoners and the pilot of the Bream, to see if the barge was captured or not. They were told by capt. Allen, they were captured. About 50 militia came down on Saturday, about 9 o’clock. At 12, the same day, a lieutenant with a flag and 4 men, came in and delivered the following communication to capt. Allen, from the commanding officer of the Bream.
H. M. schooner Bream, 22d May, 1814
Sir—a boat belonging to H. M. schooner Bream, being captured on the 20th inst. induces me to send a flag of truce, to state that I have a chebacco boat and two inhabitants of Goldsborough, now in my possession; and as there will be some trouble and expense attending transporting the men captured by you, with little or no consequence to any but the individuals concerned; I am willing to give up to the proprietors of my prize, their property, if you will return H. B. M.’s boat crew to their vessel. And I also further state, that under these circumstances, the schooner laying in the cove has permission to proceed on her voyage without further molestation. I am, sir, your humble servant,
H. Beer, lieut. and commander.
On the above communication, capt. Allen replied that he would not agree to the terms proposed. Four different flags were afterwards sent, and the following terms finally agreed upon:
That in consideration of capt. Allen’s giving up the British prisoners on parole, the commander of the Bream was to give capt. Allen $90 in cash, return the two American prisoners belonging to Goldsborough, give up a chebacco boat, with the property on board of her, valued at $700, and capt. Allen to retain the 12-oared barge with all her armament, consisting of one swivel, 6 muskets, 5 cutlasses, 6 cartridge boxes, some blue lights, a compass, one trumpet, and a quantity of canister and grape-shot, all of which capt. Allen values at $300.”
About the Author
Mary Bowden is a researcher working at the Texas Collections Deposit Library at the University of Texas. A little-known but invaluable treasure of U.S. history and the history of American journalism is archived in the collection of bound United States’ Newspapers at the University of Texas at Austin. The collection began more than a century ago and has been stored in recent years in the Texas Collections Deposit Library on the campus of the University of Texas. The sizeable archive is currently in the early stages of being digitized before being moved to a more climate-controlled environment at the J.J. Pickle Research Campus of the University, on the north side of Austin.