View unanswered posts | View active topics It is currently Tue Apr 25, 2017 4:49 am



Reply to topic  [ 6 posts ] 
 French Privateering 
Author Message
Moderator
User avatar

Joined: Tue Apr 12, 2005 9:34 am
Posts: 1471
Location: Virginia, USA
Post French Privateering
Except from United Service Journal 58, September 1833

French Privateering in the West Indies (pages 65-66)

Of the war of 1794, Pierre Olanger was considered one of the most clever and resolute commanders of French privateers, but he appears to have been a great scoundrel. In the last war, Jacque Mathieu (by the privateersmen themselves called Jacca Matu, and by our sailors Jack Mathew) became notorious for his enterprise and success on the Jamaica station. I shall here relate, briefly, one of the tricks he played off, which may give some idea of his expertness, skill, and intrepidity: A British sloop-of-war fell in with a small felucca commanded by this man, and by dint of carrying sail off the wind, brought her alongside.

Mathieu lowered his sails, and the ship hove-to; whilst a boat was preparing to take possession of the prize, the captain of the sloop-of-war went into his cabin to take some refreshment, but had scarcely seated himself when he was surprised at hearing the discharge of several cannon, the balls from which broke his cabin windows and swept the decanters and glasses off the table! Hastening upon deck, he had the mortification to see the daring Frenchman luffing his little vessel so close as nearly to touch the ship's quarter: all sail was soon set, and chase given to the privateer, but she having had time to gain the wind, from superior sailing close-hauled, and under cover of the night, after a long trial, effected her escape!

I have often heard the captain relate this circumstance, and he said that, although he never had more cause, in his encounters with privateers, to be surprised and chagrined, yet he could never revert to the subject without laughter, it was altogether so unexpected, and placed the ship-of-war in such a ridiculous light, a lion stung by a mosquito; besides, at every turn he took upon deck he met " long faces," which, but a few minutes before, were drawn out quite the other way by smiles at the golden prospect. The fellow certainly deserved to escape, the ruse of lowering his sails and appearing to give up all as lost, in order to put his enemy off his guard, was one of those clever tricks Jacque had often played off on British men-of-war. Long before this he had displayed, under very trying and hazardous situations, an extraordinary promptitude of action in taking advantage of the slightest circumstance that afforded a chance of escape; and with the exception of Captain Love, who was the king of the picaroons, Mathieu was certainly the most enterprising, audacious, and successful among the French privateersmen.


In this same article (page 70) the British ship encounters five French privateers and takes after them. "By trimming, and suspending the chests and shot lockers, sending part of the crew to bed, in order to try to make the ship more lively, her sailing was wonderfully improved, she tacked with unusual celerity, and afforded us gleams of hope."

I have never read of an account where part of the crew is sent to bed to improve sailing. Logically, by moving them from the upper deck to a location below deck, the center-of-gravity of the ship would be lowered. Has anyone else read of this in a fictional or real-life account before?

I have read of moving part of the crew, marines, or passengers to the windward side of the upper deck to stiffen the ship and improve sailing. I have read of moving shot and other cargo within the ship -- as well as jettisoning water, even cannon to improve sailing -- but sending the crew to their hammocks is a new one to me.

Don


Wed Aug 10, 2005 6:50 pm
Profile
Admin
User avatar

Joined: Tue Nov 12, 2002 9:02 am
Posts: 2747
Location: Cambridgeshire, England
Post 



From The Times of April 30, 1798:

" ..... Friday as a fisherman in an open boat off Lowestoft was casting his nets, he was taken by a French privateer. The captain of the privateer, after taking out the crew of the boat, sunk her, but told the people that he would put them on shore the first opportunity. In a little time he fell in with a cod smack; the crew of which he took on board also and then told the first crew, that as soon as he had finished a letter to Mr Pitt, he should let them at liberty. He accordingly brought up a letter directed to Mr Pitt, and desired the fisherman to put in into the Post-office, which the latter did on his arrival at Lowestoft. The time he was on board the privateer, the Captain asked him several questions about the depth of water in creeks and harbours upon this coast, but the fisherman pleaded ignorance , saying that he was a poor fisherman from Lowestoft, and always beached his boat ..."

Wonder what the contents of the letter were, and did it immediately head for the wastepaper basket on arrival at its destination. :D




_________________
- Mil -
aka Mary ....


Fri Jun 27, 2008 10:26 am
Profile YIM
Admin
User avatar

Joined: Tue Nov 12, 2002 9:02 am
Posts: 2747
Location: Cambridgeshire, England
Post 
[size=92:*]
from [i:*]The Times[/i:*] of August 8th, 1795:

[color=darkblue:*]" ..... Captain Bentley, of the brig [i:*]Mary,[/i:*] arrived at Boston from Marigalante, in 18 days, whither he was carried by a French privateer. Her cargo, consisting of provisions of almost every kind, the French bought of him, and punctually paid him the amount in produce, upon as good terms as he could with, and was treated by them with the greatest civility. ..."[/color:*]

[/size:*]

_________________
- Mil -
aka Mary ....


Wed Jul 09, 2008 12:33 pm
Profile YIM
Admin
User avatar

Joined: Tue Nov 12, 2002 9:02 am
Posts: 2747
Location: Cambridgeshire, England
Post 


From The Times, June 29, 1796:

".... a small cutter-rigged French privateer, stood close in with the land under St Catherine's Hill, at the back of the Isle of Wight, and in sight of the signal-house established, took the sloops Good Indent, Richard Clark, master and Brothers, Edward Cook, master belonging to this port. These men were industriously engaged in taking mackerel, and, we are sorry to hear, the loss of their vessels will be their total ruin. About an hour previous to the capture, a hired yacht, with a large party of ladies and gentlemen, sailing round the Isle of Wight, passed them, and were lucky enough to save their tide in Bembridge in good time, otherwise they would probably have had a little ransom to settle, before they had finished their excursion ......"




_________________
- Mil -
aka Mary ....


Fri Jul 18, 2008 12:50 pm
Profile YIM
Admin
User avatar

Joined: Tue Nov 12, 2002 9:02 am
Posts: 2747
Location: Cambridgeshire, England
Post 


The Times, June 11th, 1807:

" ... We regret to state that the Pike schooner, of four guns, Lieut Oatley, on her way from Port Royal to the island of CuraƧoa, was captured, a few days since, by a French privateer schooner, of two guns, and 70 men. The enemy carried the Pike, by boarding, with the assistance of some boats from St Domingo, manned principally with the Officers who belonged to the ships of the squadron of Rear-Admiral Lesseigues, which were destroyed by Sir John Duckworth. ....."


_________________
- Mil -
aka Mary ....


Thu Apr 16, 2009 12:59 pm
Profile YIM
Admin
User avatar

Joined: Tue Nov 12, 2002 9:02 am
Posts: 2747
Location: Cambridgeshire, England
Post 


The Times, April 17th, 1797:

" .... The Vengeur privateer, lately taken by the Vestal frigate, is supposed to have made more captures than any ship during the war. ...."



_________________
- Mil -
aka Mary ....


Thu Aug 20, 2009 9:21 am
Profile YIM
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Reply to topic   [ 6 posts ] 

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
cron
Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group.
Designed by STSoftware for PTF.