Date format: mm-dd-yyyy
05/24/1814 col 2
McManemin, Captains of the Privateers of the War of 1812
Engagement between the Liverpool and Snap Dragon
Thursday 3 rd March 1814, commenced pleasant light rain about 10 P.M. At 5 made a strange sail to leeward; at A.M. gave chase; about 7 gave her a gun and hoisted American colours; she answered us with another and hoisted English colours. At half past we engaged her, and a regular and constant fire was kept up by both parties; the enemy perceived we designed boarding, manoeuvred his ship with great skill for a considerable time. At half 11 got our musketry to bear on line….orders were given to hoist a red flag forward; twenty minutes past noon we got on the enemies quarter. They perceived we meant boarding, gave us several stern guns, which injured our sails and rigging very much. We kept up a constant fire of great and small arms; at half past one we received orders to board, he put his helm up hard to run us down; his five chains took our jib-boom and bowsprit; he endeavoured to haul down his colours and get them as low as the gaf.
At that instant our bowsprit gave way, and our foremast went by the board. The schooner then fall off as quick as two vessels could fall. The enemy then rallied his men and let off the men that had boarded him, hoisted his colours and made the most of a good wind. All hands on board of us were called to clear the wreck, our shrouds, sails and topmost being shot away. Our colours were shot away, but immediately tied to the main rigging. The pumps were sounded and we found she made no water, we then engaged a jury mast and at length set our jib, and at 4 made sail on the vessel, and our sails; rigging and hull is much damaged, and our boat completely ruined.
The enemy’s force not known; she is large ship coppered to her bends, mounting 22 guns, and fought desperately; using round grape, canister and cold shot. They beat off our boarders with pistols, cutlasses, boarding pikes, hand spikes and the above cold shot were thrown. They threw stink pots on board, bricks and glass bottle. We do not know her loss, but suppose she lost considerable, as blood ran out of her lee scuppers and her hull received damage from chain and star shot.. we lost four men killed…seven wounded… Thus ends an action that forces us to run for some port to repair; owing to our losing our mast; had it stood she was our prize. We were so near Surinam we heard guns from battery.
The following extract from a letter Capt. William Hill of the Liverpool sent to his owners, Messrs. Hughes & Tobins, dated Demerara, 25 th March, 1814, gives another account of the battle:
At ten the enemy hoisted a red flag at the fore, gave us a volley of musketry, three cheers, and again bore up for us, which was returned with a broadside and musketry. Finding from her superiority in sailing I could no longer keep her on either quarter, I bore up before the wind, and set topgallant sails, and got the two aftermost gun through the stern ports.
At 11, he dropped astern, frequently cheering; at half-past he made sail. At 12, came up with a drum and fife playing, and keeping up a hot fire of grape and musketry, but firing high, which we returned with grape and canister. A quarter before one, the enemy closing fast, I ordered the helm a starboard, to bring the larboard guns on him, when he run us on board, her jib-boom coming through the bulwark abaft the cross-tree, and broke short off.
Having fresh way on the ship by putting the helm a port, we carried way his bowsprit, when between the main and mizzen rigging, the enemy three a number of men on board us and fell astern. By the time he was clear, we had drove the boarders from the deck, over the side and into the chains, where a number of them were killed or wounded, falling or jumping overboard, the enemy lying across our stern, still keeping up a smart fire.
At one, his mainsail came down, we keeping up a hot and destructive fire from the stern guns right into him. At half-past he hauled off on the larboard tack, her fire slackening. On her coming to the wind, the foremast went over the starboard bow, taking with it the main topmast, and the head of the mainmast. I never saw so complete a wreck. She then came to an anchor, many of her crew swimming towards her. It was my first intention to have renewed the action, but on hauling to the wind for that purpose, I found all our sails and running rigging shot away …
Privateers were looked down on by the Royal Navy so this report from Commander R. Henry Muddle of HMS Columbine gives particular approbation;
In consequence of the very gallant defence of the ship Liverpool, Mr. W. Hill, master, against the American privateer Snap Dragon, on the 3 rd of march, off Surinam River, I have thought it proper to permit her to wear a pendant, during the time of my command on this coast, and to grant her protection for her crew, during the said time.
The commanders of His Majesty’s vessels under my command are hereby required and directed to respect the same.
Given under my hand, on board his Majesty’s sloop Columbine, in the River Demerara, 16 th March 1814.