own : it lost him the Jamaica fleet, by carrying his squadron too far to the northward. At daylight on the 23d, when the commodore began chasing the Belvidera, the American squadron was in latitude 39° 26' north, longitude 71° 10' west ; and at noon on that day the Jamaica fleet was in latitude 39° 35; longitude 61° 38'.
Having repaired the most material of her damages, the Belvidera steered towards Halifax, and on the 27th anchored in the harbour, in company with two or three American merchant vessels, which, on receiving so unequivocal a proof that war had been declared by the United States, Captain Byron had ventured to detain ! But all of which Rear-admiral Sawyer restored, considering that the affair, after all, might have originated in some mistake of the American commodore's. On the evening of the same day on which the Belvidera anchored in Halifax, the Mackerel schooner was despatched to England with the intelligence, and arrived at Portsmouth on the 25th of July.
It took the President a full day to repair her damages. That done, the American squadron proceeded in quest of the Jamaica fleet. On the 1st of July, a little to the eastward of the bank of Newfoundland, the squadron fell in with a fleet, not of ships, but of cocoa-nut-shells, orange-peels, &c. ; * and the commodore and his officers promised themselves a West-India dessert to their next day's dinner. They longed in vain ; and, after being thus tantalized from the 1st to the 13th, they steered for Madeira, and thence for the Azores. To increase the misfortunes of the cruise, the scurvy broke out among the men, and conferred additional value upon the limes, that were known to be in such profusion on board the Jamaica ships. The squadron captured six or seven small merchantmen, and recaptured one American vessel ; but, although he chased the British 38-gun frigate Statira, Captain Hassard Stackpoole, for several hours, Commodore Rodgers returned to Boston without one national trophy to signalize his maiden cruise. He arrived there on the 29th of August ; just six days after the Thalia, having brought home her charge in safety, had anchored in the Downs.
One of the two great blows against England, the subjugation of the Canadas and the capture of a West-India fleet of more than 100 sail, contemplated by Mr. Madison was thus warded off ; and to the judgment and promptitude of Captain Byron on his first falling in with the American squadron, to the skill of the Belvidera's officers and crew in pointing their guns and working their ship, and to their bravery and perseverance in defending her during a long and arduous chase, while engaged with a force so greatly superior, is the nation indebted for the little mischief done
*Official letter of Commodore Rodgers.
^ back to top ^