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1812 Alert and Essex 89

to a better ship than the Alert, a better first lieutenant than Andrew Duncan, who gave him no support, and a better crew than his officers and men, who, except Johanson Clering the master, and William Haggarty the purser, went aft to request their captain to strike the colours. Captain Porter disarmed his fine prize, and sent her with the prisoners, 86 in number, as a cartel, to St.-John's, Newfoundland ; where, on the 8th of October, Captain Laugharne and his officers and men were tried for the loss of their ship. The captain, master, and purser, were most honourably acquitted ; the first lieutenant was dismissed the service ; and the remaining officers and crew obtained, with their acquittal, the marked disapprobation of the court. On her return to a port in the United States, being found unfit for a cruiser, the Alert was laid up in ordinary, but, after the lapse of some months, was fitted as a store-ship. The moment, however, that her sails were unfurled, her creeping, collier-like pace betrayed her origin, and sent back the Alert to New York, to grace the harbour as a block-ship, and to be pointed out to the citizens as one of the national trophies of war.

As Captain Porter was a great favourite at the city of Washington, Mr. Clark, who was patronised by all the great men there, could do no less than insert in his book any little tale which the former might wish to see recorded in the naval history of his country. " On the 30th of August," says one of those tales, " the Essex being in latitude 36 north, longitude 62 west, a British frigate was discovered standing towards her, under a press of sail. Porter stood for her under easy sail, with his ship prepared for action ; and, apprehensive that she might not find the Essex during the night, he hoisted a light. At 9, the British vessel made a signal : it consisted of two flashes and a blue light. She was then, apparently, about four miles distant. Porter stood for the point where she was seen until midnight, when, perceiving nothing of her, he concluded it would be best to heave to for her until morning, concluding she had done the same ; but, to his great surprise, and the mortification of his officers and crew, she was no longer in sight. Captain Porter thought it to be not unlikely, that this vessel was the Acasta, of 50 guns, sent out, accompanied by the Ringdove, of 22, to cruise for the Essex." *

It did not perhaps occur to Mr. Clark, that ships usually carry log-books, in which are entered every day's proceedings, with the latitude, longitude, &c. ; and that these can be referred to, in case the false assertions of any historian, or paragraph-writer, or American captain, may be worth the trouble of disproving. Considering what a formidable man Captain Porter was, nothing less than the Acasta " of 50 guns," and Ringdove, " of 22," could be sent out to cruise for the Essex. Unfortunately for

* Clark's Naval history of the United State, vol. i. p. 180.

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