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1812 Light Squadrons and Single Ships 90

the fame of the captain of the Essex, on the 30th of August, 1812, the day mentioned, the Acasta was cruising in the latitude of 43 north; longitude 65' 16' west; and the Ringdove, whose force, by-the-by, was only 18 guns, was lying at an anchor in a harbour of the island of St:-Thomas. It was certainly very modest of Captain Porter, to " think it not unlikely," that one of the finest 18-pounder frigates in the British navy, accompanied too by a sloop of war, would be sent out to " cruise for the Essex." The fact is, the ship, which Captain Porter fell in with, was the 18-gun sloop Rattler, Captain Alexander Gordon; and who, we believe, not considering himself a match for the American frigate, rather avoided than sought an engagement with her.

On the 4th of September, at noon, in latitude 39 11' north, longitude 70 22', the Essex, then having under her convoy the American merchant ship Minerva, fell in with " two ships of war" to the southward and westward. These two " ships of war," as Captain Porter declared them to be, * were the British 38-gun frigate Shannon, Captain Philip Bowes Vere Broke, and the merchant ship Planter, which she had just recaptured from the Americans. The Shannon, as may be supposed, was soon under all sail in chase ; but in a little time the wind, which had been blowing right aft, headed the ship flat aback. With the wind thus suddenly changed in her favour, the Essex, keeping the Minerva close astern of her, bore down, as if to bring the Shannon to action ; but at 4 h. 30 m. p.m., just as she had got within about 10 miles of the British frigate, the Essex suddenly hauled up, and, after making some private signals, crowded sail to get away; leaving the poor merchant ship, whom she had thus led into danger, to shift for herself.

The Shannon continued chasing to-windward, under a press of canvass, until dark ; when, losing sight of the Essex, the former tacked and seized the merchant ship. Captain Broke intended to burn the vessel directly, that the Essex might see the flames, and perhaps bear down to revenge the indignity offered to the American flag ; but the night becoming dark and squally, Captain Broke would not risk his boats in removing the crew. Consequently the Minerva, in ballast only, was not burnt until the following morning ; and by that time the Essex had made so good a use of her sails, that she was no longer to be seen by the Shannon. This was the last exploit Captain Porter performed in this his first cruise ; and three days afterwards, namely, on the 7th of September, the Essex, " covered with glory," anchored in Delaware bay.

On the 28th of June, which was the day after the Belvidera had arrived at Halifax with the account of the unexpected attack made upon her by an American squadron, Vice-admiral

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

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