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A Privateer's Story

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The íollowing singular night adventre, in the harbor of Grenada, and ie narrovv escape f rom capture of the oted Privateer " Yankee," oí Bristo), ',. I., has never before to ra}7 knowldge been recorded, save in the logook ui that fortúnate little cruiser. I will therefore teil the story in the ords of her brave old commander, as gathered it from bis own lipa. It was the last week in December, 812, said Capt. Wilson, and while inning up to Havana, that we feil n with a Newport eruiser, who reportd that the islaud, or rather the port of 3t. GeorgeTown, was, at that moment n the occupancy of the Amerioans. 'hat he, bad sailed from the place only avo days beforo, and left in the harbor no ot our irigates and tivo sloops of ar, while the stars and stripes were ying from the flag-staff ot the oldfort. 'he same day I boarded a Spanish roger, the skipper of which hid scen ie vessel oí war sailing into port at ie time stated by the privateersman. What object our fleet could have lad in taking formal possession of this nsignifieant place, I could not imagine, nless it was ior the sake of obtaining resh Bupplies. At all events I was lad to hear of it, as I was myself in leed of 'provisions. I concluded to mako to the harbor, and purchase such upplies as I might require. It was night before I made the land ; )ut as I was acquainted with the enrance of tlie harbor of St. Georgc 'own, I did not fire a gun for a pilot, )ut kept boldly on into the outer port. The night was quito dark, and a hay mist hanging over the water rendred tho obscurity so great that no Ivject could be perceived a couple of a'ble ength, off. My sharpest sighted oungsters wero constantly on the lookut, but no vessels were to be seen, a e1 glided slowly and silently past the ïoro batterics and the fort bevond, ino the smooth waters of the innner bay. As we were reaching this point, the ïaze lifling a littlo showod us at a lite distance, the faint outlines of a arge ship, which I doubted not was ie American frigate; and a little be ond 6everal other email vessels could e distioguishcd. Scarcely had we made the discovery, ïan the people on board this ship were made aware of our approacb, and ïailed us, iuquiring who we were. "The American privateer, Yankee," I eplied. "What ship is that?" No answer was returned ; and supiosing ,the question was not heard, I faitea till we had run further into the ïarbor before I rcpeatcd it. We had passed between the fort and ie ship, and wero in tbc act of clewng up, when a roice irom the other essel cried out : "Luff! luff, there- the privateer!" Supposing, naturally enough, that e were running in to shoal water, I ïouted to thp man at the wheel : 'f Hard down vour helm !" " Ave ! aye 1 " sir !" Scarcely was the order obeyed, than ie schooner, answering tho helm, iioved her bows deop and fast into a and bank, where she remained, imnovable. #iThis, of course, immediately excited ur suspicion8 that all was not right ; or the pretended caution 10 " luff," 'as doubtless given to produce uxactr theresult it had. " I'm afraid," eaid my first officar, tepping to my side, anti speaking low, that we are now really in lor it ! That ship is an Eugli.-ihinan, or I'm greatly mistaken." '' I've no doubt of it myself, sir, now, The treacherous knave h;is got us into tbis Bcrapo by that rascally I I -signal. But she's probably a prizc o the American frigate, and is novv lying under her guns." But it's strange, tliougli, that a pris onor should be perrnitted to raislead e vessel entering port." At Ibis moment a boat was seen to leave theship, and pull a good distance around our stern, mako dircctly lor tho mole under the fort. Soarcely ten minutes elapsod aftcr the landing of the boat, when all was commotion in tho fort. The drums beat to quarters, and men with lanterns wero running in every d'jection, while we could also perceivo that tho crew of the ship near us were silently preparing to drop from the birth. We could hear the sound of their capstan bars as they shipped and unshipped thetn, in the act of heaving home the anchor. VVhilo this was doing, we were by no raeans idlü ; for now certain that misebief was really intended, our little crew, greatly reduced, to man tha various prizes we had sent homo during our hitherto sucecssful cruise, were callod to quarters, and all wero roady to act as emergency might requiro. In the meantime a boat lei't tlie ship; and approaching tho schoonor, the crew attempted to climb up our sids. But I kept tbem at bay, while I demanded to know whero the American lrigate lay. " She sailcd yesterday," was the answer. " And the sloop-of-war ?" I inquired. " They all lelt the port together," replied the otiicer. " What ship is that ?" I next asked. " The Marquis of Durham," answered tho man. " Tho port is now in possession of Ilis Majasty'a troops, and I demand your surrender. You have fifteen minutes to deliver your sword in person to the commandor of the castlo. On the expiration of that time, it tho summons is not obeyed, tho batteries will open upon you." "üome on4aboard,J' said I; and as the 6kipper oí the merchant ship and the boat's crew roached tho deck, I ordered them under arrest. From these men we learned the facts, which were these : The little squadron of American men-of-war had meroly enterad tho port for supplics, the batterios not beingsufficiently mannod to prevent their entrance. The little garrison had escaped to tho hills ti'l the sailiug of the ships, when they again returned and took up their old quarters. The largo merchant ship we had mistaken in tho obsecurity of the fog for tho American frigate, had arrived thut afternoon, having outsailod thoconvoyed squadron of British Indiamen, to which she bolonged. We now perceived that the object of the British merchantman was to drop out of the range of the guns of tho fort, while we should roinain fast aground on the ehoal, and exposed to their shots, when the lirst charge from their heavy cannon would have kuockod us into splinters. Every man on board was aware of the immediate dauger we were in, but they were brave follows, and waited as cooliy for my orders, as if we had boen at sea in pursuit of adiase. " That fcllow yonder, sir, is dropping from bis berth," said onetof my officers. I looked towards the Englishman, and could see that she had hove home her anchor, and boats were out with a line, hauling her head round towards the outer harbor ; tho other craft in the harbor beyond, was also evidently in moüon. " Get out the boats, Mr. Richmond," said I to my first mate, "we'll overhaul that chap. There is but ono chance left for us. We'll have to leave the echooner to her fate, and transfer our people to that vessel. Possibïy wo may do so before the fort opens upon us. Get all hands ready for boarding !" Hardly was the order communicated to the men than with a cheer, they sprang into tho boats and were ready to pull away for the merhantman. But at that instant, as good fortuno would have it, a sudden flaw of wind from the land struck our sails. The little vessel yielded to the breeze, and careening surficiently to clear her keel irom the sand, floated immodiatoly into deep water. A loud huzza now brolle from the i men, which, regardless oí the i quences to tho shipping beyond us, provoked a shot from the castlo, which passed harmlessly over our stern. i " Away, my hearties I" I shouted to the boorders. " Get possession of the Englishman, and all will be right." I Whilo the boat was pulling in the direction of tho ship, the schooner, der tho inlluenco of the freshening I breeze, bore down upon them ; and as the boarders clambered up the side of 1 the English vessel,upou the larboard tho privateor ran into tho main rigging on i the starboard eide, thus brioging her i between us and the guns of the castle. i I knew that all the fortifications ol the port were on that side of the 1 hor, and intended to keep under the ] shelter oí the ship till beyond the range i of tho guns of the shore battones, as 1 well as those oí the castle, as the inuin ( fort was called. , We obtained possession oí the ship i without a struggle, and forcing the ; English sailors to assist in tho working i of the ship, soon made sail and were f running through the outer harbor fore the enemy suspected the ruse we were playing. In tho meantime the fortúnate land breeze, which was bearing us from the ' dangerous proximity of the ahore, also lifted the vapors which had been :i ing over the waters and shipping, s showing to the astonished and ' loss greatly chagrined people of the r place that not only had the ship s ged hor position, but the privatcor also. { Tho latter, they had no doubt, was fast c aground, as had boen reported to them; l and when they discoverod us sailing side by side out of tho harbor, the ' trutli seemed to flash upon them - the r Yankee was ruaujng away with the ship. l The forts now openod upon us, and l a line oí lire belchod forth from the ' castlo, but without effect, as we were ' bytbistime beyond range of it. Not so, however, with tho shoro batteries, upon the tonguo of land making out from tho outer harbor, for we were j scarcely a pistolshot from the mouth i of their cannon, and tho heavy shot struck with crushing effect into the j hul!, and araong the spare of the prizé üccu'jioiially one, passing through tho j f sails and rigging of the sbip, would mako an ugly wound ia somo of our upper spars. But our huil was completely protected by the large merchantman, and oar cïecks were scarcely on a levol with her water-Iinc. The breeze contimiod to freshen as we ran out of the harbor, and in a few minutes we wero boyond thereach of the shot ; though the enomy continued much longer to pound away at us in vain. I now boarded the prize vvhich had been the means of our vvonderíul escapo. She -was terribly cut up, and many of her crew were lying dead and woundcd upon her docks. While I was giving proper direetions for the care of tho latter, Mr. Richmond, who had been examining the condition of tho huil, carao to me and reported that the ship was sinking. We lost no timo in hurrying the English crew, with their effects on board the privateer ; and scarcely had j wc sailed a thousaod yards from the richly-freightod nierchantman, when, with a lurch, and a staggering rnotion liko a drunkeo man, sho went down, and the ocoan claimcd the noble prize as his own. Four days after this singular night adventure, tho Yankee was lying snugly under the walls ol the Moro, in tho harbor of Havana.


Old News
Michigan Argus