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Cover image: ‘A scene on the main deck of a line of battle ship in harbour’, Thomas Sutherland (engraver), J.B. East (publisher), 1820 © National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London.
Order and Disorder in the
British Navy, 1793-1815 CONTROL, RESISTANCE, FLOGGING AND HANGING
Thomas Malcomson is a Professor in the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences at George Brown College, Toronto, Ontario. He completed his doctorate in history at York University, Toronto.
Order and Disorder in the British Navy, 1793-1815
hurchill once famously remarked that he would not join the navy because it was "all rum, sodomy and the lash". How far this was true of the navy during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars is the subject of this important new book. Summary punishments, courts martial, flogging and hanging were regularly made use of in this period to establish order in the navy. Based on extensive original research, including a detailed study of ships' captain's logs and muster tables, this book explores the concepts of order and disorder aboard ships and examines how order was preserved. It discusses the different sorts of disorder and why they occurred; argues that officers too sometimes pushed against the official order; and demonstrates that order was much more than the simple enforcement of the Articles of War. The book argues that the behaviours that were punished, how and to what degree reveal what the navy saw as most resistive or dangerous to its authority and the order it wanted established. In addition, it considers the role of patronage in shaping order, outlining how this was affected by Admiralty moves to centralise appointments, and shows that acts of disorder were plentiful, and increasing, in this period, and that the imbalance in court martial outcomes for sailors, marines and warrant officers, in comparison to commissioned officers, points to a flawed system of justice. Overall, the book provides an extremely nuanced picture of order and how it was preserved.
an imprint of Boydell & Brewer Ltd
PO Box 9, Woodbridge IP12 3DF (GB) and 668 Mt Hope Ave, Rochester NY 14620–2731 (US)
Order and Disorder 9781783271191 v2.indd 1
ORDER AND DISORDER IN THE BRITISH NAVY 1793–1815
ORDER AND DISORDER IN THE BRITISH NAVY 1793–1815 CONTROL, RESISTANCE, FLOGGING AND HANGING
THE BOYDELL PRESS
© Thomas Malcomson 2016 All Rights Reserved. Except as permitted under current legislation no part of this work may be photocopied, stored in a retrieval system, published, performed in public, adapted, broadcast, transmitted, recorded or reproduced in any form or by any means, without the prior permission of the copyright owner The right of Thomas Malcomson to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 First published 2016 The Boydell Press, Woodbridge ISBN 978 1 78327 119 1 The Boydell Press is an imprint of Boydell & Brewer Ltd PO Box 9, Woodbridge, Suffolk IP12 3DF, UK and of Boydell & Brewer Inc. 668 Mt Hope Avenue, Rochester, NY 14620–2731, USA website: www.boydellandbrewer.com A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library The publisher has no responsibility for the continued existence or accuracy of URLs for external or third-party internet websites referred to in this book, and does not guarantee that any content on such websites is, or will remain, accurate or appropriate This publication is printed on acid-free paper
Acknowledgements Abbreviations Map 1 The West Indies Station, 1812–15 Map 2 The North American Station, 1812-15 Introduction
vii ix x xi 1
Part I: Authority’s Tools for Creating Order
Paper Forms of Control
Creating Order through Patronage and Material Incentives
Creating Order through Regimentation, Food, Tobacco and Alcohol, Religion and Language
Part II: Creating ‘Disorder’
Illegitimate Activity: Theft, Profiteering and Embezzlement, and Sex 145
Opportunities for ‘Disorder’: The Coming of War, Shipwreck, Defeat and Drunkenness
Part III: The Responses to ‘Disorder’
Contents Conclusions 221 Appendix A: The Ships in the Sample, the Expected Complements, Their Officers and the Time Period the Officers Were in Command, within the Study Appendix B: Tables Works Cited Index
241 245 263 283
This book contains my perspective on the dynamics between different levels of authority and the people they commanded within the Royal Navy, at the end of the long eighteenth century. Any weaknesses lie at my door. The strengths are, at least in part, attributable to the people who have inspired, facilitated, or supported me. The first to thank are Nicholas Rogers, Douglas Hay and Bettina Bradbury, who taught me the historian’s craft during my Ph.D. work at York University. Julian Gwyn’s comments on an earlier version of the manuscript were of critical importance. Various colleagues at George Brown College, in Toronto, especially Hilde Zimmer, Ed Ksyench and Thomas Ponniah, provided encouragement and critique over the years. Many extended family members and friends have willingly listened to me harp on on the subject, especially Mark Hertzberger and Max Himel. Independent scholar Gary Gibson graciously provided information concerning the squadrons on the Great Lakes. Naval historians Keith Mercer, Martin Hubley and Faye Kert offered perspectives and sources for which I am indebted. Martin led me to the idea of everyday resistance by James Scott, which significantly influenced my work. Martin, Keith and Faye seem to be the reason I keep going back to Halifax. For the section dealing with race, I am indebted to Paul Lovejoy and Arthur Torrington, OBE for their insights on Black Africans in Britain at the turn of the nineteenth century. John Weiss and Alan Taylor provided resources on the Blacks escaping slavery during the War of 1812, which helped in this and other projects. It was a joy to trade data with Alan Taylor. I used many archives and libraries across North America and Britain. The staff, in each one, were extremely helpful. The British Library, The National Archives of the United Kingdom, the National Maritime Museum, the National Library of Scotland and the Hull History Centre Archive provided the bulk of the documentary evidence. In the United States, the National Archives, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, the New York Historical Society, the Western Reserve Historical Society, the William Perkins Library Rare Books, Manuscripts and Special Collections at Duke University, the William L. Clements Library at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and the Peabody Museum of Salem all proved most helpful to the project. In Canada, the resources of the Massey Library at the Royal Military College vii
Acknowledgements in Kingston, and the Anglican Diocese of Ontario Archive in Kingston, contributed to this book. The Library and Archives of Canada provided the largest amount of material after the British sites. I wish to acknowledge the kind permission given by Lord Saumarez to examine and use the items on Sir Philip Broke found in the Saumarez Collection at the Library and Archives of Canada. The staff at York University’s Scott Library, the University of Toronto’s Robarts Library, and their Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, served this researcher well. Bryn Greer-Wootten, of the Statistical Consulting Service at York University, provided advice on the use of statistics, in particular the use of Time Series analyses. Boydell & Brewer editor Peter Sowden and two anonymous reviewers were instrumental in getting this work from manuscript to book. Peter’s guidance and the reviewers’ suggestions were deeply appreciated. I would also like to thank Rohais Haughton, who ably saw the book through production, Cath D'Alton, for drawing the maps, and Sarah Pearsall, for her expertise in editing. My late brother, Robert Malcomson, writer, historian and teacher, had shared documents, books and articles, resource tips, and leads to possible stories of interest. For all this and much more I am truly grateful, and miss him dearly. For my wife, Peg Jenner, and my children, Max and Nathan, the thanks are endless. Peg’s love and friendship are the anchors in my life.
Dictionary of National Biography
HHCA Historic Centre Archive, Hull, UK HSP
Historical Society of Pennsylvania
Library and Archives of Canada
Metro-Toronto Reference Library
National Archives of the United States
National Library of Scotland
National Maritime Museum, Greenwich
New York Historical Society
The National Archives of the United Kingdom
J.J. Talman Regional Collection, D.B. Weldon Library
William L. Clements Library
William Perkins Library, Rare Books, Manuscripts and Special Collections Library
Map 1 The West Indies Station, 1812–15
Map 2 The North American Station, 1812-15
There are two overarching themes in this book. The first concerns order and how it was created in ships of the Royal Navy at the end of the long eighteenth century. The second theme explores how people shape their lives by engaging in a range of behaviour, at times outside the lines drawn by authority. This will be a different view of the Royal Navy than those offered by other historians who most often start with and return to the leader, the captain or admiral, the great or lesser man, as the driver of all shipboard activity, the determiner of mission or battle outcome. The shipboard world is cleaved into three parts in this study. The first concerns the range of ways in which order was established on a ship. Order refers to the state in which people adhere to the structure and rules created by authority which enables authority to accomplish the goals it sets. Order was established in a variety of ways and from different points within the organizational structure of the Royal Navy. It is established in a top-down process. Ordering systems often view acts which contradict established customs, regulations or laws as reflective of personal idiosyncrasy, an inborn or social class proclivity to err or stray from the good. The second element investigated is the ways in which people serving within the navy undermined that order. The resulting ‘disorder’ was most often viewed and responded to by the navy through the legal lens of the Articles of War, with the aforementioned frame of mind. But to the perpetrators this behaviour could be perceived as any number of things, including resistance, retaliation, disobedience, accessing a right, exercising choice, or simple filching for self-gain, among others. The term ‘disorder’ is employed throughout the book to indicate this range of possibilities. It is offered to push against the tendency to see the ‘disordering’ behaviour as crime, which leads to an explanation of failure within the perpetrator rather than seeing it as behaviour engaged in to shape aspects of the environment, to improve or change one’s circumstances. This latter approach to ‘disorder’ portrays an additional source for determining activity aboard a ship beyond the officers, that is, the seamen and marine privates. It also allows for the perspective that officers themselves pressed against order to shape their own and their crews’ experience. Part III focuses on the ways used to deal with the push against and the breaking of the established order. Summary punishment, courts martial, floggings through the fleet and hangings are the familiar 1
Introduction responses, along with a list of lesser-known shipboard practices, such as striking, caning, and others. What behaviours were punished, how, and to what degree, tells us what the navy saw as most resistive or dangerous to its authority and the order it wanted established. To engage in this topic the book examines how different levels of naval authority established order, the nature of the ‘disorder’ found in the navy, and the navy’s response to that ‘disorder’ on vessels serving on the North American and West Indies Station during the War of 1812.
The Naval Context at the End of the Long Eighteenth Century: Issues of Tensions and Authority The period from 1812 to 1815 provides an excellent opportunity in which to study the creation of order and the response to ‘disorder’ aboard ships of the Royal Navy.1 By 1812 the Royal Navy retained 110,000 sailors and 35,000 marines to meet its needs. There were three typical means of entry into the navy during the 1793 to 1815 period: as a volunteer, through the press gang, or via the criminal justice system. A fourth method appeared in 1795 with the passing of Quota Acts by Parliament, disused after 1800.2 At the outbreak of war in 1793 some men volunteered for naval service, while the press gang gathered seamen working on merchant ships, and those waiting for employment in the various British ports. Rodger states that the volunteers were experienced sailors who were searching for employment.3 Linda Colley’s conception of loyal Britons defending their home from invasion and seeking escape from mundane life ashore is another perspective on the seamen who volunteered.4 Both Lewis and Wilson depict the pressed men as seasoned sailors, good at their jobs, patriotic, and loyal to officers they perceived as treating them fairly.5 Lewis suggested that the majority of lower deck sailors were “simple souls,” most of whom were familiar with the sea. As experienced sailors the pressed sailor, or volunteer, would receive a rating as able body or ordinary seaman. Without experience the person would be F. M. Kert, Prize and Prejudice: Privateering and Naval Prize in Atlantic Canada in the War of 1812 (St. John’s, NL, 1997), pp. 109–10; R. Gardiner, ‘Part 1: War on the High Seas’, The Naval War of 1812, ed. R. Gardner (London, 1998), pp. 22–5. Naval manning figures come from Michael Lewis, A Social History of the Navy 1793–1815 (London, 1960), p. 119; and G. J. Marcus, Hearts of Oak: A Survey of British Sea Power in the Georgian Era (London, 1975), p. 99. 2 There were a series of Acts passed by the British Parliament called Manning of the Navy Acts, beginning in 1795: 35 Geo. 3, c. 5, c. 9, c. 19, c. 29, c. 34, c. 121; 1796, 36 Geo. 3, c. 115; 1797, 37 Geo. 3, c. 109. Collectively they are known as the Quota Acts. See N. A. M. Rodger, The Command of the Ocean: A Naval History of Britain 1649−1815 (New York, 2004), p. 443. 3 N. A. M. Rodger, The Wooden World: An Anatomy of the Georgian Navy (Glasgow, 1986), pp. 153, 156. He said that the volunteers outnumbered those pressed in the first three years of the Seven Years War. To raise a crew, officers advertised in their home territory, bringing in many men based on their personal reputation. 4 Linda Colley, Britons: Forging the Nation 1707–1837 (New Haven, CT, 1992), pp. 305–8. 5 H. W. Wilson, ‘Discipline in the Old Navy’, MacMillan’s Magazine 78 (1898), 94−101; Lewis, Social History, p. 122, seventy-five percent of the seamen were from seafaring families. 1
Introduction rated as a landsman, a candid indicator of their place in the hierarchy at sea. Historians have blamed either the inexperienced men who entered via the Quota Acts, or the magistrates, for disorder aboard ships during the period 1793 to 1815. According to Michael Lewis, most Quota men were “neurotics … social misfits and outcasts of the countryside and the riff-raff of the new town-slums.”6 Brian Lavery suggests these men added to the problem of maintaining discipline and order, but did not by themselves cause all the problems. Those sent to the navy by the magistrates were seen as “thieves, poachers, houghers of Irish cattle, and men of ability who had fallen in the world.”7 Clive Elmsley provides a different perspective, finding few men entering via the route of the magistrate and that the Quota men, at least those from the North Riding, were not riff-raff. Further, the navy rejected men who were likely not to fit into the navy, such as homosexuals, thieves, and Jacobin radicals.8 Nicholas Rodger states that the mass infusion of Quota, magistrates’ men and Irish recruits during the period brought aboard an unskilled workforce.9 The Irish, Rodger believed, were not seamen, thus recruiting them indicated a severe manpower shortage. Nationality and race have also been suggested as sources for problems aboard ship. Michael Lewis proposed that the navy consisted largely of people from Britain, with a small and fairly constant proportion of foreigners (on average fourteen percent of a ship’s crew, although Lewis suggests that the percentage varied widely from ship to ship).10 Many historians have accepted this figure, although more recent research has found the proportion to be five percentage points lower.11 A high percentage of foreign-born members among a crew might have served to undermine the power of appeals to Lewis, Social History, pp. 124, 126; and Peter King, ‘War as a Judicial Resource: Press Gangs and Prosecution Rates, 1740–1839’, Law, Crime and English Society, 1660–1830, ed. Norma Landau (Cambridge, UK, 2002), pp. 97−116. 7 Wilson, ‘Discipline in the Old Navy’, p. 101; W. J. Aylward. ‘The Old Man-of-War’s Man: English Naval Life in the Eighteenth Century’, Scribner’s Magazine 55 (January–June 1914), 30–45. 8 Clive Elmsley, North Riding Naval Recruits: The Quota Acts and the Quota Men 1795–1797 (Scarborough, UK, June 1978); Clive Elmsley, ‘The Recruitment of Petty Offenders during the French Wars 1793–1815’, Mariner’s Mirror 66.3 (August 1980), 199–208, see 202, 205. 9 Rodger, Wooden World, p. 215. Rodger places the marines among the landsmen, in terms of needing strict control and being a source of problems. See also Christopher Lloyd, The British Seaman 1200–1860: A Social Survey (London, 1968), pp. 105–6, and 115. N. A. M. Rodger, ‘Shipboard Life in the Georgian Navy, 1750–1800: The Decline of the Old Order?’ The North Sea: Twelve Essays on Social History of Maritime Labour, eds. L. R. Fischer, H. Hamre, P. Holm and J. R. Bruijn (Stavanger, Norway, 1992), pp. 29–39, see 29–30. Rodger argues that these changes introduced the tensions which existed in the navy between 1793 and 1815, which in his view were not present during the middle of the eighteenth century. 10 Lewis, Social History, pp. 10, 129 and 137. Christopher Lloyd suggests that as much as twenty percent of ships’ crews were of foreign birth during the War of 1812: see Lloyd, ‘An AngloAmerican in the War of 1812’, U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings 96.10 (October 1917), 80–1. 11 Brian Lavery, Nelson’s Navy: The Ships, Men and Organization 1793–1815 (London, 1989), p. 126, repeats Lewis’s fourteen percent, yet notes the Victory carried only eight percent of foreign-born at the Battle of Trafalgar. Nick Slope found the portion of the Trent’s crew of foreign birth consisted of only nine percent in 1797: Slope, ‘HMS Trent, a Social Survey: 5 April 1796 to 25 July 1797’, M.A. Thesis, Thames Valley University, London, 1995, p. 62.
Introduction British loyalty and patriotism by the officers. Race appears in trans-Atlantic cultural historians Peter Linebaugh and Marcus Rediker’s claim that by the last years of the Napoleonic Wars nearly a quarter of the seamen in the Royal Navy were Black.12 Linebaugh and Rediker suggest that the Black seamen held revolutionary ideas and actively resisted established authority. W. Jeffrey Bolster argued that life at sea, at least in the American Navy, served to eliminate racial tensions as conditions and resistance to authority melded racial groups together.13 Ray Costello does not quite agree on this point, indicating life at sea for a Black sailor in a British ship, both merchant and naval, could be fraught with racial tension, depending on the crew and officers with whom they sailed. He points out that the Royal Navy limited the numbers of Black sailors on its ships serving on the West Indies Station in 1777 to only four percent.14 This introduction of race and its influence on seamen’s views of their context is an important element overlooked by more traditional naval historians. Landsmen brought into the ship a level of non-sailor culture which may have threatened the traditional authority of the officers. If the influx of men with little or no maritime experience, of criminal or revolutionary background, or of different nationalities or races, caused problems for the naval officers during the Napoleonic Wars, then the period of high manpower needs from 1812 to 1815 provides a potentially dynamic period in which to see the effects.15 The same applies to the long-term impact of the 1797 mutinies at Spithead and the Nore. These mutinies dominated the period. Historians agree that the central issues were the absence of adequate and regular pay, shore leave, cruel captains, poor food and dreadful shipboard conditions. The mutiny shocked the nation and brought about the first pay increase since 1653, the removal of a handful of disliked officers, and minor changes to how seamen’s victuals were dispensed aboard ship. At Spithead, off Portsmouth, the mutineers were granted amnesty with no one punished for the affair. The Nore saw a different outcome for the mutineers, who persisted past the settlement at Spithead, with twenty-nine “leaders” being hung, nine flogged through the fleet and another twenty-nine imprisoned. Given that 400 men were detained for punishment at first, the eventual payment to naval justice seems muted. Throughout the mutiny the seamen proclaimed their loyalty to the crown, promised to go to sea and fight any direct threat against Britain, and continued the use of corporal punishment to maintain order in the ships. What is contested is whether there was any radical foundation for the seamen’s discontent. Some historians see the hand of revolutionaries in the Peter Linebaugh and Marcus Rediker, The Many-Headed Hydra: Sailors, Slaves, Commoners, and the Hidden History of the Revolutionary Atlantic (Boston, 2000), p. 311, fn. 45. 13 W. Jeffrey Bolster, Black Jacks: African American Seamen in the Age of Sail (Cambridge, MA, 1997), p. 102. 14 Ray Costello, Black Salt: Seafarers of African Descent on British Ships (Liverpool, 2012), p. 34. 15 By this time, the presence of the Quota men is impossible to determine, as many who served in 1812 had been moved between numerous ships, or previously discharged, or had escaped from the navy and either been re-pressed or had volunteered again. 12
Introduction letters and language of the mutineers, especially at the Nore, though not to the point of pressing for greater political gains.16 E. P. Thompson worked the mutinies into his view of the formation of class struggle, stating that it was a “revolutionary movement” arising out of the “conjunction between grievances of the majority and the aspirations articulated by the politically conscious minority.”17 Niklas Frykman asserts that radicalism was present among Britain’s seamen as the French Revolutionary War broke out, and continued until the Napoleonic Wars ended.18 Frykman writes of the September 1797 mutiny on HMS Hermione, another significant mutiny for the Royal Navy, as being fuelled by radicalism and not a knee-jerk response to the intolerable and vicious Captain Hugh Pigot. Curiously, Peter Linebaugh and Marcus Rediker, with their focus on a thriving revolutionary trans-Atlantic world, with sailors at the heart of it all, pass over the 1797 mutinies with hardly a word.19 Nicholas Rodger and Anthony Brown both strongly reject any suggestion that the Spithead and Nore mutinies were fuelled by radical ideas. Rodger believes that the sailors employed collective power, used for centuries by sailors, to negotiate with their officers, independent from any outside influence.20 Rodger actually divides the mutinies into four different and separate events, rooted in different causes. Ann Coats concluded that the men used traditional respectful language and were not influenced by Irish radicalism (though twenty-five percent of the crews at Spithead were Irish).21 The delegates democratically represented the seamen’s desires to improve their labour situation. For Coats, Spithead and at least the beginning of the Nore event were simply work stoppages, not mutinies, although the Admiralty could only view them as mutinous endeavours. In this scenario, seasoned able seamen, or lower warrant officers, led the mutinous seamen, with whom they carried professional clout, and perhaps some respect among the officers. Lawrence James, Mutiny: In the British and Commonwealth Forces, 1797–1956 (London, 1987), p. 191; G. E. Manwaring and B. Dobree, Mutiny: The Floating Republic (1935; London, 1987), pp. 248–51. They note the fleet at the Nore could have held London at ransom, but it did not: James Dugan, The Great Mutiny (New York, 1965), see chapters 8, 10 and 11; Roger Wells, Insurrection: The British Experience 1795–1803 (Gloucester, UK, 1983); Frank Mabee, ‘The Spithead Mutiny and Urban Radicalism in the 1790s’, Romanticism 13.2 (2007), 133–44. 17 E. P. Thompson, The Making of the English Working Class (1963; London, 1991), p. 184. 18 Niklas Frykman, ‘The Mutiny on the Hermione: Warfare, Revolution, and Treason in the Royal Navy’, Journal of Social History 44.1 (Fall 2010), 159–87. For the bad leadership focus, see Leonard F. Guttridge, Mutiny: A History of Naval Insurrection (New York, 1992), pp. 75–82; James, Mutiny, pp. 67–71; and Dudley Pope, The Black Ship (London, 1963). 19 Linebaugh and Rediker give the Hermione one sentence and the mutinies at Spithead and the Nore four and a half lines: The Many-Headed Hydra, p. 277. 20 N. A. M. Rodger, ‘Mutiny or Subversion? Spithead and the Nore’, 1798: A Bicentenary Perspective, eds. Thomas Bartlett, David Dickson, Daire Keogh and Kevin Whelan (Dublin, 2003), pp. 549–64, see p. 563; Rodger, Command, pp. 443–5, in which Rodger suggests the radical element was negligible or nonexistent. 21 Ann V. Coats, ‘Spithead Mutiny: Introduction’ and ‘The Delegates: A Radical Tradition’, The Naval Mutinies of 1797: Unity and Perseverance, eds. A. V. Coats and P. MacDougall (Woodbridge, UK, 2011), pp. 17–37 and 39–60, respectively. 16
Introduction By the end of the mutinies a shift in the relationship between officers and men had occurred. The mutineers at Spithead in 1797 ejected unpopular officers, 114 of whom did not return.22 Rodger states that “[t]he 1797 mutinies fundamentally changed the attitudes of officers and men throughout the Navy … in the immediate aftermath of the mutinies, the men were disturbed and excited, and the officers were badly frightened … the weaker captains lost their nerve, and the tougher ones reacted with severity to the slightest sign of trouble.”23 Ann Coats even suggests that the death sentences handed down for the Nore mutiny were the navy’s response to their failure to control the events of the Spithead mutiny.24 The 1797 mutinies were the most significant redefining moment for the navy in the entire French Revolutionary and Napoleonic War era. It is difficult to reconcile this stance with those that focus on the mutinies being about simple work issues and a normal encounter of seamen requesting change. Even if the issues were ‘wage and work condition’ related, the sheer scope of the mutinies and the change which the events occasioned in traditional relationships aboard ship were of revolutionary proportions. If officers were adapting to these changes by becoming either more liberal or conservative in their discipline, then we should find evidence of these changes in the final years of the Napoleonic War era. Throughout the eighteenth century, the Admiralty grew to an unprecedented size and power in order to manage the various war efforts at sea.25 The expansion of the navy strengthened an already occurring trend towards centralization and prompted the Admiralty to increase scrutiny and tighten control over every aspect of its domain.26 One such area was the appointment of officers. For the commissioned officers, patronage was an essential element in career success. A patron could place a junior officer into a situation leading to promotion, or to the notice of more powerful patrons. Formerly in the hands of the captains and local flag officers who would receive the Admiralty’s Rodger, Command, p. 447; Dugan, The Great Mutiny, pp. 166, 168–9, 172–3. Rodger, Command, pp. 450–1. 24 Ann V. Coats, ‘Launched into Eternity’, The Naval Mutinies of 1797: Unity and Perseverance, eds. A. V. Coats and P. MacDougall (Woodbridge, UK, 2011), p. 225. 25 H. V. Bowen, War and British Society, 1688–1815 (Cambridge, UK, 1998), pp. 29–30; Michael Lewis, The History of the British Navy (Baltimore, MD, 1957), p. 84; Daniel B. Baugh, ‘The Eighteenth Century Navy as a National Institution’, The Oxford Illustrated History of the British Navy, ed. J. R. Hill (Oxford, 1995), pp. 120–61; J. Brewer, The Sinews of Power: War, Money and the English State, 1688–1783 (New York, 1988), pp. 34–7, 250–1; Roger Knight, Britain Against Napoleon: The Organization of Victory 1793–1815 (London, 2013), p. xxxviii. 26 N. A. M. Rodger, ‘The Naval World of Jack Aubrey’, Patrick O’Brian: Critical Appreciations and a Bibliography, ed. A. E. Cunningham (Boston Spa, UK, 1994), pp. 48–70, p. 60; Rodger, ‘Shipboard Life’, p. 34; Roger Morriss, Naval Power and British Culture 1760–1850: Public Trust and Government Ideology (Aldershot, UK, 2004); Clive Wilkinson, The British Navy and the State in the 18th Century (Woodbridge, UK, 2004); Bernard Pool, Navy Board Contracts 1660–1832: Contract Administration Under the Navy Board (London, 1966); James Davey, The Transformation of British Naval Strategy: Seapower and Supply in Northern Europe, 1808–1812 (Woodbridge, UK, 2012); Roger Morriss, ‘High Exertions and Difficult Cases: The Work of the Transport Agent at Portsmouth and Southampton, 1795–1797’, Naval Leadership, eds. H. Doe and R. Harding (Woodbridge, UK, 2012), pp. 95–107. 22 23
Introduction blessing, it was becoming more and more the dictate of the Admiralty. This too is a matter of controversy among historians. Christopher Dandeker states that, “bureaucratization permeated the occupation of naval officer as a branch of the state, supplanting political patronage as the dominant form of control.”27 Ludovic Kennedy argues the opposite, suggesting that patronage at the end of the eighteenth century brought more middle-class men into the ranks of the officers.28 Socially adept, brave, honourable and with a keener sense of the larger situation, these captains and commanders helped make the victories of such leaders as Nelson possible. Kennedy’s is perhaps the most officer-centric perspective in the literature. If the centralization of control by the Admiralty before 1812 had an impact on the patronage power employed by the admirals and captains, we should see signs of this change and possibly the use of alternative practices to create order. A further indicator of growing centralized power was a tightening of control over activity aboard ship, both in terms of accounting for the material employed in the service of the crown and the duties and responsibilities of the men serving aboard the ships. A major revision of the Admiralty’s Regulations and Instructions was completed in 1806, with small adjustments in 1808.29 These changes were in full force by 1812 and their effect ought to be discernible between 1812 and 1815. Punishment, both the use of the lash in corporal punishment and courts martial, has been the subject of some debate as well. N. A. M. Rodger states that the authority employed at sea in the middle of the eighteenth century was “largely an organic response to the nature of life at sea, overlaid with a ramshackle legal system, and not an attempt to sustain an artificial authority by force.”30 With the context of changing relationships between officers and the seamen of the lower deck in the 1790s, Rodger suggests the problem was that skilled seamen were being punished in a manner identical to the unskilled, which offended the trained seamen’s sense of “natural justice and the social order within a ship’s company.”31 Slope’s study of punishment aboard HMS Trent offers some support for this idea, finding that the proportion of able and ordinary seamen and landsmen matched, respectively their percentage of the ship’s complement.32 The Regulations and Instructions of 1806 removed the previous version’s limitation of a dozen lashes per offence, simply Christopher Dandeker, ‘Patronage and Bureaucratic Control: The Case of the Naval Officer in English Society 1780–1850’, British Journal of Sociology 29.3 (September 1978), 300–20, p. 301. 28 Ludovic Kennedy, Nelson and His Captains, revised ed. (Glasgow, 1975), pp. 15–16, and 334–5. Rodger, Command, pp. 60–1, states that the officers in the age of Nelson were of high moral character. 29 Admiralty, Regulations and Instructions Relating to His Majesty’s Service at Sea (London, 1808); and 22 George II, c. 33, 1749, ‘An act for amending, explaining, and reducing into one act of parliament, the laws relating to the government of his Majesty’s ships, vessels, and forces by sea” [hereafter, Regulations and Instructions]. 30 Rodger, Wooden World, p. 229. 31 Rodger, ‘Shipboard Life’, p. 33. 32 Nick Slope, ‘Discipline, Desertion and Death: HMS Trent, 1796–1803’, The Naval Mutinies of 1797: Unity and Perseverance, eds. A. Coats and P. MacDougall (Woodbridge, UK, 2011), pp. 226–42, see pp. 237–8. 27
Introduction cautioning officers to refrain from punishing without cause, or “with greater severity than the offence shall really deserve.”33 In practice, the former limit of twelve was not always adhered to, with officers compounding misdeeds (e.g. drunkenness and disobeying an order) and assigning more lashes to repeat offenders, going beyond the allotted dozen.34 Ann Coats and Philip MacDougall state that the Admiralty had managed to gradually reduce the captains’ use of the lash after 1797.35 Christopher Lloyd suggested that punishment in the navy was comparable to punishment on land and perhaps even less than army punishments.36 John Byrn found that the majority of punishments on the Leeward Islands between 1783 and 1812 were at twelve or fewer strokes. He did note that the number of lashes given per punishment increased after 1806.37 Scott Claver focused on the nature of recruitment as an explanation for a heavy use of the lash. To weld the largely involuntary workforce into a state of usefulness, Claver said the whip became the tool of necessity.38 His study on corporal punishment concluded that “discipline [in the navy] was, in fact, nothing less than fear of death or consideration of skin.”39 Rodger and Lewis completely reject this view of seamen being beaten to work.40 Nicholas Rodger insists: “It offends against every canon of experience and common sense to suppose that men who proved under the supreme test of battle to be brave, disciplined, skilful and daring, were in their everyday lives the degraded subjects of an arbitrary tyranny.”41 He clearly believes that most of the crew accepted the use of discretionary punishment, and were motivated to work and be orderly by other means.42 When courts martial are considered there is also controversy. Gilbert states that “the navy became a much more humane institution,” handing down fewer death sentences and reducing “the number of Regulations and Instructions, Sect. 5, Chpt. 4, Art. 42, p. 163. John D. Byrn Jr., Crime and Punishment in the Royal Navy: Discipline on the Leeward Islands Station 1784–1812 (Aldershot, UK, 1989), p. 75. Byrn found that sixty percent of the floggings handed out were of twelve or less lashes in the Leeward Islands. Tom Wareham, The Star Captains: Frigate Command in the Napoleonic Wars (London, 2001), p. 220, states that no official regulations existed concerning the number of lashes for each type of offence, so across ships there was great disparity over relationships between a crime and its punishment. A. G. Jamieson, ‘Tyranny of the Lash? Punishment in the Royal Navy during the American War, 1776–1783’, The Northern Mariner/Le Marin du nord 9.1 (January 1999), 53–66, p. 63, found “significant numbers of men received summary floggings in excess of the supposed limit.” 35 Ann Coats and Philip MacDougall, ‘Introduction, Analysis and Interpretation’, The Naval Mutinies of 1797: Unity and Perseverance, eds. Ann Coats and Philip MacDougall (Woodbridge, UK, 2011), pp. 1– 17, see p. 16. 36 Lloyd, British Seaman, pp. 210–11. 37 Byrn, Crime, p. 75, fn. 4. He found thirty-three percent of floggings before 1806 were of more than twelve strokes, while fifty-three percent of floggings after 1806 were over twelve strokes. 38 S. Claver, Under the Lash: A History of Corporal Punishment in the British Armed Forces (London, 1954), pp. 98, 120. 39 Ibid., p. 98. 40 Lewis, Social History, pp. 122, 124. 41 Rodger, Wooden World, p. 345. 42 Ibid., p. 228; Byrn, Crime, pp. 73–4. 33 34
Introduction lashes inflicted per crime.”43 The opposite view suggests that the punishment administered aboard ship was in keeping with contemporary conservative penology. The objective was publicly to brutalize or humiliate the offender to deter him from repeating the crime and to impress upon others that this would be their fate if they transgressed.44 Markus Eder’s recent work on punishment in the Royal Navy during the Seven Years War shows that more capital convictions and executions occurred during the period 1755 to 1763 than Rodgers, Gradish or Gilbert had stated.45 Further, Eder suggests that comparing naval courts martial with the criminal law ashore reveals that the naval code resulted in a slightly “bloodier” system than the criminal law, but one which was “no stricter.”46 Thus a higher number of “the naval community was sentenced to death.”47 Eder concludes that during trial and post-trial the navy found ways to escape the outcomes of capital indictments and convictions, by reducing punishments and advocating for the King’s mercy in the case of death sentences. Similarly, John Byrn believes that the system of punishment was there to support and empower the officers commanding the ships. He writes, “it was not abused in such a callous and calculating conspiratorial manner as to become little more than a vehicle for the unbridled self-interests of the elite.”48 The officers administered the system, “influenced … by the leavening principles of gentility, paternalism and detached justice.”49 Byrn feels the evidence clearly shows that officers sitting on courts martial attempted to fit the punishment to the crime, being
Arthur Gilbert, ‘The Nature of Mutiny in the British Navy in the Eighteenth Century’, Naval History: The Sixth Symposium of the U.S. Naval Academy, ed. D. M. Masterson (Wilmington, DE, 1987), pp. 111–20, p. 118. 44 Byrn, Crime, p. 65. The debate over the nature of the legal system afloat is similar to the one over the system used ashore. Linebaugh and Hay both suggest that the civil system was used by the upper class to control and oppress the lower order, using personal choice to extract a royal pardon. See Peter Linebaugh, The London Hanged: Crime and Civil Society in the Eighteenth Century (London, 1991), p. 222; Douglas Hay, ‘War, Dearth and Theft in the Eighteenth Century: The Record of the English Courts’, Past and Present 95 (1982), 117–60; V. A. C. Gatrell, The Hanging Tree: Execution and the English People 1770–1868 (Oxford, 1996), p. 213. George Rude stated the evidence did not indicate that the law was used in a consciously repressive manner, although it did treat the classes differently in terms of sentences handed out: Rude, Criminal and Victim: Crime and Society in Early Nineteenth-Century England (Oxford, 1985), pp. 118–19. Langbein holds that the civil legal system of the eighteenth century was far more open to liberal reforms and humanitarian ideals. See J. H. Langbein, ‘Albion’s Fatal Flaw’, Past and Present 98 (1983), 96–120. 45 Markus Eder, Crime and Punishment in the Royal Navy of the Seven Years’ War, 1755–1763 (Aldershot, UK, 2004), pp. 135–6. Stephen Gradish, The Manning of the British Navy during the Seven Years’ War (London: Royal Historical Society, 1980). Arthur Gilbert, ‘Military and Civilian Justice in Eighteenth-Century England: An Assessment’, Journal of British Studies 27.2 (Spring 1978), 41–65; and A. Gilbert, ‘British Military Justice during the American Revolution’, The Eighteenth Century 20.1 (1979), 24–38. 46 Eder, Crime and Punishment, p. 148. 47 Ibid., 154. 48 Byrn, Crime, p. 186. 49 Ibid., p. 108. 43
Introduction neither overly hard nor unduly permissive.50 The data from 1812–15 can be compared with previous work done concerning naval punishments, both those ordered from the quarter deck and through courts martial.
The North American and West Indies Station with the War of 1812 as Backdrop The War of 1812 on the North American and West Indies Stations provides a dynamic context in which to explore the questions raised. It is clear that the Royal Navy was stretched to its maximum on the eve of its second conflict with America. As the war approached, Britain’s naval resources were concentrated on supporting the campaign against Napoleon’s forces in Europe. Andrew Lambert dismisses the war with America as a side-show for Britain whose attention was directed to the continent across the English Channel, not the one across the Atlantic.51 The United States Navy’s three large and three smaller frigates, five brigs and four sloops were numerically crushed by the Royal Navy’s 584 fighting ships and vessels, eighty-one of which were 74 gun ships.52 In 1812 most of the Royal Navy was busy blockading continental Europe, convoying British troops and their supplies to Portugal and Spain, exerting British presence in the Baltic and the Mediterranean, while protecting British trade from the privateers of France and its allies, not to mention safeguarding British interests in the waters of the eastern hemisphere. Still, in July 1812 the Royal Navy had three 74 gun ships, twelve frigates, seven brigs and forty-nine lesser vessels strung out across the expansive North American and West Indies Stations.53 At the beginning of the war, the North American and West Indies Stations were separate, with Vice Admiral Herbert Sawyer in charge of the North American Station, Rear Admiral Charles Stirling (soon to be Vice Admiral) in charge of the Jamaica Station and Rear Admiral Francis LaForey in charge of the Leeward Island Station. When Admiral John B. Warren received his command in August of 1813, the three stations were combined to be under his authority. In 1814, as Vice Admiral Sir Alexander Cochrane replaced Warren, the station was split into the North American and West Indies Stations with Rear Admiral Brown commanding the West Indies Station at Jamaica, while John Byrn, Naval Courts Martial, 1793–1815 (London, 2009), p. xxvii. Andrew Lambert, The Challenge: Britain Against America in the Naval War of 1812 (London, 2012), pp. 12–13. 52 William James, The Naval History of Great Britain during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, vol. 6, 1811–1827 (1837; London, 2002), pp. 520–521. The Royal Navy had six ships carrying 100 to 120 guns called first rate; six carrying 98 guns, second rate; ninety carrying 64 to 80 guns, third rate; four with 50 guns, fourth rate; 123 with 32 to 44 guns, fifth rate (121 of which were frigates); and 355 smaller ships, sixth rate and unrated, brigs, sloops, bomb vessels, gun brigs and cutters. 53 Summary of Ships and Vessels on the North American, West Indies Stations, 1/7/1812. TNA, Adm. 8/100. This breaks down to one 74 gun ship, five frigates, one brig and eighteen lesser vessels at Halifax, Nova Scotia; one 74, four frigates, four brigs and ten lesser vessels at Jamaica; and one 74, three frigates, two brigs and eighteen lesser vessels in the Leeward Islands. 50 51
Introduction Cochrane held command of the North American Station. For purposes of the present study, the North American and West Indies Stations are treated as a unified station for the duration of the war, June 1812 through to 17 February 1815 when copies of the ratified Treaty of Ghent were exchanged between the Americans and British, in Washington.54 Even in separation, the ships from the Leeward Islands often travelled to Halifax on convoy duty, as reinforcement for squadrons off the American coast and to conduct repairs in the best dockyard on the North American side of the Atlantic. The War of 1812 forms a somewhat self-contained conflict. It is the last great naval effort by Britain during the Napoleonic War era, when the Royal Navy ought to have been at its peak. This makes it ideal for examining how naval authority established order and what behaviour served to undermine that order. The vast expanse of the North American and West Indies Station, stretching from the Great Lakes in Upper Canada to the Gulf of Mexico and south east across the West Indies to Barbados, provides an opportunity to observe local variations to life aboard British warships.
Ships and Sources for the Present Study A sample of thirty-six ships from those that sailed on the sweeping station during the war were selected for close analysis (see Appendix A). The ships were included based on several criteria: the duration of service on the station, the type of ship, and the availability of a muster table and captain’s log.55 In addition, private and public correspondence and journals kept by crew members and other written information concerning the ship made the ship eligible for selection. The goal was to collect a sample of ships with the greatest likelihood of providing adequate information to explore the questions raised in this Introduction. The ships selected divided into twenty-one ships with court martial experience and fifteen without. A total of fifty-nine officers commanded these thirty-six ships while the ships were on the station (see Appendix A). Twenty-two of these men called one or more courts martial for their junior officers or seamen, and thirty-seven did not. Thirty of the ships were on the Atlantic and West Indies portion of the station and six were on Lake Ontario. Three more vessels were added for the Lake Ontario 1814 data concerning nationality, race and desertion only, as their muster tables (but not their captain’s logs) were available.56 As a result of the method For this study the Newfoundland Station is considered as being separate from the North American Station. Julian Gwyn notes that the home ports for the Royal Navy vessels on the Newfoundland Station were Plymouth or Portsmouth, not Halifax: see Gwyn, Ashore and Afloat: The British Navy and the Halifax Naval Yard Before 1820 (Ottawa, 2004), p. 133. 55 As duration on the station was important to consider, sampled ships were there for short periods throughout the war, medium length (a year or so) and for the duration of the war, which reflected the Admiralty’s assignment of ships on the station. Similarly, there were three major types of ships employed on the station: brigs/sloops (under 18 to 28 guns), frigates (32 to 54 guns), and 74 gun ships. Attempting to sample ships from each rating was important. No second rate ship served on the station. The only first rate ship was HMS St. Lawrence, on Lake Ontario. 56 These three vessels are: HMS Star, HMS Netley and HMS Charwell. 54
Introduction of recording muster information there are no separate musters for the ships that sailed on Lake Ontario in 1813. There is however a captain’s log for one of the brigs, HMS Wolfe. This data was included to gain some access to the individual ship data on the lake for 1813. In April 1814 the Wolfe’s name was changed to Montreal. An entirely new crew and officers were assigned and a separate muster table opened for the brig. As a result of these changes the Wolfe and Montreal are treated as if they were separate ships in this study. The only first rate ship to sail on the station during the war was HMS St. Lawrence (104 guns), built on Lake Ontario and sailing in the fall of 1814. John Byrn examined seventy-three ships which had sailed within the Leeward Island Station between 1783 and 1812 for periods from eight months to five years.57 He listed seventy-four commanding officers. Markus Eder examined archive material for thirty-six different ships for six months of each year between 1757 and 1762, and all 582 court martial records for the years 1755 through 1762.58 Eder needed this many ships to allow for comparisons between six stations but he did not examine his data by officer. Neither Byrn nor Eder state the total number of ships from which they drew their samples. Compared with Byrn and Eder, the thirty-six ships I have selected for the period of June 1812 through February 1815, on the North American and West Indies Station, are certainly an adequate sample to address the questions raised. All 126 courts martial pertaining to the station, as well as official and private correspondence and reports, captain’s order books and logbooks, various memoirs, as well as ship muster tables beyond those of the sampled vessels, will appear as evidence throughout the following chapters. Previous researchers have used frequencies and percentages when examining their data from the ships of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.59 I will report not only frequencies and measures of central tendency but, where appropriate, use correlations and analysis of variance to explore relationships between various ordering and ‘disordering’ activity.60 I also use the first step in Time Series analysis to both describe and explore the complex relationship between the various elements under examination and time. The data in this study will be examined by comparing across ships and across officers. Ship data reflects the complement’s experience while on the station. The officer analysis examines the experience of those in command and their behaviour towards those they led. The book has three parts. Part I examines forms of control used by authority to shape order. Chapter 1 explores the paper forms, the written orders, regulations, instructions and restrictions on behaviour that provided Byrn, Crime, Appendix B, Ships in the Survey, pp. 211–20, and Appendix C, Captains in the Survey, pp. 221–8. 58 Eder, Crime and Punishment, pp. 63–4, 175. 59 This includes Byrn, Crime, see Table 2 Punishments inflicted in the Leewards, p. 68; Eder, Crime and Punishment, see Table AII.3, p. 176; and Rodger, Wooden World, see Appendix VII, Ordinary Seamen and Landsmen, p. 360. 60 A nonlinear relationship between time and most of the variables examined necessitates the use of Spearman Rho for correlations between these variables. All statistics were run through SPSS 21. 57
Introduction a structure of order for the mariners and marines. Chapter 2 analyses the use of patronage and material forms of inducement (such as pay and prize money) for their contribution to order. Chapter 3 investigates the use of physical activity, language and religion aboard ships as a means to create and maintain order. Part II swings to the other side of the research, and looks at the various forms of behaviour which served to create “disorder.” Chapter 4 examines the potential forms of outright resistance to established order including mutiny, desertion, disobedience, and the use of American “citizenship.” Chapter 5 explores the presence of avarice and carnality on the station. Chapter 6 shows how the breaking of expectations aboard ship led to “disorder.” Part III focuses on the navy’s responses to such “disorder.” Chapter 7 provides a detailed analysis of the use of summary punishment, courts martial and the other forms of response that authority employed. The conclusions of the research are in Chapter 8. This dissection of the topic into three separate segments creates a false sense of sequencing, that is, the establishment of order first, followed by “disorder,” and finally the response. In reality, for the individuals immersed in life aboard ship, the three occurred within a chaotic mixture. The division into tidy sections is simply to assist our study of each element and its role in shaping order and ‘disorder’ aboard ships of the Royal Navy on the North American and West Indies Station during the War of 1812.
Part I Authority’s Tools for Creating Order Each of the three chapters in Part I explores different means that the Royal Navy used to establish order among the officers, seamen and marines on board His Majesty’s Ships on the North American and West Indies Station during the War of 1812. Chapter 1 examines the multiple layered web of written regulations, instructions and commands employed to create order. As noted in the Introduction, the bureaucratization of the navy was well underway by the outbreak of the war with the United States. The Admiralty’s use of legalistic sets of regulations, instructions and orders to establish the appropriate behaviour of all officers, and in turn seamen and marines, in the navy is further evidence of their effort to centralize power. The officers, from admirals down through captains and commanders, passed the stricter scrutiny along by producing additional written instructions to shape order on their own vessels. Chapter 2 examines the more traditional use of patronage and promotion, and monetary forms of inducement to gain compliance. These inducements offered the junior officer or the compliant sailor or marine the possibility of reward for conforming to authority’s sense of order. Chapter 3 examines the use of religion, language, physical activity, and allowances in the form of leisure time and leave, food, alcohol and tobacco, to control those serving in the navy.
1 Paper Forms of Control
At the time of the War of 1812 the Admiralty had two key documents to assist in their control over the navy’s men and ships, the Regulations and Instructions relating to His Majesty’s Service at Sea and the Articles of War. The Regulations and Instructions were the detailed outline of the expectations for each officer aboard ship and for those commanding a station. In a sense it was a lengthy series of ‘thou shalts’. The Articles of War listed the behaviour subject to punishment, the range of punishment from which a court martial could choose, and the right for the captain to punish summarily seamen and marines. The articles outlined the fate of the mariners and marines deemed to be ‘sinners’. In addition to these two documents the Admiralty added specific written orders and instructions to direct not only the station admirals, but also the officers serving under them, on decisions in areas ranging from naval tactics to daily life aboard ship. Apart from the Admiralty orders and instructions, station admirals and their supporting flag officers issued their own sets of written commands to control the officers, seamen and marines under their direct authority. Some captains of individual ships also issued their own sets of written orders to shape the behaviour of their inferior officers and crews. The Admiralty’s push to centralization reached down through the navy, as officers at each level became more accountable to those above, and in turn attempted to tighten control over those below. In a perfect world these written directives would create order, as every officer abided by them. This is not what happened. Officers failed to follow the written regulations, instructions and orders, and the Admiralty responded with constant surveillance of the officers’ activities, marked by reminders and injunctions to conform to their superiors’ directives.
Regulations and Instructions Relating to His Majesty’s Service at Sea The central tenet of the Regulations and Instructions was the expectation that all officers preserve and ready their ships and crews for action, so that they would be able to achieve the goals the Admiralty set for them. The first 17
Order and Disorder in the British Navy, 1793–1815 collection of Regulations and Instructions, published in 1731, was an attempt to gain control over the ships’ officers and undo confusion resulting from a series of previous standing orders. The 1731 Regulations and Instructions laid out in an organized manner the duties of the “various posts.”1 This first edition had instructions for commissioned officers and some of the warrant officers serving in the navy. It also held examples of the eight official forms required by the Admiralty.2 Minor revision of the first edition of the Regulations and Instructions began almost immediately, with additions appearing in thirteen editions published over the next fifty-nine years.3 First Lord of the Admiralty Lord Barham reworked the regulations in 1806, with amendments to the pay scales appearing in 1808.4 The greatly expanded 1806/8 edition was more than simply a tightening of the financial accounting procedures, as suggested by Brian Lavery.5 Richard Blake claimed that the evangelical Lord Barham instilled into the Regulations and Instructions Christian morality by instructing that all of a ship’s officers “were to be examples of morality, regularity and good order,” not just the captain.6 An examination of the full 825 articles points to a demarcating and organizing of assigned roles and responsibilities to all commissioned, warranted and otherwise appointed members of a ship’s complement, including the duties and place of a chaplain aboard ship. Blake asserts that the revised Regulations and Instructions reflect Lord Barham’s own experience in command and previous tenure at the Admiralty. The new edition was intended to create more uniformity in the daily operation of the navy’s ships and vessels, and greater accountability to the Admiralty, for all officers.7 Admiralty, Regulations and Instructions Relating to His Majesty’s Service at Sea (London, 1731). Daniel Baugh, Naval Administration 1715–1750 (London, 1977), p. 6, fn. 3. Baugh identifies Thomas Corbett, Deputy Secretary of the Admiralty, as being the person who drafted the document. 2 The warrant officers included: masters, boatswains and sailmakers, gunners, armourers and gunsmiths, carpenters, pursers, masters at arms, cooks, and school masters. It also covered surgeons who were appointed, not warranted or commissioned. The procedures for courts martial, instructions on discipline, pay, prize money, ceremony, flags, hurt and sick seamen, provisions, slops and convoy duty filled out the 153 pages of text. 3 The final edition of 1790 grew to 232 pages. 4 Brian Lavery, ed., Shipboard Life and Organisation, 1731–1815 (Aldershot, UK, 1998), pp. 5–7; Regulations and Instructions. 5 Lavery, Shipboard Life, p. 7, suggests it had little impact on the daily regulation of “life aboard ship.” Rodger, Command, p. 320; Byrn, Crime, pp. 18–20. 6 Richard Blake, Evangelicals in the Royal Navy 1775–1815: Blue Lights and Psalm-Singers (Woodbridge, UK, 2008), pp. 153–5. Lord Barham (Charles Middleton) served on the Navy Board from 1778 to 1790 and first served on the Admiralty 1794–1795. He was First Lord of the Admiralty, 1805–1806. He was seventy-nine when he assumed this last role. 7 The Regulations and Instructions contained 440 pages of main text, with an additional 191 pages of forms, tables of allotments, and orders issued for surgeons and masters, in 1805. The main text consisted of 825 articles, nearly twice as many as the 1731 edition. There is no section dealing directly with the midshipmen, although they are mentioned within other categories, e.g. the promotion to lieutenant: Sect. IV, Chpt. 2, Art. IX, p. 84. The largest group of the ship’s company, 1
Paper Forms of Control During the War of 1812 the Admiralty closely scrutinized all documents sent from the North American and West Indies Station for strict compliance to the Regulations and Instructions. Failure to conform resulted in rebukes from the Admiralty, with demands for prompt correction. In June 1812 officers on the Leeward Island portion of the station were reminded to respond promptly to His Majesty’s Packets when signalled.8 In January 1813 a blanket scolding arrived for their failure to properly complete quarterly reports concerning commissioned and warrant officers on their ships.9 A year later Rear Admiral Francis Laforey, in command of the Leeward Islands, received a missive criticizing his captains for not filling out the promotion to lieutenant forms correctly.10 Captain Alexander Kerr’s failure to properly complete a report on his ship’s condition brought a rebuke and reminder to Admiral Warren, Commander-in-Chief of the station, to tell all officers to follow the Regulations and Instructions.11 Even the style that captains and commanders employed in addressing their letters drew review and critique from the Admiralty. Several officers received reprimands for their failure to place the latitude and longitude above the date on official correspondence, as required by the Regulations and Instructions.12 In the fall of 1814, the Admiralty absurdly rejected Commodore Sir James Lucas Yeo’s request for ordnance for the ships under construction on Lake Ontario, because the request had gone through Major General George Glasgow, Royal Artillery, in charge of military ordnance in Upper and Lower Canada. The Admiralty informed Sir James that the guns would be sent out only after they received a request directly from Yeo, Commander on the Great Lakes, as indicated in the Regulations and Instructions.13 It might be thought that the time delay for the correspondence crossing the Atlantic, coupled with the dire need for the ordnance to maintain control over Lake Ontario, would have compelled the Admiralty to send the ordnance. But the Admiralty made the new ships wait for the ordnance until Sir James Yeo placed the appropriate request. The Admiralty also criticized Sir James for not sending home regular reports and documents for his squadron, as required. The Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty wrote to Yeo, stating they were “at a great loss for information relative to the Squadron under your Command.” John Croker, First Secretary
12 10 11
the seamen, was not included. They were left as one of the objects the officers were required to control and use, much like the cordage aboard ship, or the purser’s stores. Laforey to Admiralty, 16/6/1812. TNA, Adm. 1/333. Laforey to Admiralty, 5/1/1813. TNA, Adm. 1/334. Laforey to Admiralty, 10/1/1814. TNA, Adm. 1/335. Barrow to Warren, 27/4/1813. LAC, Adm. 2/932. Barrow to Cochrane, 3/6/1814. LAC, Adm. 2/933. Captain Nourse, HMS Severn, had used “at sea.” Broke to Lords Commissioners, 18/12/1812. LAC, Adm. 1/1553. This refers to Sect. V, Chpt. 4, Art. XVII of the Regulations and Instructions, p. 146. Croker to Yeo, 6/10/1814. LAC, Adm. 2/933. Sect. V, Chpt. 2, Art. VII, of the Regulations and Instructions (p. 100) deals with the captain sending his orders for ordnance or ordnance stores to the Board of Ordnance in a timely manner.
Order and Disorder in the British Navy, 1793–1815 of the Admiralty, ordered Yeo to write at least once a month to the Admiralty about the situation on the lakes.14 Pushed by a fear of the larger American crews, British officers tried a variety of ways to increase their complement numbers.15 There were, however, clearly defined limits to the complement for each rate of ship. Officers could not simply take more men aboard to meet their worry over the size of the American crews. Proper requests through the local flag officers to the Admiralty often met with approval, but could take a long time.16 Officers attempted to get around this delay by allowing the men aboard and then seeking agreement from the Admiralty. The Admiralty nullified these arrangements whenever they discovered them.17 Another way of carrying extra men was to increase the number of supernumeraries aboard (literally extra seamen), but the Regulations and Instructions limited the number of supernumeraries aboard the ships.18 When the Admiralty discovered unsanctioned supernumeraries they ordered them to be removed, with reminders to conform to the Regulations and Instructions.19 Once again, if the request came through the proper channels it was often granted.20 The Admiralty grew weary of frequent pleas for more seamen. John Croker wrote to Admiral Warren criticizing his continual appeals for additional sailors.21 Croker stated that the muster tables for Warren’s squadron indicated 14,673 men in the squadron, just 727 short of the normal complement. He added that the squadron carried 1,388 supernumeraries, leaving Warren actually 661 over full complement. Immediate reinforcements were not forthcoming. In May 1813 the Admiralty did order Charles Stirling to increase the size of Croker to Yeo, 11/10/1814. LAC, Adm. 2/933. In his original orders Sir James Yeo reported to Admiral Warren and the Governor-in-Chief of the Canadian Colonies, Sir George Prevost. 15 Warren informed the Admiralty that he had increased the number of sailors and added twentyfive to thirty marines carried on the frigates in his command. Warren to Croker, 29/12/1812, in W. S. Dudley, ed., The Naval War of 1812: A Documentary History, vol. 1, 1812 (Washington, 1985), pp. 649–51. See Julian Gwyn, Frigates and Foremasts: The North American Squadron in Nova Scotia Waters 1745–1815 (Vancouver, 2003), pp. 136, 140. 16 Hartwell, Peake and Legge to Naval Officer at HM Yard Halifax, 25/8/1812. LAC, HAL/E/30, pertains to carrying extra men aboard HMS Centurion. Hartwell, Peake and Legge to Naval Officer at HM Yard Halifax, 2/1/1813. LAC, HAL/E/30. Grants Captain Alexander Kerr, HMS Acasta, permission to carry thirty extra supernumeraries. 17 Barrow to Cochrane, 1/4/1814. LAC, Adm. 2/933. The Admiralty refused the addition by Captain Pym, with Warren’s permission, of twenty-five men. The men were carried for a year before ordered off the ship. 18 Regulations and Instructions, Sect. V, Chpt. 3, Art. I, p. 112. 19 Hartwell, Peake and Legge to Naval Officer at HM Yard Halifax, 2/1/1813. LAC, HAL/E/30. Captains were informed in Sect. V, Chpt. 3, Art. I that supernumeraries could not be carried, nor their number increased, without authority from the Admiralty: Regulations and Instructions, p. 112. 20 An example is Peake, Sepping and Legge to Naval Storekeeper at HM Yard Halifax, 30/7/1814. LAC, HAL/E/30, in which fourteen extra supernumeraries are sanctioned for each of HMS Hermes, Dauntless and Pylades. 21 Croker to Warren, 20/3/1813, in Dudley, Naval War, vol. 2, pp. 75–8. This letter criticized Warren for not reporting the arrival of reinforcements that had been sent out to him, and the selection for placement of his ships off American ports. 14
Paper Forms of Control complement for the 38 gun frigates HMS Arthusa and Seahorse from 284 to 315, along with the addition of a fourth lieutenant and five marines.22 The Admiralty continued to scrutinize the muster tables and correspondence from the station so closely as even to detect and reject the addition of one non-regulation person to a ship’s complement. Thus Captain Epworth, of HMS Nymphe, had to remove Seth Serly, a knowledgeable local pilot.23 The Admiralty told Vice Admiral Cochrane to order Epworth to use a pilot from the yard list at Halifax. The Admiralty also stopped other actions by the station officers intended to increase their fighting strength, because these practices contravened the Regulations and Instructions. One such practice was carrying men under the category of ‘boys’. A written reminder from the Admiralty, of the regulations governing age and number of entries per class of boys, was sent in February 1814 to Halifax for distribution to all captains and flag officers.24 This reminder also told the officers to stop overpaying the bounty to these ‘boys’. Officers on the North American and West Indies Station also paid the King’s bounty, meant for volunteers only, to pressed seamen and those turned over from other vessels in order to raise enough men during the War of 1812. This practice was in contravention of Article 9 of the Regulations and Instructions and drew the Admiralty’s caution that inappropriate payments of bounty would result in the sum being charged against the captain’s wages.25 All of these examples involving additional crew members reveal the Admiralty’s close examination of all muster books, pay books and their insistence on compliance with the Regulations and Instructions. It also reveals the Admiralty’s inconsistency (allowing Stirling but not Warren to enlarge crews) and possibly their Lordships’ lack of comprehension of the manpower needs of the station. A steady stream of correspondence passed between the Admiralty and the commissioners of the Halifax dockyard concerning the sending to London of cheque books, captain’s logs and muster books for ships on the station.26 Stirling to Croker, 2/5/1813. TNA, Adm. 1/264. Epworth to Croker, 5/3/1814. LAC, Adm. 1/1771. Serly knew the channels off Cape Cod and the approaches to Boston. In the letter ordering Serly off the Nymphe the Admiralty asked for a copy of Epworth’s journals concerning the approaches to Boston and Cape Cod, so as not to lose Serly’s information. Regulations and Instructions, pp. 199–204. Sect. VI, Chpt. III Pilot outlines the restrictions on captains employing pilots and their rate of pay. 24 Bouverie, Middleton and Stewart to Naval Officer at HM Yard Halifax, 7/2/814. LAC, HAL/E/30. Boys under the age of fifteen were to be rated as 3rd class, while those between sixteen and eighteen were to be 2nd class, with boys training to be officers labelled as 1st class. 25 Hartwell, Peake and Legge to Naval Officer at HM Yard in Halifax, 6/10/1813. LAC, HAL/E/30. They cite Sect. V, Chpt. 3, Art. IX, of the Regulations and Instructions, p. 117. The article banning the carrying of men in place of boys is Sect. V, Chpt. 3, Art. VI, pp. 115–17. See James Buller, ‘Proclamation on payment of bounties for the encouragement of seamen and landsmen to enter into His Majesty’s Royal Navy, 26 October 1812’, Naval Chronicle 28 (1813), 417–18. 26 See Dawes, Parry and Fairfax to Wodehouse, 11/6/1813. LAC, HAL/E/25, contains a list of cheque books sent home for the period ending in the fall of 1812. Missing muster books for twentyfour ships is the subject of letters from Marshal, Legge and Sawyer to Wodehouse, 11/5/1814 22 23
Order and Disorder in the British Navy, 1793–1815 The dockyard officials in Halifax collected these records for the entire North American and West Indies Station. Sending the documents promptly to the Admiralty was necessary for the clearing of the pursers’ accounts, which only happened after an inspection of the musters and logbooks.27 From mid-August 1814, through to the end of the war, Halifax Dockyard Commissioner Philip Wodehouse received almost weekly requests from the Admiralty for specific records from ships that were or had been on the station.28 The failure of documents to reach the Admiralty could directly affect the seamen or marines serving on the North America and West Indies Station. An example of this concerned the arrangements made to pay two marines, from HMS Shannon, left at Halifax as invalids. The Admiralty informed Rear Admiral Edward Griffith that paying the invalids was not possible because neither the Shannon’s muster book nor their invalid sick tickets had arrived yet at the Admiralty. The men, stranded in Halifax, hung in a bureaucratic limbo until the forms turned up.29 The key values of the Admiralty are stated explicitly and repeatedly throughout the Regulations and Instructions. The Admiralty believed that discipline, obedience, frugality, honesty, the promotion of the well-being of the seamen as a material resource of the navy, and respect for authority, were essential to the running of the navy and its individual ships. Every officer described in the Regulations and Instructions was to have a copy of the document with him during his service aboard ship. The presence of the regulations and the pressure to adhere to them made the Regulations and Instructions a major instrument in the Admiralty’s efforts to structure authority and order aboard ship. They are a clear indication of the Admiralty’s desire to exert influence over the officers and crews of His Majesty’s Navy. The above letters chastising failed compliance and the data to be examined below revealing the absence of the performance of required activity expose the struggle between the Admiralty and local officers over determining what happened aboard the ships. Although seamen did not constitute a separate section in the Regulations and Instructions, it did impact their lives. The Regulations and Instructions set out their pay, food, access to clothing, and the rhythm of their workday to the cycle of the watch. The 1806/8 revision mandated, for the first time, the use of divisions as a means of sorting the seamen into groups to facilitate the officers’ surveillance and control of the men.30 This document also described the expectations governing the seamen’s development at the tasks of their and 27/5/1814. LAC, HAL/C/1. Dawes, Fairfax and Hawkins to Wodehouse, 25/6/1814 and 17/8/1814. LAC, HAL/E/21, gives a list of boxes and documents received from Halifax. 27 Hartwell, Legge and Fraser to Dawes, 27/5/1814. LAC, HAL/A/5. 28 See letters from Dawes, Fairfax and Parry to Wodehouse, 21/7/1814–30/1/1815. LAC, HAL/E/25. 29 Croker to Griffith, 23/9/1813. LAC, Adm. 2/933. Janet MacDonald describes the commissioners and clerks as “people who could nit-pick of a fraction of a penny”; MacDonald, Feeding Nelson’s Navy: The True Story of Food at Sea in the Georgian Era (London, 2004), p. 49. 30 See Regulations and Instructions, Sect. V, Chpt. 4, Art. XII, pp. 143–5, and Sect. VI, Chpt. 1, Art. XXII, p. 179.
Paper Forms of Control naval trade, including the setting, reefing and furling of sails, and working the great guns and small arms. It does all this under the sections for the various commissioned and warranted officers.
Articles of War The Articles of War were another critical document that held sway over the lives of the officers, seamen and marines serving aboard the ships of the Royal Navy. The articles in place during the War of 1812 contained thirty-six paragraphs describing the behaviour that warranted accusation, investigation, trial and, if found guilty, punishment of the offender.31 Charges stemming from the first thirty-five articles were tried in courts martial, while Article 36 sanctioned the captain’s use of summary punishment. According to the Regulations and Instructions only the ship’s commanding officer could order summary punishment for the seamen or non-commissioned marines aboard ship.32 Only a court martial could order the punishment of commissioned and warrant officers. The articles posed a warning to all who heard or read them of what could happen if their behaviour was inappropriate. They were intended to keep both crew and officers active in their service for their country, of Christian moral character and careful with the navy’s material resources.33 To act as a controlling force, the Articles of War had to be disseminated among the officers, seamen and marines. In theory, the Regulations and Instructions accomplished this by requiring the reading of the articles at least once a month and their posting in a public place aboard ship.34 In this study, the reading of the Articles of War aboard the ships on the North American and West Indies Station does not appear to have occurred very often. Commodore Sir Edward Codrington noted that the captain of HMS Forth did not read the Articles of War once during his voyage out to North 22 George II, c. 33, 1749, “An act for amending, explaining, and reducing into one act of parliament, the laws relating to the government of his Majesty’s ships, vessels, and forces by sea,” established the core of the Articles of War which existed in 1812. This act was amended in 1779 by 19 George III, c. 17, altering the sentence the court martial could declare for Articles 12 and 13, from a death sentence, to a death sentence or whatever punishment the court deemed appropriate. 32 Regulations and Instructions for only the captain or commander ordering punishment, see Sect. V, Chpt. 4, Art. XLII, p. 163; and for not punishing a commissioned or warrant officer without a verdict from a court martial, see Sect. V, Chpt. 4, Art. XLV, p. 162. 33 Eder, Crime and Punishment, pp. 41–2; and Byrn, Crime, pp. 9–10. For a brief overview of the history of the Articles of War, see Reginald Acland, ‘The Naval Articles of War’, Journal of Comparative Legislation Series 3, 3 (1921), 190–201. See also 13 Charles II, c. 9, 1661, “An act for the establishing articles and orders for the regulating and better government of his Majesty’s navies ships of war, and forces by sea.” Until the mid-seventeenth century the various leaders of naval campaigns had issued their own personal sets of orders to control the conduct of their sailors. A comprehensive set of Articles of War was first set down in 1652 and revised by Parliament in 1661. 34 See Sect. V, Chpt. 4, Art. XLIV, Regulations and Instructions, p. 162. 31
Order and Disorder in the British Navy, 1793–1815 America, adding, “… there are consequences to this.”35 Codrington stated that the Forth was a poorly disciplined ship and that he would not wish for the Forth to meet the US Frigate Constitution.36 The captain was to note the reading of the articles in the ship’s logbook. In examining the captains’ logbooks for the thirty-six ships sampled in this study, I found that captains seldom recorded the reading of the Articles of War. Table 1, Column A, reveals that twenty-three of the fifty-nine officers did not once record reading the articles. By contrast, George Burdett, of HMS Maidstone, recorded the greatest number of readings of the Articles of War, with twenty-five.37 Fourteen officers noted reading the articles once during their command. Twenty-one officers recorded reading the articles between two and eleven times. Burdett paired twenty of the readings of the articles with sessions of summary punishment. He did not read the articles prior to every session of punishment he dispensed. Only eleven other readings from the sample corresponded with summary punishment. Four involved reading the articles among the ships gathered off Kent Island, in the Chesapeake, to witness the hanging of landsman Patrick Hallidan for desertion. Neither the Regulations and Instructions nor the Act creating the Articles of War required the reading of the articles at punishment. An officer’s choice to do this at a summary punishment may have been to underscore his own authority. The reading of the articles at a capital punishment will be discussed in Chapter 7. Officers such as Alexander Dobbs, of HMS Princess Charlotte, held command for only a few days (for Dobbs nineteen days). The reading of the articles may not have been possible given such a short time frame and the ship’s activity. Most officers held command for much longer periods of time. Some were like William Mulcaster, who read the articles as he assumed command of his complement, but not again during his four months in command.38 Still others read them during their command, but not in any regular pattern; for example Hyde Parker, of HMS Tenedos, read them only twice in 937 days.39 A Time Series analysis revealed a quadratic relationship between time and the reading of the Articles of War.40 The reading of the articles rose sharply in October 1812, which may reflect Admiral Warren’s arrival to take command of the station.41 The British began conducting raids in the Chesapeake Bay area and off New England in February 1813, E. Codrington to Jane Codrington, 1/6/1814. LAC, MG 24, F131. Codrington wrote this letter with the rank of Commodore as he headed to the North American Station to be Sir A. Cochrane’s Captain of the Fleet Flag. On 4/6/1814, he received promotion to the rank of Rear Admiral, and is referred to as such for the remainder of this text. See William O’Byrne. A Naval Biographical Dictionary (London, 1849), pp. 207–8. 36 E. Codrington to J. Codrington, 29/5/1814. LAC, MG 24, F131. 37 See, for example, 12/7/1812, 5/10/1812, 5/6/1813 and 8/2/1814, Captain’s Log, HMS Maidstone. TNA, Adm. 51/2577. 38 See 2/1/1814, Master’s Log, HMS Princess Charlotte. TNA, Adm. 52/3928. 39 See 11/4/1813 and 12/6/1814, Captain’s Log, HMS Tenedos. TNA, Adm. 51/2909. 40 Regression ANOVA, F = 9.127, df (2, 30), p < .001, month 1, t = 4.106, p < .000; month 2, t = −4.270, p < .000. 41 Peaks and low points were identified for each of the Time Series by plotting the residuals for each 35
Paper Forms of Control which was marked with a low number of readings of the Articles of War. By May the public readings rose to the third highest level in the study, yet June witnessed a significant drop, a month that saw major raids in the Chesapeake by the British. On 22 June 1813 the British were repulsed in an attack on Norfolk. The British troops, seamen and marines fled in confusion, in the face of a heavy American cannonade. Three days later when the British seized Hampton, the town was ransacked and atrocities were committed against the civilians.42 These two actions may have led to the dramatic increase in the reading of the articles seen in July 1813, its highest level during the War. Apart from June 1813 the only notable decreases in this activity occurred in February of 1813 and 1814. Beyond the winter weather the decrease is hard to explain. Another way to examine this data is by ship, which shifts the focus from the officer to the crew (see Table 2, Column A). Eight of the sample ships’ logbooks in this study did not record the reading of the articles during the time frame under examination.43 In eight of the other twenty-eight vessels the crews apparently heard the Articles of War only once during the time period of this study. Just over half of the seamen and marines heard the articles more than once while serving on the station. The evidence is clear that the reading of the articles was recorded less often than required by the Regulations and Instructions. It is doubtful if those officers who did not record reading the articles actually read them. The reading of the Articles of War reminded officers and crew of the power of the Admiralty. The articles constituted authority’s “stick” with which to pummel misbehaving seamen and marines back into line. Officers may have used other methods of control, and avoided the threats inherent in the articles, while those who read them once or twice may have done so to set a tone, or remind the crew of their power. Some officers may have read the Articles of War to maintain their position of dominance over their crew. In theory the articles created a certain level of legal equality. Failure to read the articles avoided this possible perception, leaving the captain or commander in supreme authority. As the Regulations and Instructions ordered the posting of the articles in a public spot, officers variable and determining the range in which ninety-five percent of the distribution rested. Those above the range were considered peaks and those below the range, low points. 42 See Christopher George, Terror on the Chesapeake: The War of 1812 on the Bay (Shippensburg, PA, 2000), pp. 40–51. The volunteer French troops, recruited from French prisoners of war in England and brought over to fight in the war with America, received the lion’s share of the blame for the raping and killing of civilians. This regiment was returned to England shortly after the incident. 43 It is important to note that the Articles of War may have been read outside of the time period for which the ship is being examined, as in the case of HMS Severn, where the articles were read on 18/11/1813 at Spithead before sailing to North America: see Captain’s Log, HMS Severn. TNA, Adm. 51/2811. However, it should also be noted that the San Domingo, Epervier and Childers logs which begin while the ships are in England fitting for service on the North American Station do not record the Articles of War being read before sailing: see Captain’s Log, HMS San Domingo. TNA, Adm. 51/2834; HMS Epervier. TNA, Adm. 51/2409; and HMS Childers. TNA, Adm. 51/2246.
Order and Disorder in the British Navy, 1793–1815 may have simply had them nailed to a bulkhead below deck and avoided the public reading. Captains’ logs do not record such choices. Another way to understand the inconsistent habit of reading of the articles is to examine where the recorded readings took place. In eighty-eight of 129 recorded occurrences the articles were read at sea, thirty-one while in harbour and only ten off the American coast. It appears that the officers read the articles when they were least likely to be busy with re-supplying or repairing the ship, or dealing with blockade and raiding duties. The current thinking is that the articles were not “bloody,” nor used to oppress the seamen and marines.44 Twenty-one articles at the time of the War of 1812 involved a death sentence. Sixteen of these twenty-one allowed the court to choose between death and another penalty or to downgrade the charge to one without a death sentence. Only five of the twenty-one articles required the death penalty if the court found the defendant guilty.45 If the courts exercised their freedom to select sentences other than death, or found men guilty of lesser charges, the 1812 set of articles were less bloody than any earlier version.46 In the 1661 code, for instance, desertion resulted in death. By the 1749 code, desertion resulted in death or as a court decided. Eder noted this relaxation gave courts martial more options with which to respond to this very common problem.47 The 1779 revision continued this trend. In the War of 1812, when a court chose the death sentence where an alternative sentence existed, it did so with the deliberate aim to inflict the maximum sentence on the offender. The officers of the court invoked the death penalty for behaviour deemed so threatening to the order and authority of the navy that they rejected the lesser sentence. The death sentences passed on the North American and West Indies Station during the war are addressed in Chapter 7, and will offer further support for this finding. With such ability to target an offender for death, it is interesting to see who (officer, seaman or marine) had the greatest likelihood of receiving a death sentence in the articles. When the Articles of War listed officers among the group of potential offenders within an article, a death sentence was rare. Of six articles specifying officers only, one alone could end in death or other sentence as the court decided. The others did not have death as a penalty.48 In the seven articles in which officers were among the group of Byrn, Crime, p. 186; and Eder, Crime and Punishment, pp. 156–7. These articles were numbers 3 (giving intelligence to an enemy), 15 (desertion to an enemy or pirate), 25 (burning naval property), 28 (committing murder) and 29 (engaging in sodomy/ buggery). 46 Markus Eder claims that the 1749 version of the Articles of War held more potential death sentences then the 1661 set (Crime and Punishment, p. 139). If we look at the number which gave death as the only sentence we see a decline from 1661’s nine to 1749’s seven. The 1779 revision to Articles 12 and 13 replaced the death-only option with “death or as the court may decide,” thus leaving only five mandatory death sentences. 47 Eder, Crime and Punishment, p. 102. 48 Of these six specific references, one (part of Article 10) declared death or other penalty as the court determined if found guilty, two articles gave the penalty of being cashiered and unable to serve again in His Majesty’s service (Articles 16 and 18), one dismissed the officer if he were found 44 45
Paper Forms of Control potential offenders named, two articles ended with death sentences, two gave death or as the court decided, and one gave death but held the potential for downgrading the charge. The last two did not hold death in the penalty.49 Of the twenty-three sections with a generic identifier (i.e. person), nineteen sections appear to be more likely to affect seamen rather than officers.50 This is especially true for Articles 15 and 16 which dealt with desertion. The overwhelming odds are that a seaman or marine would desert before an officer. Of these nineteen sections, four required the death penalty, six gave the court the choice between death and another penalty, and nine did not mention death. The Articles of War in place during the War of 1812 appear to target seamen and marines for death penalties more so than the officers. Once again, Chapter 7 will return to this point. In an era known for the creation of death penalties for quite minor property offences, the eight articles dealing specifically with property offences in the Articles of War did not lead to mandatory death sentences.51 In fact, only Article 17, which dealt with the protection of convoys, allowed the court to decide between death and another penalty. Five of the eight articles relate more directly to officers (commissioned and warranted) than to the lower deck seamen and marines. This is further evidence that officers were far less likely than seamen or marines to face a charge with a potential of a death sentence. The Articles of War also included articles dealing with morals. The efforts of the Admiralty to enforce these articles suggest a desire to shape and order the moral behaviour (if not character) of the officers, seamen and marines. There were four articles dealing with moral behaviour.52 Two of the four applied to officers only. One of these dealt with conducting Christian worship but did not require a punishment for failure to comply. The other referred to scandalous, cruel, unbecoming behaviour, and resulted in dismissal from the service for the offender. A third article, concerning behaviour such as
guilty (Article 33), one allowed the court to decide the penalty (Article 32), and in the other no penalty was mentioned (Article 1). Seven articles stated, “officers, mariners, soldiers and all persons” (or all others, or seamen). The court could decide the punishment for those found guilty of Article 19, which referred to contempt towards a superior officer, and Article 2, which dealt with moral behaviour including profanity, bad manners, and drunkenness. The death penalty was assigned to Article 3 (giving intelligence to the enemy), Article 22 (striking or threatening to harm a superior officer) and the first portion of Article 19 dealing with mutinous assembly. Article 4 (receiving a message from an enemy without passing it on) and Article 17 (which dealt with convoy duty) were assigned a death or other penalty as the court decided. Of these twenty-three, four assigned death penalties, seven allowed the court to decide on death or some other punishment, eight offered the court the opportunity to determine the penalty, two took away the guilty person’s share of prize money, and one cashiered and forbade the guilty party to ever serve the King again. The last article gave the captain permission to award summary punishments to seamen and marine privates. Douglas Hay, ‘Property, Authority and the Criminal Law’, Albion’s Fatal Tree: Crime and Society in Eighteenth-Century England, eds. D. Hay, P. Linebaugh, J. G. Rule, E. P. Thompson and C. Winslow (New York, 1975), pp. 17–63. These are Articles 1, 33, 2 and 29, respectively.
Order and Disorder in the British Navy, 1793–1815 cursing, oaths, bad manners and uncleanliness, allowed the court to decide the appropriate penalty. The fourth article addressed buggery and sodomy, the “unnatural and detestable sin(s),” and directed the court to assign a death penalty to the guilty. The 1749 revision of this last article removed the 1661 denial of mercy for anyone convicted of buggery or sodomy. With the possibility of a pardon, the 1749 revision of this article appears more lenient. The Articles of War set out the rules for calling and holding a court martial to try officers, seamen and marines accused of being in violation of any of the forbidden behaviours.53 A captain or commander could request that a court be held on one or more people, for a specific offence, by writing to the Admiralty or the commanding officer on a foreign station. If a trial was found appropriate, an order would be issued for the officer in command where the trial was to be held to conduct the court martial. To hold a court martial, any combination of five to thirteen admirals, captains and if necessary commanders had to be available to act as justices in the court. Once a case started, they had to remain aboard the ship where the court martial was held until the proceedings were completed and the outcome pronounced. The court was held in a public place on board the ship. A prosecutor and a judge advocate, to help in legal issues and record the proceedings, were appointed. The accused was allowed to cross-examine witnesses and present their own defence, with witnesses or through reading a statement countering the charges, presenting their character and past experience for the court’s consideration. Witnesses testified without other witnesses present, but there could be a gallery of people watching. The members of the court could also question witnesses as they wished. Oaths to fulfil the responsibilities of the court were taken by the officers acting as justices, the prosecutor and the judge advocate. An oath to tell the truth was sworn to by witnesses. The officers of the court made decisions in camera, needing a simple majority to either acquit or find the accused guilty. A court martial was an august event. The officers of the court wore their dress uniforms, rank was strictly adhered to and the place aboard ship where the proceedings were held was made to resemble a court of law. The space contained a table for the justices, who were arranged by seniority around the senior officer who served as the president of the court, a table for the defendant, another for the prosecution and the judge advocate, and the witness chair set apart yet in full view of all. As noted above, Byrn and Eder both see these courts martial as functioning fairly for the most part, applying a relatively sound legal system in ongoing development, no worse than that which ruled ashore. Christopher Dandeker disagrees, concluding the courts held on ships were “the solemnization of a punishment rather than a properly judicial occasion.”54 Byrn, Naval Courts, pp. xvii–xxix. 22 George II, c. 33, 1749 appears with later amendments, 19 George III, c. 1779, on pp. 4–22. 54 Christopher Dandeker, ‘The Old Navy and Social Change: Discipline, Punishment, and Authority in the Royal Navy, 1780–1860’, New Aspects of Naval History. Selected Papers from the 5th Naval History Symposium, eds. Department of History, U.S. Naval Academy (Baltimore, MD, 1985), pp. 93–107. 53
Paper Forms of Control The last element necessary to examine to determine the controlling effect of the Articles of War concerns their enforcement. What behaviour did courts martial and summary punishments actually target? Who were the guilty offenders, and what were their sentences? How did the officers’ individual practice affect summary punishment? Chapter 7 addresses these questions.
Additional Admiralty Instructions and Restrictions Sent out to the North American and West Indies Station 1812 to 1815 The Admiralty did not leave the foreign station commander, or his officers, with just the Regulations and Instructions and the Articles of War. When sending out an officer to assume command of a station, or a part of one, the Admiralty drafted a set of orders outlining the officer’s responsibilities and restrictions. Vice Admiral Charles Stirling received a document containing thirty directives when he assumed command of the Jamaica Station in 1811.55 Sir James Yeo’s orders for taking command on the Great Lakes included twelve paragraphs of instructions.56 These documents dealt with local command structure, the officer’s responsibility for the ships and men on the station, their diplomatic capacity, and various limits to their authority. Sir James Yeo, for example, was ordered not to hold courts martial, but instead to send all people requiring a court martial to Halifax. Apart from the various written orders concerning war strategy, the Admiralty bombarded the station officers with additional instructions, restrictions on their actions and special projects throughout the course of the War of 1812. In these instructions the Admiralty exerted another level of control and demonstration of its authority over the lower commanding officers. A multitude of examples of this fine-tuning of local activity by the distant Admiralty exists among the letters sent out to the North American and West Indies Station. For instance, the Admiralty limited the use of two new ships going out to the station with Admiral Warren in August 1812. Fears that the teredo navalis, the worm which thrived in warm waters, might eat its way into the wooden ships caused the Admiralty to order that they remain in the colder northern waters of the station at all times.57 At the outbreak of the war, the Admiralty reminded Vice Admiral Sawyer, then commanding the North American Station, that, “on no account should captains in His Majesty’s Service contact Lloyds” on matters concerning convoys. The Admiralty did not want any local officers dealing with the insurers of merchant vessels in the convoys.58 Two months later Admiral Warren received a rebuke over the granting of licences to American merchant ships to carry grain and other necessary supplies to the British troops Court Martial of Charles Stirling, 7–9/5/1814. BNA, Adm. 1/5442. Stirling’s orders formed part of his defence. They were dated 1/10/1811. 56 Croker to Yeo, 19/3/1813. LAC, CO 42/154. 57 Croker to Warren, 8/8/1812. LAC, Adm. 2/932. The two ships were HMS Nymphe and Tenedos. 58 Barrow to Sawyer, 29/9/1812. Ibid. 55
Order and Disorder in the British Navy, 1793–1815 fighting the French in Spain. The licences were not to be sold, or generously distributed, to the enemy. The Admiralty reminded Warren that part of the mandate in pursuing hostilities against the Americans was to blockade and thus restrict their trade, not facilitate their side-stepping this condition of war.59 Admiralty involvement in changing the local commander-in-chief ’s decisions can also be seen concerning the deployment of ships and rules of engagement with the Americans. In December 1812, Admiral Warren informed the Admiralty that the capture of the British frigates Guerriere and Macedonian was the result of the enemy’s superior ships, both in the number and calibre of their great guns, as well as the size of their crews. Warren issued an order to his squadron that two frigates and a sloop of war were to travel together at all times, to avoid any more ill-matched fights.60 The Admiralty superseded Warren’s order, cancelling the idea of sailing in groups, with instructions ordering the frigate captains to avoid entering into single ship actions with the American frigates.61 British vessels could shadow the American frigate at a safe distance, staying in contact with the enemy, until they could locate reinforcements. Other than this they were to avoid contact by all means necessary.62 The Admiralty also sent instructions directly to the junior officers serving on the station. Orders went out altering the regulations governing the pursers, restricting the amount of paper they could use, changing forms and reorganizing their record keeping.63 Captains and commanders received copies of the pursers’ instructions and a reminder to follow the Regulations and Instructions when completing forms. Orders were sent to restrain officers from pressing sailors who were returning as exchanged prisoners of war for forty-eight hours after they “land on His Majesty’s Dominions.”64 Captains were also instructed to add remarks, concerning the “character of officers Barrow to Warren, 21/11/1812. Ibid. The provisioning of the British Army in Spain depended on a supply of food and goods from America. Therefore, Vice Admiral Sawyer, at Halifax, and Andrew Allen, British Consul at Boston, had issued 185 licences offering protection to American, Portuguese and Swedish ships carrying food and goods for the army in Portugal and Spain. See Sawyer’s Memorandum on the Licensed Trade, 27/7/1812. Dudley, Naval War, vol. 1, pp. 202–3. 60 Warren to Croker, 29/12/1812. Ibid., pp. 649–51. Croker to Warren, 9/1/1813. Dudley, Naval War, vol. 2, pp. 14–15 for a reference to a letter dated 18/11/1812 which tells Warren not to detach ships singly, in fear of meeting superior force. 61 Croker to Station Commanders in Chief, 10/7/1813. Ibid., pp. 183–4. The Guerriere was captured on 19 August 1812 by the American frigate Constitution; the Macedonian was captured on 25/10/1812 by the American frigate United States. The Constitution also captured the frigate Java on 29/12/1812. These three losses are what motivated the Admiralty to issue its restriction. 62 This order issued in July 1813 came a month after Captain Philip Broke attempted to challenge Captain James Lawrence to bring the Chesapeake out of Boston to meet his Shannon. Lawrence never received Broke’s challenge letter. Captain Broke led the Shannon to victory over the Chesapeake on 1/6/1813. See Lambert, The Challenge, pp. 156–97. Peter Padfield, Broke and the Shannon (London, 1968). 63 Hartwell, Peake and Legge to Wodehouse, 23/12/1813, and Barrow to Warren, 24/11/1813. LAC, HAL/E/30. 64 Stirling to Croker, 15/1/1813. TNA, Adm. 1/264. 59
Paper Forms of Control and their fitness for the situation they hold,” to their quarterly complement reports. The Admiralty also exerted its control over the ships on the North American and West Indies Station in the much smaller details of ship operation. Orders issued in September 1812 called for the immediate replacement of all leather buckets with wooden ones, bound by iron, with a rope handle, knotted on the outside and painted yellow with the hoops black.65 The Admiralty did not provide a reason for the change. Failure to carry the Congreve Rockets aboard his flagship, as commanded, resulted in Admiral Warren receiving a pointed rebuke.66 Warren was to move the rockets from the transport that carried them back into his ship at the first opportunity. The clerks of the Admiralty examined every return sent home to ensure that the officers obeyed their written orders. Special projects were another way in which the Admiralty controlled order aboard ship. With a shortage of shipwrights, caulkers and sailmakers in the British fleet, the Admiralty, in the fall of 1812, issued instructions to institute a programme of apprenticeship aboard His Majesty’s ships.67 Officers were to select volunteers from among their ships’ boys and assign them to the master carpenter, or master sailmaker, who would instruct them in their respective trade. The boys would mess and work with the master and his mates so as to immerse the boys in the trade. If there were times of idleness, the boys were to work with the captain of a top, receiving instruction in the trade of the seaman. In this manner the boys would become what the Admiralty labelled “double hands,” trained in both skills and of more value to the navy. The commanding officers were to report the names and progress of all boys so enrolled to Warren every four months, on a set of prescribed forms. Warren was to send a summary of the individual reports to the Admiralty describing the programme’s progress. Another special project involved creating charts for the Admiralty. In the midst of the war, the Admiralty asked Sir James Yeo to survey the Great Lakes.68 The Admiralty library held no maps of the Great Lakes deemed to be accurate enough to understand the situation faced by the navy or the army in Canada. By the time Yeo received the letter, he was aware that Commander Robert Barclay, in command of the British Squadron on Lake Erie, had been defeated. The only portion of the Great Lakes he could have surveyed was the northern shore of Lake Ontario. The rest was under American control at the time. A third project came at the end of 1813 when the Admiralty suggested sending out to the Great Lakes the frames, iron work, and rope necessary to Peake, Legge and Thomas to Inglefield, 22/9/1812. LAC, HAL/A/2. Barrow to Warren, 22/8/1812. LAC, Adm. 2/932. 67 Admiralty to Flag Officers, Captains and Commanders, 11/9/1812. LAC, MG 40 M46. Stirling to Croker, 27/11/1812. TNA, Adm. 1/264; and Laforey to Admiralty, 15/11/1812. TNA, Adm. 1/333, acknowledge receipt of the instructions. 68 Croker to Yeo, 1/9/1813. LAC, MG 12 Adm. 2. Yeo shelved this request, where it remained until after the war when his replacement Commodore E. W. C. R. Owen oversaw the survey. 65 66
Order and Disorder in the British Navy, 1793–1815 construct two frigates and two brigs. Although the idea was rejected by Sir James Yeo and Sir George Prevost, the Governor-in-Chief of British North America, the Admiralty sent the material anyway.69 The frames of only one frigate arrived at Lake Ontario, further congesting an overburdened supply line, and stretching the limited resources at Kingston already committed to the construction of a first rate ship, of 104 guns. These special projects added to the responsibilities of the officers on the station and in some cases threatened to undermine the regional war effort against the Americans. The Admiralty may have placed flag officers in command of the station, and officers in charge of the ships, but the constant stream of written orders to the station plainly indicates the Admiralty’s desire to reduce individual decision making among its subordinates and to enforce the behaviour it deemed appropriate. From these examples, especially the special projects, it is apparent that the Admiralty sometimes failed to comprehend the full nature of the naval war with the Americans.
Station Admiral, Flag and Senior Officer Orders An admiral or vice admiral was the usual rank of the officer in charge of a station. To assist them in running the station the navy allowed local command to fall on either a junior flag officer or the senior captain (the one with the longest time on the captain’s list). For example, when Admiral John B. Warren assumed command of the entire North American and West Indies Station, in the fall of 1812, he had Rear Admiral Henry Hotham as his Captain of the Fleet, Rear Admiral Edward Griffith commanding at Halifax, Rear Admiral Francis Laforey commanding in the Leeward Islands, and Vice Admiral Charles Stirling at Jamaica. The presence of Warren in any of these areas gave him direct control, and, in his absence, the flag officer assumed local command. Flag officers usually employed the senior officer within the local squadron as an administrative assistant to help with the running of that portion of the station. When a flag officer was not present then the most senior officer took command. For the ships off Long Island, where flag officers seldom visited, Captain Sir Thomas Hardy was the senior officer in command of the various vessels that plied those waters for twelve months during the war.70 Apart from the issuing of orders pertaining to naval activities such as blockading American ports and seizing enemy vessels, these senior officers generated orders pertaining to most aspects of shipboard life. As well as being responsible for relaying all of the new orders from the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty to the respective captains and commanders, Warren issued his own instructions concerning ship operation. For example, Warren issued See Thomas Malcomson, ‘HMS Psyche: A Frigate in Frame’, Seaway’s Ships in Scale 4.6 (November/ December 1993), 16–20. 70 Hardy was the senior captain in the Long Island area from 25/3/1813 through to 1/3/1814: see Captain’s Log, HMS Ramillies. TNA, Adm. 51/2027. 69
Paper Forms of Control orders for the entire station concerning the procedures for entering, watering and taking on supplies at Halifax and Bermuda.71 Officers in command of ships received orders to make use of the telegraph on Mount Windham as they approached Bermuda if they had important intelligence for the Admiral. Waiting until they anchored and could send a lieutenant ashore with the message caused too much delay.72 The same letter reminded the captains and commanders to obey signals from the flagship whether they anchored at the Ferry anchorage, the careening yard, or Grassy Bay, in Bermuda. These orders removed the potential chaos resulting from the decisions of individual officers on how they would approach the island, water and re-supply their vessels. They also reminded the captains that they, and their crews, fell under the command of the senior officer. The orders issued by the station admiral, flag and senior officers impacted on the junior officers and their crews. Rear Admiral George Cockburn, Warren’s flag officer in the Chesapeake, sent an order to the commanding officers requiring them to respond immediately to the signals sent from the flagship. He told them not to second-guess Admiral Warren, for their disorder caused great inconvenience to the entire squadron.73 The following day he instructed the captains and commanders that the Admiral wished them to keep their decks as clear as possible, so they could sail at a moment’s notice. On clear days, they were to have two boats manned and armed in the water awaiting any possible assignment. The cooked meals for the men in the boats were to be kept warm until they returned.74 As senior officer, Cockburn ordered Captains John Talbot, of the Victorious, and Robert Barrie, of the Dragon, to repair, stock and man the captured American schooner Hornet as a tender to his ship, the Marlborough.75 Cockburn further chastised the captains and commanders in the Chesapeake in June 1813 for sending boats ashore without the Admiral’s permission.76 In these examples we see the local senior officer’s influence on the rhythm of life aboard the ships within his command. He affected the nature and timing of work, and the access to such supplies as fresh water and food. Procedural matters constituted a fair portion of the additional orders. In the spring of 1813, Sir Henry Hotham, as flag officer at Bermuda, requested that the officers properly fill out the manning reports for the ship under their command. Hotham reminded the officers that they could only count the “King’s men” and not supernumeraries for victualling and wages, if they Hotham to respective Captains and Commanders, 2/3/1813, Cockburn to respective Captains and Commanders, 2/3/1813. LAC, MG 40 M46. 72 Warren to respective Captains and Commanders, 16/2/1813, Cockburn to respective Captains and Commanders, 4/3/1813. Ibid. 73 Cockburn to respective Captains and Commanders, 3/3/1813. Ibid. 74 Cockburn to respective Captains and Commanders, 4/3/1813. Ibid. 75 Cockburn to respective Captains and Commanders, 8/3/1813. Ibid. 76 Cockburn to respective Captains and Commanders, 24/6/1813. Ibid. The boat traffic to the shore was causing alarm among the local American militias, a state of alertness Warren was trying to avoid as he considered the location for his next attack. 71
Order and Disorder in the British Navy, 1793–1815 were in the army, and to never count passengers.77 In November 1813 he reproached the captains for employing pilots that were not qualified to bring ships into the harbour at Bermuda or to move them around the anchorage.78 A merchant vessel had been lost and several of His Majesty’s ships damaged as a result of their incompetence. Sir Henry gave the commanding officers a list of four authorized pilots and four extra-pilots to be used. The numerous written orders sometimes created confusion, as seen in a letter from George Cockburn telling the captains and commanders in the squadron that the “signal flag numbers (issued) yesterday interfere with the temporary signals” already assigned.79 The officers renumbered the temporary signals, giving them a set of numbers high enough to avoid the problem in the future. Senior captains issued orders to the other officers serving within their locale. This constituted another layer of command. Captain Broke of HMS Shannon served as senior captain for the vessels sailing out of Halifax, under Vice Admiral Sawyer, and later Griffith.80 As such, Broke oversaw the surveying of supplies of the various warrant officers in the squadron to determine if the goods were to be condemned. He was responsible for scheduling and appointing officers to attend the examination of midshipmen to become lieutenants. Broke prepared most of the questions asked of the candidates. He also gave orders to send invalided men home to Britain.81 Assigning temporary warrants to men nominated by the various officers at Halifax, and forwarding of the proper forms to the Admiralty for approval of the promotions, also fell to his care.82 In addition, Broke determined the order of sailing for the vessels under his command, and chose the ships’ position in any potential engagement with the Americans.83 The Station Order Book of John Talbot, as senior officer at Bermuda, looks almost identical to Broke’s, with copies of letters notifying captains and commanders: to survey warrant officers’ supplies, to change an officer from one ship to another, and of his authority to command when junior officers arrived at Bermuda.84 When Philip Broke received a life-threatening head wound during the capture of the Chesapeake, Talbot went to Halifax to assume the position of senior officer. Talbot’s orders reveal a constant stream of surveys on warrant officers’ supplies, medicines and food aboard the Hotham to respective Captains and Commanders, 15/5/1813. Ibid. Hotham to respective Captains and Commanders, 10/11/1813. HHCA, UDDHO/7/2. It appears that the letter was motivated by HMS Mohawk having run aground 23/10/1813 “on the Rock,” Bermuda. 79 Cockburn to respective Captains and Commanders, 8/3/1813. LAC, MG 40 M46. 80 Broke held this position from 3/7/1812 through to 1/6/1813. 81 See Broke to senior lieutenant Guerriere, masters of AEolus and Thetis, and purser Africa and AEolus, 4/8/1812; Broke to Epworth, Parker and Pasco, 25/2/1813; Broke’s order to discharge John Nichols, 11/3/1813. LAC, MG 24 F 135, HA93/6/2/8. 82 Broke to Stevenson, 11/5/1813. Ibid. We will return to the subject of promotion in Chapter 2. 83 Broke’s General Order, 5/7/1812. Ibid. 84 Talbot to pursers of Herald, Ruby and Ardent, 20/9/1813; Talbot to Hawkbury, 23/9/1813; Talbot to Stanley, 27/9/1813. LAC, MG 40 M46. 77 78
Paper Forms of Control ships entering the harbour.85 These sets of important and influential orders allowed the senior captains to control the tone and rhythm of work within the squadrons under their command. In part, some of these additional local orders are reflective of problems of non-compliance within the fleet and bringing officers back into line. They also reveal that the senior officer could use his authority to order others to meet his needs, as in the case of Cockburn’s order for Talbot and Barrie to repair, man and provision his ship’s tender. Coming from multiple sources this rich bounty of additional orders and instructions occasionally caused problems, as with the confusion between flag numbers. Written orders and regulations, in addition to the ones they carried out to the station, and special projects rained down on the officers serving on the North American and West Indies Station. The generators of these paper forms of control all invoked their higher authority over the receiver. This generation of written orders was repeated at each level of authority, from the Admiralty down through the flag officers to the local senior captains. The issuers of the written instructions attempted to establish a framework for order and discipline for those under their command to operate within. Failure or slowness to conform to the instructions and orders met with a reminder and often a chastisement. Repeated failure to adhere or blatant refusal usually resulted in the investigations and punitive responses covered in Chapter 7.
The Captain’s Order Books Some captains and commanders had their own written set of orders to maintain discipline aboard ship. These were the captain’s order books, which came into wide use by the end of the eighteenth century. The Regulations and Instructions of 1806/8 were to have made them unnecessary, but by 1811 they were beginning to appear again.86 Unfortunately, very few of these unofficial personal order books survive. Examples from ships serving on the North American and West Indies Station will demonstrate their purpose and the impact on the sailors. All of the following order books made it clear that the instructions within were in addition to responsibilities found in the Regulations and Instructions issued by the Admiralty. Captain Samuel John Pechell’s order book and station bills for the San Domingo are the most extensive of those found for the officers and ships on the North American and West Indies Station.87 The San Domingo’s order book describes in detail the men’s positions and duties for such actions as mooring and unmooring the ship, getting under weigh, tacking and wearing the ship with the watch, and handling sails with the watch and idlers, among other shipboard tasks. Pechell wrote out the orders for each sail-handling Between 27/6/1813 and 27/7/1813 Talbot ordered thirteen surveys to be conducted by various warrant and commissioned officers then at Halifax. Ibid. 86 Lavery, Shipboard Life, pp. 7–8, 66. 87 Captain John Pechell Order Books, NMM, WQB/3. A portion of the General Stations of HMS San Domingo, 1812 can be seen in Lavery, Shipboard Life, pp. 343–53. 85
Order and Disorder in the British Navy, 1793–1815 manoeuvre as the junior officers were to call them out. In the San Domingo order book there is a drawing of a long gun and a carronade, and a drawing showing how to elevate the guns to hit targets at different heights and ranges. There is also a detailed description of how to position and work the great guns, as well as instructions pertaining to the readiness and use of small arms. Of critical importance to Pechell was that lieutenants supported his sense of order to encourage its “affect upon the men.” The first lieutenant was to watch over the warrant officers, making sure they kept the seamen under their command orderly, clean and trained, and watching for crimes. The ship and his captain needed to be the lieutenant’s entire focus, with no room for personal pleasure or private goals. The first and second lieutenants were to inspect the logs and station bills kept by the midshipmen under their command, reporting on their correctness to the captain. The lieutenants had to ensure that none of the ship’s boats were in the water after sunset. The lights below deck were to be extinguished at 9 pm while at sea, and at 9:30 pm when in harbour between 21 March and 20 September. This last point was expressed as an indulgence granted by the captain. William Pryce Cumby, captain of HMS Hyperion, also wrote a detailed order book.88 Cumby ordered his lieutenants, master, mates and midshipman to copy out the orders completely. Other warrant officers were to copy the portion pertaining to them directly. All were to sign Cumby’s copy to ensure they did this. These orders stressed discipline, control and personal responsibility. Like Pechell, Cumby reminded every officer to be completely compliant with every order given, written or spoken aboard ship, to serve as an example of discipline to the crew. The captain ordered daily practice in reefing and unfurling sails. The master would be responsible for overseeing the “quality and quantity” of food served to the crew. To prevent desertion or the selling of clothing, men going ashore would leave their remaining clothing and bedding in the hands of the master at arms. Another means of discouraging desertion was the regulation that no boat could be away from the ship after sunset or detained ashore, unless on a specific service.89 Although Robert Barrie’s order book for HMS Dragon is not available, his order book for HMS Pomone survives.90 Barrie listed the name of every man aboard ship, with each man assigned a number. He then assigned the numbers to watches, and placed them on a drawing of the part of the ship to which the sailor was stationed. Barrie wrote detailed instructions for the junior officers to use in managing the Pomone’s crew. He demanded, “A profound silence is to be observed that the orders may be heard and no answer made to the William P. Cumby, ‘Orders and Regulations for the Government and Discipline of His Majesty’s Ship Hyperion’, ed. H. G. Thursfield, Five Naval Journals 1789–1817 (London, 1951), pp. 330–49. See HMS Hyperion Logbook, 26/3/1811–4/8/1813. Massey Library, Royal Military College, Kingston, ON. 89 Cumby, ‘Orders and Regulations’, pp. 330, 333, 334, 336. 90 Robert Barrie, HMS Pomone Establishment and Order Book, NMM, WQB/49. HMS Pomone was wrecked on the Needles, on 14/10/1811. 88
Paper Forms of Control word of command given.”91 The silence was to be at all times for anyone on deck or in the rigging. When mustering the men at quarters, each man, when named, was to call out his duties. The captain of each gun was “held responsible for any noise or impropriety” during musters, as well as training each man on how to load, point and sight the gun. A detailed set of instructions for loading, aiming and firing the great guns, and each person’s position and task, followed, accompanied by a drawing of a carronade.92 Other officers also wrote instructions concerning the working of their ships’ great guns.93 As the name implies, night order books were another means for the captains to leave written instructions for their officers while the captain was off the deck. Sir Thomas Cochrane’s Night Order Book, from HMS Surprise, gave specific instructions to the officers of the watch on ship handling during the night.94 In the Leeward Islands, for most of 1813, Sir Thomas entered orders as to what course to sail and the amount of sail to carry. His Night Order Book also held comments and orders respecting the control and discipline of the crew. He wrote on 13 January 1813 that the carpenters were to be ordered up at half past five and ready to commence work at daylight. He repeated this on 23 February, adding that the carpenters were “to be on deck to work the moment it is daylight.”95 This indicates a possible problem with getting the carpenter and his crew to be ready for work at the appointed hour. Another problem arose on 8 and 9 June 1813 when Cochrane ordered the main and mizzen top men of the middle watch to be exercised at the mizzen topsail yard for one full hour starting at half past five. This would appear to be a punishment, for on one of the two nights the men normally would have been off watch when called upon to take to the rigging. Within the order book no other watch was required to carry out such an exercise. Another problem appears when for seven nights in a row the order book contains a reminder that the watch were not to sleep on deck.96 The night order book also reveals something of the rhythm of the regular work carried out on the ship. Various entries remind the officer of the watch to clean and repair “steering and sailing gear,” so as to be able to make sail “at a moment’s notice.”97 When G. W. K. Knight took command of the Surprise for six months in 1814, he entered orders in the night book to have the watch wash and holystone the deck, and wipe dry the paintwork within the ship, every night at four in the morning.98 When Sir Thomas Cochrane returned Ibid., p. 38. Ibid., pp. 45–9. 93 Captain Philip Broke, HMS Shannon, also created, for his junior officers and gunners, notes on the use of long guns and carronades under various conditions. ‘Notes and Sketches regarding aspects of gunnery.’ LAC, HA93/6/2/110–113. 94 Thomas Cochrane, Night Order Book, HMS Surprise, 1812–13. LAC, MG 24, A44. 95 See 23/2/1813 and 29/7/1813. Ibid. 96 See 28/3/1814–3/4/1814. Ibid. 97 See 3/3/1813, and 11 and 13/5/1813. Ibid. 98 Knight assumed command on 6/2/1814–22/6/1814. See examples of Knight’s orders for cleaning the decks at 4 am on 5 and 6/3/1814. Ibid. 91 92
Order and Disorder in the British Navy, 1793–1815 in June 1814 he quickly reverted to a later time for washing the decks and a less frequent scheduling of this activity.99 Sir David Milne’s Night Order Book for HMS Bulwark contains mostly directions focusing on sailing, keeping a close look out and calling him at daylight.100 Milne ordered the mustering of the crew on two occasions at two and four in the morning, perhaps a sign of a punishment or a possible concern over night-time desertion. As with Cochrane’s night book, Milne’s set the rhythm of the night’s activity. For example, in May 1814, while in the Chesapeake, Milne ordered the officer of the watch to keep a guard boat circling the ship and to prevent any vessel from approaching. The watch aboard ship and the marines were to have pikes and muskets at the ready throughout the night. These precautions were a response to the fear that the Americans would launch torpedo attacks against the ships of the squadron.101 Captain’s order books detailed the ship and sail handling left out of the Regulations and Instructions. They also described the actual steps to ensure discipline, and organizing of the men as outlined in the Regulations and Instructions. The captains and commanders who employed order books attempted to shape their junior officers into a coherent group, restricting their range of behaviour and interaction with the seamen and marines. In this way the captains and commanders constructed a support structure to enhance their authority, and direct channels to deliver commands to the sailors and marines. The order books also delineated the system of surveillance employed by the captains and commanders to keep the entire ship’s company under their watchful eye and to stop problematic behaviours from festering and developing into major problems. The order books reveal the places where the captains and commanders retained control over their domain, the ship. Finally, in some of the books (such as Samuel Pechell’s) we see glimpses of the use of indulgences to reward and the upholding of perceived sailors’ rights. In conclusion, the beginning of the nineteenth century found the Admiralty tightening its direct control over the supplies, ships and men of the Royal Navy. The centralization of authority clearly appears in the re-editing, enlargement and strict enforcement of the Regulations and Instructions governing His Majesty’s Navy. The Admiralty did not hesitate to write to station admirals, flag officers or ship commanders for an explanation of an infraction. The Regulations and Instructions were an important tool in the Admiralty’s effort to centralize control over the men and ships of the navy. The Admiralty also extended its involvement in station operation by ordering various new procedures, initiating special projects and fine-tuning local activity. In the following chapter we will find the Admiralty’s centralizing of control interfering with the use of patronage by officers on the North American and West Indies Station. See 23/6/1814, 2/8/1814 and 18/9/1814. Ibid. Sir David Milne’s Night Order Book, 14/2/1814–5/6/1814. NMM, MLN/20. 101 For an example, see Milne, 3/5/1814. Ibid. 99
Paper Forms of Control All officers, from the station admirals down through the ranks to the warrant officers, worked within a thick web of written regulations, instructions and orders. All had at least one layer above them shaping both what they did in their daily activity and how they did it. Each level of command contained a threat, of one degree or another, of the consequences of failure to abide. The Articles of War held the clearest statement of authority’s response to actions deemed inappropriate. We have seen where the Articles of War in force during the War of 1812 avoided assigning a death sentence to officers and allowed for a greater degree of discretion over death sentences of seamen and marines. Death sentences could now be handed down with more deliberation. Locally, on the North American and West Indies Station, flag and senior officers deluged their junior officers with written orders. In turn, some of the captains and commanders wrote their own detailed codes of conduct for their officers and men. From the top down we see a thicker and thicker layering of bureaucratic command. For the junior officers the directives and orders originated from multiple sources, each of which required obedience. The written orders for their officers had a direct influence on the seamen and marines. They helped to shape the nature and routine of their work, the conditions in which the mariners and marines lived and the outcome of failure to adhere to the rules. The centralization of control by the Admiralty was reproduced at each level of subordinate officers. Each level of officer generated its own set of regulating rules to create a desired order among the people they commanded. During the War of 1812 each level of subordinates was left with fewer areas in which they might exert their own personal control. Ultimately, all of the lower sets of written rules were inferior to the Admiralty’s Regulations and Instructions and the Articles of War, the two supreme written sources of order in His Majesty’s Navy. This detailed network of written directives was meant to form an ordered framework within which the officers, seamen and marines worked and lived, as they accomplished the goals the Admiralty set for them. Other means employed by the officers to control those below them pushed against this framework, causing conflicts with this dense maze of written directives. Different forms of these conflicts will appear in each of the following five chapters. Chapter 7 examines what occurred when people failed to adhere to the written orders. In the next chapter, the influence of the “paper forms of control” is expanded further through a study of where written edicts were carried out or contravened by the use of patronage and money as a means of creating order.
2 Creating Order through Patronage and Material Incentives This chapter explores the place of patronage in creating order among the officers and men serving on the North American and West Indies Station during the War of 1812. The struggle over access to and the use of patronage between local and central commanders reflects the changing nature of patronage in this era. The checked use of patronage to create order among the men of the lower deck, and even one’s junior officers, induced local commanding officers to employ other means to accomplish these ends. Pay, prize money, ransom and pillage constitute material incentives officers used in their attempts to engender and maintain order among their subordinates. These material incentives rewarded the officers and ship’s company for carrying out actions largely, though ambiguously, condoned by the Admiralty. Through prize money, ransom and pillage, the mariner or marine could obtain better food, more alcohol, and other material gains. Compliance in exchange for material incentives did not necessarily reflect a sense of obligation or any form of permanent loyalty on the part of subordinates. The use of material incentives to create order undermined the ideals of patronage.
Patronage Patronage involved persons of high standing assisting subordinates in gaining access to positions of authority and social standing. Harold Perkin suggests that it extended from the highest levels of society down through the masses, in an unending series of patron–client relationships.1 In the navy, this could mean gaining an appointment to a particular ship, command of a vessel, duty on a station with access to prizes, or into the care of a more powerful patron. In return, the patron would expect the loyalty and obedience of his followers. The Admiralty’s ready confirmation of the patron’s appointments
Harold Perkin, The Structured Crowd: Essays in English Social History (Sussex, 1981), pp. 34–6; and Harold Perkin, Origins of Modern English Society (London, 1969), pp. 44–51.
Order and Disorder in the British Navy, 1793–1815 increased the patron’s power to attract more clients.2 Historians have debated the alleged pervasiveness of the patron–client relations. In viewing the 1790s, Rodger proposed that the revolutionary ideas challenging the social order eroded the power of patronage between officers and seamen and marines.3 Tom Wareham disagrees, stating that an increase of officers from the upper class reinforced patronage.4 With a sense of “noblesse oblige,” interfused with a more positive view of the lower order, they could see “the seamen under their command as fellow, if not quite equal, human beings.”5 Such a relationship made for less resistance from the men and thus less punishment from the officers.6 Christopher Dandeker has argued that a shift within the patronage system took place between 1790 and 1815, as the Admiralty struggled for control over patronage with station commanders (station, flag and senior officers).7 Roger Knight writes of the Admiralty under Lord Spencer in the 1790s dispensing patronage appointments to the navy, most clearly among members of his extended family.8 Spencer also introduced a system of appointing midshipmen to ships as “Boys First Class Volunteers” which eventually located much of the patronage power in the hands of the Admiralty. J. M. Bourne lays the responsibility for the Admiralty’s seizing control over patronage in the hands of First Lord St. Vincent, who, he states, tended to promote officers of merit rather than those simply with political power.9 Roger Knight is less enamoured with St. Vincent, noting that his gruff manner and naval reform ideas were disruptive politically and to the service itself.10 His departure from the Admiralty in May 1804 was lamented by very few. A naval officer’s career still relied on patronage at the end of the Napoleonic Wars. Commander James Galloway, HMS Narcissus, found himself without a patron on the North American Station, with younger officers receiving promotion ahead of him. Not one of Vice Admiral Alexander Cochrane’s followers, Galloway still requested that his rank be confirmed.11 Cochrane gave the command of the Narcissus to one of his protégés, sending Galloway Kevin D. McCranie, ‘“He shall be properly taken care of,” Lord Keith, Patronage and the Royal Navy, 1761–1823’, The Consortium on Revolutionary Europe 1750–1850, eds. Owen Connelly, Charles Crout, Donald D. Howard, William Olejniczak and Michael F. Pavkovic (Miami, FL, 1999), pp. 393–402, p. 398. 3 Rodger, ‘Shipboard Life’, pp. 32–4. 4 Tom Wareham, The Star Captains: Frigate Command in the Napoleonic Wars (London, 2001), p. 94. Wareham’s examination of frigate captains, between 1793 and 1815, reveals an increase in the number of titled men assuming commands of frigates after 1801. 5 Ibid., p. 211. 6 Ibid., p. 214. It should be noted that Wareham focuses almost exclusively on the successful frigate commander, with little to say about the unsuccessful. 7 Christopher Dandeker, ‘Patronage and Bureaucratic Control: The Case of the Naval Officer in English Society 1780–1850’, British Journal of Sociology 29.3 (September 1978), 300–20. 8 Knight, Britain Against Napoleon, p. 102. 9 J. M. Bourne, Patronage and Society in Nineteenth-Century England (London, 1986), pp. 172–173. Lord St. Vincent served as First Lord of the Admiralty 1801–1804. 10 Knight, Britain Against Napoleon, pp. 103, 214, 218, 222–3. 11 The rank of commander placed a lieutenant in temporary charge of a ship, usually until a 2
Patronage and Material Incentives to the smaller Penelope.12 After the death of Captain Sir Peter Parker, HMS Menelaus, in an August 1814 Chesapeake shore raid, Captain Palmer, HMS Hebrus, offered his patronage to two of Parker’s young midshipmen. Palmer’s gesture probably saved the career of the two young men, for the moment at least.13 Thomas Tilby was appointed by Captain Raggett to the position of Acting Purser on board HMS Dover when its former purser died.14 On his arrival in England the Admiralty did not uphold the appointment, informing him that captains did not have the right to make a personal appointment as it infringed on the right of flag officers on foreign stations to make such decisions. Without a significant patron, Tilby wrote to Rear Admiral Hotham back on the North American and West Indies Station pleading for his support of Tilby’s appointment as purser to HMS Pylades. The outcome is unknown, but unlikely to have met Tilby’s expectations. Being a protégé was not always a smooth ride to promotion. Rear Admiral Sir Pulteney Malcolm complained bitterly of one of his young midshipmen, Presley, declaring he “is certain of his promotion, we have many fallings out, he is insolent in his manner of carrying on his duty and as signal officer, every neglect comes under my eye and I never spare him.”15 Malcolm did not let these concerns stop Presley’s promotion to becoming the Rear Admiral’s flag lieutenant, a position from which he would advance further at the next fleet promotions.16 Sir James Lucas Yeo brought with him to Lake Ontario eighteen midshipmen, eight of his own followers and ten from the Admiralty. Frederick John Johnston was one of the Admiralty midshipmen whom Yeo had taken a liking to, promising the lad that he would be the first promoted. This favoured status changed abruptly when Yeo found Johnston dining with the commissioned officers during the crossing to North America, a significant social faux pas. Angered at his stepping out of his lower social rank, Yeo told the midshipman he was now at the bottom of the promotion list. Reaching Kingston, Johnston wrote his mother to contact Lord Melville and have her son sent where he could have hope of advancement.17 Before the letter reached home, Johnston was made a lieutenant, in June 1813, for his daring service in the British debacle at Sackets Harbour on 29 May 1813. Perseverance during low points in relationships between follower and patron
14 15 12 13
replacement could be found or his appointment was confirmed by the Admiralty and he was made a captain. Galloway had nine years as a commander, a rather long time for the period. Galloway to Cochrane, 21/10/1814. NLS, MS 2337. R.J.B., ‘Naval Recollections of the Late American War – Part II’, U. S. Journal (May 1841), 13–23. Tilby to Hotham, 21/12/1814. HHCA, UDDHO/7/2. P. Malcolm to C. Malcolm, 14/10/1814. WCL, Sir Pulteney Malcolm Papers 1768–1838, Papers 1814–1817. P. Malcolm to C. Malcolm, 4/12/1814. Ibid. F. Johnston to Jane Johnston, 18/4/1813. Dudley, Naval War, vol. 2, pp. 444–5. Johnston was the nephew of Lord Frederick Campbell and his mother occupied a suite at Hampton Court Palace. M. K. Ritchie and C. Ritchie, ‘A Laker’s Log’, The American Neptune 17.3 (July 1957), 203–11.
Order and Disorder in the British Navy, 1793–1815 was necessary and could lead to positive results, as the stories of Presley and Johnston attest. But patronage could serve to disrupt a career for a young officer. When Sir James Yeo arrived at Kingston he sent Lieutenant Daniel Pring to take command of the small flotilla on Lake Champlain at Isle-aux-Noix. This removed the lieutenant, sent by Warren, from Lake Ontario and allowed Yeo to promote more of his own followers. As the Lake Champlain theatre began to become more important in the summer of 1814, Yeo felt a post-captain was better suited for the command than a lieutenant commander (which Pring was). He cautiously mentioned the idea to Governor-in-Chief Prevost believing that Prevost was “partial to Pring.” When Prevost agreed to the need of a post-captain, Yeo assigned Captain Peter Fisher, “a good officer,” who had been sent out by the Admiralty in the spring of 1814.18 Pring fell to commander of a specific ship. According to the historian Alfred Mahan, Fisher and Pring argued, with the former’s hot temper being reported to Yeo.19 Sir James replaced Fisher in a matter of weeks with Captain George Downie, creating a problem between himself and Fisher that would openly fester for the rest of the war. Edward Collier led a group of 200 sailors and marines from Halifax to Lake Ontario. He found a glut of officers waiting for promotion and assignments at Kingston. He asked to be returned to the Atlantic squadrons.20 A minute on the letter’s reverse simply states, “Ask Yeo to employ him.” Collier was given the command of HMS Princess Charlotte, the second largest frigate on the lake, on 1 August 1814.21 At the beginning of October, Commander Richard O’Conor, a follower of Yeo, was given command of the Princess Charlotte and Collier was removed to the brig Niagara, a downturn in fortune. O’Conor had held command for only fifteen days when Yeo gave him the honour of carrying home Yeo’s dispatches, a step that led to a confirmation of his rank as post-captain. On arrival with Yeo, in May 1813, O’Conor had taken on the assignment of managing the dockyard at Kingston.22 Yeo’s personal choice gave O’Conor his promotion and an opportunity to be noticed by potential patrons higher up the chain of authority, and kept Collier out of sight. Yeo to Prevost, 5/6/1814, and Yeo to Prevost, 7/7/1814. LAC, RG 8 ‘c’ series, v732 and v733 (respectively). Fisher had been sent out under Captain George Downie, along with Captains Frederick Hickey and Henry Thomas Davies. They were to be given command in the two frigates and two brigs that the Admiralty was sending out in frame. Only one of the frigates in frame ever reached Kingston, so sending Fisher to Lake Champlain eased the problem of too many officers. 19 A. T. Mahan, Sea Power in Its Relations to the War of 1812, vol. 2 (Boston, 1905), p. 372. Yeo stated to the Admiralty that Fisher’s temper was the reason for the change. See Robert Malcomson, Lords of the Lake: The Naval War on Lake Ontario, 1812–1814 (Toronto, 1998), pp. 242, 303, 316. 20 Collier to Croker, 5/7/1814. LAC, Adm. 1/1667. 21 The frigate Princess Charlotte’s original captain, William Mulcaster, was wounded on 6 May during the attack on Oswego. Collier had been acting captain since that date. It was clear by late July Mulcaster would go home. Yeo to Collier, 1/8/1814. LAC, Adm. 1/1667. 22 Malcomson, Lords of the Lake, pp. 119–20, 264. O’Conor had sailed with Yeo in HMS Confiance and had volunteered to join him on the lakes. 18
Patronage and Material Incentives Limited patronage might see an officer stranded on a station waiting for a command, or given one that no one else wanted. Lieutenant Robert Heriot Barclay is one officer whose experience of this level of patronage cost him dearly. The Admiralty sent Barclay, and another lieutenant, out to Halifax in April 1812, for placement in the next available command.23 Admiral Warren was reminded of Barclay’s continuing availability in November 1812.24 Warren sent Barclay, as a commander, along with lieutenants Robert Finnis and Daniel Pring, to Kingston, Upper Canada, to make preparations for, and join, the Royal Navy contingent being sent out to take command of the vessels on the lake from the woefully inadequate Provincial Marine.25 When Yeo reached Kingston he offered Captain William Mulcaster, his second officer and friend, the command of the Lake Erie squadron at Amherstburg, which Mulcaster promptly turned down. Sir James placed Barclay in charge of the Lake Erie squadron and sent along Lieutenant Finnis with twelve sailors.26 The British forces at Amherstburg were in a desperate situation by the end of August. Food, formerly heavily rationed, was now running out. Shawnee Chief Tecumseh, hundreds of his warriors and their families were a further tax on the limited food and were growing dissatisfied with the lack of action against the Americans. American Master Commandant Oliver H. Perry had brought his squadron out of their base at Erie, Pennsylvania, to cooperate in the invasion at Amherstburg, with Brigadier General William Harrison. From his arrival on Lake Erie to the close of August, Commander Robert Barclay sent numerous requests for more seamen to man the six vessels of the Lake Erie squadron.27 Fifty-four seamen was all Commodore Yeo would send.28 The Battle of Put-in-Bay, 10 September 1813, resulted in the capture of all six British vessels and control of the Upper Lakes falling to the Americans. Robert Finnis was killed and Barclay was severely wounded. Robert Barclay had no patron to write to during his command at Amherstburg to request the needed seamen. Warren had sent him to the lakes but it was clearly to push him aside so the Admiral could promote his own in the active Atlantic theatre. For a commander-in-chief who repeatedly Barrow to Sawyer, 23/4/1812. LAC, Adm. 2/932. The other lieutenant was C. M. Watson. Barrow to Warren, 3/11/1812. Ibid. 25 E. A. Cruikshank, ‘The Contest for the Command of Lake Ontario in 1812 and 1813’, Transactions of the Royal Society of Canada Series III 10 (September 1916), 161–223. Malcomson, Lords of the Lake, pp. 25–37. 26 Yeo to Croker, 16/7/1813. Dudley, Naval War, vol. 2, 502–3. 27 Barclay to Yeo, 1/6/1813; Barclay to Yeo, 4/6/1813; Barclay to Yeo, 16/6/1813; Barclay to Yeo, 10/7/1813; Barclay to Yeo, 14/8/1813, copies from Court Martial of Robert Barclay, 9/9/1814. TNA, Adm. 1/5445. Barclay to Yeo, 1/9/1813, ed. William Wood, Select British Documents of the Canadian War of 1812, vol. 2 (Toronto, 1923), p. 267. Barclay to Prevost, 6/7/1813. Ibid., p. 250. In this letter Barclay told Prevost that Yeo had not sent any seamen and that he needed 250 to 300 more to appropriately man the squadron. 28 A. B. Burt, ‘Captain Robert Heriott Barclay, R. N.’, Ontario Historical Society Papers and Records 14 (1916), 169–78. Burt quotes Barclay’s letter to Yeo, telling him of the loss on Lake Erie, stating he had less than “50 British seamen” (not including officers), p. 175. 23 24
Order and Disorder in the British Navy, 1793–1815 asked for more men, his July 1813 remark to Melville, “I trust Lieutenants Barclay, Pring and Finnis who were sent to the lakes – will not be returned to the squadron,” is very informative.29 Robert Barclay’s court martial acquitted him, laying some of the blame for the loss on a “[w]ant of a sufficient number of seamen whom he had repeatedly and earnestly requested.”30 Patronage linked with family relationship could offer protection when the person’s behaviour went against the Admiralty’s directions. Sir Alexander Cochrane’s son, Sir Thomas John Cochrane, ran into problems on the station. As captain of HMS Surprise, Sir Thomas had captured the American privateer Decatur on 16 January 1813. After this event, he preferred to remain at Bermuda, resisting efforts by his father to get him to put to sea. Sir Alexander accepted these refusals, apparently without criticism. Vice Admiral Cochrane was also trying to keep Sir Thomas from returning to England, although the younger Cochrane had been ordered home several times. Sir Thomas apparently acted imprudently with other officers on the station, flaunting his family connection to the commander-in-chief.31 Sir Pulteney Malcolm said of the man he often referred to as “Young Tom,” Tom Cochrane is playing the fool and his good Father cannot prevent him, he never goes to sea, his ships company has written to say that they have no chance at Prize Money like other ships – the Admiralty has advised him to be sent Home but excuses are found it is to bad now there is an opportunity of a freight from Jamaica perhaps he may be advised to go– he is a disagreeable young Man.32
It is interesting to observe that in this case of resistance to the navy’s order and aims it is the crew who wanted to comply. The Surprise did put to sea under Captain George Knight for six months in 1814, before Thomas Cochrane returned to command and was part of the squadron involved in transporting and supporting the army at New Orleans. As the Napoleonic Wars came to a close, patronage had developed two problematic aspects. First, by 1812 the Admiralty’s prior largely conformational response to officers’ promotion of their followers had severely diminished. The Admiralty had strengthened its grip over appointments. Second, patronage had become almost solely for officers and seldom for the able or ordinary seamen, or the landsmen. While Warren worked hard to promote his protégés, the Admiralty sent officers out to vacant positions in his command and often over-ruled his Warren to Melville, 22/7/1813. LAC, MG 34 F132. Finnis’ order is in Croker to Warren, 7/8/1812. LAC, Adm. 2/932. Pring was already on the station having since 1811 served in Rear Admiral Sawyer’s flagship, Africa, then Warren’s San Domingo for two months: see Pring’s entry in O’Byrne, A Naval Biographical Dictionary, vol. 3, p. 931. 30 Court Martial of Robert Barclay, 9/9/1914. TNA, Adm. 1/5445. 31 P. Malcolm to C. Malcolm, 2/9/1814. WCL, Malcolm Papers. 32 P. Malcolm to C. Malcolm, 4/12/1814. Ibid. 29
Patronage and Material Incentives appointments.33 In February and March 1813 the Admiralty filled a number of lieutenant vacancies in the North American and West Indies Station.34 Warren was informed that Lieutenant Henry Tucker, on Warren’s HMS San Domingo, should be placed in the first vacancy.35 It appears that Tucker had asked the Admiralty for the promotion, without asking Warren. Warren’s appointment of Lieutenant John Kinsman’s command of HM Sloop Moselle to fill a “death vacancy” was rescinded, for the ship’s late first officer was only a lieutenant.36 Hutton Dawson was made commander of the Moselle.37 Warren tried again when Dawson died, appointing his flag lieutenant John Moberly.38 The letter advancing this promotion also noted the Admiralty’s refusal of Warren’s placement of Kinsman in the Columbia. These denials of his promotions caused Warren to write privately to Lord Melville, noting, there “are so few opportunities for a commander-in-chief to provide for his own officers, that I really despair if you can not assist me in the present occasion to see more officers in who’s welfare I may be interested meet with some degree of encouragement in the Service.”39 His appeal secured Moberly the Moselle, and Warren’s nephew, George Pechell, command of the Recruit.40 The letter containing Warren’s recall to England also carried a severe censoring of his effort to replace captains who had died while in command in the West Indies.41 Under his authority the ships were sent from Jamaica to Bermuda so Warren could place a follower in the vacant post. The Admiralty instructed him to assign a temporary command and that they would make the appointments. Still Warren persisted. When the captain of HMS Sylph passed away at Halifax, Warren wanted Lieutenant Kinsman to take the post.42 Unfortunately, Captain Richard Coote had already written to Lord Melville concerning the vacancy. Warren’s letter ended with a request that “their Lordships will confirm [my] choice.” As Warren prepared to sail for Britain he received the Admiralty’s response: the choice “did not belong to him.”43 The most adroit series of appointments by Warren took place in October 1813. The ships under his command had captured a number of smaller 35 36 37 38 39 40
For example, Barrow to Warren, 17/9/1812; Barrow to Warren, 20/11/1812. LAC, Adm. 2/932. For example, Barrow to Warren, 8, 11, 13, 15 and 19/2/1813, 2, 4 and 10/3/1813. Ibid. Barrow to Warren, 14/4/1813. Ibid. Warren to Melville, 7/10/1812. LAC, MG 34 F132. Barrow to Warren, 18/11/1812. LAC, Adm. 2/932. Warren to Melville, 1/6/1813. LAC, MG 34 F132. Warren to Melville, 22/7/1813. Ibid. Copland to Croker, 8/7/1813. LAC, Adm. 1/1669. A minute on the reverse says, “Confirmed.” Warren had Pechell removed from the Cleopatra (where he was lieutenant) to the San Domingo; Warren to Melville, 5/11/1812. LAC, MG 34 F132. Moberly’s confirmation is noted in his entry in O’Byrne, A Naval Biographical Dictionary, vol. 2, pp. 767–8. 41 Melville to Warren, 24/11/1813. LAC, MG 34 F132. 42 Warren to Melville, 30/12/1813. Ibid. 43 Kinsman received the troopship Fox, Captain Dickinson took command of the Sylph, and Lieutenant Standby took command of the Recruit, replacing Warren’s nephew George Pechell; Barrow to Warren, 10/3/1814. LAC, Adm. 2/933. Coote went into the sloop Peacock, which foundered with all hands during a storm in August 1814. 33 34
Order and Disorder in the British Navy, 1793–1815 sailing vessels in the Chesapeake during their numerous raids on American coastal towns. Warren bought nine of them on behalf of the Royal Navy and then placed his followers in command, as the junior and warrant officers. The vessels acted as tenders to the larger ships and for raiding up the rivers and creeks running into the bay. As he informed the Admiralty, he noted their orders of 12 November 1812 granting him permission to acquire vessels for His Majesty’s Service.44 As he departed the station, the Admiralty asked Warren to explain why he had recommended Lieutenant George Westphall for promotion, as a result of his raids along the Chesapeake during the spring of 1813, and not Nicholas Alexander, a lieutenant on HMS Dragon. Both had fought in the shore raids for which Westphall was being praised.45 No reply has been found from Warren but Westphall served as his first lieutenant for many years while the Admiral and Alexander appear to be unconnected. Clearly a complaint had been made that Alexander ought to have the same recognition as Westphall. Warren had simply advanced a protégé. Perhaps Alexander felt snubbed, or Captain Robert Barrie wrote to advance his lieutenant, or some other observer spoke up for a worthy young man ignored. The Admiralty’s candidates and the rejection of Warren’s choices worried many of the officers in his squadrons. Lieutenant Henry Napier, HMS Nymphe, found his circumstances extremely limited. Napier wrote, “Lord Melville deciding on every person, taking all patronage he possibly can out of the power of the Commander in Chief.”46 He noted that his position on the promotions list had fallen from close to the top to number eight or nine. Even if he was to receive an independent command, or promotion to a bigger ship, he feared the Admiralty would replace him with one of their own choices. Vice Admiral Sir Charles Stirling, commanding the western portion of the West Indies Station at Jamaica, used his patronage to advance his followers. The death of Captain Rushworth of HMS Barbadoes allowed Stirling to shift Captain Huskison from the Brazen into the vacancy, and replace Huskison with his nephew Lieutenant James Stirling.47 Sir Charles’ changes were approved. Another death vacancy in August allowed him to promote Midshipman Joseph Greenway into a lieutenant’s spot on HMS Shark.48 The Admiralty sent out officers to be placed by Sir Charles in specific positions, as in August 1812 when commissions for four officers arrived.49 In late October 1812 Stirling sent in a list of appointments and removals of commissioned
Warren to Croker, 25/10/1813. Dudley, Naval War, vol. 2, pp. 270–1. Barrow to Warren, 6/4/1814. LAC, Adm. 2/933. Barrow to Warren, 9/7/1813; and Barrow to Warren, 28/12/1813. Ibid. Westphall’s promotion to commander of the captured American vessel Anaconda. 46 P. Napier. Henry at Sea: Part One of the Life of Captain Henry Napier RN 1789–1853 (London, 1997), p. 203. 47 Stirling to Croker, 28/6/1812. TNA, Adm. 1/263. 48 Stirling to Croker, 22/8/1812. Ibid. 49 Stirling to Croker, 14/8/1812. Ibid.
Patronage and Material Incentives and warrant officers for Admiralty approval.50 They were confirmed, but with the appointment of Admiral Warren to command the combined station the Vice Admiral was notified that all further promotions had to pass through Sir John. This curtailed the promotions sent in to the Admiralty from Stirling. The only reference made to a promotion is one sent out by the Admiralty, a Lieutenant David Cochrand, for whom Stirling had nothing available.51 Sir Charles notified Croker that he had allowed Cochrand to proceed to Havana and Vera Cruz on private business for his father. This lack of correspondence on promotions continued with Rear Admiral Brown, Stirling’s replacement. Arriving in August 1813, Brown appointed Francis Smallwood as Carpenter in the North Star, replacing the invalided former holder of the position.52 His next appointment appears in February 1814 when he assigned a recently passed Charles Woods, a lieutenant in HMS Ringdove, to replace the recently deceased Lieutenant Fleming.53 Brown filled another death vacancy in March, giving Captain Joseph Gapes command of HM Sloop Snake.54 Brown made three other appointments in April as a result of the departure of Captain Kennedy, whom a court martial removed from command of the Forester; the death of Captain Stackpoole of HMS Statira, by duel; and the suspension of Lieutenant Thomas Cecil of HMS Argo, Stackpoole’s opponent. In June, HMS Talbot arrived and its captain, Spelman Swaine, was given the command of Statira.55 Captain Adam Brown was moved from the Statira to the Talbot, which he sailed to Honduras where he relinquished command to Captain Haynes. Brown’s last gift of patronage occurred after his death on the station in September 1814.56 His immediate successor, William Fothergill, sent Brown’s flag lieutenant R. R. Yates home with the news of Brown’s death and the dispatches. Fothergill requested that their Lords of the Admiralty promote Yates, which they did. In the Leeward Islands, local commanding officer Rear Admiral Sir Francis Laforey made his own promotions, filling vacancies and advancing his protégés. His list of six commissioned and thirteen warrant officer promotions sent in to the Admiralty at the end of June 1812 reflects the advancement of men into vacancies arising from illness, career-ending disability, death and promotion.57 One of the promotions concerned Master’s Stirling to Croker, 28/10/1812. Ibid. The Admiralty response is noted in a minute on the reverse side of the letter. 51 Stirling to Croker, 1/2/1813. TNA, Adm. 1/264. 52 Brown to Croker, 1/1/1814. Ibid. 53 Brown to Croker, 12/2/1814. TNA, Adm. 1/265. 54 Brown to Croker, 12/3/1814. Ibid. 55 Brown to Croker, 1/6/1814. Ibid. The Admiralty appointed Rear Admiral Rolles to take command of the Jamaica Station, but after accepting the offer he declined and so it fell to Rear Admiral J. E. Douglas, who did not arrive until after the end of hostilities. See Rollis to Barrow, 19/11/1814. Ibid; and Douglas to Croker, 9/1/1815. TNA, Adm. 1/266. 56 Fothergill to Croker, 21/9/1814. TNA, Adm. 1/265. 57 Laforey to Croker, 24/6/1812. TNA, Adm. 1/333. The promotions had occurred over the previous six months. Seven promotions were the result of illness, invalid or death, two as the result of a court martial, three exchanges and seven ordered for promotion. 50
Order and Disorder in the British Navy, 1793–1815 Mate Thomas R. Godwin, from Laforey’s ship HMS Dragon (in 1812), who was given an acting lieutenant’s position on board HMS Orpheus after Acting Lieutenant Augustine Woodward (a midshipman sent out by the Admiralty) was confirmed as a lieutenant and reassigned to a position back in England. Laforey had used Woodward to replace Lieutenant John Dundas Cochrane (nephew of then Rear Admiral Alexander F. I. Cochrane) who had been invalided home. The Rear Admiral made four more acting lieutenant appointments in late June and July, sending six midshipmen from the Admiralty into those ranks in four different ships.58 He then placed William Jacobs, a master’s mate from the Dragon, as a sub-lieutenant in HMS Liberty, replacing one of the Admiralty candidates. Laforey’s efforts to place Godwin on the Orpheus were criticized by the Admiralty as the confirmation and removal of Woodward did not open the space for the Rear Admiral to appoint one of his own. The Admiralty was further upset by promoting men to the position of supernumerary lieutenant, which meant the ship had its full allotment of lieutenants and that the new one had to be carried on the ship’s supernumerary list and paid at the lieutenant’s rate. Their Lordships forbade Laforey from making any more such appointments.59 The Admiralty also denied an acting promotion made by Sir Francis over a year previously, in 1811.60 He had assigned Midshipman William Dickson as lieutenant and commander over three small vessels employed by the Leeward Islands squadron, when the lieutenant previously in that position had died. As they were not on the Navy List of ships and vessels, the Admiralty refused to confirm the appointment or pay the midshipman for his time serving in them. Laforey responded at length, claiming the Petty Augers was built in the Halifax Dockyard and that the deceased had been a confirmed lieutenant for three years. He stated, “The vacancy was perfectly conformable to the allowed and established patronage of Admirals Commanding in Chief upon Foreign Stations.” He requested that the Admiralty confirm the appointment of Mr. Dickson. A series of minutes on the back of this letter indicate that the Admiralty had approved of the breaking up of one of the vessels and the selling of the other two, therefore they approved Dickson’s appointment. Laforey’s efforts to have his secretary William Bathetchet appointed a purser in any “ship building or in Ordinary” in England met with less success as Bathetchet did not hold a warrant as a purser.61 As in the North American portion of the station, the Admiralty sent out men to be appointed to the next vacancy.62 Despite this competition and the above criticism many of Laforey’s appointments of his followers were Laforey to Croker, 26/7/1812. Ibid. There were eleven promotions listed with this letter. Laforey to Admiralty, 27/7/812; and Laforey to Barrow, 29/7/1812. Ibid. 60 Laforey to Croker, 3/7/1812. Ibid. The former lieutenant was James Hoskins and the vessels were the Petty Augers, the Lemon and the Orange. 61 Laforey to Croker, 24/12/1812. TNA, Adm. 1/334. 62 Lieutenant Sir John Richardson sent out by the Admiralty in July 1812; Laforey to Admiralty 19/9/1812. TNA, Adm. 1/333. Lieutenant Alphonse Henry appeared in November 1812. Laforey to Admiralty, 23/1/1813. TNA, Adm. 1/334. 58 59
Patronage and Material Incentives approved. In early 1813 he made twelve appointments to lieutenant and acting commander positions in the Leeward Islands squadron, eight from master’s mates and midshipmen aboard his own ship, Dragon. All were approved by the Admiralty.63 He did, however, certainly take care to advance the Admiralty candidates.64 In April 1813 he received instructions to always promote Admiralty candidates before local ones. Sir Francis replied that he would, but that this would be “much to the disappointment of several Young Gentlemen who have been out here on Promotion many months.”65 With the implication that he was not promoting Admiralty candidates as fast as was expected, Laforey sent in a list of all the promotions made under his command on the Leeward Islands Station.66 Although he arrived in 1811 he noted promotions dating back to 1807. Of the 256 promotions, the Admiralty made 127, the Transport Board twenty-four, the Navy Board twenty-one and Laforey fifty-two, with the remainder being made by other officers. Laforey was replaced with Rear Admiral Philip Charles C. H. Durham who arrived in early 1814.67 Upon receiving his orders Durham began to request specific midshipmen, petty officers and seamen from his former ship HMS Bulwark to join him onboard HMS Venerable.68 On the way out to the station in the 74 gun HMS Venerable Durham managed to capture two 40 gun French frigates, Iphigénie and Alcmène, on 16 and 20 January 1814, respectively.69 At first the Admiralty agreed to manning them and putting both into the Royal Navy’s squadron on the station. Durham wrote to the Admiralty that since he found no midshipmen in the Leeward Islands waiting for promotion and who were on the Admiralty’s List, he would appoint “such of my Followers who have passed an examination.” Philip Durham made twenty-seven appointments of warrant and commissioned officers in the first month of his command, only two of which were Admiralty-related.70 Most went into the two captured ships and all appear to have met with approval. The Admiralty sent out two officers to be appointed to the captured French frigates.71 They then ordered the captured vessels to be sent to England. Durham’s run of Admiralty support for his promotions ended in July when they refused his promotion of Midshipman Diggins, a “young man of List of Promotions and Warrants of Commission Officers in His Majesty’s Squadron under Orders of Rear Admiral Sir Francis Laforey, 27/10/1812–1/1/1813. Ibid. 64 Laforey to Croker, 9/10/1813. Ibid. A minute on the reverse of the letter approves the five appointments, two of which were Admiralty candidates. The case of Lieutenant Westropp is reported in Laforey to Admiralty, 25/3/1813. Ibid. 65 Leforey to Barrow, 12/4/1813. Ibid. 66 A List of the Commission and Warrant Officers on board His Majesty’s Ships and Vessels under my Command on the 1st day of April 1813. Ibid. The list covered thirty ships and vessels. 67 Durham to Croker, 6/12/1813. TNA, Adm. 1/335. 68 Durham to Croker, 6/12/1813; and Durham to Croker, 20/12/1813. Ibid. 69 O’Byrne, A Naval Biographical Dictionary, vol. 1, pp. 318–20. Durham to Croker, 11/2/1814. TNA, Adm. 1/335. 70 Return of Removals and Acting Appointments of Commission and Warrant Officers onboard His Majesty’s Ships and Vessels at the Leeward Islands 19/3/1814. TNA, Adm. 1/335. 71 Durham to Admiralty, 17 and 30/4/1814. Ibid. 63
Order and Disorder in the British Navy, 1793–1815 very good abilities,” to the rank of sub-lieutenant. The Admiralty informed Durham that the rank did not exist in the Royal Navy. When the Barrosa’s captain, William Shirreff, was invalided home in July 1814, Durham replaced him with the Venerable’s captain, McCulloch (one of his followers). McCulloch’s former spot was given to Captain Pringle from the Amaranthe, who was in turn replaced with an Admiralty candidate, a Lieutenant Yates, who had served on the Barrosa. Durham’s opportunities to place his followers were perhaps the most limited for a local commander in the North American and West Indies Station. This was due mainly to the shrinking size of his squadron. Laforey had commanded forty-six vessels in January 1813, but only twenty-six vessels by October 1813, though four were detached to the North American section of the station.72 Fourteen months later Durham complained of losing more ships to the Jamaica Station, convoys going to England and to Vice Admiral Cochrane, who sent a letter into the Leeward Islands area, ordering any ship which received the letter to join him in Jamaica.73 When the Admiralty sent two more lieutenants out to be placed in vacancies at the first opportunity, Durham could only reply that he would, whenever one became available.74 With Vice Admiral Sir Alexander Cochrane superseding Admiral Warren on the North American Station, the fight over patronage continued.75 Sir Alexander brought his nephew, Lieutenant John Dundas Cochrane, with him to the North American Station to place in the first available opening.76 With Cochrane arriving and Warren about to leave, officers holding temporary commands sought confirmation of their positions. Charles Hare, acting commander of HMS Manly, wrote to the Lord Commissioners seeking the posting be made permanent.77 He reminded them of his place on the “list of Candidates for promotion” and reviewed the praise he had received from merchants along the Bay of Fundy for safeguarding their trade. Hare’s father died in the navy and both his sons were serving as junior officers. Rear Admiral Griffith, in Halifax, informed Hare that without a daring exploit to secure his command Cochrane would use the position to place one of A Return showing the Number and Disposition of His Majesty’s Ships and Vessels under the Command of Rear Admiral Sir Francis Laforey on the Leeward Island district of the American and West Indies Station, 30/11/1813. Ibid.; see List of Ships and Vessels of His Majesty’s Navy serving on the North American and West Indies Station, December 1812 to December 1813. TNA, Adm. 8/100. The first request for ships came in March, Stirling to Laforey, 1/3/1813. TNA, Adm. 1/264. Laforey was not pleased with having to share. 73 Durham to Croker, 13/12/1814 and 11/11/1814. TNA, Adm. 1/336. 74 Durham to Croker, 9/11/1814. Ibid. The lieutenants were Calgrave and Caulfield. 75 Cochrane was no stranger to patronage as he appointed his son, Sir Thomas Cochrane, to the position of commander of HMS Nimrod at the age of sixteen, far earlier than any regulation allowed. He had his son knighted as his proxy in 1812. See, O’Byrne, A Naval Biographical Dictionary, vol. 1, pp. 203–4. 76 His confirmation, Croker to Cochrane, 24/1/1814. LAC, Adm. 2/933. His orders, Hope Paulett to Cochrane, 25/1/1814. Ibid. See Barrow to Cochrane, 25/1/1814. Ibid., for Lieutenant Cochrane’s promotion. 77 Hare to Lord Commissioners, 7/3/1814. LAC, Adm. 1/1949. 72
Patronage and Material Incentives his followers.78 Cochrane sent Henry Montresos into the Manly and placed Hare ashore on half pay.79 Cochrane also moved Robert Barrie’s follower, Lieutenant William Swainson, from HM Bomb Vessel Devastation to the smaller bomb vessel Terror, filling the space with one of his own protégés.80 Sir Thomas Hardy, of HMS Ramillies, offered Midshipman McIntyre for a spot as lieutenant to assist Commodore Evans, HMS Ruby.81 Griffith wrote for Cochrane’s approval of a number of appointments Griffith made at Halifax.82 The Rear Admiral noted, “[a]s these young men are recommended, by Sir J. Colpoys to my protection I shall be obliged to you to allow them to remain.” Rear Admiral Edward Codrington, Cochrane’s Captain of the Fleet, hoped that several of the midshipmen, carried over from HMS Blake, would be made lieutenants.83 Rear Admiral Henry Hotham commended midshipman Thomas Coleman to Cochrane, as a “way of taking care of the boy.”84 Coleman was the son of a former Lord of the Admiralty. In the final eleven months of the war the Admiralty sent out thirty-two junior commissioned and warrant officers for positions in the squadron.85 Codrington’s flag lieutenant, Edward Curzon, received an Admiralty-ordered appointment to the first available command.86 It appears Curzon had more than Codrington’s patronage behind him. As with Warren, the Admiralty overturned some of Cochrane’s efforts to advance his followers. They removed Cochrane’s choice of John Hane as acting lieutenant on the Arab, placing him instead on their promotion list.87 The Admiralty rescinded his appointment of Allan Bartran as lieutenant in the Nymphe, placing instead an Admiralty candidate, Richard Heave.88 Lieutenant Michael Wrayford’s command of a sloop in August 1814 was denied as Wrayford was not on the Admiralty’s list.89 Vice Admiral Cochrane’s orders to Captain Wainwright, HMS Asia, to take aboard a group of midshipmen as supernumeraries with wages and victuals, while they awaited placement in the squadron, drew the ire of the Admiralty.90 Caught by the Navy Board, as it scrutinized the muster tables, it Griffith to Hare, 14/2/1814. Ibid. Hare to Lord Commissioners, 1/5/1814. Ibid. He reminds them that Barrow had confirmed his rank as commander in March. 80 Barrie to Clayton, 22/1/1815. WPL, Robert Barrie Correspondence, 1812–15. See William Swainson entry in O’Byrne, A Naval Biographical Dictionary, vol. 3, p. 1145. 81 Cochrane to Melville, 2/4/1814. NLS, MS2345. Cochrane noted McIntyre was rather “ancient for a midshipman,” being over thirty years old. 82 Griffith to Cochrane, 1/6/1814. NLS, MS2337. 83 Codrington to Jane Codrington, 29/7/1814. LAC, MG 24 F131. 84 Hotham to Cochrane, 23/10/1814. NLS, MS2337. 85 See the following appointment letters, all Barrow to Cochrane, 31/3/1814; 21, 25, 29/5/1814; 1, 9, 28/7/1814; 22/101814; 1, 11, 25/11/1814; 12, 16, 17, 27/12/1814; 3, 6/1/1815. From Croker to Cochrane, 12, 27, 29/8/1814, all in LAC, Adm. 2/933. 86 Barrow to Cochrane, 21/5/1814. Ibid. 87 Barrow to Cochrane, 5/7/1814. Ibid. 88 Croker to Cochrane, 10/8/1814. Ibid. Bartran was allowed to take the position vacated by Heave. 89 Croker to Cochrane, 28/9/1814. Ibid. 90 Croker to Cochrane, 30/8/1814. Ibid. 78 79
Order and Disorder in the British Navy, 1793–1815 was described as “irregular and cannot be permitted.” They were to be used to fill positions as master’s mates, midshipmen and boys first class. Like the other commanding officers, Cochrane was reminded to use the Admiralty list for promotion.91 Cochrane’s tendency to forward his protégés’ careers caused problems among his flag officers. Edward Codrington condemned Cochrane’s “excess of good nature” toward those who “possess his regard.”92 Codrington attributed the results of the attack on Baltimore (12–13 September 1814) to the Vice Admiral’s favouring of his own followers. The Rear Admiral continued to complain about Cochrane a month later, stating he had a “weak indulgence of his children which make them selfish and indifferent about service.”93 Rear Admiral Sir Pulteney Malcolm, frustrated with both the Admiralty’s list of candidates and Cochrane’s filling of every available spot with his own young men, told his wife to tell friends not to send their sons out, for he could do nothing for them.94 His followers having been ignored for promotion after the battles at Washington and Baltimore, Sir Pulteney spoke about the issue with Cochrane four days after the failure at New Orleans.“I believe,” Malcolm wrote, “he will attend to my representation if he does not I shall apply to the Admiralty on the subject.”95 Patronage for officers was clearly a contested area between 1812 and 1815. The junior officer’s future was moving from the patronage of his commanding naval officer to that of the Admiralty and the proper place on the promotion list. The Admiralty always enjoyed the right of confirmation but it no longer willingly accepted what officers sent in for their stamp of approval.96 In the War of 1812 the Admiralty exerted its choices over the local commanders’ candidates. An officer commanding a ship was lost in the battle over patronage. Ship captains and commanders could at best gain their followers the notice of the flag officer. The evidence suggests, though, that if not a protégé of the senior flag officer, or on the Admiralty’s list, promotion was highly unlikely. For these same captains and commanders the choice of junior and warrant officers was no longer entirely their own. Some they may have brought with them, but most were appointed by the local commanding flag officer or the Admiralty. They would be someone else’s choice, not necessarily theirs. The effects this had on the command structure, in forming and preserving order aboard ship, the loss of an officer’s patronage power and the potential web of loyalty among junior officers, remain obscured. As noted earlier, the second issue with patronage at the end of the Napoleonic Wars was that it had become almost solely for officers and seldom for the able or ordinary seamen, or the landsmen. As we have seen, 93 94 95 96 91 92
Barrow to Cochrane, 25/10/1814. Ibid. E. Codrington to Jane Codrington, 5–14/9/1814. LAC, MG 24 F131. E. Codrington to J. Codrington, 2/10/1814. Ibid. P. Malcolm to C. Malcolm, 14/8/1814. WCL, Malcolm Papers. P. Malcolm to C. Malcolm, 12/1/1815. WCL, Malcolm Papers. McCranie, ‘He shall be’, p. 398; Bourne, Patronage and Society, p. 171; and Rodger, Wooden World, p. 287.
Patronage and Material Incentives patronage for officers is found throughout the documents pertaining to the North American and West Indies Station. This is not the case for those inhabiting the lower deck. In one of the very few cases, Lieutenant Peter Brooke, serving under Vice Admiral Stirling, used this position to have an old friend, pressed as a landsman into HMS Frolic, raised to one of the ship’s midshipmen.97 Having helped “an old school fellow in distress,” Brooke was deeply saddened to learn of the man’s death when the Frolic was captured by the US Sloop Wasp.98 As Rear Admiral William Brown prepared to replace Stirling at Jamaica, he requested that seaman William Peters, “18 years in the service,” be appointed a “Signal Midshipman to some one of the Signal (Service) in England.”99 The Admiralty agreed to the appeal. Captain Philip Broke gained remarkable patronage power after defeating the American frigate Chesapeake.100 Broke was given the opportunity to name anyone he wanted for promotion by the Admiralty.101 Second and third lieutenants Provo W. P. Wallis and Charles L. Falkiner (respectively) were made commanders, and Midshipman W. Smith and Master Henry Etough made lieutenants, immediately.102 Broke put forward only eight other names, two midshipmen and six petty officers.103 The two midshipmen had served four and a half and seven years. The six petty officers had an average of thirteen years and four months of service afloat.104 In a second letter to Croker, Broke asked that Royal Marine Corporal Driscoll be given a suitable position in the Halifax dockyard. Too badly injured during the battle with the Chesapeake to travel home, the corporal had indicated a desire to stay in Halifax.105 Driscoll’s memorial listed his service as beginning in December 1795, with engagements including Trafalgar (1805) and Copenhagen (1807). He was the first lieutenant on HMS Shark, the flagship of Vice Admiral Charles Stirling, at Jamaica, in 1812. 98 Peter Brooke, (undated)/7/1812, Journals of Lt. Peter Brooke, 1804–1832. The New York Historical Society. Both vessels were taken the same day by HMS Poictiers, 18/10/1812 99 Brown to Yorke, 13/4/1813. TNA, Adm. 1/264. The man had last served aboard HMS Alonzo, which was not Brown’s ship. 100 Broke did far better than Captain John Maples, whose brig Pelican defeated the American brig Argus, 14/8/1813, in single ship action between equals. Besides being posted, Maples had little to show for his great success, returning to a new command again for less than two weeks, before going on half pay. See Ira Dye, The Fatal Cruise of the Argus: Two Captains in the War of 1812 (Annapolis, MD, 1994), pp. 300–4. 101 Barrow to Warren, 9/7/1813. LAC, Adm. 2/933. Broke’s first lieutenant, George Thomas L. Watt, was killed by friendly fire, while placing the British flag under the American flag. 102 Broker to Croker, (undated)/11/1813. LAC, Adm. 1/1556. Provo Wallis had already experienced the benefit of patronage when his father, serving in the Halifax dockyard, had Provo’s name added to HMS Oiseaux’s muster book as an able seaman, at the age of four, giving him ‘ten years’ experience’. He went to sea at age fourteen. See Colin Reid, “Provo Wallis (1791–1892)’, Broke of the Shannon and the War of 1812, ed. Tim Voelcker (Barnsley, UK, 2013), p. 50. 103 Midshipmen Martin Leake and Philip Cisnehan. The petty officers were gunner Richard Meehan, yeoman of the powder room John Shemas, carpenter’s mate Robert Matthews, boatswain’s mate Joseph Lloyd, cook William Reading, and master’s mate David Littlejohn. 104 The petty officers’ service ranged from five and a half to twenty years. 105 Broke to Croker, (undated)/11/1813. LAC, Adm. 1/1556. 97
Order and Disorder in the British Navy, 1793–1815 Since joining the Shannon in 1808, he had not left the ship for more than two months. A minute on the reverse of Broke’s letter read, “[f]ind him a position. JWC.” No other seamen or marines from the Shannon received any mention or favour from Broke. The rest of the crew sailed the Shannon to England and were placed into hulks to await allotment to new ships. Patronage for a seaman was atypical, kept for those with many years of service and who had worked their way up to the level of a petty officer, or one of their trusted mates. Patronage still held the power to make officers conform to the will of their patron, to conduct themselves and their ships to meet the patron’s demands. A compliant protégé could see his career advance. Absence of a patron, as we have seen above, could be the death knell for an officer’s life afloat. But patronage was not a constant and it changed with the change of the commander-in-chief, sometimes with life-altering results for those in temporary positions. It is also clear that between 1812 and 1815 a struggle had developed between the local station commanders and the Admiralty for who would dominate in the assigning of officers to their positons in the fleet. The Admiralty’s involvement had deeply disturbed the traditional workings of the patronage system. The dominance of the navy’s list of officers, advancing Admiralty-sanctioned men, began to strip away the followers from their local patrons. This is, of course, another piece in the Admiralty’s objective of central control over the navy and its officers, which it had advanced throughout the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. The Admiralty’s gain over promotions led many officers to reduce their followers to a core of protégés, select officers they had brought with them from previous ships, perhaps some boys sent out by family or friends. In such circumstances, local appointments may have had little to do with merit and everything to do with a rare opportunity to get a follower a coveted position. The evidence indicates that by the end of the Napoleonic Wars the circle of patronage had shrunk to include only officers, from midshipmen up, with the occasional warrant officer receiving a patron’s attention. Those serving on the lower deck were seldom the recipients of any patronage. The presence of patronage stretching down through the ranks based on regional similarities among crews or a sense of “noblesse oblige” is simply not found.106 To control the seamen and marines, other methods were employed.
Material Incentives: Pay, Prize Money, Ransom and Pillage This section examines the use of material incentives to enhance order. From pay through pillage, inducements offered the receivers material gain for adhering to the standards set by their commanding officers. Across this range of incentives, the potential reward increases in value. The number of regulations governing each form of reward decreases as they move from the tightly controlled payment of wages to the largely unregulated act of pillage. Rodger, Wooden World, p. 344; Wareham, The Star Captains, p. 211.
Patronage and Material Incentives The immediacy of access to the incentive increases from great delay to the moment of seizure. Historians have focused on the amount seamen were paid, the limited increases, and the navy’s policy that kept the seamen in six-month arrears.107 As noted earlier, one of the main material issues at the Spithead and Nore, in 1797, was pay. The Government yielded to the mutineers on this point with a pay raise.108 Officers needed to ensure the seamen received the expected amount of pay to help maintain order. For the War of 1812 the sailors’ pay continued to be held in arrears. James Durand, an American pressed into British service, claimed he had twenty-three months’ pay owing by the middle of 1813 while aboard HMS Saturn.109 He grumbled over this, but accepted it as part of life in the Royal Navy. Pay problems do not appear in the correspondence on the Atlantic coast or in the West Indies. Specie was available to pay the men, and, as with Durand, arrears were part of reality, as it was for most other occupations at the time.110 It was on the Great Lakes where problems around wages occurred. At the outset of the war, the armed vessels on the lakes were under the control of the Provincial Marine. The Royal Navy was sent out to the lakes in 1813. The British seamen and marines were entered into the single provincial muster and pay book for the station, as the ships themselves still fell under provincial authority. This resulted in the seamen receiving the provincial rate.111 Payment was every two months. This payment was less than the regular service received, thus compounding the problem of collecting the standard six months’ arrears.112 Yeo wrote to the Admiralty soon after his arrival telling them of the situation. Governor-in-Chief Prevost would not allow the regular rate of pay. Prevost was concerned that the provincial seamen remaining in the ships would quit if paid at the lower rate while British seamen received their regular rate. Certainly, once the Royal Navy seamen found out they received less than regular navy pay per month, trouble would not be far behind. In late 1813, the Navy Board agreed to the payment of “extra wages allowed to them on that service” for hardships to return them to the level
Lavery, Nelson’s Navy, p. 131; Rodger, Wooden World, 132; Lloyd, British Seaman, 227–8. Lloyd, British Seaman, p. 226. The pay scale in place for the Royal Navy during the War of 1812 was established in 1806 and revised in 1808. 109 James Durand, The Life and Adventures of James R. Durand: during a period of fifteen years, from 1801 to 1816: in which time he was impressed on board the British fleet, and held in detestable bondage for more than seven years (1820; Sandwich, MA, 1995), p. 69. 110 In merchant ships delayed payment was part of the terms agreed between master and seaman. For long-haul voyages sailors might receive a portion of their wages at the destination (e.g. Jamaica) and the remainder when the vessel returned to Britain; see R. Davis, The Rise of the English Shipping Industry: In the 17th and 18th Centuries (London, 1962), pp. 133–51. 111 Yeo to Croker, 16/7/1813. Dudley, Naval War, vol. 2, pp. 502–3. The pay was $10.00 for able seamen and $8.00 for ordinary seamen and landsmen per month. The sums are in dollars issued in the colonies, in 1813. 112 Yeo noted that seamen coming out to the lakes would receive one month’s pay every two months until they were six months in arrears. 107 108
Order and Disorder in the British Navy, 1793–1815 their peers received on the ocean.113 At the end of April 1814 the Admiralty assumed total control over the ships and vessels on the Great Lakes, establishing muster and pay books for each ship, but it did not alter the men’s basic pay. Sir James wrote to Croker again towards the end of May 1814, stating that he felt the seamen deserved the same pay as those serving in the Atlantic, plus the compensation for serving on the inland seas. His reasoning included the following: the seamen were actively employed in the dockyard, the great cost of everything at Kingston, and “the very great privations in fresh meat, vegetables, or anything that is nourishing, in a country subject to Lake fever and Dysentery.”114 Yeo did not write about the seamen’s reaction while waiting for the solution. The last instalment of provincial pay fell on 18 December 1814, after which the regular pay began.115 It is interesting to note that while the seamen received lower pay, the officers of the Royal Navy sent to the lakes received their regular pay.116 Prevost’s Military Secretary Noah Freer informed Major General Sir Roger Sheaffe, commanding in Upper Canada, that Commander Robert Barclay and the other lieutenants sent to the lakes to prepare for Sir James Yeo’s arrival would “draw Bills upon the Navy Board according to the rates established for their respective rank in the Navy.”117 They would also receive “Bât and Forage” according to the “equivalency between officers of the Navy and Army.” Yeo went out to the lakes as Commodore and drew pay as Captain of a 38 gun frigate, with an additional 10 shillings a day and an allowance of £20 a year for stationery.118 Captain Cunliffe Owen, in charge of the flotilla of gunboats operating between Kingston and Prescott along the St. Lawrence River, requested a pay raise in June 1814.119 He asked for an additional five shillings per day for the officers due to the “incessant and irksome hardships they suffer and the expense they are subject to on that service.” His request was supported by Lieutenant General Gordon Drummond, the military officer who had to approve such payments, as the navy on the Great Lakes were still paid through the Provincial Pay Muster. The increase was granted. Owen did not Croker to Yeo, 29/1/1814. LAC, Adm. 2/933. Yeo to Croker, 21/5/1814. The Naval War of 1812: A Documentary History, vol. 3, ed. Michael Crawford (Washington, 2002), p. 491. 115 The final instalment of provincial pay on 18/12/1814 for the Lake Ontario squadron was payment up to 1/5/1814 (seven months in arrears). From this point on, their rate of pay was the regular navy pay. See Master’s Log, HMS St. Lawrence, 18/12/1814. TNA, Adm. 52/4599. 116 Freer to Robinson, 24/4/1813. LAC, Treasury Board Papers, T1/1349, mfr. B292. In this letter, Freer states that Prevost had ordered an equal exchange rate for the officers’ pay tickets to ensure that they were paid more than the Provincial Marine officers. 117 Freer to Sheaffe, 22/4/1813. LAC, RG 5 A 1, vol. 17. 118 Dundas, Hope and Warrender to Navy Board, 8/3/1813, LAC, MG 12, Adm. 2. Yeo would be entitled to approximately £15 8s per month. Captains William Mulcaster, Francis Spilsbury and Thomas England were sent out with the pay as commanders of sloops of 121 men (£8 8s per month), while the eight lieutenants were compensated as lieutenants in command of small vessels (at 7s a day with a £2 per year compensation). The pursers were paid a flat £200 per annum. England was sent home invalid, never reaching the lakes. 119 Drummond to Freer, 4/6/1814. LAC, RG 8 ‘c’ series, vol. 732; Freer to Drummond, 12/6/1814. LAC, RG 8 ‘c’ series, vol. 733. 113 114
Patronage and Material Incentives inquire as to a possible pay increase for the seamen who served under the officers on the service. Captain Richard O’Conor, who had been placed in command of the dockyard at Kingston when Yeo arrived in May 1813, asked for a pay raise in June as well.120 He remarked that the work was never-ending and very hard, especially having to deal with the 400 artificers who were “argumentative” and a jealous lot. He asked for £532 10s 6d per annum. There is no evidence of a response. Back in England after the war, O’Conor spoke about his situation with Lord Bathurst, who then ordered Drummond to issue the captain £700 for the difference between the pay of a commissioner of a dockyard and that of a captain serving afloat. Robert Barclay had trouble paying the seamen of the Lake Erie squadron. On 16 August 1813, Barclay asked Henry Proctor, then Brigadier General at Amherstburg, for $2,200 to pay the wages of the officers and seamen of both the Royal Navy and Provincial Marine serving in his squadron.121 He also sought to have the commissioner of the dockyard give the appropriate exchange rate to the officers. While there are no letters indicating grievances over pay, the fact that Yeo and Barclay both made a clear point of taking care of potential or perceived difficulties indicates the importance of pay issues in helping to keep the seamen content with their situation. Over and above pay were the additional allowances given to officers for accommodations, table money to offset the cost of feeding and entertaining naval or military officers, diplomats and other important persons carried aboard ship from time to time, and the reimbursement of out-of-pocket funds spent on the service’s behalf. Admiral Warren established living quarters in the hospital at Bermuda during the winter of 1813.122 When the Admiralty discovered the arrangement they told him to reside in a ship at anchor, or they would provide £400 per annum house maintenance with which he could find an appropriate dwelling on the island. When Rear Admiral Griffith complained that no ship at Halifax was fit for his permanent residence, the Admiralty offered £200 per annum for house maintenance in town.123 After Rear Admiral Brown received his orders to take command of the Jamaica Station he applied to the Admiralty for his housing expenses after his previous flagship was reassigned and he had to go ashore.124 The Admiralty paid him £200 for house maintenance covering the period between 19 October 1812 and 7 April 1813, which included four months’ residence prior to receiving direction to sail for the Jamaica Station. Sir Francis Laforey made a claim for housing expenses when he was forced to give up the Dragon to Captain Barrie.125 Finding no ship fit for his habitation O’Conor to Prevost, 28/6/1814. Ibid. Bathurst to Drummond, 20/3/1815. LAC, RG 8 ‘c’ series, vol. 734. 121 Barclay to Proctor, 16/8/1813. TNA, Barclay’s Court Martial, Adm. 1/5445. 122 Barrow to Warren, 8/3/1813. LAC, Adm. 2/932. 123 Barrow to Griffith, 27/5/1813. Ibid. 124 Brown to Croker, 13/4/1813. TNA, Adm. 1/264. 125 Laforey to Croker, 1/2/1813. TNA, Adm. 1/334. A minute on the letter notes the Admiralty’s agreement to paying his housing expenses. 120
Order and Disorder in the British Navy, 1793–1815 at Barbados, he rented a house ashore. The Admiralty sanctioned a £200 per annum payment to cover the expense. Rear Admiral Laforey made a successful bid to claim table money for the officers of HMS Grampus (including those of the wardroom) for entertaining the military officers among the troops of the 60th and 64th Regiments they had transported between Barbados and Surinam.126 He sent the request to the Governor of Barbados, Sir George Beckwith, asking him to pay. Laforey passed along to His Excellency a copy of “the Minute made at the Board of Admiralty on the 17th January 1812” in support of such claims. He further requested that an advance be made to the officers of the Grampus (serving as a troopship) so that they could better care for their passengers. The Government paid the expense but there is no indication of a response to the issue of an advance. Laforey wrote to the Admiralty over the reduction in his secretary’s salary to £150 per year as a result of the combining of the North American and West Indies Stations under Admiral Warren.127 He stated that Mr. Bathetchet was busier than most station secretaries due to the volume of correspondence with the many colonial officials spread across the Leeward Islands Station. Sir Francis asked for a reinstatement of Bathetchet’s £300 per annum compensation. A series of minutes on Laforey’s letter indicate the Admiralty still considered him a commander-in-chief in the Leeward Islands and that his secretary deserved the higher rate of pay. This decision was extended to the secretaries of Vice Admirals Sawyer and Stirling. The literature is also clear about the importance of prize money to both the officers and the men of the Royal Navy during this era.128 Faye Kert points out that besides encouraging the officers and seamen to do the tasks the Admiralty set before them (seize enemy merchant ships and goods, and capture enemy ships of war), prize money served to “raise morale aboard ship, controlled disgruntled sailors, and united officers and crew in a common cause.”129 Between September 1812 and February 1813 the ships under Warren’s command sent in 671 prizes for adjudication at Halifax, Bermuda, Leeward Islands or Jamaica.130 Yet, even with this sizable number the chance of gaining a prize was never guaranteed. Consolvo found that less than half of the officers he studied benefited at all from captured vessels or shore installations.131 “An Act for the Encouragement of Seamen” was passed Laforey to Croker, 28/1/1813; Laforey to Beckwith, 28/1/1813. Ibid. Bathetchet to Laforey, 12/4/1813; Laforey to Croker, 12/4/1813. Ibid. 128 For a general discussion of prize money, see Lloyd, British Seaman, pp. 229–31; Lewis, Social History, pp. 316–33; Roy Adkins and Lesley Adkins, Jack Tar: Life in Nelson’s Navy (London, 2009), pp. 234–8; and Donald Petrie, The Prize Game: Lawful Looting on the High Seas in the Days of Fighting Sail (New York, 1999), pp. 1–11. 129 Kert, Prize and Prejudice, p. 125. 130 Vessels captured and detained by the Squadron Sept. 1812 to Feb. 1813. NMM, WAR/37. Another 300 were noted as burned or sunk. 131 Charles Consolvo, ‘The Prospects and Promotion of British Naval Officers 1793–1815’, Mariner’s Mirror 92.2 (May 2005), 137–59. 126 127
Patronage and Material Incentives in 1805 which amended and brought together past legislation on prizes.132 It attempted to better regulate the distribution of prize money, especially to sailors and marines. The law laid out the penalties for failure to comply with its strictures, ranging from loss of share to imprisonment. The scale of prize proportions for several ratings aboard ship had changed in 1808 from the original published in the “Cruizers Act” of 1708.133 With a lowering in their percentage of share, Lewis suggests that the captains and flag officers were not impressed with this revision. Mention of prize money and dreams of economic comfort pepper the private letters of the officers. Sir Thomas Hardy wrote to his brother Joseph in September 1813 and April 1814 mentioning that he had caught several small prizes, of no value and worth little cash.134 Lieutenant Henry Napier wrote in his journal in May 1814 that the earning of extra money was “pleasing … to a poor devil like myself.”135 He was eager to get in among the American coasting trade, as the plentiful number of vessels made capture relatively easy. The British sailors, marines and junior officers were upset, as they attacked the American gun-boat flotilla in the Patuxent River on 21 August 1814, when sixteen of the seventeen enemy vessels exploded before they could be reached.136 Instead of capturing the flotilla and gaining the hefty sum of prize money it would bring, the British took one gunboat and a handful of small merchant vessels moored further upriver. Philip Broke’s letters to his wife Sarah made numerous references to capturing prizes. On 21 July 1812 he remarked that his squadron off the Chesapeake had sent sixty vessels as prizes into Halifax.137 In the middle of writing this particular letter, he paused as the Shannon captured another American merchant vessel. In August 1812, he hoped to “cheer our brave Jacks hearts with a prize or two before we join our Chief.”138 In April 1813, Broke started to limit the ships in his squadron from giving chase to merchant vessels. Tenedos’ surgeon, William Begg, thought Broke was afraid of lowering his strength against the American frigate blockaded in Boston. Begg was not happy with Broke’s decision, writing, “to some in the Squadron who are not altogether for Honour and Glory, but who love some of the ‘An Act for the Encouragement of Seamen, and for the better and more effectually manning His Majesty’s Navy during the present War’, 43 George III, c. 160, 1805. 133 Lewis, Social History, pp. 317–19. The proportion for captains had fallen from 3/8 share to 2/8, with a respective decline in the share for flag officers. Midshipmen, warrant officers and their “principle mates,” and marine sergeants went from dividing 1/8 share to splitting a 4/8 share. The act appeared as a ‘Proclamation: For granting the distribution of prizes during the present hostilities, George, P.R., 13 October 1812’, Naval Chronicle 28 (1812), 409–16. 134 T. Hardy to J. Hardy, 20/9/1813. NMM, AGC/32; and T. Hardy to J. Hardy, 20/4/1814. NMM, mfr. MSS/75/119.0. Hardy complained he would be unable to purchase the estate he wanted, at Martinstown. 135 H. E. Napier, New England blockaded in 1814: The Journal of Henry Edward Napier, lieutenant in H.M.S. Nymphe, ed. W. M. Whitehill (Salem, MA, 1939), p. 10. 136 R.J.B., ‘Naval Recollections’, p. 459. 137 P. Broke to Sarah Broke, 21/7/1812. LAC, HA 93/9/105. 138 P. Broke to S. Broke, 30/8/1812. Ibid. 132
Order and Disorder in the British Navy, 1793–1815 Aurum and Argentum along with those laurels,” it was deeply frustrating.139 Captain Beresford wrote to Warren in April 1813 stating that he was distributing a portion of prize money owed as it served to “stimulate the sailors and do the officers no harm, particularly as it will be free of agency.”140 Of course the desire for prize money could get out of hand and become the central preoccupation of officers and their crew. Lord George Stuart, captain of HMS Newcastle, presents one example of such a drive. Lord Stuart accompanied a convoy of over 130 vessels under the command of Captain Butcher, HMS Antelope, from Plymouth to Quebec and Halifax, in August 1814.141 Twice during the passage, Lord Stuart left the convoy to chase “strange sails,” even ignoring Butcher’s signals to return. Stuart captured one of these strangers, the American privateer Ida, by chasing it into the centre of the convoy.142 The lust for profit could turn allies against each other. HMS Bulwark stopped the Shannon privateer off Massachusetts as both were prowling for prizes. Captain David Milne impressed six men from the privateer and then sent it to Halifax because it had fewer men than the vessel’s commission allowed.143 Captain James Galloway, HM Brig Dispatch, did the same by taking men from the privateers Rolla and Liverpool Dispatch, requiring the latter to return to Halifax. With the competition gone, the Royal Navy ships would have full rights to any vessels seized.144 The sums of money earned were sometimes substantial. Captain Milne distributed $7,200 prize money between the officers and men of the Bulwark and Nymphe on 6 July 1814.145 Rear Admiral George Cockburn, on board HMS Bulwark at the time of the capture, received $595 from the Bulwark’s share. For his share of the captured Chesapeake, Broke received ₤2,449 5s 8d, which was the equivalent of just over eight years of a captain’s regular pay.146 The Shannon’s lieutenants were paid ₤459 4s 10d pounds each, equal to about four years of regular pay. Each seaman aboard the Shannon received ₤19 12s William Begg, Journal of the Proceedings of His Majesty’s Ship Tenedos, Capt. Hyde Parker, kept by William Begg. Commencing 8th day of April 1812 Ending 29th day of March 1815. [Am.683] The Historical Society of Pennsylvania, 19/4/1813. Capturing prizes picked up only towards the end of May; P. Broke to S. Broke, 28/5/1813. LAC, HA 93/9/105. 140 Beresford to Warren, 13/4/1813. NMM, WAR/69. Free of agency meant no fees for the prize agent as none was involved in the distribution. 141 Butcher to Croker, 7/9/1814. LAC, Adm. 1/1558. 142 The name is listed in Kert, Prize and Prejudice, p. 195. The date was 9/8/1814. The 1805 ‘Act for the Encouragement of Seamen …’ 43 Geo. III, c. 160, forbade leaving a convoy to capture prizes, with the penalty of forfeiture of prize share: see art. 23. Lord Stuart kept his share. 143 Captain’s Log, HMS Bulwark, 18/8/1814. TNA, Adm. 51/2017. 144 Joseph Goldenberg, ‘The Royal Navy’s Blockade in New England Waters, 1812–1815’, The International History Review 6.3 (August 1984), 424–39, see p. 432. 145 6/7/1814. NMM, Sir David Milne Letter-book, MLN/36/8. Milne’s Bulwark received $4,688.53 of which he took $595, the lieutenants shared $563.84, the warrant officers $578.57 and the ship’s company, $2,397.17. These figures, plus Cockburn’s share, actually yield a total of $4,729.58. One wonders if this accounting discrepancy sparked a problem, or was simply a transcription error in Milne’s letter-book. The officers and crew of the Nymph received $2,511.47 to divide. All dollar sums are in Halifax dollars. 146 Hulbert to Broke, 27/12/1813. LAC, HA 93/6/2/247–8. 139
Patronage and Material Incentives 6¾d as his share, nearly a year and a half ’s pay. When the Tenedos re-captured a British merchant ship, Paragon, filled with dry goods, the British owners paid the Tenedos’ officers and crew ₤336 for costs and ₤3,236 for salvage.147 Prize agent George Redmond Hulbert (Admiral Warren’s secretary) sent ₤22,362 18s, to England, for the crew of HMS Valiant, homeward bound with a convoy.148 Hulbert distributed nearly ₤95,000 to the flag officers on the North American and West Indies Station during the war, with almost half going to Warren.149 Such large sums made prize money a powerful incentive to obey superior officers and ensure a portion of the bounty. At the start of the war, the distribution of prize money was very slow. Warren wrote twice to Lord Melville encouraging him to order the Admiralty Courts in Halifax and Bermuda to speed up the process of determining the value of a prize and the paying out of the money.150 Warren stated that the seamen were “restless” over this issue and most upset that the American Government was paying out prize money very quickly while they waited for theirs. By October 1812 a large number of prizes were in Halifax Harbour waiting for adjudication to decide on the veracity of their prize status and award the appraised sum to the captors. Admiral Warren and Vice Admiral Sawyer petitioned the Court of Vice Admiralty in Halifax, which dealt with all prizes, to have these vessels quickly put through the court as they were in poor anchorages and their perishable cargoes spoiling.151 The court refrained from being hurried, shifting the ships to more secure moorings, and had their cargoes assessed, ordering the sale of items likely to spoil. The payouts to the officers, seamen and marines would wait. HMS Guerriere, prior to its capture by the Constitution, had itself captured an American vessel sailing from France to New York, on 8 July 1812.152 The owners challenged the capture, on the grounds it occurred after the revoking of the orders in council, sending the matter into litigation. Six months later the Court of the Vice Admiralty at Halifax found in favour of the Guerriere, after which the vessel could be assessed and prize money paid out. Broke complained of having to wait too long for the prize money which was his “justly due.”153 Broke did not receive the final instalment of prize money for the capture of the American frigate Chesapeake until 29 April 1815.154 In Begg, Journal, 26/5/1814. Kert, Prize and Prejudice, p. 174. Salvage for naval recaptures was calculated at 1/8 of the appraised value of the vessel and/or cargo. 148 Anthony Gutridge, ‘George Redmond Hulbert: Prize Agent at Halifax, Nova Scotia, 1812–1814’, The Mariner’s Mirror 87.1 (February 2001), 30–42. 149 Ibid. fn. 64. 150 Warren to Melville, 5 and 18/11/1813. LAC, MG 34 F132. 151 James Stewart, Reports of Cases argued and determined in the Court of Vice-Admiralty, at Halifax Nova Scotia, from the commencement of the year of the War, in 1803, to the end of the year 1813, in the time of Alexander Croke LLD. Judge of that court (London, 1814), see Petition of Sir John Warren, and Others, 4/11/1812, pp. 327–31. 152 Ibid., see The Brig George, Robertson, Master, 23/1/1813, pp. 389–94. 153 P. Broke to S. Broke, 2/11/1812. LAC, HA 93/9/105. He is still waiting in December: P. Broke to S. Broke, 11/12/1812. Ibid. 154 Hulbert to Broke, 29/4/1815. LAC, HA 93/6/2/251. 147
Order and Disorder in the British Navy, 1793–1815 October 1814, Edward Codrington wrote to his wife that “the Admiralty is far too stingy in rewarding the officers and seamen” on the North American and West Indies Station, and that “this impedes the service.”155 Anthony Gutridge writes that the officers serving on the North American Station found the Admiralty Court judge at Halifax was easier to deal with than the one at Bermuda, although more prizes were sent into the latter than the former.156 Once a court made a ruling, the distribution of the funds had to occur within two years, if there was no appeal. Only three of the logbooks from the sampled ships noted distribution of prize money to the crew.157 It would appear most officers did not record the date of payment. As part of the prize rules, officers whose ships were present when a capture occurred were entitled to a share of the award, called a joint capture. David Milne claimed a piece of the prize for the capture of the Caledonia by HMS Nymphe as his ship the Bulwark was involved in the blockade of Boston at the time of the capture.158 He cited the successful claim by the officers and crew of HMS Spencer against a prize captured by the Bulwark under “less favourable circumstances.” Even though his subordinate disobeyed him, Captain Butcher did not hesitate to lay claim to a portion of the prize money for the hull and the head money, at ₤5 for each captured sailor that Lord Stuart took in the Ida.159 The original captors would often contest this type of claim, as it would reduce their reward substantially. Some fights over claims went through the court system to the High Court of the Admiralty in London. HMS Iris captured an American merchant vessel on 18 January 1813 as it made its way from Philadelphia to France.160 Three other ships sought a portion of the prize money, although they could not see the actual capture, as it was night. Judge Sir William Scott, Lord Stowell, ruled in favour of the three ships, stating that each was seen in pursuit of the merchant vessel, both by the Iris and the captured prize. Even though the plaintiffs could not see the action, they had not given up on pursuit and, therefore, were still involved with the capture. Justice Alexander Croke, in the Vice Admiralty Court at Halifax, heard the case of the officers and crew of HMS Statira seeking a portion of the prize money earned by HMS Spartan after it collected material from a E. Codrington to J. Codrington, 10/10/1814. LAC, MG 24 F131. Gutridge, ‘George Redmond Hulbert’, p. 33. 157 The log of the Childers recorded payment on 9/4/1813 for the capture of two prizes, but the date of capture was not stated. The two prizes were the Isabella and Alexander. Captain’s Log, HMS Childers, 9/4/1813. TNA, Adm. 51/2246. The Rifleman’s log recorded two pay dates for prize money, but for which captures and when was not declared. Captain’s Log, HMS Rifleman, 15/10 and 17/12/1814. TNA, Adm. 51/2770. The log of HMS Fantome noted the payment of prize money to those men who had volunteered to serve on the Great Lakes, prior to their departure from the vessel. Captain’s Log, HMS Fantome, 19/1/1814. TNA, Adm. 51/2295. 158 Milne to Lords Commissioners, 12/11/1814. NMM, MLN/36/8. 159 Kert, Prize and Prejudice, p. 126. This source mentions the claim but appears unaware of the circumstances behind the capture. 160 John Dodson, ed., Reports of Cases argued and determined in the High Court of the Admiralty: Commencing with the judgments of the Right Hon. Sir William Scott, Trinity Term 1811 (London, 1815), case dated 26/11/1813, pp. 346–52. 155 156
Patronage and Material Incentives sunken American vessel that had been chased by boats from HMS Victoria in the upper reaches of the Chesapeake. To support the claim, the agent of Captain Stackpoole noted that both Statira and Spartan were engaged in the task of blockading the bay and, as being on a “conjunct service,” Statira was entitled to a share, even though it had no direct involvement in the pursuit of the vessel or the seizing of the items. Croke ruled in favour of the Statira and the officers and crew of the Spartan saw their shares shrink. These court challenges delayed the rewarding of prize money even further and reduced the sum the captors would receive. The amount of hard feelings they provoked among British officers, sailors and marines is difficult to know. Of course, the people most likely to lose out over such long periods to settle the claim would be the seamen and marine privates. They could be widely scattered by the time such a delayed settlement occurred. To avoid problems some ship’s officers and crews made time-limited agreements with the other ships with which they were sailing. For instance, Robert Barrie, HMS Dragon, and Nicholas Lockyer, HMS Sophia, agreed to share prize money while on patrol together from 11 October 1813 through to 11 December 1813, the agreement being noted in the logbook.161 As HMS Epervier sailed into the North American and West Indies Station with HMS Sceptre, Rifleman and Forester, the officers and crew struck an agreement for all to share any prize taken, until they anchored at Barbados, after which the agreement ended.162 The logbook of HMS Epervier noted a unanimous agreement among the crews. Joint missions with the army, such as coastal raids, or the attacks on Washington and Oswego, necessitated the splitting of prize money between the two services. These cases became so complex that Bathurst wrote to Cochrane in October 1814 to send such matters as conjoint expeditions to “the High Court of the Admiralty with proper agents in England to manage the business and protect the Interests of the Captors.”163 The Secretary for War and the Colonies went on to suggest that, “the Naval and Military commanders should jointly propose a plan of distribution to be submitted to the Prince Regent in Council.” To avert problems with prize money, an overly confident Vice Admiral Cochrane brought his prize agent and collector of customs with him on the assault against New Orleans.164 With the British defeat they had more time on their hands than anticipated. Court cases could also end with the captors paying the owners for the seizing of their ship or even the prize being taken away from the captor and delivered to the crown. Captain Gordon and the crew of HMS Ratler had captured the American vessel Expedition, which had a licence from Vice Admiral Sawyer to serve as a packet between East Port, Maine and Boston,
163 164 161 162
Captain’s Log, HMS Dragon, 11/10/1813. TNA, Adm. 51/2288. Captain’s Log, HMS Epervier, 16/4/1813. TNA, Adm. 51/2409. Bathurst to Cochrane, 26/10/1814. NLS, MS2326. P. Malcolm to C. Malcolm, 12/1/1815. WCL, Malcolm Papers.
Order and Disorder in the British Navy, 1793–1815 in August 1812.165 At the time of its capture on 11 April 1813, the Expedition was carrying cargo between the two places. This activity nullified the licence, but given the fact that the ship had been allowed to engage in this mercantile service for some time by the British cruisers on the station the court ruled that the captors needed to pay the Expedition’s owners for their costs out of the prize money. HMS New Emulous, Captain William Godfrey, captured the American privateer Cossack, and took it into St. John, New Brunswick.166 The New Emulous returned to sea. When Godfrey came back to St. John he found the local officials had taken his prize, moved it and prepared it for sea to protect the colony from threats of another privateer. Outraged at what he considered the illegal seizing of the prize, Godfrey made his angry sentiments known to the local marshal. The captain then manned the Cossack and sailed it around to Halifax, where he thought it would be safe from local interference. The resulting court case saw accusations from each side over the impropriety of the other. Justice Croke was disturbed by the actions of both, but the brunt of his displeasure fell on William Godfrey. The captain had removed a prize from the place were it was sent in to be assessed. This, Croke considered, was a “very high offence.” He excused the behaviour of the local St. John authorities, censored Godfrey and “condemn[ed] the ship and its cargo to His Majesty.” Godfrey and his crew received nothing from the capture. A number of factors prevented seamen from receiving all or part of their prize money. Some seamen lost their prize money when other people collected it and did not give it to them.167 Men turned over to other ships often lost the prize money outright, or experienced greater delays as the prize money failed to follow them to their new ship.168 Perhaps the most common way in which seamen did not receive the full amount to which they were entitled was through the selling of their prize ticket to a speculator. The speculator would pay less than the ticket was worth as ready money in hand appealed to some sailors over more money at some unknown later date. Broke’s agent, George Hulbert, complained of the speculators who had tracked down crew members from the Shannon when they arrived at Portsmouth in November 1813 and purchased their tickets at discount rates and were trying to collect the tickets’ real value from him.169 In an effort to cut out the speculators, Hulbert had gone aboard the Prince hulk to distribute prize money directly Stewart, Reports of Cases, see The Expedition, Brooks, 2/6/1813, p. 488. Ibid., see The Cossack, 30/6/1813, pp. 513–21. 167 Captain Milne asked George Nore, Treasurer of the Navy, to investigate the case of someone collecting and holding onto the prize money belonging to two seamen. Milne to Nore, 30/11/1813. NMM, MLN/36/8. 168 Four seamen from the Shannon turned over to the Bulwark claimed that they had not received prize money owing them. Milne to Navy Agent at Bermuda, 23/4/1814. NMM, MLN/36/8. Hulbert held back a proportion for the seamen from HMS Valiant turned over into the fleet remaining on the station from the large sum sent to follow the ship home. Gutridge, ‘George Redmond Hulbert’, p. 37. 169 Hulbert to Broke, 27/12/1813. LAC, MG 24 F135, HA 93/6/2/247. See Geoffrey L. Green, The Royal Navy and Anglo-Jewry, 1740–1820 (London, 1989), pp. 162–3. 165 166
Patronage and Material Incentives to members of the crew who had not yet been sent to other ships. He feared, however, that a number had already left and would not get what he felt they deserved. Avoiding these delays and losses in prize money would give the officer an extra edge in getting his men to respond to his order. The prize money might not be paid out all at once, but rather over two or more dates. In some cases the intervening time was not long, but others were spread out quite far from the original date of capture. A notification of the second instalment of prize money for Captain Humphrey Senhouse’s crew in the Martin, when it captured five American merchant vessels in late May and early June 1813, appeared in the London Gazette, 1 November 1817. The second distribution was to be collected (minus expenses for the prize agent) “at Sydney Cottage, Hampstead, Middlesex on Tuesday the 4th instant.”170 For three months thereafter the agent would be present every Tuesday and Friday to pay out claims. If the sailors could make it to the spot, they could collect. If funds were not collected within six years of the award, the sum was given over to the Treasurer of Greenwich Hospital, for use by the hospital.171 As Julian Gwyn points out, the prizes assessed on the North American and West Indies Station were often re-assessed at a lower level once they returned to Britain, including the Chesapeake.172 Appeals to the Admiralty on these reassessments were not uncommon. In September 1815, Captain John Hayes wrote on behalf of the officers and men in his squadron which captured the American frigate President off New York on 13 January 1815.173 His issue was that in Bermuda the prize was valued and repaired, and it was then re-valued when it arrived in England. The problem was that the English valuation was “5,321 pounds 17 shillings, 2 pence and half penny” less than the Bermuda assessment. Hayes asked for the Admiralty to intervene and reinstate the Bermuda claim, “as it is other wise injurious to the captors.” The decision went against Hayes, so he wrote to Barrow personally, asking for another reconsideration “given the circumstances of the capture.”174 His request denied once again, the matter was decided. In conclusion, prize money, although not guaranteed, was a great incentive to the officers, seamen and marines. In the often boring work of blockade, and the dangerous and strenuous efforts involved in the interception of enemy merchant and war vessels, the lure of prize money offered tangible compensation. There were, however, problems with motivation by prize money. The slow distribution of awards and the contentious court battles over prizes delayed and often reduced the final sum reaching the sailors ‘Notice is hereby given … London’, 1 November 1817. London Gazette, 2216. 43 George III, c. 160, see Art. 4. 172 Julian Gwyn, ‘Halifax and Its Dockyard’, Broke of the Shannon and the War of 1812, ed. Tim Voelcker (Barnsley, UK, 2013), pp. 170–6, see pp. 174–5. He notes that they were usually dropped in assessment by one percent. 173 Hayes to Lords Commissioners, 29/9/1815. LAC, Adm. 1/1949. John Hayes was captain of HMS Majestic. The other ships in his small squadron were Tenedos (Captain Hyde Parker, 30 guns), Endymion (Captain Henry Hope, 40 guns) and Pomone (Captain John Lumley, 38 guns). 174 Hayes to Barrow, 5/11/1815. Ibid. 170 171
Order and Disorder in the British Navy, 1793–1815 and marines. It led to tensions between officers and ship’s crews as ships competed for the prizes, or a share in someone else’s capture. Some officers, such as Lord Stuart, made prizes a higher priority than other less profitable, but critical, duties. Ransom was another means by which officers and their crews obtained money for the capture of enemy vessels and/or goods. Technically, at the time of the War of 1812, ransoming was against the law.175 Kert found evidence that Captain Hassard Stackpoole received ransom for several vessels he stopped while on blockade off Boston and New York.176 Captain John Hayes of the Majestic ransomed three vessels for water from Provincetown, Maine in November 1813. Sir Hyde Parker, HMS Tenedos, also ransomed vessels while on blockade.177 George Collier ransomed salt works at Wellfleet, Eastham, and Brewster, Cape Cod, in September and October 1814, earning $7,200 for his efforts, and distributing shares of the bounty to his crew.178 The Admiralty discovered and questioned some of the ransoming. One such example was Richard Byron, captain of HMS Belvidera, who ransomed two vessels, one off New York, the other off the coast of Delaware.179 Byron defended the ransoms, saying, in the first case, he was awaiting the American frigate President off New York and did not want to deplete his crew by sending the vessel into Halifax for adjudication. As an offer of $800 was made to buy back the schooner and its cargo of shingles, Byron took the money and passed out shares to his men. The men then bought fresh food from several American vessels that came out with such goods, “to alleviate their dysentery and want of fresh provisions.”180 Byron ransomed the second ship for $400 because his crew had been at sea for six months and he wished to “keep up the good Temper and Spirits of my Crew.” This is undoubtedly the most blatant expression of the use of ransoming to pacify a crew among all the evidence on the subject. Hassard Stackpoole, HMS Statira, ransomed the Fanny, sending the vessel back into a port in the Delaware.181 He claimed to be so below complement that he could not man the ship and so ransomed it. He gave the money he received to the Court of the Vice Admiralty in Halifax. The case had come to the court’s attention as Statira had also captured the Plough Boy and had sent it in for adjudication. The owner of both vessels had contested the ransoming and the capture of the second ship. The court ruled in Stackpole’s favour on both counts, noting his payment of the ransom to The Act to Prohibit Ransoming, 22 Geo. III, c. 25. This 1782 act made it illegal to ransom an enemy vessel. Act for the Encouragement of Seamen, 45 Geo. III, c. 72. This 1805 act established the penalty for ransoming an enemy vessel at ₤500 for a captain in HM Service and the loss of the letter of marque for a privateer. 176 Kert, Prize and Prejudice, p. 127. 177 Begg, Journal, 30/6/1814 entry. 178 Barry J. Lohnes, ‘The War of 1812 at Sea: The Royal Navy, New England and the Maritime Provinces of Canada’, Master’s Thesis, University of Maine at Orono, 1971, p. 260. 179 Byron to Barrow, 8/12/1814. LAC, Adm. 1/1558. 180 Byron sent $100 as a share to Rear Admiral Sawyer, who apparently did not complain. 181 Stewart, Reports of Cases, see The Fanny and the Plough Boy, 30/9/1813, pp. 554–6. 175
Patronage and Material Incentives the court. Justice Croke, however, spoke clearly against ransoming, noting it “has been prohibited by the Prize Act under a heavy penalty. It is a practice which is beneficial to the enemy, injurious to this country, and tends in some measure to defeat the purposes of war.”182 He suggested that “under the colour of the ransom, secret compromises, collusions, and clandestine restitutions might be made of a fraudulent nature.”183 Only under extreme necessity, as in Stackpoole’s explanation, was it allowable. There is no evidence of any prosecution for the ransoming of enemy goods or vessels; perhaps the Admiralty understood the motivation behind the act. In a twist on the ransom issue, Captain James Nash found himself having to explain why he had burned a vessel another officer had ransomed back to the Americans.184 On 9 August 1813, Lieutenant Stow, commanding HM Schooner Doteral, ransomed the American merchant vessel Financier heading from New Orleans to New York, for $800 cash and another $600 in bills. Proceeding on its way, Nash captured the vessel on 20 August, took the people off and burned it according to orders he had from Cochrane to destroy “worthless vessels.” He suggested sending the money back to the Americans who paid the ransom via the Prisoner of War Agent at Halifax. Not all officers and seamen approved of ransoming enemy vessels. Some officers were critical in cases where the owners appeared destitute.185 Henry Napier mentioned several inappropriate cases of ransoming. He was especially critical of his own Captain Farmery Epworth, of the Nymphe, who, on one occasion, made a fisherman, who had permission to fish off Boston, pay $200 to save his fishing boat from destruction.186 Napier mentions that the hapless man had seven children and no money, but borrowed the amount to keep the means to his livelihood afloat. Napier’s opinion was that ransoming in Boston Bay was “carelessness of faith … with the glow of a few dollars” blinding the British to “Justice, Honour and Self-approval.”187 Hotham thought it better to destroy craft not sent into a British harbour as a prize rather than return them to the Americans.188 He asked Cochrane in late 1814 about the legality of ransoming vessels, noting it had been a common feature during the war for many officers. Cochrane does not appear to have replied. Another dubious means of reward for the officers, seamen and marines was the act of pillage during raids ashore or from ships at sea. Pillaging at sea was dealt with in Articles 7, 8 and 9 of the Articles of War, which forbade Ibid., p. 554. Ibid., p. 555. 184 Nash to Hotham, 29/8/1814. HHCA, UDDHO/7/2. 185 Kert, Prize and Prejudice, p. 130, reports a number of incidents where captains returned captured vessels to their owners out of a sense of ‘charity’ or as payment for some prior good act. Sir George Collier, captain of HMS Leander, returned a merchant’s vessel as it had assisted the Leander with guidance through the Nantucket shoals. 186 H. E. Napier, New England blockaded in 1814, p. 38. Kert, Prize and Prejudice, p. 126, found HMS Nymphe reaped $7,000 in ransom without reporting it to authorities between 11/6 and 8/7/1814. 187 H. E. Napier, New England blockaded in 1814, p. 42. 188 Hotham to Cochrane, 24/10/1814. NLS, MS2337. 182 183
Order and Disorder in the British Navy, 1793–1815 the removal of any “money, plate, and goods,” or personal belongings of “officers or mariners,” unless such items were necessary for the operation of the capturing vessel. There are few examples of pillage at sea, perhaps because recording such an act put one in a precarious legal position. Captain Parker had his seamen take the salt and salt fish out of an American schooner for their own use before letting it continue, in itself a violation of the blockade.189 Kert reports that HMS Plumper made $10,000 by removing specie from several American vessels in June 1812.190 All the ransom cases just discussed, where the ships were first stripped of their contents, are also examples of pillaging. The defence for these acts was to feed their crews and keep their manpower for any future engagement with the American frigates. Shore raids provide many examples of pillaging. Royal Marine Major T. Wybourn wrote of pillaging during the 3 May 1813 attack on Havre de Grace.191 He took a dressing trunk from a residence, the contents of which he shared with those in his boat, “holding back two white shirts and a number of razors” for himself. Wybourn recorded that the seamen from the Marlborough took the books from a girls’ school, and two pianofortes, which they carried back to the ship. Admiral John Warren profited quite nicely from the sacking of Havre de Grace as well. In the attack, the British pillaged and burned the home of American Commodore John Rodgers. Warren brought Rodgers’ pianoforte to his own house in Bermuda and rode in the Commodore’s carriage around Halifax.192 Rear Admiral Cockburn’s rationale for letting the troops and seamen pillage the town at Havre de Grace before he burned most of it was that the inhabitants kept firing at them when they came ashore.193 Cockburn repeated this response to American resistance at Georgetown and Fredericktown.194 In the American Congress’s published account of the depredations committed by the British, the theft of livestock and crops dominated the descriptions of pillaging.195 Many of the sworn affidavits mention British payment for at least part of the lost property, in both British Government bills and cash. American J. K. Whitney wrote of the British pillaging and ransoming carried out during the invasion of Maine Begg, Journal, 30 June 1814. Kert, Prize and Prejudice, p. 126. 191 A. Petrides and J. Downs, eds., Sea Soldier: An Officer of Marines with Duncan, Nelson, Collingwood and Cockburn: The Letters and Journals of Major T. Marmaduke Wybourn RM (Tunbridge Wells, UK, 2000), p. 184, entry 5/5/1813. 192 Milne to unknown correspondent, 2/1/1814, in Edgar Hume, ‘Letters Written During the War of 1812 by the British Naval Commander in American Waters (Admiral Sir David Milne)’, William and Mary College Quarterly Historical Magazine 2nd Ser. 10.4 (October 1930), 279–301, 290. 193 Cockburn’s Journal, NMM, COC/11, p. 104. 194 W. G. Dudley, Splintering the Wooden Wall: The British Blockade of the United States, 1812–1815 (Annapolis, MD, 2003), p. 91. 195 House of Representatives of the United States, Barbarities of the Enemy exposed in a Report of the Committee of the House of Representatives of the United States, appointed to enquire into the spirit and manner in which the war has been waged by the enemy and the Documents accompanying said report (Worcester, MA, 1814), see ‘No. VII Pillage and Destruction of Private Property on the Chesapeake Bay, and in the Neighbouring Country’, pp. 72–99. 189 190
Patronage and Material Incentives in September 1814.196 Stealing and destruction of commercial and personal property continued even with terms of ransom agreed on. In Maine, he said, the British sailors and soldiers took anything they could carry away, without any compensation to those plundered. Only Americans with pro-British Federalist ties seemed to survive with minor insult and injury. Proper pillaging had its limits.197 American officers serving in the flotilla captured by the British on Lake Borgne, before the assault on New Orleans, had some of their possessions taken by British officers and seamen. After the retreat from New Orleans, these American officers sent word to Cochrane of the pillaging and returned possessions of British officers found in the former British camp. Cochrane ordered the return of the American officers’ belongings. The Admiralty was not pleased with the act or the sale of goods derived by pillaging. Barrow wrote to Cochrane in late November 1814 stating that the Admiralty thought there was too much of “a regular sale and distribution of the proceeds of booty captured by the combined services on the Coast of America.”198 They had sent this information along to the Privy Council for it to decide whether or not it was correct procedure. The war ended before the Privy Council could render a determination. There is no evidence that the British seamen and marines along the Atlantic or in the West Indies had problems over their regular pay. Perhaps this represents the Admiralty’s efforts to address the seamen’s complaints about pay arising in the great mutinies of 1797. The Great Lakes, however, appear to have had problems concerning the payment of the Royal Navy seamen. Both Sir James Yeo and Commander Robert Barclay worked hard to obtain the expected pay for the men serving under them. Given Barclay’s disadvantaged situation on Lake Erie, he desperately needed the good will of his crews in order to pursue any line of action against the Americans. A pay dispute may have led to the squadron not taking to the lake to meet the Americans. At the end of the Napoleonic Wars, the British seamen’s labour demanded attention to the seamen’s and marines’ receipt of their expected pay, even if held in arrears. In conclusion, the seamen’s access to prize money was different from their access to pay. Although regulated, delays when the war began made the distribution of prize money very slow. This situation does not appear to have improved much during the war. Delays in payment and miniscule amounts of prize money could certainly cause frustration and dissatisfaction among the crew. The use of ransom, a quick payoff to all aboard ship, could offset this frustration. The seamen and marines had to be pleased with the immediate distribution of a small share following the sometimes hard and dangerous work of chase, boarding and seizure, and the many more days of boredom sailing back and forth off an enemy coast. Pillage, although we Whitney to Holmes, 11/10/1814. ‘Relating to the War of 1812’, Sprague’s Journal of Maine History 6 (January 1919), 126–8. 197 Codrington to respective officers, 17/1/1815. LAC, MG 24 F131, COD 6/4. 198 Barrow to Cochrane, 28/11/1814. LAC, Adm. 2/933. 196
Order and Disorder in the British Navy, 1793–1815 know little about its true extent and nature, was similar to ransoming in that it provided an immediate reward. Pillage did not involve the distribution of shares, the only limit being what one could carry or drag away. Pillage also avoided the grip of “joint captors,” or the delayed payment from an anxious Admiralty worried its seamen and marines would desert if paid in full. For a captain or commander, it offered an immediate reward for the crew and a diversion from other concerns, such as owed back pay, late prize money, short food or grog allowances, and lengthy time away from British harbours. Acts of ransoming and pillage provided the best opportunities to reward seamen, not patronage. It could not help but maintain the captain’s sense of order aboard ship. Further up the naval hierarchy, patronage undeniably provided a means for lifting up relatives, friends and other close personal followers. A promotion system based only on seniority or rewarding excellence did not yet exist.199 The patronage system of the mid-eighteenth century, as described by Rodger, was all but over by 1812. In its effort to centralize control over the navy, the Admiralty was taking over the system of placing and promoting officers, weaning the local flag officers and their juniors from this personnel activity. This supersession undermined the faith that officers had in the power and efficacy of local patronage. A young officer would ultimately follow the demands of the Admiralty over those of a local captain or flag officer, as London assumed the real power for shaping his career. What also becomes apparent in this chapter is that the boundary between order and disorder begins to blur. People, whether officers or members of the lower deck, begin to act in unauthorized ways. Ransom and pillage are the two clearest examples of this blurring. The huge volume of written regulations and directives make it difficult to comply with every one of them. Situations develop where regulations break down, or are simply ignored. In this space, seamen improve their professional lot, add to their fortunes, or get something they wouldn’t otherwise gain. People’s actions begin to reach beyond the published regulations of the Royal Navy.
The exception to this was the promotion from post-captain to the rank of rear admiral which occurred as a result of seniority, as did movement through the various levels of admiral. Certainly, excellence was never the sole criterion.
3 Creating Order through Regimentation, Food, Tobacco and Alcohol, Religion and Language Regimentation through the gunnery exercises and the acts of mustering and cleaning established and reinforced a person’s place within the ship. These practices support Foucault’s belief that the late eighteenth century saw a new discipline of the body, rendering it docile and compliant through rigorous training, while simultaneously shaping the body to meet the heavy demand of the state’s use of it.1 Increased regimentation and control over people’s movement and roles ought to lead to greater uniformity in action. With a greater level of uniformity, the officers established an order aboard ship that supported their authority. Order could be reinforced by granting shore leave and allowing leisure activity, such as dances. Liberal rations of tobacco and food could also achieve the same effect. They all allowed seamen to vent their frustrations or distracted them from their hardships afloat. Language was also important in creating order among the seamen and marines. Reward and punishment were heralded by words of praise or condemnation. Language could be the form in which punishment or reward occurred. Greg Dening’s analysis of Mr. Bligh’s inappropriate use of language in disciplining the officers and crew of HMS Bounty demonstrates the fine line officers trod between exercising absolute authority and considering the ship’s company’s sensibilities.2 Religious sermons could underscore authority aboard ship and further the sense of esprit de corps established through regimented activity and shared belief.3 Research in maritime history has not paid attention to the power of religion or the everyday use of language to
Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison, trans. Alan Sheridan (New York, 1977), pp. 135–8. 2 Greg Dening, Mr. Bligh’s Bad Language: Passion, Power and Theatre on the Bounty (Cambridge, 1992), pp. 142–5. 3 W. Smith, The Navy and Its Chaplains in the Days of Sail (Toronto, 1961), p. 113; Jack Laffin, Jack Tar (London, 1969), pp. 118–20; and Gordon Taylor, The Sea Chaplains: A History of the Chaplains of the Royal Navy (Oxford, 1978), pp. 236–9. The best source on religion at sea during this time period is Blake, Evangelicals in the Royal Navy. 1
Order and Disorder in the British Navy, 1793–1815 establish authority’s order in the navy. This chapter will also explore the role of religion and everyday language in creating order aboard ship. The Admiralty’s expectations for each of these activities were contained in the Regulations and Instructions. In this chapter, we will find further evidence of the tensions between the Admiralty’s effort to control what took place aboard ships and the captains’ efforts to maintain order through their own methods.
Gunnery Exercise, Mustering and Acts of Cleaning During the long eighteenth century the critical feature in ship-to-ship combat was the speed at which guns were fired, reloaded, and fired again.4 Aiming was secondary to rate of fire in the era’s close actions. Division of labour and constant practice were necessary to obtain a high rate of fire. Ideally, every man received training in all activities necessary to operate the gun. In battle, as casualties mounted, a fully trained gun crew could continue firing as those left doubled up on their duties. However, gunnery exercise was most often a sham performance. The gun was never fired, or even loaded, so as not to waste powder and shot. The Regulations and Instructions required that gunnery exercise occur frequently and be noted in the ship’s logbook.5 The seamen and marines also practiced at small arms, including pike, sword, pistol and musket.6 In the post-Nelson era, the Royal Navy experienced some of its greatest losses during the war with the United States. During the first six months of war, Britain lost the frigates Guerriere, Macedonian and Java, along with the sloop Alert and the gun brig Frolic. This rattled the British public and navy.7 In the courts martial that ensued, it was suggested that the heavier weight of the American armament and their larger crews contributed significantly to the defeats.8 It was during the court martial of the Java’s surviving officers, however, that members of the court first asked questions concerning the conducting of gunnery exercises. The recently crewed Java had conducted Lavery, Nelson’s Navy, p. 172. Regulations and Instructions, Sect. V, Chpt. 4, Arts. IX, X and XI, p. 143. 6 The Regulations and Instructions set out the number of seamen for small arms training per rate of ship. Regulations and Instructions, Sect. V, Chpt. 4, Art. X, p. 142. First rate ships were to train 150, 2nd rate 120, 3rd rate of 74 guns 100, 3rd rate of 64 guns 80, 4th rate 60, 5th rate 50, 6th rate 40, sloops 30. 7 See William Cobbett, Letters on the late war between the United States and Great Britain (New York, 1815), pp. 135–6. ‘General History’, Annual Register, 1812 (London, 1813), 200; and ‘General History’, Annual Register, 1813 (London, 1814), 38–40. A.F.Y., ‘Letter XXII July 9, 1813’, Naval Chronicle 30 (1813), 136–8. 8 The British eighteen pounders were unable to inflict enough damage against the American twenty-four pounders to offset the disparity in broadside weight, but the Americans were able to knock out British guns, thus increasing the weight difference; Gardiner, ‘War on the High Seas’, 51. Each court martial on the officers and crews found a steady rate of fire against the enemy. Court Martial of Captain Dacres, 2/10/1812. TNA, Adm. 1/5431. Court Martial of Captain Laugharne, 8/10/1812. TNA, Adm. 1/5431. Court Martial of Commander Whinyates, 15/2/1813. TNA, Adm. 1/5434. Court Martial of Captain Carden, 27–31/5/1813. TNA, Adm. 1/5436. 4 5
Regimentation, Food, Tobacco and Alcohol, Religion and Language only one gun exercise.9 The court decided that the untrained British crew fell to a disciplined and experienced enemy. The court martial of the survivors of HM Sloop Peacock, captured by the US Sloop Hornet, ruled that that loss resulted in large part from “a want of skill in directing the fire owing to an omission of the practice of exercising her crew on the use of the Guns for the last three year.”10 As a result of these losses, gun exercise came to dominate the minds of the Admiralty and the station commanders. By March 1813, the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty noticed a sharp decline in the notation of exercises in the ships’ logbooks. Warren told his officers to improve their rate of practice at the great guns and that it maintained “good discipline and proper training.”11 The concern over the lack of preparedness also fell on the marines. Warren suggested the removal of several older officers to facilitate the training necessary to promote order within the ranks.12 The concern over gunnery exercise continued into 1814 with the court martial of Captain John Taylor, of HM Sloop Espiegle.13 Taylor had exercised the crew only twice at general quarters, twice a select group of men at one or two guns, and had never fired a live round. His defence was that he had little time and that the crew knew how to work the guns. Taylor also stated that a captain had the right to decide when and when not to conduct practices. The court acquitted Taylor on the charge of not exercising the crew, but their interest in questioning the witnesses on this point indicated deep concern. The loss of HM Sloop Epervier, on 29 April 1814, also focused attention on exercising the great guns.14 In a fifty-minute fight, the Epervier failed to hit the hull of the US Sloop Peacock even once. The Epervier’s captain, Richard Wales, had not conducted a live exercise since early November 1813. The fact that the bolts securing several of the gun-mounted slides were loose did not become apparent until they unshipped during Epervier’s first broadside. Wales claimed that damage done to the sloop during a hurricane at Halifax in November 1813 necessitated the constant resetting of the rigging, leaving no time for gunnery practice. Consequently, between January and April 1814, there were occasional pantomime exercises. In response to queries about the lack of damage to the enemy, Wales painted the seamen as weak and lazy. The court acquitted Wales without comment on the lack of live gunnery practice in the four months prior to the battle. In July 1814, Vice Admiral Cochrane issued orders to all flag officers and captains to personally supervise the gun exercises, ensuring the “men do not
The exercise took place the day before it encountered the Constitution. Court Martial of Fred Wright, 7/6/1813. TNA, Adm. 1/5436. The Peacock was captured on 24/2/1813. Lieutenant Wright and the remainder of the complement were acquitted, “due to their bravery during the action and effort.” 11 Warren, General Order, 6/3/1813. Dudley, Naval War, vol. 2, pp. 59–60. 12 Warren to Melville, 24/8/1813. LAC, MG 34 F132. 13 Court Martial of John Taylor, 23–26/2/1814. TNA, Adm. 1/5441. 14 Court Martial of Richard Wales, 20–21/1/1815. TNA, Adm. 1/5447. 9
Order and Disorder in the British Navy, 1793–1815 merely go through the motions.”15 The Vice Admiral insisted that five or six of the gun crews exercise at least six times every day. A general ship-wide practice should take place once a week, with all exercises noted in the ship’s logbook. They were to use fake paper cartridges and wads, using rammer, sponge and worm as they would in action. Newly commissioned vessels had permission to spend three times the regular amount of powder during target practices. All vessels in Cochrane’s squadron had to complete quarterly reports on the subject of gun exercises. Royal Marine Major T. Wybourn wrote about the exercises aboard HMS Marlborough. The practice included “stripping the ship to action readiness,” removing all bulk heads and seamen’s belongings and storing them in the hold.16 Marine Lieutenant B. G. Beynon wrote that the gunnery exercise aboard the frigate Menelaus improved both skill and quickness among the seamen and marines.17 The seamen practiced firing broadsides until every gun fired in unison. The most dramatic example of the tight order created by great gun and small arms practice was HMS Shannon’s defeat of U.S. Chesapeake, 1 June 1813. The battle lasted approximately eleven minutes, in which the Shannon first pummelled then carried the Chesapeake by boarding. The official letter on the attack pinned the outcome on the training to “deliver a constant, accurate and deadly fire.”18 Broke’s focus was on training his gun crews to fire at the cannons of the opponent, not their hull or masts. Kill the men and the ship would yield, was his first rule of engagement. Broke had practiced the men at boarding from every possible position aboard the Shannon. When the call came for boarders, everyone performed his role. The Chesapeake had sailed out of Boston with a crew of new men mixed in with the ship’s veterans. The Americans fought hard but were simply decimated by the gun fire.19 The Shannon’s gunnery and small arms training won the battle for the British. Philip Broke’s training regime did not go unnoticed as others copied Codrington to Flag Officers and Captains, 21/7/1814. LAC, MG 24 F131, COD 6/3. Petrides and Downs, Sea Soldier, p. 169, 26/2/1813. 17 Lieutenant B. G. Beynon Manuscript, 8/7/1814. Western Reserve Historical Society, Cleveland, OH. 18 Broke to Admiralty, 6/6/1813. Dudley, Naval War, vol. 2, pp. 129–33. As Dudley suggests, Broke’s serious head wound left him barely able to talk let alone write a detailed account of his stunning victory. Dudley suggests it was written by Broke’s friends Philip Wodehouse (commissioner at Halifax Dockyard) and Captains Thomas Capel and Richard Byron in order to have an official dispatch for London announcing this victory. Broke wrote to his wife on the 19th telling her that he had just recovered his speech, but could say little, and on 26 June that his hand was still paralyzed; he could not write except with his left hand and that was barely legible. P. Broke to S. Broke, 19 and 26/6/1813. LAC, MG 24 F135, HA93/9/105. For an account of the battle, see Lambert, The Challenge, pp. 169–79; Padfield, Broke and the Shannon; Kevin D. McCranie, Utmost Gallantry: The US and Royal Navies at Sea in the War of 1812 (Annapolis, MD, 2011), pp. 150–1. 19 The American casualties were sixty-nine killed and seventy-seven wounded out of a crew of 388, versus the British loss of thirty-four killed and forty-nine wounded out of a crew of 330; Martin Bibbings, ‘The Battle’, Broke of the Shannon: And the War of 1812, ed. Tim Voelcker (Barnsley, UK, 2013), pp. 127–51, see p. 142. 15 16
Regimentation, Food, Tobacco and Alcohol, Religion and Language Broke’s method. Codrington described Captain Parker’s Tenedos as being in “the Shannon style.”20 In the same letter, he commented on the Acasta as another well-ordered ship, having ceased with “that over polishing which has done so much mischief.” Samuel Pechell received praise for copying Broke’s use of a spar, placed under the cannon barrel, to move the piece in an imitation of the roll of the ship.21 Captain Henry Hope also copied Broke’s system aboard HMS Endymion, whose preparation served it well in the defeat of the American frigate President, in January 1815.22 Broke was one of several officers who provided detailed instructions and diagrams concerning the working of the great guns. The captain’s log for the Shannon shows forty-three notations of exercising the men at the great guns and small arms over 547 days.23 The exercises took place when opportunity facilitated a practice. In the month prior to the Shannon’s fight with the Chesapeake, Broke recorded six exercises and one chase in which he ordered two broadsides fired. Indeed, twenty-nine of the forty-three notations fell between 14 December 1812 and 30 May 1813. Table 2, Column B, shows the gunnery exercise totals for the ships in the sample. It reveals a great range, from one to 115, in the occurrence of exercises on board these ships. The average number of exercises experienced aboard ship was thirty-six (SD = 27.8). The logbook of HMS Marlborough recorded only one exercise in 361 days.24 Captain Oliver, of the Valiant, on the other hand, noted 115 exercises over a period of 415 days.25 The ship with the shortest period in the sample, HMS St. Lawrence, recorded thirtythree practices over 154 days.26 The ship with the longest period, HMS Maidstone, held thirty-six exercises of the great guns and small arms in 974 days.27 A Time Series analysis revealed a quadratic relationship between time and gunnery exercise.28 Three high points occurred in March 1813, July 1813 and August 1814. The first corresponds with Warren’s order to the squadrons on the station to increase gunnery exercise. The July 1813 peak followed Broke’s victory over the American frigate Chesapeake, which may explain the increase in practice across the ships on the station. Cochrane’s order to increase gunnery exercise in July 1814 could account for the rise E. Codrington to J. Codrington, 9/10/1814. LAC, MG 24 F131. Pechell, Captain’s Order Book for HMS San Domingo. NMM, WQB/3. See Foote, Leake, Halliday, Page, Fowke to Bickerton, 10/6/1814. 22 Lambert, The Challenge, p. 372. 23 Captain’s Log, HMS Shannon. TNA, Adm. 51/2861. 24 Captain’s Log, HMS Marlborough, 12/12/1812–9/12/1813. TNA, Adm. 51/2570. This differs from Major Wybourn’s description of full-scale pantomime and live ammunition practices held aboard the Marlborough. It would appear that neither Captain Ross nor Honyman recorded all the exercises they held when in command of the Marlborough. 25 Captain’s Log, HMS Valiant, 15/1/1813–5/3/1814. TNA, Adm. 51/2941, see 12/5/1813 for permission to shoot at a mark and the use of a prize as the mark. 26 Master’s Log, HMS St. Lawrence, 5/10/1814–6/2/1815. TNA, Adm. 52/4599. 27 Captain’s Log, HMS Maidstone, 28/6/1812–28/2/1815. TNA, Adm. 51/2577. 28 Regression ANOVA, F = 10.128, df (2, 30), p < .000; Month 1, t = 4.217, p