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No. I.

Documents and Transactions relative to the Attack made upon the
United States' frigate Chesapeake, by the British ship of war Leo-
pard, on the 22d of June,

British consul's office, Norfolk,
., 6th March, 1807.


THE men named in the mar-
gin* deserted some time since
from his majesty's ship Melam-
pus, in Hampton roads, by run-
ning away with her gig, and the
three first are stated to have en-
tered at the rendezvous now open
here for the enlistment of seamen
in the service of the United States.
As the Melampus is at present in
Hampton roads, I submit to you,
sir, the propriety of your directing
these men (should they have en-
tered for your service) to be re-
turned to their duty on board his
majesty's ship before mentioned.

I have the honour to remain,
with perfect truth and respect,
sir,your most obedient humble servant,

john hamilton.

Captain Decatur.

  * William Ware, Daniel Martin,
John Strachan, John Little.

British consul's office, Norfolk,
., 7th March, 1807.


Mr. John Murphy, master of
the British merchant ship He-
rald, in this harbour, has repre-
sented to me that John Wilson, a
seamen under articles of that
ship, and John Murphy (his son),
an apprentice, both subjects of his
majesty, have deserted and enlist-
ed at the rendezvous for the naval
service of the United States in
this borough, requesting me to
use my official interposition with
you to obtain for him the reco-
very of the persons before men-
tioned. It has therefore become
my duty to solicit that the sea-
man and apprentice in question
(if they should have entered for
the navy of the United States)
may be returned to the master of
the Herald, and to the perfor-
mance of their respective engage-
ments on board of that ship.

I have the honour to remain,
with perfect truth and respect,

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sir, your most obedient, humble

john hamilton.

Captain Decatur

Norfolk, March 8th, 1807.


Your communications with cap-
tain Decatur have been transmit-
ted to me by that officer.

I must observe in answer, that
John Murphy, appearing to be
an apprentice to his command-
er, has been delivered to the civil

I do not feel myself justified in
delivering any men who are not
apprentices, and who have volun-
tarily entered the service of the
United States, unless claimed by
the magistracy.

I have the honour to be, with
high respect, sir,

your obedient servant,
a. sinclair.

British consul's office, Norfolk,
Vir., 9th March,


I have had the honour to re-
ceive your letter dated yester-
day, acquainting me in reply to
my communications addressed
(through misinformation) to cap-
tain Decatur, which he had done
me the kindness to transmit to
you, that John Murphy, be-
ing an apprentice to his com-
mander, had been delivered up to
the civil authority; but that you
do not feel yourself justified in de-
livering up any men who are not
thus bound, and who have volun-
tarily entered the service of the
United States, unless claimed by
the magistracy.

I can only regret that you do
not consider yourself authorized
to comply with my request; and

I have the honour to remain,
with perfect truth and respect,
sir, your most obedient, humble

john hamilton.

Lieutenant Sinclair.

Navy yard, Washington, April


I have the honour to enclose
you the result of my inquiries re-
lating to the men mentioned in
your letter of yesterday; and
have the honour to be, sir, with
great respect your obedient ser-

james barron.

The Hon. Robert Smith, secretary
of the navy

William Ware, pressed from
on board the brig Neptune, cap-
tain Crafts, by the British fri-
gate Melampus, in the bay of
Biscay, and has served on board
the said frigate fifteen months.

William Ware is a native Ame-
rican, born on Pipe creek, Frede-
rick county, state of Maryland,
at Bruce's mills, and served his
time at said mills. He also lived
at Ellicott's mills, near Baltimore,
and drove a waggon several years
between Hagerstown and Balti-
more. He also served eighteen
months on board the United
States' frigate Chesapeake, under
the command of commodore Mor-
ris and captain James Barron.
He is an Indian-looking man.

Daniel Martin was pressed at
the same time and place. He is
a native of West-port, in Massa-
chusetts, about thirty miles to the
eastward of Newport, Rhode Is-
land; served his time out of New
York, with captain Marrowby, in
the Caledonia; refers to Mr. Ben-

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jamin Davis, merchant, and Mr.
Benjamin Corce, of West-port.
He is a coloured man.

John Strachan, born on the
eastern shore of Maryland, Queen
Ann's county, between Centerville
and Queen's-town; refers to Mr.
John Price, and—— Pratt, Esq.,
on Kent island, who knows his re-
lations. Strachan sailed in the
brig Martha Bland, captain Wi-
vill, from New York to Dublin, and
from thence to Liverpool. He
there left the brig and shipped on
board an English Guineaman.
He was pressed on board the Me-
lampus off cape Finisterre; to bet-
ter his situation he consented to
enter, being determined to make
his escape when opportunity offer-
ed. He served on board the fri-
gate two years. He is a white
man, about five feet seven inches

William Ware and John
Strachan have protections. Da-
niel Martin says he lost his after
leaving the frigate.

John Little, alias Francis, and
Ambrose Watts, escaped from
the Melampus at the same time,
known to the above persons to be
Americans, but have not been en-
tered by my recruiting officer.

William Ware, Daniel Mar-
tin, and John Strachan state, that,
some time in February last,
there was an entertainment on
board the Melampus, lying then
in Hampton roads; that while the
officers, &c., were engaged, and
all the ship's boats, except the
captain's gig, being hoisted in,
themselves and the two other men
mentioned availed themselves of
a moment to seize the gig and
row off. That as soon as they
had got into the boat they were
hailed to know what they were
going to do. They replied, they

were going ashore. A brisk fire
of musketry instantly commenced
from the ship; that, in defiance
of balls, and at the hazard of their
lives, they continued to pull, and
finally effected their escape to
land, namely Sewell's point; that
they then carefully hauled up the
boat on the beach, rolled up the
coat, and placed that and the oars
in the boat, gave three cheers, and
moved up the country.

United States' frigate Chesapeake,
Chesapeake bay, June
23, 1807.


Yesterday at 6, A. M., the wind
became favourable, and knowing
your anxiety that the ship should
sail with all possible dispatch, we
weighed from our station in Hamp-
ton roads and stood to sea. In Lyn-
haven bay we passed two British
men of war, one of them the Bel-
lona, the other the Melampus,
their colours flying and their ap-
pearance friendly. Some time af-
terwards, we observed one of the
two line of battle ships that lay off
cape Henry get under weigh and
stand to sea. At this time the
wind became light, and it was not
until near four in the afternoon
that the ship under weigh came
within hail, cape Henry then bear-
ing north-west by west, distance
three leagues. The communica-
tion, which appeared to be her com-
mander's object for speaking the
Chesapeake, he said he would
send on board, on which I ordered
the Chesapeake to be hove to for
his convenience. On the arrival
of the officer he presented me with
the enclosed paper, No. 1, from
the captain of the Leopard, and a
copy of an order from admiral
Berkley, which another officer af-
terwards took back, to which I
gave the enclosed answer, No. 2,

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and was waiting for his reply:
about this time I observed some
appearance of a hostile nature,
and said to captain Gordon that it
was possible they were serious,
and requested him to have his men
sent to their quarters with as little
noise as possible, not using those
ceremonies which we should have
done with an avowed enemy, as I
fully supposed their arrangements
were more menace than any thing
serious. Captain Gordon imme-
diately gave the orders to the offi-
cers and men to go to quarters and
have all things in readiness; but
before a match could be lighted,
or the quarter bill of any division
examined, or the lumber on the
gun deck, such as sails, cables,
&c., could be cleared, the com-
mander of the Leopard hailed. I
could not hear what he said, and
was talking to him as I supposed,
when she commenced a heavy
fire, which did great execution.
It is distressing to me to acknow-
ledge, that I found that the ad-
vantage they had gained over our
unprepared and unsuspicious state
did not warrant a longer opposi-
tion, nor should I have exposed
this ship and crew to so galling a
fire, had it not been with a hope of
getting the gun deck clear so as to
have made a more formidable de-
fence: consequently our resistance
was but feeble. In about twenty
minutes after, I ordered the co-
lours to be struck, and sent lieu-
tenant Smith on board the Leo-
pard to inform her commander
that I considered the Chesapeake
her prize. To this message I re-
ceived no answer. The Leopard's
boat soon after came on board,
and the officer who came in her
demanded the muster book. I re-
plied the ship and books were
theirs, and if he expected to see

the men, he must find them.
They called on the purser, who
delivered his book, and the men
were examined, and the three men
demanded at Washington, and one
man more, were taken away. On
their departure from the ship, I
wrote the commander of the Leo-
pard the enclosed, No. 3, to which
I received the answer, No. 4. On
finding that the men were his only
object, and that he refused to con-
sider the ship his prize, and the
officers and crew his prisoners, I
called a council of our officers, and
requested their opinion relative to
the conduct it was now our duty
to pursue. The result was, that
the ship should return to Hamp-
ton roads, and there wait your fur-
ther orders.

Enclosed you have a list of the
unfortunate killed and wounded,
as also a statement of the damage
sustained in the hull, spars, and
rigging of the ship.

I have sent this letter to you by
captain Gordon, in order that you
may have an opportunity of get-
ting such information as you may

With great respect, I have the
honour to be, sir, your obedient

james barron.

The Hon. R. Smith, secretary of
the navy, Washington.

No. 1.

The captain of his Britannic
majesty's ship Leopard has the
honour to inclose the captain of
the United States' ship Chesa-
peake an order from the hon.
vice-admiral Berkley, comman-
der in chief of his majesty's ships
on the North American station,
respecting some deserters from
the ships (therein mentioned) un-
der his command, and supposed

 image pending 185

to be now serving as part of the
crew of the Chesapeake.

The captain of the Leopard
will not presume to say any thing
in addition to what the comman-
der in chief has stated, more than
to express a hope that every cir-
cumstance respecting them may
be adjusted in a manner that the
harmony subsisting between the
two countries may remain undis-

H. M. ship Leopard, at sea,
June 22d,
No. 2.

I know of no such men as you
describe. The officers that were
on the recruiting service for this
ship were particularly instructed
by the government, through me,
not to enter any deserters from
his B. M. ships, nor do I know of
any being here. I am also in-
structed never to permit the crew
of any ship that I command to be
mustered by any other but their
own officers. It is my disposition
to preserve harmony, and I hope
this answer to your dispatch will
prove satisfactory.

james barron.

At sea, June 22d, 1807.
To the commander of his B. M.
ship Leopard.

No. 3.


I consider the frigate Chesa-
peake your prize, and am ready
to deliver her to any officer au-
thorized to receive her. By the
return of the boat I shall expect
your answer,

And have the honour, &c.,

james barron.

Chesapeake, at sea, June 22d,

To the commander of his B. M.
ship Leopard

No. 4.


Having to the utmost of my
power fulfilled the instructions of
my commander in chief, I have
nothing more to desire, and must
in consequence proceed to join the
remainder of the squadron, repeat-
ing that I am ready to give you
every assistance in my power, and
do most sincerely deplore that any
lives should have been lost in the
execution of a service, which
might have been adjusted more
amicably, not only with respect to
ourselves, but the nations to which
we respectively belong.

I have the honour to be, sir,
your obedient humble servant,


Leopard, at sea, June 22d, 1807.

The purport of the general or-
der said to be issued by admiral
Berkely was, “that each and every
vessel of his squadron should take
by force, if they could not be ob-
tained by other means, any Bri-
tish deserters that could be found
on board the Chesapeake, and that,
on the part of the commanders of
the ships of his squadron, a search
should be admitted for American

This, as well as my memory
serves me, was the tenor of the
paper handed me by the visiting
officer of his B. M. ship the Leo-
pard, and stated to have been or-
ders recently issued by admiral

There were several names men-
tioned in the body of the demand,
neither of which were known to

Return of the dead and wounded
on board the frigate Chesapeake,
commodore James Barron, June
d, 1807.

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Killed—John Lawrence, James
Arnold, John Shukly.

Badly wounded—John Haden,
Cotton Brown, John Parker,
George Percival, Peter Simmons,
Robert M'Donald, Francis Cow-
noven, James Eppes.

Slightly wounded—Commodore
James Barron, midshipman James
Broom, Peter Allison, William
Hendricks, Thomas Short, Wil-
liam Moody, David Creighton,
John Master, Emanuel Fernandes,
John Wilson.

j. g. hunt,
Surgeon to the Chesapeake.

Frigate Chesapeake, Hampton
roads, June 29th
, 1807.


Enclosed I have the honour to
forward you an exact copy of the
ship's log book.

And have the honour to be, sir,
with great respect,your obedient

james barron.

The Hon. R. Smith, Secretary of
the navy, Washington

A true copy taken from the Unit-
ed States' frigate Chesapeake's
log-book, James Barron, Esq.,
commander, Charles Gordon,
Esq., captain, and Samuel
Brooks, sailing master

Monday, June 22d. Com-
mences with light breezes from
the south and west and clear wea-
ther. At seven, A. M., hoisted out
the jolly boat, and hoisted in the
second cutter, run the jolly boat
up astern; at quarter past seven
weighed anchor, made sail with a
pleasant breeze from west south-
west, and stood out for sea; at
nine passed two of his Britannic
majesty's ships at anchor; stowed
the larboard anchor, and secured
the boats. At meridian the light

on Cape Henry bore south-west
by south; people employed in
clearing ship for sea.

This day ends at meridian, and
contains seventeen hours.

Tuesday, 23d. Commences
with light breezes from the south
and west, and clear weather; a
ship in sight apparently standing
for us; at one, P. M., the wind
hauled to the north and east; in
studding sails, and hauled upon
the wind, and at half past three
the ship came up with us; backed
the main top sail, and spoke her;
was boarded by her. She proved
to be the British ship Leopard, of
fifty guns; she came on board to
demand some men who had de-
serted from the English navy; the
commodore refusing to give them
up, the boat returned, they ranged
along side of us and commenced
a heavy fire. We being unpre-
pared, and the ship much lum-
bered, it was impossible to clear
ship for action in proper time,
though every possible exertion
was made; and not suspecting an
enemy so near, did not begin to
clear the deck until the enemy
had commenced firing. In about
thirty minutes, after receiving
much damage in our hull, rigging,
and spars, and having three men
killed, viz., Joseph Arnold, Peter
Shakely, and John Lawrence, and
sixteen wounded, viz., commodore
Barron, Mr. Broom, John Hud-
den, Cotton Brown, Peter Ellison,
John Parker, George Percival,
Peter Summers, William Hen-
drick, Robert M'Donald, Francis
Conhoven, Thomas Short, Wil-
liam Moody, David Creighton,
John Martyr, John Epps, Ema-
nual Hendricks, John Wilson,
William Warren, and John Bates;
and, having one gun ready, fired,
and hauled down our colours.

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The Leopard ceased firing, and
sent her boat on board, mustered
the ship's company. At sun-
down they left the ship, taking
with them four men, viz., John
Strachan, Daniel Martin, William
Ware, and John Wilson, who had
deserted from their service; at the
same time lieutenant Allen went
on board, and returned at eight
o'clock. The Leopard left us
and stood.

We then made sail and stood
in shore, having three and a half
feet water in our hold. Crew em-
ployed in pumping and working
ship in for Hampton roads; got
the anchors clear for coming too.
At six, A. M., took the third reef
in the main top sail, and set top
gallant sails; held a survey on the
masts and rigging; at eight cape
Henry bore south-west, distant
four or five miles; employed ship
in for Hampton roads; at half
past meridian came to with the
starboard anchor in seven fathoms
water in Hampton roads.

Late United States' ship Chesa-
peake, Hampton roads, June


The undersigned, officers of the
late United States' ship Chesa-
peake, feeling deeply sensible of
the disgrace which must be at-
tached to the late (in their opinion)
premature surrender of the Unit-
ed States' ship Chesapeake of forty
guns, to the English ship of war
Leopard of fifty guns, without
their previous knowledge or con-
sent; and desirous of proving to
their country and the world, that
it was the wish of all the under-
signed to have rendered them-
selves worthy of the flag under
which they had the honour to
serve, by a determined resistance

to an unjust demand, request
the honourable the secretary of
the navy to order a court of inqui-
ry into their conduct. At the
same time they are compelled by
imperious duty, by the honour of
their flag, by the honour of their
countrymen, and by all that is dear
to themselves, to request that an
order may be issued for the arrest
of commodore James Barron, on
the charges herewith exhibited,
which the undersigned pledge
themselves to prove true, viz.:

First, on the probability of an
engagement, for neglecting to
clear his ship for action.

Secondly, for not doing his ut-
most to take or destroy a vessel
which we conceive it his duty to
have done.

With the highest respect, we
subscribe ourselves,

Your most obedient servants,
benjamin smith, 1st lieut.
william crane, 2d lieut.
w. h. allen, 3d lieut.
s. o. creighton, 4th lieut.
sidney smith, 5th lieut.
samuel brooks, sailing master.

To the Hon. Robert Smith, secre-
tary of the United States' navy,

Norfolk, June 29th, 1807.


The enclosed papers, Nos. 1 and
2, you will perceive are from the
committee of the people of Nor-
folk, calling on me for aid with
the gun boats under my command,
to prevent an invasion which has
been threatened by the command-
ing officer of the British squadron
lying in the vicinity of this place.
You will see, sir, by No. 3, my re-
ply. The British commander
has also threatened that he will
again take possession of the Che-
sapeake. I have it also from the

 image pending 188

most unquestionable authority,
that they have asserted positively,
that, in case the president should
issue a similar order to that issued
respecting the Leander, that they
will consider it as an act of hosti-
lity, and will commence hostile
operations immediately. Under
an impression that they will do as
they say, I hope and feel satisfied
my preparing to act on the defen-
sive will meet the approbation of
the president and yourself. If,
however, it should be thought I
have been precipitate, I beg it may
be attributed to my extreme de-
sire not to omit any service I
might render my country. The
four old gun boats are all that can
be immediately equipped for ser-
vice; these we commenced fitting
this morning: they are now en-
tirely ready for the reception of
the men, who I trust will come
forward in sufficient numbers to
authorize our proceeding to
Hampton to-morrow. Sir, as I
have no doubt, from the threats
the British have made, we shall
have to fight, I shall not leave
this until the boats are manned to
my satisfaction, to do which it
will take one hundred and sixty
men. The British, if they at-
tempt any thing against us, it will
be in the night, with row boats, or
other boats that they may press;
the row boats belonging to their
squadron are capable of carrying
500 men with ease; this number,
if we are full manned, I feel con-
fident of being able to oppose. I
beg you, sir, however, to bear in
mind that our crews will be com-
posed of volunteers, who, notwith-
standing their great zeal, will not
possess all the skill we could wish.
I should, however, be mortified, if
it were understood I wished to
convey an idea, that as much

should not be expected from us,
as ought to be expected from any
four gun boats; more I hope will
not be expected.

The new boats at this place can
be in readiness in a short time,
should you chuse to order it. Al-
though, sir, I shall always be rea-
dy to serve my country in any
way I can be useful, I hope, sir,
if the frigates are to be fitted out,
I shall not be continued in gun
boats. The gentlemen who have
volunteered their services have
agreed to stay with us only until
such time as we shall hear from
Washington what steps will be
taken, which will be on Thurs-

I have the honour to be, with
sentiments of high respect, sir,
your obedient servant,

stephen decatur, jun.

The hon. Robert Smith,
secretary of the navy


We take pleasure in presenting
to you the resolution of the com-
mittee appointed by the inhabit-
ants of this borough, now en-
closed. Requesting your answer
to the resolution, we are, with the
highest respect, sir,your obedient
humble servants,

thomas blanchard,
seth foster,
j. w. murdaugh.

Norfolk, 28th June, 1807.
Capt. Decatur.

Whereas the committee have
received information, from various
sources, that the commander of
the British ships of war has
menaced the inhabitants of Hamp-
ton with an invasion, for the pur-
pose of procuring water. It is
resolved that application be made
to captain Stephen Decatur, com-

 image pending 189

mander of the United States' naval
force at this place, to equip the
gun boats, by availing himself of
the services of the captains and
seamen who have proffered them,
to proceed to Hampton, or as near
it as he may judge proper, to co-
operate with the people in their
defence, in any manner he may
judge most expedient, or to act as
circumstances may dictate, in pre-
venting the execution of their

Resolved, that Thomas Blan-
chard, Seth Foster, and J. W.
Murdaugh, be a committee to wait
on captain Decatur with this ap-

Extract from the minutes,
theo. armistead, Secretary of the committee.
Norfolk, June 28, 1807.

I have received your letter of
this day, enclosing the resolution
of the committee, calling on me,
as the commander of the naval
force at this place, to equip and
resist, with the gun boats under
my command, a threatened in-
vasion of the territory of the
United States, by the British now
lying in the waters of the Chesa-

Having the fullest confidence
that the committee would not have
made a request of this nature
unless they were fully impressed
with a belief that the hostility
spoken of was certainly intended,
I feel it my duty to repel, as far
as I have power, any such attempt
that may be made; for which pur-
pose, if a sufficient number of vo-
lunteers can be procured, I will
repair to Hampton with all possi-
ble expedition.

I have the honour to be, with

sentiments of high respect, gen-
tlemen, your obedient servant,

stephen decatur, jun.

To Thomas Blanchard, Seth Fos-
ter, and J. W. Murdaugh,
Norfolk, 28th June,

Extract of a letter from captain
Stephen Decatur, jun., dated
United States' frigate Chesa-
peake, July 4th,

When I was honoured with
your orders, I was on board the
gun boats: four of them are only
wanting men to place them in a
complete state of readiness for
immediate service. The Che-
sapeake, when I took command
of her, had been brought up into
the bite of Crany island, in con-
sequence of the threats of the
British; their movements, sir,
are extremely suspicious. Since
the affair of the Leopard and
Chesapeake, they have been at
anchor inside the capes, and have
brought to, by firing at, every
vessel that has passed in or out
the capes. They have sent many
insolent and menacing messages
to Norfolk, such as, if the people
did not supply them with articles
they might want, they would
come up and re-take the Chesa-
peake, and cut out the French
frigate Cybelle. This, sir, from
their movements, it is my opinion
they intend to attempt. Yester-
day afternoon the four British
ships came in and anchored in
Hampton roads. This morning
they sent their tenders, and
sounded quite through the nar-
rows. The present position of
the Chesapeake and Cybelle are
such, in consequence of the nar-
rowness of the channel, that if an
attempt was made on either of

 image pending 190

them by the ships, they could
not render each other that sup-
port which would be necessary;
in consequence of this, I have
determined to move up nearer
the town, where we shall be able
to take such a position as will
enable us, with the assistance of
the fort, to make such a defence
as may render abortive any at-
tempt that may be made on us.

P. S. Sir, I just learn that the
depth of the water from Hamp-
ton roads to Norfolk will admit
of three of the British squadron
coming up.

United States' frigate Chesa-
peake, July 4th,


I have just been informed by
Dr. Bullus, who has returned
from Norfolk, that commodore
Douglass, commander of the
British squadron, has wrote the
inhabitants of Norfolk, that, in
consequence of some resolves
passed by a committee selected
from inhabitants of Norfolk and
its vicinity, he has anchored his
ships in such a position as to
prevent any vessels going to or
coming from Norfolk, which he
is determined to do, if those re-
solves are not rescinded.

I have the honour to be, sir,
with sentiments of the highest
respect,>your most obedient ser-

stephen decatur, jun.

Hon. Robert Smith, secretary of
the navy, Washington.

Extract of a letter from Stephen
Decatur, jun., dated United
States' ship Chesapeake, Nor-
folk, July 8th,

The menacing letter written
by commodore Douglass to the
mayor of Norfolk, he has since

stated verbally, contained no me-
nace, and he has further said, he
has no hostile intention against
Norfolk; however, sir, you will
see, by the enclosed affidavit, that
his actions do not comport with
his words: he has lightened his
ship since the pacific message
he sent to the mayor, and the day
before yesterday he fired many
shots at an eastern shore-man.
If he makes an attempt to come
up with the force they speak of,
I think I am not over sanguine
when I say I believe they will
not all go down again.

Extract of a letter from Stephen
Decatur, jun., dated United
States' ship Chesapeake, Nor-
folk, July

The British squadron lying in
Hampton roads bring to every
vessel passing to this place, but
have not detained any. The Bel-
lona and Leopard continue in
their former station, in the roads;
the Triumph and Melampus
have weighed, and are now at
anchor in Lynhaven bay.

At a court of inquiry, assem-
bled on board the United States'
ship Chesapeake, in the harbour
of Norfolk, and state of Virginia,
by order of the hon. Robert
Smith, secretary of the navy of
the United States, and continued
by adjournment from day to day,
from Monday the 5th day of Oc-
tober, 1807, until Wednesday
the 4th day of November, 1807,

Present, captain Alexander
Murray, president; and captains
Isaac Hull and Isaac Chauncey,
members thereof,

The following opinion and re-
port was unanimously given, and
directed by the court to be
transmitted to the hon. the se-

 image pending 191

cretary of the navy of the United

Pursuant to an order from the
hon. Robert Smith, secretary of
the navy of the United States, to
captain Alexander Murray di-
rected, dated the 12th day of
September, 1807, the court pro-
ceeded to inquire into the causes
of the surrender of the Chesa-
peake, a frigate of the United
States, then under the command
of James Barron, Esq., a captain
in the navy of the United States,
to a British vessel of war, which
surrender was made, as is in the
said order stated, without that de-
fence being made which might
have been expected from the
known valour of Americans; and
having heard all the evidence
adduced, as well by the judge
advocate as by the said captain
James Barron, and having ma-
turely and thoroughly consider-
ed the same, captain James Bar-
ron having declined to offer any
defence, report to the hon. the
secretary of the navy of the
United States, as by his said war-
rant is required, a state of the
matters touching the said sur-
render, together with their opi-
nion thereon, as followeth:

1. It appears to the court that
the United States' ship Chesa-
peake, then under the command
of James Barron, Esq., a captain
in the navy of the United States,
sailed from Hampton roads on
an intended cruize in the Medi-
terranean sea, on the morning of
the 22d of June last past, having
on board a crew consisting of
more than 370 men, and com-
pletely equipped with every thing
necessary for such a ship of war,
sailing on such a cruize.

2. It appears to the court, that
captain Barron was appointed

commodore of the ships and ves-
sels destined for the Mediter-
ranean service, on the 15th day
of May last past, and hoisted his
broad pendant on board the Che-
sapeake, the first time he came
on board of her after her arrival
in Hampton roads, to wit, on or
about the 6th day of June last

3. It appears to the court, that
commodore Barron visited the
Chesapeake only twice during
the period she remained in
Hampton roads, and before he
came on board to proceed to sea;
on neither of which occasions
did he examine particularly into
her state and condition.

4. It appears to the court, that
the guns of the Chesapeake were
never exercised before she pro-
ceeded to sea; that her crew
were quartered but a few days
previous to that time, and had
never been called to quarters
more than three times prior to
her sailing for sea.

5. It appears to the court, that
the ship was reported to com-
modore Barron to be ready for
sea on the 17th day of June, that
he came on board on the 21st,
and that the ship sailed on the
morning of the 22d of June last

6. It appears to the court, that
antecedent to the sailing of the
Chesapeake, there had been re-
ceived on board of her some
persons who had been claimed by
the British government as de-
serters from their service, but
who were not ordered to be de-
livered up by the American of-
ficers; that there was also a re-
port in circulation, and generally
known on board the Chesapeake,
that a threat had been used by
the captain of the British ship of

 image pending 192

war Melampus, to take these
men from the Chesapeake; that
commodore Barron had full
knowledge of the facts that such
men were on board his ship,
that they had been demanded by
the British government, and had
not been delivered up, the court
are perfectly satisfied; but no
positive evidence has been ad-
duced to prove, that the report
of the threat above mentioned
was communicated to him before
his ship sailed.

7. It appears to the court, that
the Chesapeake, in proceeding
from Hampton roads to sea, pass-
ed a British squadron at anchor
in Lynhaven bay, who, at the
time of her passing them, were
making signals to each other,
which was not only reported to
commodore Barron by one of his
officers, but actually observed by

8. It appears to the court, that
the British ship of war Leopard,
of fifty guns, one of the squadron
then at anchor within the limits
of the United States, weighed
immediately after these signals
were thrown out, and stood to

9. It does not appear to the
court, that at this time there was
any vessel in sight, or any other
object to induce her to go to sea,
but the Chesapeake.

10. It appears to the court,
that, at the time the Leopard got
under weigh, the wind was at
S. S. W., and therefore fair for
her to proceed to sea; but that,
instead of availing herself of
this to clear the land, she hauled
by the wind close round cape
Henry, and stood to the south-
ward, under easy sail; thereby
showing that it was not her inten-
tion to get off the land speedily.

11. It appears to the court,
that after this the wind became
light and baffling, and likely to
shift, and come out from the
eastward; that when this hap-
pened the Leopard shortened
sail, and stood to the eastward.

12. It appears to the court,
that after this the wind did come
out from about S. S. E., and that
the Leopard then having thus
got the weather-guage, preserved
it by tacking in shore when the
Chesapeake did so in order to
get off her pilot; and after the
Chesapeake again stood off to the
eastward, that the Leopard wore,
and bore down for her.

13. It appears to the court,
that when the Leopard tacked
and stood in shore, on the same
tack with the Chesapeake, that
her lower deck ports were all
triced up.

14. It appears to the court,
that when the Leopard run down
for the Chesapeake, she rounded
to on her starboard quarter, and
to windward of her, and that at
this time her tompions were out
of her guns.

15. It appears to the court,
that commodore Barron was
upon deck observing the Leo-
pard, during the time these ma-
n™uvres were practising and
these appearances exhibited.

16. The court is of opinion,
that the circumstances above
stated were in themselves so sus-
picious, as to have furnished suf-
ficient warning to a prudent, dis-
creet, and attentive officer, of the
probable designs of a ship of
war conducted in that way, and
ought to have induced commo-
dore Barron to have prepared his
ship for action; especially with
the information he possessed of
the situation of his crew gene-

 image pending 193

rally, of those who had been de-
manded by the British govern-
ment particularly, and of the ge-
neral state of the ship at that

17. It appears to the court,
that commodore Barron never-
theless did not order his ship to
be cleared for action, and that
he did not call his men to quar-

18. It appears to the court,
that when the Leopard came
along-side of the Chesapeake, an
officer was sent from her, with a
communication from captain
Humphreys, the captain of the
Leopard, to commodore Barron,
which the latter could not and
did not misunderstand, but very
correctly concluded to be a de-
mand with which he ought not
and could not comply, and one
which, if refused, would be en-
forced if possible.

19. It appears to the court,
that although such was the situ-
ation and impression of commo-
dore Barron at this time, yet
that he did not still order his
ship to be prepared for action,
although ample time was allow-
ed for that purpose, the British
officer being detained on board
the Chesapeake from thirty-five
to forty-five minutes.

20. The court is of opinion,
that the neglect of commodore
Barron to prepare his ship for
action, under such circumstances,
is a direct breach of the fourth
article of the rules and regula-
tions for the government of the
navy of the United States, adopt-
ed by an act of the congress of
the United States, passed on the
23d day of April, 1800, entitled
“An act for the better govern-
ment of the navy of the United

21. It appears to the court,
that after the British officer left
the Chesapeake, bearing a posi-
tive refusal from commodore
Barron to the demand which
had been made by captain Hum-
phreys, and after commodore
Barron was himself satisfied
that an attack upon his ship
would be made, he did not take
prompt, necessary, and efficient
means to prepare his ship for
battle. That his first order was
merely to clear his gun deck;
and the second, given after the
lapse of some time, was to get
his men to quarters secretly,
without beat of drum; although,
with such a crew as he had on
board, and in such a situation as
the ship then was, it was not to
be expected that such orders
could be effectually accomplish-

22. It appears to the court,
that the conduct of commodore
Barron during the attack of the
Leopard manifested great inde-
cision, and a disposition to ne-
gociate, rather than a determi-
nation bravely to defend his ship;
that he repeatedly hailed the
Leopard during her attack upon
him; that he drew his men from
their guns to lowering down
boats, to send on board of the at-
tacking ship; and that he order-
ed his first lieutenant from his
quarters during the attack, to
carry a message on board of the
Leopard, at that time firing upon

23. It appears to the court,
that, during the attack, commo-
dore Barron used language, in
the presence of his men, calcu-
lated to dispirit his crew, by or-
dering them to keep down, that
they would be all cut to pieces.

24. It appears to the court,

 image pending 194

that commodore Barron ordered
the colours of the Chesapeake to
be struck, and that they were
struck before a single gun of any
kind was fired from her; and
that at the time they were so
struck her main deck battery
was in a situation which would
have enabled the return of a
broadside in a very short time.

25. The court is therefore of
opinion, that the Chesapeake was
prematurely surrendered, at a
time when she was nearly pre-
pared for battle, and when the
injuries sustained, either on the
ship or crew, did not make such
a surrender then necessary;
and that for this commodore Bar-
ron falls under a part of the sixth
article for the rules and regula-
tions for the government of the
navy of the United States, adopt-
ed by an act of the congress of
the United States, passed on the
23d day of April, 1800, entitled,
“An act for the better govern-
ment of the navy of the United

26. The court is of opinion,
that although the conduct of com-
modore Barron, before and dur-
ing the attack of the Leopard,
evinced great inattention to his
duty and want of decision, yet
that during that attack he ex-
posed his person, and did not

manifest, either by his orders or
actions, any personal fear or
want of courage.

27. It appears to the court,
that although the Chesapeake
might and ought to have been bet-
ter defended than she was, yet that
she was not in a situation, at the
time of the attack made upon her,
to have enabled so gallant a de-
fence being made as might be ex-
pected. Some of her guns were not
securely fitted in their carriages;
some of her spunges and wads
were too large; but few of her
powder horns were filled; her
matches were not primed; some
of her rammers were not in their
proper places; her marines were
neither supplied with enough of
cartridges, nor were those which
they had of the proper size.
None of these circumstances
however could have influenced
commodore Barron in striking
his colours, because they were
not known to him at the time.

28. The court is of opinion,
that the conduct of all the other
officers of the ship, except those
whose duty it was to have reme-
died the deficiencies before stated,
and of the crew generally, was
proper, commendable and ho-

l. w. tazewell,,
Judge advocate.

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