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Navy Department, Nov. 12, 1807.
SIR,-In compliance with your letter of the 9th inst. I have the honour of herewith transmitting to you, papers A, B, and C, which contain all the information that has been communicated to the navy department, in relation "to the outrage committed on the frigate Chesapeake." I have the honour to be, &c.
To the Hon. Thomas Blount, Chairman of the Committee of Congress upon Aggressions, &c.
British Consul's Office. Norfolk, Va. March 6, 1807.
SIR,-The men named in the margin* deserted some time since from his majesty's ship Melampus, in Hampton Roads, by running away with her gig; and the three first are stated to have entered 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 entered for your service) to be returned to their duty on board his majesty's ship before mentioned.
I have the honour to remain, &c.
British Consul's Office. Norfolk, Va. March 7, 1807.
SIR, Mr. John Murphy, master of the British merchant ship Herald, in this harbour, has represented to me, that John Wilson, a seaman under articles to that ship, and John Murphy (his son) an apprentice, both subjects of his majesty, have deserted and enlisted at the
* William Ware, Daniel Martin, John Strachan, John Little.
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 recovery of the persons before mentioned. It has, therefore, become my duty to solicit that the seaman 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 performance of their respective engagements on board of that ship.
I have the honour to remain, &c.
Norfolk, March 8, 1807.
SIR, Your communications with captain Decatur have been transmitted to me by that officer.
John Hamilton, Esq. Norfolk,
I must observe, in answer, that John Murphy, appearing to be an apprentice to his commander, has been delivered to the civil authority.
I do not feel myself justified in delivering any men who are not apprentices, and who have voluntarily entered the service of the United States, unless claimed by the magistracy.
I have the honour to be, &c.
British Consul's Office, Norfolk, Va. March 9, 1807.
SIR, I have had the honour to receive your letter, dated yesterday, acquainting me, in reply to my communications addressed (through misinformation) to captain Decatur, which he had done me the kindness to transmit to you, that John Murphy, being an apprentice to his commander, had been delivered up to the civil authority; but, that you do not feel yourself justified in delivering up any men who are not thus bound, and who have voluntarily 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, &c.
Navy Yard, Washington, April 7, 1807.
SIR,-I have the honour to enclose you the result of my inquiries relating to the men mentioned in your letter of yesterday, and have the honour to be, &c.
The Hon. R. Smith, Secr'y of the Navy.
William Ware, pressed from on board the brig Neptune, captain Crafts, by the British frigate Melampus, in the bay of Biscay, and has served on board the said frigate fifteen months.
William Ware is a native American, born on Pipe creek, Frederick 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 Hagarstown and Baltimore. He also served eighteen months on board the United States frigate Chesapeake, under the command of commodore Morris 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 Westport, in Massachusetts, about thirty miles to the eastward of Newport, R. I. served his time out of New York with captain Marrowby, in the Caledonia. Refers to Mr. Benjamin Davis, merchant, and Mr. Benjamin Corce, of Westport. He is a coloured man.
John Strachan, born on the eastern shore of Maryland, Queen Ann's county, between Centreville and Queenstown. Refers to Mr. John Price and Pratt, Esq. on Kent island, who knows his relations. Strachan sailed in the brig Martha Bland, captain Wivill, from Norfolk 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 Melampus, off cape Finisterre ; to better his situation, he consented to enter, being deter
mined to make his escape when opportunity offered. served on board the frigate two years. He is a white man, about five feet seven inches high.
William Ware and John Strachan have protections. Daniel 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 entered by my recruiting officer. William Ware, Daniel Martin, and John Strachan, state, that sometime in February last, there was an entertainment on board the Melampus, lying then in Hampton Roads; that while the officers 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 musquetry instantly commenced from the ship; that, in defiance of balls and 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.
SIR,-Yesterday, at 6, A. M. the wind became favourable, and knowing your anxiety that the ship should sail with all possible despatch, we weighed from our station in Hampton Roads, and stood to sea. In Lynnhaven bay we passed two British men of war, one of them the Bellona, the other the Melampus; their colours flying, and their appearance friendly. Some time afterwards, we observed one of the two line of battle ships that lay off cape Henry to get under way, 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 way came within hail. Cape Henry then bearing N. w. by w. distance three leagues. The communication which appeared to be her comman
der'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 Berkeley, which another officer afterwards took back, to which I gave the enclosed answer, No. 2, 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 immediately gave the orders to the officers 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 commander 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 acknowledge, that I found from the advantage they had gained over our unprepared and unsuspicious state, did not warrant a longer opposition; 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 defence: consequently our resistance was but feeble. In about twenty minutes after I ordered the colours to be struck, and sent lieutenant Smith on board the Leopard, to inform her commander that I considered the Chesapeake her prize. To this message I received no answer; the Leopard's boat soon after came on board, and the officer who came in her demanded the muster book. I replied 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 Leopard the enclosed No. 3, to which I received the answer No. 4. On finding that the men