An American sloop-of-war of eighteen guns, built in Washington, D. C.
, in 1806.
On Oct. 13, 1812, under command of Capt. Jacob Jones
thoroughly manned and equipped, carrying sixteen 32-pounder carronades and two long 12-pounders, with two small brass cannon in her tops, she left the Delaware
on a cruise.
She was considered one of the fastest sailers in the service, and was furnished with 135 men and boys.
She ran off towards the West Indies
, and, on the night of Oct. 18, Jones
saw several vessels, and ran parallel with them until the dawn, when he discovered that it was a fleet of armed merchant-vessels convoyed by the British sloop-of-war Frolic
, Capt. T. Whinyates
, mounting sixteen 32-pounder carronades, two long 6-pounders, and two 12-pounder carronades on her forecastle.
She was manned by a crew of 108 persons.
took a position for battle so as to allow the merchantmen to escape during the fight.
A severe engagement began at 10.30 A. M. Within five minutes the maintop-gallant mast of the Wasp
was shot away and fell among the rigging, rendering a portion of it unmanageable during the remainder of the action.
Three minutes afterwards her gaff and maintop-mast were shot away, and at twenty minutes from the opening of the engagement every brace and most of the rigging were disabled.
Her condition was forlorn.
But while the Wasp
was thus suffering, she had inflicted more serious injury to the hull of the Frolic
The two vessels gradually approached each other, fell foul, the bowsprit of the Frolic
passing in over the quarter-deck of the Wasp
, and forcing her bows up in the wind.
This enabled the latter to give the Frolic
a raking broadside with terrible effect.
With wild shouts the crew of the Wasp
now leaped into the entangling rigging, and made their way to the deck of the Frolic
But there was no one to oppose them.
The last broadside had carried death and dismay into the Frolic
, and almost cleared the deck of effective men. All who were able had escaped below to avoid the raking fire of the Wasp
The English officers on deck, nearly all of them bleeding from wounds, cast their swords in submission before Lieutenant Biddle
, who led the boarding-party.
He sprang into the rigging, and with his own hand struck the colors of the Frolic
The contest lasted forty-five minutes, and the aggregate loss of the Frolic
in killed and wounded was ninety men. the Wasp
had only five men killed and five wounded.
placed Lieutenant Biddle
in command of the Frolic
, with orders to take her into Charleston, S. C.
, and when they were about to part company the British ship-of-war Poictiers
, seventy-four guns, Capt. J. P. Beresford
, bore down upon them.
and her prize were not in a condition to flee or fight, and within two hours after he had gained his victory Jones
was compelled to surrender both vessels.
They were taken to Bermuda
, where the American
prisoners were exchanged.
The victory of the Wasp
over the Frolic
caused much exultation in the United States
was lauded in speeches and songs.
The authorities of New York voted him a sword and the freedom of the city.
Congress voted him thanks and a gold medal, and appropriated $25,000 to Jones
and his company as compensation for their loss of prize-money.
A silver medal was given to each of his officers.
The captain was promoted to the command of the frigate Macedonian
, captured from the British
The legislature of Pennsylvania voted Lieutenant Biddle
thanks and a sword, and the leading men of Philadelphia
gave him a silver urn. He was
shortly afterwards appointed to the command of the sloop-of-war Hornet
This victory was celebrated by songs, and also by caricatures.
One of the songs became very popular, and was sung at
all public gatherings.
In it occurred the following lines:
The foe bravely fought, but his arms were all broken,
And he fled from his death-wound aghast and affrighted;
But the Wasp darted forward her deathdoing sting,
And full on his bosom, like lightning alighted.
She pierced through his entrails, she maddened his brain,
And he writhed and he groaned as if torn with the colic;
And long shall John Bull rue the terrible day
He met the American Wasp on a Frolic.
A Wasp on a frolic.|
Among the caricatures was one by Charles, of Philadelphia
, under which were the following words:
A Wasp took a Frolic and met Johnny Bull, Who always fights best when his belly is full.
the Wasp thought him hungry by his mouth open wide,
So, his belly to fill, put a sting in his side.
On May 1, 1814, the Wasp
, then under command of Capt. Johnston Blakeley
, left the harbor of Portsmouth, N. H.
, and soon appeared in the chops of the British Channel
, where she spread terror among the British
merchant-ships and the people of the seaport towns.
Painful recollections of the ravages of the Argus
On the morning of June 28, while some distance at sea, the Wasp
was chased by two vessels.
They were soon joined by a third, which displayed English colors.
In the afternoon, after much manoeuvring, this vessel and the Wasp
came to an engagement, which soon became very severe.
The men of the stranger several times attempted to board the Wasp
, but were repulsed.
Finally, the crew of the Wasp
boarded her antagonist, and in less than thirty minutes the latter was a prize to the American vessel.
She proved to be the sloop-of-war Reindeer
, Capt. William Manners
, and was terribly shattered.
Her captain and twenty-four others were killed and forty-two wounded. the Wasp
was hulled six times, and her loss was five men killed and twenty-two wounded. Blakeley
put his prisoners on board a neutral vessel and burned the Reindeer
For this capture Congress voted him a gold medal.
He arrived at L'Orient
July 8, and on Aug. 27 departed for another cruise in the Wasp
On Sept. 1 she had a sharp engagement with the Avon
, eighteen guns, Captain Arbuthnot
, in intense darkness.
At the end of thirty minutes the antagonist of the Wasp
“Have you surrendered?”
He was answered by a few shots, when he gave the Avon
another broadside, followed by the same question, which was answered in the affirmative, and an officer was about to leave the Wasp
to take possession of the prize.
Just then another vessel was seen astern, rapidly approaching; then another and another, and Blakeley
was compelled to abandon the prize so nearly in his possession.
The vessel that first came to the assistance of the Avon
was the Castilian
, eighteen guns.
was so much shattered in the conflict that she sank almost immediately.
Her people were rescued by their friends on the other vessels.
continued her course, capturing several prizes.
Near the Azores
she captured (Sept. 21) the Atlanta
, a valuable prize that he sent home in command of Midshipman
) D. Geisinger
On Oct. 9 the Wasp
was spoken by a Swedish bark making her way towards the Spanish
She was never heard of after-
wards, nor those who were then on board of her. She and all her people perished in some unknown solitude of the sea.