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Argus, capture of the.

The American brig Argus, Capt. W. H. Allen, bore to France William H. Crawford, United States minister to that government. She afterwards cruised in British waters, and by the celerity of her movements and destructive energy she spread consternation throughout commercial England. She carried 32-pound carronades and two bowguns; and her commander, who had served under Decatur, was one of the most gallant men of the navy. He roamed the “chops of the Channel” successfully; and, sailing around Land's End, in the space of thirty days he captured no less than twenty valuable British merchantmen, with cargoes valued at $2,000,000. Too far away from friendly ports into which he might send his prizes, he burned all the [199] vessels. Every non-combatant captive he allowed to remove his private property, and for this generosity he was thanked by them. The British government, alarmed by the exploits of the Argus, sent out several cruisers after her. Just before the dawn of Aug. 14, 1813, the British brig Pelican, 18, Capt. J. F. Maples, appeared; and at six o'clock the Argus wore round and delivered a broadside upon her at grape-shot distance. The fire was immediately returned, and a round shot carried away Allen's leg. He refused to be taken from the deck; but soon becoming unconscious from loss of blood, he was taken to the cockpit, and died the next day. The men of the Argus, weakened by too free use of captured wine the night before, did not fight with their usual vigor, yet they handled the vessel admirably. Lieut. W. Howard Allen was left in chief command. Very soon the Argus became so badly injured that she began to reel. All her braces were shot away, and she could not be kept in position. the Pelican at length crossed her stern, and raked her dreadfully; and at the end of twenty-five minutes from the beginning of the action the Argus became unmanageable. Yet she fought on feebly twenty minutes longer, when she was compelled to surrender, the Sea-Horse, the Pelican's consort, having hove in sight. The Argus lost, in killed and wounded, twenty-three men; the Pelican lost seven men.

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August 14th, 1813 AD (1)
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