View Full Version : AAR January Pell Mell: To Rescue the President

04-17-2017, 14:36
Introduction to the Lesser Antilles Squadron


Commodore Isaac Hull
USS President, Flagship, Captain Richard Somers, 1st Officer Lieutenant Emmanuel Williamson
USS Constitution, Captain John Rogers, 1st Officer Lieutenant Ezra Perkins
USS United States, Captain William Bainbridge
USS Congress, Captain James Server
USS Chesapeake, Captain Samuel Barron
USS Essex, Master Commander Ezekiel Fulbryte
USS General Greene, Lieutenant George Cross
USS Boston, Lieutenant George Little
Constitution, United States, and Boston are ships that survived the Disaster in the Fog in November 1800. Their squadron was disbanded and the ships added to the Lesser Antilles Squadron being formed in Barbados.
Congress, Chesapeake and Essex are replacement ships newly attached to the squadron from ports in the states.
President and General Greene served with Commodore Hull along the Atlantic coast of Georgia and the Carolinas.

04-17-2017, 14:37
Commodore Isaac Hull was sitting at the bedside of Captain Richard Somers. The captain had been severely wounded in the defense of their home port of Bridgetown, Barbados. The battle was successful, but costly. Many good men died and many others wounded, but none more seriously that Richard Somers. Captain Somers was Hull’s flag captain, responsible for the day-to-day operation of USS President, allowing Hull to concentrate on the entirety of the squadron. This man would be missed for the next few months.
Somers’ duties would be undertaken by 1st Lieutenant Emmanuel Williamson, the second in command. This would be his first command of such a large frigate and he would have the extra responsibilities of the flag captain. He had performed admirably after his captain was taken to the surgeon’s ward and came highly recommended by his captain. Still, he was young for the job.
“Well, Richard,” the commodore said in a calm, quiet voice, “I’ll be leading the next patrol along the northern islands next week; it should be quite an adventure.”
“Who will you take with you sir?” Richard’s voice betrayed the fatigue he was trying to hide.
“I think Constitution and Essex,” Hull replied after a little thought. “Captain Rogers was slow to get Constitution moving during the attack. I am worried about how he’s reacting to being cobbled together with this squadron. I think he feels he should have been given command of the old Caribbean Squadron; and maybe he should have. It was a fine outfit before the debacle in that damn fog.”
“I think he’ll be all right, sir,” whispered Somers.
“We’ll see, he better be good or he’ll be skipper of a schooner in Singapore,” chucked the commodore.
“I don’t know Commander Fulbryte; he joined us after the attack, is he any good?” asked Somers.
Hull replied, “I don’t know, but I will after this next cruise. I intend to close on the French if we encounter them. If not then we’ll find a French merchant ship and see how Fulbryte responses to that.”
“You look tired, my friend. I’ll leave you to rest.”
“Keep me posted, sir; I’d like to know who I’m working with. Good night.” Richard Somers saluted his friend and superior and was asleep before Hull could shut the door.

04-17-2017, 14:38
The Story


January 11, 1801
Captain John Rogers knew he didn’t have the full confidence of his commander. He thought that Commodore Hull disapproved of Constitution’s performance during the Battle in the Fog. Though it had been no fault of his own, his ship had been the last to leave Bridgetown Harbor when the French attacked just two months ago. He hated that he and his crew had to prove themselves to this “Johnny-come-lately” in the Caribbean Sea.

Rogers could look over the deck of the Constitution and see his men working the ship, observe the other two ships in the squadron and the four French ships they had been chasing for the last two days. Both the crew and the squadron met with his approval. USS Essex was first in line followed by USS President and finally his Constitution. As he gazed forward, he saw the French lead ship, Le Swiftsure, begin to turn to port; ever so slightly at first then very sharply.


“Battle stations!” the captain roared, “They’re coming about, we’re in for a fight.”

Signal flags rose to the top of both the mizzen and the fore masts of the flagship with the same message, “Keep in line and head for the lead ship.”
First one then the next French man-o’-war followed their flagship, all except Unité who turned to starboard. The foremast flags changed to read, “Essex engage the small frigate.” Essex swung her helm to meet her target.

Rogers ordered his helmsman to follow the flagship until further orders. “Aye, Captain,” came the reply.

The French flagship, Le Swiftsure, was broad off the port bow when President finally began a slight turn toward the main body of the enemy.
It was at that point that the second ship, Eveille abruptly turned into the wind, followed by Proserpine. Within minutes both ships resumed their former heading, but the maneuver put the two ships in an oblique right formation with Swiftsure alone further out in front.

Signal flags quickly shot up the flagship’s mizzenmast ordering Constitution to flank Eveille and attack their rear.

“They’ll surround the flagship, sir,” cried Mr. Perkins, the 1st Officer.

“Hull knows what he’s doing, Perkins,” the captain reprimanded with more confidence in his voice than he felt. “Helm, hold your course, we want to put them on our portside.”

“Aye, sir,” was the reply.

Rogers saw Essex and Unite exchange fire. The American lost some canvas, but the French lost her foremast.


An exchange of cannon came from the President and the Flagship of France as well; Swiftsure getting the worst of it.


As the two smaller frigates began to circle, Unite’s starboard broadside trained on Constitution and peppered her causing little but irritation.


Captain Rogers was more concerned with the opportunity Swiftsure presented him. As she swung into the wind to begin to encircle President, Swiftsure pointed her bow directly at Constitutions loaded and primed broadside.


“Portside battery, aim for her figurehead and FIRE!” screamed Captain Rogers. The cannons roared and French splinters flew across Swiftsure’s decks.

President set her forward division cannon to good use and fired right through Eveille’s bow. The shot caused considerable damage to the Frenchman’s forward sections.


Captain Rogers turned his attention to the starboard side of his ship and the small menace of Unite, who now had her stern exposed to Constitutions broadside.

“You men on the starboard side guns, give the captain of that little pip squeak a present from us right on his dinner table and FIRE!”


Sure enough, smoke and the flicker of flames showed themselves in the windows of the captain’s cabin.

“Sir,” shouted Mr. Perkins, “Hull’s ship is in trouble, LOOK!”


Even as USS President emptied her port broadside into the French flagship, she took fire from the cannons of three enemy ships including two third rated ships-of-the-line. The Americans mizzenmast came down and bodies could be seen cartwheeling through the air. If this didn’t do her in then nothing would.

“Follow the flag,” Rogers shouted at the helmsman.

Yancy Jones, at the helm today, spun the wheel to port, turning the ship almost due north, almost crashing into the bow of Eveille. He then spun the wheel even faster to starboard so that the two ships only scraped their sides as they past. The forced maneuver the helmsman was required to take sent the ship in the exact opposite direction that Rogers wanted.

Rogers had trained his guncrews well and it paid dividends as the crews fired into Swiftsure on their own volition. A fire broke out on Swiftsure’s deck and a sail was shredded. Just as well trained, Constitutions marines fired at the sailors trying to control Eveille; killing several.


As Constitution cleared Eveille, Proserpine fired a broadside into her port quarter springing a leak and injuring several of the crew.


Meanwhile, Swiftsure fired what was left of her port broadside into the stern of the flagship, President. The shot caused a lot of damage to the ship and killed several of the crew, but sparing the young captain.


Hull sent flags aloft telling Essex to let the wounded Unite go and gather to the flag. Rogers watched as Essex turned to starboard responding to the order. As she did so she sent a long “hail Mary” broadside at Eveille, causing only slight damage.


Proserpine was luckier with her broadside into President’s port bow.


First Lieutenant Williamson sent repair crews to the site of a serious leak and more men to man the pumps. His sole purpose now was to save his ship and allow the commodore to direct the squadron for as long as possible. His fight was over, and survival was his only hope.

Rogers could see that the squadron flagship was in serious trouble, but he had to contend with his own leak and getting Constitution into position to attempt a rescue. To this end, he organized crews to repair and pump. To help with the urgency of the situation, he took gun crews from the portside batteries and sent them to lend a hand.

“Helm, turn us into the wind, then tack to starboard and turn us around,” came the command.

“Aye, Captain,” came the response.

By the time this maneuver was completed, several changes had occurred on the field of action.


Constitution’s leak was repaired. Essex had exchange shots with Eveille.

Just as Essex cleared away earlier mast damage a lucky French shot started a fire amidships. Her captain, Commander Ezekiel Fulbryte turned his ship to the east and began to fight the fire.

Proserpine followed President so closely that her bowsprit came close to overlapping the America’s stern, all the while peppering her decks with musket fire. With Swiftsure threatening her broadside and his crew unable to return even musket fire, Williamson requested permission to strike his colors. Hull reluctantly agreed.


Hull’s final message to the fleet was to turn over command to Captain Rogers of the USS Constitution.
With the surrender of the flagship and Essex on fire, Rogers felt alone against three advisories. Then he saw that Unite was returning to the fight.

With the French cannoneering weakening on all but Proserpine, Rogers felt a faint glimmer of hope that he might, if he were lucky, yet save the President.

Once again Rogers drove Constitution into close contact with Eveille. The exchange of fire from cannon and muskets left Rogers’ ship with yet another leak and several crew members in the surgeon’s ward. But he carried on.

Perkins reported that USS Essex was struggling to make her escape, and that Eveille made a sharp turn in front of her and gave her a weak but effective raking broadside into her bow. The American’s rudder seemed to be afoul.


Her captain sent Constitution north beyond the reach of the other French ships and engaged Swiftsure, one on one. The Frenchman was only able to bring her portside forward battery to bear while Constitution brought her full broadside. The loss of her mainmast added to the terrible damage she took earlier in the fight made the captain of Swiftsure bow to the inevitable, and strike her colors.


“Look,” called Perkins, “Poor Essex is trying to follow us; she can’t survive the onslaught she is going to be taking.”


At just that moment, as if to interrupt his thought, the three remaining French ships fired on the smaller frigate. It was all that she could take. Water flooded the lower decks, fallen sailors were scattered all over the ship and she went down like a rock. The captain got as many survivors off the ship as he could and finally stepped off the starboard rail and plunged into the water.

“Oh God, it’s only us left, sir,” said Perkins.

Constitution arced around the surrendered French flagship trying to get to the President, but found that Proserpine had slipped between the American and French commodores.


The Frenchman made a desperate shot with her forward division to absolutely no avail, then took a full broadside at close range.


Fire erupted from multiple places and her forward mast crashed over the side making her difficult to control. Proserpine’s captain frantically tried to reach open sea and save his ship, but after several minutes had to except his fate and save his crew. Proserpine burned to the waterline and sank.

“Lower sails, down I say,” Captain Rogers commanded. “Helm, bear-away as hard as you can. We must turn on that old French tub.


The “old French tub” fired her port forward guns reminding the American captain that she still had teeth. The shots destroyed the captains quarters and left a huge hole in the upper quarterdecks.

“Lower sails, men, tighter yet, helm, turn!”

Constitution crossed Eveille’s bow and sent a withering, raking broadside that everyone thought would be her doom, but no, she answered with shots from the starboard guns that could bear. A second mast came crashing to Eveille's deck and her bow section was riddled with gaping holes.

Eveille, turned sharply north, barely missing Constitution and headed for open sea. Unite, having returned to the fight after minimal repairs, passed the American to port. As the three ships passed everyone got one last shot.


The French ships had little firepower left but did cause a small leak below decks. Constitution had considerable more strength left doing a great deal of destruction to both Frenchmen and opening great holes at their waterlines. Eveille and Unite went under the waves quickly, far too quickly for the saving of very many lives.

Rogers put crew members on both the USS President and the French Swiftsure. Hundreds of enemy sailors were sent to the holds of the three remaining ships. Sailors were retrieved from the waters were ships were lost. Master Commander Ezekial Fulbryte was given temporary command of Swiftsure. Command was returned to Commodore Hull and the little flotilla limped for home.

04-17-2017, 14:39
Butcher’s Bill
Mission Objectives Achieved

USS President

Struck then rescued, Hull Damage=7, Crew Damage=9 - RtP, h-2, c-4 AP=(16/3)

USS Constitution

Survived, Hull Damage=6, Crew Damage=6 - RtP, h-1, c-1 AP=(16/3)

USS Essex

Sunk, - RtP, AP=(16/3)

Le Swiftsure







04-17-2017, 14:39
To: The members of the 2017 Solo Campaign
From: Commodore Isaac Hull
In respect of the action of January past, I recommend Captain John Rogers of the USS Constitution for the Medal of Valor for his almost single-handed rescue of the President. He is a commander of exceptional skill and courage and deserves acknowledgement.
The approaval of four independent members of the forum is required to award this medal.

04-17-2017, 17:02
To: Commodore Isac Hull, United States Ship PRESIDENT, Barbados
From: Commanding Officer, Privateer Vessel REAPER, Tortuga

Captain Rogers' initiative and skilled leadership are to be commended. APPROVED.

As my ship was built from the same plans as yours, sail over here sometime and we can discuss some refinements my merry little band of pirate engineers have made that might help you in future battles. First round of rum for your crew and Rogers's is on us.

(Er, strike that, I'm not in the campaign as I never have room to set up anything.)

Union Jack
04-18-2017, 16:56
To: Commodore Isac Hull, United States Ship PRESIDENT, Barbados
From: Rear Admiral Sir Henry Percy, HMS Royal Sovereign, Antigua.

News of Captain Rogers' initiative and skilled leadership, having just reached Antigua, are to be commended. The efforts of this brave captain, in my own honest opinion, should receive just reward.

Rear Admiral Sir Henry Percy.

04-20-2017, 04:00
To: Commodore Isaac Hull USN, United States Ship PRESIDENT, presently watering in Barbados.

Regarding the action of January 11th last between ships of your Flotilla and a French Squadron observed by Lt. Peter Shilling Royal Navy of the Brig HMS Swan.
On reading the Swan's log, Rear Admiral of the White Sir Joshua Pound K.B. has instructed me to inform you of his approbation regarding the actions of the USS Constitution, Captain Rogers and his entire crew in helping destroy the marauding French Squadron in its entirety. The action was truly in the spirit of your young Nation and will no doubt be included in the building of a maritime tradition which will one day be the equivalent of that of the Royal Navy.

Furthermore, Sir Joshua sends his deepest regards to yourself and those serving under you.

Given under my hand on this 31st day of January 1801 at Government House Kingston Jamacia.

Edward Blundell. Secretary to the Admiralty.

05-01-2017, 11:03
To: Commodore Isac Hull, United States Ship PRESIDENT, Barbados
From: Commanding Officer, Privateer Vessel REAPER, Tortuga

Captain Rogers' initiative and skilled leadership are to be commended. APPROVED.

As my ship was built from the same plans as yours, sail over here sometime and we can discuss some refinements my merry little band of pirate engineers have made that might help you in future battles. First round of rum for your crew and Rogers's is on us.

(Er, strike that, I'm not in the campaign as I never have room to set up anything.)


You sure are in this campaign. Your spirit flies above the mainmast of every ship, both friend and foe, participating in these stories. If it ever dries out enough we're you are from, then take your collection outdoors, or on your apartment roof top, or to a park picnic table and have a go at this solo sailing sport. The Mariners and Sea Hawks would approve.

05-01-2017, 11:08
Commodore Hull needs only one more vote to award this medal. If you read this report and believe it is warranted, then reply. Yours could be the one that redeems Captain Rogers reputation.