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fifteen hands. Not long after taking this command he fell in with a French privateer mounting a long twelve pounder and several swivels, having a crew of forty men, and accompanied by a prize ship and a large barge with thirty men armed with swivels. Notwithstanding the great disparity of force, Porter ordered his vessel to be laid alongside the privateer. The contest was arduous, and for some time doubtful, for in the commencement of the action he lost his rudder, which rendered the schooner unnanageable. The event, however, excused the desperateness of the attack, for after an obstinate and bloody resistance the privateer surrendered with the loss of seven killed and fifteen wounded. Not a man of Porter's crew was killed; several, however, were wounded, and his Vessel was much injured. The prize was also taken, but the barge escaped. The conduct of Lieutenant Porter in this gallart little affair was highly applauded by his commander.
Shortly after his return to the United States he sailed, as first lieutenant, in the Experiment, commanded by Captain Charles Stewart. They were again stationed in the West Indies, and af -forded great protection to the American commerce in that quarter. They had several engagements with French privateers, and were always successful, insomuch that they became the terror of those marauders of the ocean, and effectually controlled their rapacity and kept them quiet in port. The gallant and lamented Trippe was second lieutenant of the Experiment at the time.
When the first squadron was ordered for the Mediterranean, Porter sailed as first lieutenant of the schooner Enterprise, Captain Stewart. In this cruise they encountered a Tripolitan corsair of very superior force; a severe battle ensued in which the enemy suffered great slaughter, and was compelled to surrender, while our ship received but little injury. In this brilliant action Porter acquired much reputation from the conspicuous part he acted. He afterwards served on board of different ships in the Mediterranean station, and distinguished himself by his intrepidity and zeal whenever'an opportunity presented. On one occasion he comnianded an expedition of boats sent to destroy some vessels laden with wheat, at anchor in the harbour of old Tripoli; the service was promptly and effectually performed; in the engagement he receiv. ed a musket ball through his left thigh.
Shortly after recovering from his wound he was transposed from the. New-York to the Philadelphia, Captain Bainbridge, as firstlieutenant. The frigate was then lying at Gibraltar, when he joined her in September, 1803. She soon after sailed for the blockade of. Tripoli. No event took place worthy of mention until the 31st of October. Nearly a week previous to this illfated day, the weather had been tempestuous, which rendered it prudent to keep the ship off the land. The 31st opened with all the splendour of a Sicilian morning: the promise of a more delightful day never appeared. The land was just observed, when a sail was descried making for the harbour, with a pleasant easterly breeze. It was soon ascertained to be an armed ship of the enemy, and all sail was set in chase. After an ineffectual pursuit of several leagues, Captain Bainbridge had just given orders to hale off, when the frigate grounded. Every expedient that skill or courage could devise to float or defend her, was successively resorted to, but in vain. The particulars of this unfortunate affair are too generally known to need a minute recital; it is sufficient to add that this noble ship and her gallant crew were surrendered to a barbarous and dastardly enemy, whose only motive in warfare is the hope of plunder. Throughout the long and dreary confinement, which ensued, in the dungeons of Tripoli, Porter never suffered himself for a moment to sink into despondency; but supported the galling indignities and hardships of his situation with equanimity and even cheerfulness. A seasonable supply of books served to beguile the hours of imprisonment, and enabled himn even to turn them to advantage. He closely applied himself to the study of ancient and modern history, biography, the French language, and drawing; in which art, so useful to a seaman, he has made himself a considerable proficient. He also sedulously cultivated the theo ry of his profession, and improved the junior officers by his fre quent instructions; representing the manæuvres of fleets in battle by means of small boards ingeniously arranged. He was active in promoting any plan of labour or amusement that could ameliorate the situation or dispel the gloomy reflections of his companions, By these means captivity was robbed of its heaviest evils, that dut) monotony that wearies the spirits, and that mental inactivity that engenders melancholy and hypochondria,
An incident which occurred during his confinement deserves to be mentioned, as being highly creditable to Lieutenant Porter. Under the rooms occupied by the officers was a long dark passage, through which the American sailors, who were employed in pub: lic labour, frequently passed to different parts of the castle. Their conversation being repeatedly heard as they passed to and fro, some one made a small hole in the wall to communicate with them. For some days a constant intercourse was kept up, by sending down notes tied to a string. Some persons, however, indiscreetly entering into conversation with the seamen, were overheard, and information immediately carried to the Bashaw. In a few minutes the bolts of the prison door were heard to fly back with unwonted violence, and Sassi (chief officer of the castle) rushed furiously in. His features were distorted, and his voice almost inarticulate with passion. He demanded in a vehement tone of voice by whom or whose authority the wall had been opened; when Porter advanced with a firm step and composed countenance, and replied, “I alone am responsible.” He was abruptly and rudely hurried from the prison, and the gate was again closed. This generous self-devo. tion, while it commanded the admiration of his companions, heightened their anxiety for his fate; apprehending some act of violence from the impetuous temper and absolute power of the Bashaw. Their fears, however, were appeased by the return of Porter, after considerable detention; having been dismissed without any further severity through the intercession of the minister Mahomet Dghies, who had on previous occasions shown a friendly disposition towards the prisoners.
It is unnecessary here to dwell on the various incidents that occurred in this tedious captivity, and of the many ingenious and adventurous plans of escape, devised and attempted by our officers, in all which Porter took an active and prominent part. When peace was at length made, and they were restored to light and liberty, he embarked with his companions for Syracuse, where a court of inquiry was held on the loss of the Philadelphia. After an honourable acquittal he was appointed to the command of the United States Brig Enterprise, and soon after was ordered by Commodore Rodgers to proceed to Tripoli, with permission to cruise along the shore of Bengazi, and to visit the ruins of Leptis Magna, an
ciently a Roman colony: He was accompanied in this expedition by so ne of his friends, and after a short and pleasant passage, anchored near the latter place. They passed three days in wandering among the mouldering remains of Roman taste and grandeur; and excavated in such places as seemed to promise a reward for their researches. A number of ancient coins and cameos were found, and, among other curiosities, were two statues in tolerable preservation; the one a warrior, the other a female figure, of beautiful white marble and excellent workmanship. Verde antique pillars, of large size, formed of a single piece, and unbroken, were scattered along the shores. Near the harbour stood a lofty and elegant building, of which Lieutenant Porter took a drawing: from its situation and form it was supposed to have been a Pharos. The awning under which the party dined was spread on the site, and among the fallen columns of a temple of Jupiter, and a zest was given to the repast, by the classical ideas awakened by surrounding objects.
While in command of the Enterprise, and at anchor in the port of Malta, an English sailor came alongside and insulted the officers and crew by abusive language; Captain Porter overhearing the scurrilous epithets he vociferated, ordered a boatswain's mate to seize him and give him a flogging at the gangway. This well merited chastisement excited the indignation of the Governor of Malta, who considered it a daring outrage, and gave orders that the forts should not permit the Enterprise to depart. No sooner was Captain Porter informed of it, than he got his vessel ready for action, weighed anchor, and with lighted matches and every man at his station, with the avowed determination of firing upon the town if attacked, sailed between the batteries and departed unmolested.
Shortly after this occurrence, in passing through the Straits of Gibraltar, he was attacked by twelve Spanish gun boats, who either mistook, or pretended to mistake, bis vessel for a British brig. The calmness of the weather, the weight of their metal, and the acknowledged accuracy of their aim, made the odds greatly against him. As soon, however, as he was able to near them, they were assailed with such rapid and well directed volleys as quickly compelled them to shear off. This affair took
place in sight of Gibraltar, and in presence of several ships of the British navy; it was, therefore, a matter of notoriety, and spoken of in terms of the highest applause.
After an absence of five years, passed in unremitted and arduous service, Captain Porter returned to the United States, and shortly after was married to Miss Anderson, daughter of the member of congress of that name, from Pennsylvania.
Being appointed to the command of the flotilla, on the New Orleans sta. tion, he discharged, with faithfulness and activity, the irksome duty of enforcing the embargo and non-intercourse laws. He likewise performed an important service to his country, by ferret. ting out and capturing a pirate, a native of France, who, in a small well-armed schooner, had for some time infested the Chesapeake; and who, growing bolder by impunity, had committed many acts of depredation, until his maraudings became so serious as to attract the attention of government.
While commanding on the Orleans station, the father of Captain Porter died, an officer under his command. He had lived to see the wish of his heart fulfilled, in beholding his son a skilful and enterprising sailor, rising rapidly in his profession, and in the estimation of his country.
The climate of New Orleans disagreeing with the health of Captain Porter and his family, he solicited to be ordered to some other station, and was, accordingly, appointed to the command of the Essex frigate, at Norfolk.
At the time of the declaration of war against England, the Essex was undergoing repairs at New-York, and the celerity with which she was fitted for sea reflected great credit on her commander. On the 3d of July, 1812, he sailed from Sandy Hook on a cruise, which was not marked by any incident of consequence, excepting the capture of the British sloop of war Alert, Captain Laugharne. Either undervaluing the untried prowess of our tars, or mistaking the force of the Essex, she ran down on her weather quarter, gave three cheers and commenced an action. In a few minutes she struck her colours, being cut to pieces, with three men wounded, and seven feet water in her hold. To relieve bimself from the great number of prisoners, taken in this and former prizes, Captain Porter made a cartel of the Alert, with