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"U.S.S. Essex alternate scenario for Blutarski" Topic


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276 hits since 8 Mar 2018
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attilathepun4708 Mar 2018 11:51 a.m. PST

I originally posted this yesterday, but the Bug got it mixed up with a thread on a different board, so here's try #2:

Hi Blutarski,

Since you are so fond of the engagement of the U.S.S. Essex with H.M.S. Phoebe and Cherub, I thought you might like an historically based alternative scenario. In fact, Phoebe had sailed on 8 July 1812 from Rio de Janeiro bound around Cape Horn in company with Cherub and a sister ship of the Cherub named Racoon (often spelled Raccoon at the time). They were escorting the Isaac Todd, a letter-of-marque belonging to the North West Company of Montreal. The Isaac Todd was bound for the mouth of the Columbia River to seize Fort Astoria, the American fur trading post established the previous year. The Isaac Todd was a very slow ship and became separated from the warships on passage. Therefore, the Racoon was detached from the squadron at the Galapagos and went on to the Columbia alone, while the other ships went hunting for the Essex.

It is easy to imagine a scenario of the Phoebe becoming disabled through some mischance on passage, leaving the two sloops of war to hunt the Essex. That would make for a far more evenly balanced fight, since the sloops only mounted a pair of six-pounder long guns apiece as bow chasers. In fact the Essex would have a very slight advantage in weight of broadside (1352:1336 pounds) over the two sloops' combined weight of broadside. An engagement would call for very careful tactics on both sides.

Historical Postscript: The Racoon made it to the Columbia, only to find that local representatives of the North West Company had purchased Fort Astoria from the Americans, depriving the Racoon of her expected prize money. On departing the Columbia the Racoon struck bottom twice on the notoriously dangerous bar, tearing off some twelve feet of her keel at the bow. Unable to turn back against the combined power of wind and river current, the Racoon was forced to make for San Francisco Bay, the nearest inhabited port of refuge, 600 or more miles away. Amazingly, she made it, her crew exhausted from continuous desperate pumping. There she encountered the tardy Isaac Todd, which assisted in making repairs. Some 160 years later, a winter storm exposed the broken off length of keel on Clatsop Spit, still bearing copper plating bearing the broad arrow marks of British Crown ownership. It now resides in the Columbia River Maritime Museum in Astoria, Oregon.

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