Author Topic: HMS Elk (1804 - 1812)  (Read 64 times)

Offline stuartwaters

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Re: HMS Elk (1804 - 1812)
« Reply #5 on: February 22, 2021, 02:28:09 PM »
Pete, you're right. There was a second Cruizer Class Brig-sloop called HMS Elk. She was part of the 8th Batch, ordered by Melville's Second Board, in 1812 and built in Redbridge near Southampton. That vessel was launched in 1813.
"I did not say the French would not come, I said they will not come by sea" - Admiral Sir John Jervis, 1st Earl St Vincent.

Offline Pete

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Re: HMS Elk (1804 - 1812)
« Reply #4 on: February 22, 2021, 02:20:44 PM »
OOPs probably next HMS Elk which was 1813-36 apparently built at Redbridge Hants

Offline MartinR

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Re: HMS Elk (1804 - 1812)
« Reply #3 on: February 22, 2021, 01:23:32 PM »
There's something odd here: "North Wales Gazette 17/3/1814: About a month since..." when according to Stuart "During October of 1812, HMS Elk was broken up at Chatham."!

Offline Pete

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Re: HMS Elk (1804 - 1812)
« Reply #2 on: February 22, 2021, 12:31:06 PM »
North Wales Gazette 17/3/1814       
About a month since a girl, disguised in boy's attire, entered on board the Elk at Portsmouth After having a look at this boy, as the Captain imagined her then to be, he directed him to be placed in the class of boys, in which she remained for many days, doing duty with the others, without exciting the least suspicion as to her sex, until at lasl it was discovered by mere accident- She has now exchanged her jacket and. trowsers (sic)  for her proper dress but still continues in the ship, scarcely availing herself of Ihe oppor tunily of "visiting the shore, even upon the established liberty days for women to go in and out of the ship.


Offline stuartwaters

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HMS Elk (1804 - 1812)
« Reply #1 on: February 21, 2021, 07:35:23 PM »

HMS Elk was an unrated, 32pdr carronade-armed, 18-gun brig rigged Sloop of War of the Cruizer Class, built under Navy Board contract at the shipyard of Mrs Frances Barnard at Deptford.


Now part of the great conurbation of Greater London, the town of Deptford was at the time, in the county of Kent and was a major shipbuilding centre with a number of large commercial shipyards as well as a Royal Dockyard.


Designed by Sir William Rule, Co-Surveyor of the Navy, the Cruizer class was the most numerous class of warship built for the Royal Navy during the period of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, with 106 vessels being built in eight batches between 1797 and 1815. They were also the second-most numerous class of sailing warship built by any navy at any time after the slightly smaller Cherokee Class brig-sloops, also built for the Royal Navy. The Cruizer class brig-sloops featured a narrower than normal (for the time) hull, which, combined with their fine, almost clipper-like bows, gave them a good turn of speed. They were very seaworthy vessels for their time and despite their small size, they were true ocean-going warships. At the time that the vessel was ordered, the brig-rigged, carronade-armed Sloop-of-War was the Royal Navy's preferred option for new small, ocean-going warships. Their brig-rig (with two, rather than three masts) and carronade armament meant that they only required small crews, which was a god-send for the Royal Navy which at the time was desperately short of men despite the efforts of the Impressment Service. Their armament of carronades gave them a ferocious short-range broadside, which suited the Royal Navy's preferred tactic of engaging the enemy at close range. In fact, the weight of broadside which a 32pdr carronade-armed, 18-gun vessel could fire was slightly heavier than that of the nominal armament of a much larger 18pdr-armed 36-gun Frigate. All that firepower was delivered from a hull half the size of the frigate and manned only half the crew. The downside to this was that their brig rig only had two masts, which made them more vulnerable to being crippled by damage aloft. In addition, the short range of their carronades made them vulnerable to being picked off at range by the long guns fitted to enemy frigates. The term "Sloop-of-War" was used to describe an ocean-going warship which carried less than the 20 guns required for it to be included in the Royal Navy's Rating system.


The Cruizer Class Brig-Sloops were flush-decked, that is they carried their guns on the main deck, out in the open, rather than on an enclosed gun-deck. Their main deck was a continuous deck between the bow and the stern and the whole crew, including the officers and warrant-officers lived on the lower deck, below the main deck.


The first batch of Cruizer class vessels was to have comprised four vessels, of which only one was to have been built in a Kent shipyard, by Thomas Pitcher at his Northfleet shipyard. The order for that vessel was cancelled before construction began. Of the intended four vessels, two were to be ship-rigged, with three masts and the other two, including the one to have been built in Northfleet, were to be brig-rigged with two masts. This was so that the Royal Navy could assess the performance of the two types. In the end, the two ship-rigged vessels became known as the Snake class, which apart from their different arrangement of masts, rigging and sails, were identical to their two-masted cousins of the Cruizer class. The different rigs were interchangeable, with vessels able to be fitted with either rig with only slight modifications required to deck fttings.


Sloops-of-war like HMS Elk tended to be commanded by an officer in the position of 'Master and Commander', abbreviated to 'Commander'. It originally combined the positions of Commanding Officer and Sailing Master, but towards the end of the 18th Century, the Navy Board appointed Sailing Masters into unrated vessels, leaving the Commander free to concentrate on commanding the vessel. 'Commander' wasn't a formal rank as it is today and an officer in such a position held a substantive rank of Lieutenant. That stated, the Master and Commander would receive a substantially higher salary than a Lieutenant and would also receive the lions share of any prize and head money earned by his vessel and crew. If he proved to be competent, he would be 'Posted', or promoted to Captain and would either remain in command of the sloop or would be appointed to command a Rated vessel. If a war ended and his vessel was paid off, unless he was lucky and well-connected enough to receive another command appointment, the commander would revert to his substantive rank of Lieutenant and receive half-pay accordingly. Sloops-of-War therefore were generally commanded by ambitious, well-connected young men anxious to prove themselves.


HMS Elk was a member of the six-strong third batch, ordered by what is known as Melville's First Board, so-called because Henry Dundas, the First Viscount Melville was First Lord of the Admiralty at the time she was ordered. All the vessels of the third batch were built using fir rather than oak. Fir-built vessels were much quicker and cheaper to build and were, in effect, disposable and were not intended to have long service lives. HMS Elk was one of a pair of such vessels contracted from Mrs Barnard, with the contract to build both vessels being signed on 23rd May 1804. They were the only Kent-built vessels of the third batch of Cruizer Class brig-sloops, with the other vessel being called HMS Harrier. The first keel section of HMS Elk was laid at Deptford during June of 1804 and the vessel was launched with all due ceremony into the River Thames two months later, on 22nd August, her hull complete. After her launch, HMS Elk was taken to the Royal Dockyard at Deptford where she was fitted with her masts, guns and rigging and was declared complete on the 11th December 1804.


On completion, HMS Elk was a vessel of 383 tons. She was 100ft 1in long at the main deck, 77ft 4.75in long at the keel and was 30ft 6in wide across the beams. She was armed with 16 x 32pdr carronades on her broadsides and 2 x 6pdr long guns in her bows. In addition to her main guns, she also carried a dozen half-pounder swivel guns attached to her main deck bulwarks and in her fighting tops. She was manned by a crew of 121 officers, seamen and boys and Marines.


On the 22nd September 1804, Mr William Wooldridge was appointed Master and Commander in HMS Elk with orders to oversee her completion and commission the vessel into the fleet. His first task was to recruit a crew for his vessel. He would have been assisted in commissioning and preparing HMS Elk for sea by the two Lieutenants appointed by the Admiralty and the Warrant Officers, including the Standing Officers, appointed by the Navy Board. The Lieutenants were ranked in order of seniority, based on the dates on which they had passed their Examinations. The Standing Officers were the men who would remain with the vessel whether or not she was in commission and who were the ship's main artificers. They were:


The Boatswain - He was in charge of the maintenance, operation and repair of the vessels boats as well as the masts and rigging and reported to the First Lieutenant. He was assisted when the vessel was in commission by a single Boatswain's Mate. Amongst the duties of HMS Elk's sole Boatswains Mate was the administering of any floggings ordered by the Commander.


The Carpenter - A fully qualified shipwright, he was responsible for the maintenance and repair of the hull, frames and decks. He answered to the First Lieutenant and was assisted by a single Carpenters Mate when HMS Elk was in commission.


The Gunner - He was in charge of the operation, maintenance and repairs of the vessel's main guns, the training of the gun crews, the distribution in action of gunpowder and shot and training any Midshipmen-in-Ordinary in the arts of gunnery. He was assisted by a single Gunners Mate when the vessel was in commission and reported to the First Lieutenant.


The Purser - He answered to the Commander and was responsible for the purchase and distribution of all HMS Elk's stores and supplies. He was another of HMS Elk's Standing Officers.


The Cook - His role is self-explanatory, but in addition to being responsible to the First Lieutenant for the preparation and distribution of the vessel's stocks of victuals, he was also in charge of HMS Elk's complement of servants for the Commander, the commissioned officers and those warrant officers entitled to them.


The other senior warrant officers, only appointed into HMS Elk when she was in commission were:


The Sailing Master - He was in charge of the day to day sailing and navigation of the vessel as well as the stowage of stores in the hold to ensure the optimum trim and reported directly to the Commander. The Sailing Master was a qualified ship's Master and when not employed by the Royal Navy, would be able to find work in the Merchant service as a commander in his own right. In a Sloop of War like HMS Elk, he was assisted by a single Masters Mate, who himself was qualified to serve in the Merchant Service as a ship's Mate. The vessel's steering was controlled by a single Quartermaster.


The Surgeon - He answered to the Commander and was responsible for the healthcare of the whole crew from the Commander downwards. Although not a Doctor, a Surgeon had to complete a seven-year apprenticeship overseen by the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Surgeons before he would be able to practice his trade unsupervised. He was assisted by a single Assistant Surgeon, who himself was a part-qualified Surgeon.


The following, lesser Warrant Officers were appointed by the Commander on the recommendation of the First Lieutenant having first applied for the posts and presented their credentials.


The Armourer - Answerable to the Gunner, he was responsible for the maintenance and repair of the vessels stocks of small arms and bladed weapons. A qualified Blacksmith, he could also manufacture new bladed weapons and fabricate metal parts of the vessel as and where required.


The Caulker - Answerable to the Carpenter, he was responsible for ensuring that the hull and decks remained watertight.


The Sailmaker - Answerable to the Boatswain, he was responsible for the maintenance and repair of the vessels sails as well as the storage of spare sails and the vessel's stock of flags.


The Ropemaker. Answerable to the Boatswain and responsible for the storage and manufacture when needed of new cordage.


The Master at Arms. Answerable to the First Lieutenant, he was in effect, the vessel's policeman and was responsible for the day-to-day enforcement of discipline in the vessel and was assisted by a single Corporal (not related to the military rank of the same name).


Sloops of War were required to embark a small contingent of Marines and HMS Elk was no exception. HMS Elk's complement of Marines would have consisted of a Sergeant in command, assisted by a Corporal, with 13 Marine Privates. These men came aboard as a pre-existing unit.


A Sloop of War like HMS Elk had two Midshipmen. These young men were, in effect commanders in training and were appointed into the vessel by the local commander-in-chief. Their role was to assist the Lieutenants in their day to day duties and the most senior of them was in charge of HMS Elk's signals.


In addition to appointed Midshipmen, HMS Elk may also have carried Midshipmen-in-Ordinary. These young men, in their early teens or younger, were also known as Quarterdeck Boys (even though as a flush-decked vessel, HMS Elk had no quarterdeck) or "Gentleman Volunteers". They were on the vessels books as Commander's servants and were paid the same rate as an Able Seaman. They were appointed by the Commander himself and were officers in training. They were usually relatives of the Commander, or were related to people to Commander either owed a favour to or was doing a favour for. They wore the uniform and performed the duties of a Midshipman and were accomodated in the Midshipmen's berth. The commander of a warship was entitled to have four servants per rounded hundred of her Company, so HMS Elk may have carried up to four, depending on how many servants the Commander actually required.


The rest of the HMS Elk's Company was made up of Petty Officers in charge of specific parts of the vessel, Able Seamen able to perform any tasks asked of them without supervision, Ordinary Seamen with some experience of the sea and Landsmen, those with no experience whatsoever. Landsmen were the unskilled labourers on any vessel and were regarded by the rest of the Company as being the lowest form of life until they had proved themselves. The majority of the men would have come from the Receiving Ships at the Nore or in the City of London, where they would have been held after being rounded up by the dreaded Press Gangs. The landsmen would have been held there after having been sent by the various local authorities under the Manning of the Navy Acts.


There were also children amongst HMS Elk's Company and they were employed as servants, Powder Monkeys running gunpowder cartridges from the Magazine to the guns when she was in action and as Nippers in the tight, confined space of the Cable Tier when the vessel weighed anchor.


Cruizer Class Plans


Framing Plan:





Berth Deck and Main Deck Plans:





Sheer Plan and Lines:





A nice drawing of the sail plan of a Cruizer Class vessel, note the figures beneath the driver boom, which give some scale:





On the 11th December 1804, HMS Elk was declared complete at Deptford but before she went to sea, there was a change of commander. Mr Wooldridge had been appointed to command HMS Elk's sister-brig HMS Harrier, then completing at Deptford. He was replaced by Mr Randall McDonnell. Mr McDonnell received orders to take his vessel and proceed to the West Indies where he was to place himself and his vessel under the command of Vice-Admiral Sir James Dacres, Commander-in-Chief on the Jamaica Station. On the 27th January 1805, HMS Elk sailed from Cork in company with the West Indies Convoy.


By May of 1805, HMS Elk was operating in company with the ex-French 12pdr-armed Frigate HMS Franchise of 40 guns and on the 5th May, the two vessels captured the Hazard. On the 18th, the two vessels captured the Globe.


On the 5th July 1805, Commander McDonnell was Posted and appointed to command the 32pdr carronade-armed ex-French 6th Rate Post Ship HMS Bacchante of 20 guns. His replacement in HMS Elk was the son of the Commander-in-Chief in Jamaica, Mr James Richard Dacres. Born in 1788, the young Mr Dacres had first gone to sea at the age of 8 in his father's ship, the 64-gun Third Rate ship of the line HMS Sceptre in 1796. He was still only 17 years old when he took command of HMS Elk. Mr Dacres was Posted on 14th January 1806 and appointed to command HMS Bacchante. He was still only 18 years old. His replacement in HMS Elk was his cousin, Mr William Furlong Wise.


On the 12th May 1806, Mr Wise wrote to his uncle, Vice-Admiral James Dacres as follows:


His Majesty's Sloop Elk,
Lucea,
(St Lucia)
May 12, 1806


SIR,


I have the Honor to inform you, that having received Intelligence off St. Ann's, the Evening of the 4th Instant, there was a small Spanish Privateer on the Coast which had captured Two Droggers. Thinking it most probable they would stand over to Cuba in the Night, we made sail to the Northward, and on the Evening of the 5th, were so fortunate as to fall in with them off Cape Cruz, to retake one of the droggers, and to capture La Cubaha Spanish Row-Boat Privateers armed with One Swivel and small arms; had been Five Days out from St. Jago, her Crew originally consisted of Fourteen Men, but he had only Five on board when captured.


I am &c.
(Signed)


W.F. WISE



A Dogger, or drogger was a kind of deep-sea fishing vessel.


On the 14th May 1806, Mr Wise was Posted and appointed to command the 44-gun two-decker HMS Mediator. That vessel had originally been built as a large cargo ship for the Honourable East India Company called the Ann and Amelia. She had been purchased by the Navy Board in 1804, converted and renamed to HMS Mediator. His replacement in HMS Elk was Mr John Langdale Smith.


Commander Smith was replaced in command of HMS Elk three months later by Mr George Morris. Born in 1778, Mr Morris had lost a leg while serving as a Midshipman in the 74-gun, Third Rate ship of the line HMS Audacious during the Battle of the Glorious First of June in 1794. This did not affect his career in the Royal Navy and he passed his examination for Lieutenant on the 2nd June 1796 at the age of 18. He gained his first command appointment in January of 1801 when he was appointed Lieutenant in Command of the hired armed schooner Lady Charlotte. He was first appointed Master and Commander in the ex-Dutch HMS Penguin (brig-rigged, 9pdr-armed, 16 guns). His appointment prior to HMS Elk had been as Master and Commander in HMS Pelican (brig-rigged, 32pdr carronade-armed, 18 guns).


On the 1st October 1806, Mr Morris wrote to his Commander-in-Chief as follows:


His Majesty's Brig Elk,
at Sea,
Oct 1 1806,
Eleven P. M.


SIR,


I HAVE to inform you, I this Day at Noon, chaced, per Signal from His Majesty's Ship Elephant,
(74) a Schooner in the N. N. W. which I came up with, after a hard Run of Nine Hours, previous to which I had carried away my Main TopGallant Mast, and sprung the Top-Mast. As I was fearful of the Chace gaining the Wind of me, I thought it most adviseable, on coming up, to run her on board, that I might make certain of destroying her, in which she received so much Damage as to
occasion her sinking shortly after we had exchanged the Prisoners.


She proves the Alliance, French Privateer, of Five Guns (One long Twelve-Pounder, Two Sixes, and Two Twelve-Pounder Carronades), with a Complement, of Seventy-five Men, commanded by Alexander St. Helme, from Guadaloupe Three Months, had captured the English Brig Neptune, from Jamaica to Exuma, and Two American Schooners.


I have'the Honour to be, &c.
(Signed)
GEO . MORRIS



At about this time, HMS Elk captured the ship Johanna Adriona. This vessel, a neutral, was sent to Port Royal with a prize crew so that the legality of her capture coud be assessed by the Jamaica Vice-Admiralty Court. The Court decided in favour of Commander Morris and his men and awarded the value of the vessel and her cargo as Prize Money to HMS Elk. The vessel's owners appealed the decision to the House of Lords, who reversed the decision of the lower Court in Jamaica. The Law Lords ordered that the Johanna Adriona's owners be compensated for their loss and that the compensation be paid out of the Head Money due for the destruction of the Alliance.


At some point before the 1st January 1807, HMS Elk captured the Spanish privateer Caecilia of four guns and 20 men.


In the summer of 1807, Commander Morris was appointed to temporary command of HMS Elephant with orders to take the ship back to Portsmouth where she was to be paid off. His replacement in HMS Elk was Mr William Sumner Hall. His previous command had been in the ex-French HMS Diligent (brig rigged, 24pdr carronade-armed, 16 guns) and he had first passed his examination for Lieutenant on the 14th October 1801. Mr Hall was only in command until August when he was replaced in command by Mr Jeremiah Coghlan.


Commander Jeremiah Coghlan was a protege of the famous Sir Edward Pellew and Pellew had guided the young man up the career ladder in the Royal Navy since they first encountered each other when Coghlan was a young boy seaman. Pellew had witnessed an extraordinary act of courage from the young boy during the wreck of the troopship Dutton off Plymouth. Coghlan was famous for his daring and courage already. He remains the only man in the history of the Royal Navy to reach the rank of Lieutenant after only four years of service. His appointment prior to HMS Elk had been Master and Commander in the Sloop-of-War HMS Lark (ship-rigged, 6pdr-armed, 16 guns).


It didn't take long for Mr Coghlan to get his vessel into the action. On the 7th November 1807, the commander wrote to Vice-Admiral Dacres as follows:


His Majestys Brig Elk,
Nassau,
New Providence,


Nov 7, 1807.
SIR,
 
I have the Honour to inform you, that His Majesty's Brig I command captured, on the 19th Ult. after a long Chace, which led me to the Catouche Bank, the Spanish Schooner Posta de Caraccas, bearing a Letter of Marque, from Campeachy to the Havannah, with a Cargo of Leather, Bass Rope, and Twenty-four Thousand Dollars, which she had in Freight. Her Mail, with One Gun she had mounted, were thrown overboard in the Chace.


I have the Honour to be, &c.
(Signed)


JER . COGHLAN .



On the 18th February the folowing year, Commander Coghlan wrote to his Commander-in-Chief again to report a further success:


His Majestys Brig Elk,
Nassau,
New Providence,
February 18, 1808.


I Have much Pleasure in acquainting you with the Capture of the French Schooner Privateer Harlequin, Petre Andia Commander, by this Brig, in the Caicos Passage, on the 12th Instant, carrying Two Carriage Guns and a Quantity of Small Arms, having on board Fifty-four Men, Ten Days from Barracoa ; she made One Capture, an American Ship, (under Swedish Coloura) from Cape Francois in the Island of St. Domingo, to Philadelphia, with a Cargo of Coffee and Sugar.


I have the Honour to be, &c.


JER . COGHLAN .



In August of 1808, HMS Elk captured the French naval Schooner Superieuse and was taken to New Providence.


On the 27th November 1810, Commander Coghlan was Posted but remained in HMS Elk until January of 1811 when he was appointed to command the 18pdr-armed 38-gun Frigate HMS Euryalus. His replacement in HMS Elk was Mr Clement Milward and he received orders to take the vessel back to the UK. On the 5th August 1811, in company with the Sloop of War HMS Sparrow (brig-rigged, 24pdr carronade-armed, 16 guns), while escorting the Jamaica Convoy, the pair recaptured the merchant vessel Ocean.


HMS Elk arrived at the great anchorage at The Downs, off Deal on the 26th September 1811. She departed the Downs on the 29th bound for the Nore, where she was to be paid off.


By now, HMS Elk was seven years old and had spent almost her entire career thus far in the warm waters of the Caribbean. She was after all, a fir-built vessel and was not built to last. Even after this brief period of time, her hull and frames were worn out.  During October of 1812, HMS Elk was broken up at Chatham.
"I did not say the French would not come, I said they will not come by sea" - Admiral Sir John Jervis, 1st Earl St Vincent.