Manuscript letter tells of American warship's attack on British brig months after peace is declared UK auctioneers will sell a unique letter detailing how USS Peacock attacked and captured the British brig Nautilus, seriously injuring her captain, after peace had been declared in the war of 1812.
(sic) they exchanged broadsides, when the little Nautilus was obliged to strike [her colours]. Boyce has lost his right leg, a one pound grape too passed through his breech; the leg being much shattered he suffered amputation and contrary to every expectation is now quite well.
"Mason, who was1st of the Nautilus was also wounded and I regret saying is since dead; six or seven men were killed and as many wounded, the brig was given up next day, the American commander allowing the proofs of peace to be efficient, and arrived at Batavia … B will go I expect to Bombay most probably to be pensioned".
Boyce was in fact struck twice as an eye-witness account records: "a grape-shot that measured two inches and one-third in diameter, entering at the outside of his hip, and passing out close under the backbone. This severe wound did not, however, disable him. In a few minutes a 32-pound shot struck obliquely on his right knee, shattering the joint, splintering the leg-bone downwards and the thigh-bone a great way upwards. This may be supposed laid him prostrate on the deck"-James Naval Occurrences p. 502.
The 15-minute firefight in the Sunda Strait off Java, recorded in The Naval History of Great Britain by William James (London 1824) was the final battle of the War of 1812 between America and Britain, fought over fair trade. Having reached a stalemate, the two countries signed the Treaty of Ghent on December 24, 1814, but news of peace took two months to reach the U.S., during which time fighting continued. However, the attack on the Nautilus on June 20 1815, some six months later, proved to be an international incident.
The diplomatic repercussions reverberated throughout the Navy and State Departments and in Congress for the next 13 years. By 1828, the American government had satisfied all the monetary claims initiated against it, but according to the U.S. Naval Institute, British silence about any indemnification for the alleged "wanton violence" against Nautilus may have been due to Britain's more conciliatory policy toward America in the post-war era.
The letters will be on public display at Peter Wilson's Victoria Gallery Market Street, Nantwich during viewing for the sale, on Sunday September 4 from 2-4pm; Monday September 5 from 10am-7pm; Tuesday September 6 from 10am-4pm and on the morning of the sales from 9-11am. For further information, please contact auctioneer Chris Large on 01270 623878 or firstname.lastname@example.org.