Royal Naval Biography/Barrie, Robert
ROBERT BARRIE, Esq
A Companion of the most Honorable Military Order of the Bath; and acting Resident Commissioner at Kingston, in Upper Canada.
[Post-Captain of 1802.]
In 1791, this officer accompanied Captain Vancouver on a laborious and anxious voyage of discovery, an abridged account of which will be found at p. 200 et seq. of this volume. On his return from that expedition, in 1795, he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant; and we subsequently find him serving on board le Bourdelois of 24 guns, commanded by his old shipmate, the present Captain Thomas Manby, with whom he sailed for the West Indies at the close of 1800.
Mr. Barrie’s conduct as first Lieutenant of le Bourdelois, in the action between that ship and a small French squadron, near Barbadoes, Jan. 28, 1801, on which occasion he received a wound, “but disdained to quit the deck,” was warmly applauded by Captain Manby, who recommended him to the notice of the Admiralty “as an officer highly worthy of advancement.”
We are not aware of the exact period at which he obtained promotion to the rank of Commander, or of the manner in which he was employed previous to the winter of 1804, when he commanded the Brilliant, a small frigate stationed in the Channel. His post commission bears date April 29, 1802.
Captain Barrie’s next appointment was, about May, 1806, to the Pomone of 38 guns, in which ship he gave repeated proofs of his zeal and ability. The following is a copy of his official letter to Sir Richard J. Strachan, relative to the capture and destruction of seventeen French vessels from Nantz, bound to Brest, on the 5th June, 1807:
“Sir,– I have the honor to acquaint you, that yesterday, when working up to windward, in order to gain the station you had pointed out to me by signal, at about 7h 30' A.M. three vessels were reported from the masthead, bearing N.E., and we soon made them out to be armed brigs. As the distance of the squadron rendered it impossible for me to communicate this circumstance to you, I took upon myself to give chase to these brigs, conceiving it my duty to do so, as I thought I could cut them off before they could get into the Sables d’Ollone. As we approached the shore, a convoy was observed under escort of the brigs, one of which we got within random shot of about 9 o’clock, when the breeze unfortunately failed us, and I had the mortification to observe that we should not be able, in the ship, to cut off the brigs, especially as we were obliged to make a tack. Some of our shot reached the convoy, two of which ran on shore; a third was deserted by her crew. I therefore despatched Lieutenant J. Jones in the 6-oared cutter, to take possession of the latter, and of any others of the convoy that were not close to the land. This service he performed with great judgment and gallantry, and fortunately without loss, though the grape from the shore and armed brigs passed through and through his boat. One of the gun-brigs making a show of sweeping out, I sent Lieutenant James Wallace Gabriel, first of this ship, with three boats, to meet her; but as she retreated under the protection of the land batteries, and also within musket-shot of the numerous soldiery which lined the beach, I would not allow my gallant friend to make the attack under such great disadvantage, but directed him to proceed with the boat towards St. Gillis’s, where several vessels were observed nearly becalmed. At about 11h 30' the boats got up with the easternmost brig; and by 2h 30' P.M. they were all, (fourteen in number) in our possession except one, which drove on shore and was lost. The crews of the enemy’s vessels took to their boats; but I fear, as the sea ran very high, some of them were drowned in attempting to land. Had the breeze fortunately continued, I have no doubt but we should have taken and destroyed the whole convoy, which, exclusive of the gun-brigs, consisted of twenty-seven brigs, sloops, and chasse marées. I have the pleasure to add, thait the officers and seamen employed on this service, performed it to my satisfaction, and to their own credit, Enclosed is a list of the vessels taken and destroyed, with their cargoes. I have the honor to be, &c. &c.
Sir R. J. Strachan, Bart.”
Subsequent to this event Captain Barrie was placed under the orders of Lord Collingwood on the Mediterranean station, where he captured a Neapolitan privateer, commanded by no less a personage than the Chevalier de Boissi, Adjutant-General de France, whose motive lor exposing himself to almost, certain capture in a small vessel of 3 guns and 53 men, could never be satisfactorily ascertained, not a single paper being found on board except those that related to the privateer; though from the circumstance of Captain Barrie having fallen in with him off Cape Bon, on the coast of Africa, it is very probable he had been charged with a mission to some of the Barbary States.
On the 22d Oct. 1809, we find Captain Barrie joining Lord Collingwood off Cape St. Sebastian, and informing him of the approach of a French convoy from Toulon, which port he had watched with indefatigable perseverance during his lordship’s absence on the Spanish coast. On the following morning the enemy hove in sight; and in the course of the day, Captain Barrie being far to windward of the British squadron, succeeded in coming up with and destroying five transports, laden with provisions for the relief of the French army in Spain. The men of war were in the mean time pursued by a detachment under Rear-Admiral George Martin, who obliged three line-of-battle ships and a frigate to run a-shore between Cette and Frontignan, where two of the former were burnt by their crews; and on the 1st Nov. the remainder of the storeships and transports were successfully attacked by the boats of a squadron under Rear-Admiral Hallowell, who had the satisfaction of reporting that every vessel was either taken or destroyed.
On the 18th Jan. 1811, Captain Barrie captured the Dubourdieu French privateer, of fourteen 12-pounders and 93 men. In March following he chased l’Etourdie, a national brig of 18 guns, laden with ordnance stores, into a small cove on the N.W. side of Monte Christo, where she was set on fire by her crew, consisting of 200 men, whom he found it impossible to attack in consequence of a gale of wind preventing his boats from landing, and the time fixed for the Pomone’s return into port having already arrived. A gallant and successful exploit performed by a squadron under his orders at Corsica, on the 1st May, 1811, is thus described by him in a letter to Admiral Sir Charles Cotton, who had been appointed to the chief command in the Mediterranean on the demise of Lord Collingwood:
“H.M.S. Pomone, off Sagone, May, 2d, 1811.
Sir,– My letter of the 23d ult. would acquaint you with the intelligence I had received of the enemy’s force in Sagone, and that it was my intention, under particular circumstances, to attack them.
“I have now the honor to inform you that, on the evening of the 30th, I arrived off the bay, the Unité and Scout in company; the Scout joined in the morning, and Captain Sharpe having very handsomely volunteered his services to take charge of the landing party in the projected attack, I consented to take him under my orders. At sun-set the Unité made the signal for an enemy’s frigate at anchor. By day-break on the 1st, the Pomone was close off Liamone, and I had the satisfaction to observe tire enemy’s three ships at anchor in Sagone bay. It was nearly calm; and the variable winds which prevail at this season having thrown the Unité a long way astern, I abandoned my design of attempting to take the tower and battery by surprise; and it was fortunate I did so; for, as the day opened, we could clearly observe the enemy in full possession of the heights, and ready to receive us. He appeared to have about 200 regular troops, with their field-pieces, &c., and a number of the armed inhabitants. The battery, mounting 4 guns and 1 mortar, presented a more formidable appearance than I expected; and a gun was mounted on the martello tower, above the battery: the three ships were moored within a stone’s throw of the battery, and had each two cables on shore, their broadsides presented to us. The smallest (la Giraffe) hoisted a broad pendant. She appeared to be a sister-ship to le Var, and shewed 13 guns on each side of the main-deck. The other ship (la Nourrice) was much larger, and shewed 14 guns: her lower-deck ports were open, but she had no guns in them. The armed merchant ship was partly hid by la Nourrice, so that we could not make out her force.
“The bay is so small that it was impossible to approach without being exposed to the raking fire of the whole. Notwithstanding their strong position, the crews of our ships came forward in the most noble manner, and volunteered their services to land; or, as it was quite calm, even to attack the enemy with the boats. Captains Chamberlayne and Sharpe both agreed with me that we could do nothing by landing, and it would have been madness to send the boats. However, I signified by telegraph, that it was my intention to attack as soon as a breeze sprung up. As the calm continued, at 5h 30' P.M. I gave up all hopes of the sea breeze; and fearing any longer delay would enable the enemy to increase his force, I determined on towing the ships in. My pen is too feeble to express my admiration of the zealous and spirited conduct of the boats’ crews employed on this service. The same zeal animated each ship’s company; and by six o’clock, having towed into a position within range of grape, we commenced the action, which lasted without any intermission till about half-past seven, when smoke was observed to issue from la Giraffe. Soon after la Nourrice was in a blaze, and the merchantman was set on fire by the brands from her. At this time the battery and tower were silenced, and in ten minutes the three ships were completely on fire. I lost no time in towing out of harm’s way, and then waited the explosions, which took place in succession. La Giraffe blew up about ten minutes before nine. La Nourrice soon after exploded; and some of her timbers falling on the tower, entirely demolished it, whilst the sparks set fire to the battery, which also blew up. The object of our attack being thus completely executed, I stood out to sea to get clear of the wrecks, and to repair our damages. No language of mine can do justice to the gallantry of those I had the honor to command.
“I am particularly indebted to Captains Chamberlayne and Sharpe for their spirited exertions and cordial co-operation throughout the whole of the affair. I am sensible my narrative is already too prolix; but I cannot conclude without assuring you that the officers and crews of the ships behaved with the greatest courage and coolness. The Pomone, from being enabled to choose her station, was of course exposed to the brupt of the action, and has consequently suffered most; though considering the enemy’s fire and position, our ships have escaped much better than could have been expected. When all conspicuously distinguish themselves, it is impossible to select individuals; but I should be most shamefully wanting in my duty to my country, and to the merits of a most deserving set of officers, if I were to neglect acquainting you, that I received from them every assistance it was possible to expect. Lieutenant James Wallace Gabriel, first of the Pomone, conducted himself with the same spirit and zeal which have uniformly distinguished his conduct. I enclose the report of killed, wounded, &c. It is but justice to declare that the enemy kept up a very smart fire, and behaved with great bravery. I can form no opinion of their loss. I have the honor to be, &c.
After writing the above report, Captain Barrie had the satisfaction to learn that the result of his judicious and well-planned attack would considerably retard the completion of the enemy’s ships then building at Toulon; those destroyed by him being deeply laden with timber, of which material that arsenal would not be able to obtain another supply from Corsica till the ensuing season. The loss sustained by his squadron on this occasion was comparatively small, when the nature and extent of the service performed, and the force opposed to him, are considered. It amounted to no more than 2 men killed and 25 wounded; the former, and 19 of the latter, belonged to the Pomone.
Having thus afforded a specimen of the services performed by Captain Barrie, and the brave officers and men under his command, we shall now adduce, as an instance of their disinterested feeling on all occasions, an act of generosity towards a prisoner, whom many others would probably have deemed unworthy of such liberal treatment.
Among the numerous captures made by the Pomone, whilst on the Mediterranean station, was a vessel in which Lucien Buonaparte had embarked, with the plunder collected by him from every country where he had had an opportunity of evincing his rapacity. Though nearly related to the implacable enemy of Great Britain, and himself a rank and determined republican, he was treated with respect, and every article of his ill-gotten gains considered as private property, consequently held inviolate. How different this treatment from that experienced by many of our own countrymen who had the misfortune to be taken prisoners during the wars occasioned by the French revolution! How striking the contrast between the situation of the heroic Alexander’s and their female companions in a vile dungeon near Brest, and that of a Corsican adventurer and his family on board a British frigate!!
In consequence of the handsome manner in which the Pomone’s crew had followed the example of Captain Barrie and his officers, by relinquishing all claim upon the ship and property, Lucien Buonaparte gave directions for 300l. to be distributed amongst them, and a bill for that amount was accordingly handed to the petty-officers, who, without signifying their real intentions, asked permission to wait on the donor for the purpose of thanking him. Being indulged in their request, they nobly returned the bill, saying they did not war with individuals, especially women and children; but if he chose to give them a glass of grog each, they had no objection to drink to the health of himself and his family! The following day the whole crew were regaled with some porter at Lucien’s expense.
The Pomone was unfortunately wrecked, by striking on a sunken rock, about two cables’ length S.W. from the Needles Point, in the evening of Oct. 14, 1811. The court-martial assembled at Portsmouth on the 25th of the same month, to try Captain Barrie for the loss of his ship, agreed, that no blame was imputable on the occasion to him or any of his officers, except the Master, who was severely reprimanded for not having taken accurate bearings of Hurst light-house before he attempted to go through the passage, and for not having paid sufficient attention to the observations of Captain Barrie, as to the said light-house. Captain Barrie and all his other officers were most fully acquitted.
It was our intention, when we commenced this memoir, to have attempted a description of Captain Barrie’s method of governing a ship’s company, the happy effects of which were very apparent to all those officers who ever fell in with the Pomone; but as we have yet to follow him through the late war on the other side of the Atlantic, and as an account of his services in that quarter will necessarily occupy a large portion of our remaining pages in this volume, we must take leave of that frigate for the present, and reserve such observations as may be necessary on the subject of her internal discipline till the time shall arrive for us to notice the services of the officer whom Captain Barrie, in one of the preceding letters, so justly styles “his gallant friend.”
Captain Barrie was appointed to the Dragon, a third rate, in the spring of 1813; and from that period he was employed in a series of active services on the coast of America, till the termination of hostilities in 1815.
The winter of 1813 was remarkable for its uncommon severity, even in this comparatively mild climate: the extreme horrors of that season in North America will never be forgotten by those officers who were then employed off the Chesapeake, the blockade of which river was entrusted to Captain Barrie, who maintained it, under every privation, so successfully, that only one of the enemy’s cruisers escaped. The commander-in-chief so appreciated his professional knowledge that he continued him there, notwithstanding orders from home to the contrary; and fortunate was it for his country that he did so. It is a fact which cannot be too generally known, that to the information he acquired we are indebted for those signal successes under the brave and lamented Major-General Ross, which ended in the capture of the American capital and public stores, to the amount, as the enemy themselves admitted, of more than 7,000,000 dollars.
Captain Barrie retained the command of the squadron employed off the Chesapeake from Sept. 1813, till the arrival of Rear-Admiral Cockburn in May, 1814, during which period several of the enemy’s armed vessels, and a very great number of coasting traders, were either captured or destroyed by the ships under his orders. The following extracts from the London Gazette contain an account of his subsequent exertions:
“On the 1st June, 1814, Captain Barrie, with the St. Lawrence schooner, and the boats of the Albion and Dragon, fell in with the flotilla standing down the Chesapeake, and retreated before it to wards the Dragon, then at anchor off Smith’s Point. This ship having got under weigh, Captain Barrie wore with the schooner and boats; but the flotilla made off, and escaped into the Patuxent river. The Dragon being obliged to come again to an anchor, and the boats not being strong enough to attack the flotilla, Captain Barrie endeavoured to induce the enemy to separate his force, by detaching two boats to cut off a schooner under Cove Point; but the Americans suffered this vessel to be burnt in the face of the flotilla, without attempting to save her.
“On the 6th, the flotilla retreated higher up the Patuxent; and Captain Barrie being joined on the following day by the Loire frigate and Jaseur brig, he proceeded up the river with them, the St. Lawrence schooner, and the boats of the Albion and Dragon. The enemy retreated into St. Leonard’s creek, into which they could only be pursued by the boats, which were too inferior in force to allow of any attack being made with them alone. Captain Barrie endeavoured, however, to provoke the enemy by rockets and carronades from the boats, to come down within reach of the ships’ guns. The flotilla was at one time so much galled by these attacks, that it quitted its position and chased the boats; but after a slight skirmish with the smaller vessels, returned precipitately to its original position.
“With a view to force the flotilla to quit this station, detachments of seamen and marines were landed on both sides of the river; and the enemy’s militia, though assembled to the number of from 300 to 400, retreating before them into the woods, the marines destroyed two tobacco stores, and several houses which formed military posts.
“On the 15th, the Narcissus frigate joined, and Captain Barrie determined to proceed up the river with twelve boats, having in them 180 marines, and 30 of the black colonial corps. They proceeded to Benedict, whence a party of regulars fled at their approach, leaving behind several muskets, and part of their camp equipage, with a 6-pounder, which was spiked; a store of tobacco was also found there. Captain Barrie advanced from thence towards Marlborough; and although only eighteen miles from Washington, took possession of the place, the militia and inhabitants flying into the wood. A schooner was loaded with tobacco, and the boats plentifully supplied with stock; after which, having burnt tobacco stores, containing 2,800 hogsheads, the detachment re-embarked. The enemy collected 360 regulars, and a party of militia, on some cliffs which the boats had to pass; but some of the marines being landed, traversed the skirts of the heights, and re-embarked without molestation; and the enemy did not show himself again till the boats were out of gun-shot.
“Captain Barrie commends, in high terms, the conduct of all the officers, seamen, and marines, under his orders, as well as that of the colonial corps, composed of armed blacks; and Rear-Admiral Cockburn expresses his high sense of the personal exertions and able conduct displayed by Captain Barrie.”
The Dragon was now ordered to refit at Halifax, where she received the flag of Rear-Admiral Griffith; from whose official letter to Sir Alex. Cochrane, stating the result of an expedition to the Penobscot river, in Sept. 1814, we select the following passage as an introduction to Captain Barrie’s account of the proceedings of a detached force under his own personal directions:
“H.M.S. Endymion, off Castine, entrance of the
Penobscot River, Sept. 9, 1814.
“Sir,– My letter of the 23d of August, from Halifax, by the Rover, will have made you acquainted with my intention of accompanying the expedition then about to proceed under the command of his Excellency Sir John Sherbrook, K.B, for this place.
“I have now the honor to inform you, that I put to sea on the 26th ult. with the ships and sloop named in the margin, and ten sail of transports, having the troops on board, and arrived off the Metinicus Islands on the morning of the 31st, where I was joined by the Bulwark, Tenedos, Rifleman, Peruvian, and Pictou. From Captain Pearce, of the Rifleman, I learned that the United States’ frigate Adams had a few days before got into Penobscot, but not considering herself in safety there, had gone on to Hamdeu, a place twenty-seven miles higher up the river, where her guns had been lauded, and a position was fortifying for her protection.
“Towards evening, the wind being fair and the weather favorable, the fleet made sail up the Penobscot bay, Captain Parker, in the Tenedos, leading. We passed between the Metinicus and Green islands, about midnight, and steering through the channel formed by the Fox islands and Owl’s Head, ran up to the eastward of Long island, and found ourselves at daylight in the morning, in sight of the fort and town of Castine. As we approached, some shew of resistance was made, and a few shot were fired; but the fort was soon after abandoned and blown up. At about eight A.M. the men of war and transports were anchored a little tp the northward of the Peninsula of Castine, and the smaller vessels taking a station nearer in for covering the landing, the troops were put on shore, and took possession of the town and works without opposition.
“The General wishing to occupy a post at Belfast, on the western side of the bay (through which the high road from Boston runs), for the purpose of cutting off all communication with that side of the country, the Bacchante and Rifleman were detached with the troops destined for this service; and quiet possession was taken, and held, of that town, as long as was thought necessary.
“Arrangements were immediately made for attacking the frigate at Hamden; and the General having proffered every military assistance, six hundred picked men, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel John, of the 60th regiment, were embarked the same afternoon, on board his Majesty’s sloops Peruvian and Sylph, and a small transport. To this force were added the marines of the Dragon, and as many armed boats from the squadron as was thought necessary for disembarking the troops and covering their landing, and the whole placed under the command of Captain Barrie, of the Dragon; who with the Lieutenant-Colonel made sail up the river at six o’clock that evening.
“I have the honor to enclose Captain Barrie’s account of his proceedings; and taking into consideration the enemy’s force, and the formidable strength of his position, too much praise cannot be given him, the officers and men under his command, for the judgment, decision, and gallantry with which this little enterprise has been achieved."
“H.M.S. Sylph, off Bangor, in the Penobscot, Sept. 3, 1814.
“Sir, Having received on board the ships named in the margin a detachment of twenty men, of the royal artillery, with one five and halfinch howitzer, commanded by Lieutenant Garston; a party of 80 marines, commanded by Captain Carter, of the Dragon; the flank companies of the 29th, 62d, and 98th regiments, under the command of Captains Gell and Caker, Majors Riddell, Keith, and Crosdaile, and Captain M’Pherson; also a rifle company of the 7th battalion of the 60th regiment, commanded by Captain Ward; and the whole under the orders of Lieutenant-Colonel John, of the 60th regiment; I proceeded, agreeably to your order, with the utmost despatch, up the Penobscot. Light variable winds, a most intricate channel, of which we were perfectly ignorant, and thick foggy weather, prevented my arriving off Frankfort before two P.M. of the 2d inst. Here Colonel John and myself thought it advisable to send a message to the inhabitants j and having received their answer, we pushed on towards Harnden, where we received intelligence that the enemy had strongly fortified himself. On our way up several troops were observed on the east side of the river, making for Brewer; these were driven into the woods without any loss on our side, by a party under the orders of Major Crosdaile, and the guns from the boats. The enemy had one killed, and several wounded.
“At five P.M. of the 2d instant, we arrived off Ball’s Head Cove, distant three miles from Hamden.
“Colonel John and myself landed on the south side of the Cove, to reconnoitre the ground and obtain intelligence. Having gained the hill, we discovered the enemy’s picquets advantageously posted near the highway leading to Hamden, on the north side of the Cove.
“We immediately determined to land 150 men, under Major Riddell, to drive in the picquets, and take up their ground. This object was obtained by seven o’clock; and notwithstanding every difficulty, the whole of the troops were landed on the north side of the Cove by ten o’clock; but it was found impossible to land the artillery at the same place. The troops bivouacqued on the ground taken possession of by Major Riddell. It rained incessantly during the night. At day-break this morning, the fog cleared away for about a quarter of an hour, which enabled me to reconnoitre the enemy by water; and I found a landing place for the artillery about two-thirds of a mile from Ball’s Head. Off this place the troops halted till the artillery were mounted, and by six the whole advanced towards Hamden.
“The boats under the immediate command of Lieutenant Pedler, the first of the Dragon, agreeably to a previous arrangement with Colonel John, advanced in line with the right flank of the army. The Peruvian, Sylph, Dragon’s tender, and Harmony transport, were kept a little in the rear in reserve.
“Our information stated the enemy’s force at 1400 men; and he had chosen a most excellent position on a high hill. About a quarter of a mile to the southward of the Adams frigate, he had mounted eight 18pounders. This fort was calculated to command both the highway by which our troops had to advance, and the river. On a wharf close to the Adams, he had mounted fifteen 18-pounders, which completely commanded the river, which at this place is not above three cables’ length wide, and the land on each side is high and well wooded.
“A rocket boat, under my immediate direction, but manoeuvred by Mr. Ginton, gunner, and Mr. Small, midshipman, of the Dragon, was advanced about a quarter of a mile a-head of the line of boats.
“So soon as the boats got within gun-shot, the enemy opened his fire upon them from the hill and wharf, which was warmly returned. Our rockets were generally well-directed, and evidently threw the enemy into confusion. Meantime our troops stormed the hill with the utmost gallantry.Before the boats got within good grape-shot of the wharf battery, the enemy set fire to the Adams, and he ran from his guns the moment our troops carried the hill.
“I joined the army about ten minutes after this event. Colonel John and myself immediately determined to leave a sufficient force in possession of the hill, and to pursue the enemy, who was then in sight on the Bangor road, flying at full speed. The boats and ships pushed up the river, preserving their original position with the army. The enemy was too nimble for us, and most of them escaped into the woods on our left.
“On approaching Bangor, the inhabitants, who had opposed us at Hamden, threw off their military character; and as magistrates, select men, &c. made an unconditional surrender of the town. Here the pursuit stopped.
“About two hours afterwards, Brigadier-General Blake came into the town, to deliver himself as a prisoner.
"The General and other prisoners, amounting to 191, were admitted to their parole.
“Enclosed I have the honor to forward you lists of the vessels we have captured or destroyed, and other necessary reports. I am happy to inform you our loss consists only of 1 seaman, belonging to the Dragon, killed; Captain Gell, of the 29th, and 7 privates, wounded; 1 rank and file missing. * * * * * *. I can form no estimate of the enemy’s absolute loss. From different stragglers I learn that, exclusive of killed and missing, upwards of 30 lay wounded in the woods. I have the honor to be, &c.
(Signed)“Robert Barrie, Captain H.M.S. Dragon.”
After the failure of the Baltimore expedition under Rear-Admiral Cockburn and Major-General Ross, the command in the Chesapeake again devolved upon Captain Barrie, whose subsequent proceedings were conducted principally with a view to harass the enemy’s troops, by keeping them on the alert; and to create a diversion in favor of the operations then going on in other quarters.
In Nov. 1814, he proceeded up the Rappahanock river with the boats of his squadron, and part of that excellent corps the Royal Marine battalion, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Malcolm; landed on the 29th at Tappahanock, and brought off from thence a quantity of flour and tobacco, together with a stand of colours, some arms, ammunition, and baggage, which had been left behind by the enemy’s troops in their hasty retreat to a neighbouring hill, from whence they afterwards retired in confusion on being attacked by the British.
On the 4th of the following month, Captain Barrie landed at the town of Tappahanock; and learning that the Americans had assembled 600 armed militia at Farnham Church, about seven miles from the place of debarkation, he proceeded thither, and attacking the enemy in a strong position, drove them into the woods, with the loss of several men killed and wounded, captured a large field-piece, and released several negroes who had been confined to prevent them from joining the British. It is worthy of notice, that the colours taken during this expedition, bore on one side the inscription “Down with the Tyrant,” and on the other the American eagle, with the motto “Death or Victory.”
Soon after his return from the Rappahanock river, Captain Barrie was ordered by Rear-Admiral Cockburn, who had resumed the command in Chesapeake bay, to proceed with the Dragon, Regulus, and Brune, to the coast of Georgia, where he was joined by some other ships of war, having on board two companies of the 2d West India regiment. On the llth Jan. 1815, he took possession of Cumberland Island, without meeting any resistance; and passing from thence in boats to the main land, disembarked on the 13th at a small distance from the fort on Point Petre, which he entered after a sharp skirmish with the American riflemen, who had taken post in a jungle through which he had to pass on his way to the town of St. Mary’s. The result of this enterprise will be stated in our memoir of Captain Charles B. H. Ross.
Intelligence of peace between Great Britain and America having arrived at Cumberland Island soon after the capture of St, Mary’s, Captain Barrie was not called upon to give any farther proof of his prowess. “Whether it may be reserved to him to enjoy in security and peace the delightful intercourse of social life, or again to be called to vindicate the rights of his country, and to chastise the insolence of her enemies, he will carry with him,” said the highly respectable Chairman of his numerous friends assembled at a festive meeting which we are about to notice, “our best wishes for his health and prosperity – he will carry our well-grounded assurance, that in no hands can be more safely placed the honor and dignity of Great Britain.”
Previous to their separation, the Dragon’s officers presented Captain Barrie with a piece of plate, value 100 guineas, as a testimony of their sincere attachment; and on the 21st Dec. 1815, a public dinner was given at Preston, in commemoration of his professional services, and more especially those which he had recently rendered to his country on the coast of America. Among the company were several gallant officers who had served under him, and whose attachment had induced them to travel several hundred miles in order to join in this tribute of esteem conferred upon their favorite commander. One of those gentlemen, the present Captain J. W. Gabriel, on his health being drank, returned thanks in the following terms:
“Gentlemen,– I cannot express my gratitude for the honor which you have done me; but I conceive it to be my duty, and feel it to be my highest pleasure, to testify to the justice of the approbation you have bestowed upon the gallant services of my old commander. You are well acquainted with his merit: nothing can surpass his conduct in warlike achievements; but his private character is no less worthy your applause than his public services. This you will acknowledge, when I give you a recital of his generous actions. On board he was at much more expense in support of the sick, than in the maintenance of his own table. When we have put into a port where the rate of exchange was against us, he has told the Midshipmen not to draw bills upon home, but come into his cabin, where there was a bag of dollars at their service. Frequently, when the ship was putting to sea, and the sailors’ wives were ordered out of her, has he directed his steward to give them a guinea each. On all occasions he has sacrificed his own interests to those of his officers and crew. To Captain Barrie I am indebted for my advancement; and so attached did I feel to him, that I have frequently requested he would not make application to the Admiralty for my promotion, in order that I might continue to have the pleasure of serving under his command.”
Captain Barrie was nominated a C.B. in June 1815; and appointed to superintend the naval establishment at Kingston, Upper Canada, in 1819. He married, Oct. 24, 1816, Julia Wharton, sixth daughter of the late Sir John Ingilby, Bart., of Ripley, co. York, and Kettlethorpe Park, in Lincolnshire.
Agent.– Thomas Stilwell, Esq.
- The following is a copy of Captain Manby’s official letter respecting the two merchant vessels alluded to at p. 205:
“H.M.S. Bourdelois, off Teneriffe, Jan, 16, 1801.
“Sir,– On the 8th inst., off Palma, in a calm, I despatched two boats under the orders of Lieutenant Barrie, in pursuit of a strange sail in the S.E. At 2 P.M. after a fatiguing row of fourteen hours, he gallantly boarded her with only one boat, although opposed by 10 Frenchmen, who kept up a smart fire from four 4-pounders. She proved to be the Adventure of London, one of the vessels which had parted company in the first gale of wind. The French prize-master was wounded by a cutlass, the only blood spilt on the occasion. Gaining information from the Adventure, that on the same day she was taken by the Mouche, of Bourdeaux, the privateer likewise captured a valuable copper-bottomed ship bound to Barbadoes; and as both vessels had orders to proceed to Santa Cruz, I considered it my duty to push thither; and by plying hard with my sweeps all the 9th, I arrived off that port on the morning of the 10th, when 1 had the pleasing satisfaction of rescuing the above-mentioned British ship from the hands of the enemy. She proved to be the Aurora of London. I have the honor to be, &c.
“To Captain Bradby, H.M.S. Andromeda.”
- Fourteen brigs, &c., laden with wheat, flour, provisions iron, and timber, captured; two brigs laden with naval stores, and another with wheat, destroyed. Sir R. J. Strachan, enraptured with the boldness of the above enterprise, and rejoicing at the success attending it, on seeing the prizes come out, telegraphed to his squadron “The Pomone has great merit;” and again expressed his admiration of her conduct when transmitting the foregoing letter to Captain Barrie’s uncle, the late Admiral Lord Gardner, who then commanded the Channel fleet.
Captain Barrie’s boats, in company with those of the Hazard sloop, had a few weeks before cut four luggers laden with wine, brandy, &c., out of a harbour in Isle Rhé.
- See Vol. I, pp. 283 and 483.
- The former a 36-gun frigate, and the latter an 18-gun brig, commanded by Captains Edwin Henry Chamberlayne, and Alexander Renton Sharpe.
- See p. 403.
- The enemy having observed the British frigates on the 30th April, had made every preparation to give them a warm reception. The regular troops posted on the heights were more than 200 strong, exclusive of the marines from the ships, and a body of armed peasantry. The quarterdeck guns of la Nourrice had also been landed, and were used on the occasion. The ships destroyed were of the following tonnage: la Nourrice 1100, la Giraffe 900, and the armed merchantman 500 tons. The crews of the two former consisted of 300 men.
- See p. 702 et seq.
- The Adams frigate. She was afterwards destroyed by a force under his orders.
- See Vol. I, p. 524 et seq.
- Captain Barrie had been sent with the schooner and boats to act against the flotilla fitted out at Baltimore, under the orders of Commodore Barney.
- Dragon 74, Endymion and Bacchante frigates, and Sylph sloop of war.
- “Peruvian and Sylph sloops of war, Dragon’s tender, and Harmony transport.
- Captured, Two ships, one brig pierced for 18 guns (afterwards lost), six schooners (one of which was the Decatur privateer, pierced for 16 guns, afterwards lost), and three sloops. Destroyed by the British at Bangor, One ship, one brig, three schooners, and one sloop. Burnt by the enemy at Hamden, The Adams of twenty-six 18-pounders, and two ships, one of them armed.
- See Vol. I, p. 527.
- Captain W. S. Badcock, of the Brune troop-ship, accompanied Captain Barrie in his expeditions to Rappahanock river and St. Mary’s, and displayed great gallantry on every occasion that offered.