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Royal Naval Biography/Chads, Henry Ducie

A Companion of the Most Honorable Military Order of the Bath.
[Post-Captain of 1825.]

Eldest son of Captain Henry Chads, R.N., who died at Chichester, Oct. 10th, 1799.

This officer entered the Royal Naval College, Portsmouth, in Oct. 1800; and from thence joined the Excellent 74, Captain (now Admiral) Sotheron, under whom he assisted at the defence of Gaeta, was present at the capture of Capri[1], and completed his time as midshipman on the Mediterranean station. His first commission bears date Nov. 5th, 1806, at which period he was appointed, by Captain (afterwards Sir George) Montagu, to the Illustrious 74, Captain (now superannuated Rear-Admiral) William Shield, employed in the blockade of Cadiz. In July, 1808, we find him joining the Iphigenia frigate. Captain Henry Lambert, with whom he visited Quebec, and subsequently proceeded to the Cape of Good Hope.

In Aug. 1809, while cruising off the Mauritius, the Iphigenia accidentally ran on board the Boadicea frigate, and thereby lost her bowsprit and foremast. The next night she got aground under a heavy battery, where she was long exposed to a very severe fire. Not thinking it possible to save her, the senior officer of the squadron sent orders to set her on fire; but, after throwing some guns overboard, she was at length got off, through the persevering gallantry and uncommon exertions of her officers and crew.

In consequence of these unfortunate accidents, the Iphigenia was obliged to be docked at Bombay; from whence she returned to the Cape station, about the end of October, 1809. Owing to the successes of the French cruisers, Vice-Admiral Bertie, commander-in-chief, had now determined to maintain the blockade of the Isles of France and Bourbon during the hurricane months, which had never before been attempted, and Captain Lambert was the officer selected to conduct this important and harassing service, with the Leopard of 50 guns, Magicienne frigate, Sapphire sloop, and Staunch gun-brig, under his orders.

The Iphigenia afterwards formed a part of the squadron under Captain (now Sir Josias) Rowley, at the reduction of Isle Bourbon; and Lieutenant Chads was publicly thanked by the military commander, Lieutenant-Colonel Keating, for his conduct at the landing of the troops, a service of considerable difficulty, and attended with some loss[2].

About a month after this event, Lieutenant Chads was lent to the Sirius frigate, with the Iphigenia’s launch and cutter, to assist in an attack upon l’Isle de la Passe, the key to Port Sud-Est, and which had hitherto been considered as almost impregnable. The main object of this enterprise has been stated in our memoir of Captain Sir Nesbit J. Willoughby.

The batteries on l’Isle de la Passe were all erected in commanding situations, with high breast-works, and mounted nineteen heavy pieces of ordnance, including three 13-inch mortars and two howitzers. The only landing place is on the inner or N.W. side of the island, and was well protected by a strong high chevaux-de-frise: the passage to it is not more than 250 yards wide. In order to arrive there, it was necessary to pass close under three batteries, guarded from surprise by a rugged coast, and an incessant high surf. The French garrison consisted of two commissioned officers, about 100 regular troops, and a number of armed blacks. The force considered necessary to ensure the success of the enterprise amounted to 400 officers and men; of whom 112 were soldiers embarked in la Nereide frigate.

We should here observe, that after the failure of the former attempt to land[3], the Sirius and her consorts had proceeded off Port Louis, in order to lull the suspicions of the enemy as to any meditated attack upon l’Isle de la Passe. To further the deception, it was now arranged by Captain Pym, the senior officer, that they should return by different routes; la Nereide taking the shortest, on account of her inferior sailing.

The Sirius arrived off the island while Captain Willoughby, who had volunteered to conduct the attack, was still at a great distance to leeward; and Captain Pym, fearing that the enemy might gain some intimation of his intention, as well as being eager to avail himself of the favorable state of the weather, resolved to despatch his own boats and the Iphigenia’s, without waiting for those of la Nereide. Accordingly, at 8-30 p.m. (Aug. 13th) two launches, two pinnaces, and two cutters, containing about 120 officers, seamen, and marines, pushed off from the Sirius, under the command of Lieutenant George R. Norman, and the guidance of a faithful black pilot, whose services had been secured by Captain Willoughby.

Fortunately for the assailants, just as they got abreast of the outer battery, the moon, which had been shining very brightly became suddenly obscured, and drizzling rain descended, thereby enabling them to reach the third battery before their approach was discovered. The enemy then challenged the leading boat, commanded by Lieutenant John Wyatt Watling, and opened a fire which proved rather destructive to her crew.

Dashing on, the whole of the boats soon reached the landing place, where the two French howitzers did considerable execution. Lieutenant Norman, after vainly attempting to scale a breast-work, and when in the act of turning round to try the chevaux-de-frise, was shot dead by a sentinel, who had scarcely discharged hia musket before he himself fell by the hands of a British sailor. The command of the storming party then devolved upon Lieutenant Chads, who soon had the satisfaction of seeing the enemy fly in every direction, at the point of the sword, pike, and bayonet. The total loss sustained by the British was five killed and twelve wounded.

Thus fell l’Isle de la Passe, the key, as we have before observed, to Grande Port, where the enemy’s cruisers frequently assembled, and to which they had sent many of their valuable prizes taken in the Indian seas. So completely was the French commandant taken by surprise, that he neglected to destroy his private signals and instructions, by means of which a successful ruse was afterwards practised by Captain Willoughby, who wrote to Lieutenant Chads as follows:–

“Sir,– As the officer who volunteered, and expected to head the storming party at l’Isle de la Passe, though from the bad sailing of his Majesty’s ship Nereide it was impossible for me to be present, I consider it justice to one of the handsomest coups of our campaign, to declare that I think a more gallant action could not be performed; and that I always considered, and do now, l’Isle de la Passe as an extremely strong fortification against boats or storming. I return you my sincere thanks for the great help this capture gave me, in enabling me instantly to attack Point du Diable, and to put in execution the wishes of his Excellency the Governor of Bourbon[4].

(Signed)N. J. Willoughby.”

Mr. James, in the fifth volume of his Naval History, second edit. p. 401, says, “we cannot understand how it happened, that the official account” (his own, by-the-bye, is a most incorrect one) “of this very dashing exploit, did not find its way into the London Gazette.” He would have expressed still greater surprise had he known, that it contained no mention whatever of the Iphigenia’s boats, nor any acknowledgment of the assistance rendered by nearly 50 of her crew, then serving under the command of Lieutenant Chads. We shall here present our readers with a copy of this hitherto unpublished document:–

Sirius, entrance of Grande Port, Aug. 14, 1810.

“Sir,– l’Isle de la Passe is in our possession – it completely commands Grande Port. At dusk, last night, I hoisted out my boats, and ran down in sight of the rocks, At half-past 8, they pushed off; and, at 11, got within hail and completely surprised the island in the rear; it was stormed and carried in a few minutes. I knew the tried gallantry of the officers and men, as also the good qualities of the boats; I therefore expected every thing that was done, and am convinced that nothing could excel the gallantry of Lieutenant Norman and all the officers and men under his command; but sorry I am to say, he lived only a few minutes after the victory. In him, the service has lost a most zealous, gallant, and valuable officer. Johnson, the pilot, shewed the utmost address and gallantry in approaching the island. Much credit is due to Mr. Enwright the surgeon, and his assistant, for their close attendance, both being on shore before a wounded man could be taken out of the boats. Our loss has been severe, but from the importance of this post, I think it could not have been well less. The bay inside the island will hold any number of vessels; the whole coast near the port is unprotected, and the water is very smooth. I have to request you will particularly recommend, as being highly deserving of promotion, Lieutenants Chads and Watling; Lieutenants James Cottell and William Bate, of the royal marines; Lieutenant Davis, of the engineers, (a passenger with me, who volunteered his services in the boats, an officer of great ability, to whom I have entrusted the new and additional defence of the island) Mr. Saunders, master’s-mate, whom I shall be proud to have as lieutenant of this ship; and Messrs. Parr, Andrews, Simpson, Braithwaite, De Horun, and Hislop, midshipmen, but who have not yet served their time. I enclose a list of the killed and wounded, and shall get every other necessary paper, as soon as possible, to accompany this. I have the honor to be, &c.

(Signed)S. Pym.”

To Commodore Rowley, Boadicea.

As the names appear In Captain Pym’s letter, so was the seniority of Lieutenants Chads and Watling; notwithstanding which, he afterwards granted the latter officer a certificate, wherein is the following paragraph:–

“I do further certify, that the conduct of the said Lieutenant Watling in the attack of l’Isle de la Passe, under Lieutenant Norman, of the Sirius, was truly gallant, and that after the latter was killed, by his side, in the moment of victory, he took the command.”

Although the latter part of this quotation is too absurd to require any comment, we shall here give an extract of a letter subsequently addressed to Lieutenant Chads by Captain Bate, R.M.

“It was impossible Lieutenant Watling, could have taken the command after poor Norman’s death, you being the senior officer, and I do well recollect your claiming it in the presence of Captain Cottell and myself, and that we both acknowledged you as our commanding officer.”

Ten days after the capture of l’Isle de la Passe, the Iphigenia and Magicienne arrived there, and formed a junction with the Sirius and Néreide. The disastrous result of an attack made by these four frigates upon a French squadron, under Mons. Duperré, whom Captain Willoughby had decoyed into Grande Port, by means of the enemy’s own signals, has been officially described at pp. 164–166 of Suppl. Part. II. The particular share borne by the Iphigenia in this battle is more fully shewn at pp. 169, 170, and 172 of the same volume. Her loss consisted of five men killed and thirteen, including her first lieutenant[5], severely wounded. It is now our province to narrate the subsequent gallant conduct and laborious exertions of Captain Lambert, his officers and crew.

After driving two of the enemy’s ships[6] on shore, and silencing the battery de la Reine, Captain Lambert sent a boat to the Sirius for orders, and was directed to warp out of gun-shot. This he commenced doing by the stern, with the stream and kedge-anchors, at the same time sending the end of his best-bower cable on board the Magicienne, for her to endeavour to heave off by. the Iphigenia had previously received a supply of 18-pound shot from the Sirius, having fired away all her own while gallantly supporting la Néreide.

At day-light (Aug. 24), when the whole of the enemy’s ships were discovered “on shore in a heap” and la Néreide lying “a perfect wreck” Captain Lambert having warped the Iphigenia into the channel by which Captain Willoughby had entered, considered that he had a noble opportunity of retrieving the misfortunes of the battle, by running down, and placing his frigate close under the sterns of the Frenchmen. Lieutenant Chads, with a message to this effect, and a proposal to take on board a portion of the crews of the Sirius and Magicienne, went immediately to Captain Pym; who returned for answer that Captain Lambert must continue warping out, as he and his officers had still hopes of getting the Sirius afloat. The enemy having then recommenced filing, and some of his shot reaching the Iphigenia, Captain Lambert next sent Lieutenant Edward Grimes, to say that he should be obliged to renew the action in his own defence, and again requested permission to close with la Bellone and her consorts. Shortly afterwards, Lieutenant Watling came from the Sirius, with a message to the same effect as that sent back by Lieutenant Chads. The Iphigenia accordingly resumed her labours; and, as soon as she had removed a little farther off, the French directed the whole of their fire at the Magicienne. By 10 a.m., the Iphigenia was warped close to the Sirius, and Captain Lambert immediately commenced annoying the enemy, who were endeavouring to remount their guns at the battery de la Reine.

Either because Mons. Bouvet, who had taken the command of the French squadron was not willing to risk his boats whilst the Iphigenia and Magicienne still kept up their fire, or that his whole attention was absorbed in preparations to receive the former frigate, seeing that the channel was open to her, he did not send to take possession of la Néreide until nearly p.m. It being then found impracticable to get the Magicienne afloat, her officers and crew were removed to the Iphigenia, preparatory to her being set on fire; and at 7-30 p.m. she blew up with her colours flying. Her stream and both bower-anchors were weighed by Captain Lambert, the cables having been previously hauled on board his ship.

On the 25th, at 4 a.m., the Iphigenia again began warping, but it was not until 7-30 that a light air from the land enabled her to get completely out of gun-shot. In the mean time the enemy had been continually firing at her and the Sirius, both from their ships and a newly erected battery on shore.

The combined efforts of the officers and men of the Sirius, Iphigenia, and Magicienne, to get the former frigate afloat, proving utterly vain, it was next determined to destroy her. The idea of cutting away the masts, and converting her into a floating battery, does not appear to have been entertained. the ship’s company and a very small portion of stores, with some of the grape and canister-shot that were on deck, but neither provisions nor water, were removed to her only remaining consort; and at eleven o’clock the Sirius was no more.

During the afternoon of the 25th, the Iphigenia continued warping against a strong wind and current; but owing to the loss of several anchors, she made very little progress towards l’Isle de la Passe, which post Captain Pym, on giving up the command to Captain Lambert, had “recommended his supporting and protecting.” On the 26th, she was similarly employed, from 4 a.m. until 8-30 p.m., when she brought up about three-quarters of a mile from the island.

The next day, at 8 a.m., while again warping, and still making very small progress. Captain Lambert discovered three French frigates working up to l’Isle de la Passe. An enemy’s brig had been watching his movements ever since the destruction of the Sirius. All the ships in Grande Port were now seen afloat, and la Bellone in an advanced position. The Iphigenia was cleared for action; but on examining into her resource, Captain Lambert had the mortification to find that she possessed no more than twenty-five broadsides of shot for the main-deck, and forty for the quarterdeck (a large proportion of which were grape and canister), and only twelve tons of watery with very little provisions, for the support of nearly 1000 persons, including those on the island.

The enemy’s squadron in the offing was commanded by Commodore Hamelin, who, at 3 p.m., summoned Captain Lambert to surrender at discretion. He refused to do so, but offered to give up l’Isle de la Passe in its present state, provided the Iphigenia was allowed to embark every British subject, and to retire unmolested. At sun-set, the gallant frigate ceased warping, and brought up close to the island. In the course of the ensuing night; however, she drifted a considerable distance.

On the 28th, at 7-30 a.m., a second flag of truce came from Mons. Hamelin, urging his previous demand, and promising that all the British; both officers and men, should be allowed their parole. At 9 a.m., another boat came alongside with a summons from the Governor-General of the Isle of France. To Commodore Hamelin, Captain Lambert replied, offering to surrender his frigate and l’Isle de la Passe, the next day, at 10 a.m., provided the French authorities would furnish, within a mouth, a conveyance for the whole body under his command and protection to any British settlement. To General De Caen, he sent copies of his correspondence with the Commodore, and expressed a hope that his Excellency would require no alteration in the terms proposed.

At 1 p.m., there arrived a second letter from General De Caen, pledging the faith of his Government, that, within a month, he would send every officer and ma, then with Captain Lambert, either to the Cape of Good Hope or to England, on condition of their not serving again until regularly exchanged; and also that no one should be deprived of his private property. It is said, that a sanguinary threat accompanied this last summons. Surrounded as be then was by an overwhelming force, and without a prospect of succour. Captain Lambert had no alternative but to surrender. In the necessity of this measure, his two brother-officers most fully concurred. The terms of the capitulation, however, were most basely violated.

Captains Pym, Lambert, and Curtis with their respective officers and crews. Captain Todd of the 69th regiment, whom Captain Willoughby had appointed commandant of l’Isle de la Passe, and the soldiers forming the garrison, were marched to Port Louis, and there treated in the harshest manner. Captain Lambert received many insults, and his brave companions were plundered of almost every article belonging to them; the whole of the commissioned officers, military as well as naval, with the exception of those named above, were cooped up in the cabin of a captured Indiaman, where the only light and air admitted were through the quarter-galleries, and a small hatchway, the ports and stern-windows being planked in:– when allowed to go upon deck, although in so hot a climate, the comfort of an awning even was denied them; their provisions were execrably bad, and very irregularly supplied; and, in spite of the solemn pledge given by De Caen, they were kept in that horrible state of confinement until the Mauritius was subjugated by the British, in the mouth of December following.

After the court-martial, by which the captains, officers, and ships’ companies of the Sirius, Iphigenia, Magicienne, and Néreide were all “most honorably acquitted,” Vice-Admiral Bertie, at the particular recommendation of Captain Lambert, and to mark his approbation of Mr. Chads’s former conduct, re-appointed him to the Iphigenia,[errata 1] as first lieutenant, which was the only instance of an officer having that favor extended to him. The Iphigenia returned home, and was paid off in April, 1811.

On the 25th of the ensuing month. Lieutenant Chads waited on the First Lord of the Admiralty, with an introductory letter, of which the following is a copy:–

“Sir,– Injustice to merit, permit me to introduce to you Mr. Chads, late first Lieutenant of H.M. ship Iphigenia, who served under my command upwards of two years. He is a most zealous, gallant, good officer, and invariably a volunteer on all services. I have the honor to be, &c.

(Signed)Hy. Lambert.”

Right Honorable Charles Yorke,
&c. &c. &c.

In Dec. following, Lieutenant Chads was appointed to the Semiramis frigate, Captain Charles Richardson, under whom he served, on the Irish and Channel stations, until Captain Lambert commissioned the Java 46, and applied for him to be first of that ship, in Aug. 1812.

The Java (formerly la Renommée French frigate[7]), was then fitting out at Portsmouth, for the purpose of conveying to Bombay the newly appointed commander-in-chief, Lieutenant-General Thomas Hislop and suite, together with a large quantity of naval stores, including copper sheathing for a 74-gun ship and two brigs building in India.

Having embarked his passengers, and received on board 86 supernumeraries, a very large proportion of whom were marine-society boys. Captain Lambert sailed from Spithead, with two of the Hon.E.I.Company’s ships under convoy, Nov. 12th, 1812. About a month afterwards he captured and manned an American merchant ship, thereby reducing his complement to 272 officers, men, and boys. Of this number, twenty-three were boys, eighteen raw marine recruits, and about sixty Irishmen who had never before been on salt water, except in crossing over from their own shores to England. Of the remainder of his proper crew, not fifty men had ever been In any other ship or vessel of war.

On the 24th of Dec, being rather short of water, and not able, without much difficulty, to get at what remained in the hold, on account of the numerous heavy articles stowed there. Captain Lambert resolved to touch at St. Salvador for a supply, and altered his course accordingly. The East Indiamen, not wishing to go so far out of their way, parted company the same day, and proceeded on their voyage without any escort. On the 29th, the Java, then in sight of the Brazilian coast, discovered, pursued, and most gallantly brought to action, the United States’ ship Constitution, then mounting 55 guns, with a complement of 480 persons, amongst whom we believe, were only three boys: it is our painful duty to add, that many of her crew were British sailors, long experienced in active warfare. Lieutenant Chads thus narrates the circumstances and result of a conflict, that was no less nobly continued by himself, than it had been valiantly begun by his lamented friend and captain:–

“At 8 a.m., close in with the land, the wind at N.E., discovered a sail to the S.S.W., and another off the entrance of St. Salvador; cast off the prize in tow, and made all sail in chase of the ship to leeward. At 10, made the private signal, which was not answered. At 11, hauled up, bringing the wind on our larboard quarter; took in the studding-sails, and prepared for action; the stranger standing towards us under easy sail, and apparently a large frigate. At a little after noon, when about four miles distant, she made a signal, which, was kept flying about ten minutes, when she tacked and stood from us under ail plain sail, running just good full; hauled up the same as the chase, but the breeze, freshening, could not carry our royals; we were going at least ten knots, and gaining, very fast on the chase. At l-30, she hoisted American colours. At 1-50, having closed with the enemy to about two miles, he shortened sail and luffed up to the wind; hoisted our colours, put ourselves under the same sail and bore down on him; he being at this time about three points on our lee-bow. At 2-10, when half a mile distant, he opened his fire from the larboard side, which we did not return till within pistol-shot, on his weather-bow. On the smoke clearing away, found him under all sail before the wind, and made sail after him. At 2-25, engaged him with our larboard guns, and received his starboard; then wore, and raked him close under his stern, giving him the weather-gage, which he did not take advantage of, but made sail free on the larboard tack: luffed up, gave him our starboard guns, raking, but rather distant, and made sail after him. At 2-40, enemy shortened sail; did the same, and engaged him close to windward. At 2-50, he wore in the smoke, and was not perceived till nearly round, having just lost the head of our bowsprit, the jib-boom, &c.: hove in stays hoping to get round quick and prevent our being raked, but the ship hung a long time, and we received a heavy raking broadside into our stern at about two cables’ length distant; gave him our larboard guns on falling off; the enemy wore immediately, and we did the same. At 2-55, brought him to close action within pistol-shot: the master was now wounded and carried below. Continued it till 3-5, when finding the day evidently gone, from all our rigging being cut to pieced, with our fore and main-masts badly wounded. Captain Lambert determined on boarding, as our only hope: bore up, and should have succeeded in laying him aboard abreast of his main-chains, but from the unfortunate fall of our fore-mast, the remains of our bowsprit passing over his stern, and catching his mizen-rigging, which was a great misfortune, as it brought us up to the wind and prevented our raking him. Whilst under the enemy’s stem, attempting to board, there was not a man to be seen on his deck, from which circumstance I am induced to believe there was a good prospect of success. This manoeuvre failing, we were left at the mercy of the enemy, which he availed himself of, wearing across our bows, raking us, when our main-top-mast went, and wearing again, at 3-20, under our stem. At 3-30, oar gallant captain was mortally wounded, and carried below: from this time till our mizen-mast went, at 4-15, the enemy laid on our starboard quarter, pouring in a tremendous galling fire, whilst on our side we could never get more than two or three guns to bear, and frequently none at all. After this we fell off and the enemy’s rigging was so much cut, that he could not avoid shooting a-head, which brought us again fairly broadside and broadside; Java very frequently on fire from firing through the wreck which lay on the side. Engaged till 4-35, when the Constitution made sail a-head, and got out of gun-shot; where she remained an hour, repairing her damages, leaving us a perfect wreck, with our main-mast only standing, and main-yard[errata 2] gone in the slings. Every exertion was made by us, during this interval, to place the ship in a state to renew the action; we succeeded in clearing the wreck of our masts from the guns, and endeavoured to get before the wind by setting sails on the stumps of the bowsprit and fore-mast; got the main-tack forward, the weather yard-arm remaining aloft; cleared away the booms, got a top-gallant-mast out, and commenced rigging it for a jury-fore-mast, intending to set a lower steering-sail for a foresail. Before we could get this accomplished, we were obliged to cut away the main-mast, to prevent its falling in-board, from the heavy rolling of the ship. The enemy now bore up to renew the action; made every preparation to receive him; reloaded the guns with round and grape. Mustered at quarters, and found 110 men missing; six quarter-deck guns, four on the forecastle, and many of the main-deckers disabled, with the wreck lying over them; the hull knocked to pieces, and the fore-mast, in falling, had passed through the forecastle and main-decks; all our masts gone, the ship making water, and one pump shot away. I consulted with Lieutenants Herringham and Buchanan, when it was determined to engage again, should the enemy give us an opportunity of so doing with a probability of disabling him, which was now our sole object; but that it would be wasting lives, in resisting longer should he resume a raking position, which unfortunately was the case. When he arrived close to us, and brought his broadside to bear, I struck, and hailed him to say we had done so; this was at 5-50. We were taken possession of at 6, by the American frigate Constitution, commanded by Commodore Bainbridge, who, immediately after ascertaining the state of the Java, resolved on burning her, which we had the satisfaction of seeing done, as soon as the wounded were removed. The Americans allowed that they had ten killed, but differed very much about their wounded which I found to be forty-four severely, and four mortally, the number slightly wounded I could not ascertain[8]. As my account differs from the one in the public papers, said to be the official report of Commodore Bainbridge, I beg leave to state the manner in which I obtained this knowledge.

“Being, of course, anxious to discover the loss sustained by the enemy, I directed Mr. Matthew Capponi, assistant surgeon, to lend his assistance in dressing their wounded: this he did, and reported to me the statement I have made. It having also been said in the papers, that the Constitution was soon in a condition to commence a second action, I must observe, that I do not think such a statement could have been authorised by Commodore Bainbridge, for her rigging was much cut, and her masts severely wounded; so much so, as to oblige her to return to America, which she certainly otherwise would not have done; for she was waiting only to be joined by the Essex and Hornet, when the further destination of this squadron, I was given to understand, was India.

“When the prisoners were removed from the Java, she was set fire to, although but twelve leagues distant from St. Salvador, with moderate weather; the cause of which was her shattered state, and not from any fear of taking her to a neutral port, as stated in Commodore Bainbridge’s letter, for he repaired thither with his own ship, carrying in a valuable prize, the Eleanor schooner, from London.

“It is most gratifying to my feelings to notice the gallantry of every officer, seaman, and marine on hoard. I can never speak too highly of the able exertions of Lieutenants William Allan Herringham and George Buchanan; Mr. Batty Robinson, master;[errata 3] and Lieutenants Robert Mercer and David Davies, of the royal marines. To Captain John Marshall, R.N. who was a passenger, I am particularly obliged for his exertions and advice throughout the action. To Lieutenant ____ Aplin, who was on the main-deck, and Lieutenant James Saunders, who commanded on the forecastle, I also return my thanks. I cannot but notice the good conduct of the mates and midshipmen, many of whom were killed, and the greater part wounded. To Mr. Thomas Cooke Jones, surgeon, and his assistants, every praise is due for their unwearied assiduity in the care of the wounded. Lieutenant-General Hislop, Major Walker and Captain Wood, the latter of whom was severely wounded, were solicitous to assist and remain on the quarter-deck.”

Annexed is a statement of the comparative force of the two ships:–

Maindeck 28 long eighteen-pounders 32 long twenty-four pounders.

thirty-two-pounder carronades


thirty-two-pounder carronades.
Total 46 guns, exclusive of a boat’s
54 guns, exclusive of an 18-pounder
carronade on a travelling
Broadside weight of metal long guns, 261
carronades, 256
517 pounds, long guns, 384
carronades, 352[errata 4]
736 pounds.
Complement Officers and men belonging to the ship
Officers, &c. passengers
Supernumerary men and boys
Total 377 477
Total 480.
Size in tons 1081 1533

The following is an abstract of the loss sustained by the Java in this long and well-fought action.

Killed. – Messrs. Charles Jones, Thomas Hammond, and William Gascoigne, master’s-mates; William Salmond, midshipman; Thomas Joseph Matthias, sup. clerk; twelve seamen, and four marines:– total 21.

Wounded. – Captain Henry Lambert, Mr. Edward Keele, midshipman, and one sailor, mortally: Mr. James Humble, boatswain, and four men, dangerously: Captain J. T. Wood (aide-de-camp to Major-General Hislop); Mr. Batty Robinson, master; Lieutenant David Davies, R.M.; Messrs. Charles Keele, Martin Burke, Frederick Morton, and William Brown, midshipmen; and forty-five sailors, marines, and boys, severely: Captain John Marshall, Lieutenants Henry Ducie Chads and James Saunders; Mr. James West, midshipman; and thirty-nine men and boys, slightly: – total 103, – Grand total 124.

Lieutenant Chads, in his official report to the Admiralty, written two days after the action, says, “I cannot conclude this letter without expressing my grateful acknowledgments, thus publicly, for the generous treatment Captain Lambert, and his officers have experienced from our gallant enemy.” But, in a subsequent despatch, he informs their lordships, that the crew of the Java “were pillaged of almost every thing, and kept in irons.” Speaking of those who were either dangerously or severely wounded, Mr. Jones, the surgeon, observes, – “Their removal to the Constitution, the deprivations they there experienced as to food, and the repeated disturbances they suffered by being carried below, and kept there for several hours three different times, on the report of an enemy heaving in sight; when these, I say, are considered, and the results contrasted with those of the American wounded, who were placed in the most healthy part of the ship, provided with every little luxury from competent and attentive nurses, and not allowed to be removed when ours were thrust into the hold with the other prisoners, the hatches at once shutting out light and fresh air, and this too in the latitude of St. Salvador, the recovery of our seamen appears as miraculous as it has already proved happy; and truly evinced both resignation and courage, in patiently submitting without a complaint to the cruelties of their situation, and firmly contending with every obstacle which chance or oppression could present or inflict. The unfortunate visitation of contagious diseases among the crew, on our passage home, proved a melancholy addition to our late disasters; they mended exceedingly, however, when we obtained supplies at the Western Islands; and on our arrival at Portsmouth, only two inefficient men remained on my list.”

The surviving officers, men, boys, &c. of the Java returned home from Brazil in two cartels; and were tried by a court-martial for the loss of their ship, on the 23d April, 1813. Major-General Hislop’s evidence on this occasion was as follows:–

“It would be presumption in me to suppose that any testimony of mine can be requisite to give weight to the more substantial proofs which must appear before this honorable court, in manifestation of the exemplary conduct of Lieutenant Chads, as connected with the important matter submitted to its investigation and judgment. Impressed, notwithstanding, with the hope, that if I cannot strengthen, I shall not at any rate diminish the claims he may otherwise be found to have to a decision most honorable to him, I have felt induced to give indulgence on the present occasion to the expression of those feelings of admiration, with which I witnessed the cool, firm, and determined resolution of that officer, when it was but too evident that uo chance remained to him of any successful resistance on a renewal of the action against the enemy; nevertheless, his determination to maintain the contest, should the possibility of hurting or disabling the enemy’s ship present itself, remained unshaken. Such an opportunity, however, was not put in his power, and it was not until the unavailing loss of innumerable lives was at the very point Of being effected, that he consented to yield to the superior force he had contended with, thereby exhibiting to the latest moment a degree of undaunted perseverance which did not fail to acquire him the encomiums of the enemy ho had been opposed to, whose voluntary and unexpected avowal thereof was, in the handsomest terms, communicated to him. It would also be presumption in me to speak of the distinguished bravery and merit exhibited by the late Captain Lambert, to the moment of receiving his much lamented wound, and whose melancholy fate I shall ever most deeply deplore.

“I beg further to offer to this honorable court, a note that was transmitted to me by Commodore Bainbridge, which will shew the opinion our enemy entertained of the action.


“Commodore Bainbridge has learned, with real sorrow, the death of Captain Lambert; though a political enemy, he could not but greatly respect him for the brave defence he made with his ship; and Commodore Bainbridge takes this occasion to observe, in justice to Lieutenant Chads, who fought the Java after Captain Lambert was wounded, that he did every thing for the defence of that ship, that a brave and skilful officer could do; and that further resistance would have been a most wanton effusion of human blood.”

The testimony of Captain Marshall was equally creditable to the officers and crew of the Java; and the Court agreed, that the capture of that frigate “was caused by her being totally dismasted in a very spirited action with the Constitution, a ship of considerably superior force; in which the zeal, ability, and bravery of the late Captain Lambert, her commander, was highly conspicuous, and honorable, he being constantly the assailant, until the moment of his much lamented fall; and that, subsequently thereto, the action was continued with equal zeal, ability, and bravery, by Lieutenant Henry Ducie Chads, until she became a perfect wreck, and the continuance of the action would have been a useless sacrifice of lives. The Court did therefore adjudge Lieutenant Chads, and the other surviving officers, &c. &c. to be “most honorably acquitted.” The president, Rear-Admiral (now Sir Graham) Moore, in returning Lieutenant Chads his sword, addressed him as follows:–

I have much satisfaction in returning you your sword. Had you been an officer who had served in comparative obscurity all your life, and never before been heard of, your conduct on the present occasion has been sufficient to establish your character as a brave, skilful, and attentive officer.

Immediately after the trial, Lieutenant Chads was presented by Major-General Hislop with an elegant sabre, on which is a suitable inscription. On the 28th of the following month, he was most deservedly promoted to the command of the Columbia sloop of war, formerly an American privateer; and, as the greatest possible compliment that could be paid to the brave defenders of the “Java,” that name has since been given to a new ship of the same dimensions as the Constitution. It has long been a subject of just complaint, that no remuneration is ever allowed to naval officers for the loss of personal property, whether by capture or shipwreck. This was the second time that Lieutenant Chads had had the misfortune to be taken prisoner, and on each occasion, in company with officers of the army:– in both instances, he lost his all, without receiving any recompence;– they, on the contrary, were amply reimbursed, according to their several ranks. Why should there be any difference of treatment between the two services? It is surely unjust to deny to one what is invariably granted to the other.

After bringing home a number of invalids from Halifax, the Columbia proceeded to the Leeward Islands, where she continued until the last Buonapartean flag that ever flew in the West Indies, was struck to Rear-Admiral Sir Philip C. Durham, who certifies, “that Captain Chads was at all times particularly active and attentive, especially at the reduction of Guadaloupe (in 1815), when he displayed the ability, activity, and zeal of a clever officer.” Subsequent to this event, Captain Chads received a very flattering letter from Lieutenant-General Sir James Leith, of which the following is a copy:–

Guadaloupe, Sept. 1, 1816.

“Dear Sir,– I have made arrangements, by which a proportion of the emoluments of the office of Weigh-Master, at Guadaloupe, shall be paid to you while I command here, and although but very inconsiderable, I hope you will have the goodness to accept it, as a mark of my esteem, and the sense I entertain of your zeal in the King’s service, and of your exertions in the disembarkation of the troops in the late attack on this colony. I am, with much esteem, dear sir, yours faithfully,

(Signed)James Leith.”

To Captain Chads, H.M.S. Columbia.

Guadeloupe having been restored to France after the final overthrow of Napoleon Buonaparte, no benefit accrued to Captain Chads from the appointment thus kindly given to him by Sir James Leith; and the Columbia being paid off in November following, he remained without any further employment for a period of eight years. His next appointment was, Nov. 23rd, 1823, to the Arachne of 18 guns, fitting out for the East India station.

In this sloop. Captain Chads successively visited Lisbon, the Cape of Good Hope, the Mauritius, Trincomalee, and Madras; from which latter place he proceeded, on his own responsibility, to co-operate with the expedition at Rangoon, under the command of Sir Archibald Campbell, K.C.B. The very important services he there rendered to the Hon. East India Company, and his active, gallant, and zealous exertions during the subsequent advance upon Ava, are detailed in a concise narrative of the naval operations of the Burmese war, which, for the sake of preserving its continuity, and in order to avoid the frequent repetition that would otherwise be necessary, as we descend the list of captains and commanders still before us, we shall place as an appendix to this volume. From what is there stated, our readers will learn, that the duties thus voluntarily performed by Captain Chads at Rangoon, and on the Irrawaddy, were of no common character, and that the manner in which they were executed gained him the unqualified approbation of the Admiralty, and of every superior officer; – also, we can confidently add, the esteem of all his associates. For these services he was promoted to his present rank, July 25th, 1825; appointed to the command of the Alligator 28, in November following; nominated a C.B. in Jan. 1827; and often publicly thanked by the Supreme Government, and other high authorities in India: he likewise received the thanks of parliament in common with his brother officers; and although his rank precluded him from being individually named by the senate on that occasion, his ability, bravery, and uncommon exertions are mentioned in the House of Commons, in terms the most flattering and honorable. After affixing his signature, as the senior naval officer and a civil commissioner, to the treaty of peace, he conveyed the first instalment of the indemnification money, paid by the Burmese, from Yandaboo to Calcutta; and then returned home in the Alligator, which ship he paid off at Plymouth, Jan. 3rd, 1827.

Captain Chads married, Nov. 26th, 1815, Elizabeth Townshend, eldest daughter of John Pook, of Fareham, co. Hants, Esq. and has issue two sons and three daughters. One of his brothers is a retired officer of the royal marines, and another a captain in the army.

Agents.– Messrs. Cooke, Halford, and Son.

  1. See Vol. I. Part I. p. 315 et seq.
  2. See Suppl. Part II. p. 153 et seq.
  3. See Suppl. Part II. p. 155 et seq.
  4. See Suppl. Part II. pp. 156–158.
  5. Now Commander Robert Tom Blackler.
  6. La Minerve frigate and the Ceylon Indiaman.
  7. See Vol. II. Part II. p. 834.
  8. Amongst the wounded were Commodore Bainbridge, severely; and his fifth lieutenant, mortally.

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