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Royal Naval Biography/Mackenzie, George Charles

[Post-Captain of 1808.]

This officer was one of Vancouver’s midshipmen, in the Discovery, during a voyage round the world, already noticed at p. 200 et seq. of Vol. II. Part I. He obtained his first commission in 1796, and was made a Commander into the Experiment 44, armed en flute, at the commencement of 1802.

Captain Mackenzie’s next appointment was to the Wolfe sloop of war, in which vessel he destroyed la Precieusa Spanish privateer, of 3 guns and 23 men, on the Jamaica station, Oct. 19, 1805. A service of greater importance, in the performance of which he was assisted by the boats of the Malabar 54, is thus described by the captain of that ship, in a letter to Rear-Admiral Dacres, dated off Port Azaraderos, Cuba, Jan. 2, 1806:

“Sir,– I have the greatest satisfaction in having it in my power to acquaint you, that H.M.S. under my command, and H.M. sloop Wolfe, have this day captured le Régulateur and Napoléon, two of the largest French schooner privateers out of St. Jago, protected by a double reef of rocks. Captain Mackenzie, whose vigilance deserves every praise, saw one of them go in this morning. On coming off the port, I sent the master to sound for anchorage, who found a passage on the reef, through which the Wolfe was successfully conducted, and most ably anchored within musket-shot of the enemy, attended by the boats of both ships, manned and armed. Le Régulateur was armed with a brass 18, and four 6-pounders, and had 80 men; le Napoléon one long 9-pounder, two 12-pounder carronades, two 4-pounders, and 66 men. It is but justice to say they were well defended, the action continuing, without intermission, an hour and three-quarters, when the survivors of the crews abandoned them, and landed in the woods, four only being made prisoners, one of whom was mortally wounded. They were then towed without the reefs; when le Régulateur (a remarkably fine vessel) sunk, and I am sorry to say a marine, belonging to H.M.S. under my command, went down in her; except this man I have not sustained any loss[1].”

The Wolfe was wrecked on Heneaga, one of the Bahamas, Sept. 5, 1806; but fortunately the whole of her officers and and crew were saved. Captain Mackenzie subsequently commanded the Cruiser, an 18-gun brig, on the Baltic station, where his boats assisted at the capture of a Danish vessel mounting 2 long 18-pounders, with a complement of 64 men; and destruction of two others, fitted for the conveyance of troops: the whole moored within half-pistol shot of a 3-gun battery, and protected by numerous soldiers on the beach[2]. He obtained post rank, Nov. 26, 1808.

This officer’s last appointment was, Nov. 16, 1813, to the Creole frigate, in which, with the Astrea 36, under his orders, we find him successively touching at Madeira, Teneriffe, Senegal, Goree, the Cape de Verds, and Sierra Leone. The official report of his drawn battle with two French frigates off the island of Mayo, Jan. 23, 1814, has never yet been published; but a long account thereof is given in James’s Nav. Hist., 2d edit. vol. vi, p. 380 et seq.; to which work, and the Nav. Chron. vol. xxxi, p. 495, we must refer such of our readers as may wish for information on that subject.

Agents.– Messrs. Stilwell.

  1. The Wolfe had 2 men killed and 4 wounded: the enemy’s loss could not be ascertained; but, from the appearance of the schooners’ decks, it was supposed to have been great.
  2. See Captain Michael Head.