Royal Naval Biography/Mackenzie, Kenneth
KENNETH MACKENZIE, Esq.
[Post-Captain of 1804.]
This officer completed his time as a Midshipman under the flag of the late Sir Henry Harvey, K.B. by whom he was made a Lieutenant and appointed to the Requin brig, at the Leeward Islands, in 1798. He subsequently commanded a small sloop employed as a tender to the Daphne of 20 guns, on the same station.
After taking several privateers and recapturing many merchant vessels, Mr. Mackenzie established his character as a brave officer, by boarding and carrying l’Eclair a French national schooner, moored under the batteries at Trois Rivieres, Guadaloupe, and fully prepared for action. The particulars of this exploit are thus detailed by Rear-Admiral Duckworth in a letter to the Admiralty, dated Feb. 9, 1801:
For this gallant action, Lieutenant Mackenzie was deservedly rewarded with the command of l’Eclair, in which vessel he continued till the peace of Amiens, when he obtained the rank of Commander and was appointed to the Guachapin a small brig of 14 guns, in which vessel we find him assisting at the capture of Tobago and St. Lucia, soon after the renewal of hostilities in 1803. His zealous conduct during the expedition against Surinam, in 1804, has already been noticed at p. 800 of this volume.
Captain Mackenzie’s next appointment was to the Hippomenes of 14 guns, a much more desirable vessel than the Guachapin, but wretchedly manned, her crew consisting chiefly of discontented foreigners.
On the 21st June, 1804, he fell in with one of the largest privateers belonging to Guadaloupe, le Buonaparte, of 18 long 9-pounders and 146 men. Captain Mackenzie was then cruising to windward of Antigua, and had disguised his ship as a Guineaman, purposely to decoy the enemy’s cruisers. The stratagem succeeded in this instance, and an action commenced with tolerable spirit on both sides. In the course of ten or twelve minutes, le Buonaparte became entangled with her antagonist, and Captain Mackenzie instantly ordered the enemy’s bowsprit to be lashed to his own mainmast: he then jumped on her deck, sword in hand, followed by his officers and a few brave seamen; but unfortunately the remainder of his crew shrunk from so close a contest. With this small force, however, he obtained a footing, the Frenchmen retreating abaft the main-mast, where they rallied on finding that their assaillants were not more than 18 in number. Of this gallant little band, 5 were killed, 8 wounded, and the remainder obliged to retreat. Only 9, including 4 of the wounded, succeeded in regaining their own ship before the lashing gave way, and le Buonaparte made off under all sail, her commander having no wish to renew the combat, and the Hippomenes being left without a single officer capable of giving orders for pursuit, even if her dastardly crew had felt inclined to obey them. Captain Mackenzie himself received many severe wounds, and fell senseless in the Hippomenes’ main-chains the moment he had quitted the enemy. Le Buonaparte’s loss has never been ascertained.
In 1806, we find Captain Mackenzie commanding the Carysfort 28, and assisting at the capture of la Lutine, French national brig, of 18 guns and 100 men, from l’Orient bound to Martinique, with despatches; his subsequent appointments were to the Champion 24, and Venus frigate, in which latter ship he continued until the termination of the war in 1814. On the 10th June 1815, he obtained a pension of 250l. per annum, for the wounds he had received in the above action, the effects of which, we have reason to believe, were a source of great affliction to his family for some time previous to his demise. He died at Salisbury, Nov. 5, 1824; aged 45 years.