Pirate Attack upon the Alligator
“About the 9th two masters of American vessels, came to Havana for the express purpose of raising money for the ransom of their vessels, bound to Havana, which with two other Americans (bound to N. Orleans) had been recently captured by two piratical schooners near Key Roman and left at anchor in that neighborhood, waiting their return. Captain Allen, of the Alligator, on coming into port next day, being informed thereof, started without coming to anchor in search of the pirates, whom at that, or the next day, he discovered in the Channel of Matanzas. The Alligator drawing too much water, two boats were manned and stood for them; an action ensued, in the early part of which Capt. Allen, received two musket balls, one in the head, the other in the breast, and soon died, encouraging his men to do their duty; which they nobly performed, for after a short contest the pirates abandoned their vessels and swam to the shore. The vessels were taken possession of by the victors, and carried into Matanzas. They mounted one gun each a midship, with 40 men each, well armed, and had considerable plunder on board. Our informant does not know what became of their prizes.”
The Mary Ann has despatches on board from the American Agent at Havana furnishing official information in relation to this disastrous occurrence. We learn that no other officer was injured belonging to the Alligator; but that two of her seamen were killed, and three badly wounded. Several of the pirates fell in the action, and others drowned in endeavoring to escape. The four prizes were also captured and towed into Matanzas, a part of the cargoes had been previously landed and sold. Capt. Allen was buried at Matanzas with the honors of war. – Gazette. [Gettysburg Compiler (Gettysburg, Penn.), December 4 1822, Page 3; Submitted by Nancy Piper]
[U.S. brig VIXEN fired upon by British loop of war, the MOSELLE]
WASHINGTON CITY, July 23 -- We are informed that on the 24th June 1810, the United States brig, Vixen, Lieut. Trippe, carrying fourteen guns, on her way to N. Orleans, under orders from our government, near the Bahamas was, in a wanton and unprovoked manner, fired into by the British loop of war, the Moselle, Capt. Boyce, rating 20 guns, 32 pounders - 32 pound shot carried away the main boom of the Vixen within a short distance of Col. Poindexter, a member of Congress, who with his family, had taken passage on board on his return from Congress; and a splinter from the boom wounded slightly Mr. Rodney, son of the attorney general of the United States, who likewise was on his way to New Orleans.
The subjoined extract of a letter from a gentleman of great respectability on board the Vixen to his friend in this city will give a detail of circumstances; and on the conduct of Lieut. Trippe, we will forbear to make a comment, because, in our war with Tripoli, this officer signalized himself; but more especially as we are informed that he has been ordered by the Secretary of the Navy to repair immediately to Washington, for the purpose of an inquiry into his conduct, in not returning the fire of the Moselle.
"On the 24th inst. (June) an occurrence took place which was equally unpleasant and unexpected. The character of the affair, however, corresponds with the treatment which we have so often received from the British naval commanders on former occasions. The Moselle, a 20 gun brig carrying 32 pounders, was laying at anchor or under the Stirrup Ray, near the Bahama Bank. The Vixen approached her under full sail, with her pendent and ensign hoisted. The commander of the Moselle hoisted French colors, and exhibited several private signals. Capt. Trippe, on perceiving a boat which he supposed wished to speak his vessel, hauled up and received the officer, who requested him to go down to the British vessel. With this request Capt. Trippe declined a compliance, furnishing the officer at the same time, with the name of the vessel, and her destination. Captain Boyce, who commands the Moselle, fired a shot at us as we passed, which Captain Trippe considered as an intimation, that he wished to speak with us. Several musket balls were fired from the boat into the vessel; and at the very moment the British officer was politely received on board the Vixen, and before he had taken a memorandum of the reply, which was given by Captain Trippe to the message which was delivered - Captain Boyce fired a round shot, which came over the quarter deck, and penetrated the main boom of the Vixen. Capt. Trippe immediately discharged the British officer, and prepared for action. The English brig slipped her cable, and got under way, menacing an attack on our vessel. So soon as she approached within a proper distance, Capt. Trippe dispatched a boat with his first lieutenant, to demand of the British officer an explanation of his conduct; who sent his lieutenant on board the Vixen, with various apologies, which were not understood in a satisfactory manner; and Captain Trippe addressed a note to Captain Boyce, requiring a written statement of the reasons which had induced him to fire two shots at his vessel. Captain Boyce returned for answer, that he recognized, with pleasure, the existing amity between the two countries, and was extremely sorry for having fired at us - that the reasons which induced him to fire, were, that he could not distinguish our colors, and saw no preparations for taking in sail - that he had been informed that two French privateers were fitting out in the U. States, and supposed he might probably be one of them. He also pledged his honor that his shot was not aimed at our vessel. The explanation was deemed by Captain Trippe, sufficient to prevent any further conflict; and we instantly made sail, and proceeded on our course. Mr. Rodney's son was struck by a splinter from the boom, which occasioned his mouth to bleed a short time - no other person was touched.
The conduct of Capt. Trippe in this affair was highly honorable to himself, to the American navy, and to his country. The Vixen was prepared for action with the greatest promptitude and order, and the explanation demanded in a manner which left no doubt, as to his determination to vindicate the honor of the national flag, or perish in the attempt. The official assurances of Captain Boyce could not be questioned in an official form, but I feel the most perfect conviction that he knew the Vixen to be an American man of war - that he fired the second shot directly at the vessel, with a view of provoking a return of the fire, and thereby furnish him with an excuse for going into action with a vessel of inferior metal, and then shift the responsibility from himself by declaring that his shot was fired through mistake, and without any intention of injuring the vessel. I was on deck and saw the gun on the forecastle of the Moselle, leveled directly at the Vixen, and was not more than three feet from the place where the shot struck the boom. The insolence of this transaction is not more remarkable than the meanness displayed by the British commander, in forging excuses for his conduct."
Captain Burroughs of the sloop Fox, who arrived at the Lazaretto yesterday in 11 days from Nassau, (N.P.) says he saw at that place, Captain Boyce, of the British brig of war Moselle, who, without any provocation fired into the American sloop of war Vixen, Captain Trippe notwithstanding that, Boyce made the most humiliating apology for that flagrant act to Captain Trippe, whose determined conduct on the occasion does him much honor; this man, with all insolence imaginable, was making fulsome boast of his own contemptible conduct on that occasion. [Source: "The Kentucky Gazette", August 7, 1810 - transcribed by Kim Mohler]