James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Robert Power, 19 December 1805 (Abstract)

From Robert Power, 19 December 1805 (Abstract)

§ From Robert Power. 19 December 1805, Tenerife. “On the third Ulto. anchor’d in the Bay of Santa Cruz a French Squadron commanded by le Chef d’Escadre Allemand, which had sailed from Rochfort 112 days before, and consisted of the following Ships

Le Majestueux 120 Guns
Jemappe 80
Magnanime 74
Suffrein 74
Lion 74
Calcutta ⟨5⟩;4 English captur’d Ship
Armide 44
Gloire 44
Thetis 44
Sylphe Brig 18
Paleneire [Palinure] do 18

Having learnt that Said Squadron had destroyed every Neutral Vessel they had met at Sea, and among them Some American vessels, I immediately applied in my Official capacity to the Commodore, as you will see viz the enclosed note,1 which was deliver’d to him in person by Capt. Henry Hughes of the Brig Peggy of New York, accompanied by Capt. James Riley of the Brig Eliza and Mary of Same place, for the delivery of all the American Citizens who were detained by him on board of her Squadron, but he never thought proper to answer, altho Capt. Riley returned on board two days after and dema⟨nd⟩;ed an answer in my name, the Commodore’s reply being always, that he wou’d send it.

“The American Vessels burnt at Sea by his order, without examination of papers and cargos, and whose crews were detained on board of his Squadron are the following The Brig Two Friends of New York, Solomon Pennick Master, bound from Said port for Nante in Latt: 47. 30. Long: 14. burnt on the 22d. of July. The Schooner Alpha of Marblehead, Francis Sargent Mast⟨er⟩; bound from Said port for Bilboa in Latt: 43. 30 Long: 9. 30. burnt on the 31 of July. The Schooner Hart of Boston, John Tuck Master, bound from said port for Bilboa in Latt: 43. 48. Long: 10. 30. burnt on the 31st. of July. The Brig Minerva of New York Perkins Salter Master,2 bound from Said port for Bordeaux in Latt: 45. 40. Long: 16. 50. burnt on the 20th. Sepr. There were also on board, the crews of 25 other Neutral Vessels burnt at Sea, and of a number of English taken during the cruize amounting in the whole to near 1100 prisoners, none of whom were released. The Squadron sailed on the 17th. of Novr. it’s destination unknown.”

RC and enclosure (DNA: RG 59, CD, Tenerife, vol. 1). RC 3 pp. For enclosure, see n. 1.

1The enclosure (1 p.) is a 7 Nov. 1805 letter from Power to Adm. Zacharie Allemand, which stated: “Having this day learnt that there are on board of your Squadron several masters and crews belonging to sundry American Vessels destroyed at sea, and who are detained by you contrary to the laws of Amity and Friendship subsisting between The United States of America, and The Emperor of The French, as Agent for, and in the name of the said United States of America, I hereby demand the release of such Citizens of the said States as may be found on board of your Squadron.” The Rochefort squadron, under Allemand, had sailed out when the British blockade of that port was lifted in July 1805 and spent the next five months cruising the Atlantic during which time Allemand captured a British frigate, seized over forty merchant vessels, and took about 1,200 prisoners (James, Naval History of Great Britain [1902 ed.], 4:47–50).

2On 11 Feb. 1806 Perkins Salter wrote from Rochefort to a friend in Marblehead, Massachusetts, that he had been held on the French squadron for four months “in a most deplorable situation”; he added “if they had burned me with the brig, it would not have been much worse.” He also said that Francis Sargent had died in the marine hospital at Rochefort on 9 Feb. 1806. Under the terms of the 1831 treaty between the United States and France, $17,049 was awarded in compensation for the Alpha, $11,650 for the Hart, $35,759 for the Minerva, and $24,750 for the Two Friends (Windsor, Vt., Post-Boy, 13 May 1806; New-York Gazette & General Advertiser, 9 July 1805; Williams, French Assault on American Shipping, 52, 174, 249, 348).

Index Entries