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T2, R4, Prng 88: American Brig & Sloop 1775-1815 vs American Heavy Frigate 1801-1860

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  • Half Pint John
    Originally posted by Salinator View Post
    Not fair to pit Americans so early in the field.
    Flame bait deleted;

    Cease and desist with your trolling.

    Last edited by Bad Wolf; 30 Nov 18, 11:04.

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  • panther3485
    Originally posted by Salinator View Post
    Not fair to pit Americans so early in the field.
    Not just the Americans. There are two French types pitted against each other also.
    Neither, IMO, is it all that "early in the field". We started off with 64 warship types and only have 8 remaining here. So 7/8ths (87.5%) of the competing field are gone already!
    Anyway, the way things are shaping up, looks like a fair chance of 4 different countries to be represented in the 4 slots of our semi-final?
    Last edited by panther3485; 29 Nov 18, 22:54.

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  • Salinator
    Not fair to pit Americans so early in the field.

    Leave a comment:

  • panther3485
    IMO, each of these types is very worthy to have made it to the quarter-final.
    However, both as a warship and as a symbol of emerging American naval power, I think I must vote for the heavy frigates.
    As exemplified by USS Constitution, they were truly outstanding for their day; being no less than equal to and arguably better than the very best frigates of any other naval power at this time.

    Leave a comment:

  • Jose50
    As to longevity of service, USS CONSTITUTION is still a commissioned US NAVY warship....this is her 221st year in service to her country.

    Leave a comment:

  • T2, R4, Prng 88: American Brig & Sloop 1775-1815 vs American Heavy Frigate 1801-1860

    33 - American Brig & Sloop 1775-1815
    40 - American Heavy Frigate 1801-1860

    In your opinion, which of these two warship types was most significant, influential and/or effective?
    Feel free to apply those criteria as you please, along with any others you think appropriate.
    Note: Suggestions for some additional criteria are at the foot of this post.

    According to the criteria as you see and apply them, please vote for your preferred candidate in the attached poll.
    If your chosen criteria are significantly different from those suggested, telling us what they are and why you used them would be helpful.

    The history of the United States Navy began with the creation of the Continental Navy on 13 October 1775; and having been thus named, this fledgling naval force served through to the end of the American Revolutionary War (War of Independence) which had begun in April of that year. The conflict ended in September 1783 with the Treaty of Paris and British acknowledgement of the United States as an independent sovereign nation.

    Under President George Washington, there was official recognition that the "Barbary Pirates" - naval forces of the Barbary States of North Africa - were a serious threat to American shipping and commerce. This in turn helped to bring about the Naval Act of 1794 and with it, the formal creation of a permanent standing U.S. Navy. Over the next 20 years, the Navy fought the French in the Quasi War (1798-99) and the Barbary States in the First and Second Barbary Wars (1801-05 and 1815); as well as the British again in the War of 1812 (1812-15).

    Although it would be quite some time yet before the United States could seriously rival the World's leading navies on a global scale, these early conflicts were the forge in which the Americans began to assert themselves as a naval power to be respected.
    It is in this setting and context that warships of the United States are introduced to our series of Tournaments.

    33: American Brig & Sloop 1775-1815

    A sailing brig is a relatively small vessel with two masts. Usually, both masts are square-rigged. That is, the main driving sails are suspended from horizonal yards (spars) attached to the masts. These spars are set square to the keel of the ship but their method of attachment to the mast, combined with their rigging, allows the horizontal angle to be varied considerably for best advantage from the wind.
    Sailing brigs were fast and maneuverable, being designed and employed both as merchant vessels and as warships. They reached their height of popularity in the 18th and early 19th centuries.

    The American Continental Congress acquired the brig Andrew Doria in November 1775. Her usual armament was 14 x 4-pounder guns and she had a crew of 112 officers and men.
    Andrew Doria fought well in a number of engagements but in particular, has the following distinctions to her name:
    • Participation in the Battle of Nassau; the first amphibious engagement by the Continental Navy and Marines.
    • The first United States vessel to receive a salute from a foreign power.

    Brig Andrew Doria receiving a return salute from the Dutch at Fort Oranje, Ternate Island, Indonesia, November 1776

    Brig Andrew Doria 1776 .jpg

    The sailing sloop was another type of small ship. Over the centuries in which they were used and from one nation to another, their configuration could vary somewhat and they could have one, two or three masts. However, in the period we are considering here they more often had at least two; three being common.
    Sloops were generally square-rigged and those that had two masts were sometimes called "brig sloops", given that their appearance was quite similar to that of a brig. As we might expect, in common with brigs, sloops also were fast and highly maneuverable; especially when compared to many of the larger warship types. Sloops built for combat were often referred to as "sloops of war", for obvious reasons.

    More than one American ship has borne the name "Ranger" but the first USS Ranger was a sloop of war in the Continental Navy, launched in May 1777.
    She was captured by the British almost exactly three years later but during the interval, rendered some outstanding service.
    Her achievements under command of Captain John Paul Jones were considerable. On his first voyage, he captured at least four British prize ships. A month or two later, he carried out a very daring raid on the British port of Whitehaven in April 1778; he and his crew spiking the guns of the fortress and burning the ships in the harbor.
    Not long afterwards, near Carrickfergus in Ireland, he engaged and defeated the British sloop HMS Drake. In terms of size and gun-power, the two ships were close to equal and the fight lasted for about an hour but eventually, Drake had gotten the worst of it and her captain struck his colors.
    USS Ranger was handed over to Jones' first officer, Lieutenant Simpson, in August 1778. From then and through 1779, Ranger continued to have success; capturing numerous enemy prizes. Eventually, however, her luck ran out and she was captured by the British on the Cooper River near Charleston, in May 1780. The British used her for a year or so (under the name HMS Halifax) and then she was decommissioned.

    USS Ranger (left) vs British sloop HMS Drake, Irish Sea, April 1778

    Sloop Ranger 1777 vs conv merch Drake p35.jpg

    The USS Hornet referred to next, was the third American ship to bear this name and was originally launched in 1805, having been built as a brig (with two masts). Later, in 1811, she was rebuilt with three masts and re-classified as a sloop. This improved her performance.
    Hornet normally carried 20 guns; 18 x 32pdr carronades and 2 x 12pdr long guns.
    She fought in the War of 1812 and was the first US Navy ship to capture a British vessel during that conflict.
    Hornet participated in numerous actions including the harassment of British shipping. One of her most notable encounters was her defeat of the brig-sloop HMS Peacock, near Demerary in Guyana. During the fight, casualties on the British ship became quite heavy (8 killed and 27 wounded) and included the loss of her commander, Captain Peake. Peacock's position became hopeless and she struck. However, she was so badly damaged that she sank soon afterwards and 19 British seamen - unable to be saved - drowned; but Hornet managed to rescue the remainder.
    On a subsequent raiding voyage in the South Atlantic, Hornet captured the brig-sloop HMS Penguin near Tristan da Cunha in March 1815. The following month, however, her crew somehow managed to mistake HMS Cornwallis - an almost brand new 74-gun ship of the line - for a merchant vessel. Massively out-gunned, Hornet and her crew had little option other than to beat a hasty retreat. They resorted to throwing a lot of equipment, including boats and guns, overboard; thus lightening their ship for a quick getaway!

    USS Hornet engaging British brig-sloop HMS Peacock (closest to viewer) off the coast of Guyana, February 1813

    Sloop Hornet 1805 v Peacock 1.jpeg

    40: American Heavy Frigate 1801-1860

    From about the mid 1780's, Barbary pirates were beginning to become a more serious threat to American merchant ships trading through the Mediterranean area and the situation only grew worse. For example, in 1793 no less than 11 American ships had been captured; with both their crews and their stores being held for ransom. This was simply intolerable. In the short term, stronger escorts allocated from existing resources would have to suffice but with the Naval Act of 1794, the building of more suitable warships was given a much higher priority. The act provided for funding to construct six new, very powerful heavy frigates. These were intended also to be able to fill the role of capital ships for a while, if need be; for this very young nation that had as yet insufficient resources to compete in the building of 3-decker ships of the line.

    In particular, the designs of Joshua Humphreys came to the fore. His solution was to build larger, longer-hulled frigates. This called for stronger scantlings; a term that essentially refers to the key parts of the structural framework in a wooden-hulled ship. Humphreys' solution called for substantially greater diagonal bracing to the hull framework, thus permitting the required increase in hull length combined with a greatly reduced tendency to "hog" or "sag". These new and very powerful frigates employed a single main gun deck, with provision for additional armament on a quarterdeck and/or spar deck.

    The final outcome - and proof of Humphreys' exceptionally good work - was six extremely powerful, well designed and highly efficient heavy frigates. Indeed, IMO a case could be made that these were the best and most formidable frigates produced by any nation during the age of sail up to this time. Certainly, some previous "heavy frigates" with a full two-decker configuration had been as well armed or even somewhat more so. However, none had been able to combine so effectively or to such a well-balanced degree the attributes of gun-power, speed, maneuverability, good handling characteristics and structural strength. In short, the Humphreys frigates set a new and substantially higher design standard.

    The first of the new frigates was United States, launched in May 1797. She displaced about 1,500 tons and her armament changed somewhat over time. She was initially rated for 44 guns but always carried more. During the war of 1812, the usual 56-gun mix was 32 x 24pdr long guns and 24 x 42pdr carronades. Her complement varied between about 400 and 600 Naval officers and men, plus 50 marines.

    United States' first duties were protecting American merchant shipping during the Quasi-War with France. She took part in a number of actions, including one in February 1799 in which she pursued and sank the French schooner L'Amour de la Patrie, taking the survivors prisoner. The following month, south-east of Antigua, she intercepted and captured the French privateer La Tartueffe, at the same time liberating the American ship Vermont which the French had previously taken.
    United States continued to serve her country in numerous engagements and missions until well into the 1840's, after which she was used only intermittently before her final assessment in 1864, being broken up the following year.

    Drawing of United States

    HFrigate United States 1797 p25 onv79.jpg

    Our second and final example is the famous USS Constitution, launched in October 1797. She was the third Humphreys frigate to be be completed and in common with her sister-ship United States, displaced about 1,500 tons. Her armament varied a fair bit but a typical mix was:
    • 30 x 24pdr long guns,
    • 20 x 32pdr carronades
    • 2 x 24pdr long guns as bow chasers
    The size of her crew varied somewhat but usually was about 450, which included 55 marines and 30 boys. Constitution had a very long and highly successful career, serving the nation of her birth extremely well indeed. Earlier conflicts she participated in included the Quasi-War, the First Barbary War and the War of 1812.

    The catalog of Constitution's exploits is very impressive but for now, I have chosen her battle with the British frigate HMS Guerriere in August 1812. This took place in the Atlantic Ocean, about 400 miles south-east of Halifax, Nova Scotia. At the time, Contitution's captain was Isaac Hull and the captain of Guerrierre was James Dacres. Guerriere was in fact a captured French frigate now in British service. She was not as heavily armed as Constitution, carrying 49 guns at the time; mostly of smaller caliber as follows:
    • 16 x 32pdr carronades
    • 1 x 18pdr carronade,
    • 30 x 18pdr guns
    • 2 x 12 pdr guns
    Nevertheless, she was still a quite potent warship in good order and capable of putting up a decent fight.

    USS Constitution vs HMS Guerriere - The Battle

    At the time, conditions were cloudy and there was a brisk wind. Captains and crews of the two ships recognized each other as enemies at about the same time. Both had time to make the necessary preparations for battle and both began firing at relatively close range.
    After about 15 minutes, it was apparent that Guerriere had got much the worst of the exchange; mainly on account of her lighter guns and less robust timbers. Within a few more minutes, her mizzen mast had fallen overboard but was still attached to the ship, so it created drag in the water and began to turn Guerriere like a rudder. Hull took advantage, as this allowed Constitution to rake Guerriere, bringing down the British ship's main yard. The American captain then attempted to exploit the situation further still but maneuvered a bit too close, causing Guerriere's bowsprit to become entangled in Constitution's mizzen rigging.

    By this stage, both captains had boarding parties ready for action and musket fire was already intensifying. Casualties were beginning to increase quite heavily. The only path between the two ships was Guerriere's jammed bowsprit but in the heavy sea conditions, it was moving too much. However, at the same time the two ships were slowly rotating around in the water and after a while, the bowsprit broke free. Then, quite suddenly Guerriere's foremast and mainmast both snapped off near deck level. Dacres attempted to set sail on the bowsprit but it was too badly damaged and it broke.
    During this time, the Crew of Constitution had also been hastily repairing some damages before turning again towards Guerriere. Just as action was about to re-commence, the crew of Guerriere fired a shot in the opposite direction (away from the American ship). This was taken as an indication of surrender, which turned out to be the case.
    When Captain Dacres made to surrender his sword to Hull, the American Captain refused, saying that he would not take it from an opponent who had fought so gallantly.

    Image from a painting showing Constitution's battle with Guerriere

    HFrigate Constitution vs Guerriere 1.jpg

    Our third image shows most of one side of the main gun-deck on a Humphreys heavy frigate. However, the general arrangement would be similar for many other large sailing warships of the period.

    Humphreys frigate gun deck p27 onv79.jpg

    So, which of these American quarter-finalists will you vote for?
    The Brigs & Sloops or the Heavy Frigates?

    Suggested additional criteria you might wish to consider, along with any others you deem appropriate.
    (Note: Some of these could be considered already covered by Significant, Influential and Effective)

    Which warship type ...
    • was the best?
    • was the greatest?
    • was the most widely used?
    • had the greatest longevity in service?
    • was the most versatile?
    • represented the best value for the cost/effort invested ("bang for the buck" in today's language)?
    • was the easiest to operate?
    Any other criteria you have applied (please tell us what they were).
    Last edited by panther3485; 19 Nov 18, 07:37.

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