HMS Wasp 22
Date of Commission: May 26, 1817
Status: On the Barcos Station.
At the end of the latest great Caribbean War in March 1817 the Royal Navy was horribly downsized, causing the decommissioning, scuttling and drydocking of several warships. Among these ships was the small and battered frigate H.M.S Greyhound, effectively putting her captain, Lord Nathaniel Blatchford, on shore. This happened at a terrible time for Lord Blatchford, as he had recently been elevated to the grand dignity and title of Earl of Stafford and had been bullied by his wife to buy Tamsworth Castle to reflect his new status. Spending all of his hard-earned prize money on the subsequent expenditures, Lord Blatchford found himself shipless and penniless as hostilities in the Caribbean flared up once again in May. The Admiralty now had plenty of captains wanting a ship, but not nearly enough ships to give away. Desperate for a command, any command, with which he could restore his fortune, Lord Blatchford accepted the captaincy of an old, tub-like Sloop-of-War which somehow had survived the recent downsizing.
The H.M.S. Wasp may not be the toughest warship afloat, with her brittle fir planks and her measly sixteen long 4-pounders, but she makes up for it in stiffness, handling and speed. Fairly fast, and armed with chasers both forward and aft, she is very well suited for commerce raiding. In an attempt to recreate his successes from his previous commands, the Greyhound and Banterer, Lord Blatchford used every nook and cranny to cram extra hammocks for 12 men and a full complement of marines in her, and spent several hours every day practicing smallarms, boarding combat, and the accurate firing of her guns at long ranges. These preparations would pay off when the Wasp met her first Spanish merchantman off Las Tortugas, Lord Blatchford's old cruising grounds, on June 17. More prizes followed, most notably the capture of two Spanish Trader Brigs off Corrientes on June 29 which was carrying a cargo worth nearly 200.000 gold coins. This saved Lord Blatchford's finances back in England, and made her crew a happy set of men, wanting nothing else than to ply up and down the Cuban coast. On July 5, the Wasp got her chance to prove that she was also capable of hard fighting when she met a Spanish 20-gun Mercury brig convoying a merchantman off Barcos. After taking and scuttling the merchantman, the Wasp engaged the Spanish Mercury in an hour-long action which resulted in the Wasp boarding and carrying the enemy.
1817-present: Captain the Lord Stafford
Excerpts from the Logbook (Player Versus Player):
- June 1817
|Saturday, June 17, SSE of Las Tortugas, course SSE, hands employed about the ship. At 9 observed Spanish 16-gun 'Trader Brig' armed merchantman to NNW bearing S, closed with enemy and engaged. Exchanged chain shot at range, and the enemy struck her colours. We took possession of her and parts of her moderate cargo of fine leather, cocoa, coffee and indigo. She was sunk thereafter.|
|Tuesday, June 27, WSW of Siguanea, course SE, hands employed worming the cable. At 1/4 to 1 observed Spanish 'Trader Brig' to E bearing W, closed with her. Fired at her rigging and hull, and presently the enemy struck her colours. We took possession of her and her cargo of oak planks, oak logs, stone blocks and hemp. Manned her with a prize crew and escorted her to Barcos, evading two Spanish warships which made chase.|
|Thursday, June 29, SE of Corrientes, course W, hands variously employed. At 1/4 to 6 observed Spanish 'Lynx' armed schooner escorting two 'Trader Brigs' to SW bearing SE, closed to range and engaged. The enemy schooner attempted to protect his convoy by firing at our sails, but was obliged to disengage after an exhange of broadsides. We swiftly captured and took possession of the two enemy merchant brigs, and their substantial cargo of black ironwood. We could only spare a prize crew for one vessel, and was obliged to sink the other. Manned her with a prize crew and escorted her into Barcos, evading a Spanish warship which made chase W of said port.|
- July 1817
|Sunday, July 1, NE of Baja, course NE, hands employed knotting and splicing. At 3/4 to 8 observed Spanish 'Trader Cutter' escorting one 'Trader Brig' to SE bearing SW, bore up and engaged. The enemy cutter made for and reached the protection of the fort near Baja, while the trader brig was boarded and carried, though her hold was unfortunately empty. Scuttled the prize and headed N.|
|Wednesday, July 6, WSW of Barcos, course W, hands employed about the ship. At 1/2 to 10 observed Spanish 20-gun 'Mercury' escorting one 'Trader Brig' to SW bearing NNE, closed to range. Boarded and carried the merchant brig while the warship was tacking, though her hold turned out to be empty. Scuttled the merchant brig and proceeded to rake the warship in several passes in a prolonged fight. Eventually the warship was also boarded and carried. Manned her with a prize crew and escorted her to Barcos.|
|Monday, July 10, W of Las Tortugas, at single anchor, hands variously employed. At 1/4 to 9 observed Spanish 'Trader Brig' to S bearing E, bore up and engaged. The enemy captain managed to maneuver in such a way that boarding was impossible, and we were obliged to hole her terribly in an effort to make her strike. Eventually she missed stays during a tack, and we closed to range, boarded and carried her. Upon taking possession we found her hold to be empty, and so we scuttled her and returned to Las Tortugas.|
|Monday, July 27, E of Santa Fe, course NNE, hands employed knotting and splicing. At 1/2 to 2 observed Spanish 'Trader Brig' to N bearing SE, set a course to intercept. The enemy attempted to reach the safety of the fort near Santa Fe, but we overhauled her while firing on her rigging with our forward chasers. She was soon boarded and carried, though upon taking possession we found her hold to be empty. We manned her with a prize crew and escorted her to Barcos.|
- August 1817
|Saturday, August 5, NE of Barcos, course E, hands employed about the ship. At 1/4 to 1 observed Spanish 14-gun 'Trader Brig' armed merchantman escorting another 'Trader Brig' to NE bearing NE, bore up and gave chase. Overhauled the enemy SSE of Batabanó and opened fire on the leading vessel. After a quick exchange of chainshot, the armed enemy was boarded and carried while the second vessel escaped. Upon taking possession we found her hold to be loaded with rigging repairs and stolen goods. We manned her with a prize crew and escorted her to Barcos, barely escaping into shallow water from a Spanish 38-gun frigate which gave chase.|
|Saturday, August 12, N of Barcos, course NW, hands employed about the ship. At 3/4 to 6 observed Spanish 14-gun 'Trader Brig' armed merchantman escorting two additional 'Trader Brigs' to NW bearing NNW, bore up in chase. Overhauled the enemy ESE of Robras and opened fire on the leading vessel. The leading enemy merchantman was swiftly boarded and carried while the merchantmen escaped. Upon taking possession we found her hold to be loaded with rigging repairs and stolen goods. We manned her with a prize crew and escorted her to Barcos.|