Grand Turk The Brig Grand Turk

Grand Turk The Brig Grand Turk, 18 guns, was the third ship of that name. She was constructed as a privateer and launched in late 1812. She was purchased by a group of Salem and Boston men and commissioned on 28 January by President Madison to "cruise against the enemies of the United States."
Privateers were an important part of the U.S. war effort during the revolution and the war of 1812 because her formal navy was so miniscule in comparison to that of Great Britain. Primarily they attacked merchantmen and ran from armed ships of comparable or greater size.

The image is from a painting by Antoine Roux made in Marseille in 1815. The more famous painting at the top of the page by the same artist is in the Peabody Essex Museum of Salem.

The Grand Turk and the Mail-Packet Hinchinbroke
Image The most serious battle fought by the Grand Turk came under the command of Captain Holton J. Breed when on 1 May 1814, latitude 50.30, longitude 23, at 1PM she encountered the Royal West India mail-packet Hinchinbroke, homeward bound from the West Indies to England.
According to her log, the Grand Turk hoisted English colors (a standard subterfuge of the day as any reader of the Aubrey-Maturin books will know) and chased the Hinchinbroke until she was within musket shot, and then hauled down the English and up the American colors. The Hinchinbroke then fired on the American and then broadsides were exchanged and the engagement continued until 6:30, when she broke off the engangement with "braces, bowlines, mainstay, both foretopmast stays, jib and topgallant stays, backstays, and part of the foremast rigging were cut away; sails completely riddled, having at least six hundred shot-holes through them; and foretopsail and main-yards partly crippled, which rendered us unmanageable."

After effecting repairs, at 7:30 she again chased the enemy, who was attempting to escape. As the weather worsened, the enemy bore up and disappeared. Breed reported that the Hinchinbroke had been severely damaged, with 10 to 20 shot holes in the hull, while his ship had none. He lost two men and described the Hinchinbroke as having an equal number of men and mounting ten 24-pound Carronades and two long brass 9-pound Cannon.

But the British tell a different story. Captain James of the Hinchinbroke reported that the British did not fire the first shot and that the initial broadsides were almost simultaneous. James reported having only eight 9-pound guns in comparison to the American's 16 pounders and that the packet's hull and rigging suffered greatly. He reports that the Americans attempted to board, but were repelled by the netting and fierce resistance of the a small band of British. After that the American review and continued to pour shot into the British, and then returned to again attempt boarding, reinforced by small arms fire from her tops. Again the netting and the determined resistance forced them off. When the faster American then shot ahead, James luffed under her stearn and raked her in succession with three larboard (the old word for port) guns with treble charge. This shook off the enemy's hold and the Grand Turk hauled to the northward and abandoned the attack.
``Thus ended a brave and well-fought action that lasted for nearly three hours and which was highly creditable to the mail packet which carried a much smaller number of men and also less metal.''
The Image is of an engraving published in 1819 in London for Commander James of the Hinchinbroke with an inscription describing how the privateer failed twice to board, was raked, and then sheered off.
The Grand Turk recovered to have a successful career as a sea raider.
The Sale of the Grand Turk
Ad A t the close of the war, she was bought for $8000 by Billy Gray of Boston, formerly of Salem. She then had a successful career as a merchantman until she was sold in Havana in 1816 and disappeared from history.

5 January 1996 20 June 1996