HMS Anaconda (1813)

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Career (United States)
Builder: Middletown, Connecticut
Launched: 1812
Captured: Captured on 11 July 1813
Career (UK) Royal Navy Ensign
Name: HMS Anaconda
Acquired: Captured on 11 July 1813
Purchased in September 1813
Fate: Sold on 5 May 1815
General characteristics [1]
Class & type: 18-gun brig-sloop
Tons burthen: 383 9194 bm
Length: 102 ft 6 in (31.2 m) (overall)
85 ft 10 in (26.2 m) (keel)
Beam: 29 ft (8.8 m)
Depth of hold: 10 ft 2 in (3.10 m)
Complement: 120 men (privateer)

18 × 9 and 12-pounder guns (privateer)

18 × 9-pounder guns (Royal Navy)

HMS Anaconda was an 18-gun brig-sloop of the Royal Navy during the War of 1812. She was cruising as an American privateer until sailors from HMS Sceptre captured her in 1813. She served briefly in the Royal Navy during the later stages of the War of 1812, especially at the Battle of New Orleans, before being sold in Jamaica in 1815.

American career[edit]

Anaconda was built in Middleton, Connecticut in 1812.[1] In late 1812, Captain Nathanial Shaler took command of Anaconda in New York.

On 16 January 1812, while Captain Shaler was ashore on business, Anaconda's first lieutenant, George W. Burbank, encountered the American schooner Commodore Hull and fired a broadside into her, seriously wounding her commander, before realizing his mistake. A court martial, however, absolved Burbank from blame.[2][3]

On 14 May 1813, while in the latitude of the Cape Verde Islands, he was able to capture the British packet ship Express, an 8, 11, or 12-gun brig with a crew of 38, sailing from Rio de Janeiro to England.[4] After a fight lasting over half-an-hour, the Express struck. Shaler took out $75,000 in specie and then divested the packet after ransoming her for $8000.[5]

In June, Anaconda took the 8-gun brig Mary, sailing from Gibraltar. Later that month, Anaconda took the brig Harriet, sailing from Buenos Aires to London, delivering her to New Bedford. Some records indicate that Harriet may have been armed with 12 guns, and that Shaler converted one of the brigs to a cartel. In all, his prizes were worth $250,000.[5]

However, in early July Captain Shaler took refuge in Ocracoke Inlet.[2]


On 11 (or 12) July 1813, Lieutenant George Augustus Westphal, first lieutenant of Sceptre, led a group of boats into Ocracoke Inlet during Rear Admiral Sir George Cockburn's campaign against Portsmouth and Ocracoke Island in North Carolina.[6] Their targets were Anaconda and a second privateer, the 13-gun schooner Atlas under Captain David Mafitt, as well as a revenue cutter. As the British boats approached, the Americans opened fire. Westphal's division, covered by rockets, (as directed by a Captain Russell and overseen by Lieutenant John Harvey Stevens[7]) attacked and captured both privateers.[8] However, the revenue cutter escaped up the Neuse River to New Bern, where she gave warning of the British forces, permitting the preparation of defences that forestalled the Royal Navy from any further advance. Captain Shaler escaped with his crew. Both privateers were condemned at Halifax and the British took them into service, Anaconda under her name, and Atlas as HMS St Lawrence. Anaconda was purchased in September for £3,879 2s 2d and commissioned under her captor, Commander George Westphal.[1]

British career[edit]

Anaconda refitted at Halifax and Westphal received a crew of 60 men, most of whom were the dregs of the fleet, offered by their captains when Admiral John Borlase Warren asked for drafts.[9] Her first task was to escort a convoy of twelve merchant vessels from there to the West Indies. While doing so she fought off an attack by two large American privateers. One of the privateers surrendered after losing her jib-boom and fore-top-mast but then escaped when Anaconda lost her own fore-top-mast chasing after the second privateer. Warren then transferred Anaconda to the Jamaica station.[9]

In March 1814, Anaconda was stationed off the Mississippi delta under the orders of Capt. Clement Milward of HMS Herald. Arsene Latour mistakenly named Anaconda as the fourth vessel present during the Battle of Fort Bowyer,[10][11] and this error has persisted.[12] At the time of the battle, Anaconda's log places her in the Bay of Campeche.[13]

The defeat at Fort Bowyer led the British to turn their attention to an attack on New Orleans. In the run-up to battle, Captain Nicholas Lockyer captured an American flotilla, consisting primarily of five gunboats, in the Battle of Lake Borgne.[14] Anaconda did not contribute her boats and crew to the battle, but evacuated the 77 men who had been wounded there.[9]

During Sir Alexander Cochrane's expedition against New Orleans in December, Westphal took Anaconda with great difficulty over shoals into Lake Borgne. Anaconda, gun-vessels and hired craft then moved the advance guard up the bayou in preparation for the New Orleans.[14] Cochrane had ordered Westphal to lighten Anaconda and to get her into Lake Borgne. By forcing Anaconda over a bank five miles wide that was only eight feet under water, Westphal was able to get her into position 20 miles ahead of the other British warships where she could protect the boats bringing up supplies and troops. Captain Thomas Hardy of Ramillies wrote in a letter that Anaconda's protection surely saved many of the boats from capture by the Americans.[9]

Westphal later landed with the greater part of Anaconda's crew, who then fought in the naval brigade under Captain Edward Troubridge. At the battle they helped man the batteries.[9]

In February 1815, Anaconda, the schooner Shelburne under Westphal's orders, cruised off the Florida coast north of Havana.[9]


Anaconda was paid off in April 1815. She underwent a survey at Jamaica that found that she had sustained too much damage in the New Orleans campaign to merit retention in service.[9] Anaconda was condemned and then sold on 5 May 1815.[1] Westphal then returned to Britain in July as a passenger aboard Moselle.[15]


  1. ^ a b c d Winfield (2008), pp.322-3.
  2. ^ a b Maclay (1899), pp. 259-260.
  3. ^ Ellis (2009), pp.87-8.
  4. ^ Norway (1895), p. 243.
  5. ^ a b Emmons (1853), p.170.[1] Accessed 17 February 2013
  6. ^ The London Gazette: no. 16770. pp. 1746–1747. 4 September 1813.
  7. ^ Nicolas (1845), Vol. 2, p.247.
  8. ^ Allen (1852), Vol. 2, p.433.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g Marshall (1832), Vol. 3, Part 2, pp.195-8.
  10. ^ "Niles' National Register, volume 7". 22 October 1814. p. 93. "Letter from Jackson to the US Secretary of War dated 17 September 1814: 'The ship, which was destroyed, was the Hermes...the brig so considerably damaged is the Sophie..The other ship was the Carron..the other brig's name unknown.'" 
  11. ^ James, p345, in mentioning the many inaccuracies of Latour's book in relation to the failed attack on Fort Bowyer does refer to Latour 'misnaming one vessel'.
  12. ^ Lossing (1869), Chap. 42.
  13. ^ "Attack on Fort Bowyer September 1814". Retrieved 16 February 2013. "Transcripts from the logs of HMS Anaconda, HMS Childers and HMS Sophie for 15 September 1814." 
  14. ^ a b The London Gazette: no. 16991. pp. 446–449. 9 March 1815.
  15. ^  Lee, Sidney, ed. (1899). "Westphal, George Augustus". Dictionary of National Biography 60. London: Smith, Elder & Co. p. 380. 


  • Allen, Joseph (1852). Battles of the British Navy Volume II. London: Henry G. Bohn. 
  • Colledge, J. J.; Warlow, Ben (2006) [1969]. Ships of the Royal Navy: The Complete Record of all Fighting Ships of the Royal Navy (Rev. ed.). London: Chatham Publishing. ISBN 978-1-86176-281-8. OCLC 67375475. 
  • Ellis, James H. (2009) A ruinous and unhappy war : New England and the War of 1812. (New York : Algora Pub.).
  • Emmons, George Foster (1853) Navy of the United states, from the Commencement, in 1775, Through 1853. (Washington, DC; Gideon)
  • James, William (1818) A Full and Correct Account of the Military Occurrences of the Late War Between Great Britain and the United States of America. (London, Printed for the Author). ISBN 0-665-35743-5.
  • Latour, Arsène Lacarrière (1816) Historical memoir of the war in West Florida and Louisiana in 1814-15. (Philadelphia: John Conrad & Co)
  • Lossing, Benson J. (1869) Pictorial Field-Book of the War of 1812.
  • Maclay, Edgar Stanton (1899) A History of American Privateers. (D. Appleton & Co.).
  • Marshall, John (1823–1835) Royal naval biography, or, Memoirs of the services of all the flag-officers, superannuated rear-admirals, retired-captains, post-captains, and commanders, whose names appeared on the Admiralty list of sea officers at the commencement of the present year 1823, or who have since been promoted ... (London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme and Brown).
  • Norway, Arthur H. (1895) History of the post-office packet service between the years 1793-1815 compiled from records,chiefly official. (London)
  • Winfield, Rif (2007). British Warships of the Age of Sail 1794–1817: Design, Construction, Careers and Fates. Seaforth. ISBN 1-86176-246-1. 

External links[edit]

  • Phillips, Michael - Ships of the Old Navy - HMS Anaconda (1813):[2]