HMS Ballahoo (1804)

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Royal Navy EnsignUK
Name: HMS Ballahoo
Ordered: 23 June 1803
Builder: Goodrich & Co. (prime contractor), Bermuda
Laid down: 1803
Launched: 1804
Honours and
Naval General Service Medal with clasp "Guadaloupe"[1]
Captured: 29 April 1814 by American privateer
Fate: Wrecked immediately thereafter
General characteristics [2]
Type: Ballahoo-class schooner
Tonnage: 70 4194> (bm)
  • 55 ft 2 in (16.81 m) (overall)
  • 40 ft 10 12 in (12.5 m) (keel)
Beam: 18 ft 0 in (5.49 m)
Depth of hold: 9 ft 0 in (2.74 m)
Sail plan: Schooner
Complement: 20
Armament: 4 × 12-pounder carronades
For other ships with the same name, see HMS Ballahou.

HMS Ballahoo (also Balahou, Ballahou or Ballahon) was the first of the Royal Navy's Ballahoo-class schooners, vessels of four 12-pounder carronades and a crew of 20. The prime contractor for the vessel was Goodrich & Co., in Bermuda, and she was launched in 1804.[2] She patrolled primarily in the Leeward Islands, taking several small prizes, before an American privateer captured her in 1814 during the War of 1812.


She was commissioned in January 1804 under Lieutenant William Shephard. In September Lieutenant Stannard Eaton Travers took over.[2] He was appointed to Ballahoo immediately after receiving his commission on 23 September 1804. When she was ordered to Halifax in February 1805 Admiral Sir John T. Duckworth transferred him to the frigate Surveillante.[3]

Command then transferred to Lieutenant H.N. Bowen, who was killed in 1806. Lieutenant James Murray replaced Bowen.

On 27 February 1807 the sloop Port d'Espagne and the schooner Express captured the brig Altrevido, Nichola Valpardo, Master. Ballahoo shared by agreement in the prize money due Express.[4]

On 4 August 1807, Ballahoo was in company with the schooner Laura, of 10 guns, when they encountered the French letter of marque Rhone some five or six leagues N by E of Tobago.[5] After a running fight of several hours, they captured her. In the fight Rhone suffered two dead and five wounded out of her crew of 26; the British had no casualties.[5] Rhone, under the command of Francis Goureu, was of 90 tons (bm), mounted six long 6-pounder guns, and was 10 days out from Martinique, having captured nothing.[2][6]

On 20 August Ballahoo's boats, with the assistance of the 1-gun privateer Maria that Port d'Espagne had taken, destroyed a small privateer in the Bay of San Juan.[5] Head money was paid some 21 years later.[Note 1]

On 12 September Ballahoo assisted Port d'Espagne in capturing another small privateer, the Rosario, in the same bay. The Rosario also was armed with one gun, and had a crew of 34, all of whom escaped on shore.[5][8] In October Ballahou was in North American waters and in the Leeward Islands.

In 1808 her commander was Lieutenant George Mills.[2] On 3 July, whilst Ballahoo was cruising with the ship-sloop Wanderer, under Commander Edward Crofton, and the schooner Subtle, Lieutenant George A. Spearing, between the islands of Anguilla and Saint Martin, the small squadron attempted an attack on St. Martin with a view to reducing the number of havens available to French privateers, but unfortunately the opposition proved stronger than intelligence had suggested.

The attack turned into a disaster. A landing party of 38 seamen and marines from all three vessels, under Lieutenant Spearing, succeeded in capturing a lower battery with few losses and spiking six guns. An attack on the upper fort failed, with Spearing being killed a few feet from the French ramparts. When the British withdrew to their boats the French captured them. In all, the British lost seven killed and 30 wounded, all the dead and most of the wounded being from Subtle. The French lost one man wounded.

Not surprisingly, French and British accounts differ substantially in several places. Crofton's account reports that the British landing party consisted of 153 men, and a French account talks of 200 men, all of whom were killed or captured, including Mills of Ballahoo. (The total establishment of the three British vessels amounted to about 190 men.) Crofton negotiated a truce under which he was able to reclaim all the prisoners who could be moved. Crofton claimed that the French had been forewarned and had 900 men in the fort.[9] The French claimed the fort had a garrison of 28 regulars and 15 militia men.[10] That the French permitted their British prisoners to leave is more consistent with the French figures on their numbers than the British. Crofton reported that the French buried the English dead with full military honors with both the fort and the British firing salutes.

In January and February 1810 Ballahoo, under Mills, participated in the capture of Guadeloupe.[Note 2] In 1847 the Admiralty authorized the issuance of the Naval General Service Medal with clasp "Guadaloupe" to all still surviving participants of that campaign. At some point Express and Ballahoo captured the sloop Endeavour.[12]


In 1810 Lieutenant Norfolk King took command.[Note 3] On 29 April 1814, the American 5-gun privateer Perry captured Ballahoo off South Carolina.[2] Apparently the chase took about an hour, including a fight of about 10 minutes.[14] There was no report of casualties on either side. The Americans took her into the port of Wilmington, North Carolina. At the time of the capture, Ballahoo had two of her cannon stored below deck to lower her center of gravity in bad weather, and a crew of thirteen men.[15] Perry's five guns included one long 18 or 24-pounder on a pivot, and she had a crew of 80.[16]


Apparently, as Ballahoo entered the port of Wilmington, a British brig chased her ashore, where she was destroyed.[17]


  1. ^ A first-class share was worth £36 0sd; a fifth-class share, that of a seaman, was worth 4s 11¼d.[7]
  2. ^ A first-class share of the prize money for Guadaloupe was worth £113 3s 1¼d; a sixth-class share, that of an ordinary seaman, was worth £1 9s 1¼d.[11]
  3. ^ Norfolk King was the "natural" son of Philip Gidley King, and the first child born on Norfolk Island. He was apparently also the Royal Navy's first Australian-born officer.[13]
  1. ^ "no. 20939". The London Gazette. 26 January 1849. p. 248. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Winfield (2008), p.359.
  3. ^ Marshall (1832), Vol. 3, Part 2, p.95.
  4. ^ "no. 16312". The London Gazette. 4 November 1809. p. 1763. 
  5. ^ a b c d "no. 16102". The London Gazette. 26 December 1807. pp. 1747–1748. 
  6. ^ Naval Chronicle, vol. 18, p.54.
  7. ^ "no. 18439". The London Gazette. 5 February 1828. p. 242. 
  8. ^ Norie (1842), p.259.
  9. ^ Gentleman's magazine, Vol. 78, Part. 2, pp. 851-2.
  10. ^ Bulletin of the Société bretonne de géographie. (Lorient: La Société, [1882- ], Issues 10-21, p. 118.
  11. ^ "no. 16938". The London Gazette. 24 September 1814. pp. 1923–1924. 
  12. ^ "no. 16427". The London Gazette. 20 November 1810. p. 1864. 
  13. ^ Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society, Volume 30, pp.41-2.
  14. ^ Hepper (1994), p.149.
  15. ^ The Analectic magazine, (1816), Vol. 8, p.229.
  16. ^ James & Chamier (1837), Vol. 6, pp.167-8.
  17. ^ Maclay (1899), p.479.


  • Hepper, David J. (1994) British Warship Losses in the Age of Sail, 1650-1859. (Rotherfield: Jean Boudriot). ISBN 0-948864-30-3
  • James, William, and Frederick Chamier (1837) The naval history of Great Britain: from the declaration of war by France in 1793 to the accession of George IV. (London: R. Bentley).
  • Maclay, Edgar Stanton (1899) A history of American privateers. (New York: 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).
  • Norie, J.W. (1842) The naval gazetteer, biographer and chronologist; containing a history of the late wars from ... 1793 to ... 1801; and from ... 1803 to 1815, and continued, as to the biographical part to the present time. (London: C. Wilson).
  • Winfield, Rif (2008). British Warships in the Age of Sail 1793–1817: Design, Construction, Careers and Fates. Seaforth. ISBN 1-86176-246-1.