HMS Devastation (1804)

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Devastation (purchased 1803) RMG J0033.png
Great Britain
Name: Intrepid
Builder: Simon Temple, South Shields
Launched: 1789
Fate: Sold to Royal Navy in 1804
Name: HMS Devastation
Acquired: By purchase, October 1804
Fate: Sold 1816
General characteristics [1]
Type: Bomb vessel
Tons burthen: 4456594 (bm)
  • 104 ft 2 in (31.8 m) (overall)
  • 84 ft 3 in (25.7 m) (keel)
Beam: 31 ft 6 12 in (9.6 m)

HMS Devastation was an 8-gun British Royal Navy bomb vessel launched in 1789 as the mercantile Intrepid. The Navy purchased her in 1804 and sold her in 1816. She served in the English Channel, the Baltic, off the coast of Spain, and in the United States during the Napoleonic Wars and War of 1812, most notably at the bombardment of Fort McHenry in the Battle of Baltimore in September 1814.

Naval career[edit]

As part of Britain's measures against Napoleon's planned invasion of the United Kingdom Devastation was part of a large squadron, comprising eleven ships, ten brigs, three bomb-vessels, an armed lugger, and a cutter, which on 24 and 25 April 1805, captured eight unarmed schuyts and an unarmed transport ship at Boulogne.[2][3]

In 1808 Devastation was in the squadron under the command of Rear-Admiral Richard Keats operating in the Baltic Sea during the war with Denmark–Norway. When news of the uprising of the Spanish against the French reached Denmark, some 12,000 Spanish troops of the Division of the North stationed there under the command of the Marquis de la Romana decided that they wished to leave French service and return to Spain. The Marquis contacted Rear-Admiral Keats in his flagship Superb, and on 9 August 1808 the Spaniards seized the fort and town of Nyborg. Keats' squadron then took possession of the port and organized the transportation of the Spanish back to their home country.[4]

Devastation took part in the Walcheren Campaign in July and August 1809.[5]

At the end of 1810 Cadiz was being besieged by the French, who had assembled a flotilla of gun-boats to attack the town. On 23 November Devastation, Thunder, and Aetna, with a number of English and Spanish mortar and gun-boats, attacked the French flotilla at El Puerto de Santa María, between them firing some hundred shells with considerable effect.[6]

Shortly after the outbreak of the War of 1812, on 12 August, Devastation shared in the seizure of several American vessels: Cuba, Caliban, Edward, Galen, Halcyon, and Cygnet.[Note 1]

British bomb-vessels attack Fort McHenry, a contemporary print

During the War of 1812 Devastation, commanded by Thomas Alexander, was part of the squadron under the command of James Gordon that in August–September 1814 sailed up the Potomac River in the raid on Alexandria, seeing the destruction of Fort Warburton, and accepting the surrender of the town. There they captured twenty-two merchant vessels[8] and vast quantities of plunder, including 16,000 barrels of flour, 1,000 hogsheads of tobacco, 150 bales of cotton and some $5,000 worth of wine, sugar and other items before withdrawing.[9] In the subsequent Battle of Baltimore, Devastation was one of five bomb-vessels that shelled Fort McHenry for 25 hours on 13–14 September, though without result.

On the morning of 31 October 1814, Devastation arrived at Parker's Point, Virginia, on the Potomac River,[10] and landed two hundred seamen and marines to procure cattle. An American force of about 114 cavalry and 1,000 infantry, with five field guns, attacked the British. Devastation's men repulsed the attack, capturing two prisoners and twenty horses, and afterwards re-embarked without loss.[11]

Early the next year Devastation was operating off Cumberland Island, Georgia. On 14 January 1815, after the capture of Fort Peter, British troops accompanied by the Devastation and Terror[12] ascended the river to St. Marys and occupied the town.[13]

On 11 May 1816 Devastation was one of a large number of war-surplus ships and vessels advertised for sale at Portsmouth.[14]

See also[edit]

Notes, citations, and references[edit]


  1. ^ Prize money was paid in November 1815. A first-class share was worth £360 2s 3d; a sixth-class share, that of an ordinary seaman, was worth £3 11s 7d.[7]


  1. ^ Winfield (2008), p. 273.
  2. ^ "No. 15943". The London Gazette. 5 August 1806. p. 1016.
  3. ^ "No. 15944". The London Gazette. 9 August 1806. p. 1053.
  4. ^ "No. 16174". The London Gazette. 24 August 1808. pp. 1149–1152.
  5. ^ "No. 16650". The London Gazette. 26 September 1812. p. 1971.
  6. ^ Long, W.H. (1895). Medals of the British Navy and How They Were Won. Portsmouth: Noire & Wilson. Archived from the original on 11 March 2012. Retrieved 5 January 2012.
  7. ^ "No. 17076". The London Gazette. 4 November 1815. p. 2209.
  8. ^ "No. 16947". The London Gazette. 17 October 1814. pp. 2080–2083.
  9. ^ "Discovering the Decades: 1810s". Historic Alexandria. 1999. Retrieved 5 January 2012.
  10. ^ "The Devastation (1804)". Archives of Maryland. 2011. Retrieved 5 January 2012.
  11. ^ "No. 17010". The London Gazette. 9 May 1815. p. 870.
  12. ^ The Naval History of Great Britain. 6. London: James Ridgway. 1835. p. 235. On the 14th, the combined forces [at Point St Peter], accompanied by the bomb vessels Devastation and Terror..ascended the river to St Marys
  13. ^ James, William (1837). Naval History of Great Britain. Vol. VI. London: Richard Bentley. p. 360. Retrieved 5 January 2012.
  14. ^ "No. 17136". The London Gazette. 14 May 1816. p. 909.


  • Winfield, Rif (2008). British Warships in the Age of Sail 1793–1817: Design, Construction, Careers and Fates. Seaforth. ISBN 1-86176-246-1.