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Guest - Racehorse Action





Racehorse Captures the Guest
15 October 1777



Continental Privateer Sloop Guest (Commander Edward McKaller1 (McEller,2 McKella,3 Kaller) was fitted out at Cap François,4 Saint-Domingue. She was apparently owned by one Clement (who was perhaps a merchant there).5 Guest was armed with twelve guns, sixteen swivels, and manned by ninety6 to one hundred men.7 The whole crew was French8 or Spanish9 except for McKaller, who was a native of New York.10 Guest was no doubt commissioned with one of Continental Agent William Bingham’s blank commissions.


Guest sailed from Cap François and made Môle Saint-Nicolas, Saint-Domingue, before departing for a patrol off Jamaica.11


Guest was at sea on 14 October 1777, near Montego Bay on the north coast of Jamaica. A square sailed vessel was sighted, chased and captured. She proved to be a polacca, out of Kingston, Jamaica. McKaller put a prize crew aboard and sent her off for Môle Saint-Nicolas. Later in the day she captured a small shallop from Kingston. A prize crew was put aboard and the shallop was kept in company.12


Montego Bay area in Jamaica. From a map by Thomas Jeffreys, 1775.

 

Unknown to McKaller, another vessel was in chase of the Guest by this time. HM Sloop Racehorse (Acting Lieutenant Charles Jordan), a vessel of ten 3-pounders, eight swivels and thirty-seven13 or thirty-eight men,14 had sailed from Martha Brae on 13 October 1777. In the evening off Montego Bay Jordan discovered the heel of her mainmast was split. She went into the harbor to examine it. At 1300 on the 14th Jordan received news that a privateer was off the harbor, in chase of vessel. He sailed at once, sighted a strange sail, and chased it until darkness fell. During the night Jordan steered northwest.15


Sunrise found Racehorse forty-five miles from land, with a sloop ahead and a shallop on her beam. Racehorse made the shallop come alongside, discovered she was a prize. The people were removed, her mainsail cut to pieces, and she was cast adrift. The chase was now confirmed as a privateer. Guest had also discovered the vessel following her was an enemy. “Shee had hoisted a Pendant with 13 Stripes & apeard ready for Action . . .” The two closed together and, by 0700, were within pistol shot. A constant fire began which was kept up until 0910, when Guest’s flying jib hooked the Racehorse’s rigging, which swung the two vessels together. Jordan immediately led his men aboard the Guest. After a short sharp fight the American privateer was carried.16


Continental Privateer Sloop Guest engaging HM Schooner Racehorse. Photograph of a watercolor painting by C. T. Warren or A. W. Warren in the early nineteenth century. From the Bailey Collection. Published in Naval Actions of the American Revolution. The painting depicts Guest as a brig rather than a sloop.

 

The British casualties were light, one killed and eight wounded; but the American casualties were nearly horrific: sixteen killed and forty wounded. Two of the wounded soon died and many more were expected to die. Racehorse was considerably damaged in her sails and rigging, and her mainmast was so shot up it had to be fished.17


Guest was taken into Montego Bay [Lucea], where McKaller and thirty prisoners were put aboard the Porpoise (Haynes). The wounded were left on the damaged sloop. Jordan, writing his report on 19 October, said he would sail tomorrow with the prize.18 On 25 October Vice Admiral Gayton recommended Jordan for promotion.19


All the prisoners, French included,  will be sent to England after 23 December 1777, according to Vice Admiral Clark Gayton.20


Summary Table

Vessel

Tons

Guns

Broadside

Men

Killed

%

Wounded

%

Total

%

Guest

12

104

16

15%

40

38%

56

53%

Racehorse

10

15

38

1

3%

8

21%

9

24%

Time: 2 hours



1 NDAR, “Acting Lieutenant Charles Jordan, R. N., to Vice Admiral Clark Gayton,” X, 217 and notes

2 NDAR, Vice Admiral Clark Gayton to Comte d’Argout,” X, 790-792 and 792 notes

3 NDAR, “Proceedings of the Jamaica House of Assembly,” X, 544-548

4 NDAR, “Acting Lieutenant Charles Jordan, R. N., to Vice Admiral Clark Gayton,” X, 217 and notes

5 NDAR, Vice Admiral Clark Gayton to Comte d’Argout,” X, 790-792 and 792 notes

6 NDAR, “Acting Lieutenant Charles Jordan, R. N., to Vice Admiral Clark Gayton,” X, 217 and notes

7 NDAR, “Acting Lieutenant Charles Jordan, R. N., to Vice Admiral Clark Gayton,” X, 217 and notes; “Vice Admiral Clark Gayton to Comte d’Argout,” X, 790-792 and 792 notes; “Proceedings of the Jamaica House of Assembly,” X, 544-548, says 104 men.

8 NDAR, “Acting Lieutenant Charles Jordan, R. N., to Vice Admiral Clark Gayton,” X, 217 and notes; “Vice Admiral Clark Gayton to Comte d’Argout,” X, 790-792 and 792 notes

9 NDAR, “Proceedings of the Jamaica House of Assembly,” X, 544-548

10 NDAR, “Acting Lieutenant Charles Jordan, R. N., to Vice Admiral Clark Gayton,” X, 217 and notes

11 NDAR, “Acting Lieutenant Charles Jordan, R. N., to Vice Admiral Clark Gayton,” X, 217 and notes

12 NDAR, “Acting Lieutenant Charles Jordan, R. N., to Vice Admiral Clark Gayton,” X, 217 and notes

13 NDAR, Vice Admiral Clark Gayton to Philip Stephens,” X, 294-295

14 NDAR, Vice Admiral Clark Gayton to Comte d’Argout,” X, 790-792 and 792 notes

15 NDAR, “Acting Lieutenant Charles Jordan, R. N., to Vice Admiral Clark Gayton,” X, 217 and notes

16 NDAR, “Acting Lieutenant Charles Jordan, R. N., to Vice Admiral Clark Gayton,” X, 217 and notes

17 NDAR, “Acting Lieutenant Charles Jordan, R. N., to Vice Admiral Clark Gayton,” X, 217 and notes

18 NDAR, “Acting Lieutenant Charles Jordan, R. N., to Vice Admiral Clark Gayton,” X, 217 and notes

19 NDAR, Vice Admiral Clark Gayton to Philip Stephens,” X, 294-295

20 NDAR, Vice Admiral Clark Gayton to Comte d’Argout,” X, 790-792 and 792 notes


Posted 15 May 2013/b> © awiatsea.com