HMS Boxer (1812)

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Enterprise and Boxer
Career (United Kingdom) RN Ensign
Builder: Hobbs, Redbridge, Hampshire
Launched: 25 July 1812
Fate: Captured on 5 September 1813 by USS Enterprise near Portland, Maine
General characteristics
Tons burthen: 182 bm
Length: 84 ft 6 in (25.76 m)
Beam: 22 ft (6.7 m)

HMS Boxer was a 12-gun gun-brig built by Hobbs & Hellyer in Redbridge (Southampton) and launched in July 1812. She was armed with two 6-pounder bow guns and 10 18-pounder carronades. The ship had a short service history with the Royal Navy before the 16-gun USS Enterprise captured her near Portland, Maine in September 1813. She then went to have at least a decade long commercial career.

Royal Navy Service off Maine

George Rose Sartorius commissioned her in August 1812. Samuel Blyth then took command in September and on 17 April 1813 sailed for Halifax and service in in the squadron of Sir John Borlase Warren. In Halifax, Blyth added two carronades to her armament. She therefore actually carried fourteen guns: 12 18-pounder carronades and two long 6-pounders.

While coming down from New Brunswick and off the coast of Lubec, Maine, Blyth sighted and captured a small sailing craft crewed by a group of women out for a sail. He brought the women aboard and politely suggested that in the future they sail closer to the shore; he then released them. One of the women was married to the local militia commander who, impressed with Blyth’s courtesy, placed advertisements in local newspapers praising his chivalry.

On 6 June 1813 Blyth captured two vessels bound for Eastport, the schooner Two Brothers from Tanfield and the sloop Friendship from Blackrock. Boxer took the schooner Fairplay on 25 July, the schooner Rebecca, bound for Boston from Townsend, on the 3 August and the schooner Fortune on 31 August.[1]

Loss to Enterprise

File:Samuel Blyth.JPG
Samuel Blyth, ca. 1812, from the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich

On 5 September Boxer engaged the American brig Enterprise under Lieutenant William Burrows. Blyth nailed his colours to the mast but did not live to see them struck. The first broadside killed Blyth and dismasted Boxer, which then surrendered after half an hour's desperate fighting. Enterprise carried two more guns, had a heavier broadside, and had almost twice the number of men. However, the key factor was the dismasting of the Boxer, which allowed Enterprise to maneuver to rake her. Furthermore, a court martial later found that a number of British seamen had deserted their quarters during the action.[2]

Blyth was buried in Portland with full military honours at the same time and next to Burrows, who had also died in the action. The surviving officers placed a tombstone over Blyth's grave. He was 29 years old; Burrows was 28.


Boxer was sold at auction in Portland, Maine to Thomas Merrill, Jr., for US$5,600. Her guns and ballast were sold at the same time, the whole proceeds amounting to US$9,755. Burrow's heirs received US$1,115; each seaman's share of the prize money was US$55. [3] Some of her spare spars and rigging went to equip the Mercator.

Boxer's guns went to arm the Maine privateer Hyder Ali.[4] Hyder Ali did not have much luck either. She captured two prizes that the British retook before they could reach Maine and was herself then captured in May 1814 near the Nicobar Islands by HMS Owen Glendower.

Initially Boxer was pressed into service to defend Portland harbour. After the war she went on to sail as a merchantman for several years. Her first voyage was in April 1815. Under Captain William McLellan, Jr. (1776-1844), she sailed to Havana, New York, Cadiz, Gibraltar, Marseilles, and back to New York before returning to Portland in early 1816. Subsequent shorter cruises under McLellan, Hall, or William Merrill took her along the coast, or to the West Indies. Around 1818 Merrill sold Boxer to a Portuguese firm that used her as a mail packet between the Cape Verde Islands and Lisbon. Merrill reported that in 1825 he passed Boxer leaving Praia at dusk as he entered the harbour on his vessel John. It is suggested that Boxer was finally lost on the coast of Brazil.[5]

See also


  1. Dill (2006), 103.
  2. Lohnes (1973), p.326.
  3. Goold (1886), 490.
  4. Goold (1886), 467.
  5. Maine Historical Society (1890-1899), 176-7.
  • 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. ISBN 9781861762818. OCLC 67375475. 
  • Dill, J. Gregory (2006) Myth, Fact, and Navigators' Secrets: Incredible Tales of the Sea and Sailors. (Guilford, CT: The Lyons Press). ISBN: 9781592288793
  • Goold, William (1886) Portland in the past: with historical notes of Old Falmouth. (Portland, Me.: Printed for the author by B. Thurston & Co.).
  • Lohnes, Barry J. (1973) "British Naval Prooblems at Halifax During the War of 1812". Mariner's Mirror 59, 317-333.</ref>
  • Maine Historical Society (1890-99) Collections and proceedings of the Maine Historical Society. (Portland: The Society).
  • Winfield, Rif (2007). British Warships in the Age of Sail 1793–1817: Design, Construction, Careers and Fates. Seaforth. ISBN 1861762461.