HMS Hermes (1811)

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Left to right: HMS Belle Poule, the Gipsy, and HMS Hermes, by Thomas Buttersworth
Career (United Kingdom) Royal Navy Ensign
Name: HMS Hermes
Ordered: 18 January 1810
Builder: Milford Dockyard
Laid down: May 1810
Launched: 22 July 1811
Completed: 7 September 1811
Fate: Grounded and burnt on 15 September 1814
General characteristics
Class and type: 20-gun Hermes-class sixth-rate post ship
Tons burthen: 512 7/94 bm
Length: 120 ft 1 in (36.6 m) (overall)
100 ft 2.125 in (30.5 m) (keel)
Beam: 31 ft (9.4 m)
Depth of hold: 8 ft 7 in (2.62 m)
Sail plan: Full-rigged ship
Complement: 135

20 guns:

HMS Hermes was a 20-gun Hermes-class sixth-rate post ship built in Milford Dockyard. She was destroyed in 1814 to prevent her falling into American hands after grounding during her unsuccessful attack on Fort Bowyer on Mobile Point outside Mobile, Alabama.

Napoleonic Wars

Under her first commander, Captain Philip Brown, she captured an American vessel laden with stores for the Brest fleet and two vessels from New York and Baltimore. On 24 September, while near Cape La Hève (Le Havre), Hermes recaptured the Prussian brig Anna Maria which had been bound for London from Lisbon. A privateer managed to escape because of the nearness of the French coast.[1]

File:HMS Hermes (1811) and Mouche.jpg
HMS Hermes crushing Mouche, by Capt. Phillip Brown

Strong winds drove Hermes off station when near Beachy Head he discovered a large French lugger in the midst of a number of English vessels. The French privateer had already taken one and might have taken others had Hermes not arrived. After a chase of two hours, in which the lugger sustained some damage and had several men wounded, the privateer struck to Hermes. As Hermes brought to, her maintop-sail-yard broke in the slings and her fore-sail split with the violence of the wind. The enemy took immediate advantage and tried to escape on the opposite tack. Hermes managed to wear and by cramming on all sail caught up him although the privateer had gotten a lead of two miles off on the weather bow. Capt. Browne decided to run alongside, despite the gale, to prevent the French vessel from escaping again. Unfortunately, the lugger crossed Hermes' hawse and a heavy sea threw the lugger under Hermes' keel. Hermes was unable to launch any boats so only 12 out of the lugger's 51 men were saved. (Another 10 men had been aboard the lugger's prize, which had escaped to France during the chase, taking with her the prize's crew.) The lugger turned out to be the Mouche of Boulogne, commanded by a M. Gageux, and mounting fourteen 12-pounder and 6-pounder guns.[2]

War of 1812

On 30 April 1812, Hermes and HMS Belle Poule captured the American privateer schooner Gipsy. She was on her way from New York to Bordeaux with a valuable cargo when the British vessels captured her in the mid-Atlantic after a three-day chase.

In late Autumn 1812, Hermes was sailing off the Azores in the company of the 74-gun third rate HMS Elephant, under the command of Francis Austen, the brother of the acclaimed novelist Jane Austen, together with the 36-gun fifth-rate frigate HMS Phoebe. On 27 December they captured the American privateer schooner Swordfish of Gloucester, John Evans, master. Swordfish was 16 days out of Boston and had a crew of 82 men, and originally 12 6-pounder guns, 10 of which she had thrown overboard during the chase.[3] The chase itself had taken 11 hours and covered more than 100 miles.

In April 1814, Capt. the Hon. William Percy took command of Hermes and on 5 August sailed her, with HMS Carron accompanying, from Havana and arrived at the mouth of the Apalachicola River on the 13th.

In September 1814, Percy led her in an unsuccessful attack on Fort Bowyer. The Louisiana State Museum has a map of the battle.[4]

The attack took place on 15 September at about 4:30pm. In all, Hermes lost about 50 men dead and wounded. Furthermore, she had grounded under the guns of the Fort. Percy evacuated her crew on boats from HMS Sophie and then set fire to Hermes, which blew up after the fire reached her magazine at around 10pm. On 18 January 1815, Percy faced a court martial on board HMS Cydnus, off Cat Island (Mississippi). The court acquitted him of all blame, finding that the attack was justified.


  1. The Gentleman's Magazine and Historical Chronicle, From July to December 1811, vol. 110, p. 366.
  2. The Gentleman's Magazine and Historical Chronicle, From July to December 1811, vol. 110, p. 366.
  3. J H Hubback and Edith C Hubback 1906. Jane Austen's sailor brothers: being the adventures of Sir Francis Austen and Charles Austin. (New York: J. Lane), p.228.
  4. [ember[%2C]+1815+(sic)]

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