Chasseur (ship)

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Chasseur was a Baltimore clipper commanded by Captain Thomas Boyle, one of the most famous American privateers. She sailed from Fells Point in Baltimore, where she had been launched from Thomas Kemp's shipyard in 1812. On his first voyage as master of Chasseur in 1814, Boyle unexpectedly sailed east, directly to the British Isles, where he harassed the British merchant fleet. In a characteristically audacious act, he sent a notice to the King by way of a captured merchant vessel that he had released for the purpose. The notice, he commanded, was to be posted on the door of Lloyd's of London, the famous shipping underwriters. In it he declared that the entire British Isles were under naval blockade by Chasseur alone. This affront sent the shipping community into panic and caused the Admiralty to call vessels home from the American war to guard merchant ships which had to sail in convoys. In all, Chasseur captured or sank 17 vessels before returning home.

On 26 February 1815, just off Havana, the Chasseur took HMS St Lawrence. The Chasseur carried 14 guns and 102 men, while the St. Lawrence carried 13 guns and 76 men. The intense action lasted only about 15 minutes, during which St. Lawrence suffered six men killed and 17 wounded, several of them mortally. (According to American accounts, the English had 15 killed and 25 wounded.) The Chasseur had five killed and eight wounded, including her captain. Both vessels were badly damaged. Captain Boyle, of Chasseur, made a cartel of St. Lawrence and sent her and her crew into Havana as his prize.

On Chasseur’s triumphal return to Baltimore on March 25, 1815, the Niles Weekly Register dubbed the ship, her captain, and crew the "pride of Baltimore" for their daring exploits. (See Pride of Baltimore for a later ship.) fr:Chasseur (clipper)