HMS Epervier (1812)

From SpottingWorld, the Hub for the SpottingWorld network...
The Peacock and Epervier, 1814. Engraving by Abel Bowen
Career (UK) Royal Navy Ensign
Name: HMS Epervier
Ordered: 6 May 1812
Builder: Mrs. Mary Ross, Rochester, England
Launched: 2 December 1812
Captured: by U.S. Navy on 29 April 1814
Career 100x35px
Name: USS Epervier
Acquired: Captured by USS Peacock 29 April 1814
Fate: Disappeared in July or August 1815
General characteristics
Type: Cruizer-class brig-sloop
Tons burthen: 388 (Builder's Old Measurement)
Propulsion: Sails

18 cannon

HMS Epervier was an 18-gun Cruizer-class brig-sloop of the Royal Navy built by Ross at Rochester, England, and launched on 2 December 1812. The USS Peacock captured her in 1814 and took her into service. The USS Epervier disappeared in 1815 while carrying dispatches reporting the signing of a treaty with the Dey of Algiers.

War of 1812

On 23 February 1814 Epervier, under Commander Richard Walter Wales was cruising off Cape Sable, when she captured the American privateer-brig Alfred, of Salem.[1] Alfred, which mounted 16 long 9-pounders and had a crew of 108 men, surrendered without a fight. (The British 38-gun frigate Junon, Captain Clotworthy Upton, was in sight about 10 miles to leeward.)[2]

On his way to Halifax with his prize, Captain Wales discovered that a part of his crew had conspired with the crew of the Alfred, to attack the British officers and carry one vessel, if not both, into a port of the United States. To frustrate the plan Wales sailed through a gale and arrived at Halifax two days later. There he notified his uncle, Admiral Sir John Borlase Warren, the commanding officer of the station, that he had no confidence in his crew or their loyalty. After the American prisoners were removed, Warren dismissed Wales' concerns and she sailed on 3 March with the same crew.[3] She and the schooner Shelburne sailed with a small convoy bound to Bermuda and the West Indies.[4] Before she left Halifax, Wales exchanged her two 6-pounder bowchasers and the carronade for her launch for two 18-pounder carronades.[5]

On 14 April Epervier sailed from Port Royal, Jamaica, calling at Havana, where she took on board $118,000 in specie. She left Havana on 25 April bound for Halifax.[4]


The 22-gun sloop-of-war USS Peacock captured Epervier off Cape Canaveral, Florida, on 29 April, during the War of 1812. She was on her way from Halifax to Bermuda with $118,000. Epervier's crew consisted mainly of invalids from the hospital, giving her the worst crew of any ship on her station.[6] In the engagement Epervier suffered eight killed and 15 wounded, as well as extensive damage.[1]

US service

Despite the extensive damage inflicted in this engagement, John B. Nicolson, Peacock's First Lieutenant, was able to sail sail her to Savannah, Georgia. Following repairs, the US Navy took her into service as the USS Epervier.

Epervier, under Master Commandant John Downes, sailed to join the Mediterranean Squadron under Commodore Stephen Decatur, Jr., whose mission was to stop the harassment of American shipping by the Dey of Algiers. Epervier joined with Guerrier, Constelation, and Ontario in the Battle off Cape Gata on 17 June 1815, which led to the capture of the 44 (or 46)-gun frigate Meshuda (or Mashuda). Epervier fired nine broadsides into Meshuda to induce her to surrender, after Guerrier had already crippled the Algerian vessel.

Two days later the Epervier and three of the smaller vessels of the squadron captured the Algerine brig of war Estedio with twenty-two guns and 180 men at the Battle off Cape Palos. After the conclusion of peace with Algiers, Decatur transferred Downes to Guerriere.[7]


After the Dey signed a treaty, Decatur chose Epervier, under Lieutenant John T. Shubrick, Guerriere's former First Lieutenant, to carry a copy of the treaty and some captured flags to the United States. A number of other officers also sailed on her: Captain Lewis, Lieut. Neale, and Lieut. John Yarnall. Epervier sailed through the Straits of Gibraltar on 14 July 1815 and was never heard from again.[8] She was carrying 132 sailors and 2 marines. She may have encountered a hurricane reported in the Atlantic on 9 August 1815.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Winfield (2008), p.304.
  2. James (1837), Vol. 6, pp.291.
  3. Mantle (2007), pp.51-58.
  4. 4.0 4.1 James (1837), Vol. 6, pp.292.
  5. James (1837), Vol. 291.
  6. Gossett (1896), p. 93.
  7. Wilson & Fisk (1887-1900), Vol. 2, p.220.
  8. DANF - Epervier