July 2, 1813-Dated, Letter describing the Capture of 11 British Ships, the Capture of part of the Jamaica Fleet in 1779, by the United States Frigate Providence, 32 Guns by Com.(modore) Whipple, The Frigate Queen of France 28 Guns, Capt. John Peck Rathbone & the Sloop of War Ranger 18 Guns, Capt. Simpson, 2 pages measuring about 10” x 8” with Integral Transmittal Cover. Boston (Mass.), Choice Extremely Fine. July 2, 1813-Dated War of 1812 Period, Important Naval Content Autograph Letter Signed, “WGM”, addressed to “John Marston, Esq.” (1795-1885) an officer in the United States Navy. During the War of 1812, Marston served as a Messenger, and he Carried the first news of Commander Isaac Hull's Capture of HMS Guerriere to John Adams at Quincy, Massachusetts. The former President's influence gained him an appointment as Midshipman, the warrant being dated April 15, 1813, shortly after the date of this letter. This extensive contemporary American Naval action Letter contains wonderful historic content. It reads, in part:
"Boston 2d. July 1813 --- Dear Sir, --- Agreeably to your request, I will inform you of all the circumstances, that I can recollect, respecting the Capture of part of the Jamaica Fleet in 1779, by the United States Frigate Providence, 32 Guns Com.(modore) Whipple, The Frigate Queen of France 28 Guns, Capt. John Peck Rathbone & the Sloop of War Ranger 18 Guns, Capt. Simpson. --- I was then a midshipman on board the Queen of France, we sailed from Boston in June & about the middle of July, being on the Banks of N.F. Land lying too in a very thick fog, we heard signal guns and at intervals the sound of Ship bells, striking the hour, from which we suppos'd ourselves not far from a fleet. About eleven o'clock the fog began to clear away & to our surprise found ourselves nearly along side a large merchant ship and soon after we discovered that we were in a fleet of about 150 sail, under convoy of a 74, several frigates & sloops of war. We instantly bore down on the large ship & hail'd her & was inform'd that the fleet was from Jamaica bound to Lond(on). The English ship hail'd us, we answer'd his majestys Ship Arathensa from Halifax on a cruise, & inquir'd if he had seen any Rebel privateers.
The Englishman answer'd that several had been driven out of the fleet. Capt. R. then requested him to come on board which he did immediately when to his perfect astonishment he found himself a prisoner. Capt R. then sent one of his own boats & the English Ships Boat, both well manned and took quiet possession of her, without exciting the smallest alarm in the fleet, tho' many of them were nearly within hail, while the capture was making. He then went alongside another large Ship & captured her in the same manner. Soon after the capture of the second ship Com. W. came along side, & ordered Capt. R. to edge way out of the fleet as speedily as possible, as we should inevitably be discovered and overpowered by superiour force. Capt. R. then pointed to the two large ships which were his prizes. The Com. at first disapproved of this conduct, but was prevailed on by Capt. R. to stay in the fleet all day & capture as many as possible, in the same cautions manner as he had done & to leave the fleet as soon as it was dark.
Eleven ships were captured in the course of the day, and no alarm given to the enemy & we arrived safe in Boston with the following Eight ships, three being retaken by the English & carried to Halifax. --- Holderness, Fort William, Friendship, Thetis, George, Blenheim, Neptune, and Dawes --- Your friend & Humble - (Signed) WGM” (with flourish).
Phenomenal Naval and War of 1812 content.
Provenance: Collection of Ambassador J. William Middendorf II.
John Marston (June 12, 1795-April 7, 1885) was an Officer in the United States Navy. During the War of 1812, Marston served as a Messenger and Carried the first news of Commander Isaac Hull's capture of HMS Guerriere to John Adams at Quincy, Massachusetts. The former president's influence gained him an appointment as midshipman, the warrant being dated April 15, 1813.
Marston saw some service during the War of 1812, and was later aboard USS Constitution when Lord Byron visited the famous frigate. In 1825 Marston was promoted to the grade of lieutenant, and was aboard USS Brandywine when she conveyed Marquis de Lafayette to France. In 1827-29 Marston served in the Pacific squadron, and again in 1833 and 1834.
In 1840 he was assigned to the frigate USS United States, and in the following year was commissioned commander. In 1850 he was assigned to the command USS Yorktown, on the coast of Africa, and he was in charge of the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard from 1853 until 1855, when he was promoted to captain.