Early American Heroism



During one of the former wars, between France and England, in which

the then Colonies bore an active part, a respectable individual, a

member of the society of Friends, of the name of ----, commanded a fine

ship which sailed from an Eastern port, to a port in England. This

vessel had a strong and effective crew, but was totally unarmed. When

near her destined port, she was chased, and ultimately overhauled, by

a French vessel of war. Her commander used every endeavor to escape,

but seeing from the superior sailing of the Frenchman, that his

capture was inevitable, he quietly retired below: he was followed into

the cabin by his cabin boy, a youth of activity and enterprise, named

Charles Wager: he asked his commander if nothing more could be done to

save the ship--his commander replied that it was impossible, that

every thing had been done that was practicable, there was no escape

for them, and they must submit to be captured. Charles then returned

upon deck and summoned the crew around him--he stated in a few words

what was their captain's conclusion--then, with an elevation of mind,

dictated by a soul formed for enterprise and noble daring, he

observed, "if you will place yourselves under my command, and stand by

me, I have conceived a plan by which the ship may be rescued, and we

in turn become the conquerors." The sailors no doubt feeling the

ardor, and inspired by the courage of their youthful and gallant

leader, agreed to place themselves under his command. His plan was

communicated to them, and they awaited with firmness, the moment to

carry their enterprise into effect. The suspense was of short

duration, for the Frenchman was quickly alongside, and grappled to the

merchant ship. As Charles had anticipated, the exhilarated conquerors,

elated beyond measure, with the acquisition of so fine a prize, poured

into his vessel cheering and huzzaing; and not foreseeing any danger,

they left but few men on board their ship. Now was the moment for

Charles, who, giving his men the signal, sprang at their head on board

the opposing vessel, while some seized the arms which had been left in

profusion on her deck, and with which they soon overpowered the few

men left on board; the others, by a simultaneous movement, relieved

her from the grapplings which united the two vessels. Our hero now

having the command of the French vessel, seized the helm, and placing

her out of boarding distance, hailed, with the voice of a conqueror,

the discomfited crowd of Frenchmen who were left on board of the

peaceful bark he had just quitted, and summoned them to follow close

in his wake, or he would blow them out of water, (a threat they well

knew he was very capable of executing, as their guns were loaded

during the chase.) They sorrowfully acquiesced with his commands,

while gallant Charles steered into port, followed by his prize. The

exploit excited universal applause--the former master of the merchant

vessel was examined by the Admiralty, when he stated the whole of the

enterprise as it occurred, and declared that Charles Wager had planned

and effected the gallant exploit, and that to him alone belonged the

honor and credit of the achievement. Charles was immediately

transferred to the British navy, appointed a midshipman, and his

education carefully superintended. He soon after distinguished himself

in action, and underwent a rapid promotion, until at length he was

created an Admiral, and known as Sir Charles Wager. It is said that he

always held in veneration and esteem, that respectable and

conscientious Friend, whose cabin boy he had been, and transmitted

yearly to his OLD MASTER, as he termed him, a handsome present of

Madeira, to cheer his declining days.





More

;