A Sailor of King George
The Journals of Captain Frederick Hoffman, R.N.
Includes a history of the H.M.S. Hannibal
In a memorial presented in 1835 to the Lords of the Admiralty, the author of the journals which form this volume details his various services. He joined the Navy in October, 1793, his first ship being H.M.S. Blonde. He was present at the siege of Martinique in 1794, and returned to England the same year in H.M.S. Hannibal with despatches and the colours of Martinique. For a few months the ship was attached to the Channel Fleet, and then suddenly, in 1795, was ordered to the West Indies again. Here he remained until 1802, during which period he was twice attacked by yellow fever.
The author was engaged in upwards of eighteen boat actions, in one of which, at Tiberoon Bay, St. Domingo, he was wounded in the head, and entirely lost the hearing of his left ear.
As first lieutenant of H.M.S. Volage, while attempting to cut out an enemy’s vessel laden with tobacco from under the guns of the Moro Castle, St. Jago de Cuba, after a running fight of two hours with three Spanish privateers, he was obliged to surrender, and was carried prisoner to St. Jago, where he remained for six weeks until exchanged. In 1802 he returned to England in the Volage, which was then paid off.
In 1803 he was appointed lieutenant of H.M.S. Minotaur on the Channel Service, but in 1804, in consequence of a very severe attack of rheumatic fever, which completely prostrated him and for several months necessitated the use of crutches, he resigned his post.
On his recovery, in the summer of 1805, he was appointed to H.M.S. Tonnant, and was senior lieutenant of her lower deck quarters in the Battle of Trafalgar, concerning which he gives several new and interesting details. During the battle he was slightly wounded in the left hand.
His next ship was H.M.S. Diamond (to which he was appointed March 8th, 1806), ordered for service on the West Coast of Africa. In 1807 he became commander of the Favourite sloop of war in consequence of the death of her captain, and three months afterwards took the last convoy of slave ships to the West Indies.
In 1808, while in Jamaica, he was attacked by fever, which affected his eyesight, nearly producing blindness; and, on the advice of the doctor at Port Royal Hospital, Admiral Dacres gave him permission to exchange into the Goelan sloop of war, which was shortly afterwards ordered to England with convoy.
In 1810 he was appointed to command the Apelles on the Downs station, and in this capacity he was actively employed until May, 1812, when, during the middle watch, and in a dense fog, the Apelles, with the Skylark, her leader, unfortunately grounded on the French coast, near Etaples, on “the infant ebb of a spring tide.” All efforts to float the sloop were vain, and, after being for three hours under the incessant fire of a French battery, which riddled her hull and cut away her masts, and having meanwhile sent away all the crew which the boats were capable of containing, the author and eighteen others were compelled to surrender.
- AP Publishing House, March 2013
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