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Weasel

 

(Sch.: t. 53; cpl. 31; a. 3 guns)

 

Weasel, a schooner, was purchased at Baltimore, Md., late in 1822 for service with Commodore David Porter's "Mosquito Fleet" which was established to eradicate piracy in the West Indies. Her outfitting was probably completed at Norfolk late in the year; and the schooner was commissioned early in 1823, Lt. Beverly Kennon in command.

 

Weasel—one of eight shallow-draft schooners built at Baltimore for mercantile service in the Chesapeake Bay —was acquired by the Navy because her shallow draft suited the ship ideally for pursuing priates into their refuges in the shoals and shallows of the various islands in the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico. She departed Hampton Roads in company with the rest of the squadron on 15 February 1823. She stopped briefly at St. Thomas on 4 March and, the next day, continued on to her patrol area. For the next two years, Weasel alternated duty searching for pirates and escorting merchant convoys with return voyages to the United States to obtain repairs and to combat two outbreaks of yellow fever.

 

The first return home came in the fall of 1823 after six or seven months of relatively successful action against the pirates. The first outbreak of yellow fever struck at that time, laying low a large portion of the squadron's crews and making the depot at Key West untenable. Weasel spent the waning months of 1823 at home undergoing repairs and recruiting replacements for her decimated crew. The schooner returned to the West Indies early in 1824 and resumed duty protecting merchant traffic against the pirates. That tour continued until the summer of 1824 when yellow fever broke out again. Once more, the bulk of the squadron retired north to healthier climates. That fall, the epidemic subsided; and Weasel and her compatriots resumed their campaign to eradicate piracy in the West Indies.

 

By the middle of 1825, the campaign had markedly reduced the depredations of the pirates—though sporadic flare-ups and isolated events recurred until the 1840's. Thus, the Navy began to dispose of the ships of the squadron. Weasel was sold sometime in 1825. However, the identity of her purchaser and the purpose to which she was put remain mysteries.