Naval History and Heritage Command

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USS Peacock vs HMS Epervier

USS Peacock was heavy sloop-of-war, commanded by Master Commandant Lewis Warrington. The ship was named after the victory the previous year over the British brig HMS Peacock. The ship left New York Harbor on March 12 1814 and ran several mission along the coast of the United States after which the Peacock was to rendezvous with the frigate USS President, but President had been unable to break out of New York Harbor. While waiting for President to appear, Warrington cruised around the Bahamas, hoping to intercept British merchant ships sailing from Jamaica.

Early on the morning of April 28, Peacock sighted ships. They belonged to a merchant convoy that had sailed from Havana. Their escort was HMS Epervier under Commander Richard Wales.  The merchant ships maneuvered to escape, while Epervier prepared to engage. As the two vessels made toward each other, the wind shifted giving neither Peacock nor Epervier the advantage of the windward position. Both ships fired their starboard broadsides, aiming high to disable their opponent's rigging. Both vessels received damage aloft, after which Epervier turned downwind and engaged Peacock on a parallel course.

Peacock directed her fire against Epervier's hull. The British fire fell away rapidly, and Epervier scored no hits after the first broadside from the port battery. After 40 minutes, Epervier was badly damaged, Commander Wales summoned boarding parties to muster, intending to board and capture Peacock, but his crew refused. Epervier surrender. Epervier had eight men killed and 15 wounded (about 20 percent of the crew.)

The Americans repaired the damage to Peacock's rigging within an hour. Peacock's first lieutenant took charge of the prize Epervier and succeeded in preventing her from sinking; the prize crew had the brig ready to sail by nightfall.

The next day, the Americans sighted two British frigates. Peacock successfully decoyed them away from Epervier and both ships escaped. Both ships reached Savannah, Georgia, a few days later. The Americans repaired Epervier and took her into the United States Navy as USS Epervier. Warrington set out again in Peacock and made a successful raiding cruise in British waters, capturing 14 merchant vessels.