Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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USS Wasp vs HMS Reindeer

The action of USS Wasp, commanded by Master Commandant Johnston Blakely and HMS Reindeer commanded by Commander William Manners took place on June 28 1814.

Wasp had orders to attack British shipping in the English Channel and had already captured seven ships. HMS Reindeer was ordered to stop Wasp.  The action began in late afternoon as both vessels sighted sail, Reindeer sailed within 60 yards of Wasp's quarter, where neither vessel could bring its broadside to bear. Over ten minutes, Manners fired five deliberate shots from his shifting boat carronade.  Eventually, Blakely turned downwind to bring his broadside to bear, and the two vessels exchanged broadsides while almost dead in the water.

After twenty minutes' of firing, the two vessels came into contact, and some of the Reindeer crew tried to board Wasp but were beaten back. A wounded Commander Manners continued to urge on his crew until killed by a musket shot from Wasp's rigging. The American boarding parties followed up the repulse of the British crew, and swarmed aboard Reindeer. Once they had driven the surviving British crew below, the British captain's clerk, almost the only surviving officer of any rank, surrendered.

Reindeer had suffered 25 killed, including her commander, and 42 men wounded, out of 118 men. Wasp suffered 11 killed and 15 men wounded. Reindeer was too badly damaged to be salvaged, so the Americans set her on fire.