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Montezuma I (Ship)

(Ship: t. 347; dr. 16'; cpl. 180; a. 20 9‑pdrs.)

Former merchant name retained.


Montezuma, a 20‑gun converted merchant ship, was built in Virginia in 1795 for transatlantic voyages; acquired by the Navy 26 June 1798 from William Taylor at Baltimore, Md., for service against French naval vessels and privateers attacking American merchantmen during the "quasi‑war"; and placed in service by the end of August 1798, Capt. Alexander Murray in command.

Departing Baltimore 3 November, Montezuma sailed as flagship of a squadron consisting of brig Norfolk, cutter Eagle, and schooner Retaliation for the West Indies to cruise off Guadaloupe and Martinique, to protect American merchantmen and search for French men‑of‑war. The ships encountered two enemy vessels 20 November and gave chase, capturing without a fight brig Fair American, an American vessel taken by French privateers only 5 days previous, but losing Retaliation to two French frigates that appeared on the horizon. After a long chase. the squadron was able to evade the French warships and then put into St. Thomas. Montezuma continued on her duty in the West Indies, convoying merchant ships to various Caribbean ports into 1799 and then on 7 March fell in with and captured French brig Les Amis, 16 guns, off Curacao. She was ordered home in mid‑March and arrived Philadelphia after convoying 57 merchant ships to various ports on the eastern seaboard 12 May 1799.

Montezuma sailed on her second voyage to the West Indies, 28 May, Lt. John Mullowney in command, this time bound for St. Kitts in the Leeward Islands, escortIng U.S. shipping and then sailing to Jamaica to take on prize money, carrying it to Philadelphia, arriving Fort Mifflin 31 July, The warship departed Fort Mifflin 4 August on her last voyage in the Navy, dispatched to St. Kitts to pick up French prisoners for immediate return to Baltimore. Arriving 28 August, Montezuma, because of cramped, unfavorable conditions, loaded only 50 prisoners and departed on the 30th to return Baltimore, arriving 14 September.

There the ship remained while all her armament and stores were removed, preparatory to being sold, because of her poor seakeeping ability as a warship. Following much deliberation, Montezuma was finally sold to her original owner, William Taylor of Baltimore 30 December 1799. Reequipped for merchant service she sailed the Atlantic on a Baltimore‑Liverpool run until disposed of some years before the beginning of the war of 1812.

Published: Tue Aug 11 10:19:02 EDT 2015