Yankee Ships and Yankee Sailors
Tales of 1812
Library of Alexandria
In presenting this volume of "Tales of 1812" it is not the intention of the author to give detailed accounts of actions at sea or to present biographical sketches of well-known heroes; he wishes but to tell something of the ships that fought the battles, whose names are inseparably connected with a glorious past, and to relate incidents connected with the Yankee sailors who composed their crews—"A Yankee Ship and a Yankee Crew"—thus runs the old song; it is to exploit both in a measure that is the intention of this book. Brave fellows, these old-time Jackies were. Their day has gone by with the departed day also, of the storm-along captains, the men who carried sail in all sorts of weather, who took their vessels through dangerous passages unmarked by buoys, with only the fickle wind to drive them, who sailed into the enemy's cruising-grounds, and counting on the good Yankee pine and live oak, had perilous escapes and adventures which fiction cannot exaggerate. It stirs one's blood to read of these. Surely, it will not arouse a hatred for by-gone enemies, to hark back to them. The incidents made use of in the following pages are historical, or at least authentic—some may perhaps come under the head of tradition. Tradition is historical rumor; it may be proved by investigation to be actual fact, or it may be accepted at its face value, on account of its probability. To investigate, one is led to break open and dissect and sometimes we destroy a wealth of sentiment in the proceeding; by casting aside tradition that is harmless we destroy the color of history; we may lose its side lights and shadows that give vividness and beauty to the whole effect. It has not been a spirit of research into the science of history, or a chance for deep delving into figures and records, that has animated the author, although he has drawn upon state papers for material, and all correspondence and important references can be vouched for. He has endeavored to refreshen the colors by removing the dust that may have settled. He has touched the fragile bric-a-brac of tradition with the feather duster of investigation. There is sufficient excuse for everything that is written in this book. Facts are not lacking to prove much here to be true. It will not confuse our historical knowledge to accept it thus. We can draw accurate conclusions as to what kind of men these fine old fellows were; how they looked; how they spoke and acted. Their deeds are part of the nation's record, and their ships exist now in the shape of a few old hulls. We can mark how carefully and strongly they were constructed; we can imagine them swarming with men and quivering beneath the thunder of broadsides. The author has tried to put the sailor back upon his ship again. Here we have the old tales now retold; retold by one who loves to listen to them, therefore to talk about them. This is his prologue to the telling, and that is all there is to it.