No. 485. [1st Session.
GENERAL INSTRUCTIONS TO COMMODORE JOHN DOWNES, OF THE FRIGATE POTOMAC, AND INSTRUCTIONS TO SEEK REDRESS FOR THE DESTRUCTION OF THE SHIP FRIENDSHIP, AT QUALLAH BATOO, ISLAND OF SUMATRA, AND HIS REPORT RELATIVE TO THE DESTRUCTION OF THE TOWN OF QUALLAH BATOO.
COMMUNICATED TO THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, JULY 13, 1832.
Washington City, July 12, 1832.
To the Speaker of the House of Representatives:
In compliance with the resolution of the House of Representatives, passed this day, requesting the President of the United States "to lay before the House copies of the instructions given to the commander of the frigate Potomac , previous to and since the departure of that ship from the Island of Sumatra, and copies of such letters as may have been received from said commander after his arrival at Quallah Batoo, except such parts as may, in his judgment, require secrecy," I forward copies of the two letters of instructions to Captain Downes, in relation to the piratical plunder and murder of our citizens at Quallah Batoo, on the coast of Sumatra, detailing his proceedings.
The instructions, with the papers annexed, are all that have been given bearing on this subject; and, although parts of them do not relate materially to the supposed object of the resolution, yet it has been deemed expedient to omit nothing contained in the originals.
The letter and report from Captain Downes, which are herewith furnished, are all yet received from him, bearing upon his proceedings at Quallah Batoo; but as further intelligence may hereafter be communicated by him, I send them for the information of the House; submitting, however, injustice to that officer, that their contents should not be published until he can enjoy a further opportunity of giving more full explanations of all the circumstances under which he conducted.
Navy Department, June 27, 1831.
When the frigate Potomac is in readiness to leave Norfolk, you will proceed to New York without delay, that her complete preparation and equipment may be effected at the navy yard there.
When she is in every respect ready for sea, which must certainly be accomplished by the first day of August next, you will receive on board the Hon. Martin Van Buren, minister from the United States to England, and his suite, and immediately make sail; shaping your course for Portsmouth, on the southern coast of England, or for any other port within the British Channel which you may find to be more safe and convenient, where you will land Mr. Van Buren and suite.
After fulfilling this part of your instructions, you will, with all practicable dispatch, direct your course for the Pacific ocean, and assume the command of the naval forces of the United States on that station. You will touch on your way out at Porto Praya, of the Cape de Verd Islands, if not inconvenient, and also at Pernambuco, St. Salvador, and Rio de Janeiro, on the coast of Brazil, and communicate with the consuls or commercial agents of the United States at these ports, and. render every lawful aid and protection to the persons and property of our citizens which may be needed; not, however, making any unnecessary delay at either of these places.
On your arrival in the Pacific, you will obtain from Master Commandant Gregory all necessary information relating to our commerce and squadron, and adopt suitable measures for executing and accomplishing the instructions and objects which he has not had it in his power to fulfill previous to your arrival. A copy of his orders is furnished.
The force under your command will consist of the Potomac, as flag ship; the sloop-of-war Falmouth, Master Commandant Gregory; and the schooner Dolphin , Lieutenant John C. Long.
It is hoped that the force in the Pacific will be competent to afford sufficient protection to our extensive and important interests in that region of the world; and, placing every confidence in your skill, intelligence, and judgment, no doubt is entertained of your using every exertion in your power fully to accomplish the objects of your command.
You will on all occasions render, to our citizens, vessels, commerce, and interests, that assistance and protection to which they are lawfully entitled.
For your information and government in the execution of the duties assigned to you, I transmit a volume containing the treaties concluded between the United States and foreign powers, a compilation of the laws of the United States relating to the navy, a circular respecting the discharge of our seamen in foreign ports; another, directing a quarterly report to be made of American vessels boarded; and a third, regulating the official intercourse between the commanders of our ships-of-war and the consuls of the United States in foreign ports.
It is important that you should keep yourself always correctly advised of passing events; and it is, therefore, advisable that you commence and continue a regular correspondence with our public and commercial agents within the limits of your station.
Cases may arise which it is impossible to foresee, and to meet which definite instructions cannot be given; should such occur, out of the ordinary way, you must be left to the exercise of a sound discretion.
Our relations with the governments of the southern continent of America, as well as with Mexico, are on the most friendly footing; and care should be taken to abstain from any act which may impair their present character, so far as this can be done consistently with the maintenance of our own just rights.
You will be careful, on entering any harbor, or meeting a public vessel of another nation, to manifest the accustomed civilities; as we confidently expect them to be paid to us, it becomes us to be prompt in tendering them to others.
At all places you may visit, you will encourage the best feelings towards our government, nation,
citizens, and interests; exhibiting, wherever an opportunity offers, that moderation and urbanity which become your own character and that of the government you represent.
Should war arise on the western coast of America, it will be recollected that the belligerent parties are entitled to equal rights; and the utmost caution must be observed to refrain from all acts towards either of them that might have a tendency to affect or compromise our neutral character. Acts of kindness to either, although equally extended to the others, might be misconceived or misconstrued to our prejudice. You will, therefore, to avoid all causes of complaint, decline, if requested, taking on board the vessels of your squadron, for either party, men, money, provisions, or supplies, to be carried from such party to any port or country whatever.
If hostilities should take place, it is probable that the parties will resort, as formerly, to the system of blockades, without an adequate force to maintain that mode of annoyance, and to the great injury and inconvenience of neutral vessels and commerce.
In the event of such a state of things, you will use your best efforts to protect our citizens and their property from the illegal exercise of power; claiming for them all the rights and privileges to which they are entitled by the laws of nations. At the same time you will avoid, as much as possible, all collision with either party, without compromitting, in any manner, our own just rights and national honor.
It is to be feared that some of the freebooters, whose depredations have been so successfully checked in the West Indies, and some of the privateers and parties employed during the wars which have existed in that quarter, may change the scene and character of their operations, in hopes of finding our commerce in a defenceless state. To guard against such an occurrence will require, on. the part of the vessels under your command, the utmost vigilance.
Among the accompanying papers you will find a copy of the general instructions issued in relation to piracy and the slave trade; they may be found applicable to cases which may arise within the range of your command, although specially designed for another station.
Misrepresentations, arising, no doubt, in most instances, from misapprehension and partial information, have often found their way to the public papers, to the injury of the service and the prejudice of our government. This renders it proper that you should endeavor to prevent communications, from those under your command, respecting the movements of the squadron and your official transactions, which may possibly reach the public in such a manner.
The propriety of such publications must be left to the government, which will take care to afford full information, from the authentic means in its possession, of whatever the interests of the nation will permit to be made known.
You may receive, on board the vessels of your squadron, specie, and the other articles permitted by the act of Congress for the better government of the navy, belonging exclusively to our own citizens, and carry them from one port or place to another, when it does not interfere in any degree with your other more important duties, or infringe the laws of the country where such articles are to be received or carried; and, also, on your return to the United States, you may bring with you gold, silver, and jewels, the property of our own citizens. But our national vessels ought not, and. must not, be used for purposes of commercial adventure; and you are, in no case, to allow anything in the shape of a public advertisement, giving information that you will carry such articles. So many complaints have been made on this subject, that I must impress upon you the necessity of avoiding everything which may give rise to unfriendly comments. In order that the government may be informed of the extent to which the commercial interests of our citizens have been benefited on this point, and be prepared to answer any inquiries on this subject, you will, from time to time, make reports of all the specie, &c, carried, the places to and from which they may be taken, and the circumstances and conditions under which you do it.
The health of your officers and crew will demand unceasing attention; the moral conduct and professional acquirements of the junior officers, the exercise of constant watchfulness.
Rigid discipline, exactly enforced, is essential to maintain the reputation of the navy, and it must not for one moment be neglected. You are perfectly aware that a firm and energetic course on the part of the superior, accompanied by mild, humane, and gentlemanly deportment, is the best mode of accomplishing, in a satisfactory manner, the various objects entrusted to your command.
On suitable occasions, you will enjoin it upon all grades of officers that they are not to speak reproachfully or contemptuously of each other, disrespectfully of their superiors, nor relate anecdotes, which do no credit to the individual members of the profession nor to the character of the service.
Impress upon them that they are never, on any account, to comment on each other in the public papers, but that each is to maintain in himself, and encourage in others, marked respect, the most decorous language, and the strictest propriety of conduct.
Numerous acts, that may be discreditable to the individual and injurious to the reputation of the navy, cannot always be made the subject of court-martial and legal punishment.
By a strict course of discipline on your part, and attention to language and conduct on that of the officers, it is hoped that there will be less cause for public trials, which have been so numerous as to lessen, in some measure, the warm attachment of the people for the navy.
It has happened that officers on distant stations have been arrested by their commanders, and sent home to await the return of the ships to which they were attached and the officers with whom they have been associated, thereby creating great expense and inconvenience to the individuals and the service.
I trust that you will be able to maintain proper discipline without a resort to this expedient, which is only to be used when it becomes absolutely necessary.
The midshipmen of the squadron are to be objects of unremitted solicitude and care, both as regards their conduct and attainments. Of the common difficulties into which they fall, I presume you are perfectly aware, and they need not be mentioned; but there is one which I fear is not generally known to the commanders, and which, it is said, is frequently practiced to such an extent as to have become an evil; I refer to the habit of borrowing money, articles of dress of all kinds, &c.: it is a habit which produces improvidence and uncleanliness, and ought to be repressed, so far as it can be done in the proper exercise of authority and advice.
It is also especially necessary that commanding officers should guard against the influence of feelings of partiality or prejudice in the treatment of inferiors. Every officer is entitled to, and must enjoy, all the privileges of rank and station. Whenever these are permitted to one and denied to another, or preferences are shown, insubordination and unkind feelings are immediately engendered, to the lasting injury of the service.
I am well persuaded that you do not require to he urged upon this subject, and shall not, therefore, press it further upon your attention.
You will transmit, semi-annually, on the first of January and July, confidential reports of the character, conduct, skill, and acquirements of all the officers under your command. In making them, it is proper that strict impartiality should be used, and all personal prejudices or predilections avoided.
The blank monthly returns, forwarded to you herewith for the use of the squadron, are to be regularly and carefully filled up, and transmitted through you to this Department. The books ordered to be purchased for the use of all our ships in commission are to be placed in charge of the schoolmaster, and on your return carefully packed in boxes, which must be labeled, and deposited in the public store.
It is intended to send out, from time to time, ample supplies for the squadron, which will render it unnecessary for the purser, acting as agent for the squadron, to make purchases, unless on urgent occasions, when special instructions shall be given by you to him.
You will obtain from this officer the funds required for the pay of the officers and men, and the general uses of the squadron; and, to enable him to be at all times ready to meet those demands and fulfill the injunctions of the Department, you will furnish him, from time to time, with estimates in detail of the wants of the squadron, six months in advance, particularizing the various heads of appropriation under which the money should be drawn, and forward the duplicates thereof to this Department.
It may be in your power, while protecting the commercial, to add something to the agricultural interests of our country, by obtaining information respecting valuable animals, seeds, plants, &c.; and by importing such as you can, conveniently, without expense to the government, or neglecting the more immediate and appropriate duties assigned you.
The cultivation of the sugar cane has become an object of increasing importance and value; and you may be able to meet with different varieties in the course of your cruise, and procure directions as to the mode of culture. It is very desirable that this branch of agriculture should not be lost sight of in your inquiries.
The copy of a resolution of Congress, of the twenty-fifth of January, eighteen hundred and thirty, upon this subject, and the collection of vegetables, grain, &c., is enclosed for your information and attention.
There are many scientific, botanical, and agricultural institutions, to which your collections might be profitably entrusted, and by which, whatever you procure, would be applied to the greatest advantage; among them is the Columbian Institute of the city of Washington.
This society, as well as the Treasury Department, has prepared directions for the preservation of articles, and requested that they might be distributed among our naval commanders. In compliance with their wishes, I send you a few copies.
You will make no acting appointments of any description, except in cases of absolute necessity, and then with the express understanding that the appointment ceases with the necessity which called for it; and also taking care to have the same entered upon the muster rolls and proper books of the ships.
As frequently as opportunities offer you will report your proceedings to the Department, transmitting copies of your official correspondence with the authorities of Chili and Peru, and with other powers and persons, and carefully numbering your dispatches, of which it would be prudent to send duplicates by different conveyances.
You will also be the medium of communication to the Department from the officers and men under your command.
Previously to sailing from the United States, you will cause complete muster rolls of all persons on board of the Potomac to be made out and forwarded to the Department.
I am, respectfully, sir, your obedient servant, LEVI WOODBURY.
Commodore John Downes, commanding U. S. Frigate Potomac, Norfolk, Virginia.
Navy Department, July 25, 1831.
Messrs. Nathaniel Silsbee, Dudley S. Peckman, and Robert Stone:
Your communication to the President, of the 20th instant, has this day been received and referred to this Department.
I feel happy in assuring you that, since the 19th instant, every necessary preparation has been making to demand immediate redress for the outrage committed.
On the 22d instant, not hearing from Salem but through the newspapers, I addressed a letter to one of your number, as a personal friend, asking further information on this subject, and which letter, ere the arrival of this, will doubtless have been received by him. Though it was then confidential, he is hereby authorized to communicate it to the parties interested.
The Department would now invite attention to procuring and forwarding here a few particulars not contained in the communication received to-day.
1st. It is desirable to have the originals or authenticated copies of all protests made in relation to the loss, and of affidavits by any persons who witnessed the outrage, detailing its origin and progress.
2d. Any special information as to the character of the rulers and the population, and the part of the country where the injury occurred, which the owners may have, and which is not to be found in the books treating of those regions, would be acceptable.
3d. Intelligence is asked as to the political relations, if any, existing between those rulers, &c., and the English or the Dutch; whether useful hints can be given as to the draft of water, dangerous reefs, or circumstances connected with the navigation in that region, and thence to Macao, by a frigate of the largest class.
Your early attention to these subjects will greatly oblige the Department. With sentiments of respect, I am, gentlemen, your obedient servant,
Navy Department, August 9, 1831.
Circumstances have occurred, since the last instructions to you, which require a change in your route to the Pacific, and which may impose on you some new duties, of a character highly delicate and important. A most wanton outrage was committed on the lives and property of certain American citizens, at Quallah Batoo, a place on the western side of the Island of Sumatra, on the 7th of February last, the particulars of which are contained in the document annexed, marked A.
You are, therefore, directed to repair at once to Sumatra, by the way of the Cape of Good Hope, touching, on the way thither, only at such places as the convenience and necessities of your vessel may render proper. On your arrival at Quallah Batoo, you will obtain from the intelligent shipmasters, supercargoes, and others, engaged in the American trade in that neighborhood, such information as they possess in respect to the nature of the government there, the piratical character of the population, and the flagrant circumstances of the injury before mentioned. Should the information substantially correspond with what is given to you in the documents marked A and B, the President of the United States, in order that prompt redress may be obtained for these wrongs, or the guilty perpetrators made to feel that the flag of the Union is not to be insulted with impunity, directs that you proceed to demand of the rajah, or other authorities at Quallah Batoo, restitution of the property plundered, or indemnity therefor, as well as for the injury done to the vessel, satisfaction for any other depredations committed there on our commerce, and the immediate punishment of those concerned in the murder of the American citizens, Charles Knight, chief officer, and John Davis and George Chester, seamen, of the ship Friendship .
If a compliance of this demand be delayed beyond a reasonable time, you are authorized, in the following manner, to vindicate our wrongs: Firstly, having taken precautions, while making the demand, to cut off all opportunity of escape from the individuals either concerned in that savage outrage, or protecting the offenders or participating in the plunder, you will proceed to seize the actual murderers, if they are known, and send them hither for trial as pirates by the first convenient opportunity; to retake such part of the stolen property as can there be found and identified; to destroy the boats and vessels of any kind engaged in the piracy, and the forts and dwellings near the scene of aggression, used for shelter or defence; and to give public information to the population there collected, that if full restitution is not speedily made, and forbearance exercised hereafter from like piracies and murders upon American citizens, other ships-of-war will soon be dispatched thither, to inflict more ample punishment.
Any property restored, or indemnity given, you will deliver to the owners of the ship Friendship , or their agents, taking receipts therefor. Should the information obtained on the spot give a different character to the transaction from that furnished by the Department, marked A and B, showing any real disapprobation of the plunder and murder by the population at large, or by their rulers, or any provocation given on the part of our citizens, or the existence of a regular, responsible government, acting on principles recognized by civilized nations in their conduct towards strangers, you will confine your operations to a regular demand for satisfaction on the existing authorities at Quallah Batoo, to be rendered by a restoration of the property, indemnity for the other injuries, and a punishment of the offenders. If referred by them to the King of Acheen, you will cause a like demand to be made on him. Should such satisfaction be not speedily given by either, you will inform them that future measures will be taken by the United States effectually to enforce it, and to vindicate the violated rights of their citizens.
At the same time, in this latter event, assure the rajah, or other responsible authorities, that this government entertains no hostile feelings towards the people of Quallah Batoo, or their governors, rajahs, or rulers of any kind; and if the assaults, plundering and murders were unauthorized, and not afterward countenanced, that it will be peculiarly gratifying to discover, on the part of the authorities of those places, a disposition to redress, as far as may be in their power, the wrongs wantonly inflicted on the citizens of the United States.
You will forthwith report to the Department the results of your expedition to Sumatra, forwarding the report by the first convenient opportunity, from that island, or from China.
Leaving Quallah Batoo, or the dominions of the King of Acheen, you will proceed to Macao, where disturbances to our commerce are said to have recently occurred, touching at Batavia, if convenient, and, at all events, conferring with our consul there, in person or by letter, on the interests and condition of American commerce in that quarter. To our consul resident in Macao or Canton, and to the American merchants there, you will apply for information, and give any temporary aid or relief in your power, without involving this country in any hostilities with the regular and authorized authorities of China.
After a short stay there for the above objects, and for taking in necessary supplies and refreshments to obtain which, if indispensable, in addition to the funds placed in your hands already, you are empowered to draw on this Department to the amount of five thousand dollars, you will proceed directly to your station in the Pacific, stopping only at such islands in your way as may be in the usual track, and interesting to our commerce in that region of the world.
Your former instructions will be your guide, after reaching the rest of your squadron; except that, whenever a vessel can be spared from it to visit any of the islands in the Pacific, resorted to by our merchantmen and whalers, you are directed to detach one for that purpose.
Great care must be taken to have such vessel conduct with caution, forbearance and good faith towards the natives; to render any assistance in its power to American citizens; to make as favorable an impression as possible, on the population, of the justice and strength of our government; and to collect and report to this Department all valuable information of every kind connected with the places visited.
With much consideration, your obedient servant,
Commodore John Downes, on board the U. S. Frigate Potomac.
Captain Endicott's statement.
On the 7th of February last, while the Friendship was lying at Quallah Batoo, loading, the captain, two officers, and four of the crew on shore, weighing pepper, she was risen upon by the crew of a Malay pepper boat, who were permitted, contrary to the regulations of the ship, to come on board; and, after killing the first officer, Mr Charles Knight, of Salem, and two seamen, and badly wounding several others, succeeded in cutting off the ship and plundering her of all the specie on board, amounting to about $12,000, and twelve chests of opium, together with all the ship's papers, spare sails, rigging, cabinet furniture, chronometers, nautical instruments, hooks, charts, wearing apparel, and, in fact, of every movable article of value on board.
Capt. Endicott with the boat's crew on shore had a narrow escape for their lives. After plundering the ship, the Malays made ineffectual attempts to run her on shore, but by the prompt and timely assistance of the ship James Munroe, Porter, of New York, brigs Gov. Endicott, H. H. Jenks, of Salem, and Palmer , Powers, of Boston, the ship was retaken before they could accomplish their object. The particulars, as taken from the ship's log book, after the accident, are as follows:
"Monday, February 7, 1831.
"At eight o'clock, A, M., the captain, two officers, and four men went on shore to weigh pepper; at half-past three, P. M., succeeded in procuring one boat load; saw her leave the bank of the river, opposite the scale house, with the usual complement of men in her, that is to say, one steersman and six oarsmen; the natives still bringing pepper to the scales, with the promise of giving us another boat load to-day. The first boat was observed to make considerable delay in getting out of the river, and we supposed her crew might be stealing pepper from her, and secreting it among the neighboring high grass. Two of the ship's men were accordingly sent down to watch them, and, upon their approaching the boat, five or six Malays were seen to jump up from the grass and hurry on board her; the ship's people supposed them to be the boat's crew, as they had seen about the same number quit her previous to their being observed by the Malays. At this time, there was a brig standing into Soo-Soo. While waiting for the natives to complete our other boat load of pepper, Captain Endicott went to the beach to ascertain if the brig approaching had hoisted any colors. He then saw that the pepper boat, which, at this time, was within a few yards of the ship, had. at least double the number of men in her that she had when she left the scales. He immediately returned, and inquired into this circumstance. The men who were sent down to watch the boat in the river then informed him that they had seen her take in several men out of a ferry boat, at the mouth of the river; but, as they all appeared to be "youngsters," they did not think the circumstance of sufficient importance to report it. Our suspicions were immediately excited that all was not right; yet, trusting they would not be permitted to go on board—it being contrary to the established regulations of the ship, in the absence of the captain, to admit more than two Malays on board her at a time—and deeming it too late to render any assistance if they were, the second officer and two men were sent to the beach to observe the movements on board, who almost instantly returned with the information that there was trouble on board, and that men were seen jumping overboard from her. Convinced from this circumstance that we on shore had no time to lose, we immediately sprang into the ship's boat, and pushed off. Almost instantaneously crowds of Malays began to assemble on the banks of the river, which are about sixty yards asunder, brandishing their weapons, and otherwise menacing us; at the same moment, a ferry boat, with eight or ten men in her, armed with spears and knives, pushed off to intercept our passage out of the river; but by pulling directly for her, and presenting a Malay sword, our only weapon, we succeeded in keeping them off. When we cleared the river, and came in full sight of the ship, we found the Malays had full possession of her, some of them walking about the deck, while others were making signals of success to the people on shore; none of the ship's crew, except one man aloft, was to be seen. At this moment, three Malay boats, with forty or fifty men each, came out of the river and pulled towards the ship and us. We then concluded our only chance to recover the ship was by obtaining assistance from some other vessel; and for this purpose we made the best of our way to Muckie, where we knew two or three American vessels were lying. At one, A. M., we reached Muckie, which lies twenty-five miles distant from Quallah Batoo, and found there ship James Monroe, Porter, of New York; brigs Governor Endicott, H. H. Jenks, of Salem, and Palmer , Powers, of Boston; who determined, on hearing our misfortune, to proceed to Quallah Batoo and endeavor to recover the ship. They accordingly got under way, but, owing to the lightness of the wind, did not reach Quallah Batoo in season to effect anything that day; but, on the morning of the 9th, a Malay was sent on shore to demand the ship of the rajah, accompanied with the threat that, if the Malays did not immediately desert her, we should fire upon them and the town. The rajah, however, positively refused to give her up, and sent word we might take her if we could. The three vessels then commenced firing upon the ship and the boats, which were passing with plunder, and were answered by the forts on shore, the Malays also firing the ship's guns at us. In their attempts to run her on shore she had become entangled among a large cluster of shoals, which rendered it extremely dangerous for either of the vessels to attempt to lay her alongside. The Malays, however, after blowing themselves up with an open keg of powder, out of which they were loading the guns, soon ceased firing on board the ship, when a boat from each vessel was dispatched to board her, under cover of the guns from the vessels, and which we did without opposition; the Malays deserting her on the approach of the boats. We found her within pistol shot of the shore; and, on examination, ascertained that she was plundered of everything valuable, and scarcely anything but her pepper remaining.
"The appearance of the ship, at the time we boarded her, beggars all description; every part of her bore ample testimony of the scene of violence and destruction with which she had been visited. We subsequently learned that the pepper boat exchanged her crew of fishermen, at the river's mouth, for a set of opium smokers, rendered desperate by their habits, and to these men added, also, others of the same class, taken from the ferry boat; that, when she came alongside, not one of them was recognized by the ship's company as having been off to her before. They were all, however, indiscriminately permitted to go on hoard, and the attack was commenced simultaneously at different parts of the ship, by some concerted signal. Three or four men, with the first officer, were instantly krised; and the crew, being taken by surprise, and unprepared, the ship fell an easy prey to them.
"Killed on board the Friendship : Mr. Charles Wright, chief officer; John Davis and George Chester seamen. Wounded: Charles Converse, seaman, badly; John Massey, seaman, and William Francis steward."
Captain Endicott informs us, in addition to the particulars before given, that just as he had pushed off from the shore, at Quallah Batoo, half the boat's length, (after learning his ship had been attacked,) Po Adam, a jerretoolis, (clerk,) formerly of Quallah Batoo, but for the last two or three years a resident of Pulo Kio—a man of considerable property and influence, sprang into the boat, bringing with him his sword and other arms. Captain Endicott said to him, at the moment of his reaching the boat, "What, do you come too, Adam?" "Yes," was his answer; "if they kill you they must kill me first, captain." To this man, Captain Endicott and the boat's crew felt that they principally owed, under Providence, their escape; as the appearance of his weapons, no doubt, gave the Malays in the ferry boat the impression that all on board the Friendship's boat were armed, and they in consequence suffered the latter to pass almost without molestation.
After having thus cleared the river, Captain Endicott submitted himself much to the counsel and advice of Adam; and when he concluded to proceed with all dispatch to Muckie for assistance, this man not only piloted the boat in the night, but pulled an oar nearly the whole distance; and discovered as much anxiety that every possible dispatch should be made in procuring assistance, as if he was to be personally benefited by the recapture of the ship. To his exertions, Captain Endicott also owed the recovery of some of his nautical instruments. For the interest Po Adam took in this affair, the Malays at Quallah Batoo confiscated all his property which they could get hold of at that place, amounting to several thousand dollars, and even set a price upon his life. The conduct of this generous and noble-hearted Malay should entitle him to the gratitude of every American, and we hope he will not go unrewarded. Four of the Friendship's crew, who jumped overboard at the time of the attack, swam the distance of two miles before they could find a safe place to land, as the Malays lined the shore for some distance around Quallah Batoo. As soon as they reached the shore they fled into the bushes; where, almost without clothing, and having nothing to subsist on, they remained for three days—at night walking to and fro in hopes of finding some means of escape. The third night they discovered a canoe, which they took possession of, and proceeded for Pulo Kio, the residence of Po Adam, knowing that they would be safe if they put themselves under his protection. On their arrival they were informed of the recapture of the ship; and the benevolent Adam not only furnished them with clothing, but, with two of his men, proceeded with them himself in their canoe, and put them on board the ship James Monroe , of New York.
At the time of the attack upon the crew of the Friendship , Mr. Knight, the chief mate, was busily engaged in taking an account of pepper. The Malays had placed themselves in the best manner for making the attack. All the men who were killed or wounded, (seven in number) were struck at the same moment. Two of the Malays stabbed Mr. Knight—one at his side and the other at his back. He ran to the starboard side of the quarter-deck and seized a boarding pike, after he was wounded; he was there met by one of the ship's crew, who heard him exclaim, "Do your duty." He was immediately after seen lying dead near the same place, with the boarding pike under him, the Malays having rushed upon and dispatched him.
The exultation of the natives at this achievement was unbounded, and their insolence insufferable. When Captain Endicott, and the other American masters and supercargoes, landed at South Tallapow, after the recapture of the ship, the natives followed them through the streets in great crowds, exulting and hooting, with exclamations suitable to these; "Who great man now, Malay or American?" "How many man American dead?" "How many man Malay dead?" &c., &c. What the consequence of such a feeling will be, it is impossible to foretell. May the mistake under which they rest, that the Americans have not the power to chastise them, be corrected with all convenient dispatch!
AMOUNT OF INJURY.
Stores and provisions
Instruments and clothes
Loss of voyage, freight, &c.
The attack was evidently concerted some time beforehand, and one of the acting rajahs aided in the combination. The Achenese rajah, Chute Dulah, received the specie and opium into his possession, and refused the restoration of that, as well as of the ship. Others of distinction united, and hired persons of less note to go on board and commit the outrage and murders.
Character and condition of the population and country at Quallah Batoo, in the Island of Sumatra.
Quallah Batoo is situated in about 3 deg. 44 min. north latitude, and 96 deg. 56 min. east longitude, on the western side of the Island of Sumatra.
That part of the island is called the Battas, and is in the possession of the natives, who owe no particular allegiance to any foreign power, and a very slight one, if any, to the King of Acheen, whose country is northwest of the Battas, and who does not hold himself responsible for their outrages.
The different tribes have rajahs, or chiefs, sometimes two each, and often wantonly plunder and kill strangers, without possessing any civilized principles of government conforming to national law, so as to permit or open regular diplomatic relations with the rest of the world. They frequently war with each other, and with the King of Acheen, with much perfidy and barbarity. Neither the British nor Dutch claim any control over that part of Sumatra; and the nearest fort of the former is at Tappanooly.
Many American vessels resort to that coast, and are in danger of capture, and of having their crews murdered, from the savage and piratical conduct and principles of the population. The arrogance and treachery of the natives, especially towards Americans, have, of late years, increased; and, in this instance, their aggressions were countenanced beforehand by some of those in authority, and all relief and restoration, when demanded, were refused.
Quallah Batoo lies entirely open to the sea, defended by only two or three small forts, of three or four guns each, having a population, including the pepper plantations, four or five miles in the interior, of about four thousand. The depth of water in the roads, within a quarter and half a mile of the shore, is from eighteen to twenty fathoms—muddy bottom; but much stone, flung in from ballast, rendering chain cables expedient when at anchor.
U. S. Frigate Potomac , off Soo-Soo, Coast of Sumatra, February 11, 1832.
Sir: I have the honor to acquaint you with the arrival of the Potomac on this coast upon the 5th instant. I anchored off Quallah Batoo, distant about three miles, my object in doing so being to prevent a discovery of the character of the ship, which I had previously taken care to disguise; and so effectively that a number of fishermen, who came on board after I had anchored, did not discover that she was other than a merchant ship until they came over the side. They were detained on board till after the capture of Quallah Batoo.
Finding no vessels on the coast, I could obtain no information, in addition to that already possessed, respecting "the nature of the government, the piratical character of the population, or the flagrant circumstances of the injury done to the Friendship ."
No demand of satisfaction was made previous to my attack, because I was satisfied, from what knowledge I had already of the character of the people, that no such demand would be answered, except only by refusal, and that such refusal would proceed from want of ability, as well as of inclination, it being a habit generally among this people to spend their money as soon as obtained.
Soon after anchoring, Lieutenants Shubrick, Pinkham, Hoff, Ingersoll and Edson, of the marines, together with Passed Midshipmen Totten and Tooley, went on shore in the whale boat, for the purpose of learning the situation of the town and forts; but everything being built in close concealment, they were unable to arrive at any satisfactory result, except as to one of the forts, erected immediately at the place of landing.
No precautions were taken to cut off the opportunity of escape from any of the inhabitants of the town, the nature of the place rendering it absolutely impossible, situated as it is, in the midst of wood and jungle, impenetrable except by private passages, known only to the natives.
As soon as it became sufficiently dark to prevent our movements from discovery by the people on shore, the boats were hoisted out, and every preparation was made for the landing, which was effected about daybreak of the 6th inst. The party under command of Lieutenant Shubrick consisted of two hundred and fifty men.
I adopted this mode of enforcing our demands, in hopes of getting possession of the persons of the rajahs, by surrounding and surprising the forts in which they usually reside, and thus most probably inducing the payment of money for their ransoms. 1 regret to say, however, that in consequence of their desperate fighting, neither giving nor receiving quarter, no prisoners were made, nor was any property found belonging to the Friendship , save the medicine chest.
Lieutenant Shubrick has my warmest acknowledgments for the able and gallant manner in which he conducted the expedition, and I enclose herewith that gentleman's report, wherein he gives a detailed account of the attack, together with other particulars.
The midshipmen who were on shore, and engaged in the action, but not named by Lieutenant Shubrick, were William May, in the first division, under Lieutenant Pinkham; Messrs. Alonzo B. Davis, James G. Stanley and Charles W. Morris, of the second division, commanded by Lieutenant Hoff; and of the third division, under the command of Lieutenant Ingersoll, Messrs. Charles Hunter, Eugene Boyle and James L. Parker, with Midshipman George T. Sinclair in the launch.
Their gallantry and good conduct in the action are spoken of as deserving the highest praise.
In consequence of the fort (situated south of the river) having fired upon our men while attacking Quallah Batoo, I ran in with the ship, and fired about three broadsides into it, when a white flag was hoisted. Upon this I ceased firing; soon after got under way and stood for this anchorage, where I am taking on board wood and water.
While lying here, a flag of truce has been sent off from Quallah Batoo, and, I was informed by the bearer of the same that a great many had been killed on shore, and that all the property there was destroyed. He begged that I would grant them peace. I stated to him that I had been sent here to demand restitution of the property taken from the Friendship , and to insist on the punishment of those persons who were concerned in the outrage committed on the individuals of that ship.
Finding it impossible to effect either object, I said to him that I was satisfied with what had already been done, and I granted them the peace for which they begged. I at the same time assured him that if forbearance should not be exercised hereafter from committing piracies and murders upon American citizens, other ships-of-war would be dispatched to inflict upon them further punishment.
Several rajahs from towns in this vicinity have visited my ship, and others who are distant have sent deputations to me. All of them have declared their friendly disposition towards the Americans, and their desire to obtain our friendship . Corresponding assurances were given on my part, and they left the ship apparently well satisfied.
Having obtained wood and water, and refreshed my crew, I shall leave here to-morrow for Batavia. I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Hon. Levi Woodbury, Secretary of the Navy, Washington City.
U. S. Ship Potomac , off the Town of Quallah Batoo, February 6, 1832.
I have the honor to inform you that, according to your orders heretofore received, I effected a landing, with the several divisions under my command, about one mile and a half to the northward of the town. Although there was a heavy surf upon the shore, the divisions were landed and formed without the slightest accident. The following was the order observed: First, the marines under Lieutenant Edson; then the different divisions under the command of Lieutenants Pinkham, Hoff, and Ingersoll, and the six-pounder in charge of Acting Sailing-master Totten; the boats being left under the command of Passed Midshipman Godon, with orders to follow to the town as soon as the attack commenced. I feel much indebted to Lieutenants Edson and Terrett for the promptness displayed by them in forming- the marines, and in assisting and forming the other divisions: all of which was effected, with coolness, in fifteen minutes. As soon as the day dawned we proceeded along the beach towards the town, undiscovered by the enemy until within a short distance of the northernmost fort, when I immediately dispatched Lieutenant Hoff with his division to surround it, and, in the event of the enemy's firing upon him, to carry it by storm. As soon as he approached the gateway, he was fired on; when, after a close action of nearly two hours, the American flag was hoisted, the enemy carrying off his wounded, and leaving behind him his dead, twelve in number, and the women. Lieutenant Hoff had to surmount great difficulties in the capture of his fort; he tore up the palisades which surrounded it, and formed a bridge, upon which he entered, and drove the enemy from their almost impregnable position; during the whole of which time an incessant fire was kept up upon him.
After leaving Lieutenant Hoff, I proceeded with the remaining forces, and, at the northern end of the town, Lieutenants Pinkham and Edson, with their respective divisions, filed off to the left, to the attack of the two forts assigned to them, in the rear of the town; while, with the third division under Lieutenant Ingersoll, and the six-pounder in charge of Acting Sailing-master Totten, I pushed on to attack the principal and strongest fort, situated at the southern end of the town. At the distance of fifty yards from the fort, perceiving the enemy preparing to receive us, I directed the six-pounder, loaded with round and grape, to be discharged, which threw them into confusion. The coolness and precision with which Acting Sailing-master Totten worked the six-pounder did great execution during the action. Lieutenant Ingersoll at this time rushed on to the attack. At this juncture Lieutenant Pinkham, with the first division, rejoined me; Sailing-master Barry, the guide, having- been unable, from material alterations in and about the fort assigned to Lieutenant Pinkham, to point it out. The pioneers, with their crows and axes, having forced the gate, portions of the first and third divisions, under the direction of their respective officers, rushed into the area, and took possession with little resistance, but few Malays appearing, two of whom were killed on the spot. A charge was then made at the inner gate, which communicated with a narrow passage leading to the stronghold of the enemy (which was a strong platform, considerably elevated, upon which were mounted several cannon, protected by a thick wall), which being forced, it was discovered, to the disappointment of the officers and men there engaged, that the ladder leading to the platform had been drawn up; and, in an ineffectual attempt to climb the parapet, I regret to say that William R. Smith, seaman, was killed; Henry Dutcher, ordinary seaman, and Levi McCabe, quarter-gunner, of the third division, were wounded, and Midshipman J. W. Taylor, and Peter Walsh, ordinary seaman, of the first division, were also wounded. I then gave the order to fire the buildings within the area, which was promptly done; but it being calm, and these buildings detached from the main fort, the fire did not communicate with it as I had hoped. A short time after the fire commenced, two magazines of powder blew up; but I am happy to state that the explosion injured none of us, although in their immediate neighborhood. Lieutenants Hoff and Edson, after storming the forts against which they had been sent, hoisted the American flag, and leaving a detachment in each, they formed between the fort and water; a brisk fire was thus poured in from two sides. Passed Midshipman Godon, in the launch, took a position immediately in front of the fort, and kept up a spirited and well-directed fire; but, so tenaciously did the enemy cling to their position, that not until nearly all of them had been destroyed could we carry the fort. This was, however, gallantly done by Lieutenant Ingersoll, Passed Midshipman Sylvanus Godon, and Midshipmen Joseph C. Walsh, J. W. Taylor, and Henry D. Hart, who spiked and threw the guns from the platform. The American colors were then hoisted, with three hearty cheers. Apprehending that the enemy had laid a train to his magazine, and the fort being mostly destroyed, and completely dismantled, I deemed it proper to call off the officers and men, as it would have been an act of inhumanity to expose them to an explosion.
For some time previous to the surrender of this last fort, another, situated about one hundred and fifty yards from the east bank of the river, and upon the opposite side of it, had been firing upon us with a twelve-pounder. It being impracticable to enter the river with our boats, and not possible to ford it without wetting our firearms, I did not deem it expedient to attack this, but made preparations for the reduction of another in the neighborhood of the one left in charge of Lieutenant Terrett of the marines, which would have remained undiscovered (the town and forts being situated in so thick a jungle,) had the enemy not opened his fire upon Lieutenant Terrett. I immediately dispatched Lieutenants Pinkham and Edson, with portions of their divisions, to reduce it; when, being invested upon two sides, the enemy, after a short but ferocious resistance, fled to the jungle with much loss. It pains me, sir, to state that in this attack private Benjamin T. Brown was killed, and private Daniel H. Cole wounded, supposed mortally. I omitted to mention, in its proper place, that John L. Dubois, seaman, belonging to Lieutenant Hoff's division, was severely wounded by a sabre cut on the head and hand, and several others slightly, from darts and javelins. The action having lasted nearly two hours and a half, and the town being almost reduced to ashes, the surf at the same time rising very fast, I deemed it prudent to commence the embarkation, under cover of the marines, hoping that what had been done would meet with your approbation.
From the knowledge of the place possessed by Sailingmaster Barry, and his coolness, I derived the utmost advantage. Assistant Surgeons Foltz and Pawling were active and zealous in the discharge of their duties, binding up and dressing the wounded under the fire of the enemy. The different orders I had occasion to send to those separated from me, were conveyed with promptness and great precision by Passed Midshipman Tooley and Purser William A. Slacum. The lieutenants commanding the different divisions have reported to me the entire satisfaction they derived from the coolness and bravery of the officers and men under their particular commands. I feel it a duty to state to you how much I am indebted to Lieutenants Pinkham, Hoff, Ingersoll, and Edson, for the promptness and alacrity with which
they executed all orders, and my warm admiration for the gallantry evinced by them upon all occasions. The loss of the enemy must have been considerable; at least one hundred and fifty killed. I am happy to state that among the killed was Poolow N. Yamet, commonly called Po Mahomet, the principal rajah concerned in the plunder and massacre of the crew of the ship Friendship . We captured one pair of colors, twenty-six stand of arms, and one brass field-piece. We also set fire to and destroyed a number of proas on the stocks. The cannon in all the forts, with the exception of one, being of iron, were spiked and thrown over the parapet, and the powder destroyed. The following is a list of the killed and wounded.
Killed.—William P. Smith, seaman; Benjamin T. Brown, marine.
Wounded.—Lieutenant Edson, contused leg; Midshipman J. W. Taylor, slightly; Daniel H. Cole, marine, supposed mortally; Henry Dutcher (O. S.), severely; Peter Walsh (O. S.), severely; Levi M'Cabe (qr. gun.), slightly; John L. Dubois, seaman, severely; John Addison, seaman, slightly; James G. Huster, marine, slightly; James F. Noland (O. S.), slightly; James M'Cabe (O. S.) slightly.
I have the honor to be, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
IRVINE SHUBRICK, Lieut. commanding the Expedition.
Com. John Powers, commanding U. S. Ship Potomac.