HMS Seahorse (1794)

HMS Seahorse was a 38-gun Artois-class fifth-rate frigate of the Royal Navy. She was launched in 1794 and broken up in 1819.

HMS Seahorse capturing the Badiri-i-Zaffer, 6 July 1808 RMG BHC0586.tiff
HMS Seahorse capturing the Badiri-i-Zaffer, 6 July 1808
United Kingdom
Name: HMS Seahorse
Ordered: 14 February 1793
Builder: Marmaduke Stalkartt, Rotherhithe
Laid down: March 1793
Launched: 11 June 1794
Commissioned: 16 June 1794
Honours and
Fate: Broken up in July 1819
General characteristics
Type: 38-gun Artois-class fifth-rate frigate
Tons burthen: 999 4394 bm
  • 146 ft 3 in (44.6 m) (overall)
  • 121 ft 8 12 in (37.1 m) (keel)
Beam: 39 ft 3 12 in (12.0 m)
Depth of hold: 13 ft 9 in (4.19 m)
Sail plan: Full-rigged ship
Complement: 270 (later 315)
  • Upper deck: 28 x 18-pounder guns
  • QD: 2 x 9-pounder guns + 12 x 32-pounder carronades
  • Fc: 2 x 9-pounder guns + 2 x 32-pounder carronades

Revolutionary WarsEdit

Seahorse took part in Rear Admiral Nelson's attack on Santa Cruz on 25 July 1797. She was with Vice-Admiral Hood's squadron off Alexandria in August 1798.

On 2 September, while on patrol in the company of Zealous, Goliath, Swiftsure, Emerald, Alcmene, and Bonne Citoyenne, Seahorse assisted in the destruction of Anemone, a French aviso. Anemone had left Toulon on 27 July and Malta on 26 August.[4]

Emerald and Seahorse chased Anemone inshore where she anchored in the shallow water, out of reach of the two British frigates. When the frigates despatched boats, Anemone cut her anchor cable and drifted on to the shore. While the Frenchmen were attempting to escape along the coast, unfriendly Arabs captured them and stripped them of their clothes, shooting those who resisted. The commander and seven others escaped naked to the beach where the British, who had swum ashore with lines and wooden casks, rescued them.[4][Note 1]

A banner bearing the arms of Baron Ferdinand von Hompesch, 71st Grand Master of the Knights of Malta, in 1798 Napoleon's French forces captured Malta on their way to invade Egypt. Seahorse later seized the banner from the French at Malta, about 1797

Anemone had a crew of 60 men under the command of enseigne de vaisseau Garibou,[6] and was also carrying General Camin and Citoyen Valette, aide de camp to General Napoleon Buonaparte, with dispatches from Toulon, as well as some other passengers. Camin and Valette were among those the Arabs killed.[4][Note 2]

Seahorse arrived at Portsmouth in October 1799, and returned to the Mediterranean in May 1800 as the flagship of Rear-admiral Sir Richard Bickerton.[8] On the way, in the evening of 4 April, she encountered the merchantman Washington which was sailing form Lisbon to Philadelphia, and which cleared for action. Both parties were able to identify themselves in time.

On 9 September 1801, Seahorse left Portsmouth, escorting a convoy bound for Bengal. The convoy, reached Madeira on 23 September, and left the next day. The convoy consisted of the East Indiamen Northampton, Manship, Sarah Christiana, Comet, General Stuart, Sovereign, Caledonia, Ann, Princess Mary, Varuna, Carron, Elizabeth, Monarch, and Friendship.[9]


She was paid off for a first time, in October 1802, and was recommissioned in May 1803. She was in action at Lavandon (Hyeres) 11 July 1804.[8] Her next notable action was against the Turkish vessel Badere Zaffere on 6 July 1808.

His Majesty authorized the issue of a gold medal to Captain Stewart for the action; only 18 battles or actions qualified for such an award.[10] In 1847 the Admiralty authorized the issue of the NGSM with clasp "Seahorse with Badere Zaffere" to all the surviving claimants from the action.

On 10 May 1809, a landing party from Seahorse and Halcyon landed on the small Italian islands of Pianosa and Gianuti. The landing party destroyed the enemy forts and captured about 100 prisoners during four hours of fighting. British losses were one marine killed and one wounded.[11]

On 22 August 1810, while cruising off Tuscany, Seahorse encountered the French brig Renard and the Ligurie. Ligurie escaped immediately but Seahorse was able to drive Renard ashore and cannonade her there. Even so, Renard was little-damaged and was able to get off after Seahorse had left. Renard limped back to Genoa. En route, Renard again met Seahorse, but sought refugee under the shore batteries of Levanto which, although in bad shape, proved sufficient to deter the Seahorse.[12]

War of 1812Edit

She was paid off for a second time, in June 1811 and was under repair at Woolwich from August to October 1812. She was recommissioned in September 1812 under the command of Sir James Gordon. She sank the 16-gun privateer lugger Subtile off Beachy Head on 13 November 1813 after a chase of three hours. The lugger had been so damaged in the chase that she sank before Seahorse could take off her crew. As a result, of her crew of 72 men, all but 28 drowned, her captain, François-David Drosier, and all his officers, among them. She was a few days out of Dieppe and had captured a Swedish brig laden with salt, and a light collier. HMS Urgent was in sight at the time.[13]

On 24 March 1814 Seahorse recaptured the Swedish ship Maria Christina while in company with Pactolus and another warship.[Note 3]

Coast of North AmericaEdit

Seahorse was off the Atlantic Coast of Northern America in 1814, taking part in an action off the Potomac on 17 August 1814. (John Robyns, Captain of the Royal Marine detachment of HMS Albion, reckoned the Seahorse took £100,000 in prizes.[15] ) In September, she was present at the Battle of Baltimore.

In November, Seahorse was at Pensacola until the arrival of General Andrew Jackson's forces caused the British to depart. Her boats were to participate in the Battle of Lake Borgne. Her officers and crew qualified for the clasps to the Naval General Service Medal that the Admiralty issued in 1847 to all surviving claimants, for the former and latter actions.

Seahorse stopped off at Prospect Bluff, on the Apalachicola River, to embark 64 Royal Marines. She departed on 15 April 1815, and arrived at Portsmouth on 31 May 1815.[16]


Seahorse was broken up in July 1819.[8]

Notes, citations, and referencesEdit

  1. ^ The Arabs captured some 17 to 20 survivors (accounts differ), and offered them to General Kleber, who ransomed them.[5]
  2. ^ Anemone was the tartane Cincinnatus, which the French Navy had commissioned in June 1794 as an aviso, and renamed in May 1795. Her armament consisted of two 6-pounder and two 4-pounder guns, and four swivel guns.[7]
  3. ^ A first-class share of the prize money was worth £187 3sd; the prize money for an ordinary seaman was £2 2s 4½d.[14] For an ordinary seaman, this would have amounted to about six weeks' wages.
  1. ^ "No. 20939". The London Gazette. 26 January 1849. p. 241.
  2. ^ "No. 20939". The London Gazette. 26 January 1849. p. 245.
  3. ^ "No. 20939". The London Gazette. 26 January 1849. p. 247.
  4. ^ a b c "No. 15082". The London Gazette. 20 November 1798. p. 1110.
  5. ^ Strathern (2009), pp.223-225.
  6. ^ Fonds Marine, p. 210.
  7. ^ Winfield and Roberts (2015), p.296.
  8. ^ a b c Winfield (2007), p144.
  9. ^ Lloyd's List, no. 4200,[1] - accessed 5 December 2014.
  10. ^ "No. 20741". The London Gazette. 4 June 1847. pp. 2051–2051.
  11. ^ Naval Chronicle, Vol. 22, p.255.
  12. ^ Jurien de La Gravière, pp.63-4 (603-4 on file)
  13. ^ "No. 16810". The London Gazette. 20 November 1813. p. 2303.
  14. ^ "No. 17017". The London Gazette. 30 May 1815. p. 1024.
  15. ^ Brooks & Little, p.46.
  16. ^ "Royal Marines on the Gulf Coast". Retrieved 19 January 2014. Extracted information from the muster of HMS Seahorse