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A bad day with the Press Gang


War Hero
AIGLE,36. (1801 Bucklers Hard. Hulk 1853) 1802- First commissioned by Capt. George W0LFE, 12/02, Plymouth - Channel.
In March 1803 he was ordered to impress seamen at Portland. Here his crew came into conflict with the quarrymen who were protecting likely sailors and they were forced to return to their boats.
He tried again on 1 April and landed at the head of 50 seamen and marines. They immediately came under fire but managed to seize two of the rioters before the remainder retired to Portland Bill to join some 300 men armed with muskets, pistols and cutlasses. This group lost no time in attacking the landing party and badly wounded 16 or 17 of them, nine of whom had to be discharged from the service. At one point Capt. W0LFE was seized and John MANNING, quarter master's mate, had his cutlass broken while fending off a blow aimed at his captain's head. To secure their retreat back on board the marines opened fire, killing 4 of the rioters. As soon as Capt. W0LFE reached AIGLE he dispatched Lieut. HASTINGS and a midshipman, Mr John M0RGAN, to inform the Admiralty of the true facts, but as soon as they landed at Weymouth they were seized and committed to Dorchester jail charged with murder. A coroner later added the names of Capt. W0LFE and marine Lieut. Jefferies to the indictment and the four men attended for trial in August at the Dorchester Assizes. The jury agreed that they had acted in self-defence and they were acquitted. They rejoined their ship at Plymouth and sailed on a cruise on the 10th.
Andy: was it common for civilian authorities (or 'not-so-authorized-type-persons') to take such umbrage at pressing? In the US, Press Gangs were commonly aided by "local authorities" as a way to get rid of undesirables without the expense of imprisioning them for a long period.... let the Navy feed 'em and that was that. Most of the rest of US pressing was done along the docks, culling the sots. The Starknot Cosh was King in those days.

Got a couple of lovely pics of "persuaders" HERE, BTW... always looking for more shotsof coshes/persuaders!

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