USS Wasp vs HMS Reindeer, 28 June 1814

The clash between USS Wasp and HMS Reindeer (28 June 1814) was an early success in the cruise of the Wasp, the fifth American warship to carry that name (and the fourth in just two years!).

This Wasp was the fourth American ship to carry that name in two years. The first was the ship-sloop Wasp, captured by the British on 18 October 1812 just after defeating and capturing HMS Frolic. The second Wasp was a privateer. The third Wasp operated briefly on the Great Lakes.

The fourth Wasp was a larger ship-sloop, carrying 22 guns (twenty 32 pound carronades and two 18 pound long guns). In the spring of 1814, late in the War of 1812, she put to sea under the command of Johnston Blakeley, who had ordered to carry out a raid in the western approaches to the English Channel. She carried a crew of 175.

HMS Reindeer was an 18 gun brig sloop, carrying sixteen 24-pdr carronades and two 6-pdr long guns. She was commanded by William Manners, and had a well drilled crew of 98 men and 20 boys.

The Wasp's cruise began well. She captured five merchant ships in June, and ended up 225 miles to the west of Plymouth.

On 28 June the Reindeer sighted the Wasp and went to investigate. The two ships manoeuvred for the weather gauge, with the Reindeer winning. A short battle followed, lasting somewhere between 19 minutes and half an hour. Eventually the greater weight of the American broadside took its toll. Her crew lost control over the Reindeer, and she ended up in a desperate position alongside the Wasp, bow first, meaning that she couldn't return fire. Manners attempted to lead a boarding party onto the Wasp, but he was killed before reaching the American ship. The Americans then turned the tables, boarded the Reindeer and soon accepted her surrender.

The Reindeer was too badly damaged to save. Her crew has lost 25 dead and 42 wounded, compared to 11 dead and 15 wounded on the Wasp. Blakeley took the prisoners onto the Wasp, and then burnt the Reindeer. He then made for L'Orient, capturing two more ships on his way.

The Wasp spent two months in L'Orient, where she was repaired and refitted. She then sailed for home, but would never arrive. On 7 September she captured the brig HMS Avon, and she continued to plague British merchant ships. She was seen for the last time near Madeira on 15 September, but at some point after that was lost with all hands.

Books on the War of 1812 | Subject Index: War of 1812

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (22 September 2011), USS Wasp vs HMS Reindeer, 28 June 1814 ,

Help - F.A.Q. - Contact Us - Search - Recent - About Us - Privacy