USS Rattlesnake was a brig built
in Medford, Massachusetts as a privateer and purchased by the United
States Navy in 1813. She sailed from Portsmouth, New Hampshire 10
January 1814, under the command of Master Commandant John O.
Creighton, and sailed with Enterprise cruising the Caribbean. The
two ships took three prizes prior to their separation which was
forced by a more heavily gunned British ship on 25 February.
Rattlesnake, fleeing back to more friendly waters, put into
Wilmington, North Carolina on 9 March. together, Rattlesnake and
enterprise had taken five prizes:
Brig Rambler, which had been sailing from Cap-Français to St thomas
with a cargo of coffee before the Americans captured and burnt her;
A Spanish brig, retaken from HMS Belvidera, which arrived in
Swedish ship '"Societe, Martison, master, had been bound to St
Amelia and went into St Marys;
Mars, a privateer, of Nassau, arrived at Wilmington; and
Schooner Eliza, which had been sailing from Nassau to Pensacola.
Rattlesnake was soon back at sea under the command of Lt. James
Renshaw. She apparently captured some eight merchant vessels in the
eastern Atlantic, north of the equator. On 31 May she encountered a
British frigate, but escaped by throwing all but two of her guns
overboard. She then captured two more merchant vessels.
In June she captured and destroyed the John, Geddes, master, which
had been sailing from Liverpool to Oporto. Before 11 July she
captured and destroyed the Crown Prince of Poole, Street, master,
which had been sailing from Newfoundland to Alicante.
Rattlesnake's depredations ended (arguable) on 22 June when the
50-gun British frigate HMS Leander captured her off Cape Sable, the
southern point of the island of the same name which lies off Nova
Scotia. Poor weather negated any slight edge in speed and gave the
advantage to the heavier frigate.
The letter from Captain George Collier of Leander is dated 11 July
and states that Rattlesnake was armed with 22 guns, all of which she
had thrown overboard during the chase, and that she had a crew of
The records of the Vice admiralty court at Halifax give the date of
capture as 7 July, which is more consistent with the letter
reporting the capture than is 22 June. It is also more consistent
with the report in Lloyd's List that Rattlesnake went into Halifax
on 13 July.
In any case, the Halifax Dockyard reported on 31 July 1814 that the
Royal Navy had purchased the vessel. However, no further record