Tom Bowline


Tom Bowline
(Sch.: t. 260; cpl. 90; a. 12 guns)

Tom Bowline—a schooner—was purchased by the United States Navy in late 1814 at Portsmouth, N.H., for use as a storeship, Lt. B. V. Hoffman in command. Subsequently proceeding to New York, she joined President, Hornet, and Peacook in preparations for a raiding foray into the East Indies.

President's sortie on 14 January 1816, however, ended in disaster—grounding and suffering severe damage, the frigate fell victim and captive to a superior British squadron on the following day—15 January. On the 22d, a strong northeasterly gale blew up and provided the three other American ships at New York an opportunity to escape the vigilant eyes of the British blockaders. Tom Bowline bent on storm canvas to accompany Hornet and Peacock in their bid for freedom of the open sea.

Unaware of President's fate, the three ships made for Tristan de Cunha for the prearranged rendezvous. Hornet became separated en route, leaving her two consorts to press on without her. Tom Bowline and Peacock reached the volcanic island on 18 March—only to be driven off by a gale.

Hornet arrived five days later, but her landfall coincided with the appearance in the area of British brigsloop Penguin. The two ships closed for action, and Hornet damaged Penguin seriously enough to warrant destruction of the Briton. The sighting of strange sail on the horizon hastened Hornet's burning of the prize, but apprehension turned to relief as the sails proved to be Peacock and Tom Bowline returning to Tristan de Cunha for the planned rendezvous. Tom Bowline embarked the Penquin's captive crew and took the prisoners to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Records giving details of Tom Bowline's subsequent service have not been found, but the vessel was apparently sold in 1818.