We have next to relate the still more tragical fate of the Hero, of 74 guns. This vessel was lost on the Northern Haaks, under nearly the same circumstances as the Minotaur in the preceding year, but with more fatal results, as every soul on board perished.
The following particulars are derived from the accounts taken from the evidence of Captain Fanshawe, of the Grasshopper, and from the journals of the day.
The Grasshopper sailed from Wingo Sound on the 18th of December, 1811, in company with the Hero, Egeria, and Prince William, and a convoy of about 120 merchantmen. The weather, at the time they commenced their voyage, was stormy and tempestuous. The Egeria and Prince William parted company on the 20th, and on the 23rd the Grasshopper was left in company with the Hero, and about eighteen merchantmen.
At about half-past eleven o’clock, Captain Newman, of the Hero, made signal to the Grasshopper to come within hail; conceiving that they were on the Silver Pitts, he directed the course to be altered to the south-west, which was accordingly done. They continued their course until ten o’clock at night, when the signal was made to alter it two points to port.
The Grasshopper was at this time going at the rate of nine knots an hour; four of the convoy had been kept in view up to this period, but were soon lost sight of in the heavy squall of snow and sleet. At half-past three o’clock all hands were turned up, when the ship being in broken water, she struck with great violence, and suddenly fell into three fathoms water. The best bower was let go, and she was brought to an anchor. In a few minutes the ship struck again, and continued to do so as long as she remained in that position.
The crew of the Grasshopper had now their attention called to the situation of the Hero. It was first supposed that she was at anchor, although she fired several guns, and burnt blue lights, which in about half-an-hour ceased. At daylight it was discovered that both the ships were inside the Northern Haaks, about five or six miles from the Texel Island. About a mile from the Grasshopper was the Hero—a complete wreck—lying on her starboard broadside. The ship’s company were all crowded together upon the poop and forecastle; the sea making clean breaches over her. An attempt was made by the crew of the Grasshopper to reach the Hero, but the surf ran so high that it prevented all communication, and they were under the imperious necessity of seeing their comrades perish, without the slightest possibility of being able to render them assistance.
The Hero had hoisted a flag of truce, and fired a gun: in a short time these signals of distress were answered, by several vessels putting out from the Texel to her relief; but owing to the flood-tide, and the strong gale of wind then blowing, the boats were unable to get nearer than three miles.