HMS Hussar was an Enterprise Class, 28 gun, 6th rate frigate built under contract for the Royal Navy by Francis Wilson at his shipyard in Sandgate, near Folkestone in Kent. The Enterprise class were a group of 27 small sailing frigates designed by John Williams, 14 of which were built in Kent shipyards, including the lead ship of the class, HMS Enterprise, built at the Deptford Royal Dockyard. See here for the story of HMS Enterprise: http://www.kenthistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=16490
The 6th rate was the smallest of the Royal Navy's rated ships and were the smallest ships which would normally be commanded by an officer with the rank of Captain.
HMS Hussar was ordered from the shipyard of Francis Wilson at Sandgate on 26th March 1782. At the time the ship was ordered, the American War of Independance was at it's height and was not going well for the British. The war on the American mainland was lost with the surrender of General Lord Cornwallis and his army at Yorktown, after the Royal Navy had failed to secure the entrance to Chesapeake Bay, leaving Cornwallis and his army surrounded with no chance of relief. By the time Francis Wilson and his men laid her keel in June 1782, Rodney and Hood had ended French ambitions in the Caribbean with their victories over the Compte de Grasse at the Battles of the Saintes and Mona Passage. HMS Hussar was launched into the English Channel with her hull complete on Wednesday 1st September 1784. By this time, the war for which she had been built was over and HMS Hussar was surplus to requirements. After her launch, she was taken to the Royal Dockyard at Deptford, arriving there on 4th September, and was fitted for the Ordinary. This involved the construction of a roof over her upper decks. The new frigate was then moored in the Thames off the Royal Dockyard at Deptford where she remained for the next four and a half years.
For much of 1790, Britain and Spain were on the brink of war in what is now known as the Spanish Armaments Crisis. This occurred when Britain and Spain became embroiled in a dispute as a result of the British building a trading settlement at Nootka Sound on Vancouver Island, off the west coast of modern day Canada. This was in defiance of a Spanish territorial claim over the entire western coastline of both American continents. The dispute was eventually settled peacefully, after the new Revolutionary Government in France refused to become involved, deciding that it had enough problems of its own without getting involved in a protracted and costly war with the British. In the meantime, the Royal Navy had learned the lessons of the American War of Independance for which it had been woefully unprepared. During 1790, the Royal Navy had been mobilised for war.
In May 1790, HMS Hussar was taken into the Royal Dockyard at Deptford and was fitted for sea as part of the Royal Navy's mobilisation for the seemingly imminent war with the Spanish. This entailed the fitting of her guns, masts and rigging. This process was completed on 30th June 1790 at a cost of £3,547. The ship commissioned under Captain Eliab Harvey. HMS Hussar was Captain Harvey's first command appointment as a captain. His previous appointment had been in command of the 14 gun brig-sloop HMS Otter and this had ended in March 1783, when that vessel had been paid off at the end of the American War of Independence. Initially appointed to HMS Otter as Master and Commander, he had been promoted to captain in January 1783, but after that vessel had been paid off, he had not received another appointment in the Royal Navy until he was ordered to commission HMS Hussar more than seven years later. In the meantime, he had been 'on the beach' on half pay, but had otherwise been a free agent.
When she was finally ready for sea, HMS Hussar was a ship of 596 tons. She was 120ft 6in long on her gundeck and 33ft 8in wide across her beam. She was armed with 24 9pdr long guns on her gundeck, 4 6pdr long guns and 4 18pdr carronades on her quarterdeck, with 2 6pdr long guns and 2 18pdr carronades on her forecastle. In addition to these, she was also fitted with 12 half-pounder swivel guns dotted around her upper decks and in her fighting tops. She was manned by a crew of 200 officers, men and boys.
Enterprise Class sheer plan and lines:
Enterprise Class Orlop deck plan:
Enterprise Class lower deck plan:
Enterprise Class gundeck plan:
Enterprise Class quarterdeck and forecastle deck plan:
Enterprise Class internal profile:
A model of HMS Enterprise. HMS Hussar was identical:
A painting of the official Admiralty shipwrights model of HMS Enterprise, showing her frames, as seen from the bow. HMS Hussar was identical:
A painting of the official Admiralty shipwrights model of HMS Enterprise, showing her frames, as seen from the stern. HMS Hussar was identical:
On commissioning, HMS Hussar was sent to the Mediterranean in order to 'show the flag' as part of the build-up of the fleet in preparation for the seemingly imminent war with Spain.
In February 1791, Captain Harvey was replaced in command of HMS Hussar by Captain Henry Trollope. Harvey was not to receive another appointment until 1793 when he took command of the ex-Spanish 36 gun frigate HMS Santa Margarita which had been captured and taken into Royal Navy service during the American War of Independence in 1779. Eliab Harvey was later to become famous as the commander of the 98 gun 2nd rate ship of the line HMS Temeraire and was knighted for his actions in command of that ship, now known as 'The Fighting Temeraire', during the Battle of Trafalgar. Captain Trollope's previous appointment had been in command of the ex-French 38 gun frigate HMS Prudente, another vessel captured during the American War of Independence and taken into Royal Navy service.
Captain Trollope remained in command until April 1792, when he was replaced by Captain Rupert George. Captain George's previous appointment had been in command of HMS Hussar's sister-ship HMS Thisbe. On 6th April 1792, HMS Hussar departed the Mediterranean for Newfoundland where she was to join the squadron there.
In February 1793, France declared war on Britain. On 19th March 1795, Captain George was replaced by Captain Charles Wemyss. He would only remain in command for three momths until he in turn was replaced by Captain John Poo Beresford. HMS Hussar was his first appointment after promotion to Captain. His previous appointment had been as master and commander in the 16 gun ship-sloop HMS Lynx.
On 17th May 1795, HMS Hussar was in company with the 18 pounder armed 36 gun frigate HMS Thetis under Captain the Honourable Alexander Cochrane. The two British frigates were stationed off Chesapeake Bay waiting to intercept three French store-ships, then laying in American territorial waters in Hampton Roads. At daybreak, they spotted five large ships to the north west. These turned out to be the large 'en flute' armed French frigates Normande, Trajan, Prevoyante, Hernoux and Raison. The term 'en flute' means a warship with some of it's armament removed to make room for cargo. The French ships formed a line of battle and at 10:30am, hoisted French colours. In addition, the second ship in the French line hoisted a Commodore's broad pennant.
Captain Cochrane ordered HMS Hussar to attack the front two French ships, while he engaged the largest ship, in the middle of the French line. By 11am, HMS Hussar had forced the two French ships at the head of the line to turn and run, so Captain Beresford took his ship to join HMS Thetis in the attack on the middle ship and the two in the rear. By 11:45, the centre ship surrendered after having lost her main and fore masts in the action. The other two ships also attempted to flee, but were chased and caught by HMS Hussar, which captured one of them, the Raison. During the action, HMS Hussar suffered casualties of three men wounded.
The action against the French storeships:
That was the last time HMS Hussar saw any action. On 27th December 1796, HMS Hussar was wrecked near Ile Bas on the northern coast of Brittany. All her crew were saved.