Schooner Dart journal, 1812
Using These Materials
- The collection is open for research.
- The Schooner Dart Journal documents the voyage of an American privateering vessel under the command of Master Thorndike Symonds from July 16, 1812, to August 8, 1812. The schooner departed from Salem, Massachusetts, and stopped at Cape Sable Island, Nova Scotia, before ranging along the Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts coasts in search of British prizes. The journal's author notes wind and weather conditions, places passed, and encounters with other ships, which were principally American privateers, merchant vessels, and fishermen.
- 1 volume
- Collection processed and finding aid created by Jayne Ptolemy, February 2022
- Scope and Content:
The Schooner Dart Journal documents the voyage of an American privateering vessel under the command of Master Thorndike Symonds from July 16, 1812, to August 8, 1812. The schooner departed from Salem, Massachusetts, and stopped at Cape Sable Island, Nova Scotia, before ranging along the Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts coasts in search of British prizes. The journal's author notes wind and weather conditions, places passed, and encounters with other ships, which were principally American privateers, merchant vessels, and fishermen.American privateers named in the volume include:
- Nancy out of Portsmouth, New Hampshire
- Wild Robin out of Boston, Massachusetts
- Regulator out of Salem, Massachusetts
Notes about the various ships' homeports and purposes provide insight into the maritime activity in the region. On July 23, three crewmembers from the Dart were placed aboard the brig George. On July 25, upon encountering the schooner Five Sisters, previously captured by the Maidstone, the Dart took on her prize master and prisoners and sent aboard a new prize master and three crewmembers to take the captured vessel to Salem. The entry for July 25 also notes that the Regulator captured a fishing schooner within sight of the Dart, but the Maidstone had already taken it. News about English cruisers driving ashore American privateers in the region of St. Andrews was recorded on July 30.
The journal's passages also illuminate some of privateers' daily operations, including brief comments on food and drink, examining ships' paperwork, taking stock of water and arms onboard, and hiring pilots to aid navigation.
Thorndike Symonds signed the final page of the journal on August 12, 1812, swearing before Salem's collector William W. Oliver that it was a "full, just and true account of all the transactions on board said privateer during her late Cruise."
A note written on March 22, 1895, by A. F. Hitchings, Deputy Collector, appears on the last page, stating the Dart's tonnage, Thorndike Symonds' command, and the schooner's owners. Hitchings' stamp also appears on the front cover.
- Biographical / Historical:
In June of 1812, the War of 1812 broke out between the United States and Great Britain and brought armed conflict on land and sea. The United States complemented its formal naval power with the use of privateers, privately owned merchant ships that received commissions from the federal government authorizing them to engage in maritime warfare, including the taking of foreign vessels as prizes. Captured ships and their cargos were sold and the proceeds distributed among those associated with the privateering vessels.
Several privateers, both American and British, operated under the name Dart during the War of 1812. The schooner Dart documented in this journal was a 20-ton vessel built in Newburyport in 1792. On July 14, 1812, it was commissioned with James Stevens, John Waters, Nathaniel Gerry, Joshua Grant, Jacob Kimball, James Very, George Smith, John Sleeper, Nathaniel Sleeper, John Chandler, Joanna Caldwin, Jonathan Hazelton, Joseph Symonds, and Ebenezer Symonds as owners and Thorndike Symonds as master. Benjamin Daniels served as the First Lieutenant, and they sailed with a 30-person crew.
Over the course of the year, the Dart changed ownership several times and received three additional commissions: On August 22 with John Green, Jr., as master; on October 7 with Abner Poland as master; and November 14 with William Davies as master. The Dart was lost on December 5, 1812, in Townsend Bay, having taken three prizes during its service. Notably, this schooner is distinct from the 44-ton schooner Dart of Portland, Maine, under the command of John Curtis, which sailed during the same period.
Thorndike Symonds of Salem, Massachusetts, was the master of the Dart during its cruise from July 16 to August 8, 1812. A Captain Thorndike Symonds, possibly the same as the master of the Dart, died at sea in 1815.
Abijah Frank Hitchings was born in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1841 to Abijah Hitchings and Eliza (Treadwell) Hitchings. During the Civil War, he enlisted as a private in Company J of the 8th Massachusetts Infantry in April 1861, and he also served with Company H of the 19th Massachusetts Infantry. He was wounded at Fredericksburg, Virginia, on December 13, 1862. Following the war, he married Ann E. Lewis. He was appointed an inspector of customs at Salem, Massachusetts, in 1873, and he worked in various roles as collector and inspector for the rest of his career. He was active with the Essex Institute, and in 1906 he worked with Stephen Willard Phillips on Ship Registers of the District of Salem and Beverly, Massachusetts, 1789-1900, which was published by the Institute and includes an entry for the Dart. Hitchings died of chronic bronchitis on May 19, 1910.
- Acquisition Information:
- 2005. M-4492 .
The collection is a single bound volume.
- Rules or Conventions:
- Finding aid prepared using Describing Archives: A Content Standard (DACS)
- Additional Descriptive Data:
Abijah Frank Hitchings, [Scrapbook of mounted newspaper clippings, announcements, invitations, tickets, etc.], Abijah Frank Hitchings, Essex County Ship Registers, 1883, Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum.
Dart (Schooner) Privateering Journal, 1812, Log 1075, Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum.
"Abijah Hitchings," Massachusetts, U.S., Death Records, 1841-1915 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2013.
"Abijah Hitchings," U.S., Register of Civil, Military, and Naval Service, 1863-1959 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014.
Journal of the Forty-fifth Annual Encampment Department of Massachusetts Grand Army of the Republic, Faneuil Hall, Boston, Mass., April 5 and 6, 1911 with Address of Granville C. Fiske, Department Commander, Reports of Other Department Officers, General Orders, Etc. Boston: Wright & Potter Printing Co., 1911.
Kert, Faye M. Privateering: Patriots and Profits in the War of 1812. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 2015. In particular, her online appendix "American Privateers and Letters of Marque" lists out particulars for various privateers named Dart. https://jhupbooks.press.jhu.edu/public/books_pdfs/kert_privateering_appendix_2_-table.pdf
Perley, Sidney. The History of Salem, Massachusetts: 1626-1637 . Salem: 1924.
Ship Registers of the District of Salem and Beverly, Massachusetts, 1789-1900. Salem: Essex Institute, 1906.
The United States Treasury Register, Containing a List of Persons Employed in the Treasury Department... 1877. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1877.
Vital Records of Salem, Massachusetts, To the End of the Year 1849. Volume III, -- Marriages. Salem: Essex Institute, 1924.
Click on terms below to find any related finding aids on this site.
Fishing--Atlantic Coast (New England)
Privateering--United States--History--19th century.
- Journals (accounts)
Hitchings, A. Frank.
Maine--History--War of 1812.
Massachusetts--History--War of 1812.
United States--History--War of 1812--Naval operations.