The HMS Levant
and HMS Arethusa
log book contains daily records about the weather, navigation, and incidences that occurred during the commissions of both ships while sailing in the Mediterranean and the English Channel.
This vellum-bound log book (15cm x 19cm) contains 259 pages of tabular data respecting voyages of the HMS Levant (1775-1776, 223 pages) and, beginning in the back of the volume, the HMS Arethusa (1777, 36 pages). Additional pages in the volume are either blank, or contain empty tables. The flyleaf is inscribed with the name of William Browell and with the names of the two ships and their commanders. The flyleaf also includes a pen-and-ink drawing of a man wearing a formal headdress or hairstyle, with curls above the ear and a single ponytail at the nape of the neck.
The HMS Levant and HMS Arethusa log book contains a daily record of locations, movements, sails, surroundings, weather, discipline, and out-of-the-ordinary occurrences. The log keeper recorded data in tables with columns marked "H" (the hour of the day), "K" (speed in knots), "F" (depth of the water in fathoms), "Courses," "Winds," and the date. Details about the positioning of sails, winds, and directional courses are included. Crew discipline is mentioned throughout the text, which involved floggings for reasons of insolence, drunkenness, going ashore without leave, fighting, and neglect of duty.
The HMS Levantlog book spans approximately the first year and a half of the American War of Independence, beginning on Friday, June 23, 1775, and ending on Sunday November 24, 1776. In addition to regular data, the book documents navigational coordinates and landmarks from the ship's travels in the English Channel, North Atlantic Ocean, and Mediterranean Sea, and along the coasts and surrounding islands of England, Portugal, Spain, France, Algeria, and Italy. Noteworthy locations sighted or visited by the Levant include Lizard Point, the Scilly Islands, Lisbon, Cádiz, Gibraltar Bay, Majorca, Marseilles, Sardinia, the Bay of Naples, and Algiers.
From the commencement of the ship's voyage in June until late September, the ship traveled as part of the Mediterranean fleet under the command of Rear Admiral Robert Mann. The Levant log book contains references to Mann's flagship, theMedway, the Royal Oak (under Captain Peter Parker), the Enterprise, the Exeter, the Worcester, the Alarm, and the Zephyr. Early entries of the log book contain some description of pursuing and halting ships from England and America (one from Pennsylvania and one from Maryland). Other ships encountered by the Levant hailed from Amsterdam, Genoa, Martinique, Cádiz, Jamaica, and Antigua. The author also described exercising the ship's guns and practicing tactical fleet formations (forming a line of battle abreast, a line of battle ahead, and the bow and quarter).
On July 13, 1775, the ship's foremast was damaged near the Scilly lighthouse, but was repaired in Gibraltar Bay the following month.
Interactions with other ships, both friend and foe, occur regularly throughout the log. On March 7, 1776, while sailing in Algiers Bay, the sighting of a Dutch Man-of-War was reported: "Sail'd hence the Dutch man of war the garison saluted Capt. Murray with 5 guns at is going on shore, we return'd an equal number. Sent the slaves on shore." The crew of the Levant also encountered the Dey of Algiers who "sent onboard as a Present 3 live Bullocks of sheep with bread & Vegetables to the ship comp'y." (March 7, 1776).
From October 27, 1776 until November 15, 1776 the Levant traveled as part of a convoy with at least three vessels, including the sloop Neptune, theCharles, and theHope. The writer recorded the seizure of an American ship, the Argo, on November 18, 1776. After indicating that a sail was spotted to the southwest, the HMS Levant "spoke the chase and found her to be American ship from Charles Town bound to Bordeaux. Loaded with rices and indigo. Hoisted the boat out and sent it on board of her with the 2nd Lieut who immediately took command of her as a prize."
The HMS Arethusa log book was kept between March 23, 1777 and June 3, 1777. Beginning its journey near Belém Tower in Lisbon, the Arethusa sailed through Cape Roxant and past the Isle of Portland. The volume covers the ship's travels along southern England with a convoy to Spithead Harbour, where the ship remained anchored between April 15, 1777 and May 19, 1777. During its time in harbor, the Arethusa underwent repairs, and its decks were washed in hot vinegar and smoked with charcoal, tobacco, and tar almost daily.
The Arethusa encountered other ships during this time, most of them British. They included the Romney, a ship of the line under Vice Admiral John Montagu, the privateer Terrible, the sloop Hawke, the Centaur, the Invincible, the Brilliant, the Resolution, and the Cameleon. On, April 7, the Arethusa encountered a Dutch ship, and on March 24, a Spanish battle ship.