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Cutter fames Madison captures

The armed British Brig Shamrock, 23 July 1812

Diligence is believed to have been a 70-plus foot, two-masted schooner, probabry similar to the Revenue Cutter James Madison, depicted here.

Homeported in Wilmington, North Carolina, Diligence sank near Ocracoke Inlet in a hurricane at the end of the 1806 survey.

(left) The Governor Williams was a 52-foot, lateen-rigged galley built to protect the coast of North Carolina during the Quasi- “Wtir with France.

It was transferred to the Revenue Marine in 1802. It also sank during the 1806 hurricane.

assigned to the Customs Collection Station at Portsmouth, North Carolina.

Her main mission was to ensure chat ships using Ocracoke Inlet paid customs duties. N evertheless, because the Revenue Marine fell under the purview of the

Treasury Department, the Governor Williams was ideally situated to assist with the coast survey.

The cutter got underway on 24 June for Cape Hatteras, under the command of Captain Alexander Henderson,

with eight crewmen and Coles and Price aboard. Over the next two weeks, they recorded soundings and charted the location of various shoals and channels in the area.

Farther offshore, they determined the location of the G ulf Scream.

W hile they were thus employed, Tatham traveled to Beaufort, where he met the second cutter assigned to chem, the Diligence.

The few Coast G uard records concerning the Diligence give only fo ur fac ts: she entered service in 1803, she cost just over $5,000 to build, she was the third cutter to bear that name, and she would be sunk by a hurricane in 1806.

Historians suggest that she was similar to other cutters builr at the time in the region-likely a two-masted schooner between seventy and eighty feet.

Tatham got underway in the Diligence, planning to chart the shoals near Cape Lookout, but the weather would not cooperate.

H e was forced to work close to shore, as best he could, with a whaleboat. On 4 July Coles and Price met up with Tatham in Beaufort.

Tatham’s description of the decision taken at that meeting reinfo rces the group dynamics that had formed:

“They now found it convenient to determine, by a majority of votes, that the cutter resigned to me was requisite for proceeding on the part of the employment that they had taken to themselves; and I was left with the whale boat only.”

2 Coles and Price departed with both cutters to continue their work near Cape Lookout,

plus survey the coast to the entrance of Cape Fear and examine the characteristics and location of Frying Pan Shoals.

While repeated gales had already limited some of the commissioners’ work,

the first true hurricane of the season struck on 22 August.

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