Royal Naval Biography/Losack, Woodley

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WOODLEY LOSACK, Esq.
[Post-Captain of 1806.]

Brother of Admiral George Losack. This officer was made a Lieutenant in 1793; and held the temporary command of the Jason frigate in the spring of 1801. On the 1st May, same year, he captured la Dorade, French brig privateer, mounting 14 brass 6-pounders, with a complement of 53 men. The manner in which he obtained a Commander’s commission, when serving as first Lieutenant of Admiral Cornwallis’s flag-ship, has been sufficiently noticed in our memoir of the gallant Captain Keith Maxwell[1].

On the 5th June, 1805, Captain Losack, then commanding the Helena sloop of war, on the Irish station, captured, after an action of 15 minutes, the Santa Leocadia, Spanish ship privateer, pierced for 20 guns, mounting 14 nine-pounders, with a complement of 114 men. His post commission bears date, Jan. 22, 1806.

In the autumn of 1810, Captain Losack was appointed to the Galatea of 42 guns, which ship formed part of the squadron under Captain Charles Marsh Schomberg, in an action with three French frigates, off Madagascar, May 20, 1811; The following is a statement of the loss and damages which she sustained on that occasion, viz. Lieutenant Hugh Peregrine, R.M. and 15 men, either killed outright or mortally wounded; Captain Losack, Lieutenant Henry Lewis, R.M. and 17 men severely; and her first Lieutenant (Mr. Thomas Bevis), 2 Midshipmen (Messrs. Henry Williams and Alexander Henning), 21 men, and 3 boys, slightly wounded. Fore and mizen-topmasts shot away, the bowsprit, foremast, main-yard, and maintop-mast badly wounded; all the other masts more or less injured, the standing and running rigging cut to pieces; one boat destroyed by a shot when in the act of receiving a tow rope, and another cut adrift whilst towing astern; 55 shot-holes in her hull, her stern much shattered, and nearly four feet water in her hold.

On the 31st of Oct. 1812, Captain Losack, then on his return to England, in company with two South Sea whalers which he had taken under his protection at the island of Ascension, fell in with the President and Congress, American frigates, and, strange to say, they allowed him to escape without making any strenuous effort to bring his ship to action. The Galatea was, at that time, 93 men short of complement, so that an action with even the smallest of the enemy’s ships would pot have been desirable on the part of Captain Losack; but the conduct of Commodore Rodgers is quite inexplicable. One of the whalers was unfortunately intercepted when endeavouring to get to leeward of the Americans; the other effected her escape.

In consequence of an implied charge of misconduct, contained in Captain Schomberg’s public letter respecting the action off Madagascar, the subject of this sketch, on his arrival in England, demanded a court-martial, which the Board of Admiralty did not think proper to grant; and we shall therefore merely state that Captain Losack was continued in the command of the Galatea until the conclusion of the war. A copy of Captain Schomberg’s official despatch will be found at p. 833, et seq. of Vol. II. Part II; and a long account of the action is given by Mr. James, in his Naval History, edit. 2nd, Vol. VI. pp. 22–38.

Captain Losack married, first, March 16, 1809, a Miss Gordon, who died in 1815; and 2dly, Aug. 23, 1823, the widow of Captain Edward L. Crofton, R.N. C.B.

Agent.– A. C. Marsh, Esq.