Royal Naval Biography/Rainier, Peter

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A Companion of the Most Honorable Military Order of the Bath.
[Post-Captain of 1806.]

This officer obtained post rank, Jan. 17, 1806; his proceedings at Batavia in Oct. following are thus described by himself, in an official letter addressed to Rear-Admiral Sir Thomas Troubridge, Bart, commander-in-chief in the Eastern Seas:–

H.M.S. Caroline, off Batavia, Oct. 19, 1806.

“On the morning of the 18th instant, I captured a small brig from Bantam, and learnt that the Phoenix, a Dutch frigate of 36 guns, was undergoing repairs at Onroost. It appearing to me that she might be brought out, I was making the best of my way there, when between Middleby and Amsterdam islands, I discovered two men of war brigs at anchor, one of which I captured, the other made her escape by being too close in shore for us to pursue her; the captured brig was the Zeerop of 14 guns commanded by Captain Groot. Whilst taking possession of her, I observed the Phoenix slip from Onroost and run for Batavia road. From the officers of the Zeerop we gained intelligence, that the Maria, a Dutch frigate, was lying in the roads, manned from the shore, being aware of our approach. A short time after I observed her, and likewise the William sloop of war, with the brig that before escaped us.

“As I distinctly made out the frigate to be the largest ship in the road, I ran for her with springs on both cables; the enemy commenced firing at us as soon as we were within gun-shot, which was not returned till we came as close as the wind would allow us, which was within half-pistol-shot, when we opened our fire. The action continued about half an hour, when the enemy hauled down her colours. On boarding, she proved to be the Dutch republican frigate Maria Reygersbergen, of 36 guns, 18-pounders on the main-deck, and 270 men, commanded by Captain Jager, second in command. The Maria was launched in 1300, and is a fast sailing ship. We had to encounter, besides the frigate, the William of 20 guns, Patriot 18, and Zeeplong 14, with several gun-boats; and there were thirty gunboats lying in shore, which did not attempt to come out. I beg leave to state, that when the action commenced we were short of complement, by men away in prizes, sick at hospitals, &c. 57 in number.

“I am sorry to say that it was not in my power to capture either Phoenix, William, Patriot, or Zeeplong, as H.M.S. Caroline and the Maria were after the action in four fathoms water, and surrounded by many dangerous shoals. Whilst running out of the roads I observed the Phoenix, with the vessels above mentioned, and all the Dutch merchant ships run on shore.

“I have not been able to get a correct account of the killed and wounded on board the prize, but from the surgeon’s report they had 50 killed and wounded[1].”

On the 27th. Jan. 1807, Captain Rainier discovered a strange sail in the neighbourhood of the Phillippine islands, and immediately bore up in chase of her. When nearly within gunshot, she hoisted Spanish colours and fired a gun to windward. As the Caroline approached, the enemy was taken aback with the land wind, and having studding-sails set on both sides, Captain Rainier got close alongside before she could take them in; when either from temerity, or not knowing the force of her opponent, she commenced firing, and it was not until 27 of her crew were killed and wounded, that she hauled down her colours. She proved to be the St. Raphael (alias Pallas), Spanish register ship, belonging to the Philippine company, mounting 16 guns, with a complement of 97 men, having on board 500,000 dollars in specie, and 1700 quintals of copper, besides a valuable cargo. In securing this rich prize the Caroline had 7 men wounded.

In Nov. 1813, we find Captain Rainier commanding the Niger, a 38-gun frigate, and capturing the Dart, American letter of marque, pierced for 16 guns, but only 6 mounted, from New Orleans bound to France. On the 6th Jan. 1814, he assisted at the capture of la Ceres, French frigate, of 44 guns and 324 men, after a long and anxious chase, in the neighbourhood of the Cape de Verd islands[2]. He was nominated a C.B. in 1815.

Agents.– Messrs. Maude.

  1. The Caroline was an 18-pounder frigate, mounting 42 guns, and had on board 204 men and boys, 3 of whom were killed, 6 mortally and 12 slightly wounded. Four Dutch prisoners, confined in the hold, were also slain by the Maria’s fire.
  2. See Captain Philip Pipon.