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Dominique Youx, Intrepid Warrior
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 02, 2017 6:31 pm    Post subject: Dominique Youx, Intrepid Warrior Reply with quote

by Cindy Vallar

. he refused to tell his name, but the sailors knew he was from Saint Domingue. When they wanted him to do something they would yell, ‘Domingue, vous!’ or ‘Dominique, You!’ (de Grummond, 17)


As with many pirates, the Laffites included, Youx’s early life is an enigma. Most resources cite Haiti as his place of birth in 1775. Stanley Clisby Arthur4 is more precise: Port-au-Prince, San Domingo, April 14, 1771. Included in the Laffite family papers that he consulted, one person wrote: “foxy Oncle Youx had the reputation of telling the truth one day but would lie the next.”(Gentleman, 227). He may have gone to France to serve as a gunner in Napoleon’s army. He may have returned to Saint-Domingue in 1802 with General Victor Leclerc. According to a letter in volume five of The Laffite Society Chronicles, one member and his associates located evidence in France placing Dominique, as well as the Laffite brothers, in Baracoa, Cuba in 1798.

Beginning in late 1805, however, Dominique’s name appears in documents housed at the Archives de France in Paris. Records from the prize courts located in the West Indies mention him as the captain of la Superbe, a privateer owned by Monsieur Jacques Plaideau. Youx and fellow corsairs captured three American vessels – Jane, a brigantine, and two schooners, Eliza and Eleanor5 – which were condemned as lawful prizes then sold in Cuba.
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 02, 2017 6:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote



On 27 November 1492, Christopher Columbus discovered a natural harbor on the northeastern coast of Cuba. The Indians called it Baracoa, although the Spanish changed the name to Neustra Señora de la Asunción de Baracoa in 1511 when Diego Veláquez established the island’s first settlement and capital there. Sailors used El Yunque, the anvil-shaped mountain rising 1,885 feet above Baracoa, as a landmark because they could see it from miles away at sea. The city’s remoteness made it difficult to govern the entire island so the capital was moved to Santiago de Cuba. Baracoa’s isolation, however, made it a haven for corsairs and illegal traders. During the Haitian revolution (1791-1803), many citizens fled the French colony for Baracoa. The corsairs, who attacked ships from America and Sweden bound for Saint-Domingue with cargo for the rebels or carrying African slaves, took their captures to Basse-Terre, Guadeloupe or Saint-Domingue. Once the Admiralty courts judged the ships as lawful prizes, the corsairs sent the vessels to Cuba to be sold. Youx sold his prizes in Baracoa.

The next archival mention of Dominique Youx concerns the loss of his privateer, la Superbe, in 1806. According to authorities for the Ministère de la Marine (French Admiralty) in Saint-Domingue, the corsairs captured two prizes (la Vipre6 and the Exchange), but the privateer was so badly damaged in a battle at sea that she sank with the ships’ papers confiscated from the captured vessels. Their loss prevented Youx from proving to the court that they were legitimate prizes. The register containing this information also revealed the following:

. . he and his officers escaped from the disaster to his house in Baracoa . . . he did not know how to sign his name (this information is clearly written in the margin of the document). (Feuillie, 2)
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 02, 2017 6:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote



While the French document doesn’t identify the vessel that attacked Dominique’s ship, the London Gazette7 published the following item from the Admiralty on 27 December 1806.



His Majesty’s Sloop Drake, at Sea,
27th October 1806.

SIR,
I HAVE much Pleasure in reporting to you the Capture of the French Schooner Privateer La Superbe of Fourteen Guns (Two Nine-Pounders and Twelve Six-Pounders) and Ninety-four Men, commanded by M. Dominique Houx, by Lieutenant Fitton in His Majesty’s Schooner Pitt.
This Officer meeting La Superbe off Cape Nicholas Mole on the 24th, after an arduous Chace with Sweeps, got within Gun Shot, and commenced a running Fight, which he continued with little Intermission, and in almost every Direction until the 26th, when at Nine A. M. Cape Maize bearing N. N. W. Six Leagues, they were discovered from the Tops of the Ship I command, and it was then that I witnessed with the greatest Satisfaction a display of Skill and Bravery supported for Four Hours and an Half, which entitles the Parties to the greatest Praise. The Two Schooners within Pistol Shot kept up a constant Fire. La Superbe seeing us to Leeward, made many Manoeuvres to escape, but was as often foiled, Lieutenant Fitton carefully preserving the Weather Gage, and it was not until after a desperate Resistance, until she was in a sinking State, and when our fortunate Leeward Position prevented further flight, that the Frenchman ran his Vessel upon the Rocks in Ocoa Bay and deserted her, accompanied by those of his Men who were not either killed or dangerously wounded in the Action.
I cannot help repeating how much I am gratified in describing the Merits of this Affair, and in thus bearing Testimony to the Credit which Lieutenant Fitton, his Officers and Men have acquired, by the Stile in which they fought and captured this notorious Robber.
In La Superbe’s Hold were found Four Men already dead of their Wounds, and Three whose State affords little Hope; they allow that Fourteen fell in the Action, and from the Appearance of the Decks much Blood must have been shed.
The Pitt has suffered in her Sails and Rigging, and had Two Men badly, and Six slightly wounded; and I am happy to add that we succeeded in getting the Prize off.
I am, &c. (Signed) R. Nicholas
James Richard Dacres, Esq; Vice-Admiral of the White, Commander in Chief, &c. &c. &c. (Issue 15987, 1680-1681)
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 02, 2017 6:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Could Dominique Houx, the notorious French robber, be Dominique Youx? Possibly. He lost la Superbe in a naval battle. Ocoa Bay is part of the Dominican Republic, which was called Santo Domingo at this time, and lies about forty-seven miles west of the capital (also called Santo Domingo), and Youx could have gotten to Saint-Domingue (Haiti) either by going overland or waiting until the coast was clear and hitching a ride on another vessel. Later naval histories, however, identify Dominique Houx as Dominique Diron, “not only a daring and experienced privateersman, but he was a perfect freebooter. He detained American as well as English vessels (two schooners which he had sent into Baracoa were Americans); and, where he wanted a cause to capture, was never without one to pillage. . . . Among the papers found on board the Superbe, was a list of captures, English, Spanish, and American, made by Dominique, to the amount of 147,000L. sterling.” William James’ description, which appears in volume four on page 269 of his Naval History of Great Britain 1793-1827 (1837), might easily describe Dominique Youx, who lost the papers that would identify la Vipre and the Exchange as American.8

On 29 July 1807, Dominique Youx aided Captain Luis Arrúe, in the defense of Baracoa against the British.9 Although the Governor of Jamaica refused to lose men in a fight against the privateers who frequented the Spanish port, Captain Tait of the Royal Navy decided to go against those wishes. He received orders to take the army’s 99th Foot from the Bahamas to Bermuda aboard HMS Chichester, a store-ship. Four officers and eighty-seven men, who had been recuperating at the hospital in Nassau, came aboard, then Tait asked permission from the Governor of the Bahamas to attack Baracoa. He, too, denied the request, but Tait chose not to heed those commands. With the assistance of a privateer, the two ships set sail for Cuba where Tait disembarked his passengers, along with some marines, with orders to capture the battery that prevented the Chichester and privateer from getting too near the port. The soldiers came under heavy fire from nine cannon and a large contingent of infantry. Driven back to the beach, they surrendered because the boats had returned to the Chichester. The captured soldiers spent one month as prisoners until they were exchanged. Thirteen men died in this failed endeavor. Another twenty or so were wounded.
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 02, 2017 6:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In 1810 Dominique learned that a junta had severed ties with the Spanish government in Cartagena de Indias, New Granada. He sailed there and acquired a letter of marque with the signatures of Presidente-Gobernader Manuel Rodriguez Torices and Secretary of War Joseph Axnazola y Vonay. Youx also received a code of conduct that outlined the regulations and rules for privateering.

Although history is mute about the precise date on which Dominique Youx fell in with Jean and Pierre Laffite at Barataria, he enters the archival records of New Orleans in September 1812. The previous month “The Great Louisiana Hurricane of 1812”10 ravaged the city with such force that many residents later compared it to the storms of 1831, 1856, and 1860. An article in the 21 August 1814 issue of the Orleans Gazette recounted:


On Wednesday night last (19th) about 10 o’clock, a gale commenced occasionally accompanied with rain and hail, and which continued with a most dreadful violence for upwards of four hours. As we have never witnessed anything equal to it, neither do we believe the imagination can picture to itself a scene more truly awful and distressing, than that which its consequences present. (Ludlum, 75)


The Louisiana Gazette and New Orleans Advertiser, published the next day, said of the storm:


It would be a vain expectation in any of our readers to suppose any pen capable of giving a faithful picture of the scene exhibited after the tremendous gale of Wednesday night – Tuesday evening was remarkably warm and sultry – Wednesday morning the wind was from the north, the weather very cool for the season, and the horizon covered with dark heavy clouds which indicated a storm; – before eleven o’clock it commenced raining, the wind still at north, and continued with short intervals during the day; at dark the wind (still from the north) began to increase, and the rain fell in torrents, the wind shifting a little to eastward; at half after eleven, wind at ESE, the storm raged with great fury, – and from that to one o’clock, the whole of the damage was sustained. At one o’clock, or soon after, the clouds began to break, and at three o’clock the storm had nearly subsided. (Ludlum, 75)
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 02, 2017 6:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Until recently, however, our knowledge of the storm was scant because news from the War of 1812 eclipsed other events. Dr. Cary Mock, an associate professor at University of South Carolina’s Department of Geography who has studied this particular hurricane, said it “was the closest to the city, passing just to the west. It wasn’t as big as Katrina, but it was stronger at landfall, probably a mid-three or four category hurricane in terms of wind.” Cost comparisons of the damages sustained “would rank [it] among the worst Louisiana hurricanes . . . if it occurred today.” (Office) Le Moniteur de la Louisiane estimated losses at “three million piastres."11 (Ludlum, 75)

Dominique Youx, aboard le Pandoure, noticed “violent winds” and “waves” as he approached the Mississippi on 19 August. The hurricane eventually forced the corsair to seek refuge ashore in the Plaquemines area of Louisiana.


. . . sur le même Jour à quatre-heures de l’après midi la violence du vent le força d’atterrir sur l’habitation de M. Charles Jacob – a environ Quinze ou Seize lieues de la ville; que le vent ayant alors continue à augmenter avec la plus grande violence et les Eaux du fleuve et des lacs voisins s’étant considérablement accrues au point d’avoir huit à dix pieds d’eau environ au dessus de rez de chaussée de la maison du dit Sieur Charles Jacob, Il se refugia avec les Susnommés et la famille du dit Sieur Jacob Sur le Sommet de la dite maison . . .

. . . on this same day at four o’clock in the afternoon the violent winds forced him to land at the residence of Mr. Charles Jacob, situated about fifteen or sixteen leagues from the city; the wind having continued to increase with greater force and the waters of the river and the neighboring lakes were considerably heightened, to the point of having eight to ten feet of water above the ground floor of the house of said Mr. Charles Jacob, He took refuge with the above named and the family of said Mr. Jacob on the summit of the said house . . . 12
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 02, 2017 6:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The estimate of the water being eight to ten feet on land meant the river actually rose at least “17 or 18 feet” because the water level in August was around “10 or 11 feet below the banks.”(Mock, 1659) The Louisiana Courier, another city newspaper, reported:



The levee almost entirely destroyed; the beach covered with fragments of vessels, merchandize, trunks, and here and there the eye falling on a mangled corpse. In short, what a few hours before was life and property, presented to the astonished spectator only death and ruin. (Ludlum, 76)

Nearly all the buildings in the city have suffered more or less; several being half destroyed; a great many made roofless; the market place near the river bank, between St. Ann and Dumaine streets, blown down; a wall of Mr. Coquet’s theatre, carried away; . . . All the vessels in port sustained serious injury; nearly all the street lamps were broken; the United States store-houses, the convent of the Nuns, the barracks, the military hospital, etc. were seriously damaged. Many lives were lost on the river. The country in the vicinity . . . was laid bare and desolate. (Mock, 1660)
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 02, 2017 6:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote



While Captain John Shaw, who commanded the naval station at Fort St. Philip, mentioned the devastation to the city in his 23 August report to Secretary of the Navy Paul Hamilton, his primary concern was for the ships under his command because of the war.


The Brig Enterprize . . . was driven ashore, high & dry . . . without loss of lives, and with little or no injury to her hull: The relaunching of her . . . will . . . be attended with considerable difficulty and consumption of time. The Brig Viper . . . was completely unrigged, and, with the loss of her bowsprit, mainmast, and guns, completely cut-down fore and aft, to her waterways . . . Gun Vessel No. 64, was stranded in Lake Ponchartrain . . . but as she has been forced, by the violence of the tempest, over an extensive level shallow mud bottom, we anticipate much trouble in getting her off again. The Ship Remittance . . . has received but little, or no injury. The Ketch Etna . . . being driven from her position, by several large Merchant vessels, sunk, and had Two men drowned. . . . I feel much anxiety for the fate of the Brig Siren . . . at anchor off Ship-island, as well as for that of the Gun Vessels at, and in the vicinity of, the Bay of St. Louis, and at the Balize; from none of which, have we as yet, had time to receive any intelligence. (Naval)
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 02, 2017 6:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Many other vessels incurred damage, including le Pandoure. Her captain, Dominique Youx, also sustained injuries. An unsigned letter, written to Mayor McRea and dated 23 August 1812, says:


Dear Sir,

The French privateer Pandour, which has weathered the past storm with the loss of her Masts; and whose Capt. has been nearly killed, is now at port Plaquemine. They have made an application to me to obtain the permission to pass the fort and come to town to undergo the necessary repairs.

I request Sir that you have the goodness to send me your written permission which their Doctor is waiting for in my office, to go to the assistance of his Captain. (Dominique)


An inventory of Pandoure, filed a month later, detailed the prizes Youx and his fellow corsairs had seized during their cruise:


Date Prize Value
April 12, 1812 3-masted English ship with 18 carronades bound for Jamaica $92,000
May 1, 1812 2 Spanish schooners bound for St. Iago, Cuba and Europe
3 merchant barques
13,383
2,493

June 29, 1812 Spanish schooner coming from Vera Cruz 8,713
July 21, 1812 English pilot boat bound for Bay of Honduras 2,030
July 24, 1812 Spanish brig bound for Campeche via Havana
Spanish schooner bound for Campeche via Havana
302
800



Youx’s share came to $743.02. The vessels and their cargo, which were valued at $36,921, sold for $20,721.38.
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 02, 2017 6:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This inventory also detailed the privateers’ expenses during this voyage. At Cape Cruz, Cuba, they purchased two cows, bananas, pigs, and eggs for sixty-four dollars.13 Among the items secured at Grande Isle à L’Isle à Breton were medical instruments for fifty-two dollars and provisions that included peas, rum, cheese, ham, and butter. At la Pointe au Sable near la Balize they secured four barrels of tafia or rum.



Sometime between his arrival in New Orleans and 15 October, Dominique’s letter of marque expired. On that date he sold le Pandoure for $7,500. An inventory, dated 17 September and signed by “frederic youx” and the French Consul Laporte, described the schooner as being 126 tons and measuring seventy-five feet from stem to stern and almost twenty-two feet at her widest point. She mounted one 16-pound and six 12-pound carronades, two 8 pounders, and a 9 pounder, while another three 4 pounders were stored in the hold. The arms found on board included pistols, blunderbusses, and cutlasses. Other items included eighty or so cannonballs of various sizes, thirty to forty packages of grapeshot, four barrels of powder and cartridges.

Thereafter Youx was frequently seen in the company of Jean Laffite, Renato Beluche, and Vincent Gambi. Vincent Nolte, a merchant, complained about them.

. . . time and again, seen walking about, publicly, in the streets of New Orleans. They had their friends and acquaintances, their depots of goods, &c., in the city, and sold, almost openly, the wares they had obtained by piracy, particularly English manufactured goods. (Davis, 113)


If Dominique was so recognizable, what did he look like? Jane Lucas de Grummond included the following description in her book on the Baratarians:


Dominique was short, not quite five feet four inches tall. His shoulders, twice as broad as the average man’s, made him seem strong and stubborn as an ox. He was swarthy, with flashing black eyes and a hawk-like nose. Scars from powder burns on the left side of his face made him look ferocious, yet men soon discovered that he was a likable cuss. (5)
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 02, 2017 6:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sometime after the sale of le Pandoure, Youx became captain of le Tigre, also a schooner. Not much is known about the vessel, but accounts of her final voyage exist. At the time she sailed under the colors of Cartagena, which meant Dominique had secured another privateer commission from that fledgling nation’s new government, possibly through Jean Laffite. In May 1814, Youx and his men sailed near the coast of Mexico. Colonel Ellis P. Bean, an American who fought for Mexican independence, wrote his memoirs in 1816. Two years earlier he had been at Nautla, located about seventy-five miles north of Vera Cruz, when two ships approached, one of which was le Tigre.




. . . the other vessel, which I found to be a large brig, came close alongside the schooner, and, hoisting English colors, the fight began between them. The schooner spread her sails, and played around the brig, until she had shot away her mainmast. The brig was then ungovernable. The schooner made off out of gunshot, and then lay to again. The brig sent out two large boats to board the schooner. As they came near, she sunk one of them, and the other was badly shattered. The brig having picked up her men from the wreck, the schooner made off toward New Orleans, and the brig returned a southwest course. (Bean, 95)



Two days later, Bean learned of the presence of a schooner six miles up the coast and that “her deck was covered with men, and she had no masts.” (Bean, 95) This vessel turned out to be Dominique’s schooner. After crippling the British brig and getting away from her, “the crew . . . had got to drinking, and ran her on the shoal which extends out a great distance from shore.” (Bean, 96) The privateers returned to Nautla with Bean and with their assistance, he repaired and made ready a small vessel he had dubbed “the first vessel the Mexican nation ever owned.” (Bean, 95)


. . . in ten days [we] set sail for New Orleans. In thirteen days more I landed safely on Barataria island. (Bean, 96)
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 02, 2017 6:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dominique’s next vessel was a felucca, but the record so far has revealed little of his activities again until 14 September 1814. Eleven days earlier, HMS Sophie, under the command of Captain Nicholas Lockyer, arrived off Barataria.14 He carried four documents for Jean Laffite. The first was a proclamation urging the citizens of Louisiana to rise up in support of the British. The second one promised that if Laffite and the Baratarians ceased their attacks on British and Spanish ships and joined the Royal Army, his rank would be that of captain and the Baratarians would receive land grants. The third document contained orders for Lockyer depending on what Laffite’s response was, while the fourth demanded restitution from the Baratarians for captured prizes or Lockyer would “destroy, to his utmost every vessel there, as well as to carry destruction over the whole place.” (Davis, 169) Laffite duped the British into believing he needed ten days to convince his men to take advantage of their offer. In actuality, he sent the documents to Governor William C. C. Claiborne in New Orleans. Lockyer sailed off, promising to return.


Daniel Todd Patterson


William Jones


Jean Laffite
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 02, 2017 6:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Laffite and the Baratarians offered their prize cargoes for sale through auctions that bypassed customs. Since the U. S. government did not receive the tariffs from this merchandise, some residents considered these men to be pirates and smugglers who should be punished for their crimes. Claiborne was one of these men, but he understood the significance of the information Laffite sent him. Another enemy of the Baratarians was Commodore Daniel Todd Patterson, who assumed command of the New Orleans Naval Station in 1813. Patterson had a thirst for prize money, which the illicit cargoes and ships represented, and he also hated pirates. As a midshipman aboard the USS Philadelphia, he spent three years in captivity when Tripolitan corsairs captured her after she grounded in 1803. On 15 November he wrote to Secretary of the Navy William Jones:


[they] have now arrived to such a pitch of insolence and confidence from their numbers as to set the revenue laws and force at defence, and should they not be soon destroyed, it will be extremely hazardous for an unarmed vessel even American to approach this coast.


Seven days later, he wrote in regards to Laffite and his men:


The honest merchant cannot obtain a livelihood, by his sales while those robbers robe in riches piratically captured on the high seas and brought and sold in face of day in this place. (Davis, 130)


Patterson believed he could destroy the Baratarians, but not until 8 July 1814, did Secretary Jones order him to do just that and sent him the USS Carolina to assist. She arrived in New Orleans in mid-August. When Governor Claiborne received the British documents from Laffite, he called a meeting of those men he sought counsel from on the defense of the city, including Patterson. Claiborne suggested the commodore postpone his attack on Barataria, but Patterson refused on grounds that he could and would not disobey his orders. The majority of men present agreed with Patterson, so the planned attack was put into motion.



On 11 September 1814, Patterson set sail with seventy soldiers aboard the Carolina. Six gun vessels and a tender accompanied the schooner. When lookouts sighted the flotilla on the morning of the sixteenth around 8:30, the Baratarians assumed the British had returned. The privateers and smugglers prepared for a fight until they realized the ships flew the Stars and Stripes. With orders not to fire on American ships and only three cannon to defend the pass permitting entry into Barataria Bay, Dominique and the others had few options – flee into the bayou or submit.15

Although the white flag of surrender, as well as the flags of the United States and Cartagena were flown from one of the privateers in the bay and Patterson acknowledged with a white flag in response, he saw two other privateers torched. Realizing the Baratarians meant to destroy whatever they could, he ordered his men to attack. Dominique tried to flee in his felucca, but American gunboats blocked his escape. One opened fire, forcing the felucca to run aground. He then tried to escape in a pirogue, but the soldiers and sailors captured him and eighty others.
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 02, 2017 6:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In the ensuing week, the Americans ransacked Laffite’s warehouse and searched all their captives, including merchants who happened to be present the day of the attack. They burned forty houses, the warehouses, and signal towers. Although Patterson’s men torched some of the twenty-seven vessels anchored in the bay, he retained the following:




Name Description Owner
Dorada hermaphrodite brig Laffites
Misere


Harlequin pilot boat Laurent Maire
Surprise 90 tons

Petit Milan schooner, 50 tons Vincent Gambi
Fly felucca, 32 tons Laffites
Comet 75 tons
captured prize whose owner had paid her ransom


Moon of November felucca, 15 tons

Amiable Marie
schooner Laffites


The confiscated goods included medicinal herbs, glassware, anchors and other ship’s supplies, wine and spirits, German linen, silk stockings, coffee, cocoa, window glass, flour, spices, cigars, raisins, candles, and chocolate. The raiders also seized in excess of $8,564 in gold, silver, specie, and paper notes. Documents, pertaining to merchants who did business with the Laffites and a list of the signals the Baratarians used to permit a friendly vessel to enter the bay, were also found.

Patterson and his flotilla set sail for New Orleans with their prizes and captives on 23 September. He informed the Secretary of the Navy:


. . . it is a great subject of satisfaction to me to have effected the object of my enterprise; viz. capturing all their vessels in port, and dispersing their band without having one of my brave fellows hurt. (de Grummond, 47)


Once they arrived in the city, Patterson charged the Baratarians with piracy and imprisoned them in the Calaboose behind the Cabildo. Dominique was put in heavy irons. Patterson also filed suit with the court claiming the confiscated ships and goods as prizes so he and his men would receive their shares once these items were condemned and sold at auction. Information gleaned from a private letter and published in the Niles’ Weekly Register on 27 October 1814, estimated the value of the confiscated property at $500,000.
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 02, 2017 6:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote



During grand jury proceedings in October, testimony was given against Dominique. It stated he had taken $6,000 worth of goods, but that he did not take them or the vessel to Cartagena. Other evidence claimed he never displayed a letter of marque from that nation or any other country. The indictment against him was returned on 24 October. But events unfolding outside the court system and influential men contrived to prevent the prosecution of the captured prisoners. Edward Livingston felt the government was responsible for their activities because it failed to deal with their smuggling in a timely manner. He pointed out that they numbered among their contacts many influential people, which when coupled with the social and ethnic divisiveness within the city, might lead to trouble at a time when America could ill afford it. To quiet this unrest, he suggested to President James Madison that he pardon all Baratarians who agreed to help defend the city against a British attack.




After Major General Andrew Jackson’s arrival in New Orleans on 1 December 1814, a handful of men approached him about the prisoners, but he refused to intervene. The legislature passed a resolution requesting the federal court postpone any further trials. It also asked the general to offer amnesty to any man who enlisted during the next thirty days and promised to petition Madison for a full pardon for anyone who served faithfully. Dominique and the other captives were eventually released on 18 December, took oaths of allegiance, and joined the militia. Baratarians who escaped Patterson’s raid also took up arms in defense of the city and Jean Laffite turned over 7,500 flints.

Dominique and Renato Beluche were sent to Fort St. John with orders to defend this approach to the city. The French built the first fortification at the mouth of Bayou St. John at Lake Ponchartrain in 1701 before New Orleans was founded. When the Spanish gained control of Louisiana, they built a larger brick fort on the site. The Baratarians defended this site until they received orders from Jackson on the morning of 28 December.

The British fleet arrived off the Louisiana coast on 9 December. Five days later, under the command of Captain Lockyer of HMS Sophie, enemy forces engaged and defeated five American gunboats on Lake Borgne. On 23 December, the British advanced as far as the Villeré plantation. That night Jackson led a surprise attack against them. After creating a shambles of the British camp and wreaking havoc on their troops, he ordered his men to withdraw to the Rodriguez canal located between the plantations of Macarty and Chalmette.
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