Monday, February 19, 2007

What happened to Benjamin Franklin Seaver?

There are whole parts of world history that I never learned about in school. I vaguely remember hearing that Simon Bolivar and others who liberated South America from Spanish rule in the 1810's, but I have never looked for or even thought of learning more details.

I knew from my email correspondent that Seaver had served in South america off the coast of Argentina aboard the brig Julieta. So I Googled the string [ julieta "benjamin franklin seaver" ] and found a useful link. One was at which describes the history of the Black Frigate which was the flagship of the Argentine Navy under American-born William Brown. The text includes:

"On 10 March 1814 the Hercules, joined by the Julieta, the Tortugas, the Fortunata and the felucca San Luis, faced the strong Spanish naval fleet commanded by Captain Jacinto de Romarate. The Spanish armada had six war ships, brigs, gunboats and a land battery with four cannons. There was a fierce combat after which the Hercules was stranded. American-born officer Benjamin Franklin Seaver, commander of the Julieta, was killed in action. The Hercules defended herself until 12 March at 10 AM. As a result of this combat Commander Elias Smith, Lieutenant Robert Stacy and forty-five sailors were killed by grapeshot. There were about fifty wounded, which imposed a heavy task for the surgeon Bernard Campbell. The flagship received no less than eighty-two cannon blows and was repaired in the same war zone. Plumb plates were placed under the water line and the hull covered with leathers and tar. Henceforth it was nicknamed as 'the Black Frigate'. Richard Baxter, an English-born officer, was appointed as the new commander. On 17 March 1814 Brown attacked the island Martín García together with the Julieta and the Zephir. The Hercules engaged in combat with the Spanish warships Esperanza and Carmen. "

Read the whole article, because it sheds light on what happened in South America in the decade of the 1810's. William Brown was a swashbuckling captain and Admiral - see his Wikipedia entry at

It must have been an interesting life for my cousin Benjamin Franklin Seaver (1780-1814). He lost his father as a youth; sailed the world, was thrown in prison in France, shipwrecked off Morocco, held for ransom and tried to escape from the Moors, and ransomed as a young man in his 20's; and died off Argentina in 1814 while fighting for freedom in his 30's. He must have sent letters to his family in Boston, but they are probably lost to time. This life story is one that should be told in more detail.

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