Peter' s new ship, The Ormen, received its baptism of fire not from a hostile enemy but from an ally. As the ship sailed passed Sponviken the Hessian who manned the guns of the fort demanded the captain drop anchor and come ashore with his papers. Peter Wessel was furious and refused ! The Hessians then started taking pot - shots at his ship, which injured a few sailors, and damaged some riggings. Peter in the middle of their barrage launched his boat and came ashore. Once Peter hit the beach he went right after the Hessian lieutenant and screamed bloody murder at him. After hearing Peter's ranting, the lieutenant sent his soldiers back to their posts. Peter then went back to his ship and sailed off. When Admiral Lovendal heard of this incident he just laughed and said, " Our navy needs a thousand more just like him ! "
Back at sea Peter used his new vessel to ply the waters of Bohulsen, spying on the Swedish fleet, and watching the movement of ships, and occasionally picking up some local fisherman to interrogate for information. This vital information was quickly passed on to Admiral Lovendal in Christiana. Sometimes the Ormen would capture a Swedish barge carrying produce, or other goods, and then the captain and crew would share in the prize money. The Ormen was also used at this time for convoy duty, and because of its speed was used to protect the stragglers who could not keep up.
On January 6, 1712, with the help of a Swede who had a pistol pointed at his head, the Ormen entered the Goteborg Fjord. Flying a Dutch flag, ( Holland was a neutral country at this time ), Peter was able to sail easily past the guns of Nya Alvsborg. In the middle of the channel lay at anchor an 18 gun frigate, which acted as a guard ship. To complete the deception Peter and his lieutenant Koch communicated only in Dutch and made sure that the crew of the frigate clearly heard them. Using a telescope Peter surveyed the fjord, and noticed ships of the line anchored a short ways off, and some frigates that were being made ready to sail. Peter noted all of this down in his log, so that it could be later relayed to the Danish / Norwegian Admiralty.
After he was done spying on his Swedish enemies he noticed a lot of activity on the guardship frigate. It was apparent that they had grown suspicious of this little " Dutch " ship, and were getting ready to sail after her. When the frigate opened her starboard gunports and ran out her guns Peter knew they had worn out their welcome. Peter had his rear gun loaded and made ready to fire. He also had his ship made ready to sail quickly out of the fjord. Remember, back then this was a slow process, and it took time to raise the anchor and raise the sails. For them, in the 1700's this was high tech, but to us in our modern age it seems like slow motion ! Peter knew that it would take longer for the frigate to get under way, and he also had done, "soundings", ( to determine depth ), and also knew that the shallow waters would favor his tiny ship over that of a heavy frigate. Suddenly a shot rang out from one of the frigate's smaller top guns. It was only a blank warning shot, but Peter felt it came from a 12 pounder which could do serious damage to his little ship, if it was loaded with solid shot.
Then, at Peter's command, his men raised the Danish flag, and the Ormen gave the frigate a parting shot with its 4 pounder. Peter was thumbing his nose, if you will, at the Swedish frigate as he high - tailed it out of there. The frigate's captain was not an amateur, however, and made a very fast 90 degree turn and sent a full broadside at the much smaller Ormen. The gunners, however, had forgotten to lower the angle of the guns, and the shot flew well over the much lower Ormen. By the time they reloaded the Ormen, a much faster ship, was out of range. Peter sent the information he had gathered to Admiral Lovendal as soon as he made it to a friendly port.
Peter's daring spying did not go unnoticed by the Danish / Norwegian Admiralty. Knowing the exact location of ships and if they were at sea or anchored in port was vital information to the Danish / Norwegian war effort. In June of 1712, Admiral Lovendal promoted Peter and gave him command of the 18 gun frigate Lovendals Gallei. Yes, it was named after the admiral, which tells me that Lovendal must really have trusted Peter Wessel, and had great faith in his abilities as a fighting commander. A whole new chapter was opening up in Peter's career !
Next : Peter Wessel : Frigate Captain
Go with Odin's wisdom, Freyja's love, and Thor's protection !