Incredibly, two paintings depicting the Battle of West Kay off St. Thomas are being offered at auction today at Brunn Rasmussen, Auctioneers of Fine Art.
Former Governor, Captain Carl V. Jessen received the golden sword of honor for bravery from King Christian VII for his efforts to fight the British during this battle.
The Battle of West Kay
In March 1801, there was a report in St. Croix that the English had fitted out a fleet to occupy the Danish West Indies.
The Governor of these islands at the time, who was then residing in St. Croix, sent the brig Lougen, under Lieutenant Captain Carl Jessen, together with the schooner Vigilant, over to St. Thomas to get further information about these hostile rumors.
On the way over, the two Danish vessels discovered two English battleships and Captain Jessen ordered the Vigilant to keep at a distance in order to be able to go back to St. Croix to report if the English attacked.
And so it happened.... while Captain Jessen was approaching St. Thomas, the two English frigates came right up to him, the one was the HMS Arab, 26 guns, the other, a British privateer, Experiment.
Without warning, the Arab fired three sharp shots, but Captain Jessen was prepared and answered back. Shortening sail and proceeding slowly to St. Thomas, he kept firing at the two enemies as he was returning to St. Thomas' harbor.
Experiment then joined Arab in the attack on Lougen, with the two British ships sandwiching the Danish ship. The battle lasted for over an hour.
Captain Jessen steered close to the battery at Fort Christian for protection with the hopes that they could offer assistance.
Just then, a shot from Captain Jessen's vessel hit the side of the Arab which loosened its anchor from the side and by "falling into the sea, anchored the ship there".
The Vigilant's Escape
The other English vessel, the Experiment, pursued the Vigilant to St. Croix, but so swift was the Vigilant, that she reached St. Croix safety with the report of the battle.
Captain Jessen also arrived safely in St. Thomas, where he was "enthusiastically received by the people, who from on shore, had witnessed the fight". Captain Jessen was afterwards presented with a golden sword of honor for his bravery.
Famous in Danish History
But Captain Jessen was to make his name still more famous in Danish history.
In 1822, he was made a Rear-Admiral and shortly after appointed Governor of the Danish West Indies. He died in St. Thomas the following year, 1833.
For the centennial of this naval engagement between the English and the Danish warships, the national flag was hoisted on all the flag posts in the Danish West Indies in 1901.
Later, the gravesite of Captain Jessen was beautifully decorated with wreaths and flowers as many stopped by to visit in solemn remembrance of this brave hero.
In just a few hours, the two treasured paintings depicting this memorable moment in Virgin Islands history will have a new home.
Here is a direct link to the auction ==> http://bit.ly/2gzlGRX
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