Lossing's Field Book of the Revolution, Vol. II., Supplement I.










With an exposed coast many hundred miles in extent, and not a single armed vessel upon the waters, the American colonists boldly defied Great Britain, whose navy was then, as now, the right arm of its puissance. Although a few sons of wealthy planters and merchants had been schooled in the royal navy, and many American seamen had become somewhat expert in naval warfare, while opposing the French during twenty years antecedent to the Revolution, yet when the storm burst forth, and the wise men of the continent gathered together in council, they saw no efficient material for organizing a marine force, and so they directed all their earliest efforts toward the establishment and support of an army.

The battle at Lexington was the signal for British depredations along the New England coasts, and soon private vessels, manned with patriot volunteers, and armed as circumstances would allow, were seen in opposition. When intelligence of the affair at Lexington reached Machias, in Maine, where a British armed schooner (the Margaretta) was engaged with two sloops in procuring lumber, a party of young men attempted her capture, while the officers were at church, on shore. They seized one of the sloops, chased the schooner out of the harbor, and after a severe conflict [May 11, 1775.], compelled her to surrender. About twenty on each side were lost in this first naval engagement of the Revolution. The commander of the sloop was Jeremiah O’Brien. 1 He soon afterward captured two small English cruisers, made the crews prisoners, and took them to Watertown, where the Provincial Congress of Massachusetts was in session. That body now turned attention to a coast marine, to intercept English transports bringing supplies for the British troops, and gave O’Brien a captain’s commission, and employment in that service. In retaliation for his exploits, and others of a similar character, Admiral Graves sent an expedition to burn Falmouth (now Portland), in Maine. 2 This event led to the establishment of a Board of Admiralty by the government of Massachusetts, on the tenth of November, 1775.

Early in the autumn of 1775, the attention of the Continental Congress was directed to the subject of a navy. Before any definite action had been taken, Washington fitted out five or six armed vessels at Boston, and these were cruising on the New England coast as privateers. On the thirteenth of October, Congress resolved that "a swift-sailing vessel, to carry ten carriage guns, and a proportionate number of swivels, with eighty men," should be fitted out for a cruise of three months eastward, for the purpose of intercepting British transports. Another with fourteen guns, and a proportionate number of swivels and men, was ordered, and Silas Deane, John Langdon. and Christopher Gadsden, were appointed a committee to direct naval affairs. On the thirtieth of the same month, it was resolved to fit out two more vessels, one of twenty, and the other of thirty-six guns, and Stephen Hopkins, Joseph Hewes, Richard Henry Lee, and John Adams, were added to the naval committee. On the thirteenth of December [1775.] Congress ordered the construction of thirteen additional vessels of war, 4 and the "Marine Committee," as it was termed, was increased so as to consist of one member from each colony, to be appointed by ballot. 5 This committee possessed very little executive power. Naval subjects were generally referred to it, when the committee examined them and reported thereon to Congress, where the administrative power was held. The committee appointed all officers below the rank of third lieutenant, and had the general control, under the immediate sanction of Congress, of all the naval operations. Want of professional skill made their duties very vexatious, and often inefficient. Congress finally resolved [Nov. 6, 1776.] to select three persons well skilled in maritime affairs to execute the business of the navy, under the direction of the "Marine Committee," 6 and these composed the "Continental Navy Board, or Board of Assistants to the Marine Committee," which remained in active operation until October, 1779, when a "Board of Admiralty" was established [Oct. 28.]. This board consisted of "three commissioners not members of Congress, and two members of Congress; any three to form a board for the dispatch of business, to be subject, in all cases, to the control of Congress." 7 The board was allowed a secretary, and was delegated with powers sufficient for all practical purposes. Its head-quarters was at Philadelphia, the seat of the Federal government. An "Eastern Board" was also established, with an organization similar to the other, which was styled "The Board of the Middle District."


Another change in the administration of naval affairs appears to have occurred in 1781, when General James Reed was invested by Congress with full power to conduct the business of the "Middle Department;" and General Alexander M‘Dougal was elected "Secretary of Marine." In August following, a general "Agent of Marine" was appointed, to act under the immediate direction of Congress, and in this capacity the name of Robert Morris is often found. Indeed, that distinguished financier appears to have had a general supervision of naval affairs, either directly or indirectly, during the whole war. Many privateers were fitted out by him on his own account, and his interest as well as his patriotism made him an efficient "Agent of Marine."

In November, 1776, Congress determined the relative rank of naval and military officers, as follows: admiral, as a general; vice-admiral, as lieutenant general; rear-admiral, as major general; commodore, as brigadier general; captain of a ship of forty guns and upward, as a colonel; captain of a ship of ten to twenty guns, as major; lieutenant, as captain. 8 Congress also decided that the relative rank of naval commanders with each other should not be determined by the date of nomination or appointment previous to October, 1776, when such relative rank was fixed by that body for twenty-six officers then in the service. After that date the rank was determined by the date of the commission.

The avowed object of Congress in fitting out armed vessels was to intercept British transports having supplies for the royal army in America. In this service they were very efficient, and a larger portion of ammunition, good arms, and military stores were thus obtained by the patriots during the first three years of the war. The chief theater of operations in 1776 was in the waters of the New England coast, yet some important movements were made southward by the vessels of Congress, as well as provincial cruisers and privateers.

In February [1776.], Commodore Esek Hopkins, with a small squadron, 9 left the Delaware to operate against the fleet of Lord Dunmore, then on the Virginia coast. At the same time, Captain Barry, a skillful ship-master of Baltimore, sailed in the same direction with the Lexington. 10 Hopkins proceeded further south, and made a descent upon the island of New Providence (one of the Bahamas), for the purpose of seizing a large quantity of ammunition and stores deposited there. He landed three hundred marines, under Captain Nichols, who took possession of the town (now Nassau), and made the governor (Brown 11) and a few others prisoners [March 2.]. The governor had sent away the powder, but one hundred cannons and a large quantity of stores were the spoils of victory.

On leaving the Bahamas [March 17.], Hopkins sailed for the New England coast, and, while off the east end of Long Island, fell in with two small British vessels, and captured them [April 4.]. On the sixth of April he fell in with the Glasgow, twenty-nine pounders, Captain Tyringham Howe, with one hundred and fifty men. With the aid of the Cabot and the Columbus, the Alfred compelled the Glasgow to fly toward Newport, leaving her a prize for the Americans. With this and his other prizes, Hopkins went into New London, having lost twenty-three men in killed and wounded. The commodore was censured by Congress for having departed from his instructions "to annoy the enemy’s ships upon the coasts of the Southern States," and, after taking his little fleet into Narraganset Bay, he was dismissed from the service [Jan. 2, 1777.]. No naval commander-in-chief was subsequently appointed. Other officers in this cruise appear to have been censured. Whipple was tried for not aiding the Alfred, but was acquitted. Hazard, for some cause not recorded, was cashiered, and his vessel was placed under the command of Captain John Paul Jones.

Captain Jones cruised between Boston and the Delaware, and sometimes as far south as the Bermudas, and was always successful. While off the coast of the Carolinas, in September [1778.], the Providence was chased by the frigate Solebay, twenty-eight guns, but, by skillful maneuvering, escaped. She also escaped from the Milford, thirty-two guns, and, proceeding eastward, captured twelve fishing vessels off Canseau. With fifteen prizes, Jones returned to Newport. In the mean while, Whipple with the Columbus, and Biddle with the little Doria, fourteen guns, were successfully engaged upon the New England and Nova Scotia coasts. It is said that the prizes of the Doria were so numerous, that when she entered the Delaware she bore only five of her original crew, the remainder being distributed among the captured vessels. The success of Biddle was rewarded by an appointment to the command of the Randolph, thirty-two guns, a new vessel.

The colony vessels of New England were exceedingly active. Between the time when the British evacuated Boston, in March, and midsummer, thirty English vessels, filled with supplies, were captured by them. The Defense, Captain Harding, a little Connecticut vessel of fourteen guns, was one of the most successful. On the night of the seventeenth of June, that vessel, with the armed schooner Lee and three small privateers, battled more than an hour with two British transports in Nantasket {original text has "Nantucket".} Roads, near Boston, and were victorious. The transports, with two hundred soldiers and a large quantity of stores, were taken into Boston. The next day the Defense captured another transport, with one hundred men. These prizes, with those of the Doria, deprived the British army of about five hundred soldiers.

In November, Captain Jones took command of the Alfred, and, with the Providence, sailed from Newport for Nova Scotia. When a few days out, he captured the Mellish, loaded with supplies for the army forming in Canada, under Burgoyne. This was a valuable prize, and was conducted safely into Boston, after a long chase by the Milford.

Early in the summer of 1776, several cruisers were sent toward the West Indies. Among these was the Reprisal, Captain Wickes, which, after taking several prizes on the way, encountered the English sloop Shark, sixteen guns, near Martinique. After fighting more than an hour, the Shark was repulsed, and the Reprisal returned to the Delaware, whence she soon sailed for the coast of France. Being the first American armed ship which had appeared in the European waters, she attracted much attention. Doctor Franklin, who was appointed a commissioner to the French court, was a passenger. The Reprisal, after landing Franklin, captured several prizes in the Bay of Biscay; among others, the royal English packet sailing from Falmouth to Lisbon. These prizes were sold, and the government proceeds were used by the American commissioners for purchasing other vessels in French ports. The following summer, Wickes, with a little squadron, consisting of the Reprisal, Lexington, and cutter Dolphin, sailed entirely around Ireland, sweeping the channel in its whole breadth, and capturing and destroying a great number of merchant vessels. This cruise produced a great impression on the public mind in England, and compelled France either to unmask and show its decided friendship for the rebellious colonies, or pronounce a disclaimer. Policy dictated the latter course, and the American vessels were ordered to leave the French coast. When returning home in September [1777.], the Lexington was captured by the Alert. The Reprisal was wrecked on the coast of Newfoundland, and Captain Wickes, with all of his gallant crew, except the cook, perished.

Doctor Franklin carried with him to France a number of blank commissions, for army and navy officers, signed by John Hancock, president of Congress. These he and the other commissioners filled as occasion required. Under one of these commissions, Captain Conyngham sailed from Dunkirk (in the north of France) in the brig Surprise, on the first of May, 1777. On the fourth he took a brig called the Joseph, and on the seventh he captured the packet Prince of Orange. With these he returned to Dunkirk on the tenth. In consequence of the urgent remonstrances of the English embassador, these prizes were released, and Conyngham and his crew imprisoned. The French government was unwilling to offend the American commissioners, and allowed them to fit out another vessel at Dunkirk, called the Revenge, in which Conyngham and his crew sailed a day or two before the arrival of two British vessels to convey them to England to be tried for piracy. The Revenge sought the British transports with Hessian soldiers, but was unsuccessful. She made many prizes of merchantmen, and thus placed quite large sums of money in the hands of the commissioners. General alarm prevailed. Insurance arose as high as twenty-five per cent., and so loth were British merchants to ship goods in English bottoms, that at one time forty French vessels were together loading in the Thames. 12

While these events were occurring on the Coast of Europe, no less activity was observed in the American waters. On the sixth of July, 1776, the Sachem, ten guns, Captain Robinson, conquered an English letter of marque, after a severe contest, in which both vessels lost an unusual number of men. For this gallant act Robinson was placed in command of the Doria, and a few days afterward called for St. Eustatia, where the Dutch-governor saluted her. For this indiscretion the governor was removed from office. On leaving that island, the Doria fell in with and captured the Race-horse, an English twelve-gun ship, which lost in the action a greater portion of its officers and crew, killed or wounded. This was the last cruise of the Doria. She was burned in the Delaware in 1777, to prevent her falling into the hands of the British. On the twelfth of October following [1776.], the Ranger, eighteen guns, Captain Hudson, took a British brig among the West Indies, after a conflict of two hours. This event, the naval operations upon Lake Champlain, and those of Captain Manley, on the New England coast, already detailed, closed the marine warfare of 1776, and with honor to the Americans. According to Almon’s Remembrancer, three hundred and forty-two British vessels fell into the hands of the Americans during that year. Forty-four of them were recaptured, and four were burned. The Americans lost quite a number of vessels, chiefly merchantmen.


Early in January, 1777, the Randolph, thirty-two guns, Captain Biddle, sailed on her first cruise. She ran into Charleston harbor, and when three days out, after leaving, she captured four Jamaica-men, one of twenty guns. Elated with this success, the Carolinians immediately fitted out four small vessels, with an aggregate of sixty-four guns, and placed them under the general command of Biddle. This little squadron appears not to have accomplished much, and in March the following year [March 7, 1778.] the Randolph blew up, while in action with the British ship Yarmouth, between nine and ten o’clock in the evening. 13 Biddle and all of his crew perished, except four men, who clung to a piece of the wreck. 14

In March, 1777, the American ship Cabot, Captain Olney, was captured on the coast of Nova Scotia. On the nineteenth of April following, this loss was compensated by the capture of two British transports, south of Long Island, by the Trumbull, twenty-eight guns, Captain Salstonstall. These contained valuable stores.

Soon after this, the Hancock, thirty-two guns, Captain John Manley, and the Boston, twenty-four guns, Captain Hector M‘Neil, encountered the Rainbow, forty-four guns, Sir George Collier. While Manley was preparing for an attack, M‘Neil deserted him. Knowing the disparity in strength, Manley attempted to escape, but was chased and captured by the enemy. Manley was tried for the loss of his vessel, but honorably acquitted; M‘Neil was dismissed from the service.

On the second of September, 1777, the Raleigh frigate, Captain Thompson, and the Alfred, Captain Hinman, captured a snow 15 called Nancy, and from her commander ascertained that a large fleet of West Indiamen, convoyed by the British ship-of-war Druid, twenty guns, were in the neighborhood. Thompson learned the signals of the fleet, and started in search of them. He saw them the following day, ran among them in disguise, got a weatherly position of the Druid, and then demanded a surrender. It was refused, and within twenty minutes the Raleigh gave her twelve broadsides. A heavy squall came on, the fleet were dispersed, the belligerents separated, and the Druid, much shattered, escaped to England. In this gallant affair the Raleigh lost only three men. The Alfred, being rather a slow sailer, did not arrive in time to participate in the engagement. They joined a few hours afterward, and sailed for France. Several minor enterprises were successfully carried out after this, and the year 1777 closed with a loss to the British of four hundred and sixty-seven merchant-men, notwithstanding they had seventy sail of war vessels on the American coast.

The treaty between France and the United States was ratified on the sixth of February, 1778, and speedily French war vessels were cruising among the West Indies and along the American coast. These gave great relief to the colonists, and infused new courage into the Continental armies. Congress, at the same time, fitted out some frigates and smaller vessels, 16 among which was the Alliance, thirty-two guns (built at Salisbury, Massachusetts), which became the favorite of the patriots. Early in January [1778.] the Providence, Captain Rathburne, sailed for the Bahamas. With twenty-five men and some American prisoners, the captain went ashore upon New Providence, seized the Fort at Nassau, and took possession of the town and six vessels lying in port. He held it two days, and then, after spiking the cannons, and removing a large quantity of ammunition and stores to his vessel, he burned two of his prizes, and departed without losing a man.

In February [1778.] the Raleigh and Alfred left L’Orient, and on the ninth of March they were chased by the British ships Ariadne and Ceres. A sharp engagement ensued between them and the Alfred, which resulted in her capture, with the captain and crew. The Raleigh did not assist the Alfred, and escaped. Captain Thompson was censured by Congress for not aiding Captain Hinman, 17 was suspended from command, and after a trial was dismissed from the service. On the thirtieth day of March, the Virginia, twenty-eight guns, Captain James Nicholson, sailed down the Chesapeake on her first cruise, and during the first night her unskillful pilot ran her across a sand-bar, which deprived her of her rudder. At dawn two English armed ships appeared very near, when Nicholson, perceiving his peril, escaped, with his papers, to the shore. The Virginia fell into the power of the enemy, yet so prudent was the course of Nicholson considered, that he was not censured for the loss of the vessel.

Early in May, 1778, John Paul Jones appeared, for the first time, in European waters, in command of the Ranger, eighteen guns; a vessel quite too inferior for such an able officer. Jones made several important prizes in the British channels, and undertook the bold enterprise of capturing the Drake, an English ship-of-war lying in the harbor of Carrickfergus, Ireland. Failing in this, he sailed to the English coast, entered the port of Whitehaven, seized the forts, spiked the cannons, and, setting fire to a ship in the midst of a hundred other vessels, departed. The people of Whitehaven extinguished the flames and saved the shipping. From that day, even to the present, the name of Paul Jones has been there associated with ideas of piracy and devastation. His exploit spread terror along the English coast, and produced a great sensation throughout the kingdom. Emboldened by his success, Jones proceeded to the coast of Scotland, cruised up and down between the Solway and Clyde, and attempted the capture of the Earl of Selkirk, at his residence on St. Mary’s, near the mouth of the Dee. The earl was absent, and the men engaged in the enterprise carried off plate to the value of about five hundred dollars. When this, among other booty, was sold in the port of Brest, Jones purchased it, and returned it to Lady Selkirk, with a letter expressing his regret at the occurrence. 18 On the twenty-fourth of April [1778.], Jones again appeared off Carrickfergus, when the Drake went out to give him battle. The conflict lasted one hour and four minutes, when the Drake, dreadfully shattered, and forty of her men killed or wounded, struck and surrendered. With the Drake, and her surviving crew and other captives, Jones sailed up the North Channel, went around Ireland, made several prizes, and arrived at Brest on the eighth of May. We shall meet him again in the British waters presently.

The French fleet, under Count D’Estaing, arrived upon the coast of Virginia in July [1778.], and under the ægis of its power the American cruisers became bolder, and caused greater circumspection on the part of the enemy. On the twenty-fifth of September, Captain Barry 19 (formerly of the Lexington) sailed from Boston in command of the Raleigh, with a brig and sloop under convoy. On the following day, two British vessels (the Experiment, fifty guns, Captain Wallace, and the Unicorn, twenty-eight guns) gave chase, and at noon an action commenced with the latter, which lasted seven hours. Barry was conscious of the superiority of his foe, and when night fell he resolved to escape to an island with his crew, and burn his vessel. One large party had landed, and the boat returned for others, when it was ascertained that a subordinate officer had treacherously surrendered the vessel. Barry and a considerable portion of his crew escaped to the main, after losing twenty-five men killed and wounded. The Unicorn lost ten men killed and many wounded. This was the closing combat of importance by the regular marines in 1778.

On the eleventh of January, 1779, the frigate Alliance, commanded by Landais, a Frenchman, sailed for France, bearing La Fayette as passenger. Landais was personally unpopular, and being a Frenchman, it was difficult to get Americans to serve under him. The crew of an English vessel wrecked on the coast of Massachusetts were impressed into the service, a measure which resulted in imminent peril to the vessel and passengers. The Englishmen, seventy-five in number, planned a revolt, the details of which contemplated the most horrid massacre. An American seaman, who had lived long in Ireland, was mistaken by the conspirators for a native of that country, and was solicited to participate in the mutiny. He revealed the secret to Landais and La Fayette. The passengers, and American and French seamen, were immediately armed, and at the moment when the conspirators were to strike the horrid blow they found themselves prisoners. Between thirty and forty were put in irons and taken to Brest, where the Alliance arrived on the sixth of February. All the culprits were afterward generously exchanged as prisoners of war.

In March, 1779, one of the most closely contested actions of the war occurred between the Hampden, twenty-two guns, a Massachusetts ship, and an English Indiamen, in which the former was much damaged, and lost twenty-one men. A month afterward [April 18, 1779.], a little squadron, under the general command of Captain J. B. Hopkins, sailed on a cruise from Boston. They first captured a British privateer of fourteen guns, and received intelligence that a number of transports, with supplies, were on their way to Georgia. The Americans crowded sail, overtook them at sunset off Cape Henry, and captured seven of them. A few days afterward they took three brigs, all laden with stores. Among the prisoners last taken were twenty-four British officers, on their way to join their regiments at the South. Early in July, Captain Whipple, then in command of the Providence, went on a cruise with the Ranger and Queen of France, the latter commanded by Captain Rathburne. They soon fell in with a large fleet of merchantmen, convoyed by a ship-of-the-line, and made many of them prize. In a pecuniary view, this was one of the most successful enterprises of the war. The estimated value of eight of the prizes taken into Boston was over a million of dollars.

While these events were occurring in the Western hemisphere, an important expedition was fitted out under the joint auspices of the King of France and the American commissioners, and placed under the command of John Paul Jones. The squadron consisted of five vessels, namely, the Duc de Duras, Alliance, Pallas, Cerf, and Vengeance. The commissions of the officers were given by Dr. Franklin for a limited period, and the vessels, though all French, except the Alliance, were to be considered as American ships, and to be governed by the rules of the American Navy during the cruise. Before the expedition sailed from L’Orient, the name of the Duras, Jones’s flag-ship, was changed to Bonhomme Richard, in compliment to Dr. Franklin. His crew of three hundred and seventy-five men was a medley of representatives of almost every nation of Europe, and even Malaya. The squadron sailed on the nineteenth of June [1779.], became scattered, took a few prizes, and returned to L’Orient. It sailed a second time on the fourteenth of August, with two strong French privateers, and on the eighteenth captured a valuable prize. Its destination was the coast of Scotland, and on its way several little prizes were made. A brilliant course appeared before the squadron, when a cloud appeared. Captain Landais, of the Alliance, became insubordinate, and refused to obey Commodore Jones. A storm again separated the vessels. The power of the expedition was thus weakened, yet Jones did not quail before accumulating difficulties. He boldly attempted, with his own ship, and the Pallas and Vengeance, to strike a twenty gun-ship and two or three men-of-war cutters, lying at Leith. A storm arose, drove the Americans into the North Sea, and defeated the enterprise. Again Jones drew near land, cruised along the eastern coast of Scotland, and by the middle of September had captured thirteen vessels. His exploits excited the greatest consternation, and many inhabitants along the coast buried their plate. On the twenty-third, the whole squadron, except the Cerf and the two privateers, were together, a few leagues above the mouth of the Humber. While preparing to capture a brig with an armed pilot-boat, Jones saw the Baltic fleet of about forty merchantmen, stretching out on a bowline from behind Flamborough Head, under convoy of the Serapis, forty four guns, Captain Pearson, and the Countess of Scarborough, twenty-two guns, Captain Piercy. Jones immediately signaled for a general chase, and great confusion was soon observed among the English ships, while the armed vessels maneuvered with an evident determination to defend the merchantmen. Again Jones’s orders were disobeyed by Landais, who on this occasion played the part of both mutineer and coward, for the moment he perceived the strength of the English vessels he sought safety by ordering the Alliance to a distance. Night fell upon the scene, while the Richard and Pallas, the Serapis and Scarborough, were maneuvering for advantage. A little after seven in the evening, the Richard came within musket shot of the Serapis, when one of the most desperate sea-fights ever recorded commenced. Jones knew the superiority of the Serapis, and aimed to lay his vessels athwart her hawse. In the attempt the bowsprit of the Serapis ran between the poop and mizzen-mast of the Richard. Jones instantly lashed the two vessels together, and the wind soon brought them so close, fore and aft, that the muzzles of their respective cannons touched the sides of each other. In this position the action continued from half past eight till half past ten in the evening, each party fighting with the utmost desperation.

Jones was nobly seconded by his first lieutenant, Richard Dale, then a young man only twenty-two years of age. 20 The conflict waxed warmer and warmer; they fought hand to hand with pike, pistol, and cutlass, and blood flowed freely. Already the Richard had been pierced by several eighteen-pound balls between wind and water, and was filling, and her ten twelve-pounders were completely silenced. Only three nine-pounders kept up a cannonade, but the marines in the round-top sent volleys of bullets, with deadly aim, down upon the struggling Englishmen. Ignited combustibles were scattered over the Serapis, and at one time she was on fire in a dozen places. At half past nine, just as the moon arose in the cloudless sky, some cartridges were ignited, and all of the officers and men of the Serapis, abaft the main-mast, were blown up. Three times both ships were on fire, and their destruction appeared inevitable. The scene was one of appalling grandeur, while it exhibited men in the character of darkest furies. While the conflict was at its height the Alliance approached, and, sailing around the struggling combatants, delivered several broadsides in such a way as to damage both vessels equally. 21 By one of them the Richard had eleven men killed, and an officer mortally wounded. At length Captain Pearson, who had nailed his flag to his mast, perceiving his inability longer to endure the fight, struck his colors with his own hand, and gave up the Serapis to Lieutenant Dale, who was the first to board her. 22 Ten minutes afterward, the Countess of Scarborough, which had been fighting with the Pallas, Captain Cotineau, surrendered. The Richard was a perfect wreck, and fast sinking. Her sick and wounded were conveyed to the Serapis, and sixteen hours afterward she went down in the deep waters off Bridlington Bay. Jones, with the remains of his squadron and prizes, sailed for Holland, and anchored off the Texel on the third of October [1779.]. The loss of life was very heavy on both sides. Jones estimated the value of his prizes made during this cruise at two hundred thousand dollars.

Sir Joseph Yorke, British minister at the Hague, applied to the States General for an order for delivering up the Serapis and Scarborough, with Jones and his men. Their High Mightinesses refused to interfere, for they felt a secret friendship for the struggling Americans. By a diplomatic trick Holland avoided serious trouble with Britain, and Commodore Jones, instead of being conveyed as a pirate to England, was soon upon the ocean as commander of the Alliance [Dec. 27, 1779.]. His action with the Serapis gave him great eclat in Europe and America, and no subsequent event dimmed his fame. Louis the Sixteenth gave him a gold-mounted sword, bearing upon its blade the words Vindicati maris Ludovicus XVI., remunerator strenno vindici – "Louis XVI, rewarder of the valiant assertor of the freedom of the Sea" – surrounded by the blended emblems of America and France. 23 Louis also created him a Knight of the Order of Merit; Catharine of Russia conferred on him the ribbon of St. Anne; and from Denmark he received marks of distinction and a pension. The Congress of the United States voted him special thanks; and, eight years afterward [Oct. 16, 1787.], ordered a gold medal to be struck and presented to "the Chevalier John Paul Jones," of which the following engraving is a true representation. 24


On the seventh of September, 1780, Commodore Jones sailed for America in command of the Ariel, twenty guns. A gale dismasted her, and after refitting at L’Orient, he sailed again on the eighteenth of December. He had a slight encounter with an English ship during a night while on his way, and arrived at Philadelphia on the eighteenth of February, 1781, after an absence of more than three years. He was appointed to the command of the America, seventy-four guns, a vessel which Congress presented to the French king [Sept. 3, 1782.] before she was ready for sea.

In the spring of 1779, the Massachusetts state cruiser, the Hazard, fourteen guns, Captain J. F. Williams, had a severe action with the Active, eighteen guns, and was victorious. Forty-one men were killed in the combat, which lasted half an hour. Williams was promoted to the Protector, twenty guns, and in June he fought the heavy letter of marque, Duff, which, after resistance for an hour, blew up. The Protector had a successful cruise, and Captain Williams’s reputation was greatly increased. He was immediately engaged in the expedition against the British at Penobscot, (see page 594, vol. i.) in which the naval force was commanded by Captain Saltonstall. 25 The result was disastrous. Among the vessels blown up was the Providence, which had gained such a good name under her first commander, Captain Whipple.

It was in the autumn of this year that Silas Talbot, who had been long engaged in the Republican cause, on land and water, was commissioned a captain in the United States Navy. Six months previous to this, he armed, at Providence, his former prize, the Pigot (p. 664, vol. i.) and a sloop called the Argo, ten guns, to cruise off the New England coast. He soon captured the Lively, twelve guns, and two letters of marque, which he carried into Boston. He also captured the King George, a vessel which was particularly hated by the New Englanders. Great was the joy when he took her into New London harbor. His next prize was the Dragon, with which he fought desperately four and a half hours [Aug., 1779.]. It was this victory which caused Congress to give him the commission of a naval captain. He performed many daring exploits with the Argo during the autumn, and the fruits of his services were three hundred prisoners, five valuable merchantmen, and six British privateers. The following year Talbot was in command of a private ship, because Congress had not the means to retain the Argo. He was captured one morning at dawn, when he found himself in the midst of a fleet of English men-of-war. He was ill treated by the victors, and for many months endured the miseries of the Jersey prison-ship and the provost jail at New York. He was finally taken to England, where he was exchanged in December, 1781. 26

The first naval operation of moment, in 1780, was the demonstration made by Admiral Arbuthnot against Charleston, in connection with Sir Henry Clinton. The events of that demonstration have been already detailed. Among other results was the almost demolition of the little American fleet under Whipple, then lying in the harbor. At about this time, the British government resolved not to exchange any more prisoners taken from privateersmen. This had a powerful effect upon the nautical enterprise of the Americans, for soon a large number of their seamen were prisoners, and the number of officers fit to manage vessels was very limited. In view of these facts, and the efficient aid promised and actually given by French fleets, 27 Congress paid but little attention to its marine, while, at the same time, the British Parliament authorized the ministry to employ no less than eighty-five thousand men in the navy. Yet the Americans were not wholly inactive.

In June [1780.] the Trumbull, twenty-eight guns, commanded by Captain James Nicholson, the senior officer in the navy, encountered the English letter of marque Watt, thirty-four guns, Captain Coulthard, and engaged in a well-contested battle for two hours and a half. The vessels were not more than one hundred yards apart, and continually poured broadsides into each other. The Trumbull was completely disabled, yet her antagonist withdrew without attempting to capture her. The Trumbull lost thirty-nine killed and wounded. In October following, the United States sloop-of-war Saratoga, sixteen guns, Captain Young, fell in with and captured a ship and two brigs. One of these was called the Charming Molly.

Captain Young ran along side of her, when Lieutenant Barney, 28 at the head of fifty men, gallantly boarded her and made prisoners of her numerous crew. Barney was left in command of his prize. The Saratoga soon afterward captured a few other vessels, all of which were retaken, while on their way to the Delaware, by the Intrepid, seventy-four guns, Captain Molloy. The Saratoga, it is supposed, soon foundered at sea, for she and her crew were never heard of afterward.

At the close of 1780, Captain John Barry was appointed to the command of the Alliance, and sailed from Boston in February, 1781, with Colonel John Laurens as passenger for France. On the way he captured the privateer Alert, and after landing Mr. Laurens at L’Orient, he sailed on a cruise, with the Marquis De La Fayette, forty guns, in company, bound to America with stores. After capturing a few vessels, and parting company with its consort, the Alliance had a severe action with an English sloop-of-war, sixteen guns, and a brig of fourteen guns [May 28, 1781.]. Captain Barry was wounded and carried below, and at the moment when the Alliance felt obliged to strike, a light breeze gave her an advantage, and, pouring a broadside into her antagonists, she compelled both the English vessels to haul down their colors. The prizes were the Atalanta, one hundred and thirty men, and the Trepassy, eighty men.

On the twenty-second of June, 1781, the Confederacy, Captain Harding, was captured by a large English vessel, while convoying some merchantmen from the West Indies. At about the same time, the Trumbull, Captain Nicholson, 29 with a convoy of twenty-eight sail, left the Delaware, and was soon afterward captured by the Iris 30 and General Monk, at the close of a severe night battle, fought with a large part of the crew (English prisoners) insubordinate. The whole action was carried on by about forty men. On the sixth of September, a private cruiser, called the Congress, twenty guns, while eastward of Charleston, captured the British sloop-of-war Savage, sixteen guns, after a combat of an hour. The Savage was recaptured by an English frigate, and taken into Charleston. These were the principal naval operations in 1781, not already mentioned elsewhere.

Early in 1782, the Deane, thirty-two guns, Captain Samuel Nicholson, went on a successful cruise, and among her many prizes were three sloops of war, with an aggregate of forty-four guns. During this year, Captain Barry, with the Alliance, was actively employed, but does not appear to have had any memorable engagements resulting in prizes. There were now only two frigates left in the American marine, the Alliance and the Hague. The command of the latter was given to Captain John Manley. That gallant officer, who may be considered as the pioneer in the naval warfare of the colonists, cruised among the West Indies, and, in the autumn of 1782, closed the regular maritime operations of the United States by a successful escape, after a long chase, from a vastly superior force. The government vessels had very little employment after this, for the news of peace came early in 1733.

A record of maritime operations under the auspices of the several colonies, and on private account during the war, would fill a volume. 31 In the foregoing rapid sketch of the naval warfare of the colonists, I have given only an outline of those of the government cruisers, sufficient, however, for the reader to form a general estimate of the value of the service of our little marine during the struggle. The naval operations upon Lake Champlain in 1776, have been narrated in the first volume. I will close the sketch by an account of a brilliant exploit of the Hyder Ally, fitted out by the State of Pennsylvania. She was armed with sixteen six-pounders, provided with a crew of one hundred and ten men, and put in command of Lieutenant Joshua Barney. 32 The chief duty assigned to the Hyder Ally, was the expulsion of privateers from the Delaware. On the eighth of April [1782.], the Hyder Ally and a large convoy of merchantmen, were anchored off Cape May, when two ships and a brig approached. The merchantmen fled up the Delaware, covered in their retreat by the Hyder Ally. An action speedily ensued between the Hyder Ally and one of the vessels, which proved to be the sloop-of-war General Monk, eighteen guns (an American cruiser formerly 33), Captain Rogers. In attempting to luff athwart the hawse of the enemy, the Hyder Ally ran foul, and in this position, within pistol shot, the two vessels fought desperately for half an hour, when the Monk struck her colors. Cooper, in his Naval History (i., 237), says, "This action has been justly deemed one of the most brilliant that ever occurred under the American flag. It was fought in the presence of a vastly superior force that was not engaged, and the ship taken was in every essential respect superior to her conqueror." Both vessels arrived at Philadelphia a few hours after the action, bearing their respective dead. The old name was restored to the prize, and Barney made a cruise in her to the West Indies.

Cooper (i., 247) gives the following list of the United States cruisers in service during the war, with the fate of each:

Alliance, thirty-two guns, sold after the peace and converted into an Indiaman. A portion of her wreck is still visible near Philadelphia. Deane (Hague), thirty-two guns, taken by a British squadron near the Capes of the Chesapeake, before getting to sea, 1778. Confederacy, thirty-two guns, taken by a ship-of-the-line off the Capes of Virginia, June 22, 1781. Hancock, thirty-two guns, taken in 1777 by the Rainbow, forty guns, and Victor, sixteen guns. Flora, thirty-two guns, retook her prize. Randolph, thirty-two guns, blown up in action with the Yarmouth, sixty-four guns, in 1778. Raleigh, thirty-two guns, taken by the Experiment, fifty guns, and Unicorn, twenty-two guns, 1778. Washington, thirty-two guns, destroyed in the Delaware by the British army, 1778, without getting to sea. Warren, thirty-two guns, burned in the Penobscot in 1779, to prevent her falling into the enemy’s hands. Queen of France, twenty-eight guns, and Providence, twenty-eight guns, captured at Charleston, 1780. Trumbull, twenty-eight guns, taken by the Iris, thirty-two guns, and General Monk, eighteen guns, 1781. Effingham, twenty-eight guns, burned by the enemy in the Delaware, 1778, without getting to sea. Congress, twenty-eight guns, and Montgomery, twenty-four guns, destroyed in the Hudson, 1777, to prevent their falling into the enemy’s hands, without getting to sea. Alfred, twenty-four guns, captured by the Ariadne and Ceres in 1778. Columbus, twenty guns. Delaware, twenty-four guns, captured by the British army in the Delaware in 1777. Boston, twenty-four guns, captured at Charleston in 1780. Hampden, fourteen guns. Reprisal, sixteen guns, foundered at sea, 1778. Lexington, fourteen guns, taken by the British cutter Alert, in the channel, 1778. Andrea Doria, fourteen guns, burned in the Delaware, 1777, to prevent her falling into the enemy’s hands. Cabot, sixteen guns, driven ashore by the Milford, thirty-two guns, in 1777, and abandoned. Ranger, eighteen guns, captured at Charleston by the British army, 1780. Saratoga, sixteen guns, lost at sea in 1780; never heard of. Diligent, fourteen guns, burned in the Penobscot, 1778. Gates, fourteen guns. Hornet, ten guns. Surprise, ten guns, seized by the French government in 1777. Revenge, ten guns, sold in 1780. Providence, twelve guns, taken in the Penobscot in 1779. Sachem, ten guns; Wasp, eight guns; Independence, ten guns; Dolphin, ten guns, supposed to have been destroyed in the Delaware by the enemy, or by the Americans to prevent their falling into the enemy’s hands. To these must be added the following: Bonhomme Richard, forty guns, sunk after her action with the Serapis, forty-four guns, in 1779. Pallas, thirty-two guns; Vengeance, twelve guns; Cerf, eighteen guns, left the service when the cruise with the Richard was ended. Ariel, twenty guns, borrowed by the American commissioners from the King of France, and supposed to have been returned. There were several more small cruisers, mounting from four to ten guns; and it is believed that, like the privateers, the most of them fell into the hands of more powerful and numerous foes. The Duc de Lauzun, the Luzerne, and the Washington, may not be classed among the cruisers. Mr. Cooper says, in conclusion: "It remains only to say that the navy of the Revolution, like its army, was disbanded at the termination of the struggle, literally leaving nothing behind it but the recollections of its services and sufferings."



Cupidity is often more powerful in its influence than patriotism. Every where these influences were antagonistic when the war of the Revolution broke out. Non-importation agreements and the derangements of commerce made the country barren of many luxuries. When the British were firmly seated in New York, and upon Long and Staten Islands, they tempted the Americans with the gains to be derived from bartering soil products for the finery of European looms and work-shops. A brisk business was soon established upon this basis of exchange, and "London trading" as the operation was called, assumed a dangerous form, for it became a vehicle for the supply of the British army and navy here with the necessaries of life. From almost every inlet from New London to Shrewsbury, light boats, freighted with provisions, darted across to the islands, or to British vessels anchored in the channels. These boats, similar to those used by whalers, were about thirty feet in length, sharp and light, equipped with from four to twenty oars, and well calculated for speed and silence. The trade became so profitable, that honest supplies did not meet the demand, and many of these whale-boatmen became marauders. They plundered from friend and foe, and both parties had their representatives among them. Like the Cowboys and Skinners, they frequently coalesced. Property was seized under legal sanction, confiscated, and the proceeds were divided among them. So expert and successful were these boatmen, that the same vessels were finally used for purposes purely military, and the Bay of New York, and Long Island Sound were the scenes of many stirring adventures connected with their warfare. Sometimes they were employed by competent authority; at other times they were privateers on a small scale.

The first small-boat expedition of consequence was the one mentioned on page 328, volume i., when Lord Stirling and some associates went in four boats and captured the British transport Blue Mountain Valley, lying off Sandy Hook [Jan. 23, 1776.]. For this exploit they received the thanks of Congress. On the arrival of the British the following summer, Captains Adam Hyler and Wm. Marriner, of New Brunswick, New Jersey, annoyed them so much, that an armed force was sent to destroy their boats. New boats were immediately built, and then these bold men commenced a regular system of hostility. They cruised between Egg Harbor and Staten Island, and every Tory fisherman was compelled to pay them enormous tribute. Hyler captured several small British vessels, and often made unwelcome visits to Tories on Long Island. He carried off a Hessian major one night from Gowanus; surprised and took a sergeant’s guard from Canarsie, and also carried off Colonel Lott and his negroes from Flatlands, with, as they supposed, two bags of guineas. The colonel was taken to New Brunswick, where Hyler, on opening the bags, discovered the contents to be half pennies, belonging to the church at Flatlands. Hyler afterward, with two armed boats, captured a British corvette in Cony Island Bay. They went softly along side in the night, boarded her, and secured every man without firing a shot. Placing their prisoners in their boats, they set fire to the vessel, in which, unknown to Captain Hyler, were forty thousand dollars in gold. After Lippincott, the refugee, had murdered Huddy (see page 160) in 1782, Hyler resolved to seize him. With his men, equipped like a man-of-war press gang, he landed at Whitehall at nine in the evening, and proceeded to Lippincott’s house in Broad Street. The Tory was absent, and Hyler’s purpose was defeated. Leaving Whitehall, he boarded a sloop laden with forty hogsheads of rum, off the Battery, secured the crew, landed her cargo at Elizabeth-town, and then burned her. In some of these exploits Marriner accompanied Hyler, and their names became a terror to the Tories. Marriner was a prisoner for some time under Major Moncrief on Long Island, and for the unkindness of that officer, Marriner, after his exchange, seized him one fine summer’s night, and took him to New Brunswick. Marriner also seized Simon Cortelyou, at his house below Fort Hamilton (see page 598), and took him, with a silver tankard and other valuables, to New Brunswick. Cortelyou was released, but the silver was never returned. These operations kept the Loyalists in continual fear, and so numerous and bold became the Connecticut whale-boatmen, that no vessels were considered safe in the Sound unless well armed.

The capture of General Prescott, on Rhode Island, by Col. Barton (see p. 643, vol. i.), belongs to the same kind of exploits; and the expeditions of Tallmadge, mentioned on pages 627, 628, might properly be classed in the same category. A few weeks previous to the capture of Prescott, General Parsons, then stationed near New Haven, sent a detachment, under Colonel Meigs, to destroy British stores collected at Sag Harbor, a port on the south fork of Eastern Long Island, between Great Peconic and Gardiner’s Bays. Meigs crossed the Sound from Guilford, with one hundred and seventy men in whale-boats, on the 23d. of May, 1777, having two armed sloops in company. They arrived at Southold at six o’clock in the evening, and carried their boats almost eight miles that night. They lay concealed in the forest the next day, and at evening proceeded to the eastern portion of Peconic Bay, where they re-embarked. When within four miles of Sag Harbor, Meigs concealed his boats in the woods, and with one hundred and thirty men marched to attack the British guard at two o’clock in the morning [May 25, 1777.]. The alarm soon spread, and a schooner, armed with twelve cannons, opened a fire upon the patriots. It was returned with spirit, and, at the same time, the vessels in the harbor were set on fire. The Americans killed or captured the whole British force, destroyed all the shipping (twelve brigs and sloops), a hundred tons of hay, a quantity of rum, and other stores and merchandise. Colonel Meigs, with ninety prisoners, arrived at Guilford at two o’clock the next day, without the loss of a man. For this brilliant exploit Congress thanked him [July 25, 1777.], and gave him an elegant sword.

Retaliation followed the enterprise of Meigs, and the people, on island and main, suffered much. At length nine Tories crossed the Sound in a whale-boat, from Lloyd’s Neck, on a dark night in May, to the Fairfield county coast, where General Silliman was stationed at his own house. One of the Tories was a carpenter who had been employed by the general, and knew the premises well. Leaving one to guard the boat, eight proceeded to arrest the general. They forced an entrance into his house at midnight, seized him and his son, and hurrying them to the boat, crossed the Sound and placed them in the hands of Simcoe, at Oyster Bay.

From thence they were taken to New York, and afterward to Flatbush, on Long Island, where they remained until exchanged six months afterward.

The Americans possessed no British prisoner of equal rank with Silliman to offer in exchange, but they soon procured one. 34 At Fort Neck (South Oyster Bay), on the south side of Long Island, lived the Honorable Thomas Jones, a Justice of the Supreme Court of New York, and a Loyalist in high repute. He was selected as the victim. On the evening of the fourth of November, 1779, twenty-five volunteers, under Captains Hawley, Lockwood, and Jones, crossed the Sound from Newfield (now Bridgeport) to Stony Brook, near Smithtown, and marched directly toward the house of Judge Jones. They remained concealed in the woods one day, and the following night, at nine in the evening, were before the stately mansion.


The judge was entertaining an evening party, and the young people were engaged in dancing when that assailants knocked at the door. Their summons received no reply, and Captain Hawley broke open the door, seized Judge Jones and a young man named Hewlett, whom they found standing in the passage, and hurried them off before an alarm could be given. They lay concealed in the woods the next day, and the following evening prisoners and captors arrived safely at Fairfield, except six of the patriots, who, loitering behind, were captured by pursuers. 36 Judge Jones was kindly entertained at the house of General Silliman, by his lady, until removed to Middletown. The following May (1780) he was exchanged for General Silliman, and Mr. Hewlett for the general’s son.

During 1780 and 1781 the whale-boat warfare was pursued along the shores of Long Island Sound with much violence, and as both parties were engaged in plundering and smuggling, the peaceful inhabitants suffered terribly. Murders became frequent, and the Tories were stimulated to the commission of acts of violence by the Board of Associated Loyalists, at Lloyd’s Neck. When that association was dissolved and its influence had passed away, sanguinary scenes were less frequent, and in 1782 only occasionally an unprincipled freebooter was found engaged in the business of a marauder. Many stirring adventures, as well as tales of woe connected with this warfare, are recorded, but we can not afford space for their rehearsal here. The curious reader will find full details in Onderdonk’s Revolutionary Incidents of Long Island, volume i., pages 170-234 inclusive.



1 The honor of this enterprise belongs to Joseph Wheaton, a native of New York, then residing at Machias. He was an energetic young man of twenty years. He proposed the expedition, but modestly named O’Brien for commander. He was active in the whole affair, and in person seized the colors of the Margaretta.

2 See page 669, volume i.

3 Washington established the following rule for the division of prizes: A captain commander, six shares; first lieutenant, five; second lieutenant, four; surgeon, four; master, three; steward, two; mate, one and a half; gunner, one and a half; boatswain, one and a half; gunner’s mate, one and a half; sergeant, one and a half; privates ,one. This method of distribution was confirmed by Congress on the twenty-fifth of November, 1775. On the ninth, of December, Congress, by resolution, fixed the pay of naval officer. so follows: midshipman, twelve dollars a month; armorer, fifteen dollars; sail-maker, twelve dollars; yeoman, nine dollars; quarter-master, nine dollars; quarter-gunner, eight dollars; cook, twelve dollars; coxswain, nine dollars. On the fifteenth of November, 1776, Congress fixed the pay of the officers of the navy so follows: of ships of ten to twenty guns, captain, forty-eight dollars a month; lieutenant, twenty-four dollars; master, twenty four dollars; surgeon, twenty-one dollars sixty-six cents; midshipman, twelve dollars; gunner, thirteen dollars; seamen, eight dollars. Of ships of twenty guns and upward; captain, sixty dollars a month; lieutenant, thirty dollars; master, thirty-dollars; surgeon, twenty-five dollars; midshipman, twelve dollars; gunner, fifteen dollars; chaplain, twenty dollars; seamen, eight dollars. Commanders were allowed four and five dollars a week for subsistence; and lieutenants, surgeons, captains of marines, and chaplains, four dollars a week for subsistence when ashore.

4 These were ordered to be built as follows: In Pennsylvania, the Washington, thirty-two guns; Randolph, thirty-two; Effingham, twenty-eight; Delaware, twenty-four, built at Philadelphia. In New Hampshire, Raleigh, thirty-two, built at Portsmouth. In Massachusetts, Hancock, thirty-two; Boston twenty-four, built at Boston. In Rhode Inland, Warren, thirty-two; Providence, twenty-eight, built at Providence. In Maryland, Virginia, twenty-eight, built at Annapolis. In Connecticut, Trumbull, twenty-eight, built at New London. In New York, Congress, twenty-eight; Montgomery, twenty-four, built at Poughkeepsie, on the Hudson. During the war, Congress authorized the purchase, or the building and fitting out of between thirty and forty vessels, three of them of seventy-four guns.

5 The following gentlemen composed this first general naval committee: Messrs. Bartlett, Hancock, Hopkins, Deane, Lewis, Crane, R. Morris, Read, Chase, R. H. Lee, Hewes, Gadsden, and Houstoun. – Journals, i., 273.

6 John Nixon, John Wharton, and Francis Hopkinson were appointed, and each allowed a salary of fifteen hundred dollars a year.

7 Journals of Congress, v., 277. The three commissioners were each allowed a yearly salary of fourteen thousand dollars, Continental money, equivalent, at that time, to about seven hundred dollars hard money. The nominal amount of this salary was to be varied according to the state of the paper currency.

Their secretary was John Brown, whose name appears attached to all commissions issued during the active existence of the board. On the fourth, of May, 1780, the board reported a device for an admiralty seal (see next page) as follows: thirteen bars, mutually supporting each other, alternate red and white, in a blue field, and surmounting an anchor proper. The crest, a ship under sail. The motto, Sustentans et sustentatum – "Sustaining and Sustained." The legend, U. S. A. Sigil. Naval. Twenty months earlier than this a committee was appointed to "prepare a seal for the Treasury and Navy." I have never seen an impression of the former, if it was ever made. The sketch of the admiralty seal given on the next page I made from an impression attached to a commission issued in 1781, and now in possession of Peter Force, Esq., of Washington City.

8 The following is a list of the naval commanders appointed by Congress during the war, with the date of their respective commissions, according to the Journals of Congress:

1775, December 22. Esek Hopkins, Dudley Saltonstall, Abraham Whipple, Nicholas Biddle, John B. Hopkins. – 1776, April 17. William Manly, Isaac Cosneau. – June 6. Thomas Thompson, Samuel Tompkins, Christopher Miller, John Barry, Thomas Read, Charles Alexander, James Nicholson. – June 15. Hector M‘Neil, Thomas Grennall. – August 13. Elishan Hinman. – August 21. John Hodge, John Manley. – October 10, Lambert Wickes, William Hallock, Hoysted Hacker, Isaiah Robinson, John Paul Jones, James Josiah, Joseph Olney, James Robinson, John Young, Elisha Warner, Lieutenant-commandant J. Baldwin, Lieutenant-commandant Thomas Albertson. – 1777, February 5. Henry Johnson. – March 15. Daniel Waters, Samuel Tucker. – 1778, May 1. William Burke. – June 18. Peter Landais. – September 25. Seth Harding. – 1779, September 17. Silas Talbot, Samuel Nicholson, John Nicholson, Henry Skinner, Benjamin Dunn, Samuel Chew.

The following lieutenants were commissioned: 1775, December 22. John Paul Jones, Rhodes Arnold, ----- Stansbury, Hoysted Hacker, Jonathan Pitcher, Benjamin Seabury, Joseph Olney, Elisha Warren, Thomas Weaver, ----- M‘Dougal, John Fanning, Ezekiel Burroughs, Daniel Vaughan. – 1776, June 6. Israel Turner, Joseph Doble, Mark Dennet. – July 22. Peter Shores, John Wheelwright, Josiah Shackford. – August 17. William Barnes, Thomas Vaughan. - August 22. Jonathan Maltby, David Phipps, ----- Wilson, John Nicholson. – 1777, February 5. Elijah Bowen. – August 6. John Rodeg. – August 12. William Moileston. – 1781, July 20. Richard Dale, Alexander Murray, ----- Plunkett, Joshua Barney, Isaac Buck, John Stevens, Aquilla Johns. – See Goldsborough’s Naval Chronicle, i., 8.

9 The squadron consisted of the Alfred, twenty-eight guns, Commodore Hopkins; the Columbus, twenty-eight guns, Captain Abraham Whipple, the commander of the expedition to destroy the Gaspee in 1772 (p. 629, vol. i.) Andrea Doria, fourteen guns, Captain Nicholas Biddle; Sebastian Cabot, sixteen guns, Captain John B. Hopkins; Providence, twelve guns, Captain Hazard; and vessels from Maryland were to join them off the Capes of Virginia. Commodore Hopkins held the rank of commander-in-chief in the navy, a relative position to that of Washington in the army. His pay was one hundred and twenty-five dollars a month, and he was frequently addressed as admiral.


The first ensign ever shown by a regular American man-of-war was raised on board the Alfred, in the Delaware, in December, 1775, by the hands of John Paul Jones, then Hopkins’s first lieutenant. This flag, according to a portrait of Hopkins’s published in London in 1776, was a plain ground, with a pine-tree in the center. At the top were the words Liberty Tree, and at the bottom, Appeal to God. The Union flag with thirteen stripes, adopted by the army on the first of January, 1776, was also displayed. This had a representation of a rattle-snake, with this words Don’t tread on me.

10 On the seventeenth of April, Barry raptured the Edward, an armed tender of the British ship Liverpool, after a severe engagement. In October following, the Lexington was commanded by Captain Hallock, and when returning from the West Indies, she was captured by the Pearl, and a prize crew placed on board of her. The Americans arose upon and overpowered this crew, and took the Lexington into Baltimore.

11 Governor Brown was afterward exchanged for Lord Stirling.

12 Letter of Silas Deane to Robert Morris.

13 The ships were quite close together at the time. Many fragments of the Randolph fell upon the Yarmouth, and an American flag, furled and uninjured, was blown in upon her forecastle.

14 Nicholas Biddle was a native of Philadelphia, where he was born in 1750. He went to sea at thirteen years of age, and after many perilous voyages, entered the British service as a midshipman. He afterward went on a voyage, under the Honorable Captain Phipps, toward the North Pole, in company with Nelson, who was also a volunteer. The commodore made them both cockswains. He returned to America two years later (1775), and espousing the cause of the colonists, entered into the naval service of Pennsylvania, in a small vessel called the Camden. He afterward took command of the Andrea Doria, and subsequently of the Randolph, in which he perished. He was severely wounded in the thigh, and was sitting in a chair, with his surgeon, when the ship blew up. He was twenty-seven years of age when he perished.

15 A "snow" is a vessel equipped with two masts resembling the main and foremast of a ship, and a third small mast, abaft the main-mast, carrying a trysail. These vessels were much used in the merchant service at the time of the Revolution.

16 The principal vessels were the Alliance, thirty-two guns; Congress, thirty-two; and Queen of France, twenty-eight. Also the sloops Ranger, Gates, and Saratoga.

17 Captain Hinman was one of the bravest of the naval heroes of the Revolution. His remains rest beneath a beautiful marble monument, nineteen feet in height, at Stonington, Connecticut, constructed in 1852, by Fisher & Bird, of New York. The following elaborate inscription upon the monument contains all the most important events in his public life, and serves the purpose of a biographical sketch:


In memory of Captain Elisha Hinman, United States Navy, a patriot of the Revolution; born March 9, 1734 – Died August 29, 1807, aged seventy three years. At the age of fourteen he went to sea, was a captain at nineteen, and for many years sailed to Europe, and the East and West Indies. On the commencement of the Revolution, he abandoned a lucrative business, and devoted his whole service to his country. He was one of the first appointments by Congress to the navy, and served with honor throughout the whole war – successively commanding the Marquis de La Fayette, twenty guns, the Deane, thirty guns, the sloop-of-war Providence, and the Alfred, thirty-two guns. Captain Hinman, in commend of the Alfred, sailed in company with the Raleigh, thirty guns, Captain Thompson. On the ninth of March, 1778, they were chased by two British ships of the line, the Ariadne and Ceres; and the Alfred, after fighting bravely, and being deserted by the Raleigh, through the cowardice of her captain, was compelled to surrender. He was taken to England and imprisoned – escaped through the assistance of friends – was taken to London, where he saw hand-bills offering five hundred pounds for his head, describing person, &c. He finally escaped to France. On his return, Captain Thompson was court-martialed and dismissed the service, respecting the loss of the Alfred, and Captain Hinman was honorably acquitted. In 1794, when the Constitution (old Iron-sides) was launched, President Adams tendered the command of her to Captain Hinman, but from his advanced age, he declined. He died full of years, leaving his character, as a man, of unimpeachable integrity and sterling worth; a rich legacy to his descendants.

"This monument is placed here by his two grandsons, James Ingersoll Day, and Thomas Day."

Captain Buckley, of New London, who died in 1849, at the age of ninety five years, was Hinman’s first lieutenant in command of the Alfred.

18 The editor of the Pictorial History of the Reign of George the Third, i., 397, says of Jones, "He carried off all the plate and other valuable articles;" but ungenerously, and with the evident intention of misrepresenting the character of Jones, omits mentioning the fact of the honorable return of the silver.

19 John Barry was born in Ireland in 1745. He was placed on board a merchantman at an early age, and at fourteen he emigrated to America, where he pursued his vocation. He entered the naval service of Congress in 1776, and was employed in fitting for sea the first fleet that sailed from Philadelphia. He continued active in the service during the whole war, and down to the year of his death, when he was in command of the frigate United States. He died at Philadelphia, on the thirteenth of September, 1803, at the age of fifty-eight years.

20 Richard Dale was born on the sixth of November, 1756, in Norfolk county, Virginia. He went to sea at twelve years of age, and continued in the merchant service until 1776, when he became lieutenant of a Virginia cruiser. He was afterward a midshipman with Captain Barry, in the Lexington. He was with Captain Wickes in his cruise among the British islands in 1777. He afterward suffered a long imprisonment in England, which terminated temporarily by his escape, with others, in February, 1778. He was recaptured, and suffered another year’s imprisonment, when he again escaped in the full uniform of a British officer. How he obtained it remains a secret. He hastened to L’Orient, joined Paul Jones, and in September, 1779, gallantly fought with him in the action with the Serapis. With Jones, he received the thanks of Congress for this service. In 1781, Dale sailed as lieutenant of the Trumbull, under Captain Nicholson. He was severely wounded in an engagement, and made prisoner. He was soon exchanged, returned to Philadelphia, and in the spring of 1782 took command of a large merchant ship. From that time until 1794, he carried on a lucrative business in the East India trade. Washington selected him as one of the six captains of the navy in 1794, fourth in rank. He was commissioned a commodore in 1801, and commanded a squadron which did good service in the Mediterranean. In 1802 he left the navy, and passed the remainder of his days in private life in Philadelphia. He died on the twenty-fourth of February, 1826, at the age of seventy years.

21 The opinion generally prevailed that Landais fired into the Richard for the double purpose of killing Jones and compelling his vessel to surrender, in order that Landais might retake her, together with the Serapis, and get all the eclat of the victory. Such were the charges brought against him, and he was suspended from service. After the exhibition of many vagaries, which proved him half insane, be returned to America in the Alliance, and was soon afterward dismissed the service.

22 It is related that when Captain Pearson delivered his sword to Commodore Jones, he remarked, "I can not, sir, but feel much mortification at the idea of surrendering my sword to a man who has fought me with a rope round his neck." Jones received the sword, and immediately returning it, said, "You have fought gallantly, sir, and I hope your king will give you a better ship." Pearson was afterward knighted. On hearing of it, Jones remarked, "He deserves it, and if I fall in with him again, I will make a lord of him."

23 This sword is now (1848) in possession of Commodore John Montgomery Dale, a son of Commodore Richard Dale, Jones’s valued friend and companion in arms.

24 Journals, xii., 138. The engraving opposite is the size of the original, copied from a fac simile in the possession of the New York Historical Society. On one side is a portrait of Jones in relief (said to be an excellent likeness), with the words Johanni Paulo Jones, Classis Præfecto, Comitia Americana – "The American Congress to John Paul Jones, commander of the fleet." Upon the other side is a representation of a naval battle, with the words Hostium navibus captis aut fugatis, ad oram, Scotia, xxiii. Sept. MDCCLXXVIIII. – "The ships of the enemy having been captured on the coast of Scotland, twenty-third September, 1779." The present possessor of this national tribute to one of the bravest of men is unknown. This medal was made in Paris, under the direction of Mr. Jefferson, then American minister there.

John Paul was born on the sixth of July, 1747, at Arbigland, on the Frith of Solway, Scotland. At the age of twelve years he was apprenticed to a ship-master in the Virginia trade. He was on board of a slaver for some time, and by the death of master and mate he became commander. On the death of his mother in 1773, he went to Virginia to settle, and there added Jones to his name. When the war broke out, he was commissioned senior lieutenant in the navy, and was active until the close of hostilities. In November, 1783, he sailed for France, empowered to negotiate for the recovery of prize money in different parts of Europe. He returned to America in 1787, and in 1788 he was appointed rear-admiral in the Russian Navy. He was afterward in command against the Turks. He retired to Paris with a pension in 1789, where he resided most of the time until his death, which occurred on the eighteenth of July, 1792. A commission, appointing him the agent of the American government to treat with Algiers, arrived after he was dead. His place of sepulchre is now unknown.

25 The squadron consisted of the United States ship Warren, thirty-two guns, Saltonstall’s flagship; Diligent, fourteen guns, Captain Brown; the Providence, twelve guns, Captain Hacker; three vessels belonging to Massachusetts, thirteen privateers, and many transports.

26 Captain Talbot was a lineal descendant of a brave knight (Richard de Talbot) in the reign of William the Conqueror, and inherited the martial genius of that illustrious ancestor. Little is known of his early life. He was a young man when the war of the Revolution broke out, and he entered into the contest ardently. On land and water he was equally useful, and in each capacity we have met him several times before. After the war, he purchased the forfeited estate of Sir William Johnson, near the Mohawk, and went into private life. In 1794, when a new organization of the navy took place, Captain Talbot was selected to the command of one of the principal ships. He superintended the construction of the frigate Constitution, which gained such laurels almost twenty years later. In 1799, she was his flag-ship while on a cruise in the West Indies, and Commodore Hull was his lieutenant. This cruise was an important one in many respects. Talbot remained in active service until September, 1801, when he resigned his commission. He passed the remainder of his days in the city of New York, where he married Miss Pintard, his third wife. He died in New York city on the thirtieth of June, 1811, and was buried under Trinity church, where no monument marks his resting-place. – See Life of Commodore Talbot, by Henry T. Tuckerman, Esq. I am indebted to Mr. Tuckerman for the privilege of copying the portrait of Talbot from a daguerreotype of an original painting by West in the possession of the patriot’s descendants in Kentucky.

27 It was in July of this year (1780) that a French fleet of twelve vessels and thirty-two transports, bearing an army of six thousand men, under Rochambeau, arrived at Newport. This event is recorded on page 468 {original text has "87".}.

28 Joshua Barney was born in Baltimore, Maryland, on the sixth of July, 1759. He went to sea when a small boy, and at the age of fourteen years was second mate of a vessel, and at sixteen was commander. After many adventures abroad, he arrived in the Chesapeake in October, 1775. The following June he was appointed a lieutenant in the United States Navy, and was the first to unfurl the American flag in Maryland. He was a very active officer during the whole war. He brought the first news of peace with Great Britain, on the twelfth of March, 1783. Continuing in service, he was one of the six commanders appointed under the act of 1793, but he declined the honor. He went to France with Monroe, and was the bearer of the American flag to the National Convention. He entered the French service in command of two fine frigates. He resigned his French commission in 1802, and returned home. He again entered the naval service of the United States in 1812, and distinguished himself during the war that ensued. He died of a bilious fever at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on the first of September, 1818, at the age of fifty-nine years.

29 James Nicholson was born on the eastern shore of Maryland in 1737. He was in the naval engagement at the siege of Havana in 1762. He entered the naval service of his country in a Maryland vessel in 1775; in 1776 he was appointed a captain by Congress, and, on the dismissal of Hopkins, be became the senior officer in the navy. After his capture by the Iris and Monk, he was taken to England, and was not exchanged until the close of the war. He never went to sea again, but settled in New York, where he held a civil appointment under the general government. He died September 2, 1804, leaving three daughters, one of whom married the late Albert Gallatin.

30 The Iris was formerly the United States ship Hancock, thirty-two guns, captured by the Rainbow, and now in the British service under another name. The Hancock was one of the heaviest ships built by order of Congress, while the Trumbull was one of the smallest.

31 It is asserted by good authority that the number of vessels captured by American cruisers during the war was eight hundred and three, and that the value of merchandise obtained amounted to over eleven millions of dollars. The British vessels in the West India trade suffered terribly from our privateers. Clarke in his Naval History (i., 61), says, that of a fleet of sixty vessels from Ireland for the West Indies, thirty five were captured by American privateers. Our cruisers almost destroyed the British trade with Africa. At the beginning of the war, two hundred ships were employed in that trade; at the close of 1777 only forty vessels were thus employed.

32 Barney never held a commission of captain from Congress during the war, but such was his commission from Pennsylvania when he took command of the Hyder Ally.

33 This vessel was formerly the American ship George Washington, captured by Admiral Arbuthnot, and placed in the king’s service under a new name. She carried twenty nine-pounders, and had a crew of one hundred and thirty six men.

34 The following tariff for the exchange of prisoners was agreed upon by Major-general Phillips and a committee of American officers, prisoners of war at New York in December, 1779, A sergeant was reckoned equal to two privates; a second sergeant or ensign, four; first lieutenant, six; captain, sixteen; major, twenty-eight; lieutenant colonel, seventy-two; colonel, one hundred; brigadier general, two hundred; major general, three hundred and seventy-two; lieutenant general, a thousand and forty-four; adjutant and quarter-master, six; surgeon, six; surgeon’s mate, four; surgeons of hospitals, sixteen; deputies and assistants, six. All others of the staff according to the rank they held in the line. Another arrangement was concluded, based upon one made in Flanders between General Conway and the Marquis De Barrail, by which the money price of ransom was agreed to, as well as their relative importance, privates being one. According to that, a commander-in-chief was rated at twenty thousand florins (about eight thousand dollars), and equal to five thousand men. A major general was rated at one thousand florins (about four hundred dollars), and equal to three hundred and seventy-five men. Other officers in proportion.

35 This fine old mansion was the residence of D. R. Floyd Jones, Esq., when I visited it in 1851, and made the above sketch. It is a frame building, and stands about three-fourths of a mile from the water. Judge Jones called it Tryon Hall, in honor of Sir William Tryon. Over a door, opposite the main entrance, hangs a pair of noble antlers, presented to the judge by Sir William Johnson. They doubtless once belonged to a buck in the Mohawk Valley. The large landed estate has remained in entail until the death of the late Thomas Floyd Jones, Esq., in August, 1851, it having been in possession of the family more than a century and a half. The original owner built a substantial brick house there in 1695, where it remained until 1837, when it was removed. Many tales are recited of that haunted house; among others, that after the death of the original owner, strange noises were heard there, and that a small circular window, seen in the gable, could never be closed. Sashes, boards, and even bricks and mortar placed in it, were instantly removed by an invisible power, equal to that of the rapping spirits of our day!


The sketch here given is from one done in pencil by William S. Mount, the eminent painter, when quite a lad. It is in the possession of H. F. Jones, Esq., whose residence is a little eastward of "Tryon Hall." The place is called Fort Neck, because remains of old Indian forts have always been visible there. Many arrow and spear heads have been found in the neighborhood.

36 The names of the six captives were George Lyman, James Ambler, John Wall, Charles German, Ebenezer Chichester, and Henry Chichester. Mr. Ambler died in Huntington, Vermont, in June, 1838; Wall died in Jackson, Michigan, on the twenty-ninth of March, 1849; and Henry Chichester died at Norwalk. Connecticut, in 1850.



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