Blue jackets of '76

Material Information

Blue jackets of '76 A history of the naval battles of the American revolution; together with a narrative of the war with Tripoli
Abbot, Willis John, 1863-1934
Place of Publication:
New York
Dodd, Mead, & co.
Publication Date:
Physical Description:
viii, 301 p. incl. pl. : ; 23 x 18 cm.


Subjects / Keywords:
History -- Naval operations -- United States -- Revolution, 1775-1783 ( lcsh )
History -- United States -- Tripolitan War, 1801-1805 ( lcsh )
non-fiction ( marcgt )


Statement of Responsibility:
By Willis J. Abbot.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
This item is presumed to be in the public domain. The University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries respect the intellectual property rights of others and do not claim any copyright interest in this item. Users of this work have responsibility for determining copyright status prior to reusing, publishing or reproducing this item for purposes other than what is allowed by fair use or other copyright exemptions. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions may require permission of the copyright holder. The Smathers Libraries would like to learn more about this item and invite individuals or organizations to contact The Department of Special and Area Studies Collections ( with any additional information they can provide.
Resource Identifier:
024631723 ( ALEPH )
45875902 ( OCLC )
AAQ5427 ( NOTIS )
02004609 ( LCCN )


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N MAY, 1636, a stanch little sloop of some twenty tons was
standing along Long Island Sound on a trading expedition.
At her helm stood John Gallop, a sturdy colonist, and a skilful
seaman, who earned his bread .by trading with the Indians that
at that time thronged the shores of the Sound, and eagerly seized
any opportunity to traffic with the white men from the colonies of
Plymouth or New Amsterdam. The colonists sent out beads, knives,
bright clothes, and sometimes, unfortunately, rum and other strong
drinks. The Indians in exchange offered skins and peltries of all kinds;
and, as their simple natures had not been schooled to nice calculations
of values, the traffic was one of great profit to the more shrewd whites.
But the trade was not without its perils. Though the Indians were
simple, and little likely to drive hard bargains, yet they were savages,
and little accustomed to nice distinctions between their own property


and that of others. Their desires once aroused for some gaudy bit of
cloth or shining glass, they were ready enough to steal it, often making
their booty secure by the murder of the luckless trader. It so happened,
that, just before John Gallop set out with his sloop on the spring
trading cruise, the people of the colony were excitedly discussing the
probable fate of one Oldham, who some weeks before had set out on
a like errand, in a pinnace, with a crew of two white boys and two
Indians, and had never returned. So when, on this May morning,
Gallop, being forced to hug the shore by stormy weather, saw a small
vessel lying at anchor in a cove, he immediately ran down nearer, to
investigate. The crew of the sloop numbered two men and two boys,
beside the skipper, Gallop. Some heavy duck-guns on board were no
mean ordnance; and the New Englander determined to probe the mys-
tery of Oldham's disappearance, though it might require some fighting.
As the sloop bore down upon the anchored pinnace, Gallop found no
lack of signs to arouse his suspicion. The rigging of the strange craft
was loose, and seemed to have been cut. No lookout was visible, and
she seemed to have been deserted; but a nearer view showed, lying on
the deck of the pinnace, fourteen stalwart Indians, one of wbi catching_
sight of the approaching sloop, cut the anchor cable, and called to his
companions to awake.
This action on the part of the Indians left Gallop no doubt as to
their character. Evidently they had captured the pinnace, and had either
murdered Oldham, or even there had him a prisoner in their midst. The
daring sailor wasted no time in debate as to the proper course to
pursue, but clapping all sail on his craft, soon brought her alongside the
pinnace. As the sloop came up, the Indians opened the fight with fire-arms
and spears; but Gallop's crew responded with their duck-guns with such
vigor that the Indians deserted the decks, and' fled below for shelter.
,Gallop was then in a quandary. The odds against him were too great
for him to dare to board, and the pinnace was rapidly drifting ashore.
After some deliberation he put up his helm, and beat to windward of
the pinnace; then, coming about, came scudding down upon her before the


wind. The two vessels met with a tremendous shock. The bow of the
sloop struck the pinnace fairly amidships, forcing her over on her beam-
ends, until the water poured into the open hatchway. The affrighted
Indians, unused to warfare on the water, rushed upon deck. Six leaped
into the sea, and were drowned; the rest retreated again into the
cabin. Gallop then prepared to repeat his ramming manoeuvre. This
time, to make the blow more effective, he lashed his anchor to the bow,
so that the sharp flukes protruded; thus extemporizing an iron-clad ram
more than two hundred years before naval men thought of using one.
Thus provided, the second blow of the sloop was more terrible than the
first. The sharp fluke of the anchor crashed through the side of
the pinnace, and the two vessels hung tightly together. Gallop then
began to double-load his duck-guns, and fire through the sides of the
pinnace; but, finding that the enemy was not to be dislodged in this
way, he broke his vessel loose, and again made for the windward,
preparatory to a third blow. As the sloop drew off, four or five more
Indians rushed from the cabin of the pinnace, and leaped overboard,
but shared the fate of their predecessors, being far from land. Gallop
then came about, and for the third time bore down upon his adversary.
As he drew near, an Indian appeared on the deck of the pinnace, and
with humble gestures offered to submit. Gallop ran alongside, and taking
the man on board, bound him hand and foot, and placed him in the
hold. A second redskin then begged for quarter; but Gallop, fearing
to allow the two wily savages to be together, cast the second into the
sea, where he was drowned. Gallop then boarded the pinnace. Two
Indians were left, who retreated into a small compartment of the hold,
and were left unmolested. In the cabin was found the mangled body
of Mr. Oldham. A tomahawk had been sunk deep into his skull, and
his body was covered with wounds. The floor of the cabin was littered
with portions of the cargo, which the murderous savages had plundered.
Taking all that remained of value upon his own craft, Gallop cut loose
the pinnace; and she drifted away, to go to pieces on a reef in
Narragansett Bay.


This combat is the earliest action upon American waters of which
we have any trustworthy records. The only naval event antedating this
was the expedition from Virginia,.under Capt. Samuel Argal, against the
little French settlement of San Sauveur. Indeed, had it not been for
the pirates and the neighboring French settlements, there would be little
in the early history of the American Colonies to attract the lover of
naval history. But about 1645 the buccaneers began to commit depre-
dations on the high seas, and it became necessary for the Colonies to
take steps for the protection of their commerce. In this year an eighteen-
gun ship from Cambridge, Mass., fell in with a Barbary pirate of twenty
guns, and was hard put to it to escape. And, as the seventeenth
century drew near its close, these pests of the sea so increased, that
evil was sure to befall the peaceful merchantman that put to sea with-
out due preparation for a fight or two with the sea robbers.
It was in the low-lying islands of the Gulf of Mexico, that these
predatory gentry -buccaneers, marooners, or pirates--made their head-
quarters, and lay in wait for the richly freighted merchantmen in the
West India trade. Men of all nationalities sailed under the Jolly
Roger,"-as the dread black flag with skull and cross-bones was called,-
but chiefly were they French and Spaniards. The continual wars that
in that turbulent time racked Europe gave to the marauders of the
sea a specious excuse for their occupation. Thus, many a Spanish
schooner, manned by a swarthy crew bent on plunder, commenced her
career on the Spanish Main, with the intention of taking only ships
belonging to France and England; but let a richly laden Spanish galleon
appear, after a long season of ill-fortune, and all scruples were thrown
aside, the "Jolly Roger" sent merrily to the fore, and another pirate
was added to the list of those that made the highways of the sea as
dangerous to travel as the footpad infested common of Hounslow Heath.
English ships went out to hunt down the treacherous Spaniards, and
stayed to rob and pillage indiscriminately; and not a few of the names
now honored as those of eminent English discoverers, were once dreaded
as being borne by merciless pirates.



But the most powerful of the buccaneers on the Spanish Main were
French, and between them and the Spaniards an unceasing warfare was
waged. There were desperate men on either side, and mighty stories
are told of their deeds of valor. There were Pierre Francois, who, with
six and twenty desperadoes, dashed into the heart of a Spanish fleet, and
captured the admiral's flag-ship; Bartholomew Portuguese, who, with
thirty men, made repeated attacks upon a great Indiaman with a crew of
seventy, and though beaten back time and again, persisted until the crew
surrendered to the twenty buccaneers left alive; Francois l'Olonoise, who
sacked the cities of Maracaibo and Gibraltar, and who, on hearing that
a man-o'-war had been sent to drive him away, went boldly to meet
her, captured her, and slaughtered all of the crew save one, whom he sent
to bear the bloody tidings to the governor of Havana.
Such were the buccaneers, desperate, merciless, and insatiate in their
lust for plunder. So numerous did they finally become, that no merchant
dared to send a ship to the West Indies; and the pirates, finding
that they had fairly exterminated their game, were fain to turn land-
wards for further booty. It was an Englishman that showed the sea
rovers this new plan of pillage; one Louis Scott, who descended upon
the town of Campeche, and, after stripping the place to the bare walls,
demanded that a heavy tribute be paid him, in default of which he
would burn the town. Loaded with booty, he sailed back to the buc-
caneers' haunts in the Tortugas. This expedition was the example that
the buccaneers followed for the next few years. City after city fell a
prey to the demoniac attacks of the lawless rovers. Houses and churches
were sacked, towns given to the flames, rich and poor plundered alike;
murder was rampant; and men and women were subjected to the most
horrid tortures, to extort information as to buried treasures.
Two great names stand out pre-eminent amid the host of outlaws
that took part in this reign of rapine, -l'Olonoise and Sir Henry Morgan.
The desperate exploits of these two worthies would, if recounted, fill
volumes; and probably no more extraordinary narrative of cruelty, courage,
suffering, and barbaric luxury could be fabricated. Morgan was a Welsh.


man, an emigrant, who, having worked out as a slave the cost of his
passage across the ocean, took immediate advantage of his freedom to
take up the trade of piracy. For him was no pillaging of paltry merchant-
ships. He demanded grander operations, and his bands of desperadoes
assumed the proportions of armies. Many were the towns that suffered
from the bloody visitations of Morgan and his men. Puerto del Principe
yielded up to them three hundred thousand pieces of eight, five hundred
head of cattle, and many prisoners. Porto Bello was bravely defended
against the barbarians; and the stubbornness of the defence so enraged
Morgan, that he swore that no quarter should be given the defenders.
And so when some hours later the chief fortress surrendered, the
merciless buccaneer locked its garrison in the guard-room, set a torch to
the magazine, and sent castle and garrison flying into the' air. Maracaibo
and Gibraltar next fell into the clutches of the pirate. At the latter
town, finding himself caught in a river with three men-of-war anchored
at its mouth, he hastily built a fire-ship, put some desperate men at the
helm, and sent her, a sheet of flame, into the midst of the squadron.
The admiral's ship was destroyed; and the pirates sailed away, exulting
over their adversaries' discomfiture.. Rejoicing over their victories, the
followers of Morgan then planned a venture that should eclipse all that
had gone before. This was no less than a descent upon Panama, the
most powerful of the West Indian cities. For this undertaking, Morgan
gathered around him an army of over two thousand desperadoes of all
nationalities. A little village on the island of Hispaniola was chosen as
the .recruiting station; and thither flocked pirates, thieves, and adventurers
from all parts of the world. It was a motley crew thus gathered together, -
Spaniards, swarthy skinned and black haired; wiry Frenchmen, quick to
anger, and ever ready with cutlass or pistol; Malays and Lascars, half
clad in gaudy colors, treacherous and sullen, with. a hand ever on their
glittering creeses; Englishmen, handy alike with fist, bludgeon, or cutlass,
and mightily given to fearful oaths; negroes, Moors, and a few West
Indians mixed with the lawless throng.
Having gathered his band, procured provisions (chiefly by plundering),


and built a fleet of boats, Morgan put his forces in motion. The first
obstacle in his path was the Castle of Chagres, which guarded the mouth
of the Chagres River, up which the buccaneers must pass to reach the
city of Panama. To capture this fortress, Morgan sent his vice-admiral
Bradley, with four hundred men. The Spaniards were evidently warned
of their approach; for hardly had the first ship flying the piratical ensign
appeared at the mouth of the river, when the royal standard of Spain
was hoisted above the castle, and the dull report of a shotted gun told
the pirates that there was a stubborn resistance in store for them.
Landing some miles below the castle, and cutting their way with
hatchet and sabre through the densely interwoven vegetation of a tropical
jungle, the pirates at last reached a spot from which .a clear view of
the castle could be obtained. As they emerged from the forest to the
open, the sight greatly disheartened them. They saw a powerful fort,
with bastions, moat, drawbridge, and precipitous natural defences. Many
of the pirates advised a retreat; but Bradley, dreading the anger of
Morgan, ordered an assault. Time after time did the desperate buc-
caneers, with horrid yells, rush upon the fort, only to be beaten back
by the well-directed volleys of the garrison. They charged up to the
very walls, threw over fireballs, and hacked the timbers with axes, but
to no avail. From behind their impregnable ramparts, the Spaniards fired
murderous volleys, crying out, -
"Come on, you English devils, you heretics, the enemies of God and
of the king! Let your comrades who are behind come also. We will serve
them as we have served you. You shall not get to Panama this time."
As night fell, the pirates withdrew into the thickets to escape the fire
of their enemies, and to discuss their discomfiture. As one group of
buccaneers lay in the jungle, a chance arrow, shot by an Indian in the
fort, struck one of them in the arm. Springing to his feet with a cry
of rage and pain, the wounded man cried out as he tore the arrow from
the bleeding wound, -
"Look here, my comrades. I will make this accursed arrow the
means of the destruction of all the Spaniards."


So saying, he wrapped a quantity of cotton about the head of the
arrow, charged his gun with powder, and, thrusting the arrow into the
muzzle, fired. His comrades eagerly watched the flight of the missile,
which was easily traced by the flaming cotton. Hurtling through the
air, the fiery missile fell upon a thatched roof within the castle, and
the dry straw and leaves were instantly in a blaze. With cries of savage
joy, the buccaneers ran about picking up the arrows that lay scattered
over the battle-field. Soon the air was full of the firebrands, and the
woodwork within the castle enclosure was a mass of flame. One arrow
fell within the magazine; and a burst of smoke and flame, and the dull
roar of an explosion, followed. The Spaniards worked valiantly to
extinguish the .flames, and to beat back their assailants; but the fire
raged beyond their control, and the bright light made them easy targets
for their foes. There could be but one issfle to such a conflict. By
morning the fort was in the hands of the buccaneers, and of the garrison
of three hundred and fourteen only fourteen were unhurt. Over the
ruins of the fort the English flag was hoisted, the shattered walls were
repaired, and the place made a rendezvous for Morgan's forces.
On the scene of the battle Morgan drilled his forces, and prepared
for the march and battles that were to come. After some days' prepa-
ration, the expedition set out. The road lay through tangled tropical
forests, under a burning sun. Little food was taken, as the invaders
expected to live on .the country; but the inhabitants fled before the
advancing column, destroying every thing eatable. Soon starvation stared
the desperadoes in the face. They fed upon berries, roots, and leaves.
As the days passed, and no food was to be found, they sliced up and
devoured coarse leather bags. For a time, it seemed that they would
never escape alive from the jungle; but at last, Weak, weary, and emaci-
ated, they came out upon a grassy plain before the city of Panaina.
Here, a few days later, a great battle was fought. The Spaniards out-
numbered the invaders, and were better provided with munitions of war;
yet .the pirates, fighting with the bravery of desperate men, were victori-
ous, and the city fell into their hands. Then followed days of murder,


plunder, and debauchery. Morgan saw his followers, maddened by liquor,
scoff at the idea of discipline and obedience. Fearing that while his
men were helplessly drunk the Spaniards would rally and cut them to
pieces, he set fire to the city, that the stores of rum might be destroyed.
After sacking the town, the vandals packed their plunder on the backs
of mules, and retraced their steps to the seaboard. Their booty amounted
to over two millions of dollars. Over the division of this enormous sum
great dissensions arose, and Morgan saw the mutinous spirit spreading
rapidly among his men. With a few accomplices, therefore, he loaded a
ship with the plunder, and secretly set sail; leaving over half of his
band, without food or shelter, in a hostile country. Many of the aban-
doned buccaneers starved, some were shot or hanged by the enraged
Spaniards; but the leader of the rapacious gang reached Jamaica with a
huge fortune, and was appointed governor of the island, and made
a baronet by the reigning king of England, Charles the Second.
Such were some of the exploits of some of the more notorious of the
buccaneers. It may be readily imagined, that, with hordes of desperadoes
such as these infesting the waters of the West Indies, there was little
opportunity for the American Colonies to build up any maritime interests
in that direction. And as the merchantmen became scarce on the
Spanish Main, such of the buccaneers as did not turn landward in search
of booty put out to sea, and ravaged the ocean pathways between the
Colonies and England. It was against these pirates, that the earliest
naval operations of the Colonies were directed. Several cruisers were
fitted out to rid the seas of these pests, but we hear little of their success.
But the name of one officer sent against the pirates has become
notorious as that of the worst villain of them all.
It was in January, 1665, that William III., King of England, issued
"to our true and well-beloved Capt. William Kidd, commander of the
ship 'Adventure,' a commission to proceed against "divers wicked
persons who commit many and great piracies, robberies, and depredations
on the seas." Kidd was a merchant of New York, and had commanded
a privateer during the last war with France. He was a man of great


courage, and, being provided with a stanch ship and brave crew, set out
with high hopes of winning great reputation and much prize money.
But fortune was against him. For months the "Adventure" ploughed
the blue waves of the ocean, yet not a sail appeared on the horizon.
Once, indeed, three ships were seen in the distance. The men of the
"Adventure" were overjoyed at the prospect of a rich prize, The ship
was prepared for action. The men, stripped to the waist, stood at their
quarters, talking of the coming battle. Kidd stood in the rigging with a
spy-glass, eagerly examining the distant vessels. But only disappointment
was in store ; for, as the ships drew nearer, Kidd shut his spy-glass with
an oath, saying, -
"They are only three English men-o'-war."
Continued disappointment bred discontent and mutiny among the
S crew. They had been enlisted with lavish promises of prize money, but
saw before them nothing but a profitless cruise. The spirit of discontent
spread rapidly. Three or four ships that were sighted proved to be
neither pirates nor French, and were therefore beyond the powers of
capture granted Kidd by the king. Kidd fought against the growing
piratical sentiment for a long time; but temptation at last overcame him,
and he yielded. Near the Straits of Babelmandeb, at the entrance to the
Red Sea, he landed a party, plundered the adjoining country for provisions,
and, turning his ship's prow toward the straits, mustered his crew on
deck, and thus addressed them: -
"We have been unsuccessful hitherto, my boys," he said, "but take
courage. Fortune is now about to smile upon us. The fleet of the
'Great Mogul,' freighted with the richest treasures, is soon to come out
of the Red Sea. From the capture of those heavily laden ships, we will
all grow rich."
The crew, ready enough to become pirates, cheered lustily : and, turning
his back upon all hopes of an honorable career, Kidd set out in search
of the treasure fleet. After cruising for four days, the "Adventure"
fell in with the squadron, which proved to be under convoy of an
English and a Dutch man-of-war. The squadron was a large one, and


the ships greatly scattered. By skilful seamanship, Kidd dashed down
upon an outlying vessel, hoping to capture and plunder it before the
convoying men-of-war could come to its rescue. But his first shot
attracted the attention of the watchful guardians; and, though several
miles away, they packed on all sail, and bore down to the rescue with
such spirit that the disappointed pirate was forced to sheer off. Kidd
was now desperate. He had failed as a reputable privateer, and his
first attempt at piracy had failed. Thenceforward, he cast aside all
scruples, and captured large ships and small, tortured their crews, and
for a time seemed resolved to lead a piratical life. But there are
evidences that at times this strange man relented, and strove to return
to the path of duty and right. On one occasion, a Dutch ship crossed
the path of the Adventure," and the crew clamorously demanded her
capture. Kidd firmly refused. A tumult arose. The captain drew his
sabre and pistols, and gathering about him those still faithful, addressed
the mutineers, saying, -
"You may take the boats and go. But those who thus leave this
ship will never ascend its sides again."
The mutineers murmured loudly. One man, a gunner, named William
Moore, stepped forward, saying, -
"You are ruining us all. You are keeping us in beggary and
starvation. But for your whims, we might all be prosperous and rich."
At this outspoken mutiny, Kidd flew into a passion. Seizing a heavy
bucket that stood near, he dealt Moore a terrible blow on the head.
The unhappy man fell to the deck with a fractured skull, and the other
mutineers sullenly yielded to the captain's will. Moore died the next
day; and months after, when Kidd, after roving the seas, and robbing
ships of every nationality, was brought to trial at London, it was for
the murder of William Moore that he was condemned to die. For
Kidd's career subsequent to the incident of the Dutch ship was that
of a hardened pirate. He captured and robbed ships, and tortured their
passengers. He went to Madagascar, the rendezvous of the pirates, and
joined in their revelry and debauchery. On the island were five or six


hundred pirates, and ships flying the black flag were continually arriving
or departing. The streets resounded with shouts of revelry, with curses,
and with the cries of rage. Strong drinks were freely used. Drunkenness
was everywhere. It was no uncommon thing for a hogshead of wine
to be opened, and left standing in the streets, that any might drink
who chose. The pirates, flush with their ill-gotten gains, spent money on
Gambling and kindred vices lavishly. The women who accompanied them
to this lawless place were decked out with barbaric splendor in silks
and jewels. On the arrival of a ship, the debauchery was unbounded.
Such noted pirates as Blackbeard, Steed Bonnet, and Avary made the
place their rendezvous, and brought thither their rich prizes and wretched
prisoners. Blackbeard was one of the most desperate pirates of the age.
He, with part of his crew, once terrorized the officials of Charleston, S.C.,
exacting tribute of medicines and provisions. Finally he was killed in
action, and sixteen of his desperate gang expiated their crimes on the
To Madagascar, too, often came the two female pirates, Mary Read
and Anne Bonny. These women, masquerading in men's clothing, were
as desperate and bloody as the men by whose side they fought. By
a strange coincidence, these two women enlisted on the same ship.
Each knowing her own sex, and being ignorant of that of the other, they
fell in love; and the final discovery of their mutual deception increased
their intimacy. After serving with the pirates, working at the guns,
swinging a cutlass in the boarding parties, and fighting a duel in which
she killed her opponent, Mary Read determined to escape. There is
every evidence that she wearied of the evil life she was leading, and
was determined to quit it; but, before she could carry her intentions
into effect, the ship on which she served was captured, and taken to
England, where the pirates expiated their crimes on the gallows, Mary
Read dying in prison before the day set for her execution.
After some months spent in licentious revelry at Madagascar, Kidd
set out on a further cruise. During this voyage he learned that he had
been proscribed as a pirate, and a price set on his head. Strange as



it may appear, this news was a surprise to him. He seems to have
deceived himself into thinking that his acts of piracy were simply the
legitimate work of a privateersman. For a time he knew not what
to do; but as by this time the coarse pleasures of an outlaw's life were
distasteful to him, he determined to proceed to New York, and endeavor
to prove himself an honest man. This determination proved to be an
unfortunate one for him; for hardly had he arrived, when he was taken
into custody, and sent to England for trial. He made an able defence,
but was found guilty, and sentenced to be hanged; a sentence which
was executed some months later, in the presence of a vast multitude
of people, who applauded in the death of Kidd the end of the reign of
outlaws upon the ocean.


-: 2^ l INTH NA/\fl
I', IN o, -




HILE it was chiefly in expeditions against the buccaneers, or.
in the defence of merchantmen against these predatory gentry,
that the American colonists gained their experience in naval
warfare, there were, nevertheless, some few naval expeditions
fitted out by the colonists against the forces of a hostile government.
Both to tlhe north and south lay the territory of France and Spain, -
England's traditional enemies; and so soon as the colonies began to
give evidence of their value to the mother country, so soon were they
dragged into the quarrels in which the haughty mistress of the seas was
ever plunged. Of the southern colonies, South Carolina was continually
embroiled with Spain, owing to the conviction of the Spanish that the
boundaries of Florida-at that time a Spanish colony-included the
greater part of the Carolinas. For the purpose of enforcing this idea,
the Spaniards, in 1706, fitted out an expedition of four ships-of-war
and a galley, which, under the command of a celebrated French admiral,


was despatched to take Charleston. The people of Charleston were in
no whit daunted, and on the receipt of the news of the expedition began
preparations for resistance. They had no naval vessels; but several
large merchantmen, being in port, were hastily provided with batteries,
and a large galley was converted into a flag-ship. Having no trained
naval officers, the command of the improvised squadron was tendered
to a certain Lieut.-Col. Rhett, who possessed the confidence of the
colonists. Rhett accepted the command; and when the attacking party
cast anchor some miles below the city, and landed their shore forces,
he weighed anchor, and set out to attack them. But the Spaniards
avoided the conflict, and fled out to sea, leaving their land forces to
bear the brunt of battle. In this action, more than half of the invaders
were killed or taken prisoners. Some days later, one of the Spanish
vessels, having been separated from her consorts, was discovered by
Rhett, who attacked her, and after a sharp fight captured her, bringing
her with ninety prisoners to Charleston.
But it was chiefly in expeditions against the French colonies to
the northward that the naval strength of the English colonies was
exerted. Particularly were the colonies of Port Royal, in Acadia, and
the French stronghold of Quebec coveted by the British, and they proved
fertile sources of contention in the opening years of the eighteenth
century. Although the movement for the capture of these colonies was
incited by the ruling authorities of Great Britain, its execution was left
largely to the colonists. One of the earliest of these expeditions was
that which sailed from Nantasket, near Boston, in April, 1690, bound
for the conquest of Port Royal.
This expedition was under the command of Sir William Phipps,
a sturdy colonist, whose life was not devoid of romantic episodes.
Though his ambitions were of the lowliest, his dearest wish being "to
command a king's ship, and own a fair brick house in the Green Lane
of North Boston," -he managed to win for himself no small amount'of
fame and respect in the colonies. His first achievement was character-
istic of that time, when Spanish galleons, freighted with golden ingots,


still sailed the seas, when pirates buried their booty, and when the
treasures carried down in sunken ships were not brought up the next
day by divers clad in patented submarine armor. From a weather-beaten
old seaman, with whom he became acquainted while pursuing his trade
of ship-carpentering, Phipps learned of a sunken wreck lying on the
sandy bottom many fathoms beneath the blue surface of the Gulf of
Mexico. The vessel had gone down fifty years before, and had carried
with her great store of gold and silver, which she was carrying from
the rich mines of Central and South America to the Court of Spain.
Phipps, laboriously toiling with adze and saw in his ship-yard, listened
to the story of the sailor, his blood coursing quicker in his veins, and
his ambition for wealth and position aroused to its fullest extent. Here,
then, thought he, was the opportunity of a lifetime. Could he but
recover the treasures carried down with the sunken ship, he would have
wealth and position in the colony. With these two allies at his com-
mand, the task of securing a command in the king's navy would be an
easy one. But to seek out the sunken treasure required a ship and
seamen. Clearly his own slender means could never meet the demands
of so great an undertaking. Therefore, gathering together all his small
savings, William Phipps set sail for England, in the hopes of interesting
capitalists there in his scheme. By dint of indomitable persistence, the
unknown American ship-carpenter managed to secure the influence of
certain officials of high station in England, and finally managed to get
the assistance of the British admiralty. A frigate, fully manned, was
given him, and he set sail for the West Indies.
Once arrived in the waters of the Spanish Main, he Legan his search.
Cruising about the spot indicated by his seafaring informant as the location
of the sunken vessel, sounding and dredging occupied the time of the
treasure-seekers for months. The crew, wearying of the fruitless search,
began to murmur, and signs of mutiny were rife. Phipps, filled with
thoughts of the treasure for which he sought, saw not at all the lowering
looks, nor heard the half-uttered threats, of the crew as he passed them. But
finally the mutiny so developed that he could no longer ignore its existence.




It was then the era of the buccaneers. Doubtless some of the crew
had visited the outlaws' rendezvous at New Providence, and had told their
comrades of the revelry and ease in which the sea robbers spent their
days. And so it happened that one day, as Phipps stood on the quarter-
deck vainly trying to choke down the nameless fear that had begun to
oppress him, -the fear that his life's venture had proved a failure, his
crew came crowding aft, armed to the teeth, and loudly demanded that
the captain should abandon his foolish search, and lead them on a fear-
less buccaneering cruise along the Spanish Main. The mutiny was one
which might well have dismayed the boldest sea captain. The men were
desperate, and well armed. Phipps was almost without support; for his
officers, by their irresolute and timid demeanor,,gave him little assurance
of aid.
Standing on the quarter-deck, Phipps listened impatiently to the com-
plaints of the mutineers; but, when their spokesman called upon him to
lead them upon a piratical cruise, he lost all control of himself, and,
throwing all prudence to the winds, sprung into the midst of the mal-
contents, and laid about him right manfully with his bare fists. The
mutineers were all well armed, but seemed loath to use their weapons;
and the captain, a tall, powerful man, soon awed them all into submission.
Though he showed indomitable energy in overcoming obstacles,
Phipps was not destined to discover the object of his search at this
time; and, after several months' cruising, he was forced, by the leaky
condition of his vessel, to abandon the search. But, before leaving the
waters of the Spanish Main, he obtained enough information to convince
him that his plan was a practicable one, and no mere visionary scheme.
On reaching England, he went at once to some wealthy noblemen, and,
laying before them all the facts in his possession, so interested them in
the project that they readily agreed to supply him with a fresh outfit.
After a few weeks spent in organizing his expedition, the treasure-seeker
was again on the ocean, making his way toward the Mexican Gulf. This
time his search was successful, and a few days' work with divers and
dredges about the sunken ship brought to light bullion and specie to


the amount of more than a million and a half dollars. As his ill
success in the first expedition had embroiled him with his crew, so his
good fortune this time aroused the cupidity of the sailors. Vague rumors
of plotting against his life reached the ears of Phipps. Examining
further into the matter, he learned that the crew was plotting to seize
the vessel, divide the treasure, and set out upon a buccaneering cruise.
Alarmed at this intelligence, Phipps strove to conciliate the seamen by
offering them a share of the treasure. Each man should receive a
portion, he promised, even if he himself had to pay it. The men agreed
to this proposition; and so well did Phipps keep his word with them on
returning to England, that, of the whole treasure, only about eighty thou-
sand dollars remained to him as his share. This, however, was an ample
fortune for those times; and with it Phipps returned to Boston, and began
to devote himself to, the task of securing a command in the royal navy.
His first opportunity to distinguish himself came in the expedition of
1690 against Port Royal. Throughout the wars between France and
England, the French settlement of Port Royal had been a thorn in the
flesh of Massachusetts. From Port Royal, the trim-built speedy French
privateers put to sea, and seldom returned without bringing in their
wake some captured coaster or luckless fisherman hailing from the
colony of the Puritans. When the depredations of the privateers became
unbearable, Massachusetts bestirred herself, and the doughty Phipps was
sent with an expedition to reduce their unneighborly neighbor to sub-
jection. Seven vessels and two hundred and eighty-eight men were put
under the command of the lucky treasure-hunter. The expedition was
devoid of exciting or novel features. Port Royal was reached without
disaster, and the governor surrendered with a promptitude which should
have won immunity for the people of the village. But the Massachusetts
sailors had not undertaken the enterprise for glory alone, and they
plundered the town before taking to their ships again.
This expedition, however, was but an unimportant incident in the naval
annals of the colonies. It was followed quickly by an expedition of much
graver importance.


When Phipps returned after capturing and plundering Port Royal,
he found Boston vastly excited over the preparations for an expedition
against Quebec. The colony was in no condition to undertake the work
of conquest. Prolonged Indian wars had greatly depleted its treasury.
Vainly it appealed to England for aid, but, receiving no encouragement,
sturdily determined to undertake the expedition unaided. Sailors were
pressed from the merchant-shipping. Trained bands, as the militia of
that day was called, drilled in the streets, and on the common. Subscrip-
tion papers were being circulated; and vessel owners were blandly given
the choice between voluntarily loaning their vessels to the colony, or
having them peremptorily seized. In this way a fleet of thirty-two vessels
had been collected; the largest of which was a ship called the "Six
Friends," built for the West India trade, and carrying forty-four guns.
This armada was manned by seamen picked up by a press so vigorous,
that Gloucester, the chief seafaring town of the colony, was robbed of
two-thirds of its men. Hardly had Capt. Phipps, flushed with victory,
returned ffom his Port Royal expedition, when he was given command of
the armada destined for the capture of Quebec.
Early in August the flotilla set sail from Boston Harbor. The day was
clear and warm, with a light breeze blowing. From his flag-ship Phipps
gave the signal for weighing anchor, and soon the decks of the vessels
thickly strewn about the harbor resounded to the tread of men about the
capstan. Thirty-two vessels of the squadron floated lightly on the calm
waters of the bay; and darting in and out among them were light craft
carrying pleasure-seekers who had come down to witness the sailing of the
fleet, friends and relatives of the sailors who were there to say farewell,
and the civic dignitaries who came to wish the expedition success. One
by one the vessels beat their way down the bay, and, rounding the danger-
ous reef at the mouth of the harbor, laid their course to the northward.
It was a motley fleet of vessels. The "Six Brothers" led the way,
followed by brigs, schooners, and many sloop-rigged fishing-smacks. With
so ill-assorted a flotilla, it was impossible to keep any definite sailing order.
The first night scattered the vessels far and wide, and thenceforward


the squadron was not united until it again came to anchor just above the
mouth of the St. Lawrence. It seemed as though the very elements had
combined against the voyagers. Though looking for summer weather, they
encountered the-bitter gales of November. Only after they had all safely
entered the St. Lawrence, and were beyond injury from the storms, did the
gales cease. They had suffered all the injury that tempestuous weather
could do them, and they then had to chafe under the enforced restraints
of a calm.
Phipps had rallied his scattered fleet, and had proceeded up the great
river of the North to within three days' sail of Quebec, when the calm
overtook him. On the way up the river he had captured two French
luggers, and learned from his prisoners that Quebec was poorly fortified,
that the cannon on the redoubts were dismounted, and that hardly two
hundred men could be rallied to its defence. Highly elated at this, the
Massachusetts admiral pressed forward. He anticipated that Quebec,
like Port Royal, would surrender without striking a blow. Visions of
high honors, and perhaps even a commission in the royal navy, floated
across his brain. And while thus hurrying forward his fleet, drilling his
men, and building his air-castles, his further progress was stopped by a
dead calm which lasted three weeks.
How fatal to his hopes that calm was, Phipps, perhaps, never knew.
The information he had wrung from his French prisoners was absolutely
correct. Quebec at that time was helpless, and virtually at his mercy.
But, while the Massachusetts armada lay idly floating on the unruffled
bosom of the river, a man was hastening towards Quebec whose timely
arrival meant the salvation of the French citadel.
This man was Frontenac, then governor of the French colony, and
one of the most picturesque figures in American history. A soldier of
France; a polished courtier at the royal court; a hero on the battle-field,
and a favorite in the ball-room; a man poor in pocket, but rich in influ-
ential connections, Frontenac had come to the New World to seek that
fortune and position which he had in vain sought in the Old. When
the vague rumors of the hostile expedition of the Massachusetts colony


reached his ears, Frontenac was far from Quebec, toiling in the western
part of the colony. Wasting no time, he turned his steps toward the
threatened city. His road lay through an almost trackless wilderness;
his progress was impeded by the pelting rains of the autumnal storms.
But through forest and through rain he rode fiercely; and at last as he
burst from the forest, and saw towering before him the rocks of Cape
Diamond, a cry of joy burst from his lips. On the broad, still bosom of
the St. Lawrence Bay floated not a single hostile sail. The soldier had
come in time.
With the governor in the city, all took courage, and the work of
preparation for the coming struggle went forward with a rush. Far and
wide throughout the parishes was spread the news of war, and daily
volunteers came flocking in to the defence. The ramparts were strength-
ened, and cannon mounted. Volunteers and regulars drilled side by side,
until the four thousand men in the city were converted into a well-
disciplined body of troops. And all the time the sentinels on the Saut
au Matelot were eagerly watching the river for the first sign of the
English invaders.
It was before dawn, on the morning of Oct. 16, that the people of
the little city, and the soldiery in the tents, were awakened by the
alarm raised by the sentries. All rushed to the brink of the heights,
and peered eagerly out into the darkness. Far down the river could be
seen the twinkling lights of vessels. As the eager watchers strove to
count them, other lights appeared upon the scene, moving to and fro,
but with a steady advance upon Quebec. The gray dawn, breaking in
the east, showed the advancing fleet. Frontenac and his lieutenants
watched the ships of the enemy round the jutting headland of the
Point of Orleans; and, by the time the sun had risen, thirty-four hostile
craft were at anchor in the basin of Quebec.
The progress of the fleet up the river, from the point at which it
had been so long delayed, had been slow, and greatly impeded by the
determined hostility of the settlers along the banks. The sailors at
their work were apt to be startled by the whiz of a bullet; and an


inquiry as to the cause would have probably discovered some crouching
sharp-shooter, his long rifle in his hand, hidden in a clump of bushes
along the shore. Bands of armed men followed the fleet up the stream,
keeping pace with the vessels, and occasionally affording gentle reminders
of their presence in the shape of volleys of rifle-balls that sung through the
crowded decks of the transports, and gave the sailor lads a hearty disgust
for this river fighting. Phipps tried repeatedly to land shore parties to
clear the banks of skirmishers, and to move on the city by land. As
often, however, as he made the effort, his troops were beaten back by
the ambushed sharp-shooters, and his boats returned to the ships, bringing
several dead and wounded.
While the soldiery on the highlands of Quebec were eagerly examining
the hostile fleet, the invaders were looking with wonder and admiration
at the scene of surpassing beauty spread out before them. Parkman,
the historian and lover of the annals of the French in America, thus
describes it :-
"When, after his protracted voyage, Phipps sailed into the basin
of Quebec, one of the grandest scenes on the western continent opened
upon his sight. The wide expanse of waters, the lofty promontory beyond,
and the opposing Heights of Levi, the cataract of Montmorenci, the distant
range of the Laurentian Mountains, the warlike rock with its diadem
of walls. and towers, the roofs of the Lower Town clustering on the strand
beneath, the Chateau St. Louis perched at the brink of the cliff, and
over it the white banner, spangled with fleurs de lis, flaunting defiance
in the clear autumnal air."
Little time was spent, however, in admiration of the scene. When
the click of the last chain-cable had ceased, and, with their anchors
reposing at the bottom of the stream, the ships swung around with their
bows to the current, a boat put off from the flag-ship bearing an officer
intrusted with a note from Phipps to the commandant of the fort. The
reception of this officer was highly theatrical. Half way to the shore
he was taken into a French canoe, blindfolded, and taken ashore. The
populace crowded about him as he landed, hooting and jeering him as


he was led through winding, narrow ways, up stairways, and over obstruc-
tions, until at last the bandage was torn from his eyes, and he found
himself in the presence of Frontenac. The French commander was clad
in a brilliant uniform, and surrounded by his staff, gay in warlike finery.
With courtly courtesy he asked the envoy for his letter, which, proving
to be a curt summons to surrender, he answered forthwith in a stinging
speech. The envoy, abashed, asked for a written answer.
No," thundered Frontenac, "I will answer your master only by the
mouths of my cannon, that he may learn that a man like me is not
to be summoned after this fashion. Let him do his best, and I will do
The envoy returned to his craft, and made his report. The next day
hostilities opened. Wheeling his ships into line before the fortifications,
Phipps opened a heavy fire upon the city. From the frowning ramparts
on the heights, Frontenac's cannon answered in kind. Fiercely the
contest raged until nightfall, and vast was the consumption of gun-
powder; but damage done on either side was but little. All night
the belligerents rested on their arms; but, at daybreak, the roar of the
cannonade recommended.
The gunners of the opposing forces were now upon their mettle, and
the gunnery was much better than the day before. A shot from the shore
cut the flag-staff of the admiral's ship, and the cross of St. George
fell into the river. Straightway a canoe put out from the shore, and
with swift, strong paddle-strokes was guided in chase of the floating
trophy. The fire of the fleet was quickly concentrated upon the
adventurous canoeists. Cannon-balls and rifle-bullets cut the water about
them; but their frail craft survived the leaden tempest, and they captured
the trophy, and bore it off in triumph.
Phipps felt that the incident was an unfavorable omen, and would
discourage his men. He cast about in his mind for a means of retaliation.
Far over the roofs of the city rose a tapering spire, that of the cathedral
in the Upper Town. On this spire, the devout Catholics of the French
city had hung a picture of the Holy Family as an invocation of Divine


aid. Through his spy-glass, Phipps could see that some strange object
hung from the steeple, and, suspecting its character, commanded the
gunners to try to knock it down. For hours the Puritans wasted their
ammunition in this vain target-practice, but to no avail. The picture still
hung on high; and the devout Frenchmen ascribed its escape to a
miracle, although its destruction would have been more miraculous still.
It did not take long to convince Phipps that in this contest his fleet
was getting badly worsted, and he soon withdrew his vessels to a place
of safety. The flag-ship had been fairly riddled with shot; and her
rigging was so badly cut, that she could only get out of range of the
enemy's guns by cutting her cables, and drifting away with the current.
Her example was soon followed by the remaining vessels.
Sorely crestfallen, Phipps abandoned the fight, and prepared to return
to Boston. His voyage thither was stormy; and three or four of his
vessels never were heard of, having been dashed to pieces by the
waves, or cast away upon the iron-bound coast of Nova Scotia or Maine.
His expedition was the most costly in lives and in treasure ever under-
taken by a single colony, and, despite its failure, forms the most notable
incident in the naval annals of the colonies prior to the Revolution.
The French colonies continued to be a fruitful source of war and
turmoil. Many were the joint military and naval expeditions fitted out
against them by the British colonies. Quebec, Louisbourg, and Port
Royal were all threatened; and the two latter were captured by colonial
expeditions. From a naval point of view, these expeditions were but
trifling. They are of some importance, however, in that they gave the
colonists an opportunity to try their prowess on the ocean; and in this
irregular service were bred some sailors who fought right valiantly for
the rebellious, colonies against the king, and others who did no less
valiant service under the royal banner.




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T Is unnecessary to enter into an account of the causes that led up
to the revolt of the American Colonies against the oppression of
King George and his subservient Parliament. The story of the
Stamp Act, the indignation of the Colonies, their futile attempts
to convince Parliament of the injustice of the measure, the stern measures
adopted by the British to put down the rising insubordination, the Boston.,.,
Massacre, and the battles at Concord and Lexington are familiar to every
American boy. But not every young American knows that almost the first
act of open resistance to the authority of the king took place on the water,
and was to some extent a naval action.
The revenue laws, enacted by the English Parliament as a means of
extorting money from the Colonies, were very obnoxious to the people
of America. Particularly did the colonists of Rhode Island protest
against them, and seldom lost an opportunity to evade the payment of
the taxes.
Between Providence and Newport, illicit trade flourished; and the
waters of Narragansett Bay were dotted with the sail of small craft
carrying cargoes on which no duties had ever been paid. In order to
stop this nefarious traffic, armed vessels were stationed in the Bay, with
orders to chase and search all craft suspected of smuggling. The presence
of these vessels gave great offence to the colonists, and the inflexible



manner in which the naval officers discharged their duty caused more
than one open defiance of the authority of King George.
The first serious trouble to grow out of the presence of the British
cruisers in the bay was the affair of the schooner "St. John." This vessel
was engaged in patrolling the waters of the bay in search of smugglers.
While so engaged, her commander, Lieut. Hill, learned that a brig had
discharged a suspicious cargo at night near Howland's Ferry. Running
down to that point to investigate, the king's officers found the cargo to
consist of smuggled goods ; and, leaving a few men in charge, the cruiser
hastily put out to sea in pursuit of the smuggler. The swift saili
schooner soon overtook the brig, and the latter was taken in to Newpo,
as a prize. Although this affair occurred early in 1764, the sturdy colonists
even then had little liking for the officers of the king. The sailors of the
"St. John," careless of the evident dislike of the citizens of the town,
swaggered about the streets, boasting of their capture, and making merry
at the expense of the Yankees. Two or three fights between sailors and
townspeople so stirred up the landsmen, that they determined to destroy
the St. John," and had actually fitted up an armed sloop for that purpose,
when a second man-of-war appeared in the harbor and put a final stopper
to the project. Though thus balked of their revenge, the townspeople
showed their hatred for the king's navy by seizing a battery, and firing
several shots at the two armed vessels, but without effect.
During the same year, the little town of Newport again gave evidence
of the growth of the revolutionary spirit. This time the good old British
custom of procuring sailors for the king's ships by a system of kidnapping,
commonly known as impressment, was the cause of the outbreak. For
some months the British man-of-war Maidstone" lay in the harbor of
Newport, idly tugging at her anchors. It was a period of peace, and her
officers had nothing to occupy their attention. Therefore they devoted
themselves to increasing the crew of the vessel by means of raids upon
the taverns along the water-front of the city.
The seafaring men of Newport knew little peace while the Maidstone"
was in port. The king's service was the dread of every sailor; and, with


the press-gang nightly walking the streets, no sailor could feel secure. All
knew the life led by the sailors on the king's ships. Those were the days
when the cat-o'-nine-tails flourished, and the command of a beardless bit of
a midshipmen was enough to send a poor fellow to the gratings, to have
his back cut to pieces by the merciless lash. The Yankee sailors had
little liking for this phase of sea-life, and they gave the men-of-war a wide
Often it happened, however, that a party of jolly mariners sitting over
their pipes and grog in the snug parlor of some sea-shore tavern, spinning
yarns of the service they had seen on the gun-decks of his Majesty's ships,
or of shipwreck and adventure in the merchant service, would start up and
listen in affright, as the measured tramp of a body of men came up the
street. Then came the heavy blow on the door.
"Open in the king's name," shouts a gruff voice outside; and the
entrapped sailors, overturning the lights, spring for doors and windows, in
vain attempts to escape the fate in store for them. The press-gang seldom
returned to the ship empty handed, and the luckless tar who once fell
into their clutches was wise to accept his capture good naturedly; for
the bos'n's cat was the remedy commonly prescribed for sulkiness.
As long as the "Maidstone" lay in the harbor of Newport, raids
such as this were of common occurrence. The people of the city
grumbled a little; but it was the king's will, and none dared oppose it.
The wives and sweethearts of the kidnapped sailors shed many a bitter
tear over the disappearance of their husbands and lovers; but what were
the tears of women to King George ? And so the press-gang of the
"Maidstone" might have continued to enjoy unopposed the stirring
sport of hunting men like beasts, had the leaders not committed one
atrocious act of inhumanity that roused the long-suffering people to
One breezy afternoon, a stanch brig, under full sail, came up the
bay, and entered the harbor of Newport. Her sides were weather-beaten,
and her dingy sails and patched cordage showed that she had just
completed her long voyage. Her crew, a fine set of bronzed and hardy


sailors, were gathered on her forecastle, eagerly regarding the cluster of
cottages that made up the little town of Newport. In those cottages
were many loved ones, wives, mothers, and sweethearts, whom the brave
fellows had not seen for long and weary months; for the brig was just
returning from a voyage to the western coast of Africa.
It is hard to describe the feelings aroused by the arrival of a ship in
port after a long voyage. From the outmost end of the longest wharf
the relatives and friends of the sailors eagerly watch the approaching
vessel, striving to find in her appearance some token of the safety of
the loved ones on board. If a flag hangs at half-mast in the rigging,
bitter is the suspense, and fearful the dread, of each anxious' waiter, lest
her husband or lover or son be the unfortunate one whose death is
mourned. And on the deck of the ship the excitement is no less great.
Even the hardened breast of the sailor swells with emotion when he
first catches sight of his native town, after long months of absence.
With eyes sharpened by constant searching for objects upon the broad
bosom of the ocean, he scans the waiting crowd, striving to distinguish
in the distance some well-beloved face. His spirits are light with the
happy anticipation of a season in port with his loved ones, and he
discharges his last duties before leaving the ship with a blithe heart.
So it was with the crew of the home-coming brig. Right merrily
they sung out their choruses as they pulled at the ropes, and brought
the vessel to anchor. The rumble of the hawser through the hawse-
holes was sweet music to their ears; and so intent were they upon the
crowd on the dock, that they did not notice two long-boats which had
put off from the man-of-war, and were pulling for the brig. The captain
of the merchantman, however, noticed the approach of the boats, and
wondered what it meant. "Those fellows think I've smuggled goods
aboard," said he. "However, they can spend their time searching if
they want. I've nothing in the hold I'm afraid to have seen."
The boats were soon alongside; and two or three officers, with a
handful of jackies, clambered aboard the brig.
Muster your men aft, captain," said the leader, scorning any response


to the captain's salutation. "The king has need of a few fine fellows
for his service."
Surely, sir, you are not about to press any of these men," protested
the captain. "They are just returning after a long voyage, and have
not yet seen their families."
What's that to me, sir?" was the response. Muster your crew
without more words."
Sullenly the men came aft, and ranged themselves in line before the
boarding-officers. Each feared lest he might be one of those chosen to
fill the ship's roll of the "Maidstone;" yet each cherished the hope that
he might be spared to go ashore, and see the loved ones whose greeting he
had so fondly anticipated.
The boarding-officers looked the crew over, and, after consulting
together, gruffly ordered the men to go below, and pack up their traps.
"Surely you don't propose to take my entire crew?" said the
captain of the brig in wondering indignation.
"I know my business, sir," was the gruff reply, and I do not propose
to suffer any more interference."
The crew of the brig soon came on deck, carrying their bags of
clothes, and were ordered into the man-o'-war's boats, which speedily
conveyed them to their floating prison. Their fond visions of home had
been rudely dispelled. They were now enrolled in his Majesty's service,
and subject to the will of a blue-coated tyrant. This was all their
welcome home.
When the news of this cruel outrage reached the shore, the indignation
of the people knew no bounds. The thought of their fellow-townsmen
thus cruelly deprived of their liberty, at the conclusion of a long and
perilous voyage, set the whole village in a turmoil. Wild plots were
concocted for the destruction of the man-of-war, that, sullen and unyielding,
lay at her anchorage in the harbor. But the wrong done was beyond
redress. The captured men were not to be liberated. There was no
ordnance in the little town to compete with the guns of the Maidstone,"
and the enraged citizens could only vent their anger by impotent threats


and curses. Bands of angry men and boys paraded the streets, crying,
' Down with the press-gang," and invoking the vengeance of Heaven
upon the officers of the man-of-war. Finally, they found a boat belonging
to the "Maidstone" lying at a wharf. Dragging this ashore, the crowd
procured ropes, and, after pulling the captured trophy up and down the
streets, took it to the common in front of the Court-House, where it was
burned in the presence of a great crowd, which heaped execrations upon the
heads of the officers of the "Maidstone," and King George's press-gang.
After this occurrence, there was a long truce between the people of
Newport and the officers of the British navy. But the little town was
intolerant of oppression, and the revolutionary spirit broke out again
in 1769. Historians have eulogized Boston as the cradle of liberty, and
by the British pamphleteers of that era the Massachusetts city was often
called a hot-bed of rebellion. It would appear, however, that, while
the people of Boston were resting contentedly under the king's rule, the
citizens of Newport were chafing under the yoke, and were quick to
resist any attempts at tyranny.
It is noticeable, that, in each outbreak of the people of Newport
against the authority of the king's vessels, the vigor of the resistance
increased, and their acts of retaliation became bolder. Thus in the affair
of the "St. John" the king's vessel was fired on, while in the affair of
the Maidstone the royal property was actually destroyed. In the later
affairs with the sloop "Liberty" and the schooner "Gaspee," the revolt
of the colonists was still more open, and the consequences more serious.
In 1769 the armed sloop "Liberty," Capt. Reid, was stationed in
Narragansett Bay for the purpose of enforcing the revenue laws. Her
errand made her obnoxious to the people on the coast, and the extraordinary
zeal of her captain in discharging his duty made her doubly detested by
seafaring people afloat or shore.
On the 17th of July the "Liberty," while cruising near the mouth
of the bay, sighted a sloop and a brig under full sail, bound out. Promptly
giving chase, the armed vessel soon overtook the merchantmen sufficiently
to' send a shot skipping along the crests of the waves, as a polite


ivitation to stop. The two vessels hove to, and a boat was sent
from the man-of-war to examine their papers, and see if all was right.
Though no flaw was found in the papers of either vessel, Capt. Reid
determined to take them back to Newport, which was done. In the harbor
the two vessels were brought to anchor under the guns of the armed
sloop, and without any reason or explanation were kept there several
days. After submitting to this wanton detention for two days, Capt.
Packwood of the brig went on board the "Liberty" to make a protest
to Capt. Reid, and at the same time to get some wearing apparel taken
from his cabin at the time his vessel had been captured. On reaching
the deck of the armed vessel, he found Capt. Reid absent, and his request
for his property was received with ridicule. Hot words soon led to
violence; and as Capt. Packwood stepped in to his boat to return to his
ship, he was fired at several times, none of the shots taking effect.
The news of this assault spread like wildfire in the little town. The
people congregated on the streets, demanding reparation. The authorities
sent a message to Capt. Reid, demanding that the man who fired the
shots be given up. Soon a boat came from the "Liberty," bringing a
man who was handed over to the authorities as the culprit. A brief
examination into the case showed that the man was not the guilty
party, and that his surrender was a mere subterfuge. The people then
determined to be trifled with no longer, and made preparations to take
vengeance upon the insolent oppressors.
The work of preparation went on quietly; and by nightfall a large
number of men had agreed to assemble at a given signal, and march
upon the enemy. Neither the authorities of the town nor the officers
on the threatened vessel were' given any intimation of the impending
outbreak. Yet the knots of men who stood talking earnestly on the
street corners, or looked significantly at the trim navy vessel lying in
the harbor, might have well given cause for suspicion.
That night, just as the dusk was deepening into dark, a crowd of
men marched down the street to a spot where a number of boats lay
hidden in the shadow of a wharf. Embarking in these silently, they


bent to the oars at the whispered word of command; and the boats were
soon gliding swiftly over the smooth, dark surface of the harbor, toward
the sloop-of-war. As they drew near, the cry of the lookout rang out, -
"Boat ahoy!"
No answer. The boats, crowded with armed men, still advanced.
"Boat ahoy! Answer, or I'll fire."
And, receiving no response, the lookout gave the alarm, and the
watch came tumbling up, just in time to be driven below or disarmed
by the crowd of armed men that swarmed over the gunwale of the
vessel. There was no bloodshed. The crew of the "Liberty" was fairly
surprised, and made no resistance. The victorious citizens cut the
sloop's cables, and allowed her to float on shore near Long Wharf.
Then, feeling sure that their prey could not escape them, they cut away
her masts, liberated their captives, and taking the sloop's boats, dragged
them through the streets to the common, where they were burned on a
triumphal bonfire, amid the cheers of the populace.
But the exploit was not to end here. With the high tide the next
day, the hulk of the sloop floated away, and drifted ashore again on
Goat Island. When night fell, some adventurous spirits stealthily went
over, and, applying the torch to the stranded ship, burned it to the
water's edge. Thus did the people of Newport resist tyranny.
It may well be imagined that so bold a defiance of the royal
authority caused a great sensation. Prolonged and vigorous were the
attempts of the servants of the king to find out the rebellious parties
who had thus destroyed his Majesty's property. But their efforts were
in vain. The identity of the captors of the "Liberty" was carefully
concealed, and even to this day none of their names has become known.
But, before the people of Newport had done talking about this affair,
another outbreak occurred, which cast the capture and destruction of
the "Liberty" into the shade.
This was the affair of the Gaspee," considered by many historians
the virtual opening of the revolutionary struggle of -the Colonies against
Great Britain. The "Gaspee," like the "St. John" and the "Liberty,"

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was an armed vessel stationed in Narragansett Bay to enforce the
revenue. She was commanded by Lieut. Dudingston of the British
navy, and carried eight guns. By pursuing the usual tactics of the
British officers stationed on the American coast, Duddingston had made
himself hated; and his vessel was marked for destruction. Not a boat
could pass between Providence and Newport without being subjected to
search by the crew of the "Gaspee;" and the Yankee sailors swore
darkly, that, when the time was ripe, they would put an end to the
Britisher's officious meddling.
The propitious time arrived one bright June morning in the yeat
1772, when the "Gaspee" gave chase to a Newport packet which was
scudding for Providence, under the command of Capt. Thomas Lindsey.
The armed vessel was a clean-cut little craft, and, carrying no heavier
load than a few light guns of the calibre then in vogue, could overhaul
with ease almost any merchantman on the coast. So on this eventful
day she was rapidly overhauling the chase, when, by a blunder of the
pilot, she was run hard and fast upon a spit of sand running out from
Namquit Point, and thus saw her projected prize sail away in triumph.
But the escape of her prize was not the greatest disaster that was
to befall the "Gaspee" that day. Lindsey, finding himself safe from
the clutches of the enemy, continued his course to Providence, and on
arriving at that city reported the condition of the "Gaspee" to a
prominent citizen, who straightway determined to organize an expedition
for the destruction of the pest of marine traffic. He therefore gave
orders to a trusty ship-master to collect eight of the largest long-boats
in the harbor, and, having muffled their oars and rowlocks, place them
at Fenner's Wharf, near a noted tavern.
That night, soon after sunset, as the tradesmen were shutting up
their shops, and the laboring men were standing on the streets talking
after their day's work, a man passed down the middle of each street,
beating a drum, and crying aloud, -
"The schooner 'Gaspee' is ashore on Namquit Point. Who will
help destroy her ?"

* n"?


All who expressed a desire to join in the enterprise were directed to
repair to the Sabin House; and thither, later in the evening, flocked
many of the townspeople, carrying guns, powder-flasks, and bullet-pouches.
Within the house all was life and bustle. The great hall was crowded
with determined men, discussing the plan of attack. Guns stood in
every corner, while down in the kitchen a half a dozen men stood about
a glowing fire busily casting bullets. At last, all being prepared, the
party crossed the street to the dock, and embarked, -a veteran sea-captain
taking the tiller of each boat.
On the way down the harbor the boats stopped, and took aboard
a number of paving-stones and stout clubs, as weapons for those who
had no muskets. After this stoppage the boats continued on their way,
until, when within sixty yards of the "Gaspee," the long-drawn hail,
"Who comes there?" rang out over the water. No answer was made,
and the lookout quickly repeated his hail. Capt. Whipple, one of the
leaders of the attack, then responded, -
"I want to come on board."
Dudingston, who was below at the time, rushed on deck, exclaiming,
"Stand off. You can't come aboard."
As Dudingston stood at the side of the "Gaspee" warning off the
assailants, he presented a good mark; and Joseph Bucklin, who pulled an
oar in the leading boat, turned to a comrade and said, Ephe, lend me
your gun, and I can kill that fellow." The gun was accordingly handed
him, and he fired. Dudingston fell to the deck. Just as the shot was
fired, the leader of the assailants cried out, -
I am sheriff of the county of Kent. I am come for the commander of
this vessel; and have him I will, dead or alive. Men, spring to your oars."
In an instant the boats were under the lee of the schooner, and the
attacking party was clambering over the side. The first man to attempt
to board seized a rope, and was clambering up, when one of the British
cut the rope, and let him fall into the water. He quickly recovered
himself, and was soon on deck, where he found his comrades driving the
crew of the "Gaspee" below, and meeting with but little resistance.


A surgeon who was with the party of Americans led the boarders
below, and began the task of tying the hands of the captured crew with
strong tarred cord. While thus engaged, he was called on deck.
"What is wanted, Mr. Brown?" asked he, calling the name of the
person inquiring for him.
"Don't call names, but go immediately into the cabin," was the
response. "There is one wounded, and will bleed to death."
The surgeon went into the captain's cabin, and there found Dudingston,
severely wounded, and bleeding freely. Seeing no cloth suitable for
bandages, the surgeon opened his vest, and began to tear his own shirt
into strips to bind up the wound. With the tenderest care the hurt
of the injured officer was attended to; and he was gently lowered into
a boat, and rowed up the river to Providence.
The Americans remained in possession of the captured schooner, and
quickly began the work of demolition. In the captain's cabin were
a number of bottles of liquor, and for these the men made a rush; but
the American surgeon dashed the bottles to pieces with the heels of his
heavy boots, so that no scenes of drunkenness were enacted. After
breaking up the furniture and trappings of the craft, her people were
bundled over the side into the boats of their captors, and the torch was
set to the schooner. The boats lay off a little distance until the roaring
flames satisfied them that the "Gaspee" would never again annoy
American merchantmen. As the schooner's shotted guns went off one
after the other, the Americans turned their boats' prows homeward, and
soon dispersed quietly to their homes.
It is almost incredible that the identity of the parties to this
expedition was kept a secret until long after the Revolution. Although
the British authorities made the most strenuous efforts, and offered huge
rewards for the detection of the culprits, not one was discovered until
after the Colonies had thrown off the royal yoke, when they came boldly
forward, and boasted of their exploit.
After the destruction of the Gaspee," the colonists in no way openly
opposed the authority of the king, until the time of those stirring events


immediately preceding the American Revolution. Little was done on
the water to betoken the hatred of the colonists for King George. The
turbulent little towns of Providence and Newport subsided, and the scene
of revolt was transferred to Massachusetts, and particularly to Boston.
In the streets of Boston occurred the famous massacre, and at the
wharves of Boston lay the three ships whose cargo aroused the ire of
the famous Boston tea-party.
To almost every young American the story of the Boston tea-party
is as familiar as his own name, -how the British Parliament levied a tax
upon tea, how the Colonies refused to pay it, and determined to use none
of the article; how British merchants strove to force the tea upon the
unwilling colonists, and how the latter refused to permit the vessels to
unload, and in some cases drove them back to England. At Philadelphia,
Annapolis, Charleston, Newport, and Providence, disturbances took place
over the arrival of the tea-ships; but at Boston the turbulence was the
The story of that dramatic scene in the great drama of American
revolution has been told too often to bear repetition. The arrival of
three ships laden with tea aroused instant indignation in the New England
city. Mass meetings were held, the captains of the vessels warned not
to attempt to unload their cargoes, and the consignees were terrified
into refusing to have any thing to do with the tea.
In the midst of an indignation meeting held at the Old South Church,
a shrill war-whoop resounded from one of the galleries. The startled
audience, looking in that direction, saw a person disguised as a Mohawk
Indian, who wildly waved his arms and shouted, -
"Boston Harbor a tea-pot to-night! Hurrah for Griffin's Wharf."
In wild excitement the meeting adjourned, and the people crowded
out into the streets. Other Indians were seen running down the streets
in the direction of Griffin's Wharf, where the tea-ships were moored, and
thither the people turned their steps.
On reaching the wharf, a scene of wild confusion was witnessed. The
three tea-ships lay side by side at the wharf. Their decks were crowded



with men, many of them wearing the Indian disguise. The hatches were
off the hatchways; and the chests of tea were being rapidly passed up,
broken open, and thrown overboard. There was little noise, as the
workers seemed to be well disciplined, and went about their work in
the bright moonlight with systematic activity. In about three hours the
work was done. Three hundred and forty-two chests of tea had been
thrown overboard, and the rioters dispersed quietly to their homes.
The incident of the destruction of the tea in Boston Harbor was the last
of the petty incidents that led up to the American Revolution. Following
quick upon it came Lexington, Concord, and Bunker Hill, then the
great conflict was fairly under way, and the Colonies were fighting for
liberty. What part the sailors of the colonies took in that struggle, it is
the purpose of this book to recount.



N TREATING of the history of the navy during the war of the
Revolution, we must always bear in mind the fact, that, during
the greater part of that war, there was no navy. Indeed, the
subject presents much the same aspect as the celebrated chapter
." on snakes in Ireland, which consisted of exactly six words, "There are no
snakes in Ireland." So many of the episodes and incidents of the
Revolutionary war that we chronicle as part of the naval history of that
struggle are naval only in that they took place on the water. The
participants in them were often longshoremen, fishermen, or privateers-
men, and but seldom sailors enrolled in the regular navy of the united
colonies. Nevertheless, these irregular forces accomplished some results
that would be creditable to a navy in the highest state of efficiency and
The expense of building vessels-of-war, and the difficulty, amounting
even to impossibility, of procuring cannon for their armament, deterred
the Colonies from equipping a naval force. All the energies of the revolu-
A- tionists were directed towards organizing and equipping the army. The
cause of independence upon the ocean ivas left to shift for itself. But, as
the war spread, the depredations of British vessels along the coast became
so intolerable that some colonies fitted out armed vessels for self-protection.
Private enterprise sent out many privateers to prey upon British commerce,


so that the opening months of the year 1776 saw many vessels on the
ocean to support the cause of the Colonies. To man these vessels, there
were plenty of sailors; for even at that early day New England had
begun to develop that race of hardy seamen for which she is still noted
in this day of decadence in the American marine. There was, however,
a sad lack of trained officers to command the vessels of the infant navy.
Many Americans were enrolled on the lists of the ships flying the royal
banner of England, but most of these remained in the British service.
The men, therefore, who were to command the ships of the colonies, were
trained in the rough school of the merchant service, and had smelt gun-
powder only when resisting piratical attacks, or in serving themselves as
For these reasons the encounters and exploits that we shall consider
as being part of the naval operations of the Revolutionary war were of
a kind that would to-day be regarded as insignificant skirmishes; and the
naval officer of to-day would look with supreme contempt upon most of
his brethren of '76, as so many untrained sea-guerillas. Nevertheless,
the achievements of some of the seamen of the Revolution are not
insignificant, even when compared with exploits of the era of Farragut ;
and it must be remembered that the efforts of the devoted men were
directed against a nation that had in commission at the opening of the
war three hundred and fifty-three vessels, and even then bore proudly
the title conferred upon her by the consent of all nations,- "The Mistress
of the Seas."
It was on the i9th of April, 1775, that the redoubtable Major Pitcairn
and his corps of scarlet-coated British regulars shot down the colonists
on the green at Lexington, and then fled back to Boston followed by the
enraged minute-men, who harassed the retreating red-coats with a constant
fire of musketry. The news of the battle spread far and wide; and
wherever the story was told, the colonists began arming themselves,
and preparing for resistance to the continually increasing despotism of the
British authorities.
On the 9th of May, a coasting schooner from Boston put into the


little seaport of Machias on the coast of Maine. The'people of the little
town gathered at the wharf, and from the sailors first heard the story of
Lexington and Concord. The yoke of the British Government had rested
lightly on the shoulders of the people of Machias. Far from the chief
cities of the New World, they had heard little of the continued dissensions
between the Colonies and the home Government, and they heard the story
of the rebellion with amazement. But however unprepared they might
have been for the news of the outbreak, their sympathies went warmly
out to their struggling brethren, and they determined to place them-
selves shoulder to shoulder with the Massachusetts colonists in the fight
against the oppression of the British. Their opportunity for action came
that very night.
As the sturdy young colonists stood on the deck listening to the
stories of the newly arrived sailors, they could see floating lightly at
anchor near the wharf a trimly rigged schooner flying the ensign of the
British navy. This craft was the "Margaretta," an armed schooner acting
as convoy to two sloops that were then loading with ship-timber to be used
in the service of the king.
The Boston sailors had not yet finished their narrative of the two
battles, when the thought occurred to some of the adventurous listeners
that they might strike a retaliatory blow by capturing the "Margaretta."
Therefore, bidding the sailors to say nothing to the British of Lexington
and Concord, they left the wharf and dispersed through the town, seeking
for recruits. That same evening, sixty stalwart men assembled in a
secluded farm-house, and laid their plans for the destruction of the
schooner. It was then Saturday night, and the conspirators determined
to attack the vessel the next morning while the officers were at church.
All were to proceed by twos and threes to the vharf, in order that no
suspicion might be aroused. Once at the water-side, they would rush to
their boats, and carry the schooner by boarding.
Sunday morning dawned clear, and all seemed propitious for the
conspirators. The "Margaretta" had then been in port for more than a
week, and her officers had no reason to doubt the loyalty and friendship of


the inhabitants : no whisper of the occurrences in Massachusetts, nor
any hint of the purposes of the people of Machias, had reached their
ears. Therefore, on this peaceful May morning, Capt. Moore donned his
full-dress uniform, and with his brother officers proceeded to the little
church in the village.
Every thing then seemed favorable to the success of the adventure.
The Margaretta," manned by a sleepy crew, and deserted by her officers,
lay within easy distance of the shore. It seemed as though the conspirators
had only to divide into two parties; and while the one surrounded the
church, and captured the worshipping officers, the others might descend
upon the schooner, and easily make themselves masters of all.
But the plot failed. History fails to record just how or why the
suspicions of Capt. Moore were aroused. Whether it was that the wary
captain noticed the absence of most of the young men of the congregation,
or whether he saw the conspirators assembling on the dock, is not known.
But certain it is that the good dominie in the pulpit, and the pious people
in the pews, were mightily startled by the sudden uprisal of Capt. Moore,
who sprang from his seat, and, calling upon his officers to follow him, leaped
through the great window of the church, and ran like mad for the shore,
followed by the rest of the naval party.
There was no more church for the good people of Machias that
morning. Even the preacher came down from his pulpit to stare
through his horn-rimmed glasses at the retreating forms of his whilom
listeners. And, as he stood in blank amazement at the church door, he
saw a large party of the missing young men of his congregation come
dashing down the street in hot pursuit of the retreating mariners. In
their hands, the pursuers carried sabres, cutlasses, old flint-lock muskets,
cumbrous horse-pistols, scythes, and reaping-hooks. The pursued wore
no arms; and, as no boat awaited them at the shore, their case looked
hopeless indeed. But the old salt left in charge of the schooner was
equal to the occasion. The unsabbath-like tumult on the shore quickly
attracted his attention, and with unfeigned astonishment he had observed
his commander's unseemly egress from the church. But, when the armed


band of colonists appeared upon the scene, he ceased to rub his eyes in
wonder, and quickly loaded up a swivel gun, with which he let fly, over
the heads of his officers, and in dangerous proximity to the advancing
colonists. This fire checked the advance of the conspirators; and, while
they wavered and hung back, a boat put off from the schooner, and soon
took the officers aboard. Then, after firing a few solid shot over the
town, merely as an admonition of what might be expected if the hot-
headed young men persisted in their violent outbreaks, the "Margaretta"
dropped down the bay to a more secluded anchorage.
The defeated conspirators were vastly chagrined at the miscarriage of
their plot; but, nothing daunted, they resolved to attempt to carry the
schooner by assault, since strategy had failed. Therefore, early the next
morning, four young men seized upon a sloop, and, bringing her up to
the wharf, cheered lustily. A crowd soon gathered, and the project was
Explained, and volunteers called for. Thirty-five hardy sailors and wood-
men hastily armed themselves with muskets, pitchforks, and axes; and,
after taking aboard a small supply of provisions, the sloop dropped down
the harbor toward the "Margaretta." The captain of the threatened
schooner had observed through his spy-glass the proceedings at the
wharf, and suspected his danger. He was utterly ignorant of the reason
for this sudden hostility on the part of the people of Machias. He
knew nothing of the quarrel that had thus provoked the rebellion of the
colonies. Therefore, he sought to avoid a conflict; and, upon the approach
of the sloop, he hoisted his anchor, and fled down the bay.
The sloop followed in hot haste. The Yankees crowded forward, and
shouted taunts and jeers at their more powerful enemy who thus strove
to avoid the conflict. Both vessels were under full sail; and the size of
the schooner was beginning to tell, when, in jibing, she carried away her
main boom. Nevertheless, she was so far ahead of the sloop that she
was able to put into Holmes Bay, and take a spar out of a vessel
lying there, before the sloop overtook her. But the delay incident upon
changing the spars brought the sloop within range; and Capt. Moore, still
anxious to avoid an encounter, cut away his boats, and stood out to sea.

T ,

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With plenty of sea room, and with a spanking breeze on the quarter,
the sloop proved to be the better sailer. Moore then prepared for battle,
and, as the sloop overhauled him, let fly one of his swivels, following it
immediately with his whole broadside, killing one man. The sloop
returned the fire with her one piece of ordnance, which was so well
aimed as to kill the man at the helm of the "Margaretta," and clear
her quarter-deck. The two vessels then closed, and a hand-to-hand
battle began, in which muskets, hand-grenades, pikes, pitchforks, and
cutlasses were used with deadly effect. The colonists strove to board
their enemy, but were repeatedly beaten back. If any had thought that
Capt. Moore's continued efforts to avoid a conflict were signs of coward-
ice, they were quickly undeceived; for that officer fought like a tiger,
standing on the quarter-deck rail, cheering on his men, and hurling hand-
grenades down upon his assailants, until a shot brought him down. The
fall of their captain disheartened the British; and the Americans quickly
swarmed over the sides of the "Margaretta," and drove her crew below.
This victory was no mean achievement for the colonists. The
"Margaretta" was vastly the superior, both in metal and in the strength
of her crew. She was ably officered by trained and courageous seamen;
while the Yankees had no leaders save one Jeremiah O'Brien, whom they
had elected, by acclamation, captain. That the Americans had so quickly
brought their more powerful foe to terms, spoke volumes for their pluck
and determination. Nor were they content to rest with the capture of
the schooner. Transferring her armament to the sloop, O'Brien set out
in search of prizes, and soon fell in with, and captured, two small
British cruisers. These he took to Watertown, where the Massachusetts
Legislature was then in session. The news of his victory was received
with vast enthusiasm; and the Legislature conferred upon him the rank
of captain, and ordered him to set out on another cruise, and particularly
watch out for British vessels bringing over provisions or munitions of
war to the king's troops in America.
But by this time Great Britain was aroused. The king saw all
America up in arms against his authority, and he determined to punish


the rebellious colonists. A naval expedition was therefore sent against
Falmouth, and that unfortunate town was given to the flames. The
Legislature of Massachusetts then passed a law granting commissions to
privateers, and directing the seizure of British ships. Thereafter the
hostilities on the ocean, which had been previously unauthorized and
somewhat piratical, had the stamp of legislative authority.
Petty hostilities along the coast were very active during the first few
months of the war. The exploits of Capt. O'Brien stirred up seamen
from Maine to the Carolinas, and luckless indeed was the British vessel
that fell into their clutches. At Providence two armed American vessels
re-took a Yankee brig and sloop that had been captured by the British.
At Dartmouth' a party of soldiers captured a British armed brig. In addition
to these exploits, the success of the American privateers, which had got to
sea in great numbers, added greatly to the credit of the American cause.
The first order looking toward the establishment of a national navy
was given by Gen. Washington in the latter part of 1775. The sagacious
general, knowing that the British forces in Boston were supplied with
provisions and munitions of war by sea, conceived the idea of fitting
out some swift-sailing cruisers to intercept the enemy's cruisers, and cut
off their supplies. Accordingly, on his own authority, he sent out
Capt. Broughton with two armed schooners belonging to the colony of
Massachusetts. Broughton was ordered to intercept two brigs bound
for Quebec with military stores. This he failed to do, but brought in
ten other vessels. Congress, however, directed the release of the
captured ships, as it was then intended only to take such vessels as were
actually employed in the king's service.
By this time Congress had become convinced that some naval force
was absolutely essential to the success of the American cause. In
October, 1775, it therefore -fitted out, and ordered to sea, a number of
small vessels. Of these the first to sail was the "Lee," under command
of Capt. John Manly, whose honorable name, won in the opening years of
the Revolution, fairly entitles him to the station of the father of the
American navy.


With his swift cruiser, Manly patrolled the New England coast, and
was marvellously successful in capturing British store-ships. Washington
wrote to Congress, "I am in very great want of powder, lead, mortars,
and, indeed, most sorts of military stores." Hardly had the letter been
forwarded, when Manly appeared in port with a prize heavy laden with
just the goods for which the commander-in-chief had applied. A queer
coincidence is on record regarding these captured stores. Samuel Tucker,
an able Yankee seaman, later an officer in the American navy, was on
the docks at Liverpool as a transport was loading for America. As he
saw the great cases of guns and barrels of powder marked "Boston being
lowered into the hold of the vessel, he said to a friend who stood with
him, I would walk barefoot one hundred miles, if by that means these
arms could only take the direction of Cambridge." Three months later
Tucker was in Washington's camp at Cambridge, and there saw the very
arms he had so coveted on the Liverpool docks. They had been captured
by Capt. Manly.
Manly's activity proved very harassing to the British, and the sloop-
of-war "Falcon" was sent out to capture the Yankee. She fell in with
the "Lee" near Gloucester, just as the latter was making for that port
with a merchant schooner in convoy. Manly, seeing that the Englishman
was too heavy for him, deserted his convoy and ran into the port, where
he anchored, out of reach of the sloop's guns. Capt. Lindzee of the
" Falcon stopped to capture the abandoned schooner, and then taking
his vessel to the mouth of the port, anchored her in such a way as to
prevent any escape for the "Lee." He then prepared to capture the
Yankee by boarding. The "Falcon" drew too much water to run
alongside the Lee" at the anchorage Manly had chosen; and the English-
man therefore put his men in large barges, and with a force of about
forty men set out to capture the schooner. Manly saw the force that
was to be brought against him, and sent his men to quarters, preparing
for a desperate resistance. The schooner was lying near the shore; and
the townspeople and militia gathered by the water-side, with guns in their
hands, prepared to lend their aid to the brave defenders of the "Lee."


As the three barges drew near the schooner, Manly mounted the rail, and
hailed them, warning them to keep off lest he fire upon them.
"Fire, and be hanged to you," was the response of the lieutenant in
command of the assailants. "We have no fear of traitors."
So saying, the British pressed' on through a fierce storm of musketry
from the deck of the schooner and from the shore. They showed no
lack of courage. The lieutenant himself brought his boat under the
-cabin windows, and was in the act of boarding, when a shot from the shore
struck him in the thigh, and he was carried back to the man-of-war. Capt.
Lindzee, who had watched the progress of the fight from the deck of the
"Falcon," was greatly enraged when his lieutenant was thus disabled;
and he hastily despatched re-enforcements to the scene of action, and
directed the gunners on the "Falcon" to commence a cannonade of the
"Now," said he with an oath, "my boys, we will aim at the Presbyterian
church. Well, my brave fellows, one shot more, and the house of God
will fall before you."
But the British were fairly outfought, and the outcome of the battle
was disastrous to them. A newspaper of the period, speaking of the
fight says, Under God, our little party at the waterside performed
wonders; for they soon made themselves masters of both the schooners,
the cutter, the two barges, the boat, and every man in them, and all that
pertained to them. In the action, which lasted several hours, we have
lost but one man; two others wounded, one of whom is since dead, the
other very slightly wounded. We took of the man-of-war's men thirty-five;
several are wounded, and one since dead; twenty-four are sent to head-
quarters. The remainder, being impressed from this and neighboring
towns, are permitted to return to their friends. This morning Capt.
Lindzee warped off with but one-half of his men, with neither a prize-boat
nor tender, except a small skiff the wounded lieutenant returned in."
The work done by the small armed schooners of which the Lee was
a type encouraged Congress to proceed with the work of organizing a
regular navy; and by the end of 1775 that body had authorized the


building of thirteen war-vessels carrying from twenty-four to thirty-two
guns' each. But as some naval force was obviously necessary during
the construction of this fleet, five vessels were procured, and the new
navy was organized with the following roster of officers : -

ESEK HOPKINS. Commander-in-chief
DUDLEY SALTONSTALL Captain of the Alfred."
ABRAHAM WHIPPLE Captain of the Columbus."
NICHOLAS BIDDLE Captain of the "Andrea Doria."
JOHN B. HOPKINS Captain of the Cabot."

A long list of lieutenants was also provided, among whom stands out
boldly the name of John Paul Jones. John Manly, whose dashing work
in the sooner "Lee" we have already noticed, was left in command
of his little craft until the thirty-two-gun ship Hancock" was com-
pleted, when he was put in charge of her.
It may possibly have occurred to some of my readers to wonder
what flag floated from the mastheads of these ships. There is much
confusion upon this point, and not a little uncertainty. There were
three classes of American armed vessels on the seas. First were
the privateers, that sailed under any flag that might suit their purpose.
Next came the vessels fitted out and commissioned by the individual
colonies; these usually floated the flag of the colony from which they
hailed. Last came the vessels commissioned by Congress, which at
the outset floated many banners of diverse kinds. It fell to the lot
of Lieut. Paul Jones, however, to hoist the first authorized American
flag over a regularly commissioned vessel-of-war. This flag was of
bunting, showing a pine-tree on a plain white ground, with the words
" Liberty Tree and "Appeal to God" prominently displayed. This flag
was chiefly used until the adoption of the stars and stripes. The
" rattlesnake flag," with a reptile in the act of striking, and the legend
"Don't tread on me," was largely used by the privateers.
The year 1775 closed with but little activity upon the ocean. The
ships of the regular navy were late in getting into commission, and an


early winter impeded their usefulness. Some little work was done by
privateers and the ships of the different colonies, and the ships of the
British navy were kept fully occupied in guarding against the operations
of these gentry. The man-of-war "Nautilus" chased an American
privateer into a little cove near Beverly, and in the heat of the chase
both vessels ran aground. The people on shore put off to the priva-
teer, and quickly stripped her of her cordage and armament, and with
the guns built a small battery by the water-side, from which they opened
a telling fire upon the stranded "Nautilus." The man-of-war returned
in kind, and did some slight damage to the town; but when the tide
had risen she slipped her cables and departed. Such desultory encounters
were of frequent occurrence, but no naval battles of any importance
took place until the spring of 1776.

~~~ ~. ~U-, ~_



]HE year 1776 witnessed some good service done for the cause
of liberty by the little colonial navy. The squadron, under the
command of Ezekiel Hopkins, left the Delaware in February,
as soon as the ice had left the river, and made a descent upon
the island of New Providence, where the British had established a naval
station. The force under Hopkins consisted of seven vessels-of-war, and
one despatch-boat. The attack was successful in every way, a landing
party of three hundred marines and sailors which was sent ashore
meeting with but little resistance from the British garrison. By this
exploit, the Americans captured over a hundred cannon, and a great
quantity of naval stores.
After this exploit, Hopkins left New Providence, carrying away with
him the governor and one or two notable citizens, and continued his


cruise. His course was shaped to the northward, and early in April he
found himself off the shore of Long Island. He had picked up a couple
of insignificant British vessels, one a tender of six guns, and the other
an eight-gun bomb-brig. But his cruise had been mainly barren of results;
and his crew, who had looked forward to sharp service and plenty of prize-
money, were beginning to grumble. But their inactivity was not of long
duration; for, before daylight on the morning of April 6, the lookout
at the masthead of the "Alfred" sighted a large ship, bearing down upon
the American squadron. The night was clear and beautiful, the wind
light, and the sea smooth; and so, although it lacked several hours to
daylight, the commanders determined to give battle to the stranger.
Soon, therefore, the roll of the drums beating to quarters was heard
over the water, and the angry glare of the battle lanterns on the gun-
decks made the open ports of the war-ships stand out like fiery eyes
against the black hulls. The Englishman, who proved later to be the
"Glasgow," twenty guns, carrying one hundred and fifty men, might
easily have escaped; but, apparently undaunted by the odds against him,
he awaited the attack. The little "Cabot" was the first American ship
to open fire on the enemy. Her attack, though sharp and plucky, was
injudicious; for two of the Englishman's heavy broadsides were enough
to send her out of the battle for repairs. The "Glasgow" and the
"Alfred" then took up the fight, and exchanged repeated broadsides;
the American vessel suffering the more serious injuries of the two.
After some hours of this fighting, the "Glasgow" hauled away, and
made good her escape, although she was almost surrounded by the
vessels of the American squadron. It would seem that only the most
careless seamanship on the part of the Americans could have enabled a
twenty-gun vessel to escape from four vessels, each one of which was
singly almost a match for her. It is evident that the Continental
Congress took the same view of the matter, for Hopkins was soon after
dismissed from the service.
This action was little to the credit of the sailors of the colonial
navy. Fortunately, a second action during the same month set them in


a better light before the people of the country. This was the encounter
of the "Lexington," Capt. Barry, with the British vessel Edward," off
the capes of Virginia. The two vessels were laid yard-arm to yard-arm;
and a hot battle ensued, in which the Americans came off the victors.
The career of this little American brig was a rather remarkable one. The
year following her capture of the "Edward," she was again off the capes
of the Delaware, and again fell in with a British ship. This time, how-
ever, the Englishman was a frigate, and the luckless "Lexington" was
forced to surrender. Her captor left the Americans aboard their own
craft, and, putting a prize-crew aboard, ordered them to follow in the
wake of the frigate. That night the Americans plotted the recapture of
their vessel. By a concerted movement, they overpowered their captors;
and the "Lexington" was taken into Baltimore, where she was soon
recommissioned, and ordered to cruise in European waters.
Shortly after the battle between the Lexington and the Edward,"
there was fought in Massachusetts Bay an action in which the Americans
showed the most determined bravery, and which for the courage shown,
and losses suffered on either side, may well be regarded as the most
important of the naval battles of that year. Early in May, a merchant
seaman named Mugford had succeeded, after great importunity, in securing
the command of the armed vessel Franklin," a small cruiser mounting
only four guns. The naval authorities had been unwilling to give him the
command, though he showed great zeal in pressing his suit. Indeed,
after the appointment had been made, certain damaging rumors concerning
the newly appointed captain reached the ears of the marine committee,
and caused them to send an express messenger to Boston to cancel
Mugford's commission. But the order arrived too late. Mugford had
already fitted out his ship, and sailed. He had been but a few days at
sea, when the British ship "Hope," of four hundred tons and mounting
six guns, hove in sight. More than this, the lookout reported that the
fleet of the British commodore Banks lay but a few miles away, and in
plain sight. Many a man would have been daunted by such odds. Not
so Capt. Mugford. Mustering his men, he showed them the British ship,


told them that she carried heavier metal than the "Franklin," told
them that the British fleet lay near at hand, and would doubtless try
to take a hand in the engagement; then, having pointed out all the
odds against them, he said, "Now, my lads, it's a desperate case; but
we can take her, and win lots of glory and prize-money. Will you stand
by me?"
The jackies wasted no time in debate, but, cheering lustily for the
captain, went to their posts, and made ready for a hot fight. The naval
discipline of the present day was little known, and less observed, at that
time in the American navy. The perfect order which makes the gun-ded
of a ship going into action as quiet and solemn as during Sunday prayers.
then gave place to excited talk and bustle. The men stood in crews at
the four guns; but most of the jackies were mustered on the forecastle,
ready to board. All expected a desperate resistance. Great was their
surprise, then, when they were permitted to take a raking position under
the stern of the Hope," and to board her without a shot being fired.
But as Mugford, at the head of the boarders, clambered over the taffrail,
he heard the captain of the "Hope" order the men to cut the topsail
halliards and ties, with the intention of so crippling the ship that the
British squadron might overhaul and recapture her.
"Avast there bawled Mugford, seeing through the plot in an instant,.
and clapping a pistol to the head of the captain; "if a knife is touched
to those ropes, not a man of this crew shall live."
This threat so terrified the captured sailors, that they relinquished
their design; and Mugford, crowding all sail on his prize, soon was
bowling along before a stiff breeze, with the British squadron in hot
pursuit. An examination of the ship's papers showed her to be the most
valuable prize yet taken by the Americans. In her hold were fifteen
hundred barrels of powder, a thousand carbines, a great number of
travelling carriages for cannon, and a most complete assortment of artillery
instruments and pioneer tools. While running for Boston Harbor, through
the channel known as Point Shirley gut, the vessel grounded, but was
soon floated, and taken safely to her anchorage. Her arrival was most


timely, as the American army was in the most dire straits for gunpowder.
It may well be imagined that there was no longer any talk about revoking
Capt. Mugford's commission.
Mugford remained in port only long enough to take a supply of powder
from his prize; then put to sea again. He well knew that the British fleet
that had chased him into Boston Harbor was still blockading the harbor's
mouth, but he hoped to evade it by going out through a circuitous channel.
Unluckily, in thus attempting to avoid the enemy, the "Franklin," ran
aground, and there remained hard and fast in full view of the enemy.
He had as consort the privateer schooner "Lady Washington," whose
captain, seeing Mugford's dangerous predicament, volunteered to remain
near at hand and assist in the defence.
Mugford knew that his case was desperate, and made preparations for a
most determined resistance. Swinging his craft around, he mounted all
four of his guns on that side which commanded the channel in the
direction from which the enemy was expected. Boarding-nettings were
triced up, and strengthened with cables and cordage, to make an effective
barrier against the assaults of boarders. The men were served with double
rations of grog, and set to work sharpening the cutlasses and spears, with
which they were well provided. The work of preparation was completed
none too soon; for about nine o'clock Mugford heard the rattle of oars in
rowlocks, and saw boats gliding towards the "Franklin" through the
Boat ahoy! he challenged. "Keep off, or I shall fire into you."
"Don't fire," was the response; "we are friends from. Boston coming
to your aid."
"We want none of your aid," cried Mugford with an oath. Then,
turning to his crew, he shouted, "Let them have it, boys."
The roar of the cannon then mingled with the rattle of the musketry,
the cries of the wounded, and the shouts and curses of the combatants,
as the British strove to clamber up the sides of the "Franl lin." Not
less than two hundred men were engaged on the side of the British, who
advanced to the fray in thirteen large barges, many of them carrying


swivel guns. Several boats dashed in close under the side of the" Franklin,"
and their crews strove manfully to board, but were beaten back by the
Yankees, who rained cutlass blows upon them. The long pikes with
which the Americans were armed proved particularly effective. "One
man with that weapon is positive of having killed nine of the enemy,"
says a newspaper of that day.
Unhappily, however, the heroic Mugford, while urging on his men to
a more vigorous resistance, was struck by a musket-ball, which inflicted a
mortal wound. At the moment the wound was received, he was reaching
out over the quarter to catch hold of the mast of one of the barges, in
the hope of upsetting her. As he fell to the, deck, he called his first
lieutenant, and said, "I am a dead man. Do not give up the vessel; you
will be able to beat them off." Nearly forty years after, the heroic
Lawrence, dying on the deck of the "Chesapeake," repeated Mugford's
words, "Don't give up the ship."
For about half an hour the battle raged fiercely. The British, beaten
back with great loss, returned again and again to the attack. The boats
would come under the lee of the "Franklin;" but, not being provided with
grappling-irons, the British were forced to lay hold of the gunwales of the
enemy with their hands, which the Americans promptly lopped off with
their cutlasses. Shots from the swivel guns of the Yankee soon stove in two
of the boats of the enemy, which sunk, carrying down many of their crew.
After nearly an hour of this desperate fighting, the British withdrew, having
lost about seventy men. The only loss sustained by the Americans was
that of their brave commander Mugford.
About a month after this battle, there occurred off the coast of
Massachusetts a battle in which the Americans, though they fought with
the most undaunted bravery, were forced to strike their colors to their
adversary. The American was the privateer "Yankee Hero" of New-
buryport. She sailed from that place for Boston on the 7th of June with
only forty men aboard, intending to ship her full complement of one
hundred, and twenty at Boston. As the Hero rounded Cape Ann, she
sighted a sail on the horizon, but in her short-handed condition did. not


think it worth while to give chase. The stranger, however, had caught
sight of the "Hero ;" and, a fresh southerly breeze springing up, she began
to close with the American. As she came closer, Capt. Tracy of the
"Yankee Hero" saw that she was a ship-of-war. Despite the desperate
efforts of the Americans to escape, their pursuer rapidly overhauled them,
and soon coming up within half a mile, opened fire with her bow chasers.
The brig returned the fire with a swivel gun, which had little effect.
Seeing this, Capt. Tracy ordered the firing to cease until the ships should
came to close quarters. The stranger rapidly overhauled the privateer,
keeping up all the time a vigorous fire. Tracy with difficulty restrained
the ardor of his men, who were anxious to try to cripple their pursuer.
When the enemy came within pistol-shot, Tracy saw that the time for
action on his part had come, and immediately opened fire with all the
guns and small-arms that could be brought to bear. The only possible
chance for escape lay in crippling the big craft with a lucky shot; but
broadside after broadside was fired, and still the great ship came rushing
along in the wake of the flying privateer. Closer and closer drew the
bulky man-of-war, until her bow crept past the stern of the "Yankee Hero,"
and the marines upon her forecastle poured down a destructive volley
of musketry upon the brig's crowded deck. The plight of the privateer
was now a desperate one. Her heavy antagonist was close alongside,
and towered high above her, so that the marines on the quarter-deck and
forecastle of the Englishman were on a level with the leading blocks of
the Yankee. From the depressed guns of the frigate, a murderous fire
poured down upon the smaller craft. For an hour and twenty minutes
the two vessels continued the fight, pouring hot broadsides into each
other, and separated by less than a hundred feet of water. The brisk
breeze blowing carried away the clouds of smoke, and left the men on
the deck of the Yankee no protection from sharp-shooters on the enemy's
deck. Accordingly, the execution was frightful. Tracy, from his post on
the quarter-deck, saw his men falling like sheep, while the continual volleys
of the great ship had so cut the cordage of the weaker vessel that escape
was impossible. At last a musket-ball struck Capt. Tracy in the thigh,


and he fell bleeding to the deck. For a moment his men wavered at their
guns; but he called manfully to them, from where he lay, to fight on boldly
for the honor of the "Yankee Hero." Two petty officers had rushed to
his assistance; and he directed them to lay him upon a chest of arms upon
the quarter-deck, whence he might direct the course of the battle. But,
strong though was his spirit, his body was too weak to perform the task
he had allotted it; and, growing faint from pain and loss of blood, he was
carried below.
He lay unconscious for a few minutes, but was recalled to his senses
by the piteous cries of wounded men by whom he was surrounded. When
he came to himself, he saw the cabin filled with grievously wounded people,
bleeding and suffering for lack of surgical aid. The firing of the privateer
had ceased, but the enemy was still pouring in pitiless broadsides. Enraged
at this spectacle, Capt. Tracy ordered his men to re-open the conflict, and
directed that he be taken in a chair to the quarter-deck. But, on getting
into the chair, he was suddenly seized with a fainting spell, and gave
orders, by signs, that the colors be struck.
When the inequality of the two enemies is considered, this action
appears to be a most notable reason for pride in the powers of the
Americans. The "Yankee Hero" was a low single-decked vessel of
fourteen guns, while her captor was the British frigate of thirty-two guns.
Yet the little American vessel had held her own for two hours, and by
good gunnery and skilful manceuvring had succeeded in doing almost as
much damage as she had suffered.
In reading of the naval engagements of the Revolution, one is impressed
with the small sacrifice of life that attended the most protracted conflicts.
Thus in the action just recorded only four men were killed upon the
defeated ship, although for more than an hour the two vessels had
exchanged broadsides a distance of less than a hundred feet apart.
The execution done on the British frigate has never been recorded, but
was probably even less.
Only the most fragmentary account can be given of any naval
actions in the year 1776, except those in which America's great 'naval hero


Paul Jones took part. Of the trivial encounters that go to complete
the naval annals of the year, only the briefest recountal is necessary. The
work of the little brig "Andrea Doria," Capt. Biddle, deserves a passing
mention. This little fourteen-gun craft had the most wonderful luck in
making prizes. Besides capturing two transports loaded with British
soldiers, she took so many merchantmen, that on one cruise she brought
back to port only five of her original crew, the rest having all been
put aboard prizes.
On the 17th of June, the crew of the Connecticut cruiser "Defence,"
a fourteen-gun brig, heard the sound of distant cannonading coming
faintly over the water. All sail was crowded upon the brig, and she
made all possible speed to the scene of conflict. About nightfall, she
fell in with four American schooners that had just been having a tussle
with two heavy British transports. Three of the American vessels were
privateers, the fourth was the little cruiser "Lee" in which Capt. John
Manly had done such brilliant service. The four schooners had found
the transports too powerful for them, and had therefore drawn off, but
were eager to renew the fray with the help of the Defence." Accord-
ingly the Defence led the way to Nantasket Roads, where the transports
lay at anchor. Capt. Harding wasted little time in manceuvring, but, laying
his vessel alongside the larger of the two transports, summoned her
commander to strike.
"Ay, ay -I'll strike," was the response from the threatened vessel;
and instantly a heavy broadside was poured into the "Defence." A sharp
action followed, lasting for nearly an hour. The "Defence" bore the
brunt of the conflict, for the four schooners did not come to sufficiently
close quarters to be of much assistance against the enemy. The gunnery
of the Americans proved too much for the enemy, however; and after
losing eighteen men, together with a large number wounded, the British
surrendered. The American vessel was a good deal cut up aloft, and
lost nine of her men. The next morning a third transport was sighted
by the "Defence," and speedily overhauled and captured. More than five
hundred British soldiers were thus captured; and the British thenceforward


dared not treat the Americans as rebels, lest the colonial army authorities
should retaliate upon the British prisoners in their hands.
It was in the year 1776 that the first naval vessel giving allegiance to
the American Colonies showed herself in European waters. This vessel
was the Reprisal," Capt. Wickes, a small craft, mounting sixteen guns.
Early in the summer of '76, the "Reprisal" made a cruise to Martinique,
taking several prizes. When near the island, she encountered the British
sloop-of-war "Shark," and a sharp battle ensued. In size and weight of
metal, the two vessels were about evenly matched; but the "Reprisal"
had been sending out so many prize-crews, that she was short eighty
men of her full crew. Therefore, when, after a brisk interchange of
broadsides, the British sloop sheered off, and left the Reprisal" to
continue her course, Capt. Wickes rejoiced in his escape as being almost
equal to a victory.
After completing this cruise, the "Reprisal" was ordered to France
for the purpose of conveying thither from Philadelphia Benjamin Franklin,
the ambassador sent from the Colonies to interest the French in the
cause of American liberty. While on the way over, she took two or
three prizes, which were sold in France. After landing her distin-
guished passenger, she cruised about in the proverbially tempestuous Bay.
of Biscay, where she forced several British vessels to strike to the
American flag, then first seen in those waters. On returning to France
to sell his newly captured prizes, Capt. Wickes found trouble in store
for him. The British ambassador at Paris had declared that the
American cruiser was a detestable pirate; and that for France to permit
the pirate to anchor in her harbors, or sell his prizes in her markets,
was equal to a declaration of war against England. Wickes was,
therefore, admonished to take his ships and prisoners away. But
even in that early day Yankee wit was sharp, and able to extricate its
possessor from troublesome scrapes. Wickes knew that there were
plenty of purchasers to be had for his prizes: so, gathering a few
ship-owners together, he took them out to sea beyond the jurisdiction of
France, and there sold them to the highest bidder.


The money thus obtained Wickes used in purchasing vessels
suitable for armed cruisers. While these were fitting out, the
"Lexington" and the "Dolphin" arrived in France, and soon joined
the "Reprisal" in a cruise around the British Islands. The little
squadron fairly swept the Channel and the Irish Sea of merchantmen.
The excitement in England ran high, and the admiralty despatched
all the available men-of-war in search of the marauders. But the swift-
sailing cruisers escaped all pursuers. Once indeed the "Reprisal"
came near falling into the hands of the enemy, but escaped by
throwing overboard every thing movable, sawing away her bulwarks,
and even cutting away her heavy timbers.
The result of this cruise so aroused England, that France no
longer dared to harbor the audacious Yankee cruisers. The
" Lexington and Reprisal were, therefore, ordered to leave
European waters forthwith. The "Lexington" complied first, and
when one day out from the port of Morlaix encountered the British
man-of-war cutter "Alert." The "Alert" was the smaller of the two
vessels, but her commander had in him all that pluck and those sterling
seamanlike qualities that made the name of England great upon the
ocean. A stiff breeze was blowing, and a heavy cross sea running,
when the two vessels came together. The gunners sighted their
pieces at random and fired, knowing little whether the shot would
go plunging into the waves, or fly high into the air. As a result,
they carried on a spirited cannonade for upwards of two hours, with
the sole effect of carrying away the top hamper of the "Alert," and
exhausting most of the powder on the American craft.
Finding his ammunition rapidly giving out, the captain of the
"Lexington" clapped on all sail, and soon showed his crippled
antagonist a clean pair of heels. But so great was the activity of the
crew of the "Alert," that they repaired the damage done aloft, and
in four hours overtook the "American," and opened fire upon her.
The battle now became one-sided; for the "Lexington," being short of
powder, could make little resistance to the brisk attack of her


persevering adversary. In less than' an hour she was forced to strike
her flag.
The fate of the "Reprisal" was even harder than that of her
consort. While crossing the Atlantic on her way back to the coast
of America, she was overtaken by a furious gale. With furled sails
and battened hatches, the little craft made a desperate fight for life.
But the fierce wind carried away her masts and spars, and the tossing
waves opened her seams, so that it became apparent to all on board
that the fate of the gallant craft, that had so nobly defended the cause
of American liberty, was sealed. As the water rose higher and
higher in the hold, the officers saw that it was no longer a question
of the possibility of saving the ship, but that their lives and those of
the crew were in the greatest danger. Boats were lowered; but the
angry white-capped waves tossed them madly aloft, and, turning them
over and over, sent the poor fellows that manned them to their long
account. All hands then set to work at the construction of a huge
raft; and just as the ship's stern settled, it was pushed off, and all that
could reach it clambered on. A few poor fellows clung to the sinking
ship; and their comrades on the raft saw them crowd on the forecastle,
and heard their despairing cries as the good ship threw her prow
high in the air, and sunk stern foremost to the placid depths of the
stormy ocean. But those on the raft were not destined to escape
the fate of their comrades. The haggard sufferers were doomed to
see the frail structure on which their lives depended go slowly to
pieces before the mighty power of the remorseless sea. Bit by bit
their foothold vanished from beneath them. One by one they were
swept off into the seething cauldron of the storm. At last but one
man remained, the cook of the ill-fated vessel, who floated about for
three days on a piece of wreckage, until, half-starved and nearly crazed,
he was picked up by a passing vessel, and told the tale of the wreck.
So ended the career of the patriotic and gallant Capt. Wickes and
his crew, and such is the fate that every stout fellow braves when he
dons his blue jacket and goes to serve his country on the ocean.

~. .,

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In addition to the exploits of the American cruisers upon the high
seas, certain operations of the British navy along the American coast,
during the year 1776, demand attention. Of these the most important
was the attack by Sir Peter Parker upon Charleston, in September of
that year, -an attack made memorable by the determined courage of the
Americans, the daring exploit of Sergt. Jasper, and the discovery of
the remarkable qualities of palmetto logs as a material for fortifications.
Charleston was then a town of but a few thousand inhabitants; but,
small as it was, it had become particularly obnoxious to the British on
account of the strong revolutionary sentiment of its people, and their
many open acts of defiance of King George's authority. When the
offensive Stamp Act first was published, the people of Charleston rose
in revolt ; and the stamps for the city being stored in an armed fortress
in the bay, known as Castle Johnson, a party of a hundred and fifty
armed men went down the bay, surprised the garrison, captured the
castle, and, loading its guns, defied the authorities. Not until the promise
had been made that the stamps should be sent back to England, did the
rebellious Carolinians lay down their arms. Nor was their peace of long
duration. When the news of the battle of Lexington reached the little
Southern seaport, the people straightway cast about for an opportunity to
strike a blow against the tyranny of England. The opportunity soon
offered itself. An English sloop laden with powder was lying at St.
Augustine, Fla. Learning this, the people of Charleston fitted out a vessel,
which captured the powder-ship, and, eluding a number of British cruisers,
returned safely to Charleston with fifteen thousand pounds of gunpowder
for the colonial army. Soon after the colonial troops took possession of the
forts in the harbor, and Charleston became a revolutionary stronghold.
Therefore, when the war authorities of Great Britain prepared to
take active, offensive measures against the seaport cities of the rebellious
colonies, Charleston was one of the first points chosen for attack. It
was on the 4th of June, 1776, that the British fleet, under the command
of the veteran admiral, Sir Peter Parker, appeared off Charleston bar.
The colonists had learned of its approach some time before; and the


town was crowded with troops, both regular and volunteer. Two forts,
Johnson and Sullivan, were erected at points commanding the entrance
to the harbor. Troops were thrown out to oppose the advance of landing
parties. The wharves were covered with breastworks, and the streets
leading up from the water-side were barricaded. There was a great scarce-
ness of lead for bullets; and to supply that need the leaden sashes, in
which window-panes were at that time set, were melted down. When
the fleet of the enemy appeared in the offing, Charleston was quite ready
to give the invaders a warm reception.
Fort Sullivan was the chief work in the harbor, and against this
Parker began a vigorous cannonade early on the morning of thee 28th
of June. The fort had been built of logs of palmetto wood, and was
looked upon with some distrust by its defenders, who did not know how
well that material could withstand cannon-shot; but the opening volley
of the fleet re-assured them. The balls penetrated deep in the soft,
spongy wood without detaching any of the splinters, which, in a battle,
are more dangerous than the shot themselves. The fort soon replied to
the fire of the fleet; and the thunder of three hundred cannon rang out
over the bay, while dense clouds of sulphurous smoke hid the scene from
the eager gaze of the crowds of people on the housetops of the city.
When the stately ships of the British squadron swung into line
before the little wooden fort,, there was hardly a sailor who did not
take his station without a feeling of contempt for the insignificant
obstacle that they were about to sweep from their path. But as the
day wore on, and the ceaseless cannonade seemed to have no effect on
the bastions of the fort, the case began to look serious.
"Mind the commodore, and the fifty-gun ships," was the command
Moultrie gave to the gunners in the fort when the action commenced,
and right well did they heed the injunction. The quarter-decks of the
ships-of-the-line were swept clean of officers. The gunners in the fort
soon found that the fire of the enemy was doing little or no execution,
and, they sighted their guns as coolly as though out for a day's target
practice. The huge iron balls crashed through the hulls of.the ships, or



swept their decks, doing terrific execution. The cable of the "Bristol"
was shot away, and she swung round with her stern to the fort. In
this position she was raked repeatedly; her captain was killed, and at
one time not an officer remained on her quarter-deck except the admiral
Sir Peter Parker. When the conflict ceased, this ship alone contained
forty killed and seventy-one wounded men. The other ships suffered
nearly as severely. The twenty-eight-gun ship "Actaeon" grounded
during the course of the engagement; and when, after ten hours' fruitless
cannonading, the British abandoned the task of reducing the fort,
and determined to withdraw, she was found to be immovable. Accord-
ingly Admiral Parker signalled to her officer to abandon the ship, and
set her on fire. This was accordingly done; and the ship was left with
her colors flying, and her guns loaded. This movement was observed by
the Americans, who, in spite of the danger of an explosion, boarded the
ship, fired her guns at the "Bristol," loaded three boats with stores, and
pulled away, leaving the "Actaeon" to blow up, which she did half an
hour later.
While the battle was at its hottest, and the shot and shell were
flying thick over the fort, the flagstaff was shot away; and the flag of
South Carolina, a blue ground, bearing a silver crescent, fell on the beach
outside the parapet. Sergt. William Jasper, seeing this, leaped on the
bastion, walked calmly through the storm of flying missiles, picked up
the flag, and fastened it upon a sponge-staff. Then standing upon the
highest point of the parapet, in full view of the ships and the men in
the fort, he calmly fixed the staff upright, and returned to his place,
leaving the flag proudly waving. The next day the governor of the
colony visited the fort, and seeking out the brave sergeant, handed him
a handsome sword and a lieutenant's commission. But Jasper proved to
be as modest as he was brave; for he declined the proffered promotion,
with the remark, -
"I am not fit to keep officers' company; I am but a sergeant."
The complete failure of the attack upon Charleston was a bitter pill
for the English to swallow. They had brought against the raw, untrained


forces of the colony some of the finest ships of the boasted navy of
Great Britain. They had fought well and pluckily. The fact that Sir
Peter Parker was in command was in itself a guaranty that the attack
would be a spirited one; and the tremendous loss of life in the fleet
affords convincing proof that no poltroonery lurked among the British
sailors. The loss of the British during the engagement, in killed and
wounded, amounted to two hundred and twenty-five men. The Americans
had ten men killed and twenty-two wounded. Moultrie, the commandant
of the fort, says that after the battle was over they picked up more
than twelve hundred solid shot of different sizes, and many thirteen-inch
shells. Most of the shells that fell within the fort fell into a large
pool of water, which extinguished their fuses, thus robbing them of their
power for evil.
In his report of this battle, Admiral Parker fell into a queer error.
He reports that a large party of men entering the fort met a man going
out, whom they straightway hanged to a neighboring tree, in full view of
the fleet. From this the admiral concluded that there was an incipient
mutiny in the fort, and the ringleader was hanged as an example.
Col. Moultrie, however, explained this by stating that the man hanging in
the tree was simply the coat of a soldier, which had been carried away by
a cannon-shot, and left hanging in the branches.



E HAVE already spoken of the farcical affair between the fleet
under Ezekiel Hopkins and the English frigate "Glasgow," in
which the English vessel, by superior seamanship, and taking
advantage of the blunders of the Americans, escaped capture.
The primary result of this battle was to cause the dismissal from the
service of Hopkins. But his dismissal led to the advancement of a young
naval officer, whose name became one of the most glorious in American
naval annals, and whose fame as a skilful seaman has not been tarnished
by the hand of time.
At the time of the escape of the "Glasgow," there was serving upon
the "Alfred" a young lieutenant, by name John Paul Jones. Jones was
a Scotchman. His rightful name was John Paul; but for some reason,
never fully understood, he had assumed the surname of Jones, and his
record under the name of Paul Jones forms one of the most glorious
chapters of American naval history. When given a lieutenant's commission
in the colonial navy, Jones was twenty-nine years old. From the day
when a lad of thirteen years he shipped for his first voyage, he had spent


his life on the ocean. He had served on peaceful merchantmen, and in
the less peaceful, but at that time equally respectable, slave-trade. A
small inheritance had enabled him to assume the station of a Virginia
gentleman; and he had become warmly attached to American ideas and
principles, and at the outbreak of the Revolution put his services at the
command of Congress. He was first offered a captain's commission with
the command of the "Providence," mounting twelve guns and carrying one
hundred men. But with extraordinary modesty the young sailor declined,
saying that he hardly felt himself fitted to discharge the duties of a first
lieutenant. The lieutenant's commission, however, he accepted; and it was
in this station that with his own hands he hoisted the first American flag
to the masthead of the "Alfred."
The wretched fiasco which attended the attack of the American fleet
upon the "Glasgow" was greatly deplored by Jones. However, he
refrained from any criticism upon his superiors, and sincerely regretted
the finding of the court of inquiry, by which the captain of the
"Providence" was dismissed the service, and Lieut. Paul Jones recom-
mended to fill the vacancy.
The duties which devolved upon Capt. Jones were manifold and
arduous. The ocean was swarming with powerful British men-of-war,
which in his little craft he must avoid, while keeping a sharp outlook
for foemen with whom he was equally matched. More than once, from
the masthead of the "Providence," the lookout could. discover white sails
of one or more vessels, any one of which, with a single broadside, could
have sent the audacious Yankee to the bottom. But luckily the
"Providence" was a fast sailer, and wonderfully obedient to her helm.
To her good sailing qualities, and to his own admirable seamanship,
Jones owed more than one fortunate escape. Once, when almost overtaken
by a powerful man-of-war, he edged away until he brought his pursuer
on his weather quarter; then, putting his helm up suddenly, he stood dead
before the wind, thus doubling on his course, and running past his
adversary within pistol-shot of her guns, but in a course directly opposite
to that upon which she was standing. The heavy war-ship went plunging


ahead like a heavy hound eluded by the agile fox, and the Yankee
proceeded safely on her course.
Some days later the Providence" was lying to on the great banks
near the Isle of Sables. It was a holiday for the crew; for no sails were
in sight, and Capt. Jones had indulgently allowed them to get out their
cod-lines and enjoy an afternoon's fishing. In the midst of their sport,
as they were hauling in the finny monsters right merrily, the hail of the
lookout warned them that a strange sail was in sight. The stranger drew
rapidly nearer, and was soon made out to be a war-vessel. Jones, finding
after a short trial that his light craft could easily outstrip the lumbering
man-of-war, managed to keep just out of reach. Now and then the pursuer
would luff up and let fly a broadside; the shot skipping along over the
waves, but sinking before they reached the Providence." Jones, who
had an element of humor in his character, responded to this cannonade
with one musket, which, with great solemnity, was discharged in response
to each broadside. After keeping up this burlesque battle for some hours,
the "Providence" spread her sails, and soon left her foe hull down
beneath the horizon.
After having thus eluded his pursuer, Jones skirted the coast of Cape
Breton, and put into the harbor of Canso, where he found three British
fishing schooners lying at anchor. The inhabitants of the little fishing
village were electrified to see the "Providence cast anchor in the harbor,
and, lowering her boats, send two crews of armed sailors to seize the
British craft. No resistance was made, however; and the Americans
burned one schooner, scuttled a second, and after filling the third with
fish, taken from the other two, took her out of the harbor with the
"Providence leading the way.
From the crew of the captured vessel, Jones learned that at the
Island of Madame, not far from Canso, there was a considerable flotilla
of British merchantmen. Accordingly he proceeded thither with the
intention of destroying them. On arriving, he found the harbor too
shallow to admit the Providence; and accordingly taking up a position
from which he could, with his cannon, command the harbor, he despatched


armed boats' crews to attack the shipping. On entering the harbor, the
Americans found nine British vessels lying at anchor. Ships and brigs,
as well as small fishing schooners, were in the fleet. It was a rich prize
for the Americans, and it was won without bloodshed; for the peaceful
fishermen offered no resistance to the Yankees, and looked upon the
capture of their vessels with amazement. The condition of these poor
men, thus left on a bleak coast with no means of escape, appealed strongly
to Jones's humanity. He therefore told them, that, if they would assist him
in making ready for sea such of the prizes as he wished to take with him,
he would leave them vessels enough to carry them back to England. The
fishermen heartily agreed to the proposition, and worked faithfully for
several days at the task of fitting out the captured vessels. The night
before the day on which Jones had intended leaving the harbor, the wind
came on to blow, and a violent storm of wind and rain set in. Even the
usually calm surface of the little harbor was lashed to fury by the shrieking
wind. The schooner "Sea-Flower "- one of the captured prizes was
torn from her moorings; and though her crew got out the sweeps, and
struggled valiantly for headway against the driving storm, she drifted on
shore, and lay there a total wreck. The schooner Ebenezer," which
Jones had brought from Canso laden with fish, drifted on a sunken reef,
and was there so battered by the roaring waves that she went to pieces.
Her crew, after vainly striving to launch the boats, built a raft, and saved
themselves on that.
The next day the storm abated; and Capt. Jones, taking with him
three heavily laden prizes, left the harbor, and turned his ship's prow
homeward. The voyage to Newport, then the headquarters of the little
navy, was made without other incident than the futile chase of three
British ships, which ran into the harbor of Louisbourg. On his arrival,
Jones reported that he had been cruising for forty-seven days, and in
that time had captured sixteen prizes, beside the fishing-vessels he burned
at Cape Breton. Eight of his prizes he had manned, and sent into port;
the remainder he had burned. It was the first effective blow the colonists
had yet struck at their powerful foe upon the ocean.



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Hardly had Paul Jones completed this first cruise, when his mind, ever
active in the service of his country, suggested to him a new enterprise
in which he might contribute to the cause of American liberty. At this
early period of the Revolution, the British were treating American prisoners
with almost inconceivable barbarity. Many were sent to the Old Jersey"
prison-ship, of whose horrors we shall read something later on. Others,
to the number of about a hundred, were taken to Cape Breton, and
forced to labor like Russian felons in the underground coal-mines.
Jones's plan was bold in its conception, but needed only energy and
promptitude to make it perfectly feasible.
He besought the authorities to give him command of a squadron, that
he might move on Cape Breton, destroy the British coal and fishing
vessels always congregated there, and liberate the hapless Americans
who were passing their lives in the dark misery of underground mining.
His plan was received with favor, but the authorities lacked the means
to give him the proper aid. However, two vessels, the "Alfred" and
the "Providence," were assigned to him; and he went speedily to work
to prepare for the adventure. At the outset, he was handicapped by lack
of men. The privateers were then fitting out in every port; and seamen
saw in privateering easier service, milder discipline, and greater profits
than they could hope for in the regular navy. When, by hard work, the
muster-roll of the "Alfred" showed her full complement of men shipped,
the stormy month of November had arrived, and the golden hour for
success was past.
Nevertheless, Jones, taking command of the "Alfred," and putting
the "Providence" in the command of Capt. Hacker, left Newport, and
laid his course to the northward. When he arrived off the entrance to
the harbor of Louisbourg, he was so lucky as to encounter an English
brig, the Mellish," which, after a short resistance, struck her flag. She
proved to be laden with heavy warm clothing for the British troops in
Canada. This capture was a piece of great good fortune for the Americans,
and many a poor fellow in Washington's army that winter had cause
to bless Paul Jones for his activity and success.


The day succeeding the capture of the "Mellish dawned gray and
cheerless. Light flurries of snow swept across the waves, and by noon
a heavy snowstorm, driven by a violent north-east gale, darkened the
air, and lashed the waves into fury. Jones stood dauntless at his post
on deck, encouraging the sailors by cheery words, and keeping the sturdy
little vessel on her course. All day and night the storm roared; and
when, the next morning, Jones, wearied by his ceaseless vigilance, looked
anxiously across the waters for his consort, she was not to be seen. The
people on the "Alfred" supposed, of course, that the "Providence" was
lost, with all on board, and mourned the sad fate of their comrades. But,
in fact, Capt. Hacker, affrighted by the storm, had basely deserted his
leader during the night, and made off for Newport, leaving Jones to
prosecute his enterprise alone.
Jones recognized in this desertion the knell of the enterprise upon
which he had embarked. Nevertheless, he disdained to return to port:
so sending the "Mellish" and a second prize, which the British afterwards
recaptured, back to Massachusetts, he continued his cruise along the
Nova Scotia coast. Again he sought out the harbor of Canso, and,
entering it, found a large English transport laden with provisions aground
just inside the bar. Boats' crews from the "Alfred" soon set the torch
to the stranded ship, and then, landing, fired a huge warehouse filled
with whale-oil and the products of the fisheries. Leaving the blazing
pile behind, the "Alfred" put out again into the stormy sea, and made
for the northward.
As he approached Louisbourg, Jones fell in with a considerable fleet
of British coal-vessels, in convoy of the frigate Flora." A heavy fog
hung over the ocean; and the fleet Yankee, flying here and there,
was able to cut out and capture three of the vessels without alarming
.the frigate, that continued unsuspectingly on her course. Two days later,
Jones snapped up a Liverpool privateer, that fired scarcely a single gun
in resistance. Then crowded with prisoners, embarrassed by prizes, and
short of food and water, the "Alfred turned her course homeward.
Five valuable prizes sailed in her wake. Anxiety for the safety of


these gave Jones no rest by day or night. He was ceaselessly on the
watch lest some hostile man-of-war should overhaul his fleet, and force
him to abandon his hard-won fruits of victory. All went well until,
when off St. George's Bank, he encountered the frigate "Milford," -the
same craft to whose cannon-balls Jones, but a few months before, had
tauntingly responded with musket-shots.
It was late in the afternoon when the "Milford" was sighted; and
Jones, seeing that she could by no possibility overtake his squadron
before night, ordered his prizes to continue their course without regard
to any lights or apparent signals from the "Alfred." When darkness fell
upon the sea, the Yankees were scudding along on the starboard tack,
with the Englishman coming bravely up astern. From the tops of the
"Alfred" swung two burning lanterns, which the enemy doubtless
pronounced a bit of beastly stupidity on the part of the Yankee,
affording, as it did, an excellent guide for the pursuer to steer by. But
during the night the wily Jones changed his course. The prizes, with
the exception of the captured privateer, continued on the'starboard tack.
The "Alfred" and the privateer made off on the port tack, with the
"Milford" in full cry in their wake. Not until the morning dawned did
the Englishman discover how he had been tricked.
Having thus secured the safety of his prizes, it only remained for
Jones to escape with the privateer. Unluckily, however, the officer put
in charge of the privateer proved incapable, and his craft fell into hands
of the British. Jones, however, safely carried the "Alfred" clear of the
" Milford's" guns, and, a heavy storm coming up, soon eluded his foe in
the snow and darkness. Thereupon he shaped his course for Boston,
where he arrived on the 5th of December, 1776. Had he been delayed
two days longer, both his provisions and his water would have been
For the ensuing six months Jones remained on shore, not by any means
inactive, for his brain was teeming with great projects for his country's
service. He had been deprived of the command of the "Alfred," and
another ship was not easily to be found: so he turned his attention to


questions of naval organization, and the results of many of his suggestions
are observable in the United States navy to-day. It was not until June
14, 1777, that a command was found for him. This was the eighteen-gun
ship "Ranger," built to carry a frigate's battery of twenty-six guns. She
had been built for the revolutionary government, at Portsmouth, and was a
stanch-built, solid craft, though miserably slow and somewhat crank.
Jones, though disappointed with the sailing qualities of the craft, was
nevertheless vastly delighted to be again in command of a man-of-war, and
wasted no time in getting her ready for sea.
It so happened, that, on the very day Paul Jones received his commission
as commander of the "Ranger," the Continental Congress adopted the
Stars and Stripes for the national flag. Jones, anticipating this action,
had prepared a flag in accordance with the proposed designs, and, upon
hearing of the action of Congress, had it run to the masthead, while the
cannon of the "Ranger" thundered out their deep-mouthed greetings to
the starry banner destined to wave over the most glorious nation of the
earth. Thus it happened that the same hand that had given the pine-tree
banner to the winds was the first to fling out to the breezes the bright folds
of the Stars and Stripes.
Early in October the "Ranger" left Portsmouth, and made for the
coast of France. Astute agents of the Americans in that country were
having a fleet, powerful frigate built there for Jones, which he was to
take, leaving the sluggish "Ranger" to be sold. But, on his arrival at
Nantes, Jones was grievously disappointed to learn that the British
Government had so vigorously protested against the building of a vessel-
of-war in France for the Americans, that the French Government had been
obliged to notify the American agents that their plan must be abandoned.
France was at this time at peace with Great Britain, and, though inclined
to be friendly with the rebellious colonies, was not ready to entirely
abandon her position as a neutral power. Later, when she took up arms
against England, she gave the Americans every right in her ports they
could desire.
Jones thus found himself in European waters with a vessel too weak to

Full Text
xml record header identifier 2008-12-08setSpec [UFDC_OAI_SET]metadata oai_dc:dc xmlns:oai_dc http:www.openarchives.orgOAI2.0oai_dc xmlns:dc http:purl.orgdcelements1.1 xmlns:xsi http:www.w3.org2001XMLSchema-instance xsi:schemaLocation http:www.openarchives.orgOAI2.0oai_dc.xsd dc:title Blue jackets of '76dc:creator Abbot, Willis John, 1863-1934dc:subject History -- Naval operations -- United States -- Revolution, 1775-1783 ( lcsh )History -- United States -- Tripolitan War, 1801-1805 ( lcsh )dc:description b Statement of Responsibility By Willis J. Abbot.dc:publisher Dodd, Mead, and Companydc:date 1888dc:type Bookdc:format viii, 301 p. incl. pl. 23 x 18 cm.dc:identifier (aleph)AAQ5427 (ltuf)01839949 (oclc)45875902 (oclc)02004609 (lccn)dc:source University of Floridadc:language Englishdc:coverage United States -- New York -- New York