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Revolutionary War Commander John Paul Jones sets out to raid British ships

Revolutionary War Commander John Paul Jones sets out to raid British ships

On April 10, 1778, Commander John Paul Jones and his crew of 140 men aboard the USS Ranger set sail from the naval port at Brest, France, and head toward the Irish Sea to begin raids on British warships. This was the first mission of its kind during the Revolutionary War.

Commander Jones, remembered as one of the most daring and successful naval commanders of the American Revolution, was born in Scotland, on July 6, 1747. He became an apprentice to a merchant at 13 and soon went to sea, traveling first to the West Indies and then to North America as a young man. In Virginia at the onset of the American Revolution, Jones sided with the Patriots and received a commission as a first lieutenant in the Continental Navy on December 7, 1775.

READ MORE: The Appalling Way the British Tried to Recruit Americans Away from Revolt

After departing from Brest, Jones successfully executed raids on two forts in England's Whitehaven Harbor, despite a disgruntled crew more interested in “gain than honor.” Jones then continued to his home territory of Kirkcudbright Bay, Scotland, where he intended to abduct the earl of Selkirk and then exchange him for American sailors held captive by Britain. Although he did not find the earl at home, Jones' crew was able to steal all his silver, including his wife's teapot, still containing her breakfast tea. From Scotland, Jones sailed across the Irish Sea to Carrickfergus, where the Ranger captured the HMS Drake after delivering fatal wounds to the British ship s captain and lieutenant.

In September 1779, Jones fought one of the fiercest battles in naval history when he led the USS Bonhomme Richard frigate, named for Benjamin Franklin, in an engagement with the 50-gun British warship HMS Serapis. After the Bonhomme Richard was struck, it began taking on water and caught fire. When the British captain of the Serapis ordered Jones to surrender, he famously replied, “I have not yet begun to fight!” A few hours later, the captain and crew of the Serapis admitted defeat and Jones took command of the British ship.

One of the greatest naval commanders in history, Jones is remembered as a “Father of the American Navy,” along with fellow Revolutionary War hero Commodore John Barry.

Revolutionary War Commander John Paul Jones sets out to raid British ships - HISTORY

The most remarkable single ship duel of the American Revolution was between the Bonne Homme Richard commanded by John Paul Jones and the HMS Serapis. The duel took place on September 23, 1779. The Serapis was a 50 gun ship that outgunned the Bonne Homme Richard which was barely sea worthy. When the captain of the Serapis hailed the Bonne Homme Richard and demanded surrender, John Paul Jones answered:" Surrender be dammed, I have not begun to fight." The Bon Homme Richard went on the vanquish the Serapis..

By 1779, John Paul Jones had garnered an impressive record against the British at sea. In 1776, Paul led a raid against New Brunswick to try to secure the release of American captives, who unfortunately were no longer there when he arrived. In April 1778, Jones undertook a series of raids around England, while commanding the US Ranger. His raids included two daring landings on the English coast itself. This was the first attack on English soil since a Dutch raid, 115 years before. While the attacks were not militarily significant, they electrified the American people. The attacks also encouraged increased French support, while at the same time making Paul a feared household name throughout England.

In 1779, The French were planning a potential invasion of England. They were interested in creating diversions to keep the British busy. Therefore, the French were happy to arm Jones and give him as much support as possible. Jones was equipped with a small squadron, led by his flagship, which he renamed the Bon Homme Richard. The Bon Homme Richard was slow. It was equipped with 40 guns. Its compliment contained 20 officers, 17 of whom were Americans and 187 seamen, of which 62 were Americans. In addition, there were 137 French marines on board the ship.

Jones headed out to sea in the Bon Homme Richard. He was accompanied by three other ships two Frigates and a cutter, as well as two armed merchant ships. Jones departed for L'Orient in mid-August. He sailed around Ireland and crossed into the North Sea between the Shetlands Islands and Orkney Islands.

On September 23rd, a lookout on the Bon Homme Richard spotted ships on the horizon. They saw a convoy of merchant vessels returning from the Baltic. These ships provided a perfect target for Jones and his fleet. The only problem was that the convoy was being guarded by the Serapis, a new frigate armed with 50 guns. Also part of the convoy, was the smaller royal sloop the Countess of Scarborough.

The Bon Homme Richard was no match for the newer and more heavily armed Serapis. That did not deter Jones from entering battle. He called his men to battle stations at 5PM. The sun set a little after 6PM. However, that night the seas were illuminated by the full moon. By 7PM, the Bon Homme Richard and the Serapis had drawn close enough together that the men on the ships could hear the orders being given on the enemy ship.

At 7:15PM the first cannon was fired. Both ships fired broadsides, with the Serapis getting off three full broadside, s causing devastation on the decks of the Bon Homme Richard.

Jones concluded that his only chance against a more heavily armed and more nimble Serapis was to try to board her, and gain control in hand to hand combat. Jones' attempt failed. Then Serapis tried to to ram the Bon Homme Richard and failed. As a result, the two ships became entangled. Both fired at each other at point blank range, causing more and more devestation. The Serapis crew tried to board the American ship and failed. At 9:15PM the Alliance, one of Jones' ships arrived on the scene. But instead of hitting the Serapis it hit the Bon Homme Richard. At this point the British commander, Captain Pearson shouted to Jones "ave you struck? ", meaning are you ready to surrender?. The exact words that Jones responded are not known, but he clearly replied, "No". The battle accounts, after the fact, edited his words to the famous phrase: "I have not yet begun to fight", which became immortalized in American military lore.

It looked liked a battle of attrition would continue for hours, when the fighting suddenly came to an end. An American grenade went through a hatch on the Serapis and exploded a series of arms magazines. Captain Pearson had no choice but to strike his colors and surrender. Jones had been successful. The Bon Homme Richard was too damaged to survive. The ship sunk the next day. Jones had control of the Serapis, which was made sea worthy. This allowed him to sail off in victory, with its crew imprisoned.

John Paul Jones Failed Raid on the British Isles.

/>Capt. John Paul Jones hailing the British frigate Serapis during the action from the deck of the frigate Bon Homme Richard, 23 September 1779. (Lithograph by Hayes Lithographing Co., Buffalo, from a painting by Paul Moran, now in the collections of U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command)

When discussing the American Revolutionary War, it is easy to assume that all of the fighting took place on North American soil. While this true to some extent, there were some notable and strange battles that took place not only outside of America, but even on British soil. The raid on Whitehaven, led by John Paul Jones, is the only such attack to reach the British mainland.

A Continental Navy captain of the name John Paul Jones had made quite the name for himself, and in 1778, he wanted to stage a daring assault on British soil. Previously, he had been operating out of France, sailing up and down the Channel trying where he could to disrupt the British and help the war being fought across the Atlantic Ocean.

Venturing into the Irish Sea in the hopes of inflicting damage against merchant shipping, he concocted his plan to attack the British at their own doorstep. This was something that would have been considered impossible, thanks to the vast distances between the United Kingdom and the United States, and the incredible might of the Royal Navy.

John Paul Jones,

At the time, the British Royal Navy was unrivaled in power and was capable of decimating any naval force brave enough to face them head-on. For this reason, John Paul Jones’s crew and other American ships adopted the tactic of harassment, striking supply lines and merchant shipping where possible. Jones was aware of the Royal Navy’s strength, so he wanted to strike with the element of surprise.

Jones was to strike at the port of Whitehaven on the coast of Cumbria. The plan of attack was to anchor his ship, the Ranger, out at sea and head into the port at night with 30 volunteers in two dinghies. One crew was to attack and silence a British fort guarding the harbor, while the other was to sabotage the town and set the 200 ships in the harbor alight.

Finally, the British would feel the heat of this war on their own turf.

Why Whitehaven? Was Whitehaven strategically important? No. Jones chose it because he was born and raised in the U.K. and began his sailing career from the port of Whitehaven. Because of this, he had intimate knowledge of its layout to help him find his way around at night.

His career started at the young age of 13, eventually becoming the captain of a merchant vessel at just 21 after the captain of the ship he was on suddenly died from yellow fever, leaving Jones to navigate the ship back. After commanding this ship for a while, his reputation took a dive for the worse when he flogged a member of his crew so severely that he died a few weeks later, causing him to be seen as overly cruel.

Jones left Scotland after this, captaining another vessel in Tobago for over a year before killing yet another member of his crew after a dispute. Fleeing from the potential legal repercussions, he relocated to Virginia in the U.S., a nation that from then on he would regard as his own.

Off the coast of Whitehaven, the Ranger‘s anchor was dropped, and the two crews set off for the port just after midnight on April 23, 1778. Immediately, they were faced with a strong wind and tides, slowing their journeys significantly.

Upon arrival, Jones’s crew made their way into the fort, successfully and quickly silencing its dangerous cannons. Jones had difficulty starting any fires, as the fuel for their torches had run out on the unexpectedly long journey to shore.

A sculpture in Whitehaven commemorates the raid.

Exiting the fort, Jones was greeted with a very noticeable lack of burning vessels in the harbor. Meanwhile, the other crew had also run out of fuel, forcing them to find their own in Whitehaven. On this hunt, they had conveniently entered a public house, and got caught up in more important matters, namely, having a drink!

By the time Jones linked up and rallied his men, they were drunk, and the sun was coming up, forcing them to abandon the goal of burning the entire port to the ground in exchange for claiming a single coal ship that they hoped would spread fire to other moored boats when ignited.

With success seeming impossible, the situation was made worse by a traitor in Jones’s own crew, running around the town to warn the townspeople of the attack. This traitor had only joined the Continental Navy for a free ticket back to the U.K.

Back in the port, Jones and his crew managed to successfully set the large coal ship alight, but thanks to the alerted townsfolk, the fire was quickly suppressed. Jones and his men jumped back into their dinghies and headed back to the Ranger in the morning light, well aware of their failure.

For a man like Jones, this failure was unbearable, so he set sail for Scotland hoping to kidnap the wealthy Earl of Selkirk to use him as a bargaining tool to retrieve captured Americans from the British.

(Photo Credit: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs)

Gathering yet another crew, he rushed ashore, entering the stately home of the Earl. With another stroke of bad luck, Jones discovered the Earl was all the way down in London. Exhausted, deflated, and suffering yet another defeat, the crew opted to steal the Earl’s silverware.

Despite the total and utter failure of both of Jones’s plans, which nearly resulted in a mutiny, the attack did ruffle some feathers in Britain, which had previously insisted the mainland was safe from American attack.

Jones would take the Ranger to Ireland the next day to attack the Drake, a British warship. After engaging in combat, Jones successfully captured the ship, returning both it and the Ranger back to France.

This attack was the only one on British soil, and unlike the situation in North America, it didn’t end in the American’s favor. Jones would later go on to be remembered very differently in the two countries, as a hero in the U.S., but as a working-class pirate in the U.K.

John Paul Jones was Symbolically Pardoned by the town of Whitehaven in 1999.

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Sources struggle with this period of Jones's life, especially the specifics of his family situation, making it difficult to historically pinpoint Jones's exact motivations for emigrating to America. Whether his plans for the plantation were not developing as expected, or if he was inspired by a revolutionary spirit, is unknown.

What is clearly known is that Jones left for Philadelphia shortly after settling in North America to volunteer his services to the newly-founded Continental Navy, which later became the United States Navy. During this time, around 1775, the Navy and Marines were being formally established, and suitable ship's officers and captains were in great demand. Were it not for the endorsement of Richard Henry Lee who knew of his abilities, Jones's potential would likely have gone unrecognized. With help from influential members of the Continental Congress, however, Jones was the first man to be assigned to the rank of 1st Lieutenant in the Continental Navy on December 7, 1775, on board the Alfred.

May of 1778

May 8, 1778, off the South Carolina Coast near Charleston (Pivateer St. Louis vs. HMS Industry)

Capt. Samuel Spencer commanded the St. Louis, a Georgia privateer operating out of Charlestown, when it captured the Industry bound from Jamaica.
Conclusion: American Victory

May 8, 1778 at Bordentown, New Jersey

In May, Gen. Clinton was preparing to evaculate Philadelphia and return to New York via New Jersey. To secure the crossing of the Delaware River, Clinton sent a corps of light infantry to destroy the Pennsylvania Navy that was moored at Bordentown and White Hill (Fieldsboro).

On May 8, the British Force landed at White Hill, finding a few of the Pennsylvania boats already scuttled. As the British Force marched from White Hill to Bordentown on the Burlington Road, they were met by two companies of militia with an artillery piece. As the British formed, the militia fired one volley and fled into Bordentown. The British immediately marched into Bordentown and destroyed those vessels that had not already been scuttled. Local loyalists directed the British to the homes of Colonel Borden and other influential rebels, which they burned. Their dark deed complete, the British retired to Philadelphia.
Conclusion: British Victory

May 12, 1778 at Topsail Inlet, North Carolina

Privateers plagued the North Carolina coast during 1778. In 1777, the Virginia privateer John Goodrich, Jr. was captured by men from Ocracoke, but he had returned to sea in 1778 and was one of the most notorious privateers to harrass the Outer Banks. Congress ordered the Continental frigate USS Raleigh and the brig USS Resistance to operate between Cape Henlopen and Cape Hatteras to stop Capt. Goodrich.

In May, Capt. Goodrich worked in concert with two other privateers – Captain McFarling and Captain Neale. This group captured several vessels near Ocracoke and then decoyed the pilots at Topsail Inlet. The Loyalist privateers came into Topsail Inlet and burned a brig that had just been captured by the Raleigh and sent to this location. On board the burning brig was 1,200 bushels of salt.

Because of Capt. Goodrich’s exploits earlier, the North Carolina legislature authorized the construction of Fort Hancock on Cape Lookout (Carteret County) to protect local shipping.
Conclusion: British Victory

May 24, 1778 at Warren, Rhode Island

On May 24, a British raiding party entered Warren and burned and plundered the town.
Conclusion: British Victory

May 25, 1778 at Bristol, Rhode Island

On May 25, a British raiding party entered the town of Bristol. They destroyed 22 dwellings and a church.
Conclusion: British Victory

May 25, 1778 at Freetown, Massachusetts

The Battle of Freetown, a skirmish between American colonists and a British naval ship, took place in the part of Freetown, Massachusetts, that later became the city of Fall River. Although Freetown was known as a Tory stronghold, a number of townspeople were becoming more engaged in the separation efforts by 1776.

On May 25, a British ship sailed up the former Quequechan River into lower Freetown. Spotted by a sentinel, the ship was fired upon by several local minutemen, their gunfire returned by cannonfire. Several soldiers disembarked to lay siege to the increasingly anti-royalist towns in southeastern Massachusetts. These soldiers proceded to burn a dwelling house, grist mill, and sawmill, before being fired upon by local Freetown Militia minutemen who had been keeping watch over the river and alerted by the sentinel. The British soldiers then took one resident as prisoner, set fire to his property, and retreated to their ship. The prisoner was eventually released after several days, and the British retreated from Freetown altogether.

The Freetown minutemen were aided by other colonist minutemen from the Tiverton outpost. The British suffered 2 casualties as a result of the light fighting. The colonists suffered no losses.
Conclusion: Draw

Types of Naval Warship

  • Ship of the Line: A ship of the line was a type of naval warship constructed from the 17th through to the mid-19th century to take part in the naval tactic known as the line of battle, in which two columns of opposing warships would manoeuvre to bring the greatest weight of broadside firepower to bear. Since these engagements were almost invariably won by the heaviest ships carrying the most powerful guns, the natural progression was to build sailing vessels that were the largest and most powerful of their time
  • Brig: A brig is a sailing vessel with two square-rigged masts. During the Age of Sail, brigs were seen as fast and maneuverable and were used as both naval warships and merchant vessels. They were especially popular in the 18th and early 19th centuries. Brigs fell out of use with the arrival of the steam ship because they required a relatively large crew for their small size and were difficult to sail into the wind. They are not to be confused with a brigantine, which has different rigging (a brigantine has a gaff-rigged mainsail, while a brig has a square mainsail with an additional gaff-rigged spanker behind the mainsail).
  • Frigate: A frigate is any of several types of warship, the term having been used for ships of various sizes and roles over the last few centuries.
    In the 17th century, this term was used for any warship built for speed and maneuverability, the description often used being "frigate-built". These could be warships carrying their principal batteries of carriage-mounted guns on a single deck or on two decks (with further smaller carriage-mounted guns usually carried on the forecastle and quarterdeck of the vessel). The term was generally used for ships too small to stand in the line of battle, although early line-of-battle ships were frequently referred to as frigates when they were built for speed.
    In the 18th century, the term referred to ships that were usually as long as a ship of the line and were square-rigged on all three masts (full rigged), but were faster and with lighter armament, used for patrolling and escort. In the definition adopted by the British Admiralty, they were rated ships of at least 28 guns, carrying their principal armaments upon a single continuous deck, the upper deck, while ships of the line possessed two or more continuous decks bearing batteries of guns
  • Schooner: A schooner is a type of sailing vessel with fore-and-aft sails on two or more masts. The most common type has two masts, the foremast being shorter than the main. The schooner was originally gaff-rigged. Schooners were immediately popular with colonial traders and fishermen in North America with the first documented reference to a schooner in the United States appearing in Boston port records in 1716. North American shipbuilders quickly developed a variety of schooner forms for trading, fishing and privateering.
    Although a schooner may have several masts, the typical schooner has only two, with the foremast shorter than the mainmast. There may be a bowsprit to help balance the rig. The principal issue with a schooner sail plan is how to fill the space between the two masts most effectively. Traditional schooners were gaff rigged, and the trapezoid shape of the foresail occupied the inter-mast space to good effect, with a useful sail area and a low center of effort.
  • Cutter: Cutters were usually the smallest commissioned ships in the fleet. As with cutters in general they were distinguished by their large fore-aft sail plans with multiple headsails, usually carried on a very long bowsprit, which was sometimes as long as half the length of the boat's hull. The rig gave the cutter excellent maneuverability and they were much better at sailing to windward than a larger square rigged ship. Larger naval cutters often had the ability to hoist two or three square-rigged sails from their mast to improve their downwind sailing performance as well. Navies used cutters for coastal patrol, customs duties, escort, carrying personnel and dispatches, and for small 'cutting out' raids. As befitted their size and intended role naval cutters, such as those of the Royal Navy), were lightly armed, often with between six and ten small cannon (or carronades).

USS Alfred 1775 - 1778

  • Complement: 220 officers and men
  • Armament: 20 × 9-pounder guns 10 × 6-pounder guns
  • Commanders: John Barry, Master (1774-1776) Capt. Dudley Saltonstall (1776) Capt. John Paul Jones (1776-1777) Capt. Elisha Hinman (1777-1778)
  • Operations: Battle of Nassau Action of April 6, 1776

USS Alfred was the merchant vessel Black Prince, named for Edward, the Black Prince, and launched in 1774.

The Continental Navy acquired her November 4, 1775, renamed her Alfred, and commissioned her as a warship on December 3, 1775.

She participated in two major actions, the Battle of Nassau, and the action of 6 April 1776. The Royal Navy captured her on March 9, 1778, took her into service as HMS Alfred, and sold her in 1782.

She then became the merchantman Alfred, and sailed between London and Jamaica.

USS Alliance 1778 - 1785

  • Complement: 300 officers and men
  • Armament: 28 × 18-pounder long gun 12 × 9-pounder guns
  • Commanders: Capt. Pierre Landais (1778–1780), Capt. John Barry (1780–1783)
  • Operations: Battle of Flamborough Head

Originally named Hancock, she was laid down in 1777 on the Merrimack River at Amesbury, Massachusetts, by the partners and cousins, William and James K. Hackett, launched on April 28, 1778, and renamed Alliance on May 29, 1778 by resolution of the Continental Congress.

Her first commanding officer was Capt. Pierre Landais, a former officer of the French Navy who had come to the New World hoping to become a naval counterpart of Lafayette.

The frigate's first captain was widely accepted as such in America. Massachusetts made him an honorary citizen and the Continental Congress gave him command of Alliance, thought to be the finest warship built to that date on the western side of the Atlantic.

USS Columbus

  • Complement: 220 officers and men
  • Armament: 18 × 9-pounder guns 10 × 6-pounder guns
  • Commanders: Capt. Abraham Whipple
  • Operations: Battle of Nassau Action of April 6, 1776

Built as a merchant ship at Philadelphia in 1774 as Sally, she was purchased from Willing, Morris & Co., for the Continental Navy in November 1775, Captain Abraham Whipple was given command.

Between February 17 and April 8, 1776, in company with the other ships of Commodore Esek Hopkins' squadron, Columbus took part in the expedition to New Providence, Bahamas, where the first Navy-Marine amphibious operation seized essential military supplies.

On the return passage, the squadron captured the British schooner, Hawk, on April 4, and brig Bolton on the 5th.

On April 6, the squadron engaged Glasgow. After three hours, the action was broken off and Glasgow escaped, leaving her tender to be captured. Later in 1776, Columbus cruised off the New England coast taking five prizes.

Chased ashore on Point Judith, Rhode Island, March 27, 1778 by a British squadron, Columbus was stripped of her sails, most of her rigging, and other usable material by her crew before being abandoned. She was burned by the British.

USS Andrew Doria

  • Complement: 112 officers and men
  • Armament: 14 × 4-pounder guns
  • Commanders: Capt. Nicholas Biddle Capt. Isaiah Robinson
  • Operations: Battle of Nassau Battle of Block Island

On October 13, 1775, the Continental Congress authorized the purchase of the merchant brig Defiance. The ship was acquired in mid-November and moored in Wharton and Humphreys shipyard in Philadelphia where she was converted into a warship. She was named Andrew Doria after the 16th-century Genoese admiral Andrea Doria.

Under the command of Captain Nicholas Biddle, Andrew Doria departed Philadelphia on January 4, 1776, as a warship in Esek Hopkins' small fleet of five newly fitted warships (Alfred, Andrew Doria, Cabot, Columbus, and Providence), bound for the Chesapeake Bay.

From April 9 to September 17, 1776, Andrew Doria patrolled the Atlantic coast from Connecticut to Bermuda, capturing a number of British and Loyalist ships.

Andrew Doria was stationed in the Delaware River through the spring and summer of 1777. After Vice Admiral Lord Howe brought his British fleet into the river in September 1777, Andrew Doria was part of the forces charged with defending Philadelphia.

Following the British occupation of Fort Mifflin on November 16, Andrew Doria, with the remaining ships of the Continental Navy, sought shelter under the guns of Fort Mercer, at Red Bank, New Jersey.

With the evacuation of Fort Mercer on November 20, Robinson gave orders the next day for the ships to be burned to prevent capture.

She is most famous for her participation in the Battle of Nassau—the first amphibious engagement by the Continental Navy and the Continental Marines—and for being the first United States vessel to receive a salute from a foreign power.

USS America

  • Complement: N/A
  • Armament: N/A
  • Commanders: N/A
  • Operations: N/A

On November 20, 1776, the Continental Congress authorized the construction of three 74-gun ships of the line. One of these was America, laid down in May 1777 in the shipyard of John Langdon on Rising Castle Island (now Badger's Island) in Kittery, Maine, across the Piscataqua River from Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

However, progress on her construction was delayed by a chronic scarcity of funds and a consequent shortage of skilled craftsmen and well seasoned timber. The project dragged on for over two years under the immediate supervision of Col. James Hackett as master shipbuilder and the overall direction of John Langdon. Then, on November 6,1779, the Marine Committee named Captain John Barry as her prospective commanding officer and ordered him to ". hasten, as much as will be in your power, the completing of that ship. "

Nevertheless, the difficulties which previously had slowed the building of the warship continued to prevail during the ensuing months, and little had been accomplished by mid-March 1780 when Barry applied for a leave of absence to begin on the 23rd. However he did perform one notable service for the ship. In November 1777, after inspecting the unfinished vessel which was slated to become his new command, he strongly recommended against a proposal, then under consideration, to reduce her to a 54-gun frigate. His arguments carried the day, and the Marine Committee decided to continue the work of construction according to the ship's original plans.

All possibility of Barry's commanding America ended on September 5,1780 when he was ordered to Boston to take command of the 36-gun frigate Alliance which had recently arrived from Europe. Over nine months later, on June 23, 1781, Congress ordered the Continental Agent of Marine, Robert Morris, to get America ready for sea and, on the 26th, picked Captain John Paul Jones as her commanding officer.

Jones reached Portsmouth on August 31 and threw himself into the task of completing the man-of-war. However, before the work was finished, Congress decided on September 3, 1782 to present the ship to King Louis XVI of France to replace the ship of the line Magnifique, which had run aground and been destroyed on August 11,1782 while attempting to enter Boston Harbor. The ship was also to symbolize the new nation's appreciation for France's service to and sacrifices in behalf of the cause of the American patriots.

USS Argo

USS Ariel

  • Complement: 130 (peace) and 210 (war)
  • Armament: 2 x 4-pounder + 4 x 3-pounder guns added to the galliards
  • Commanders: John Paul Jones
  • Operations:

HMS Ariel was a 20-gun Sphinx-class sixth-rate post ship of the Royal Navy. The French captured her in 1779, and she served during the Revolutionary War for them, and later for the Americans, before reverting to French control. as well as the British.

The Admiralty on July 3, 1776 ordered Ariel from John Perry & Co.'s Blackwall Yard. Perry & Co. laid down her keel that month and launched her on July 7, 1777. She was commissioned under Captain John Jackson, and cruised in the North Sea in August 1777. After a brief spell off the Norwegian and Danish coasts, she sailed for North America on November 7.

In 1778, she captured several American vessels. While Ariel was under the command of John Becher on March 31, she shared in the capture of the frigate USS Virginia. (The Royal Navy took Virginia into service as HMS Virginia.)

On June 4, Ariel captured the sloop Fanny. Then, on August 27, 1778, she captured the 16-gun "Congress" brig USS Resistance. Resistance had sailed from Boston armed for war and in quest of the French fleet. Ariel burnt her.

Ariel also shared in the prize money for a number of vessels captured between January 2 and September 14. These were the sloops Betsy and Polly, brigs M'Cleary, Reprizal, Argyle, and Postillion, the schooner Chelsea, and the snow David.

Ariel then passed under the command of Captain Charles Phipps. Phipps and Ariel captured the American privateer New Broom on October 22, 1778, as well as the schooners Lark and Three Friends. New Broom was armed with 16 guns and had sailed from New London when Ariel and Savage stopped her off Nantucket shoals. The next year, in February, Captain Thomas Mackenzie replaced Phipps.

On September 11, 1779, whilst Ariel was cruising off Charles Town, she sighted a strange sail and approached to investigate, unaware that the French fleet under Admiral d'Estaing had entered the theater. As Mackenzie got closer, he realized that the stranger was actually a frigate, accompanied by two brigs and a schooner, and that she was not responding to his signals. He therefore decided to sail for the Georgia shore. The frigate gradually overhauled Ariel and Mackenzie had no choice but to stand and fight. The enemy vessel was the 32-gun French Amazone. After a 90-minute flight in which Ariel lost her mizzen-mast and all her rigging and sustained casualties of four men dead and another 20 wounded, Mackenzie surrendered Ariel. d'Estaing immediately exchanged the crew of Ariel and Experiment, which he had captured the year before, for French prisoners. The crews of these two vessels then went on to man a variety of British vessels on the station. The French took the captured ship into service as Ariel.

Ariel underwent repair and refitting at Lorient between March and October 1780. The French then lent her to the American Continental Navy in October, where she served briefly as USS Ariel.

John Paul Jones assumed command of Ariel in France. After a brief battle with a British ship, Jones returned to France. Ariel finally reached Philadelphia with her badly needed military stores—which included 437 barrels of gunpowder, 146 chests of arms, a large quantity of shot, sheet lead, and much medicine—on February 18, 1781.

Early in June 1781, Jones turned Ariel over to Anne-César, Chevalier de la Luzerne, the French minister to the United States, who manned her with a French crew for the voyage back to France.

USS Bonhomme Richard

  • Complement: 380 officers and enlisted
  • Armament: 28 × 12-pound smoothbore, 6 × 18-pound smoothbore, 8 × 9-pound smoothbore
  • Commanders: John Paul Jones
  • Operations: Battle of Flamborough Head

Bonhomme Richard was originally an East Indiaman named Duc de Duras, a merchant ship built at Lorient according to the plan drawn up by the King's Master Shipwright Antoine Groignard for the French East India Company in 1765. Her design allowed her to be quickly transformed into a man-of-war in case of necessity to support the navy.

She sailed in private service until she was purchased by King Louis XVI of France in early 1779 and placed under the command of John Paul Jones on February 4. The size and armament of Duc de Duras made her roughly equivalent to half of a 64-gun ship of the line.

Jones renamed her Bon Homme Richard (usually rendered in more correct French as Bonhomme Richard) in honor of Benjamin Franklin, the American Commissioner at Paris whose Poor Richard's Almanac was published in France under the title Les Maximes du Bonhomme Richard.

On June 19, 1779, Bonhomme Richard sailed from Lorient accompanied by USS Alliance, Pallas, Vengeance, and Cerf with troop transports and merchant vessels under convoy to Bordeaux and to cruise against the British in the Bay of Biscay. Forced to return to port for repair, the squadron sailed again August 14, 1779. It went northwest around the west coast of the British Isles into the North Sea and then down the east coast. The squadron took 16 merchant vessels as prizes.

On September 23, 1779, the squadron encountered the Baltic Fleet of 41 sail under convoy of the HMS Serapis and HM hired armed vessel Countess of Scarborough near Flamborough Head. The Bonhomme Richard and Serapis entered a bitter engagement at about 6:00 PM. The battle continued for the next four hours, costing the lives of nearly half of the American and British crews. British victory seemed inevitable, as the more heavily armed Serapis used its firepower to rake Bonhomme Richard with devastating effect.

The commander of the Serapis finally called on Jones to surrender. He replied, "Sir, I have not yet begun to fight!" Jones eventually managed to lash the ships together, nullifying his opponent's greater maneuverability and allowing him to take advantage of the larger size and considerably more numerous crew of Bonhomme Richard. An attempt by the Americans to board Serapis was repulsed, as was an attempt by the British to board Bonhomme Richard. Finally, after another of Jones's ships joined the fight, the British captain was forced to surrender at about 10:30 PM. The Bonhomme Richard – shattered, on fire, leaking badly – defied all efforts to save her and sank about 36 hours later at 11:00 AM on Saturday, September 25, 1779. Jones sailed the captured Serapis to the Dutch United Provinces for repairs.

Though the Bonhomme Richard sank after the battle, the battle's outcome was one of the factors that convinced the French crown to back the colonies in their fight to become independent of British authority.

USS Boston

  • Complement: 45
  • Armament: 1 x 12 pounder, 2 x 9 pounders, 8 x swivel guns
  • Commanders: Captain Sumner
  • Operations: Battle of Valcour Island

The first USS Boston was a gundalow built at Skenesborough (present day Whitehall), New York, in 1776, with a crew of 45 for General Benedict Arnold's short-lived Lake Champlain Fleet. She took part in the Battle of Valcour Island that delayed the British invasion. She was probably commissioned sometime early in August 1776, with a Captain Sumner in command.

Early in October, she moved north with the other 14 ships of the American squadron. On the 11th, they met the vastly superior British squadron off Valcour Island in the northern reaches of the lake. The British discovered them in a shallow bay south of the island and moved in to begin a bombardment. By 11:00 AM, the schooner Carleton and some gunboats had rowed to within gun range to open the shelling. The wind prevented the larger British vessels from getting into the fray.

By 5:00 PM, when the British withdrew for the night, two of the larger American vessels were severely damaged and a third had to be run aground, burned, and abandoned. That night, Boston joined the remainder of the Americans in stealing away toward Crown Point to the south. The British discovered their flight on the morning of the 12th and struck out in pursuit. They did not finally catch the Americans until the morning of the 13th at a point just below Split Rock nearly halfway to their goal. A two-hour running fight ensued. Severely pressed, General Arnold took Congress and four of the gondolas into Buttonmold Bay on the eastern coast of the lake. There, he unloaded small arms and destroyed the vessels by fire to prevent their capture. Boston was destroyed there on October 13, 1776.

USS Boston

  • Complement:
  • Armament: 5 × 12 pdr guns, 19 × 9 pdr guns, 2 × 6 pdr guns, and 4 × 4 pdr guns
  • Commanders: Captain Hector McNeill and Samuel Tucker
  • Operations:

Boston was commissioned under the command of Captain Hector McNeill. On May 21, 1777, Boston sailed in company with USS Hancock for a cruise in the North Atlantic. The two frigates captured three prizes including the 28-gun frigate HMS Fox (7 June). On 7–8 July, Boston, Hancock, and Fox engaged the British vessels HMS Flora, HMS Rainbow, and HMS Victor. The British captured Hancock and Fox, but Boston escaped to the Sheepscot River on the Maine coast. McNeill was court-martialed in June 1779 for his failure to support Hancock and was dismissed from the Navy.

During the period February 15 to March 31, 1778, Boston, now under the command of Samuel Tucker, carried John Adams to France, capturing one prize en route. She then cruised in European waters taking four prizes before returning to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, October 15. In 1779 she made two cruises (July 29– September 6 and November 23 – December 23) in the North Atlantic capturing at least nine prizes. Boston then joined the squadron sent to assist in the defense of Charleston, South Carolina. There the British captured her when the town surrendered on May 12, 1780. The British took Boston into service as a frigate and named it the HMS Charlestown.

USS Bourbon

  • Complement: N/A
  • Armament: 36-40 guns
  • Commanders: N/A
  • Operations: N/A

USS Bourbon was a frigate in the Continental Navy, named for the House of Bourbon.

During the Revolutionary War, Bourbon was authorized as a 36-gun frigate by the Continental Congress January 23, 1777. Very little else is known about it, but it may have been built at Chatham, Connecticut. Due to the Congress's financial difficulties, it was not launched until July 31, 1783. In September 1783, still uncompleted, it was offered for sale and presumably sold.

USS Cabot

  • Complement:120 officers and men
  • Armament: 14 × 6-pounder guns
  • Commanders:Captain J. B. Hopkins
  • Operations:Battle of Nassau

The first USS Cabot of the United States was a 14-gun brig, one of the first ships of the Continental Navy, and the first to be captured in the Revolutionary War.

The brig was purchased in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, during November 1775, outfitted there by Wharton and Humphreys, and placed under the command of Captain J. B. Hopkins.

Sailing with Commodore Esek Hopkins' fleet, Cabot joined in the expedition against the Bahamas in March 1776, taking part in the amphibious operations against New Providence on March 3. By this bold stroke, men of the fleet seized large quantities of desperately needed military supplies which they carried back to the Continental Army.

Upon the return of the fleet north, Cabot was first to fire in the engagement with HMS Glasgow on April 6. The next month, she made a short cruise off the New England coast, during which she took her first prize. In September and October, again sailing in New England waters, she seized six more prizes.

Cabot stood out of Boston in March 1777, and later in the month, encountered HMS Milford (32-gun). The vastly more powerful British ship chased Cabot and forced her ashore in Nova Scotia. While Cabot's captain and crew escaped unharmed, the British were later able to get the brig off, and refitted her for service in the Royal Navy.

She stands out as the first American armed vessel to engage an enemy.

USS Champion

  • Complement: N/A
  • Armament: 8 Guns
  • Commanders: Captain James Josiah
  • Operations: N/A

The Continental Navy xebec, Champion, commanded by Captain James Josiah, served in the Delaware River in a force composed of ships of the Continental and Pennsylvania State Navy during the Revolution. It was this force that contested British efforts to establish sea communications with their forces in Philadelphia in the fall of 1777.

After several months of fighting against heavy odds, the American ships attempted to run past Philadelphia. The Pennsylvania State galleys succeeded but the Continental fleet, including Champion, was burned by its own officers on November 21, 1777, when tide and winds turned against them.

USS Columbus

  • Complement: 220 officers and men
  • Armament: 18 × 9-pounder guns and 10 × 6-pounder guns
  • Commanders: Captain Abraham Whipple
  • Operations: Battle of Nassau

The first USS Columbus was a ship in the Continental Navy. Built as a merchant ship at Philadelphia in 1774 as Sally, she was purchased from Willing, Morris & Co., for the Continental Navy in November 1775, Captain Abraham Whipple was given command.

Between February 17 and April 8, 1776, in company with the other ships of Commodore Esek Hopkins' squadron, Columbus took part in the expedition to New Providence, Bahamas, where the first Navy-Marine amphibious operation seized essential military supplies. On the return passage, the squadron captured the British schooner, Hawk, on April 4, and brig Bolton on the 5th. On April 6, the squadron engaged Glasgow. After three hours, the action was broken off and Glasgow escaped, leaving her tender to be captured. Later in 1776, Columbus cruised off the New England coast taking five prizes.

Chased ashore on Point Judith, Rhode Island, March 27, 1778 by a British squadron, Columbus was stripped of her sails, most of her rigging, and other usable material by her crew before being abandoned. She was burned by the British.

USS Confederacy

  • Complement: 260 officers and men
  • Armament: 28 × 12-pounder guns and 8 × 6-pounder guns
  • Commanders: Captain Seth Harding and Captain Nicholson
  • Operations: N/A

USS Confederacy was a 36-gun sailing frigate of the Continental Navy in the Revolutionary War. The British Royal Navy captured her in March 1781, took her into service for about half-a-year as HMS Confederate, and broke her up in 1782.

She was launched November 8, 1778 at Chatham (Norwich?), Connecticut, and towed to New London to be prepared for sea. From May 1 to August 24, 1779, she cruised on the Atlantic coast under the command of Captain Seth Harding. While convoying a fleet of merchantmen, on June 6, she and Deane captured three prizes, drove off two British frigates and brought the convoy safely into Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

On September 17, 1779, Confederacy was ordered to carry the French Minister and his family back to France. Later John Jay, the first American Minister to Spain, his secretary, and family were added to the passenger list. During the passage on November 7, 1779, Confederacy was completely dismasted and almost lost, but managed through the skillful seamanship of Captain Harding to reach Martinique early in December. After repairs, she returned to convoy duty. Captain Nicholson replaced Harding in on October 20, 1780.

Confederacy was homeward bound from Cape Francois in the West Indies in 1781 with military stores and other supplies and escorting a fleet of 37 merchantmen, when on April 14 she encountered HMS Roebuck (44-gun) and HMS Orpheus (32-gun) off the Delaware Capes. The British ships forced Confederacy to strike her flag. Most of the merchantmen she was escorting escaped. Many of her crew were sent to the old prison hulk Jersey, though some ended up in Mill and Forton prisons.

The Royal Navy took her into service as HMS Confederate, under the command of Captain James Cumming. He paid her off in September 1781. She was broken up at Woolwich in March 1782.

USS Congress

  • Complement: 80 officers and enlisted
  • Armament: 2 × 12-pounder guns, 2 × 18-pounder guns, and 4 × 6-pounder guns
  • Commanders: N/A
  • Operations: Battle of Valcour Island

USS Congress was a row galley that served the Continental Navy during the American Revolution. The galley – which was rowed by oarsmen instead of using sail - had the distinction of serving the young American Navy for only a week before being scuttled after combat with the British.

The galley built at the direction of Brigadier General Benedict Arnold at Skenesborough, New York, in 1776 for a fleet intended to impede British advance southward on Lake Champlain. Joining Arnold's fleet on October 6, 1776, Congress, and her crew of 80, served as flagship during the Battle of Valcour Island on Lake Champlain, fought on October 11-13 of that year. During the first day's lengthy engagement she fought valiantly, but suffered extensive damage to her hull, mast, and yards, at the hands of the vastly superior British force.

On October 12, the American Continental Fleet, hopeful of further delaying the enemy as well as escaping to Crown Point, New York, slipped through the British line under cover of darkness, only to be overtaken the following day at Split Rock. In the ensuing engagement, Congress was so shattered that Arnold was obliged to run her ashore and set the ship ablaze.

Although more than 20 of her crew were killed and Congress herself was destroyed, the mission of the ship and the fleet was accomplished. The British, their advance delayed until the season was too late for land operations, withdrew to Canada. The Americans used the time thus gained to equip and train the Army which defeated the next British invasion attempt, at Saratoga, New York, on October 17, 1777.

USS Congress

  • Complement: N/A
  • Armament: 26 x 12-pounders guns and 2 x 6-pounders guns
  • Commanders: Captain Grenell
  • Operations: N/A

USS Congress was a 28-gun frigate of the Continental Navy that was scheduled to participate in the Revolutionary War against the British. However, while being outfitted prior to her first sailing, the British approached and the Americans set her afire in order to prevent her capture.

Before her outfitting was completed, the British occupied the approaches to the Hudson River and extended their control of the environs throughout 1777. The infant Continental Navy suffered the destruction of Congress in October 1777 to prevent her seizure by the enemy.

USS Deane (Hague)

  • Complement: N/A
  • Armament: 24 × 12-pounder guns, 8 × 4-pounder guns, and 2 × 6-pounder guns
  • Commanders: Captain Samuel Nicholson and Captain John Manley
  • Operations: N/A

The Continental Navy frigate USS Deane, named after American commissioner to France Silas Deane, was built at Nantes, France, and brought to the United States in May 1778 to be prepared for sea. She was named Hague in 1782, and was taken out of commission in 1783.

Under the command of Captain Samuel Nicholson of the Continental Navy, Deane sailed from Boston January 14, 1779 with Alliance for a cruise in the West Indies. She returned to Philadelphia 17 April with one prize, the armed ship Viper. On July 29, she joined with USS Boston and two ships of the Virginia Navy guarding a convoy of merchantmen out to sea and continuing on for a five-week cruise which netted eight prizes, including four privateers, the packet Sandwich, and the sloop-of-war HMS Thorn. The frigates arrived at Boston September 6 with 250 prisoners after one of the most notable cruises of the Continental Navy.

During the winter and early spring of 1781, Deane cruised with Confederacy and Saratoga in the West Indies. In May, Lloyd's List reported that the rebel frigates Dean and Protector had captured John and Ashburner from Lancaster to St. Kitts, and a ship sailing from Glasgow to Jamaica with 900 barrels of beef and a quantity of dry goods, and had taken them into Martinique.

Deane again cruised with Confederacy and Saratoga in the West Indies in 1782, capturing four prizes. In April 1782, she captured the cutter HMS Jackal. After two more cruises in the Caribbean, one in September 1782 and the other in 1783, she was renamed Hague in September 1782 (perhaps because of false accusation against Deane that was current at the time).

USS Delaware

  • Complement: N/A
  • Armament: N/A
  • Commanders: Captain C. Alexander and John Barry
  • Operations: N/A

The first USS Delaware of the United States Navy was a 24-gun sailing frigate that had a short career in the Revolutionary War as the British Royal Navy captured her in 1777.

She was built under the December 13, 1775 order of the Continental Congress in the yard of Warwick Coates of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, under the direction of the Marine Committee. Upon her launching in July 1776, Captain C. Alexander took command.

Delaware served in the Delaware River, joining with Commodore John Hazelwood's Pennsylvania state ships in operations which delayed the British Fleet in approaching Philadelphia and supplying the British Army. When the British took possession of Philadelphia September 26, 1777, Delaware, now under the command of John Barry, in company with several smaller ships, advanced upon the British fortifications which were being erected and opened a destructive fire while anchored some 500 yards from shore.

On September 27, she went aground on the ebb tide and came under the concentrated fire of the British artillery. After a brave defense against overwhelming odds, Captain Alexander was compelled to strike his colors. Delaware was taken into the Royal Navy.

USS Diligent

  • Complement: 50
  • Armament: 14 × 4-pounder guns
  • Commanders: Lieutenant Phillip Brown
  • Operations: Penobscot Expedition

British Lieutenant Thomas Wabeoff assumed command of HMS Diligent in April 1779, and she was under his command and cruising off the coast of Delaware in May 1779, looking for American privateers. She had captured one American vessel when at daybreak, on May 7, Walbeoff sighted a strange sail. He sailed towards the vessel, which turned out to be the Continental Navy's sloop Providence.

The three-hour engagement began with a broadside and volley of small arms fire from Providence. Eventually, Walbeoff struck. Diligent had lost 11 men dead and 19 wounded Providence had four killed and 10 wounded.

The Continental Navy took Diligent into service, commissioning her under the command of Lieutenant Phillip Brown. Diligent cruised with Providence for a short time.

Diligent and Providence then were assigned to Commodore Dudley Saltonstall’s squadron, which departed Boston on July 19 and entered Penobscot Bay on July 25. The Americans successfully landed an armed force that attempted to recapture Castine, Maine. The initial British force consisted only of some troops and three sloops. However, an overpowering British squadron arrived and the American effort failed completely.

On August 14, her crew ran Diligent ashore and burned to prevent the British capturing her. Providence met the same fate.

USS Dolphin

  • Complement:
  • Armament:
  • Commanders: Lt. Samuel Nicholson
  • Operations:

The first Dolphin was a cutter in the Continental Navy.

Dolphin was purchased in February 1777 at Dover, England, and outfitted for use in the Continental Navy at Nantes, France. She was placed under the command of Lieutenant Samuel Nicholson and sailed from St. Auzeau, France on May 28, 1777 with Reprisal and Lexington, in a squadron commanded by Captain Lambert Wickes in Reprisal.

During a cruise off Ireland, this squadron captured and sent into port eight prizes, sank seven, and released three, throwing British shipping circles into an uproar. A 74-gun British warship gave chase to the squadron and Reprisal drew him off to enable the other ships to reach port safely. Dolphin arrived at Saint-Malo, France, June 27, 1777 where she was repaired and converted into a packet ship. On September 19, she put into the Loire for further repairs.

Owing to diplomatic protests by the British that American vessels should not be allowed to use neutral ports to prey upon British shipping, Dolphin was seized by the British.

USS Duc de Lauzun

  • Complement: N/A
  • Armament: 20 cannon
  • Commanders: Captain John Green
  • Operations: N/A

USS Duc de Lauzun was an armed transport vessel of 20 guns that served the Continental Navy from 1782 when she was bought until 1783 when she was sold in France.

Formerly a British customs ship, USS Duc De Lauzun was purchased in October 1782 at Dover, England, and outfitted in Nantes, France.

USS Effingham

  • Complement: N/A
  • Armament: 26 x 12-pounders guns and 2 x 6-pounders guns
  • Commanders: Captain John Barry
  • Operations: N/A

USS Effingham, a 32-gun frigate of the Continental Navy named after The 3rd Earl of Effingham, was built at Philadelphia in 1776 and 1777, and Captain John Barry was ordered to command her. When the British took possession of Philadelphia in September 1777, Barry was ordered to take the uncompleted ship up the Delaware River to a place of safety.

On October 25, General George Washington asked for the crew of Effingham for use in the fleet, and two days later the ship was ordered sunk or burned. Effingham was sunk on 2 November just below Bordentown, New Jersey, to deny her use to the British. She was burned to the water's edge by the British on their way north from Philadelphia on May 9, 1778.


  • Complement: N/A
  • Armament: 6 × 9-pound guns
  • Commanders: Lieutenant Hoystead Hacker
  • Operations: Battle of Nassau

USS Fly was an eight-gun sloop in the Continental Navy. She was part of a squadron that raided the port of Nassau and engaged the 20-gun HMS Glasgow.

Fly, one of the eight former merchant ships fitted out by the Naval Committee between November 1775 and January 1776, was purchased in Baltimore, Maryland under Congressional authorization of a small tender or despatch vessel for the fleet. A schooner, often referred to as a sloop, she was first commanded by Lieutenant Hoystead Hacker.

Early in 1776, Fly joined the squadron of Commodore Esek Hopkins off Reedy Island at the head of Delaware Bay, and on February 17, sailed with this force for its historic cruise to New Providence, America's first amphibious operation. Two nights out, Fly fouled the sloop USS Hornet, who was forced to return to port. Fly, however, was able to rejoin the squadron off New Providence March 11, finding that the operation had been a great success, and that a large quantity of military stores sorely needed by the Continental Army had been taken.

Heavily laden with the valuable supplies, the fleet departed New Providence March 17, and on April 4 arrived off Long Island where it took two small British ships of war and two merchantmen. Two days later, the squadron engaged the British sloop-of-war HMS Glasgow, damaging her so badly that she fled into Newport Rhode Island, leaving her tender to be captured. On April 8, the fleet arrived at New London, Connecticut to land the captured military stores.

Fly patrolled off New London to learn the strength of the British Fleet until June, when she was detached to carry cannon from Newport to Amboy, New Jersey, where she was blockaded briefly by the British. Later in 1776, she cruised the New Jersey coast to intercept British ships bound for New York City. In an encounter with one of these in November, a number of Fly's men were wounded, and she was damaged to the extent that she had to put in at Philadelphia to repair and refit.

Ready for active service early in 1777, Fly convoyed merchantmen to sea, carried dispatches, and protected American ships in Cape May Channel. During the later part of the year, she was one of the Continental ships working with the Pennsylvania Navy to defend the Delaware River. In November, when the British Fleet and powerful shore batteries forced the evacuation of Fort Mifflin and Fort Mercer, giving the British control of the river, Fly and the other Continental ships were burned to prevent their falling into the hands of the British.

USS General Gates

  • Complement: N/A
  • Armament: 8 guns
  • Commanders: Captain John Skimmer
  • Operations: N/A

USS General Gates was a brigantine of the Continental Navy active in 1778 and 1779. Built as the merchant brigantine Industrious Bee in 1764 at Bristol, England, for operations by Clapman & Co., the British ship was captured on August 29, 1777 by Captain John Skimmer in the Continental schooner USS Lee, while bound from Gibraltar for Newfoundland. The ship was purchased on December 19 by the Navy Board at Boston, fitted out with 18 guns, and renamed General Gates, Captain John Skimmer in command.

General Gates sailed from Marblehead on May 24, 1778, joining privateer brigantine Hawk off Cape Ann to cruise on the Newfoundland Banks. After capturing the ship Jenny and brigantines Thomas and Nancy, the two ships parted company early in August. Thereafter, General Gates captured the schooner Polly.

On August 3, 1778, she intercepted the brigantine Montague under Captain Nelson, who defended his ship in an epic engagement of five hours. After expending her ammunition, Montague resorted to firing "every piece of iron of all kinds that could be rammed into the tube of the cannon," including jack knives, crowbars, and even the captain's speaking tube. A double-headed shot from General Gates crashed into Captain Nelson's cabin. Taking it up, Nelson fired it from one of his own guns. "This shot striking a swivel gun on the State's brig divided, and one part of it glancing instantly killed the active and brave Captain Skimmer." It was two more hours before Montague struck her colors and capitulated to General Gates with Lt. Dennis in command. General Gates returned to Boston Harbor with prizes Polly and Montague on August 31, 1778.

General Gates departed Boston on November 14 in company with Providence for Nova Scotian waters. She captured the schooner Friendship off Casco on December 4 and two days later, parted by a gale from Providence, subsequently cruised in West Indian waters. She captured schooner General Leslie off Bermuda in the first part of February 1779, then joined Hazard at Martinique. Together, they captured brigs Active on 16 March and Union the following day.

General Gates returned to Boston harbor on April 13, 1779, so unseaworthy from battering gales that her crew, at times, had despaired of ever reaching port. She was ordered sold on June 2, 1779. In August, she was loaned by the Navy Board to the Deputy Commissary of Prisoners at Boston to convey prisoners to New York. On completion of this mission, she was sold.

USS Hampden

USS Hancock

  • Complement: 290 officers and men
  • Armament: 24 × 12-pounder guns and 10 × 6-pounder guns
  • Commanders: Captain John Manley
  • Operations: N/A

The second Hancock was one of the first 13 frigates of the Continental Navy. A resolution of the Continental Congress of British North America 13 December 1775 authorized her construction she was named for John Hancock. In her career she served under the American, British and French flags.

Hancock was built at Newburyport, Massachusetts, and placed under command of Captain John Manley on April 17, 1776. After a long delay in fitting out and manning, she departed Boston, Massachusetts in company with Continental frigate Boston, May 21, 1777. On May 29, they captured a small brig loaded with cordage and duck. The next day, they encountered a convoy of transports escorted by British 64-gun ship HMS Somerset which set sail to close Hancock. Manley was saved by clever and well-timed action of Boston, which forced Somerset to give up the chase by taking on the transports.

After escaping from Somerset, the two frigates sailed to the northeast until June 7 when they engaged the Royal Navy's 28-gun frigate HMS Fox, which tried to out-sail her American enemies. Hancock gave chase and soon overhauled Fox, which lost her mainmast and suffered other severe damage in the ensuing duel. About an hour later, Boston joined the battle and compelled Fox to strike her colors.

Hancock spent the next few days repairing the prize and then resumed cruising along the coast of New England. East of Cape Sable, she took a British coal sloop which she towed until the next morning when the approach of a British squadron prompted Manley to set the coal sloop ablaze and leave her adrift. The British frigate HMS Flora recaptured Fox after a hot action.

Boston became separated from Hancock, which tried to out-sail her pursuers. Early in the morning of July 8, 1777, the British were within striking distance. Rainbow began to score with her bowchasers and followed with a series of broadsides. Hancock was thus finally forced to strike her colors after a chase of some 39 hours. She had 239 men of her crew aboard, 50 some being on Fox. She also had Captain Fotheringham of Fox and 40 of his people on board. The rest were on Boston and a couple of fishing vessels.

USS Hornet

  • Complement: N/A
  • Armament: N/A
  • Commanders: Captain William Stone
  • Operations: N/A

The first USS Hornet was a merchant sloop chartered from Captain William Stone in December 1775 to serve under Stone as a unit of Esek Hopkins' Fleet.

Hornet fitted out at Baltimore, then sailed with Hopkins fleet on February 18, 1776. Outside the Virginia Capes, she ran afoul of USS Fly and was unable to accompany the fleet for the amphibious assault on New Providence. She patrolled in the Delaware Bay for nearly a year, then ran the British blockade to convoy merchantmen to Charleston. Documents of service are incomplete after this time but it appears that Hornet fell into British hands on the coast of South Carolina in the summer of 1777.

USS Independence

  • Complement: N/A
  • Armament: ten guns
  • Commanders: Captain John Young
  • Operations: N/A

USS Independence was a sloop in the Continental Navy. Acting as a dispatch boat, she was sent to France on a diplomatic mission – carrying important dispatches. While there, John Paul Jones embarked on her, and she received additional salutes to the American Republic from the French.

In September 1776, she cruised under Captain John Young along the Atlantic Ocean coast to the Caribbean Sea to guard American merchant trade in the West Indies.

In mid-1777, she sailed for France, arriving at Lorient in late September with important diplomatic dispatches. She captured two prizes en route and disposed of these in France before the Royal Navy could interfere.

She was in Quiberon Bay on February 14, 1778 when John Paul Jones in the Ranger received the first national salute to the flag—the first official recognition of the American Republic by a foreign power. The following morning, Jones embarked in Independence and again exchanged salutes.

Independence soon sailed for the United States. She was wrecked on the bar on April 24, 1778 while attempting to enter Ocracoke Inlet, North Carolina.

USS Indien

USS Lexington

  • Complement: 110 officers and men
  • Armament: 14 × 4-pounder guns, 2 × 6-pounder guns, and 12 × swivels
  • Commanders: Capt. John Barry, Capt. William Hallock, and Capt. Henry Johnson
  • Operations: Battle of Turtle Gut Inlet

The first USS Lexington of the Thirteen Colonies was a brigantine purchased in 1776. The Lexington was an 86-foot two-mast wartime sailing ship for the fledgling Continental Navy of the Colonists during the American Revolutionary War.

Originally named the Wild Duck, Abraham van Bibber purchased her for the Maryland Committee of Safety, at St. Eustatius in the Dutch West Indies in February 1776. She soon got underway for the Delaware Capes and reached Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on March 9 with a cargo of sorely needed gunpowder for the patriot forces. Four days later, the Marine Committee purchased Wild Duck, renamed her Lexington after the Battle of Lexington, and turned her over to Wharton and Humphry for fitting out.

Commanded by Capt. John Barry, Lexington dropped down the Delaware River on March 26 and slipped through the British blockade on April 6. The following day, she fell in with British sloop Edward, a tender to the frigate Liverpool. After a fierce fight which lasted about an hour, Edward struck her colors. Lexington took her prize into Philadelphia and as soon as the ship was back in fighting trim, Barry put to sea again. On April 26, Lexington encountered Sir Peter Parker's fleet sailing to attack Charleston, South Carolina. Two of the British ships gave chase on May 5 off the Delaware Capes. HMS Roebuck and Liverpool chased Lexington for eight hours and came close enough to exchange fire with the American ship before Barry managed to elude his pursuers and reach Philadelphia safely.

Lexington and Reprisal dropped down the Delaware to Cape May on the 20th, there joining Wasp and Hornet. Liverpool stood off the Delaware Capes preventing the American ships from escaping to sea. On June 28, Pennsylvania's brig Nancy arrived in the area with 386 barrels of powder in her hold and ran aground while attempting to elude British blockader Kingfisher. Barry ordered the precious powder rowed ashore during the night leaving only 100 barrels in Nancy at dawn. A delayed action fuse was left inside the brig, which exploded the powder just as a boatload of British seamen boarded Nancy. This engagement became known as the Battle of Turtle Gut Inlet.

On July 10, Lexington slipped to sea. On the 27th, she captured Lady Susan, a ship of Lord Dunmore's Tory Fleet which operated out of the Chesapeake Bay. This privateer was commanded by William Goodrich, a member of the notorious Tory family which had plagued the shipping of Virginia and Maryland. (Richard Dale, one of seven members of the Lady Susan crew who signed on Lexington, later won fame under John Paul Jones.) Early in September, Lexington took another sloop, Betsy. About a fortnight later, lightning struck Lexington forcing the brigantine home for repairs. Lexington anchored off Philadelphia on September 26, and two days later Barry relinquished command.

With repairs completed, Lexington, Capt. William Hallock in command, got underway for Cape Francois to obtain military cargo. On the return voyage, British frigate Pearl overhauled the brigantine just short of the Delaware Capes December 20 and captured her. The commander of the frigate removed Lexington's officers, but left 70 of her men on board under hatches with a prize crew. But by luring their captors with a promise of rum, the Yankee sailors recaptured the ship and brought her to Baltimore.

Lexington, now with Capt. Henry Johnson in command, sailed for France 20 February 1777 and took two prizes before reaching Bordeaux in March. In France, the brigantine joined Reprisal and Dolphin for a cruise seeking the Irish linen fleet scheduled to leave Dublin early in June. The American ships, commanded by Capt. Lambert Wickes, got underway May 28 and were carried far to westward by heavy winds. Approaching Dublin from the north they entered the north channel June 18 and hove to off the Mull of Kintyre.

During the next four days, they captured nine prizes, sinking three, releasing one, and retaining five. Heading south again on June 22, they took and scuttled a brig before arriving off Dublin Bay. The next morning, they took another brig and released a ship bringing sugar, rum, and cotton from Jamaica. After placing prize crews on both vessels, they resumed their voyage around Ireland. On the 24th, they stopped and released a smuggler and the next day took their last prize, a snow.

When they sighted ship-of-the-line HMS Burford near Ushant on the June 26, the American ships scattered and made their way individually to safety in France. Lexington remained at Morlaix, a Brittany fishing village, throughout the summer, hemmed in by British warships. However, France, under strong British diplomatic pressure, ordered the American ships out of French waters September 12. Lexington got underway the next morning but made little headway because of light wind. She lay becalmed near Ushant on the morning of 19 September when British 10-gun cutter HMS Alert, commanded by John Bazely, came into view. In the ensuing fight, Lexington's rigging was seriously damaged precluding flight. When the American brigantine ran out of powder, Captain Johnson reluctantly struck his colors.

USS Montgomery

  • Complement: N/A
  • Armament: 24 guns
  • Commanders: N/A
  • Operations: N/A

USS Montgomery was a three-masted, wooden-hulled sailing frigate and one of the first 13 ships authorized by the Continental Congress on December 13, 1775. She was built by Lancaster Burling at Poughkeepsie, N.Y. launched late in October 1776 but, because of the British capture of New York City during the Battle of Brooklyn and the closing of the Hudson River, was never completely finished and was later destroyed. To prevent its capture and use by the British, the frigate was burned on October 6, 1777.

The Montgomery was named in honor of fallen General Richard Montgomery.

USS Mosquito

  • Complement: N/A
  • Armament: N/A
  • Commanders: N/A
  • Operations: N/A

USS Mosquito was a sloop of four guns purchased at Philadelphia late in 1775 for the new Continental Navy. She patrolled the Delaware River until her crew destroyed in the Delaware River in 1778 to prevent her capture.

USS Pallas

USS Pigot

  • Complement: N/A
  • Armament: N/A
  • Commanders: Captain Talbot and Captain Clarke
  • Operations: N/A

HMS Pigot was condemned as a prize of war on November 25.

General John Sullivan received the consent of the Rhode Island authorities to acquire some vessels. He bought Pigot in November, and the sloop Argo the next spring. The Americans took Pigot into service with Talbot as her captain. She served until 1779 and was sold in 1780. A Captain Clarke had replaced Talbot, who went on to command Argo. Governor Greene of Rhode Island, but then at Philadelphia, instructed William Ellery to have Clarke sail Pigot to Providence and that she be sold there as she was too rotten and too dull a sailer to warrant retaining in service, and it would be too expensive to refit her. Legend has it that she was subsequently burned.

USS Providence

  • Complement: 6 officers, 22 seamen, 26 Marines
  • Armament: 12 × 4-pounder guns and 14 × railside swivel guns
  • Commanders: Capt. Abraham Whipple, Capt. John Hazard, Capt. John Paul Jones, Capt. Hoysted Hacker, and Capt. John Rathbun
  • Operations: Battle of Nassau and the Penobscot Expedition

USS Providence was a sloop in the Continental Navy, originally chartered by the Rhode Island General Assembly as Katy. The ship took part in a number of campaigns during the first half of The Revolutionary War before being destroyed by her own crew in 1779 to prevent her falling into the hands of the British after the failed Penobscot Expedition.

Katy was purchased by Rhode Island October 31, soon after she returned to Providence. Late in November, she sailed for Philadelphia carrying seamen enlisted by Commodore Esek Hopkins in New England for Continental service. She arrived on December 3 and was immediately taken into Continental service and renamed USS Providence.

Captain Whipple assumed command of USS Columbus, a larger ship, and Captain John Hazard was placed in command of Providence, later formalized by a commission from Congress dated January 9, 1776. The ships joined a squadron being formed by Congress under the command of Commander in Chief of the Fleet of the United Colonies Esek Hopkins.

On January 5, 1776, Congress ordered Hopkins to sail for Chesapeake Bay and clear waters there of a fleet organized the previous autumn by Governor Dunmore of Virginia. These English and Tory ships had ravaged the shores of the bay and the rivers which empty into it. Once Whipple's ships had completed this task, they were to move south and clear the Carolina coast of British shipping, then sail North to Rhode Island to perform a similar service.

Providence and her consorts departed Philadelphia early in January but were delayed by ice and did not get to sea until February 17. Hopkins deemed it unwise to cruise along the southern coast and led his little fleet to Abaco in the Bahamas, which they reached on March 1 and staged for a raid on New Providence. The next day, they seized two sloops on which Hopkins placed a landing party of 200 marines and 50 sailors. The Americans went ashore unopposed on the eastern end of New Providence at mid-morning of the 3rd, under cover of the guns of Providence and Wasp. They advanced toward Fort Montagu which opened fire, interrupting the invaders' progress. The defenders spiked their guns and retreated to Fort Nassau. The next day, Nassau surrendered and gave the Americans the keys to the Fort. Hopkins then brought his ships into the harbor and spent a fortnight loading captured munitions before heading home on March 17.

Off Block Island on April 4, Hopkins’ ships captured the schooner Hawk belonging to the British fleet at Newport, Rhode Island, and took the brig Bolton at dawn the next day. That evening, the Americans added a brigantine and a sloop to their list of prizes, both from New York.

About 1:00 AM. on April 6, USS Andrew Doria sighted HMS Glasgow, a 20-gun sloop carrying dispatches from Newport to Charleston, South Carolina. The American fleet engaged the enemy ship for 1.5 hours before she turned and fled back toward Newport. After daylight, Hopkins ordered his ships to give up the chase and headed with his fleet and prizes for New London, where they arrived on the 8th.

On May 10, John Paul Jones assumed command of Providence with temporary rank of captain. The ship made a voyage to New York, returning about 100 soldiers to the Continental Army whom Washington had lent to Hopkins to help man the American fleet, then Jones hove down the ship to clean her bottom. She sailed again on June 13, escorting Fly to Fishers Island at the entrance to Long Island Sound. En route, he saved a brigantine bringing munitions from Hispaniola from the British frigate Cerberus.

Providence next escorted a convoy of colliers to Philadelphia, arriving August 1. A week later, Jones received his permanent commission as captain. On the 21st, Providence departed the Delaware Capes to begin an independent cruise and, in a few days, took the brigantine Britannia and sent the whaler into Philadelphia under a prize crew. On September 1, daring seamanship enabled Jones to escape from the British frigate Solebay. Two days later, Providence captured Sea Nymph, carrying sugar, rum, ginger, and oil, and sent the Bermudan brigantine to Philadelphia. On the 6th, Providence caught the brigantine Favourite carrying sugar from Antigua to Liverpool, but HMS Galatea recaptured the prize before she could reach an American port.

Turning north, Jones headed for Nova Scotia and escaped another frigate on September 20 before reaching Canso two days later. There he recruited men to fill the vacancies created by manning his prizes, burned a British fishing schooner, sank a second, and captured a third besides a shallop which he used as a tender. Moving to Ile Madame, Providence took several more prizes fishing there before riding out a severe storm. The whaler Portland surrendered to Providence before she returned to Narragansett Bay 8 October.

While Providence was at home, Hopkins appointed Jones the commander of Alfred, a larger ship and the Commander in Chief's flagship on the expedition to the Bahamas. Shortly thereafter, Capt. Hoysted Hacker took command of Providence. The two ships got under way November 11. They took the brigantine Active after ten days and the armed transport Mellish the next day, carrying winter uniforms and military supplies for the British Army. On the 16th, they captured the snow Kitty. Providence had been troubled by leaks which developed during bad weather on the cruise, so she headed back for Rhode Island and arrived at Newport two days later.

The British seized Narragansett Bay in December 1776 and Providence retired up the Providence River with other American vessels. Providence ran the British blockade in February 1777 under Lt. Jonathan Pitcher. She put into New Bedford, then cruised to Cape Breton, where she captured a transport brig loaded with stores and carrying two officers and 25 men of the British Army, besides her crew. She made two cruises on the coast under command of Capt. J.P. Rathbun, and sailed from Georgetown, N.C. about mid-January 1778, again bound for New Providence in the Bahamas but this time alone. On January 27, she spiked the guns of the fort at Nassau, taking military stores including 1,600 pounds of powder, and released 30 American prisoners. She also made prize of a 16-gun British ship and recaptured five other vessels which had been brought in by the British. On January 30, the prizes were manned and sailed away. Providence put into New Bedford with her armed prize.

During the early part of April 1779, Providence was ordered to make a short cruise in Massachusetts Bay and along the coast of Maine. She later sailed south of Cape Cod and captured the brig HMS Diligent, 12 guns off Sandy Hook on 7 May. She fired two broadsides and a volley of muskets during the engagement and Diligent was forced to surrender, with mast rigging and hull cut to pieces. Providence then was assigned to Commodore Saltonstall's squadron which departed Boston July 19, 1779 and entered Penobscot Bay 25 July. Providence was destroyed by her crew, along with other American vessels in the Penobscot River on August 14, 1779 to prevent her falling into the hands of the British towards the end of the failed Penobscot Expedition.

USS Providence

  • Complement: 170
  • Armament: 26 x 12-pounder guns and 6 x 4-pounders guns
  • Commanders: Capt. Abraham Whipple
  • Operations: N/A

The second Providence, a 28-gun frigate, built by Silvester Bowes at Providence, Rhode Island, by order of the Continental Congress, was launched in May 1776.

After being blockaded in the Providence River for more than a year, the new frigate, under command of Captain Abraham Whipple, ran the British blockade on the night of 30 April 1778, returning the heavy fire of the British frigate Lark and damaging that vessel, then fighting a running battle with another vessel of the British blockading force. She sailed directly for France, arriving at Paimboeuf May 30 to procure guns and supplies for Continental Navy vessels under construction. She sailed from Paimboeuf 8 August and six days later, joined frigate Boston at Brest, France. The two ships sailed back to America August 22. They took 3 prizes on the return voyage and Providence arrived Portsmouth, New Hampshire, October 15.

Transferred to Boston to seek a crew, Providence sailed from Boston June 18, 1779 as flagship of Commodore Abraham Whipple, cruising eastward in company with Ranger and Queen of France. In the early morning of mid-July, the squadron was in a dense fog off the banks of Newfoundland and fell in with a Jamaican fleet of some 150 sails. The vessels remained with the enemy fleet all day without causing alarm. They took 11 prizes, many by quietly sending boats to take possession. The squadron slipped away with their prizes during the night. They sent 8 of the prizes, valued together with their cargo at over a million dollars, into Boston and Cape Ann. The Squadron returned to Boston and November 23 sailed from Nantasket Roads, first cruising eastward of Bermuda, arriving at Charleston, South Carolina December 23 to defend that city.

Providence, with other ships of Commodore Whipple's Squadron remained for the defense of Charleston and was one of the ships taken by British when that city fell, May 12, 1780. She subsequently served in the British Navy until sold in March 1783.

USS Queen of France

  • Complement: N/A
  • Armament: 28 guns and 24 x 6-pounder guns
  • Commanders: Capt. Joseph Olney and Capt. John Rathbun
  • Operations: Siege of Charleston

USS Queen of France was a frigate in the Continental Navy. She was named for Marie Antoinette.

Queen of France was an old ship purchased in France in 1777 by American commissioners, Benjamin Franklin and Silas Deane, and fitted out as a 28-gun frigate. She was in Boston Harbor by December 1778.

In a squadron commanded by Captain John Burroughs Hopkins, Queen of France, commanded by Captain Joseph Olney, departed Boston, Massachusetts March 13, 1779. She cruised along the Atlantic coast as far south as Charleston, South Carolina to destroy small armed vessels operating out of New York to prey upon American shipping. Near dawn April 6, some 16 miles east of Cape Henry, Virginia, they sighted schooner Hibernia, a 10-gun privateer, and took her after a short chase.

At about the same time the next morning, the American warships saw a fleet of 9 sails and pursued them until catching their quarry that afternoon. Ship Jason, mounting 20 guns and carrying 150 men, headed the list of seven prizes that day, including also ship Meriah — carrying 10 six pounders and richly laden with provisions and cavalry equipment — brigs Patriot, Prince Ferdinand, John, and Batchelor, and finally schooner Chance. Hopkins ordered his ships home with their prizes, and Queen of France reached Boston with Maria, Hibernia, and three brigs on the 20th.

While Queen of France was in Boston, Captain John Rathbun relieved Capt. Olney in command of the frigate. She sailed June 18 with Providence and Ranger. She fell in with the British Jamaica Fleet of some 150 ships near the Grand Banks of Newfoundland about the middle of July. In the dense fog, the American warships pretended to be British frigates of the convoy’s escort and, sending boarding parties across by boats, quietly took possession of eleven prizes before slipping away at night. Three of the prizes were later recaptured, but the eight which reached Boston with the squadron late in August were sold for over a million dollars.

Queen of France departed Boston with frigates Providence and Boston, and sloop Ranger, on November 23 and cruised east of Bermuda. They took 12-gun privateer Dolphin on 5 December before arriving Charleston, on the 23rd.

Queen of France was sunk at Charleston to avoid falling into British hands when that city surrendered May 11, 1780.

USS Racehorse

USS Raliegh

  • Complement: 180 officers and enlisted
  • Armament: 32 x 12 pounders, 26 x 12 pdrs, and 10 x 6 pdrs
  • Commanders: Captain Thomas Thompson and John Barry
  • Operations: N/A

USS Raleigh was one of thirteen ships that the Continental Congress authorized for the Continental Navy in 1775. Following her capture in 1778, she served in the Royal Navy as HMS Raleigh.

Raleigh, a 32-gun frigate, was authorized by Continental Congress on December 13, 1775. Built by Messrs. James Hackett, Hill, and Paul under supervision of Thomas Thompson, the keel was laid on March 21, 1776 at the shipyard of John Langdon on what is now Badger's Island in Kittery, Maine. She was launched on May 21, 1776.

With a full-length figure of Sir Walter Raleigh as figurehead, Raleigh put to sea under Captain Thomas Thompson, who also supervised her construction, on August 12, 1777. Shortly thereafter, she joined Alfred and sailed for France. Three days out, they captured a schooner carrying counterfeit Massachusetts money. Burning the schooner and her cargo, except for samples, the frigates continued their transatlantic passage. On September 2, they captured the British brig, Nancy, and from her they obtained the signals of the convoy which the brig had been escorting from the rear. Giving chase, the Americans closed with the convoy on September 4, 1777.

Raleigh, making use of the captured signals, intercepted the convoy and engaged HMS Druid. In the ensuing battle she damaged Druid, but the approach of the remaining British escorts forced her to retire.

On December 29, 1777, Raleigh and Alfred, having taken on military stores, set sail from L'Orient, France, following a course that took them along the coast of Africa. After capturing a British vessel off Senegal, Raleigh crossed the Atlantic Ocean to the West Indies. On March 9, 1778, in the Lesser Antilles, Alfred, some distance from Raleigh, was captured by the British ships HMS Ariadne and HMS Ceres. Raleigh, unable to reach Alfred in time to assist her, continued north and returned to New England early in April 1778.

Accused of cowardice and dereliction of duty for not aiding Alfred, Captain Thompson was suspended soon after reaching port. On May 30, 1778 the Marine Committee appointed John Barry to replace him as captain.

Barry arrived in Boston to assume command on June 24 only to find his ship without crew or stores and the Navy Board not wholly in support of the manner of his appointment. His reputation and character, however neutralized the ill-will of the Marine Committee, drew enlistments, and helped to obtain the stores.

On September 25, Raleigh sailed for Portsmouth, New Hampshire with a brig and a sloop under convoy. Six hours later, two strange sails were sighted. After identification of the ships as British the merchant vessels were ordered back to port. Raleigh drew off the enemy. Through that day and the next, the enemy ships HMS Unicorn and HMS Experiment pursued Raleigh. In late afternoon on the 27th, the leading British ship closed with her. A 7-hour running battle followed, much of the time in close action. About midnight, the enemy hauled off and Barry prepared to conceal his ship among the islands of Penobscot Bay.

The enemy, however, again pressed the battle. As Raleigh opened fire, Barry ordered a course toward the land. Raleigh soon grounded on Wooden Ball Island, part of Matinicus. The British hauled off but continued the fight for a while, then anchored. Barry ordered the crew ashore to continue the fight and to burn Raleigh.

A large party, including Barry, made it to shore. One boat was ordered back to Raleigh to take off the remainder of the crew, and destroy her, however the British again fired on the ship, striking the Continental colors. The battle was over. All three ships had been damaged, Unicorn particularly so. Of the Americans ashore, a few were captured on the island, but the remainder, including Barry, made it back to Boston, Massachusetts, arriving on October 7.

USS Randolph

  • Complement: 315
  • Armament: 26 x 12 pdrs 10 x 6 pdrs
  • Commanders: Capt. Nicholas Biddle
  • Operations: Battle of Barbados

The first USS Randolph was a 32-gun frigate in the Continental Navy named for Peyton Randolph.

Construction of the first Randolph was authorized by the Continental Congress on December 13, 1775. The frigate, designed by Joshua Humphreys, was launched on July 10, 1776, by Wharton and Humphreys at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Captain Nicholas Biddle was appointed commander of the Randolph on July 11, and he took charge of the frigate in mid-October.

Twice, after her repairs had been completed and as she was about to get underway, the frigate was kept in port by lightning-splintered mainmasts. Meanwhile, the ship, undermanned when she left Philadelphia, was losing more of her men from sickness, death, and desertion.

Recruiting was stimulated by bounty, and Randolph was finally readied for sea - this time with her masts protected by lightning rods. She departed Charleston on August 16 and entered Rebellion Road to await favorable winds to put to sea. Two days later, a party from the frigate boarded merchantman Fair American, and impressed two seamen who earlier had been lured away from Biddle's ship.

Inshore winds kept Randolph in the roadstead until the breeze shifted on September 1, wafting the frigate across Charleston Bar. At dusk, on the 3rd, a lookout spotted five vessels: two ships, two brigs, and a sloop. After a nightlong chase, she caught up with her quarry the next morning and took four prizes: a 20-gun privateer, True Briton, laden with rum, for the British troops at New York Severn, the second prize, had been recaptured by True Briton from a North Carolina privateer while sailing from Jamaica to London with a cargo of sugar, rum, ginger, and logwood the two brigs, Charming Peggy, a French privateer, and L’Assomption, laden with salt, had also been captured by True Briton while plying their way from Martinique to Charleston.

Randolph and her rich prizes reached Charleston on the morning of 6 September. While the frigate was in port having her hull scraped, the president of South Carolina's General Assembly, John Rutledge, suggested to Biddle that Randolph, aided by a number of State Navy ships, might be able to break the blockade which was then bottling up a goodly number of American merchantmen in Charleston Harbor. Biddle accepted command of the task force, which, besides Randolph, included USS General Moultrie, USS Notre Dame, USS Fair American, and USS Polly.

The American ships sailed on February 14, 1778. When they crossed the bar, Biddle's ships found no British cruisers. After seeing a number of merchantmen to a good offing, the ships proceeded to the West Indies hoping to intercept British merchantmen. After two days, they took and burned a dismasted New England ship which had been captured by a British privateer while headed for St. Augustine, Florida. Thereafter, game was scarce. They encountered only neutral ships until Polly took a small schooner on March 4bound from New York to Grenada. Biddle manned the prize as a tender.

On the afternoon of March 7, Randolph's lookouts spotted sail on the horizon. At 9:00 PM, that ship, now flying British colors, came up on the Randolph as the largest ship in the convoy, and demanded they hoist their colors. The Randolph then hoisted American colors and fired a broadside into the British ship, mistakenly believing the ship to be a large sloop. The stranger turned out to be the British 64-gun ship of the line, HMS Yarmouth.

As a 64-gun, two-deck line-of-battle ship, Yarmouth had double the number of guns as Randolph. Yarmouth's guns were also significantly heavier, mounting 32 pound cannons on her main deck, 18 pounder guns on her upper deck and 9 pounder guns on her quarterdeck and forecastle, giving her almost five times the weight of shot that Randolph could fire. The Randolph and General Moultrie engaged Yarmouth until the Randolph's magazine exploded with a blinding flash. The Yarmouth was struck with burning debris up to six feet long, which significantly damaged her sails and rigging as well as killing five, and wounding twelve.

The damage caused to Yarmouth's sails and rigging prevented her from pursuing the remaining South Carolina ships which slipped away in the darkness.

The loss of the Randolph resulted in the deaths of 311 of her crew, with 4 survivors.

USS Ranger

  • Complement: 140 officers and enlisted
  • Armament: 18 × 6-pounder guns
  • Commanders: Capt. John Paul Jones (1777–1778) and Lieutenant Simpson
  • Operations: Siege of Charleston

The first USS Ranger was a sloop-of-war in the Continental Navy in active service in 1777–1780 she received the second salute to an American fighting vessel by a foreign power. She was captured in 1780, and brought into the Royal Navy as HMS Halifax. She was decommissioned in 1781.

Ranger (initially called Hampshire) was launched May 10, 1777 by James Hackett, master shipbuilder, at the shipyard of John Langdon on what is now called Badger's Island in Kittery, Maine Captain John Paul Jones in command.

After fitting out, she sailed for France on November 1, 1777, carrying dispatches telling of General Burgoyne's surrender to the commissioners in Paris. On the voyage over, two British prizes were captured. Ranger arrived at Nantes, France, December 2, where Jones sold the prizes and delivered the news of the victory at Saratoga to Benjamin Franklin. On February 14, 1778, Ranger received an official salute to the new American flag, the "Stars and Stripes", given by the French fleet at Quiberon Bay.

Ranger sailed from Brest April 10, 1778, for the Irish Sea and four days later captured a prize between the Scilly Isles and Cape Clear. On April 17, she took another prize and sent her back to France. Captain Jones led a daring raid on the British port of Whitehaven, April 23, spiking the guns of the fortress, and burning the ships in the harbor. Sailing across the bay to St. Mary's Isle, Scotland, the American captain planned to seize the Earl of Selkirk and hold him as a hostage to obtain better treatment for American prisoners of war. However, since the Earl was absent, the plan failed.

Several Royal Navy cruisers were searching for Ranger, and Captain Jones sailed across the North Channel to Carrickfergus, Ireland, to induce HMS Drake of 14 guns, to come out and fight. Drake came out slowly against the wind and tide, and, after an hour's battle, the battered Drake struck her colors, with three Americans and five British killed in the combat. Having made temporary repairs, and with a prize crew on Drake, Ranger continued around the west coast of Ireland, capturing a stores ship, and arrived at Brest with her prizes on 8 May.

Captain Jones was detached to command USS Bonhomme Richard, leaving Lieutenant Simpson, his first officer, in command. Ranger departed Brest 21 August, reaching Portsmouth, New Hampshire on October 15, in company with Providence and Boston, plus three prizes taken in the Atlantic.

The sloop departed Portsmouth on February 24, 1779 joining with the Continental Navy ships Queen of France and Warren in preying on British shipping in the North Atlantic. Seven prizes were captured early in April, and brought safely into port for sale. On June 18, Ranger was underway again with Providence and Queen of France, capturing two Jamaica men in July and nine more vessels off the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. Of the 11 prizes, three were recaptured, but the remaining eight, with their cargoes, were worth over a million dollars when sold in Boston.

Underway on November 23, Ranger was ordered to Commodore Whipple's squadron, arriving at Charleston on December 23, to support the garrison there under siege by the British. On 24 January 1780, Ranger and Providence, in a short cruise down the coast, captured three transports, loaded with supplies, near Tybee, Georgia. The British assault force was also discovered in the area. Ranger and Providence sailed back to Charleston with the news. Shortly afterwards, the British commenced the final push. Although the channel and harbor configuration made naval operations and support difficult, Ranger took a station in the Cooper River, and was captured when the city fell on May 11, 1780.

USS Reprisal

  • Complement: 130 officers and enlisted
  • Armament: 18 × 6-pounder guns
  • Commanders: Capt. Lambert Wickes
  • Operations: Battle of Turtle Gut Inlet

USS Reprisal, 18, was the first ship of what was to become the United States Navy to be given the name promising hostile action in response to an offense. Originally the merchantman brig Molly, she was purchased from Robert Morris by the Marine Committee of the Continental Congress on March 28, 1776, renamed Reprisal, and placed under the command of Captain Lambert Wickes.

Reprisal dropped down the Delaware River from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, some time during the latter part of June. Before the Continental armed brig Nancy, six guns, slipped out to the Atlantic, six British men-of-war had sighted and chased her as she was returning from St. Croix and St. Thomas with 386 barrels of gunpowder for the Army. In order to save her, her captain ran her ashore. Captain Wickes, with the crew of Reprisal, aided by Captain John Barry with the crew of USS Lexington, were able to keep off boats from HMS Kingfisher and to save about 200 barrels of powder. Before quitting Nancy, they laid a train of gunpowder which, when Nancy was boarded, blew up killing many British sailors. In the engagement, Wickes' third lieutenant, his brother, Richard Wickes, lost his life. This engagement became known as the Battle of Turtle Gut Inlet.

Reprisal cleared the Delaware Capes on July 3. During that month, Captain Wickes captured a number of vessels in the West Indies, and, on July 27, had a sharp encounter with HMS Shark off Martinique, beating her off and escaping into port. She returned to Philadelphia on September 13.

On October 24, 1776, Wickes was ordered by Congress to proceed to Nantes, France, in Reprisal, taking to his post Benjamin Franklin, who had been appointed Commissioner to France. Reprisal afterwards was to cruise in the English Channel. En route to France, Reprisal captured two brigs, reaching Nantes on November 29. Reprisal was the first vessel of the Continental Navy to arrive in European waters. She set sail again about the middle of January 1777, cruising along the coast of Spain, in the Bay of Biscay and in the mouth of the English Channel. On February 5, Reprisal captured the Lisbon packet, two days out of Falmouth, after a hard fight of 40 minutes, in which two officers of Reprisal were seriously wounded and one man killed. Five other prizes were captured on this cruise, which ended on February 14.

After taking his prizes into Port Louis, Wickes sailed for L'Orient, but was ordered to leave in 24 hours by the French authorities, who had been stirred to action by the bitter remonstrances of the British Government. Wickes, however, claimed Reprisal had sprung a leak and should be careened for repairs. He received permission to make his repairs and by excuses was able several times to defeat the intentions of those in charge of the port while he made ready for another cruise.

In April 1777, Reprisal was joined by the Continental vessels Lexington (16 guns), and Dolphin (10 guns), these three vessels constituting a squadron under the command of Wickes. The American Commissioners in Paris now planned to send the squadron on a cruise along the shores of the British Isles. Leaving France the latter part of May 1777, they cruised around Ireland during June, July, and August. On June 19, they took their first prizes—two brigs and two sloops. During the following week, they cruised in the Irish Sea and made 14 additional captures, comprising two ships, seven brigs and five other vessels. Of these 18 prizes, eight were sent into port, three were released, and seven sunk, three of them within sight of the enemy's ports.

On September 14, 1777, Reprisal left France, for the United States. About October 1, Reprisal was lost off the banks of Newfoundland and all 129 on board, except the cook, went down with her.

John Paul Jones sets out to raid British ships

Commander Jones, remembered as one of the most daring and successful naval commanders of the American Revolution, was born in Scotland, on July 6, 1747. He became an apprentice to a merchant at 13 and soon went to sea, traveling first to the West Indies and then to North America as a young man. In Virginia at the onset of the American Revolution, Jones sided with the Patriots and received a commission as a first lieutenant in the Continental Navy on December 7, 1775.

After departing from Brest, Jones successfully executed raids on two forts in England s Whitehaven Harbor, despite a disgruntled crew more interested in “gain than honor.” Jones then continued to his home territory of Kirkcudbright Bay, Scotland, where he intended to abduct the earl of Selkirk and then exchange him for American sailors held captive by Britain. Although he did not find the earl at home, Jones crew was able to steal all his silver, including his wife s teapot, still containing her breakfast tea. From Scotland, Jones sailed across the Irish Sea to Carrickfergus, where the Ranger captured the HMS Drake after delivering fatal wounds to the British ship s captain and lieutenant.

In September 1779, Jones fought one of the fiercest battles in naval history when he led the USS Bonhomme Richard frigate, named for Benjamin Franklin, in an engagement with the 50-gun British warship HMS Serapis. After the Bonhomme Richard was struck, it began taking on water and caught fire. When the British captain of the Serapis ordered Jones to surrender, he famously replied, “I have not yet begun to fight!” A few hours later, the captain and crew of the Serapis admitted defeat and Jones took command of the British ship.

One of the greatest naval commanders in history, Jones is remembered as a “Father of the American Navy,” along with fellow Revolutionary War hero Commodore John Barry.

John Paul Jones – Freemason and Naval Commander of the Revolutionary War

John Paul Jones is probably the best known Naval figure of the Revolutionary War He was born John Paul (The Jones was added later in America) in Kirkeudbright Scotland on July 6, 1747. His father, also named John Paul, was a gardener and his mother was Jean MacDuff. There were seven children in his family, John was number five. His oldest brother William Paul migrated to Fredericksburg, Virginia and was an important point of contact on this side of the Atlantic.

John went to sea at the age of twelve after finishing school, and made his first trip to Fredericksburg before he was thirteen years old. In 1768 he was assigned to a British Merchant ship named John and during the voyage back to Scotland had to assume command due to the death of the captain and the first mate. His career as a merchant seaman ended in 1773 at age 26, when he inherited his brother’s plantation in Virginia. It was stipulated that in order to inherit the plantation he must assume the name of “Jones” which he did and was thereafter John Paul Jones. It was during this time period that he made application to St. Bernard Lodge 3122 at Kirkcudbright, Scotland and was initiated on November 27, 1770. Masonry played a big part in Jones’ life from then on. While in Virginia he met many patriots including Washington, Patrick Henry, and most importantly, Ben Franklin who was to play a large role in Jones’ career in later life.

In 1775, shortly after the battle of Lexington and Concord, Jones’ offered his services to the American cause. An organized force was available for fighting on land (The Militia), but no organized force existed to fight at sea. America needed a Navy and turned to John Paul Jones. He was invited by John Hancock and the Naval Committee of the Continental Congress to Lay’ before the Committee such information and advice as may seem to him useful in assisting the said Committee to discharge its labors. He gave much time and effort in working out plans for a new Navy.

Jones’ name was placed on the first National Navy list as number one on the list of Lieutenants and he was the first of the officers on that list to receive his commission. Historical records show that he received his commission from the hand of John Hancock in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Jones went to Newport, Rhode Island and took command of the ship Providence and on June 14, set sail. The records from that voyage show that Jones captured 16 enemy vessels, destroying 8 and sending the rest to America as booty. He returned to port to find that he had been promoted to Captain and the sadder news that his plantation had been burned to the ground by the British. 1777 found Jones in Philadelphia at the Naval board where he argued for a mission to European waters. An interesting note is that on June 14, 1777 Congress passed two separate resolutions.

The first that The flag of the thirteen United States of America be thirteen stripes, alternating red and white that The Union be thirteen stars in a blue field representing a new constellation. The second resolution passed was that Captain John Paul Jones be appointed to command the ship Ranger. Jones was so moved by this that he wrote “That flag and I are twins born the same hour from the same womb of destiny. We cannot be parted in life or in death. So long as we can float, we shall float together If we must sink, we shall go down as one.”

Jones went to Portsmouth, New Hampshire to outfit the ship Ranger and sailed her to France arriving on December 2, 1777. He arrived in Brest Roads and sailed through the French Fleet, receiving the first national salute to the American flag by a foreign power. During the ensuing months he made several voyages, victorious in all. In September of 1778 he turned the Ranger over to Lt. Simpson and took command of a larger ship, LeDuras which he renamed Le Bon Homme Richard after his friend and fellow Mason Benjamin Franklin who wrote Poor Richard’s Almanac. was the ship that would make Jones a legend in the American Navy and American history. Sailing from the Road of Groaix on August 14,1779 with three other ships the Alliance, the Pallas and the Vengeance he captured five prize ships in 40 days. On September 23 he met with the British ship Serapis, a 44 gun man-of-war The battle between the two started at 7:00 in the evening and lasted until well after 11:00. The fighting was heavy from the beginning with both ships sustaining serious damage. At one point during the fight, after a cannonball had taken away the Richard’s flagstaff, Captam Pearson of the Serapis leaned over his rail and cried “Do I understand that you have struck? Jones’ reply was “No, I have just begun to fight!” It was this incident that earned Jones everlasting fame in the annals of Naval History. Finally Jones brought his ship close in and lashed both ships together Jones led a boarding party onto the deck of the British ship and engaged in a furious hand to hand fight. Captain Pearson seeing the heavy casualties, struck his flag and surrendered to Jones. The casualty figures showed that the Americans had sustained 67 dead and 106 wounded and the British had 87 dead and 134 wounded. (Thirteen died later in the night.) Another casualty was the Richard. Her back broken, and taking on water, she sank in the early morning hours still flying the flag of the United States. Jones and his crew having transferred to the Serapis made what repairs they could and sailed into the Dutch harbor of Texel on October 3, 1779 It was during the year 1780 that John Paul Jones was invited to join the Lodge of Nine Muses in France. Franklin had been the Master of this Lodge for two years and they welcomed the new American hero with open arms. The noted sculptor Houden also started on Jones bust having already made the busts of Washington, Franklin and Voltaire who had joined the Lodge at the age of 80. This was a Lodge that numbered philosophers, liberals, and several leaders of the still to be fought French Revolution, among its members.

He left France bound for the United States on December 18, 1780 aboard the ship Ariel and landed in Philadelphia in February of 1781. In May of 1781 he gave up command of the Ariel and with it his active service in the Continental Navy. He was appointed as Special U.S. Agent to France in 1783. Here he was instrumental in collecting prize money that had not been paid to American Seamen during the war In 1787 he received the only gold medal given by congress to a Navy hero of the Revolutionary War. In 1788 he accepted an appointment from Empress Catherine of Russia as a Rear Admiral in the Russian Navy. He commanded a Naval force on the Black Sea fighting the Turks and was instrumental in winning several engagements for the Russian fleet. It is said that Empress Catherine, herself antimasonic, found that Jones was a proud member of the Craft and for this reason discharged him with full pay. He returned to France and shortly before his death retired from her service. The trip to Russia may have been the undoing of Jones for it surely hastened his death. In the last days of his life Jones lived quietly receiving many visitors. He was ill and suffered from a heart condition. On July 18, 1792, Jones breathed his last. He died from dropsy, pneumonia, and a heart condition in Paris France, at the young age of 45 He was buried with full Masonic honors in a lead coffin, in a cemetery in Paris.

You might think that this is the end of the story, but we are not quite finished. Some 113 years later, under orders from the President of the United States, Brother Theodore Roosevelt, the body of John Paul Jones was recovered from the cemetery and made a long slow trip across the Atlantic to be placed in a crypt at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. Paul Jones lived a short but very full life. Reading about his life is almost like reading fiction, his lowly birth, his almost meteoric rise in the American Navy, and his attainment of the rank of Rear Admiral in the Russian Navy. His love of the Masonic Craft was second only to his love of Liberty and the United States. He lived his life according to the Masonic principles that he studied. John Paul Jones, Mason, Diplomat, Seaman, a man who was admired by his friends and his enemies.

John Paul Jones sets out to raid British ships - Apr 10, 1778 - HISTORY.com

TSgt Joe C.

On April 10, 1778, Commander John Paul Jones and his crew of 140 men aboard the USS Ranger set sail from the naval port at Brest, France, and head toward the Irish Sea to begin raids on British warships. This was the first mission of its kind during the Revolutionary War.

Commander Jones, remembered as one of the most daring and successful naval commanders of the American Revolution, was born in Scotland, on July 6, 1747. He became an apprentice to a merchant at 13 and soon went to sea, traveling first to the West Indies and then to North America as a young man. In Virginia at the onset of the American Revolution, Jones sided with the Patriots and received a commission as a first lieutenant in the Continental Navy on December 7, 1775.

After departing from Brest, Jones successfully executed raids on two forts in England s Whitehaven Harbor, despite a disgruntled crew more interested in “gain than honor.” Jones then continued to his home territory of Kirkcudbright Bay, Scotland, where he intended to abduct the earl of Selkirk and then exchange him for American sailors held captive by Britain. Although he did not find the earl at home, Jones crew was able to steal all his silver, including his wife s teapot, still containing her breakfast tea. From Scotland, Jones sailed across the Irish Sea to Carrickfergus, where the Ranger captured the HMS Drake after delivering fatal wounds to the British ship s captain and lieutenant.

In September 1779, Jones fought one of the fiercest battles in naval history when he led the USS Bonhomme Richard frigate, named for Benjamin Franklin, in an engagement with the 50-gun British warship HMS Serapis. After the Bonhomme Richard was struck, it began taking on water and caught fire. When the British captain of the Serapis ordered Jones to surrender, he famously replied, “I have not yet begun to fight!” A few hours later, the captain and crew of the Serapis admitted defeat and Jones took command of the British ship.

One of the greatest naval commanders in history, Jones is remembered as a “Father of the American Navy,” along with fellow Revolutionary War hero Commodore John Barry.

John Paul Jones is buried in a crypt at the U.S. Naval Academy Chapel in Annapolis, Maryland, where a Marine honor guard stands at attention in his honor whenever the crypt is open to the public.

John Paul Jones sets out to raid British ships - Apr 10, 1778 - HISTORY.com

Thanks for reminding us TSgt Joe C. that on April 10, 1778 Commander John Paul Jones and his crew of 140 men aboard the USS Ranger set sail from the naval port at Brest, France, and headed toward the Irish Sea to begin raids on British warships."Captain John Paul Jones

John Paul Jones

During his engagement with HMS Serapis, Jones uttered, according to the later recollection of his first lieutenant, the legendary reply to a taunt about surrender from the British captain: “I have not yet begun to fight!”

Jones was born John Paul (he added “Jones” later to honor Willie Jones) on the estate of Arbigland near Kirkbean in the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright on the southwest coast of Scotland. His father, John Paul, Sr., was a gardener at Arbigland, and his mother was named Jean McDuff (1708-1767). His parents married on November 29, 1733 in New Abbey, Kirkcudbright. John Paul started his maritime career at the age of 13, sailing out of Whitehaven in the northern English county of Cumberland, as apprentice aboard the Friendship under Captain Benson. Paul’s older brother William Paul had married and settled in Fredericksburg, Virginia, the destination of many of the youngster’s early voyages.

For several years John sailed aboard a number of different British merchant and slave ships, including the King George in 1764 as third mate, and the Two Friends as first mate in 1766. After a short time in this business, he became disgusted with the cruelty in the slave trade, and in 1768 he abandoned his prestigious position on the profitable Two Friends while docked in Jamaica. He found his own passage back to Scotland, and eventually obtained another position.

During his next voyage aboard the brig John, which sailed from port in 1768, young John Paul’s career was quickly and unexpectedly advanced when both the captain and a ranking mate suddenly died of yellow fever. John managed to navigate the ship back to a safe port and, in reward for this impressive feat, the vessel’s grateful Scottish owners made him master of the ship and its crew, giving him 10 percent of the cargo. He then led two voyages to the West Indies before running into difficulty.

During his second voyage in 1770, John Paul viciously flogged one of his sailors, leading to accusations that his discipline was “unnecessarily cruel.” While these claims were initially dismissed, his favorable reputation was destroyed when the disciplined sailor died a few weeks later. John Paul was arrested for his involvement in the man’s death, and was imprisoned in Kirkcudbright Tolbooth but later released on bail. The negative effect of this episode on his reputation is indisputable.

Leaving Scotland, John Paul commanded a London-registered vessel, a West Indiaman mounting 22 guns, named the Betsy, for about 18 months, engaging in commercial speculation in Tobago. This came to an end, however, when John killed a member of his crew, a mutineer, Blackton, with a sword in a dispute over wages. Years later, in a letter to Benjamin Franklin describing this incident, he claimed it was in self-defense, but because he would not be tried in an Admiral’s Court, he felt compelled to flee to Fredericksburg, Province of Virginia, leaving his fortune behind.

He went to Fredericksburg to arrange the affairs of his brother, who had died there without leaving any other family and about this time, in addition to his original surname, he assumed the surname of Jones. There is a long tradition held in the state of North Carolina that John Paul adopted the name “Jones” in honor of Willie Jones of Halifax, North Carolina.

His prepossessions became even more in favor of America and were confirmed. From that period, as he afterwards expressed himself to Baron Joan van der Capellen tot den Pol, that became “the country of his fond election.” It wasn’t long afterwards that John Paul “Jones” joined the American navy to fight against Britain.

Sources struggle with this period of Jones’s life, especially the specifics of his family situation, making it difficult to historically pinpoint Jones’s exact motivations for emigrating to America. Whether his plans for the plantation were not developing as expected, or if he was inspired by a revolutionary spirit, is unknown.

What is clearly known is that Jones left for Philadelphia shortly after settling in North America to volunteer his services to the newly founded Continental Navy, precursor of the United States Navy. During this time, around 1775, the Navy and Marines were being formally established, and suitable ship’s officers and captains were in great demand. Were it not for the endorsement of Richard Henry Lee who knew of his abilities, Jones’s potential would likely have gone unrecognized. With help from influential members of the Continental Congress, however, Jones was to be appointed as a 1st Lieutenant of the newly converted 24-gun frigate Alfred in the Continental Navy on December 7, 1775.

===Revolutionary War command===

Jones sailed from the Delaware River in February 1776 aboard Alfred on the Continental Navy’s maiden cruise. It was aboard this vessel that Jones took the honor of hoisting the first U.S. ensign over a naval vessel. Jones actually raised the Grand Union Flag, not the later and more familiar Flag of the United States. The fleet, which had been expected to cruise along the coast, was ordered instead by Commodore Esek Hopkins to sail for The Bahamas, where Nassau was raided for its military supplies. On the fleet’s return voyage it had an unsuccessful encounter with a British packet ship. Jones was then assigned command of the sloop Providence. Congress had recently ordered the construction of thirteen frigates for the American Navy, one of which was to be commanded by Jones. In exchange for this prestigious command, Jones accepted his commission aboard the smaller Providence. During this six week voyage, Jones captured sixteen prizes and inflicted significant damage along the coast of Nova Scotia. Jones’s next command came as a result of Commodore Hopkins’s orders to liberate hundreds of American prisoners forced to labor in coal mines in Nova Scotia and also to raid British shipping. On November 1, 1776, Jones set sail in command of Alfred to carry out this mission. Although winter conditions prevented the freeing of the prisoners, the mission did result in the capture of the Mellish, a vessel carrying a vital supply of winter clothing intended for General John Burgoyne’s troops in Canada.

Despite his successes at sea, upon arrival in Boston on December 16, 1776, Jones’s disagreements with those in authority reached a new level. While at the port, he began feuding with Commodore Hopkins, who Jones believed was hindering his advancement and talking down his campaign plans. As a result of this and other frustrations, Jones was assigned the smaller command, the newly constructed USS Ranger, on June 14, 1777 (the same day the new Stars and Stripes flag was adopted).

After making the necessary preparations, Jones sailed for France on November 1, 1777 with orders to assist the American cause however possible. The American commissioners in France, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and Arthur Lee, listened to Jones’s strategic recommendations. They assured him the command of L’Indien, a new vessel being constructed for America in Amsterdam. Britain, however, was able to divert L’Indien away from American hands by exerting pressure to ensure its sale to France instead (who had not yet allied with America). Jones was again left without a command, an unpleasant reminder of his stagnation in Boston from late 1776 until early 1777. It is thought that it was during this time Jones developed his close friendship with Benjamin Franklin, whom he greatly admired. In 1778, he was accepted, together with Benjamin Franklin, into the Masonic Lodge “Les Neuf Sœurs”.

On February 6, 1778, France signed the Treaty of Alliance with America, formally recognizing the independence of the new American republic. Eight days later, Captain Jones’s Ranger became the first American naval vessel to be formally saluted by the French, with a nine-gun salute fired from captain Lamotte-Piquet’s flagship. Jones wrote of the event: “I accepted his offer all the more for after all it was a recognition of our independence and in the nation.”

Finally, on April 10, 1778, Jones set sail from Brest, France for the western coasts of Britain.

====Ranger attacks the British====

After some early successes against British merchant shipping in the Irish Sea, on April 17, 1778, Jones persuaded his crew to participate in an assault on Whitehaven, the town where his maritime career had begun. Jones later wrote about the poor command qualities of his senior officers (having tactfully avoided such matters in his official report): “‘Their object,’ they said, ‘was gain not honor.’ They were poor: instead of encouraging the morale of the crew, they excited them to disobedience they persuaded them that they had the right to judge whether a measure that was proposed to them was good or bad.” As it happened, contrary winds forced the abandonment of the attempt, and drove Ranger towards Ireland, causing more trouble for British shipping on the way.

On April 20, 1778, Jones learned from captured sailors that the Royal Navy man o’ war HMS Drake was anchored off Carrickfergus, Ireland. According to the diary of Ranger’s surgeon Jones’s first intention was to attack the vessel in broad daylight, but his sailors were “unwilling to undertake it” (another incident omitted from the official report). Therefore, the attack took place just after midnight, but the mate responsible for dropping the anchor to halt Ranger right alongside Drake misjudged the timing in the dark (Jones claimed in his memoirs, the man was drunk), so Jones had to cut his anchor cable and run.

The wind having shifted, Ranger recrossed the Irish Sea to make another attempt at raiding Whitehaven. Jones led the assault with two boats of fifteen men on April 23, 1778, just after midnight, hoping to set fire to and sink all Whitehaven’s ships anchored in harbor (numbering between 200 to 400 wooden vessels), which consisted of a full merchant fleet and many coal transporters. They also hoped to terrorize the townspeople by lighting further fires. As it happened, the journey to shore was slowed by the still-shifting wind, as well as a strong ebb tide. The spiking of the town’s big defensive guns to prevent them being fired was accomplished successfully, but lighting fires proved difficult, as the lanterns in both boats had run out of fuel. To remedy this, some of the party were therefore sent to raid a public house on the quayside, but the temptation to stop for a quick drink led to a further delay. By the time they returned, and the arson attacks began, dawn was fast approaching, so efforts were concentrated on a single ship, the coal ship Thompson, in the hope that the flames would spread to adjacent vessels, all grounded by the low tide. However, in the twilight, one of the crew slipped away and alerted residents on a harbourside street. A fire alert was sounded, and large numbers of people came running to the quay, forcing the Americans to retreat, and extinguishing the flames with the town’s two fire-engines. However, hopes of sinking Jones’s boats with cannon fire were dashed by the prudent spiking.

Crossing the Solway Firth from Whitehaven to Scotland, Jones hoped to hold for ransom the Earl of Selkirk, who lived on St Mary’s Isle near Kirkcudbright. The Earl, Jones reasoned, could be exchanged for American sailors impressed into the Royal Navy. When the Earl was discovered to be absent from his estate, Jones claims he intended to return directly to his ship and continue seeking prizes elsewhere, but his crew wished to “pillage, burn, and plunder all they could”. Ultimately, Jones allowed the crew to seize a silver plate set adorned with the family’s emblem to placate their desires, but nothing else. Jones bought the plate himself when it was later sold off in France, and returned it to the Earl of Selkirk after the War.

Although their effect on British morale and allocation of defense resources was significant, the attacks on St. Mary’s Isle and Whitehaven resulted in no prizes or profits which under normal circumstances would be shared with the crew. Throughout the mission, the crew, led by Jones’s second-in-command Lieutenant Thomas Simpson, acted as if they were aboard a privateer, not a warship.

Nevertheless, Jones now led Ranger back across the Irish Sea, hoping to make another attempt at the Drake, still anchored off Carrickfergus. This time, late in the afternoon of April 24, 1778, the ships, roughly equal in firepower, engaged in combat. Earlier in the day, the Americans had captured the crew of a reconnaissance boat, and learned that Drake had taken on dozens of soldiers, with the intention of grappling and boarding Ranger, so Jones made sure that did not happen, capturing the Drake after an hour-long gun battle which cost the British captain his life. Lieutenant Simpson was given command of Drake for the return journey to Brest. The ships separated during the return journey as Ranger chased another prize, leading to a conflict between Simpson and Jones. Both ships arrived at port safely, but Jones filed for a court-martial of Simpson, keeping him detained on the ship.

Partly through the influence of John Adams, who was still serving as a commissioner in France, Simpson was released from Jones’s accusation. Adams implies in his memoirs that the overwhelming majority of the evidence supported Simpson’s claims. Adams seemed to believe Jones was hoping to monopolize the mission’s glory, especially by detaining Simpson on board while he celebrated the capture with numerous important European dignitaries.

Even with the wealth of perspectives, including the commander’s, it is difficult if not impossible to tell exactly what occurred. It is clear, however, that the crew felt alienated by their commander, who might well have been motivated by his pride. Jones believed his intentions were honorable, and his actions were strategically essential to the Revolution. Regardless of any controversy surrounding the mission, Ranger’s capture of Drake was one of the Continental Navy’s few significant military victories during the Revolution, and was of immense symbolic importance, demonstrating as it did that the Royal Navy was far from invincible. By overcoming such odds, Ranger’s victory became an important symbol of the American spirit and served as an inspiration for the permanent establishment of the United States Navy after the revolution.

In 1779, Captain Jones took command of the 42-gun Bonhomme Richard (or as he preferred it, Bon Homme Richard), a merchant ship rebuilt and given to America by the French shipping magnate, Jacques-Donatien Le Ray. On August 14, as a vast French and Spanish invasion fleet approached England, he provided a diversion by heading for Ireland at the head of a five ship squadron including the 36-gun Alliance, 32-gun Pallas, 12-gun Vengeance, and Le Cerf, also accompanied by two privateers, Monsieur and Granville. When the squadron was only a few days out of Groix, Monsieur separated due to a disagreement between her captain and Jones. Several Royal Navy warships were sent towards Ireland in pursuit of Jones, but on this occasion, he continued right around the north of Scotland into the North Sea, creating near-panic all along Britain’s east coast as far south as the Humber estuary. Jones’s main problems, as on his previous voyage, resulted from insubordination, particularly by Pierre Landais, captain of the Alliance. On September 23, 1779, the squadron met a large merchant convoy off the coast of Flamborough Head, east Yorkshire. The 50-gun British frigate HMS Serapis and the 22-gun hired ship Countess of Scarborough placed themselves between the convoy and Jones’s squadron, allowing the merchants to escape.

Shortly after 7 p.m. the Battle of Flamborough Head began. The Serapis engaged the Bonhomme Richard, and soon afterwards, the Alliance fired, from a considerable distance, at the Countess. Quickly recognizing that he could not win a battle of big guns, and with the wind dying, Jones made every effort to lock Richard and Serapis together (his famous quotation, “I have not yet begun to fight!” was uttered in reply to a cheerful British taunt during an odd stalemate in this phase of the battle), finally succeeding after about an hour, following which his deck guns and his Marine marksmen in the rigging began clearing the British decks. Alliance sailed past and fired a broadside, doing at least as much damage to the Richard as to the Serapis. Meanwhile, the Countess of Scarborough had enticed the Pallas downwind of the main battle, beginning a separate engagement. When Alliance approached this contest, about an hour after it had begun, the badly damaged Countess surrendered.

With Bonhomme Richard burning and sinking, it seems that her ensign was shot away when one of the officers, apparently believing his captain to be dead, shouted a surrender, the British commander asked, seriously this time, if they had struck their colours. Jones later remembered saying something like “I am determined to make you strike”, but the words allegedly heard by crew-members and reported in newspapers a few days later were more like: “I may sink, but I’ll be damned if I strike.” An attempt by the British to board Bonhomme Richard was thwarted, and a grenade caused the explosion of a large quantity of gunpowder on Serapis <‘s>lower gun-deck.

Alliance then returned to the main battle, firing two broadsides. Again, these did at least as much damage to Richard as to Serapis, but the tactic worked to the extent that, unable to move, and with Alliance keeping well out of the line of his own great guns, Captain Pearson of Serapis accepted that prolonging the battle could achieve nothing, so he surrendered. Most of Bonhomme Richard’s crew immediately transferred to other vessels, and after a day and a half of frantic repair efforts, it was decided that the ship could not be saved, so it was allowed to sink, and Jones took command of Serapis for the trip to neutral (but American-sympathizing) Holland.

In the following year, the King of France honored him with the title “Chevalier”. Jones accepted the honor, and desired the title to be used thereafter: when the Continental Congress in 1787 resolved that a medal of gold be struck in commemoration of his “valor and brilliant services” it was to be presented to “Chevalier John Paul Jones”. He also received from Louis a decoration of “l’Institution du Mérite Militaire” and a sword. By contrast, in Britain at this time, he was usually denigrated as a pirate.

In June 1782, Jones was appointed to command the 74-gun America, but his command fell through when Congress decided to give the America to the French as replacement for the wrecked Le Magnifique. As a result, he was given assignment in Europe in 1783 to collect prize money due his former hands. At length, this too expired and Jones was left without prospects for active employment, leading him on April 23, 1787 to enter into the service of the Empress Catherine II of Russia, who placed great confidence in Jones, saying: “He will get to Constantinople.” He was granted name as a French subject Павел де Жовес (Pavel de Zhoves, Paul de Joves).

Jones avowed his intention, however, to preserve the condition of an American citizen and officer. As a rear admiral aboard the 24-gun flagship Vladimir, he took part in the naval campaign in the Liman (an arm of the Black Sea, into which flow the Southern Bug and Dnieper rivers) against the Turks. Jones repulsed Ottoman forces from the area, but the jealous intrigues of Russian officer Prince Grigory Alexandrovich Potëmkin and his cohort Prince Charles of Nassau-Siegen caused him to be recalled to St. Petersburg for the pretended purpose of being transferred to a command in the North Sea. Here he was compelled to remain in idleness, while rival officers plotted against him and even maliciously assailed his private character through accusations of sexual misconduct. In April 1789 Jones was arrested and accused of raping a 12 year old girl named Katerina Goltzwart. But the Count de Segur, the French representative at the Russian court (and also Jones’ last friend in the capital), conducted his own personal investigation into the matter and was able to convince Potëmkin that the girl had not been raped and that Jones had been accused by Prince de Nassau-Siegen for his own purposes Jones, however, admitted to prosecutors that he had “often frolicked” with the girl “for a small cash payment,” only denying that he had deprived her of her virginity. Even so, in that period he was able to author his Narrative of the Campaign of the Liman.

On June 8, 1788, Jones was awarded the Order of St. Anne, but he left the following month, an embittered man.

In 1789 Jones arrived in Warsaw, Poland, where he befriended another veteran of the American Revolutionary War, Tadeusz Kościuszko. Kościuszko advised him to leave the service of the autocratic Russia, and serve another power, suggesting Sweden. Despite Kościuszko’s backing, the Swedes, while somewhat interested, in the end decided not to recruit Jones.

In May 1790, Jones arrived in Paris, where he remained in retirement for the rest of his life, although he made a number of attempts to re-enter the Russian service. In June 1792, Jones was appointed U.S. Consul to treat with the Dey of Algiers for the release of American captives. Before Jones was able to fulfill his appointment, however, he died of interstitial nephritis and was found lying face-down on his bed in his third-floor Paris apartment, No. 19 Rue de Tournon, on July 18, 1792. A small procession of servants, friends and loyal soldiers walked his body the four miles (6 km) for burial. He was buried in Paris at the Saint Louis Cemetery, which belonged to the French royal family. Four years later, France’s revolutionary government sold the property and the cemetery was forgotten. The area was later used as a garden, a place to dispose of dead animals and where gamblers bet on animal fights.

===Posthumous return to the United States===

In 1905, Jones’s remains were identified by U.S. Ambassador to France Gen. Horace Porter, who had searched for six years to track down the body using faulty copies of Jones’s burial record. Thanks to the kind donation of a French admirer, Pierrot Francois Simmoneau, who had donated over 460 francs, Jones’s body was preserved in alcohol and interred in a lead coffin “in the event that should the United States decide to claim his remains, they might more easily be identified.” Porter knew what to look for in his search. With the aid of an old map of Paris, Porter’s team, which included anthropologist Louis Capitan, identified the site of the former St. Louis Cemetery for Alien Protestants. Sounding probes were used to search for lead coffins and five coffins were ultimately exhumed. The third, unearthed on April 7, 1905, was later identified by a meticulous post-mortem examination by Doctors Capitan and Georges Papillault as being that of Jones. The autopsy confirmed the original listing of cause of death. The face was later compared to a bust by Jean-Antoine Houdon.

Jones’s body was ceremonially removed from interment in a Parisian charnel house and brought to the United States aboard the USS Brooklyn, escorted by three other cruisers. On approaching the American coastline, seven U.S. Navy battleships joined the procession escorting Jones’s body back to America. On April 24, 1906, Jones’s coffin was installed in Bancroft Hall at the United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, following a ceremony in Dahlgren Hall, presided over by President Theodore Roosevelt who gave a lengthy tributary speech. On January 26, 1913, the Captain’s remains were finally re-interred in a magnificent bronze and marble sarcophagus at the Naval Academy Chapel in Annapolis.

* The 1824 novel The Pilot by James Fenimore Cooper contains fictionalized accounts of Jones’s maritime activities. Alexandre Dumas’s Captain Paul, a follow-up novel to The Pilot, was published in 1846.

* Jones was portrayed by actor Robert Stack in the 1959 film John Paul Jones, directed by John Farrow.

* Nicholas Nicastro wrote two historical novels about Jones and his times, The Eighteenth Captain (1999) and Between Two Fires (2002), published by McBooks Press.

* The John Paul Jones Junior High School in Philadelphia was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.

* The story of Jones’s attack on Whitehaven Harbour features in Dan Chapman’s 2012 novel Looking for Lucy.

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