Robert Tomes.

Battles of America by sea and land. With biographies of naval and military commanders (Volume 01) online

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took post, and began to advance against
the enemy s works by regular approach
es. The men for some time kept spirit
edly to their duty, encouraged by the
hourly expectation of the return of the
French fleet to their aid. When, howev-

Aug. 19.

er, they waited in vain day after day,
they became discouraged. At
last, the camp was suddenly en
livened by the appearance of D Estaing
and his ships off the harbor, whose adven
tures during his absence we shall now re

Lord Howe, having been unable, with
all his manoeuvring, to get the weather-
guage of his antagonist, finally hove to,
formed his ships into line to the leeward,
and waited for the French fleet to bear
down upon him. D Estaing, doubtless,
would not have hesitated to accept the
challenge ; but just at this moment, a fu
rious storm (the same which had pros
trated Sullivan s \vhole camp) began to
rage. The vessels of both fleets were at
once dispersed, and all greatly damaged.
The Languedoc, of ninety guns, Count
D Estaing s flagship, w r as dismasted, and
several others were completely disabled.

On the third day, when the
storm had abated, Admiral Howe
had gathered only seven of his scattered
fleet, but he was still disposed for the
fight; and two of his ships, the Renown
and the Preston, falling in with the dis
masted Languedoc and the Tormat, gave
them a rough handling, and would have
captured them, had not other vessels of
the French come to their rescue. A day
or two subsequently, chance brought to
gether two other ships which had suffered
less in the storm than any of their con
sorts. These were the Isis, of fifty guns,
commanded by Captain Rayner, and the
C8esar,of seventy-four, commanded by the
renowned De Bougainville. They fought
desperately for an hour and a half, being

Aug. 14,



for the greater part of that lime close
alongside of each other. De Bougainville,
with his superior weight of metal, had
borne down upon the Isis with confidence
of victory, but his guns were overloaded
and badly served. Finding his antago
nist too strong for him, he made off be
fore the wind, with his deck strewed with
seventy men killed and wounded. The
Isis was so severely damaged in her masts
and rigging as to be unable to give chase,
although her crew had suffered but little
one man only having been killed and
three wounded. De Bougainville lost an
arm and an eye.

There being no farther disposition for
battle between the shattered fleets, Lord
Howe bore for New York to refit, and
D Es tiling returned to Newport, and was
making for that harbor, when his sudden
appearance, as we have seen, enlivened
General Sullivan s troops with the pros
pect of assistance and a successful result
to the enterprise in which they were en
gaged. As soon as the French fleet came
to anchor, Generals Greene and Lafayette
pushed off to visit the admiral. They
were sadly disappointed to find that he
had determined to sail for Boston, in or
der to refit his damaged vessels. They
entreated him not to desert them at the
very crisis of the enterprise, when the
British garrison was so dispirited by its
disappointment in not receiving supplies
from Earl Howe and reinforcements from
Sir Henry Clinton at New York, that it
would probably surrender at the mere
sight of the return of the French fleet to
the harbor.

D Estaing, however, resisted all their

entreaties, declaring that he was disposed
to yield, but that his officers unanimously
insisted upon obedience to the orders of
the French government, which had di
rected that, in the event of damage to
his vessels, he should put into Boston for
repairs. Greene and Lafayette returned
to the camp before Newport with the un
welcome intelligence. General Sullivan
was very indignant, and sent a remon
strance to the French admiral, which was
signed by every one of his officers except
Lafayette. In this paper, Sullivan pro
tested against D Estaing s taking the fleet
to Boston, as derogatory to the honor of
France, contrary to the intention of his
most Christian majesty Louis XVI. and
the interests of the French nation, de
structive to the welfare of the United
States, and highly injurious to the alli
ance formed between the two nations.
The remonstrance, however, only served
to offend the pride of the French admiral,
and not to alter his resolution. He sailed
with his fleet to Boston.

Sullivan, who was fluent with his pen,
and rather prided himself upon his skill
in turning a period, could not resist the
temptation of indulging in what he prob
ably supposed was a very delicately ex
pressed bit of satire ; and he accordingly
nrade the following allusion to the de
parture of the French in his order to his
troops: u The general can not help la
menting the sudden and unexpected de
parture of the French fleet, as he finds it
has a tendency to discourage some who
placed great dependence upon the assist
ance of it, though he can l>// no means sup
pose the anny or any part of it endangered



[PART n.

by this movement. He yd hopes the event will
prove America able to procure that by her men
arms which her allies refuse to assist in obtain

On reaching Boston, D Estaing wrote
to Congress, justifying himself, and com
plaining of the remonstrance of the Amer
ican officers, and Sullivan s uncourteous
allusion quoted above. It required all
the prudence of Washington and the con
ciliatory tact of Greene to prevent this
quarrel from putting an abrupt termina
tion to the French alliance. The old anti-
Callicnn prejudice which the Americans
had inherited from England was aroused
to such an extent, that the French officers
in Boston were hooted in the streets ; and
in some of the seaports riots occurred, in
which French and American sailors came
to blows, that in several instances proved

General Sullivan, though hopeless of
any aid from D Estaing, continued the
siege of Newport. Lafayette, how r ever,
trusting to his iniluence as a fello\v-coun-
trynien, and having volunteered to pro
ceed to Boston, in order to persuade the
French admiral to return to Rhode island,
was permitted to go. The young mar
quis, nevertheless, met with no success
beyond an offer on the part of the count,
who was rather more of a soldier than a
sailor, to march by land, with the French
troops of his fleet, to the succor of Sul

The American general, however, find
ing his militia deserting him by whole
regiments at a time, now gave up all
hopes of a successful siege of Newport,
and only thought of means of escape.

Aug. 29,

His chance of retreat was endangered by
the diminution of his force, but Sullivan
extricated himself with great prudence

and skill. Having sent off his

i 1-n i All 2G|

heavy artillery and baggage, tie

on the second night afterward retired
from before the British lines toward the
north end of the island, where he had first
landed. Here it was determined to for
tify the camp, and aw^ait the result of the
mission of Lafayette, who had gone off
very sanguine of its success.

Early on the next morning after the
Americans had begun to retreat, their de
parture was discovered by the
British, who immediately came
out in pursuit in full force. Greene, with
the regiments of Colonels Livingston and
Laurens, covered the American rear, and
gallantly kept off the enemy until Sulli
van had reached the northern end of the
island. Here the troops were drawn up
in order of battle. The British continued
to advance. Greene proposed that the
Americans should march to meet them,
as he believed that they were coming on
in separate detachments, and that they
might be advantageously fought in detail.

O Q */ O

His plan, however, was rejected as being
too hazardous, and it was determined to
remain on the defensive.

The enemy were now close at hand.
The Americans were well posted, with
two redoubts in front of their lines, and
waited confidently the approach of the
foe. On closing in, the British stationed
themselves on Quaker hill, facing the
American lines, and began a brisk can
nonade from their batteries, which was
well returned from the redoubts. The



Aug. 30,

enemy now attempted to turn the Amer
ican right, in command of Greene, who
gave them a warm reception, and, being
reinforced by troops from the centre and
left, was soon enabled not only to defeat
the manoeuvre of the British, but to drive
them back with great slaughter.

On the following day, a Brit
ish squadron being seen off the
harbor, General Sullivan determined not
to linger any longer upon the island. As
the sentries of both armies were only four
hundred yards apart, the greatest caution
was necessary lest the enemy should be
come aware of his purpose, and interfere
with the retreat. The night was accord
ingly selected; and, during the day pre
ceding, tents were pitched, and the men
kept at work on the intrenchments, in or
der to make it appear that it was intend
ed to remain on the ground and resist to
the last.

The night came, and the camp-fires be
ing lighted, Sullivan began his retreat,
without exciting the suspicion of the en
emy. It was near midnight, and all had
been nearly accomplished, when Lafay
ette made his appearance, having ridden
in all haste from Boston, in order that he
might share in the engagement which he
knew to be imminent. He was greatly
mortified that lie had missed the light of
the preceding day. He arrived, however,
in time to aid in the retreat, and brought

off the pickets and covering-parties in ad
mirable order. Not a man was left be
hind on the island, and not a single ar
ticle lost.

General Sullivan had retired just in
time from Rhode island ; for the British
ships, of which he had caught a glimpse
off the coast, had Sir Henry Clinton on
board, with about four thousand troops.
Finding himself a day too late, Sir Henry
put to sea again, for New York. That
his enterprise, however, might not be
without some result, he, on leaving his
ships at New London, directed General
Sir Charles Grey ( No-flint Grey," as he
was called, from his fondness for the bay
onet) to proceed to New Bedford and ef
fect as much damage as he could. Grey
showed his usual promptitude in devas
tation, and laid waste an immense quan
tity of American property. He burned
ships (more than seventy in number),
magazines, stores, wharves, warehouses,
vessels on the stocks, mills, and dwellings,
amounting in value to hundreds of thou
sands of dollars. After laying New Bed
ford in ruins, General Grey proceeded to
Martha s Vineyard, where, after destroy
ing a few vessels, he mulcted the inhabit
ants, by a compulsory levy of arms, of
all the public funds, three hundred oxen,
and ten thousand sheep. He now re-em
barked and the squadron returned to New
York, laden with spoils.




[PART 11.


The American Naval Force. Difficulties and Casualties. Cruise of the Raleigh and the Alfred. Cruise of the Ranger.
John Paul Jones. His Life and Character. His Adventures. A " Hard Man." Cruelty. Abandons his Native
Country. His Arrival in Virginia. Command of an American Vessel. Arrival in France. Cruise off the English
Coast. Attack on Whitehaven. Raid Upon Lord Selkirk. The Family Plate. Naval Dignity. Capture of the
Drake. Return to France. Gallant Exploit of Rathburne Less Glory. Destruction of Vessels in the Delaware.-
Captain Barry. The Cruise of the Raleigh. Her Fate. Privateering.


THE United States had been very
unfortunate in their early attempts
to establish a naval force. The possession
of New York and Philadelphia by the en
emy, and their command of the Hudson
and the Delaware, had led to the destruc
tion of the principal men-of-war which
had been built by the Americans. The
few small vessels which had succeeded in
getting to sea, met with various fortunes.
The Randolph, a thirty-two gun ship, un
der the command of Cap tain Nicholas Bid-
die, a spirited young officer, had blown
up while in action with a British vessel,
the Yarmouth, off Barbadoes. The Han
cock, also of thirty-two guns, commanded
by Captain Manly, after a successful fight
or two, finally struck to a superior force,
and was taken as a prize, by the British,
into Halifax. The Raleigh and the Al
fred, commanded by Captain Thompson,
whose gallantry in sailing with his ship
into the midst of a whole squadron of
the enemy we have already had occasion
to describe, having made their voyage in
safety to France, now sailed on their re
turn to America. Their course was kept
well to the south, as was usual in those
days, in order to escape the large British
cruisers, and to pick up small West-India

traders. They had been several weeks
at sea, when the British ships Ariadne
and Ceres hove in sight and gave them
chase. The Raleigh was considerably in
advance of her escort, and escaped; but
the Alfred, being overtaken, and finding
it useless to fight with the odds of two
to one against her, struck.

The most memorable cruise of the year
was that of the Ranger, an eighteen-gun
ship. She is described as a crank, clum
sy vessel, with a gun-deck, but no arma
ment above, and a dull sailer. Her de
fects, however, were more than compen
sated by the excellent nautical qualities
of her commander, who was no less a per
sonage than the famous Paul Jones, " a
short, thick, lithe fellow, about five feet
eight inches in height, and of a dark,
swarthy complexion," as he is described.

JOHN PAUL was born on the Gth of July,
1747, at Arbigland, Selkirkshire, on the
frith of Sol way, in Scotland. His father
was the gardener of a Mr. Craik, a gen
tleman of property in that neighborhood.
The son, bred up on the seacoast, natu
rally took to a sailor s life, and at the age
of twelve years readily consented to be
come the apprentice of a shipmaster in
command of a small vessel trading with




the American colonies. This first brought
him to Virginia, where he found his broth
er, married and settled, and from whom
he acquired an inclination toward a colo
nial life. He was, however, obliged to re
turn, but did not remain long with his
master, whose bankruptcy released him
from his indentures.

Young John Paul s next transition w r as
to the forecastle of a slaver ; and subse
quently, by the death of the captain and
mate, to the quarter-deck, as commander.
In this capacity he served for several
years ; and it may be supposed that, al
though he was in a good school for the
improvement of his nautical skill and the
development of his daring qualities, he
was not likely to have his sensibilities

The youthful commander was already
known as a " hard man," and not seldom
complaints we re made of his cruelty by
his sailors. On one occasion, he was called
to account before a court in the West In
dies by Mungo Maxwell, one of his crew,
who complained of ill treatment. The
complaint was dismissed as frivolous ; but
Mungo, shipping soon after in another
vessel, died suddenly at sea, and there
were not wanting people to blame Cap
tain Paul for his death. This created a
prejudice, which, together with the ill re
pute of his occupation, clung to him so
tenaciously, that he determined to leave
his native country.

In 1773, his brother died, and John
Paul went to Virginia to settle. There,
changing his name simultaneously with
his life and country, he began his new
career as JOHN PAUL JONES. He had re

solved to quit the sea for ever, when the
Revolutionary War breaking out, he be
came an enthusiastic American patriot,
and was appointed, in consequence of his
well-known abilities as a seaman, a lieu
tenant in the navy. His first cruise was
in the Alfred, from which he was soon
transferred to the Providence as captain,
and again in a short time promoted to
the Ranger, the cruise of which we shall
now relate.

Jones had gone to France, with the
expectation of receiving the command of
the Indien ; but she had been given, pre
vious to his arrival, as a present to King
Louis XVI., and the ambitious young cap
tain had to content himself with the Ran
ger, which was thought quite unworthy
of so gallant a commander. He was prom
ised a better ship, but he had not the pa
tience to wait, and accordingly put into
Brest, to refit his vessel and prepare for
a cruise.

Having completed her- preparations,
the Ranger sailed for the Irish channel,
where Jones was perfectly " at
home," and knew almost every
foot on the land and fathom of the sea.
As he passed along the coast, he made
several prizes, and then bore away for
Whitehaven, England, with the intention
of burning the colliers crowded into that
port. The weather, however, was unfa
vorable for the project, and he sailed to
the north until he reached the coast of
Scotland, where, having pursued a reve
nue-vessel without success, he bore aw 7 ay
for Ireland. While off Carrickfergus, he
observed a vessel at anchor in the roads ;
and ha vino- learned from some fishermen,

April 10.




who boarded the Ranger, that she was
the Drake sloop-of-war, Jones determined
to run in and try to take her.

The night was chosen for the purpose ;
and Jones having, daring the daylight, ac
curately taken the hearings of the Drake,
now in the dark stood for the roads where
she was anchored. His intention was, to
brino; his vessel close to the bows of his


enemy ; but the anchor was not let go in
time, and she drifted astern of the Drake.
Jones, finding his object defeated, ordered
his cable to be cut; and, making sail, he
hauled his ship by the wind in all haste.
A gale coming on, he barely succeeded
in weathering the land, and getting back
into the channel.

The wind now being favorable, Captain
Jones determined to carry out his design
upon Whitehaven. The Ranger accord
ingly stood for the Cumberland coast, on
the English side of the channel, and soon
made the port which was the object of
attack, and out of which the captain had
often sailed in his early days when a tra
ding-skipper. He waited until night, and
then dividing -into two parties as many
of his crew as could be spared from the
ship, lowered his boats and pulled for the
shore. As he was familiar with the ground,
Jones took the lead in command of one
party, and his lieutenant Wallingford fol
lowed in charge of the other. The forts
were seized, the guns spiked, and the sen
tries gagged and bound. The men had
been provided with candles in lanterns,
which were to be used not only as lights,
but as torches to set fire to the shipping.
There was, however, some delay, and the
candles had sill burned out when they

were wanted for the secondary purpose.
The day was fast approaching, and there
was but little time to spare. The lieu
tenant and his party, therefore, giving up
all hope of success, took to their boat and
pulled back to the ship, without effecting

/ o

The resolute captain, however, was not
to be thus balked of his purpose. So he
sent one of his men to a neighboring cot-

o O

tage, and obtained a candle. Thus pro
vided, Jones boarded a large ship in the
port, and with a barrel of tar kindled a
fire in her steerage, and soon had her in
flames. As the tide was out, and the ves
sel lay high and dry in the midst of a
large fleet of other craft, he was in hopes
that they would all take fire, and his ob
ject be thus effectually accomplished. The
burning ship soon alarmed the inhabit
ants, w ho rushed out in numbers, crowd
ing the adjacent heights, and thronging
to the rescue of the shipping. Jones and
his party still remained ashore, and with
their drawn hangers presenting a resolute
attitude, kept back the people till it was
thought that the ship was sufficiently in
flames to secure a general conflagration,
and then the captain drew off his men to
their boat, and pulled back for the Ran


The inhabitants, however, succeeded in
extinguishing the fire before it had done
much harm to the shipping ; and, recov
ering somewhat from their panic, they
were enabled to bring a gun or two to
bear upon Jones s boat, but not in time
to reach it with a single shot. The fright

o Q

produced by this audacious attempt was
such that, even to this day, the name of




PAUL JONES is a terror nlong the whole
English coast.

The Ranger now stood for the oppo
site shore of Solway frith ; and Captain
Jones again took to his boats, and landed
a party at the mouth of the Dee, near to
the town of Kirkcudbright, on the Scot
tish coast. Jones was here upon his na
tive soil, and knew every point of rock
and inch of ground. He at once led his
men to St. Mary s isle, where the earl of
Selkirk had a country-seat, and where
Jones is said to have lived while his fa
ther was in his lordship s service. The
earl and his family were absent, and the
servants left in charge were overpowered
and the mansion plundered. One of the
officers brought away with him a quanti
ty of the family plate, whereat the cap
tain was greatly indignant, it being in his
opinion an act quite unbecoming the dig
nity of a naval officer. He accordingly
determined to restore it, and, having paid
his crew out of his own pocket the sum
of a hundred pounds sterling (the sup
posed value of the plunder, which they
claimed as their prize), he sent back the
plate, with a courteous note to the count
ess of Selkirk, expressive of his regret
that it had been carried off.

Jones fretted to think that the Drake
had escaped him, and it was a point of
honor with him to make another attempt
at her capture. He accordingly sailed
again for the Irish coast, and was pleased
to find, on arriving off" Carrickfergus, that
the Drake still lay in the roads. The
saucy Ranger was soon observed from the
English man-of-war, and a boat sent out
to discover who the stranger was. and

what she wanted. As soon as he saw the
boat, Jones began to manoeuvre his ves
sel in such a way, that only her stern
could be seen. The British officer in com
mand was thus induced to pull alongside
the Ranger, which was just what Jones
wanted, as it gave him the opportunity,
of which he immediately took advantage,
of seizing the boat, officer, and crew. From
his prisoners he learned that intelligence
of the Ranger s audacious proceedings at
Whitehaven and St. Mary s isle had reach
ed Ireland, and that the commander of
the Drake was on the alert.

Jones expected that the detention of
the boat would bring the Drake herself
out in search of it, and in this expecta
tion he was not disappointed. The Eng
lish ship immediately got under way in
the roads, but soon lay to, waiting for the
Ranger to come on. Jones, however, stood
off the land, in order to draw his antago
nist more into the channel. The Drake,
observing the manoeuvre, began to work
out of the roads; but, as the tide was
against her, she moved slowly, and did
not succeed in drawing near the Ranker

o o

until almost nightfall; but she came out
defiantly, with her decks crowded with
volunteers, eager for a brush with "the
American privateer," and accompanied by
a number of small craft to see the fight.
As soon as the Drake closed in suffi
ciently, she hailed her antagonist, and
asked her name ; which she received, with
a challenge to come on. The two ships
were standing on. The wind was light,
and such as to admit of but little manoeu
vring. As the Drake was somewhat to


leeward and astern, the Ranger put her




helm up. The enemy followed suit, when
Jones poured in his first broadside. The
two vessels, now running free under easy
canvas, continued to cannonade each oth
er for an hour and four minutes, when the
Drake, hauling down her ensign, called
for quarter. She had suffered severely,
her hull and rigging being well cut up,
her captain and lieutenant wounded mor
tally, and forty of her crew killed or dis
abled. The Ranger, although carrying
fewer guns and a smaller crew, suffered
much less than her antagonist. Lieuten
ant Wallingford and one of the crew were
the only killed, and there were but five

Captain Jones, putting a crew on board
his prize, and securing his prisoners, sailed
away triumphantly, with the captured
Drake in company, for France. Pie took
the North channel, and, although chased

Online LibraryRobert TomesBattles of America by sea and land. With biographies of naval and military commanders (Volume 01) → online text (page 86 of 126)