A Cruise Around the British Isles, 1779 | Naval History


    About the author

    Gardner W. Allen
    Gardner W. Allen

    Gardner W. Allen (1856–1944) was an American naval historian known for his detailed studies of naval operations and ship histories. Allen’s most significant contribution is his work on American naval history, particularly during the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. His notable publications include “Our Navy and the Barbary Corsairs,” “Our Naval War with France,” and “The Naval History of the American Revolution.”



      The frigate Alliance, Captain Landais, with Lafayette on board, arrived at Brest February 6, 1779, after a passage of twenty-three days from Boston. The voyage had not been without incident. Two vessels were captured and the frigate lost her main topmast in a storm. February 2 a mutiny was discovered among the English and Irish sailors on board. The difficulty of recruiting ships’ crews for the regular naval service, chiefly due to the superior attractions of privateering, had led to the practice in some cases of enlisting British prisoners, who were willing in this manner to escape confinement. In the case of the Alliance the disinclination of Americans to sail under a French captain had increased the difficulty and accordingly many British subjects were taken. The unreliable character of such crews is illustrated in this instance. Among the ringleaders of the conspiracy were John Savage, master-at-arms, and William Murray, sergeant of marines. Murray confessed, saying “that Savage and he, with 70 more, had agreed to take the ship and carry her into some part of England or Ireland, and force one of the Lieutenants to take command of her. He said the plan they had laid to take her was, that they were to divide themselves into four divisions, the first to take the magazine, the other three at the same time to force the cabbin, wardroom, and quarter deck, then to take command of the arm-chests, and in case of opposition, they were to point the fore-castle guns aft and fire them, the guns being 9 pounders and all loaded. The party that was to go to the magazine were to kill the Gunner, Carpenter and Boat-swain; the other punishments for the other officers and French gentlemen were thus: Captain Landais was to be put in irons and sent in the cutter, without victuals or drink; the Lieutenants were to walk overboard on a plank from the ship side, unless they would take charge of her and navigate the ship into England; the marine officers and the Doctor were to be hanged, quartered, and hove overboard; the sailing Master was to be tied up to the mizzen-mast, scarrified all over, cut to pieces, and hove overboard.” (Independent Chronicle, April 29, 1779, Murray’s testimony under oath, vouched for by an officer of the ship.) Lafayette was to be put in irons and sent to England. Thirty-eight of the mutineers were confined in irons on shore to await trial. The disposition of these prisoners caused embarrassment, for there were not enough American naval captains in France to organize a court martial for their trial and it would be inconvenient and expensive to send them back to America. Franklin suggested exchanging them for Americans as prisoners of war. The Marine Committee, however, could “think of no better method of disposing of them than Sending them out to this Continent by different Vessels, proportioning the number to each Vessel, so as not to render it dangerous or inconvenient: and upon their Arrival, if Sufficient evidence can be had, it is our intention to bring them to trial by Court Martial (Mar. Com. Letter Book, 236 (September 17, 1779, letter to Franklin); Wharton, iii, 188; Boston Gazette, April 19, 26,1770; Independent Chronicle, April 22, 29, 1779 ; Archives de la Marine, B8 16 (Fevrier, 1779.)

      After his return to Brest in May, 1778, with his prize the Drake, Captain Jones spent more than a year on shore, perhaps the most trying year of his life, beset with every sort of vexation and disappointment. To begin with, his drafts on the American Commissioners, for the support of his crew and prisoners and the refitting of his ship, were dishonored for lack of funds. Jones had never received any pay for his own services and he now made himself personally responsible for these necessary expenses. There was great and apparently unnecessary delay in disposing of the Ranger’s prizes, so that the officers and men were kept waiting indefinitely for their prize money. At this time, too, began the long and weary wait for another and larger ship. There still seemed a chance that through the French Minister of Marine, de Sartine, Jones would get the Indien after all, and it was proposed by Franklin that he should man her partly with French and partly with American prisoners received in exchange for those he had taken on his cruise. But on account of the outbreak of hostilities between France and England, which soon followed, the Dutch government, anxious to maintain neutrality, would not allow the Indien to leave Holland. Other schemes were proposed, among them the command of a squadron of French ships under the American flag to cruise in the Baltic, but owing to the natural jealousy of French officers, and other causes, every plan fell through. After nearly endless correspondence without result, Jones determined to go himself to Versailles and personally urge his claims, taking the advice, it is said, given in “Poor Richard’s Almanac,” and hoping that by direct solicitation something might be accomplished. This hope was realized, for Sartine took more interest in his affairs and the result was the purchase, in January, 1779, of an East Indiaman called the Duc de Duras (Sands, 96-149; Sherburne, 66-86; Archives de la Marine, B1 89, 179, 183, 185, 203, 207.)

      This vessel was fourteen years old, unsound, and a dull sailer, but though Jones had insisted on the necessity for his purpose of a fast-sailing ship, he accepted the Duras and at once entered upon the work of converting her into a man-of-war. With the consent of Sartine and in honor of Poor Richard and of his faithful friend and benefactor, Franklin, Jones called his ship the Bonhomme Richard. She was at L’Orient and several American seamen were enlisted there. Months were spent in preparation for a cruise against the enemy. The Alliance, which was to have returned directly to America, was detained by Franklin and put under Jones’s orders; and three French vessels also, making in all a respectable squadron. The agent of the French government in the arrangements was M. de Chaumont, a zealous adherent of the American cause who had given his house at Passy free of rent to the American Commissioners. It was intended that Lafayette should accompany the expedition with a considerable military force and an attack on Liverpool, Lancaster, Bristol, Bath, and Whitehaven was contemplated; it was proposed to take nearly fifteen hundred infantry besides a small body of cavalry and six pieces of light artillery. This project, however, was abandoned and Lafayette did not go. Later, an invasion of England was planned, for which a large French and Spanish fleet was collected, and Jones was to make a diversion in the north, but the main part of this scheme also was given up. It remained now for the American squadron to cruise independently. The ships were finally ready for sea about the middle of June, 1779. There was trouble on board the Alliance which caused Jones annoyance and perplexity, not knowing at first where to place the blame. It was owing to lack of harmony between the captain of the frigate and his officers and crew. Landais had a temperament which made impossible anything like efficient cooperation between himself and either superiors or inferiors (Sands, 149-158; Sherburne, 86-94; Archives de la Marine, B4 172, 99-102, 128.)

      The Bonhomme Richard was not well adapted for purposes of war, being clumsily built, slow-sailing, and structurally weak. There was discussion as to the number and weight of guns she should carry. Jones wished a main battery of twenty-eight eighteen-pounders and they were ordered to be cast, but the ship was not strong enough to bear the strain and lighter guns were deemed necessary. The only ones that could be obtained in time for the cruise were old French guns, many of which had been condemned. On the gun-deck were mounted twenty-eight twelve-pounders, and on the forecastle and quarter deck six or eight nines, while in the gun-room on the after part of the deck under the main battery six eighteen-pounders were placed, ports having been cut for them, too close to the surface of the water to be of use in a moderately rough sea. Jones had as first lieutenant, at the outset, Robert Robinson, who was soon succeeded, however, by Richard Dale, an excellent officer who had served in the Virginia navy and the Continental navy and had twice escaped from Mill Prison. The crew of the ship was heterogeneous. Out of two hundred and twenty-seven officers and men (This list of 227 in Sherburne is of a later date and evidently incomplete, some of the French officers and all the marines being omitted. A reprint of the original muster-roll, dated July 26, 1779, is contained in The Logs of the Serapis, Alliance, Ariel, edited by Captain John S. Barnes, New York, 1911; this list, comprising 254 names, differs considerably from Sherburne’s, which is accounted for by many changes soon afterwards made in the personnel.) there were seventy-nine Americans, mostly exchanged prisoners, eighty-three English, Irish, and Scotch, including Jones himself, a few Scandinavians, and nearly thirty Portuguese; the nationality of most of the others is not stated. Besides these there were a hundred and thirty-seven French soldiers acting as marines. The Alliance, by far the best ship in the squadron, carried twenty-eight twelve-pounders and eight nines, and rather more than two hundred men. The Pallas, Captain Cottineau, was a merchantman or privateer fitted out as a thirty-two-gun frigate; her battery consisted of twenty-six nines and six fours, and her crew of about two hundred and fifty men. The Cerf, Captain Varage, was an eighteen-gun cutter and a fine vessel of her class. The Vengeance, Captain Ricot, was a twelve-gun brigantine (Sherburne, 95, 100, 133-144, 221; Sands, 156,157; Archives de la Marine, B1 89, 215, 225-239, B1 91, 51, B4 158, 143, 184, B4 172,128.)

      Jones’s ideas about the kind of service he was now to enter upon are expressed in a memorandum he had drawn up January 21, 1779, while waiting for the orders of the minister to take command of the Bonhomme Richard. “I am but a young Student in the Science of Arms and therefore wish to receive instruction from Men of riper Judgement and greater experience, but to me the grand Object of Partizan War is, when a fair opening presents itself, to strike an unexpected Blow, which being well directed must in the nature of things be severly felt. The Man who is to be entrusted with the Chief Command of such enterprizes, ought to be worthy of confidence, and if he is, too much cannot be shown him. It seems to be his province to adopt such enterprizes as circumstances may throw him in the way of, with a prospect of success, and which being effected will tend the most to distress and distract the Enemy. A principal object or Enterprize may with propriety be thought of long before it is executed, but ought not to be committed to writing nor communicated to any person other than the commander in chief, and by him only to his Officers and Men at a proper time and Place. To effect anything of consequence, it may be necessary to embark a Body of 400 heigh Spirited and well disciplined Troops exclusive of the compliment of Seamen and Marines. Five Ships may be of infinite Service. I would recommend two small ones rather than one larger size, as more objects than one may present themselves. But Tho’ in some cases large Vessels may not be necessary for Five Ships, yet the small ones ought to sail very fast, that they may hold way with the Principal Ship or Ships on which they are to attend. The passage will thus be performed in the shortest space of time that is possible and these five Ships may be made useful as light Cruizers, should a Variety of the Enemies Ships be met with at any one time on the Passage. One fast sailing Cutter or other Vessel of Eight or Ten Guns might be of much Utility, as well in a Partizan War to cover the Troops in landing and in retreat as in Cruizing against the Enemies Commerce on the Ocean. No Cruizing Frigate with unlimited orders ought to be sent to Sea without being attended by one of these Vessels, and the Bottoms should be sheathed with Copper. If I have the Ministers Authority, I will send a trusty person or two to enquire into on the spot and view the exact strength & Situation of a place or two of great Importance. It will be proper to be provided with Two light Field pieces and a number of Scaling Ladders, &ca . . . But the Commanding Officer of the Troops will be better able to Judge of the Articles necessary for any land Operation, and his Opinion may easily be obtained without telling him why it is Asked. It will be a necessary caution to Suffer no person concerned in the preparation of the Five Ships to know for what services they are prepared and with which Ships they are to act. Some false Idea may be whispered to them as a Secret.” (Jones MSS.)

      Jones had general instructions from Franklin, who was always moved by humane considerations. The concluding passages are: “As many of your officers and people have lately escaped from English prisons, either in Europe or America, you are to be particularly attentive to their conduct towards the prisoners which the fortune of war may throw into your hands, lest the resentment of the more than barbarous usage by the English in many places towards the Americans should occasion a retaliation and imitation of what ought rather to be detested and avoided for the sake of humanity and for the honour of our country. In the same view, although the English have wantonly burnt many defenceless towns in America, you are not to follow this example, unless when a reasonable ransom is refused, in which case your own generous feelings as well as this instruction will induce you to give timely notice of your intention, that sick and ancient persons, women and children may be first removed.” (Sands, 152-154 (April 27,1779) Shortly before sailing, de Chaumont, who seems not always to have been discreet, required Jones and the other captains to sign an agreement or concordat, which gave the subordinate commanders a degree of independence and freedom of action incompatible with strict discipline and efficient cooperation (lbid., 165; Sherburne, 94; Mackenzie’s Life of Paul Jones, i, 153. For the Concordat, see Archives de la Marine, B4 158, 144, Sherburne, 200, and Appendix VIII.)

      The squadron sailed, June 19, from Groix Roads, near L’Orient, with a convoy, which was escorted to Bordeaux and other ports. On the night of the 20th the Bonhomme Richard and Alliance fouled each other, carrying away the Richard’s jib-boom and the Alliance’s mizzen-mast. Jones considered Landais responsible for this accident, but Lieutenant Robinson of the Richard was court-martialed and dismissed (Jones MSS., August 8,1779.) The next evening the Cerf captured a fourteen-gun sloop, but was obliged to abandon the prize on the approach of a superior force. June 29, the Bonhomme Richard fell in with two frigates. Jones says: “They appeared at first earnest to engage, but their courage failed and they fled with precipitation, and to my mortification outsailed the Bon homme Richard and got clear. I had, however, a flattering proof of the martial spirit of my crew and am confident that had I been able to get between the two, which was my intention, we should have beaten them both together.” (Sherburne, 96.) In spite of Jones’s good opinion of his crew, serious mischief on board his ship was brewing at this time. An incipient mutiny among the British sailors was discovered, the design being to take possession of the ship and send Jones a prisoner to England. Many of these undesirable persons were discharged early in August and forty-three Americans, who had recently arrived in a cartel from English prisons, were recruited. The Portuguese contingent in the crew was also enlisted at this period. Most of the month of July seems to have been spent in preparing for an extended cruise. According to the instructions of Franklin, dated June 30, 1779, which had been virtually dictated by Sartine, the squadron was to cruise to the north of the British Isles and at the end of about six weeks put into the Texel, whence it was to convoy vessels from Holland to France (Sands, 158-163; Sherburne, 94-102; Jones MSS., July 28, 29, 1779, Jones to Gourlade & Moylan and to Lieutenant Lunt, and courts martial of Robert Towers and others; Archives de la Marine, B1 89, 270, B1 91, 178, B4 158, 132, 184.)

      A few days before sailing, Commodore Jones issued instructions to his captains requiring careful attention to his signals and obedience to his orders. They were to keep their stations and “never to chase so as to lose company with the squadron.” Sealed orders were given them appointing rendezvous at different places in case of separation. The squadron sailed from Groix Roads August 14, 1779, on a cruise which became famous. Two French privateers, Le Monsieur, 38, and La Grandville, 12, had joined the expedition, but they soon dropped out. On the 23d, the squadron was off Cape Clear. Two prizes had been taken since leaving port and sent back to L’Orient. A third was now taken by boats, there being no wind. In the evening, as it was still calm, Jones sent his barge ahead to tow the Bonhomme Richard, fearing she might be swept by the tide into a dangerous position. “Soon after sunset,” says the commodore, “the villains who towed the ship, cut the tow rope and decamped with my barge. Sundry shots were fired to bring them to without effect; in the meantime the master of the Bon homme Richard, without orders, manned one of the ships boats and with four soldiers pursued the barge, in order to stop the deserters. The evening was clear and serene, but the zeal of that officer, Mr. Cutting Lunt, induced him to pursue too far, and a fog which came on soon afterwards prevented the boats from rejoining the ship, although I caused signal guns to be frequently fired. The fog and calm continued the next day till towards evening. In the afternoon Capt. Landais came on board the Bon homme Richard and behaved towards me with great disrespect, affirming in the most indelicate manner and language that I had lost my boats and people through my imprudence in sending boats to take a prize. He persisted in his reproaches, though he was assured . . . that the barge was towing the ship at the time of elopement and that she had not been sent in pursuit of the prize. He was affronted because I would not the day before suffer him to chase without my orders and to approach the dangerous shore I have already mentioned, where he was an entire stranger and when there was not sufficient wind to govern a ship. He told me he was the only American in the squadron and was determined to follow his own opinion in chasing when and where he thought proper, and in every other matter that concerned the service, and that if I continued in that situation three days longer, the squadron would be taken.” (Sherburne, 109, 110; Sands, 166-168.)

      The Cerf was sent in to look for the lost boats, but she too disappeared. She was unable to overtake the boats, lost sight of the squadron, sprung her mainmast in a gale a few days later, was chased by a vessel of superior force, and finally returned to France, arriving at Paimboeuf September 4. Meanwhile the Bonhomme Richard remained a short time near the place where these occurrences had taken place. It was afterwards learned that Lunt was taken prisoner. Besides him the Richard lost by this mishap another officer and twenty of her best seamen. A gale on the night of the 26th compelled the flagship to stand off and the next morning only the Vengeance was in sight. Jones thought that Landais purposely kept out of the way. The Bonhomme Richard and Vengeance kept to the northward and on September 1 were off Cape Wrath, where they fell in with the Alliance and a prize she had taken. The same day a British letter of marque was captured. Contrary to Jones’s orders these two prizes were sent by Landais to Bergen in Norway, where they were given up to the British consul by the Danish authorities; they became a loss to the captors for which Denmark refused to make restitution. Landais continued to behave in an insubordinate manner. September 2, the Pallas appeared. The squadron cruised a few days between the Orkney and Shetland Islands and some unimportant prizes were taken. September 5, a gale came on which blew four days and was followed by contrary winds, so that land was not again seen until the 13th, when the Cheviot Hills were sighted. Jones had with him the Pallas and Vengeance, the Alliance having again disappeared. Two colliers were taken on the 14th (Sands, 169-171, 245-247; Sherburne, 110-112; Archives de la Marine, B1 89, 274, B4 158, 150, 186, B8 16 (Aout, Septembre, 1779)

      Jones now planned an important enterprise. In his report to Franklin, dated October 3, 1779, he says: “Knowing that there lay at anchor in Leith road an armed ship of 20 guns, with two or three fine cutters, I formed an expedition against Leith, which I purposed to lay under a large contribution, or otherwise to reduce it to ashes.” (Sherburne, 112.) He prepared a summons addressed to the magistrates of Leith, in which he tells them: “I do not wish to distress the poor inhabitants; my intention is only to demand your contribution towards the reimbursement which Britain owes to the much injured citizens of America.” (lbid., 106.) This is an allusion to the depredations committed by the British in Chesapeake Bay, Long Island Sound, and elsewhere.

      His report continues: “Had I been alone, the wind being favorable, I would have proceeded directly up the Firth and must have succeeded, as they lay there in a state of perfect indolence and security, which would have proved their ruin. Unfortunately for me, the Pallas and Vengeance were both at a considerable distance in the offing, they having chased to the southward; this obliged us to steer out of the Firth again to meet them. The captains of the Pallas and Vengeance being come on board the Bon homme Richard, I communicated to them my project, to which many difficulties and objections were made by them; at last, however, they appeared to think better of the design, after I had assured them that I hoped to raise a contribution of 200000 pounds sterling on Leith, and that there was no battery of cannon there to oppose our landing. So much time, however, was unavoidably spent in pointed remarks and sage deliberation that night, that the wind became contrary in the morning. We continued working to windward up the Firth without being able to reach the road of Leith, till on the morning of the 17th, when being almost within cannon shot of the town, having everything in readiness for a descent, a very severe gale of wind came on, and being directly contrary, obliged us to bear away, after having in vain endeavored for some time to withstand its violence. The gale was so severe that one of the prizes that had been taken on the 14th sunk to the bottom, the crew being with difficulty saved. As the alarm by this time had reached Leith by means of a cutter that had watched our motions that morning, and as the wind continued contrary (though more moderate in the evening), I thought it impossible to pursue the enterprise with a good prospect of success, especially as Edinburgh, where there is always a number of troops, is only a mile distant from Leith; therefore I gave up the project.” (Sherburne, 112; Sands, 171-175.)

      The cutter spoken of by Jones as having watched his motions was one of several revenue cutters specially fitted out and armed for service against the American squadron, some of them having been placed under the orders of the admirals commanding various naval stations. As early as August 19 the alarm excited by the approach of Jones had caused orders for hasty preparations to watch his movements and to check them as far as possible. This particular cutter, having been sent out to reconnoitre, sailed at daybreak, September 17. The captain reported that he “found himself within Pistol Shot of the fifty Gun French Ship, upon which he tacked about and afterwards retook a prize they had taken in the Mouth of the Firth, but a French twenty four Gun Frigate immediately made up and obliged him to abandon the Prize . . . The French Squadron consists of a fifty Gun Ship, a twenty four Gun Frigate and a Brig mounting ten Guns. The Ships sail ill and they say they are determined to come up to Leith Road. The Commander of the fifty Gun Ship is said to be acquainted with the Coast. Both the fifty Gun Ship and Frigate are painted Black. The fifty Gun Ship has a White Bottom and very clumsy mast head.” (Minutes of the Scottish Board of Customs, 197.) This information was immediately sent to the Commissioners of the Treasury (Minutes of the Scottish Board of Customs, 191-198, 205, 206; Minutes of the Irish Board of Customs, 23, 24, 33, 36. See also Sands, 173, 174, notes; London Chronicle, September 14, 18, 1779; British Admiralty Records, Captains’ Letters, No. 2305, 1 (September 20, 23,1779)

      Jones could not excite the interest of his French captains in other plans. They were getting uneasy at his remaining so long on the coast and threatened to desert him. Therefore the squadron sailed south and in the course of a few days several prizes were taken. September 21, they were off Flamborough Head. Two brigs were captured and a fleet of vessels was chased, one of which ran ashore, but night put an end to operations. The next day a fleet appeared coming up from the south, but put back upon seeing the Bonhomme Richard. On signal two pilots came aboard the Richard and informed Jones that ‘a king’s frigate lay there in sight, at anchor within the Humber, waiting to take under convoy a number of merchant ships bound to the northward. The pilots imagined the Bon homme Richard to be an English ship of war and consequently communicated to me the private signal which they had been required to make. I endeavored by this means to decoy the ships out of the port, but the wind then changing and with the tide becoming unfavorable for them, the deception had not the desired effect and they wisely put back. The entrance of the Humber is exceedingly difficult and dangerous and, as the Pallas was not in sight, I thought it not prudent to remain off the entrance; I therefore steered out again to join the Pallas off Flamborough Head. In the night we saw and chased two ships until three O’clock in the morning, when being at a very small distance from them, I made the private signal of recognizance which I had given to each captain before I sailed from Groaix; one half of the answer only was returned. In this position both sides lay to till daylight, when the ships proved to be the Alliance and the Pallas.” (Sherburne, 113, 114; Sands, 176-180. For another account of the cruise up to this time, see Life of Nathaniel Panning, 33-43.)

      The events of the memorable day that followed are best told in the words of Jones himself: “On the morning of that day, the 23d . . . we chased a brigantine that appeared laying to to windward. About noon we saw and chased a large ship that appeared coming round Flamborough Head from the northward, and at the same time I manned and armed one of the pilot boats to send in pursuit of the brigantine, which now appeared to be the vessel that I had forced ashore. Soon after this a fleet of forty-one sail appeared off Flamborough Head, bearing N. N. E. This induced me to abandon the single ship, which had then anchored in [Bridlington] Bay; I also called back the pilot boat and hoisted a signal for a general chase. When the fleet discovered us bearing down, all the merchant ships crowded sail towards the shore. The two ships of war that protected the fleet, at the same time steered from the land and made the disposition for the battle. In approaching the enemy I crowded every possible sail and made the signal for the line of battle, to which the Alliance showed no attention. Earnest as I was for the action, I could not reach the commodore’s ship until seven in the evening, being then within pistol shot, when he hailed the Bon homme Richard; we answered him by firing a whole broadside.” The English ships were the Serapis and Countess of Scarborough. Jones says that at dusk they had tacked with a view to running under Scarborough Castle, but that he had headed them off. The pilot boat, which had been sent away and then recalled, contained sixteen of the Richard’s best men under the second lieutenant, Henry Lunt. The boat was unable to get back before dark and Lunt then deemed it imprudent to go alongside. So the ship lost the services of these men when they were most needed (Sherburne, 114; Sands, 180, 181. Jones’s report to Franklin, dated October 3, 1779, is supplemented by the journal of his campaigns presented to Louis XVI, Jones MSS., January 1, 1786 (quoted in Sands)

      Jones took his station on the quarter-deck, while on the poop was a French volunteer officer with twenty marines. Richard Dale, first lieutenant, was in charge of the gun-deck. The tops, commanded by midshipmen, were manned by marines and sailors, twenty in the main, fourteen in the fore, and nine in the mizzen-top. They were armed with swivels, coehorns, and muskets and were ordered to clear the enemy’s tops before turning their fire upon his decks (Fanning, 43, 45.)

      The report goes on: “The battle being thus begun was continued with unremitting fury. Every method was practised on both sides to gain an advantage and rake each other, and I must confess that the enemy’s ship, being much more manageable than the Bon homme Richard, gained thereby several times an advantageous situation, in spite of my best endeavors to prevent it. As I had to deal with an enemy of greatly superior force, I was under the necessity of closing with him, to prevent the advantage which he had over me in point of manoeuvre. It was my intention to lay the Bon homme Richard athwart the enemy’s bow, but as that operation required great dexterity in the management of both sails and helm and some of our braces being shot away, it did not exactly succeed to my wishes. The enemy’s bowsprit, however, came over the Bon homme Richard’s poop by the mizen mast and I made both ships fast together in that situation, which by the action of the wind on the enemy’s sails, forced her stern close to the Bon homme Richard’s bow, so that the ships lay square alongside of each other, the yards being all entangled and the cannon of each ship touching the opponent’s side.

      “When this position took place it was eight o’clock, previous to which the Bon homme Richard had received sundry eighteen pounds shot below the water and leaked very much. My battery of 12-pounders, on which I had placed my chief dependance, being commanded by Lieut. Dale and Col. Weibert and manned principally with American seamen and French volunteers, were entirely silenced and abandoned. As to the six old 18-pounders that formed the battery of the lower gun-deck, they did no service whatever; two out of three of them burst at the first fire and killed almost all the men who were stationed to manage them. Before this time too, Col. De Chamillard, who commanded a party of twenty soldiers on the poop, had abandoned that station after having lost some of his men; these men deserted their quarters. I had now only two pieces of cannon, 9-pounders on the quarter deck, that were not silenced, and not one of the heavier cannon was fired during the rest of the action. The purser, Mr. Mease, who commanded the guns on the quarter deck, being dangerously wounded in the head, I was obliged to fill his place and with great difficulty rallied a few men and shifted over one of the lee quarter-deck guns, so that we afterwards played three pieces of 9-pounders upon the enemy. The tops alone seconded the fire of this little battery and held out bravely during the whole of the action, especially the main top where Lieut. Stack commanded. I directed the fire of one of the three cannon against the main-mast with doubleheaded shot, while the other two were exceedingly well served with grape and canister-shot to silence the enemy’s musketry and clear her decks, which was at last effected.

      “The enemy were, as I have since understood, on the instant of calling for quarters, when the cowardice or treachery of three of my under officers induced them to call to the enemy. The English commodore asked me if I demanded quarters and, I having answered him in the most determined negative, they renewed the battle with double fury. They were unable to stand the deck, but the fire of their cannon, especially the lower battery, which was entirely formed of 18-pounders, was incessant. Both ships were set on fire in various places and the scene was dreadful beyond the reach of language. To account for the timidity of my three under officers, I mean the gunner, the carpenter, and the master-at-arms, I must observe that the two first were slightly wounded, and as the ship had received various shots under water, and one of the pumps being shot away, the carpenter expressed his fear that she would sink and the other two concluded that she was sinking, which occasioned the gunner to run aft on the poop, without my knowledge, to strike the colors. Fortunately for me, a cannon ball had done that before by carrying away the ensignstaff ; he was therefore reduced to the necessity of sinking, as he supposed, or of calling for quarter and he preferred the latter.

      “All this time the Bon homme Richard had sustained the action alone and the enemy, though much superior in force, would have been very glad to have got clear, as appears by their own acknowledgments and their having let go an anchor the instant that I laid them on board, by which means they would have escaped, had I not made them well fast to the Bon homme Richard. At last, at half past nine o’clock, the Alliance appeared and I now thought the battle at an end, but to my utter astonishment he discharged a broadside full into the stern of the Bon homme Richard. We called to him for God’s sake to forbear firing into the Bon homme Richard, yet he passed along the off side of the ship and continued firing. There was no possibility of his mistaking the enemy’s ship for the Bon homme Richard, there being the most essential difference in their appearance and construction; besides, it was then full moonlight and the sides of the Bon homme Richard were all black, while the sides of the prizes were yellow. Yet, for the greater security, I showed the signal of our reconnoissance by putting out three lanthorns, one at the head (bow), another at the stern (quarter), and the third in the middle, in a, horizontal line. Every tongue cried that he was firing into the wrong ship, but nothing availed; he passed round firing into the Bon homme Richard’s head, stern, and broadside, and by one of his vollies killed several of my best men and mortally wounded a good officer on the forecastle.

      “My situation was really deplorable. The Bon homme Richard received various shots under water from the Alliance, the leak gained on the pumps, and the fire increased much on board both ships. Some officers persuaded me to strike, of whose courage and good sense I entertain a high opinion. My treacherous master-at-arms let loose all my prisoners without my knowledge and my prospect became gloomy indeed.” The prisoners were much frightened, believing that the ship was sinking, and were at once put to work at the pumps; otherwise, by reinforcing the enemy, they would surely have turned the scale in his favor. “I would not, however, give up the point. The enemy’s main-mast began to shake, their firing decreased, ours rather increased, and the British colors were struck at half an hour past ten o’clock.” (Sherburne, 115-117; Sands, 181-186; Memoires, de Paul Jones, 76-104, which differs in details from the report of October 3; MacKenzie, i, ch. viii; Scribner’s Magazine, August, 1898, article by Captain Mahan; Jones MSS., September 24, 1779; Log of Bonhomme Richard; Independent Chronicle, February 17, 1780.)

      Lieutenant Dale, who was in command of the gun-deck, gives further details. He says that the Bonhomme Richard’s first broadside was instantly returned by the Serapis. “Our position being to windward of the Serapis, we passed ahead of her and the Serapis coming up on our larboard [starboard ?] quarter, the action commenced abreast of each other. The Serapis soon passed ahead of the Bon homme Richard and when he thought he had gained a distance sufficient to go down athwart the fore foot to rake us, found he had not enough distance and that the Bon homme Richard would be aboard him, put his helm a-lee, which brought the two ships on a line, and the Bon homme Richard having headway, ran her bows into the stern of the Serapis. . . . As we were unable to bring a single gun to bear upon the Serapis, our topsails were backed, while those of the Serapis being filled, the ships separated. The Serapis wore short round upon her heel and her jibboom ran into the mizen rigging of the Bon homme Richard; in this situation the ships were made fast together with a hawser, the bowsprit of the Serapis to the mizenmast of the Bon homme Richard, and the action recommenced from the starboard sides of the two ships. With a view of separating the ships, the Serapis let go her anchor, which manoeuvre brought her head and the stern of the Bon homme Richard to the wind, while the ships lay closely pressed against each other. A novelty in naval combats was now presented to many witnesses, but to few admirers. The rammers were run into the respective ships to enable the men to load, after the lower ports of the Serapis had been blown away to make room for running out their guns . . . Neither the repeated broadsides of the Alliance, given with the view of sinking or disabling the Bon homme Richard, the frequent necessity of suspending the combat to extinguish the flames which several times were within a few inches of the magazine, nor the liberation by the master-at-arms of nearly 500 prisoners (As there were but four hundred and seventy-two prisoners altogether, after the cruise (Pap. Cont., Congr., 193, 211, December 16, 1779), there were probably less than two hundred on board the Bonhomme Richard at the time of the battle), could change or weaken the purpose of the American commander. At the moment of the liberation of the prisoners, one of them, a commander of a 20 gun ship taken a few days before, passed through the ports on board the Serapis and informed Captain Pearson that if he would hold out only a little while longer, the ship alongside would either strike or sink, and that all the prisoners had been released to save their lives.” (Sherburne, 121, 122; Sands, 190-194. See also Fanning, 46-56.)

      Nathaniel Fanning, a midshipman on the Bon homme Richard stationed in the maintop, says that the enemy’s tops had been silenced within an hour, and it was not long after that before “the topmen in our tops had taken possession of the enemy’s tops, which was done by reason of the Serapis’s yards being locked together with ours, that we could with ease go from our main top into the enemy’s fore top; and so on, from our fore top into the Serapis’s main top. Having knowledge of this, we transported from our own into the enemy’s tops, . . . hand granadoes, &c, which we threw in among the enemy whenever they made their appearance.” (Fanning, 50.) In the course of time the quarter-deck of the Serapis was entirely cleared, largely by this fire from the tops; and their execution extended below decks. In serving the main battery of the Serapis, many eighteen-pounder cartridges had accumulated on the gun-deck, which led to a catastrophe. Fanning says: “A single hand granado having been thrown by one of our men out of the main top of the enemy, designing it to go among the enemy who were huddled together between her gun decks, it on its way struck on one side of the combings of her upper hatch-way and rebounding from that, it took a direction and fell between their decks, where it communicated to a quantity of loose powder scattered about the enemy’s cannon.” The hand grenade, upon bursting, ignited the powder and the cartridges, the fire running from one to another, and “made a dreadful explosion.” (Fanning, 53.) “The effect,” says Dale, “was tremendous; more than twenty of the enemy were blown to pieces, and many stood with only the collars of their shirts upon their bodies.” (Sherburne, 122.) This disaster doubtless hastened the end of the battle.

      In his report of October 6, 1779, to the British Admiralty, Captain Pearson of the Serapis says, “that on the 23d. ult. being close in with Scarborough, about eleven o’clock, a boat came on board with a letter from the Bailiffs of that corporation, giving information of a flying squadron of the enemy’s ships being on the coast and of a part of the said squadron having been seen from thence the day before, standing to the southward. As soon as I received this intelligence I made the signal for the convoy to bear down under my lee and repeated it with two guns; notwithstanding which, the van of the convoy kept their wind, with all sail stretching out to the southward from under Flamborough head, till between twelve and one, when the headmost of them got sight of the enemy’s ships, which were then in chace of them. They then tacked and made the best of their way under shore for Scarborough &c., letting fly their top-gallant sheets and firing guns; upon which I made all the sail I could to windward, to get between the enemy’s ships and the convoy, which I soon effected. At one o’clock we got sight of the enemy’s ships from the masthead and about four we made them plain from the deck to be three large ships and a brig; upon which I made the Countess of Scarborough’s signal to join me, she being in shore with the convoy. At the same time I made the signal for the convoy to make the best of their way. . . .

      “At half past five, the Countess of Scarborough joined me, the enemy’s ships then bearing down upon us with a light breeze at S. S. W. At six, tacked and laid our head in shore, in order to keep our ground the better between the enemy’s ships and the convoy, soon after which we perceived the ships bearing down upon us to be a two-decked ship and two frigates, but from their keeping end on upon us, on bearing down, we could not discern what colours they were under. At about 20 minutes past seven, the largest ship of the three brought to on our larboard bow, within musket shot. I hailed him and asked what ship it was; they answered in English, the Princess Royal. I then asked where they belonged to; they answered evasively, on which I told them, if they did not answer directly I would fire into them. They then answered with a shot which was instantly returned with a broadside, and after exchanging two or three broadsides, he backed his topsails and dropped upon our quarter within pistol shot, then filled again, put his helm a-weather, and run us on board upon our weather quarter and attempted to board us, but being repulsed he sheered off; upon which I backed our topsails in order to get square with him again, which as soon as he observed, he then filled, put his helm a-weather and laid us athwart hawse. His mizen shrouds took our jib boom, which hung him for some time, till at last gave way and we dropt along side of each other head and stern, when the fluke of our spare anchor hooking his quarter, we became so close fore and aft, that the muzzles of our guns touched each others sides. In this position we engaged from half past eight till half past ten, during which time, from the quantity and variety of combustible matters which they threw in upon our decks, chains, and in short into every part of the ship, we were on fire not less than ten or twelve times in different parts of the ship and it was with the greatest difficulty and exertion imaginable at times that we were able to get it extinguished. At the same time the largest of the two frigates kept sailing round us the whole action and [raking] us fore and aft, by which means she killed or wounded almost every man on the quarter and main decks.

      “About half past nine, either from a hand grenade being thrown in at one of our lower deck ports, or from some other accident, a cartridge of powder was set on fire, the flames of which running from cartridge to cartridge all the way aft, blew up the whole of the people and officers that were quartered abaft the main-mast, from which unfortunate circumstance all those guns were rendered useless for the remainder of the action, and I fear the greatest part of the people will lose their lives. At ten o’clock, they called for quarters from the ship alongside and said they had struck. Hearing this, I called upon the Captain to know if they had struck, or if he asked for quarters, but no answer being made, after repeating my words two or three times, I called for the boarders and ordered them to board, which they did; but the moment they were on board her, they discovered a superior number laying under cover with pikes in their hands, ready to receive them; on which our people instantly retreated into our own ship and returned to their guns again until half past ten, when the frigate coming across our stern and pouring her broadside into us again, without our being able to bring a gun to bear on her, I found it in vain and in short impracticable, from the situation we were in, to stand out any longer with the least prospect of success. I therefore struck.” (Almon, ix, 46; Sherburne, 124; British Admiralty Records, Captains’ Letters, No. 2305.1 (October 6,1779)

      The Bonhomme Richard carried eight nine-pounders on her quarter-deck and forecastle, twenty-eight twelve- pounders on the gun-deck and six eighteens on the lower deck. Her broadside weight of metal, therefore, was two hundred and fifty-eight pounds. The loss of her eighteens at the very outset at once reduced this to two hundred and four pounds. The Serapis was a fine, new, double decked ship, rated a forty-four, but carrying fifty guns: twenty eighteens on the lower gun-deck, twenty nines above, and ten sixes on the quarter-deck and forecastle, giving her a broadside of three hundred pounds to the Richard’s two hundred and four. This statement, however, does not fully express her superiority, as heavy guns are far more effective in proportion than light ones; that is to say, two eighteens can do much more execution than three twelves. The number of men on board the Bonhomme Richard at the time of the battle, allowing for desertions and those absent in prizes and in the two boats of Henry and Cutting Lunt, was probably not much over three hundred; Jones makes it three hundred and twenty-two and thinks that a further deduction should be made on account of the men blown up by the bursting of the eighteen-pounders at the first fire (Mem. de Paul Jones, 97.) The crew of the Serapis appears to have been of very nearly the same size, but more homogeneous and reliable in character. The number of casualties was very large in both ships. Jones estimates his loss at a hundred and fifty killed and wounded, without specifying the proportion of each (Sherburne, 174.) Pearson states that the Serapis had forty-nine killed and sixty-eight wounded, but that the list is incomplete (Almon, ix, 48.) Both ships suffered severely. “With respect to the situation of the Bon homme Richard,” says her commander, “the rudder was cut entirely off the stern frame and the transums were almost entirely cut away; the timbers, by the lower deck especially, from, the mainmast to the stern, being greatly decayed with age, were mangled beyond my power of description.” Both sides of the ship for a great distance were wholly shot away, leaving little support for the upper deck, and projectiles passed through without hitting anything. Dead and wounded were lying in heaps. “A person must have been an eyewitness to form a just idea of the tremendous scene of carnage, wreck and ruin that everywhere appeared. Humanity cannot but recoil from the prospect of such finished horror and lament that war should produce such fatal consequences.” (Sherburne, 117.) The mainmast and mizzen-topmast of the Serapis fell overboard immediately after her surrender and she was otherwise much injured.

      It was Jones’s indomitable determination not to yield that won this battle. Pearson, in surrendering to what he considered a superior force, did so before that force, through the added weight of the Alliance, had become more than a merely potential one. That the Serapis, moreover, so greatly superior in sailing qualities, so much more manageable, even with the disadvantage of her leeward position, should have allowed the clumsy Bonhomme Richard to get alongside and grapple her, does not indicate the best seamanship.

      There seems to have been a prevalent belief in England just after the battle, expressed in a letter of Lord North, that the Serapis succeeded in beating off the Bonhomme Richard and was then obliged to strike to the Alliance (Stopford-Sackville MSS., 145.) It is certain that Pearson greatly exaggerated the part taken by Landais in the engagement. It is established by the overwhelming weight of testimony that the Alliance fired just three broadsides, all of them after the two chief contestants were lashed together; and that these broad-sides damaged the Bonhomme Richard more than they did the Serapis. Many shot-holes found on the port side of the Richard must have been made by the fire of the Alliance, for that side was never turned towards the Serapis. Many officers of the squadron, both American and French, suspected Landais of treachery, and according to their testimony he admitted that he would have been well pleased at the surrender of the Richard, which would have given him an opportunity to enter the contest, capture both ships and reap the glory (Sherburne, 156-171.)

      Meanwhile the Pallas and the Countess of Scarborough had fought an engagement. It was supposed on board the Bonhomme Richard at the time that it was the Alliance that engaged the Scarborough ( Log of the Bonhomme Richard.) Of this action Jones says in his report of October 3: “Captain Cottineau engaged the Countess of Scarborough and took her after an hour’s action, while the Bon homme Richard engaged the Serapis. The Countess of Scarborough is an armed ship of 20 six-pounders and was commanded by a King’s officer. In the action the Countess of Scarborough and the Serapis were at a considerable distance asunder, and the Alliance, as I am informed, fired into the Pallas and killed some men. If it should be asked why the convoy was suffered to escape, I must answer that I was myself in no condition to pursue and that none of the rest showed any inclination, not even Mr. Ricot [in the Vengeance], who had held off at a distance to windward during the whole action … The Alliance too was in a state to pursue the fleet, not having had a single man wounded or a single shot fired at her from the Serapis, and only three that did execution from the Countess of Scarborough at such a distance that one stuck in the side and the other two just touched and then dropped into the water. The Alliance killed one man only on board the Serapis. As Captain de Cottineau charged himself with manning and securing the prisoners of the Countess of Scarborough, I think the escape of the Baltic fleet cannot so well be charged to his account.” (Sherburne, 119.)

      Captain Piercy of the Countess of Scarborough, in his report to Captain Pearson, has left the only detailed account of the fight between his ship and the Pallas. “About two minutes,” he says, “after you began to engage with the largest ships of the enemy’s squadron, I received a broadside from one of the frigates, which I instantly returned and continued engaging her for about twenty minutes, when she dropt astern. I then made sail up to the Serapis, to see if I could give you any assistance, but upon coming near you I found you and the enemy so close together and covered with smoke that I could not distinguish one ship from the other; and for fear I might fire into the Serapis instead of the enemy, I backed the main-top-sail in order to engage the attention of one of the frigates that was then coming up. When she got on my starboard quarter she gave me her broadside, which, as soon as I could get my guns to bear (which was very soon done), I returned and continued engaging her for near two hours, when I was so unfortunate as to have all my braces, great part of the running rigging, main and mizen top-sail sheets shot away, seven of the guns dismounted, four men killed and twenty wounded, and another frigate coming up on my larboard quarter.” Piercy then surrendered (Almon, ix, 48.)

      Captains Pearson and Piercy were subsequently tried by a court martial, the verdict of which was that they and their officers and men “have not only acquitted themselves of their duty to their country, but have in the execution of such duty done infinite credit to themselves by a very obstinate defence against a superior force.” (Brit. Adm. Rec., Courts Martial, No. 5315 (March 10, 1780).

      These contests attracted much attention on shore and many spectators viewed the scene from Flamborough Head and Scarborough. Bright moonlight made objects visible at a distance and the spectacle must have been impressive. A letter from Scarborough says: “Soon after our arrival on Thursday evening we were told there was an engagement at sea; I immediately threw up the sash of the room I was in and we had a fair view of the engagement, which appeared very severe, for the firing was frequently so quick that we could scarce count the shots.” (London Chronicle, September 30, 1779. See also Hist. Man. Com., Report xiv, App. i, 21.)

      After the battle the Bonhomme Richard was on fire in several places and was leaking rapidly. There was five feet of water in the hold, one pump had been shot away, and the three others were barely able to keep the water from gaining, in a smooth sea. “The fire broke out in various parts of the ship,” says Jones, “in spite of all the water that could be thrown to quench it and at length broke out as low as the powder magazine and within a few inches of the powder. In that dilemma I took out the powder upon deck, ready to be thrown overboard at the last extremity, and it was 10 o’clock the next day, the 24th, before the fire was entirely extinguished . . . After the carpenters, as well as Capt. de Cottineau and other men of sense, had well examined and surveyed the ship (which was not finished before five in the evening), I found every person to be convinced that it was impossible to keep the Bon homme Richard afloat so as to reach a port if the wind should increase, it being then only a moderate breeze. I had but little time to remove my wounded, which now became unavoidable and which was effected in the course of the night and next morning. I was determined to keep the Bon homme Richard afloat and if possible to bring her into port. For that purpose the first lieutenant of the Pallas continued on board with a party of men to attend the pumps, with boats in waiting ready to take them on board in case the water should gain on them too fast. The wind augmented in the night and the next day, on the 25th, so that it was impossible to prevent the good old ship from sinking. They did not abandon her till after 9 o’clock; the water was then up to the lower deck and a little after ten I saw with inexpressible grief the last glimpse of the Bon homme Richard. No lives were lost with the ship, but it was impossible to save the stores of any sort whatever. I lost even the best part of my clothes, books and papers; and several of my officers lost all their clothes and effects.” (Sherburne, 117,118; Sands, 186-189. See Fanning, 61, for a description of the sinking of the Bonhomme Richard.)

      Just after the action seven Englishmen of the Richard’s crew stole a boat from the Serapis and escaped ashore, where they gave an account of the cruise and battle and of Jones’s intentions as they understood them (London Chronicle, September, 28, 30, 1779; Boston Gazette, January 3, 1780.) The eye-witness at Scarborough says that the day after the engagement “six sail were seen about two leagues off at sea, much shattered, one of which, a large ship, had lost her mainmast; they kept their station all that day. Yesterday morning [September 25] they were gone to the northward, as is supposed, for the wind would not suit for any other quarter.” (London Chronicle, September 30, 1779.) They had apparently drifted off before the wind, as they were not yet in a condition to make sail.

      The situation of the squadron on the British coast was becoming dangerous, and yet before flight was possible a vast amount of work was to be done in repairing the injuries to the Serapis sufficiently to make her seaworthy. Jones took command of her when the Bonhomme Richard sank and after strenuous exertions, at 1 A.M. September 28, according to her journal, “Gott up a Jury Main Mast.” By evening the squadron was ready to sail and the commodore signalled to stand to the westward, and a few hours later, to the eastward. Meanwhile on the very day of the battle Admiral Hardy, commanding the Channel fleet, who had received orders to send a strong force in search of the American squadron, dispatched five ships on that duty (Brit. Adm. Rec., A. D. 95, September 23,1779.) A letter from Bridlington, September 24, says that in the opinion of the sailors who had escaped ashore “Jones’s plan was to destroy Scarborough, Bridlington and Hull, with some other places; and that he intended landing at Flamborough yesterday morning, but the sea ran too high.” (London Chronicle, September 30, 1779.) It was reported from Hull, September 26, that the squadron was still visible from Flamborough Head that morning steering north, and that it was scarcely out of sight when four British vessels appeared in pursuit (London Chronicle, September 30, 1779.) The correspondent who had been watching events from Scarborough says that on the same morning “eight of our ships of war appeared in sight, and which are gone in search of Jones.”

      The state of mind along the east coast of England at the time is reflected in a letter of the Marquis of Rockingham, written to Lord Weymouth September 28. Speaking of the defenses of Hull he says: “I shall not hesitate to say that from an Attack by Frigates or Ships of War it was entirely without defence; the Artillery in the Fort – its only defence – were unserviceable both from the Carriages being entirely rotten and also from most of the Guns which carried any Weight of Metal being honeycombed and dangerous to Use . . . A ship of 60 Guns can lay, even at low Water, within less than 400 Yards of the Town. In Paul Jones’s Squadron the largest Vessel was a 40 Gun Ship, so that whatever Force he had could have come up. It appeared to me that not only from the Information of a Man who had been put by Paul Jones into a prize and who had assisted very principally in securing the men and bringing her in with the Assistance of a Hull Pilot, but also from the Size and Number of Ships in Paul Jones’s Squadron, that there could not be any Number of Soldiers or Marines on Board,” or that any force could be landed which could not be repelled by the militia of the neighborhood, insuring the safety of Hull and its shipping. “I conceived very differently in regard to an attempt being made by the Squadron coming up Humber. I therefore pressed as much as I possibly could that every Effort should be made to prepare Batteries and get what Artillery could be had . . . At the Meeting on Friday Morning Intelligence came that the Serapis and Countess of Scarborough had been seen shortening sail, covering the Baltic Fleet and waiting for Paul Jones “; and later “that the Engagement was begun, but it growing dark, the Event of a very Warm Action was not known . . . The Unfortunate Event of their being Captured after a most Severe Engagement came to our Knowledge at Hull on Friday Evening, when the Mayor immediately called a Meeting, and at which the Proposition of preparing Batteries was unanimously adopted.” (Amer. Hist. Review, April, 1910.)

      The British ships in search of Jones did not find him, although he was “tossing about to and fro in the North Sea for ten days in contrary winds and bad weather, in order to gain the port of Dunkirk, on account of the prisoners.” Notwithstanding the instructions governing the cruise named the Texel as the port of destination, Jones wished to put into Dunkirk, so as to place his prizes and prisoners at once under French jurisdiction, and it would have saved him much annoyance had this been possible. The other captains, however, insisted upon carrying out the letter of the instructions and bore away for the Texel. Jones was forced to follow or to proceed alone to Dunkirk and he chose the former alternative. The squadron anchored off the Texel October 3, 1779 (Sands, 200; Sherburne, 120. Fanning, 64-66, says they were chased into the Texel by a British squadron, which remained outside the bar.)

      The commodore spent nearly three months at the Texel refitting his ships and then waiting for an opportunity to get away, being blockaded by a British squadron cruising outside. The purpose of the French Minister of Marine in making the Texel the objective point of the cruise was that a convoy might be furnished for a number of vessels loaded with naval and military stores which it was desired to bring to France. Also it was hoped that the Indien might be taken into a French port, and the French ambassador to Holland, to whom Jones reported on his arrival, wished to obtain from the Dutch government authority for the sale of the ship to some merchant who could place her under a neutral flag. Nothing of this sort, however, was accomplished, and the only useful purpose served by the presence of the squadron in neutral waters was increasing the estrangement between England and Holland which ultimately led to war, manifestly to the advantage of the United States. If Jones could have gone directly to the French port of Dunkirk, much vexation and embarrassment would have been saved and he could readily have disposed of his prizes and prisoners. The British ambassador at the Hague, upon the arrival of the squadron, made a vehement protest to the Dutch government, and demanded ,that these ships and their crews may be stopped and delivered up, which the pirate Paul Jones of Scotland, who is a rebel subject and criminal of the state, has taken.” (Sherburne, 129.) The Dutch, however, moved slowly in the matter and refused to commit themselves as to the legality of the captures. Jones was allowed time to refit his ships and was permitted to land his wounded, so that they might be cared for in a fort which was placed at his disposal. He entered into an agreement with Captain Pearson, according to which the wounded prisoners were to be guarded and cared for at the expense of the United States and later exchanged for Americans (lbid., 128-133,174; Sands, 200-218; Wharton, iii, 356, 397; Archives de la Marine, B1 91, 188, B4 158, 175.)

      In consequence of the charges against him Captain Landais was ordered back to Paris by Franklin, October 15. With respect to these charges, twenty-five in number, and formally drawn up October 30, there was a practical unanimity of opinion among the officers of the squadron as to the reprehensible conduct of Landais during the cruise. Four officers of the Alliance, including the first lieutenant, attested that several people on board that ship “told Captain Landais at different times that he fired upon the wrong ship; others refused to fire.” (Sherburne, 156-171.) Sometime after the departure of Landais, Jones took command of the Alliance, all the other vessels having been put under the French flag to avoid complications with Holland. Arrangements were made for the exchange of prisoners and the disposal of prizes. The squadron had taken more than enough prisoners to procure the release by exchange of all the Americans confined in England. The plan adopted was to exchange Jones’s prisoners for French at the Texel, France agreeing to give the same number of English in France for the Americans in England. Jones was offered a French commission, which would further have facilitated matters, but he resolutely refused it and saved the Alliance from being also placed under the French flag. His situation was daily growing more uncomfortable, as the Dutch were unwilling longer to disregard the importunity of the British ambassador. He was at last peremptorily ordered by the Dutch admiral to depart with the first favorable wind. He was ready to sail December 1, and then waited nearly four weeks for an opportunity. On the 13th, he wrote to Franklin: “We hear that the enemy still keeps a squadron cruising off here, but this shall not prevent my attempts to depart whenever the wind will permit. I hope we have recovered the trim of this ship, which was entirely lost during the last cruise, and I do not much fear the enemy in the long and dark nights of this season. The ship is well manned and shall not be given away. I need not tell you I will do my utmost to take prisoners and prizes in my way from hence.” (Sands, 239; Wharton, iii, 425.) About this time Captain Conyngham, who had escaped from prison in England and had crossed over to Holland, came aboard the Alliance. At last, with a favoring east wind, the ship got away from the Texel December 27, 1779, and succeeded in running the blockade of the British squadron outside (Sands, 218-243; Sherburne, 145-152, 174-184, 219; Wharton, iii, 378, 379, 424, 425, 430, 431, 535; Archives de la Marine, B4 172,140.)

      With her best American colors flying, the Alliance “passed along the Flemish banks and getting to windward of the enemy’s fleets of observation in the North Sea,” ran through the Straits of Dover in full view of the British fleet in the Downs. During the night of December 28 several vessels were seen and the next morning the frigate passed “the Isle of Wight, in view of the enemy’s fleet at Spithead, and in two days more got safe through the channel, having passed by windward in sight of several of the enemy’s large two-decked cruising ships.” (Sands, 243, 244.) Jones then cruised a week or more to the southward and off Cape Finisterre. January 8, 1780, he captured a brig which he sent to America. He went into Coruna January 16, where he was well received by the Spanish. Conyngham left the Alliance here and joined a ship bound to America. Jones sailed again, January 28, for another cruise off Cape Finisterre, but meeting with no success, put into Groix Roads February 10. At L’Orient, Jones found the Serapis awaiting condemnation. She and the Countess of Scarborough and Pallas had gone from the Texel to Dunkirk, whence the Serapis had proceeded to L’Orient. She was eventually sold there, and the Countess of Scarborough at Dunkirk (Sherburne, 184-190, 219; Fanning, 76-79; Log of the Alliance; Penn. Mag. Hist. and Biogr., January, 1899; Jones MSS., February 10, 12, 1780, Jones to Gourlade & Moylan and to Franklin; Archives de la Marine, B1 93, 33, 36, 97, 99, B4 172, 145, 152, B8 16 (Janvier, 1780)

      The situation of the United States respecting naval conditions at the end of 1779 was relatively better than in the two previous years; the falling off was proportionately less. The heavy annual loss in frigates was less heavy; there were fewer frigates to lose, and the Warren was the only one dropped from the list. The loss of the sloop Providence was keenly felt because of her very useful and successful career. Other small vessels that passed away were the sloop of war General Gates, the brig Diligent, the cutter Revenge and the sloop Argo. Of the original thirteen frigates there still remained the Providence, Trumbull, and Boston; the Trumbull had at last made her escape from the Connecticut River, but was not yet ready for sea. The Deane, Queen of France, and Ranger also remained; and two prime thirty-two-gun frigates, the Alliance and Confederacy, first went into active service in 1779. Vessels still under construction were slowly progressing towards completion. The four vessels fitted out in France to cruise under the American flag were for temporary service only. Unfortunately the prize ship Serapis was not procured for the Continental navy; no money was available for her purchase. The achievements of the navy during the year were gratifying. The several successful cruises in American waters and the brilliant exploits of Jones added reputation to the service. The Penobscot expedition was chiefly a local affair and the gloom produced by the disaster did not, in its full intensity at least, overspread the whole country.

      In 1779, privateering played a still more important part in naval warfare than before. Two hundred and nine commissions were granted by the Continental Congress to private armed vessels, eighty more than the number of the previous year. The enterprise of the separate states also in this mode of sea-service continued to develop and increase. Greater activity was likewise displayed by the English. From August, 1778, to April, 1779, one hundred privateers were fitted out in Liverpool, aggregating more than twenty-four thousand tons, mounting sixteen hundred and fifty guns and with crews numbering more than seventy-four hundred men. A list of British privateers fitted out at New York, published in April, comprised one hundred and twenty-one vessels, including two of thirty-six guns each, one thirty, one twenty-eight, and thirty others of twenty or more guns, the whole manned by about ninety-six hundred men. Another list, compiled for Admiral Gambier, February 27, “of Private Ships and Vessels of War belonging to the Port of New York, now at Sea,” contains sixty-nine names. Many American vessels were taken by these privateers, of which, however, many in turn were captured (Naval Records (calendar), 217-495, list of Continental letters of marque; London Chronicle, April 1, 29, 1779; Massachusetts Spy, April 29, June 3, 1779; Boston Post, March 13, 27, 1779; Brit. Adm. Rec., A. D. 489, February 27, 1779.)

      During the year 1779, the British navy increased, in the total number of ships, from four hundred and thirty-two to four hundred and eighty-one; ships in commission, from three hundred and seventeen to three hundred and sixty-four. Seventy thousand men manned the navy. On the North American station a smaller fleet was maintained than during the two preceding years. With enemies on the continent of Europe to provide against, a larger part of the naval force was kept at home or employed in other seas. Only about sixty vessels were stationed in North America and less than half of these were frigates or larger ships. A powerful fleet was held in the West Indies (Hannay, 211; Schomberg, i, 453; Almon, viii, 314, 315, Brit. Adm. Rec., A. D. 489, April 3, A. D. 486, August 30, 1779, lists of ships employed under Admirals Gambier and Arbuthnot.)

      It is stated that in 1779, five hundred and sixteen vessels, of which twenty-nine were privateers and the others merchantmen, were captured from the British by their enemies; how many of them by Americans does not appear. One hundred and eleven of these were retaken or ransomed. During the same time the British took two hundred and sixty-nine vessels from their enemies, of which thirty-one were privateers, and five were recaptured (Clowes, iii, 396.) Other lists cover too short a period of time to be of value and presumably have been included in the above compilation (Almon, ix, 343, 350, 351, 3540 358.) The Continental navy captured forty-four vessels, including three regular men-of-war and several privateers, letters of marque, and armed transports (Neeser, ii, 28, 30, 288.)

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