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modore and his officers made their way to the foot of Walnut Street, Philadelphia, where a ship's long-boat awaited them. A great throng of patriots gathered along shore on the arrival of the officers, and the shipping along the whole river front was not only decorated with bunting, but decks and rails and rigging were occupied by enthusiastic spectators.
Pushing off and rowing away through the floating ice, Commodore Hopkins reached the ladder at the side of the Alfred, and, followed by all his officers, mounted to the deck. The shrill whistle of the boatswain called the crew well aft in the waist of the ship. The officers gathered in a group on the quarterdeck. A quartermaster made fast to the mizzen signal halliards a great yellow silk flag bearing the picture of a pine tree with a coiled rattlesnake at its roots, and the impressive motto “Don't Tread on Me.” This accomplished, he turned toward the master of the ship, Capt. Dudley Saltonstall, and saluted.
And then, at a gesture from the captain, the executive officer of the ship, the immortal John Paul Jones, eagerly grasped the flag halliards, and while officers and seamen uncovered their heads, and the spectators cheered and cannon roared, he spread to the breeze the first American naval ensign.
The grand union flag of the colonies, a flag
of thirteen stripes, alternate red and white, with the British jack in the field, and the pennant of the commander-in-chief, were then set, and the resolutions of the Congress read. The first American naval fleet was in commission.
A FAIRLY SUCCESSFUL RAID ON NEW PROVIDENCE, BUT THEY LET A
BRITISH SLOOP-OF-WAR ESCAPE-CHARACTER OF THE FIRST NAVAL COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF AND OF THE MATERIAL WITH WHICH HE HAD TO WORK-ESEK HOPKINS, A LANDSMAN, SET TO DO A SAILOR'S WORK—CREWS UNTRAINED AND DEVOID OF ESPRIT DE CORPS -GOOD COURAGE, BUT A WOEFUL LACK OF OTHER NEEDED QUALITIES_HOPKINS DISMISSED FOR DISOBEDIENCE OF ORDERS
The career of Commodore Esek Hopkins as commander-in-chief of the American navy lasted for a year and ten days. If it was not a glorious career it was at least an instructive one, and the candid student is likely to conclude that, under the circumstances, it was creditable to his reputation. He was badly handicapped from the beginning in a variety
but in spite of this he accomplished something
As already noted, Commodore Hopkins received his appointment chiefly through the influence of John Adams, and because he was the brother of the capable Governor of Rhode Island. The student of American history should keep in mind that the colonists were still monarchists in 1775, and that they followed the monarchial system of appointing favorites to office. That is to say, the man who had the most influence, who had what politicians call a “pull,” got the appointment, , regardless, usually, of his fitness for the place. Commodore Hopkins had been a brigadiergeneral in the Rhode Island militia by appointment of his brother. He had served in various capacities at sea, but it is likely that training had made him a soldier rather than a sailor, and no greater mistake can be made by executive authority than to appoint a soldier to do a sailorman's work.
Further than this, the vessels under the command of Hopkins were all built for carrying cargoes and not for fighting—they were not as swift or as handy as fighting ships of the same size.
Worse yet, they were manned by crews brought together for the first timemen who were not only unacquainted with each other, and therefore devoid of esprit de
corps, but who were unaccustomed, for the most part, to the discipline necessary on a man-of-war and untrained in the use of great guns. When compared with the crews of the gent' Kingston, famsco aprileft:9742 .
which is the part of my Cargo I
Parengen & have sent this day of Second
Aut the Markets Contuner Poor and moloses Deared and Dearer Enery day ? you may expect of Shall Kite Every opertura
and I am yr Humblesert?
A Letter from Esek Hopkins.
From the original at the Lenox Library.
British warships they were more inferior in these two respects than were the raw militia around Boston when compared with the British regulars. The raw militia could at least shoot well.
With these facts in mind it is worth while