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CHAPTER III

ALONG SHORE IN 1776

BRILLIANT DEEDS BY THE FIRST HEROES OF THE AMERICAN NAVY -WHY NICHOLAS BIDDLE ENTERED PORT WITH BUT FIVE OF THE ORIGINAL CREW OF THE ANDREA DORIA-RICHARD DALE ON THE SLEEK LEXINGTON-THE RACEHORSE CAPTURED IN AN EVEN FIGHT -CAPTAIN LAMBERT WICKES IN THE REPRISAL BEATS OFF A LARGER VESSEL JOHN PAUL JONES IN HIS

EARLIER

RACE WITH THE FRIGATE FORTY-SEVEN DAYS IN CAPE THE FRIGATE MILFORD

COMMANDS-A SMART

SOLEBAY-SIXTEEN PRIZES IN
BRETON REGION-POKING FUN AT
THE VALUABLE MELLISH-AN ABLE FIGHTER WHO LACKED

POLITICAL INFLUENCE.

A MORE Cheerful story of the feats of Yankee sailormen is found on turning to the record made by individual vessels during the period when Commodore Hopkins was at the head of the navy list. For instance, there was the brig Lexington (of significant name), under the command of Capt. John Barry, who had brought the Alfred, when she was the merchant ship Black Prince, into Philadelphia and sold her to the Congress. While Commodore Hopkins was in New London explaining how the British ship Glasgow had escaped, Captain

Barry was cruising off the Virginia capes; and on April 17, 1776, fell in with a tender called the Edward, armed with six or eight guns and carrying a crew of thirty-five men under command of Lieutenant Boucher. The lack of skill of the Americans at this time and the bravery of the English are both conclusively shown by the fact that the Edward held out for an hour, although the Lexington carried sixteen guns and twice as many men as the tender.

May 10, 1776, should be a memorable one in the history of the navy, for on that day John Paul Jones first received an independent command. He was placed in charge of the Providence and sent to carry troops to New York. What he subsequently accomplished with his little twelve-gun brig will be told further on.

On May 16th the Andrea Doria, Capt. Nicholas Biddle, was ordered to sea. For four months she cruised between the capes of the Delaware and the coast of Maine, and during that time she captured ten prizes, all but one of which reached port safely. Two of these transports had 400 British troops on board. The British frigate Cerebus recaptured one of these transports, and the prisoners managed to retake the other, but they were again captured and taken in. When Captain Biddle

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at last brought his little brig into port he had but five of his original crew on board. The others had all been sent away in prizes and their places supplied by volunteers from the vessels captured.

As will appear further on, Nicholas Biddle was one of the most heroic men known to the American naval register. He was one who knew his duty, and no odds of force against him deterred him in doing it.

The next of the squadron to get to sea was the brig Cabot, of fourteen guns. She sailed under Capt. Elisha Hinman the latter part of May, and was gone until October 5th. She sent in seven prizes during this time.

Even the crank old Columbus made a successful cruise. Under the command of Capt. Abraham Whipple, whose paving-stones had captured the Gaspé, she took four prizes while at sea between May and August.

Meantime the schooner Wasp, under Capt. Charles Alexander, took the British bark Betsey on May 9th, while in October, under Lieutenant Baldwin, she captured three more prizes.

A notable event of the year was the adventhe Lexington under Capt. William Hallock. She was returning from the West Indies loaded with powder and other military stores, when she was captured by the British

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Facsimile of Account between Dudley Saltonstall and Elisha Hinman. From the original at the Lenox Library.

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