Page images
PDF
EPUB

It was

afterwards sail thence as a squadron around to Narragansett Bay after the British left Newport. What remains to be told of the career of Commodore Hopkins will

occupy brief space. In the month of June the Congress investigated his case. His good friend John Adams defended him successfully. decided that he had exceeded his orders in going east of Long Island, for he had been directed to “annoy the enemy's •ships upon the coast of the Southern States," but he was merely relieved of his command temporarily. On October 16th his case was considered once more, and a vote of censure was carried. On October 19th he was directed to take "command of the fleet formerly put under his care,” but he was very dilatory in getting ready for sea, and so he was once more summoned before Congress. This summons he refused to obey, and on January 2, 1777, he was dismissed from the service.

According to Lieut. F. S. Bassett, U. S. N., Hopkins, after the war of the Revolution, “resided near Providence, R. I., and was several times a member of the General Assembly for that State, and died there on February 26, 1802, aged eighty-four years. He was, when made commander-in-chief, fiftyseven years old, and, Bancroft says, old and incompetent.

His portraits show him to be a

man of vigor, and he was influential in the political affairs of his own State.

His bravery was never called into question, but he was doubtless not a good seaman, and was incompetent to command the navy.

His title of commander-in-chief was intended to rank him with Washington, the commanderin-chief of the army. The title was never again conferred on an American naval man.

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 THE REPRISAL

IN

[blocks in formation]

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 fur

ther 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

[graphic][merged small][merged small]
« PreviousContinue »