Back
to
B
Massachusetts Privateer Ship Bunker Hill




Bunker Hill

Commander Edward Rolland

Sloop-of-War

May 1778-[October] 1778

Massachusetts Privateer Ship

(2) Commander Nicholas Ogelby
27 October 1778-23 December 1778


Commissioned/First Date:

May 1778

Out of Service/Cause:

23 December 1778/captured by the British squadron under Barrington


Owners:

Bartholomew Putnam and Jacob Ashton


Tonnage:

223


Battery:

Date Reported: 1778

Number/Caliber  Weight          Broadside

20/6-pounder     120 pounds   60 pounds

Total: 20 cannon/120 pounds

Broadside: 10 cannon/60 pounds

Swivels:


Date Reported: 27 October 1778

Number/Caliber  Weight          Broadside

18/

Total: 18 cannon/

Broadside: 9 cannon/

Swivels:


Date Reported: 4 December 1778

Number/Caliber  Weight          Broadside

20/

Total: 20 cannon/

Broadside: 10 cannon/

Swivels:



Date Reported: 23 December 1778

Number/Caliber  Weight          Broadside

18/

Total: 18 cannon/

Broadside: 9 cannon/

Swivels: eight


Crew:

(1) 27 October 1778: 101 [total]
(2) 4 December 1778: 138 [total]


Description:

96′9′′ length on the deck, 80′3 5/8′′ length on the keel with a beam of 22′10′′, and very fast sailing


Officers:

(1) First Lieutenant Jonathan Gardner, Jr., 4 November 1778-23 December 1778


Cruises:

(1) Salem, Massachusetts to Salem, Massachusetts, -26 September 1778

(2) Salem, Massachusetts to the West Indies, 2 December 1778-23 December 1778


Prizes:

(1) Brig Mary (Thomas Mullowney), [August] 1778

(2) Schooner Delaware (Thomas Butler), 4 December 1778, off New York, New York

(3) Sloop [unknown], in the West Indies, December 1778


Actions:


Comments:


Massachusetts Privateer Ship Bunker Hill was fitting out in late May 1778 in Salem, Massachusetts. She was noted in a letter from William Pickman to Colonel Pickering dated 27 May 1778 from Salem. Her commander was given as Edward Rolland and her battery as twenty 6-pounders. According to Pickman she was to sail in about twenty days: mid-June 1778.1 Bunker Hill was reported in the Boston Gazette of 14 September 1778 as being a 20-gun ship under Commander Edward Rolland2 of Salem, Massachusetts.3


Bunker Hill arrived at Salem on 26 September. She was reported to have taken a prize with dry goods and provisions.4 This may be the 50-ton brig Mary (Thomas Mallowney), which was libeled on 14 September 1778 in the Massachusetts Maritime Court of the Middle District, with trial set for 7 October 1778.5


Bunker Hill was commissioned on 27 October 1778 under Commander Nicholas Ogelbe of Marblehead, Massachusetts. She was listed as being armed with eighteen guns and as having a crew of 100 men.6 Bunker Hill is said to have been armed with 6-pounders.7 Her Continental bond ($5000) and Massachusetts bond (£4000) were signed by Ogelbe (listed as Ogelby) and by Bartholomew Putnam and Jacob Ashton of Salem, Massachusetts, who were listed as the owners.8 Aboard the Bunker Hill as First Lieutenant was Jonathan Gardner, Jr.9 Ogelby received his commission on 4 November 1778.10


Bunker Hill sailed for the West Indies on 2 December 1778.11 Two days out12 Bunker Hill encountered the 100-ton schooner Delaware (Thomas Butler),13 bound from Quebec, Quebec to New York, New York with a cargo of flour.14 Butler was removed to the Bunker Hill,15 and the prize was sent into Salem.16 Delaware was libeled on 25 January 1779, in the Massachusetts Maritime Court for the Middle District, and tried on 3 February 1779.17 By then the Delaware had been sold at auction, on 7 January 1779, by the ship’s agents, for *4920.18 Butler reported the Bunker Hill had a battery of twenty guns and a crew of 138 men aboard. He was taken into Martinique, French West Indies, where he was paroled by the French.19


Bunker Hill added another prize in the West Indies.20


Ogelby was near St. Lucia in late December 1778. Bunker Hill sailed into Grand Cul de Sac Bay, St. Lucia, mistaking Barrington’s British fleet for the Comte d’Estaing’s French fleet.21 Barrington reported the capture: “I have the satisfaction to add that this morning the squadron got possession of an American privateer of 18 guns called the Bunker hill, which at day break was discovered within reach of our guns; and having struck, upon finding she could not escape, the boats towed her within the line before any of the French fleet could get to her assistance. She sailed from Salem the 2d instant and was intended to cruize fifteen leagues to windward of Barbadoes but had missed that island and fallen to leeward.”22


Barrington took her into British service: “I have, however, to replace the Ceres, as the Bunker hill privateer has the reputation of being a fast sailer, (which her log book confirms) commissioned her as a sloop in his Majesty’s service, by the name of the Surprize (being expressive of the manner in which she came into our possession) and appointed Lieutenant James Brine, First Lieutenant of the Prince of Wales, to be Master and Commander of her, with a complement of one hundred and twenty five men. She mounts eighteen carriage and eight swivel guns.23


The British took her into their service as HM Sloop Surprize (Commander James Brine), being commissioned on 25 December 1778.24 Her crew was exchanged for the crew of HM Sloop Ceres.25 This ship was listed as 96'9" length on the deck, 80'3 5/8" length on the keel with a beam of 22'10" and measuring about 223 tons. The eighteen guns were probably 6-pounders.26


The American papers published reports of Ogelby’s capture im February 1779.27



1 Allen, Massachusetts Privateers of the Revolution, 90. However, I could not find this information in the September 14 edition of The Boston Gazette.

1 NDAR, “William Pickman to Timothy Pickering, Jr.,” 12:463-464 and 465n18

2 Allen, Massachusetts Privateers of the Revolution, 90. However, I could not find this information in the September 14 edition of The Boston Gazette.

3 Claghorn, Naval Officers of the American Revolution, 264

4 The Continental Journal [Boston], Thursday, October 1, 1778

5 The Boston Gazette, and Country Journal, Monday, September 14, 1778

6 Allen, Massachusetts Privateers of the Revolution, 90

7 Hurd, History of Essex County, Massavhusetts, I:210

8 Allen, Massachusetts Privateers of the Revolution, 90

9 MASSRW 6:272

10 MASSRW, 11:625

11 Letter, Barrington to Stephens, 23 December 1778, in Almon’s Remembrance, 7:282-284

12 The Boston Gazette, and Country Journal, Monday, 25 January, 1779

13 The Boston Gazette, and Country Journal, Monday, 25 January, 1779

14 The Pennsylvania Gazette, Wednesday, January 13, 1779, datelined Boston, December 21, 1778; The Boston Gazette, and Country Journal, Thursday, 28 December 1778

15 The Pennsylvania Evening Post [Philadelphia], Wednesday, February 10, 1779

16 The Pennsylvania Gazette, Wednesday, January 13, 1779, datelined Boston, December 21, 1778; The Boston Gazette, and Country Journal, Thursday, 28 December 1778

17 The Boston Gazette, and Country Journal, Monday, 25 January, 1779

18 “Auction Sales in Salem, of Shipping and Merchandise, during the Revolution,” in Historical Collections of the Essex Institute, vol XLIX, No. 2, April 1913, p. 109

19 The Pennsylvania Evening Post [Philadelphia], Wednesday, February 10, 1779

20 Extract from The St. Vincent Gazette, 26 December 1778, in Almon’s Remembrancer, 7:234-235

21 The Connecticut Journal [New Haven], Wednesday, February 24, 1779

22 Letter, Barrington to Stephens, 23 December 1778, in Almon’s Remembrance, 7:282-284

23 Letter, Barrington to Stephens, 6 January 1779, in Almon’s Remembrancer, 7:284-285

24 The Virginia Gazette, 9 April 1779, and information furnished by Bob Brooks (e-mail August 2004)

25 The Connecticut Journal [New Haven], Wednesday, February 24, 1779

26 These measurements are from Rif Winfield, British Warships in the Age of Sail 1714-1792 : Design, Construction, Careers and Fates (Barnsley, Yorks: Seaforth Publishing and St Paul MN: MBI Publishing, 2007) and were forwarded to me by R.C. Brooks in an e-mail of 4/26/2008.

27 The Connecticut Gazette and the Universal Intelligencer [New London], Friday, February 12, 1779; The Independent Chronicle and the Universal Advertiser [Boston], Thursday, February 4, 1779


Posted 21 September 2014 © awiatsea.com