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Connecticut Privateer Sloop Eagle




Eagle

Commander Edward Conkling

Armed Sloop

20 November 1778-9 May 1779

Connecticut Privateer Sloop


Commissioned/First Date:

20 November 1778

Out of Service/Cause:

9 May 1779/captured by British prisoners


Owners:

John Wright, John Foster, Uriah Rogers, and Joseph and Edward Conkling, the latter of Groton, Connecticut


Tonnage:


Battery:

Date Reported: 20 November 1778

Number/Caliber  Weight        Broadside

6/

Total: 6 cannon/

Broadside: 3 cannon/

Swivels:


Crew:

20 November 1778: 31 [total]


Description:


Officers:


Cruises:


Prizes:

(1) Brigantine Peter (Joseph Brown), 29 January 1779

(2) Brig Thomas and William (James Smith), 29 January 1779

(3) Brig Ranger, 31 January 1779, at Sag Harbor, Long Island, with Connecticut Privateer Brig Middletown and Connecticut Privateer Sloop Beaver

(4) Schooner Hero (John Leake), 23 March 1779

(5) Brig [unknown], April 1779

(6) Sloop Phebe (John Tilton), April 1779

(7) Sloop John (Mathias Wessels), April 1779

(8) Sloop Three Friends, April 1779

(9) [unknown], May 9, 1779, off Point Judith

(10) [unknown], May 9, 1779, off Point Judith

(11) [unknown], May 9, 1779, off Point Judith

(12) [unknown], May 9, 1779, off Point Judith

(13) [unknown], May 9, 1779, off Point Judith

(14) [unknown], May 9, 1779, off Point Judith

(15) [unknown], May 9, 1779, off Point Judith


Actions:

(1) Action at Sag Harbor, 31 January 1779
(2) Action at Sag Harbor, 1 February 1779
(3) Action with two transports, 19 March 1779
(4) Capture of the Eagle, 9 May 1779


Comments:


Connecticut Privateer Sloop Eagle was commissioned on 20 November 1778 under Commander Edward Conkling of New London, Connecticut. She was listed as having a battery of six guns and a crew of thirty men. Her $5000 bond was signed by Edward Conkling and Joseph Conkling, of Groton, Connecticut.1


On 29 January 1779 the Eagle captured the brigantine Peter (Joseph Brown) and the brig Thomas and William (James Smith), owned in Scarborough, England.2


Two days later, on 31 January, Eagle, Connecticut Privateer Brig Middletown (Commander Nathan Sage), and Connecticut Privateer Sloop Beaver (Commander William Havens) sailed from New London to attempt the capture of the British Privateer Brig Ranger, a refugee vessel of twelve guns that infested the Sound and had taken many prizes and plundered the coast in some instances. The three fell upon her as she lay by the wharf at Sag Harbor, cut her out, and came back with her in triumph. The next day the same three privateers made a bold but unsuccessful attack on seven vessels which had put into Sag Harbor. In this affair the Middletown grounded and was abandoned to the enemy.3 Eagle brought the Ranger in to New London on 4 March 1779.4


On the evening of 19 March, near Plumb Island, Eagle met two armed transports from New York with troops aboard. Despite the long odds Eagle engaged the transports. After an action she was driven off by superior force.5


Eagle was near Gardiner’s Bay on 23 March.6 Here Eagle  captured the schooner Hero (John Leake). She was tried in the Maritime Court on 10 June 1779. Eagle also captured the sloops Phebe (John Tilton), John (Mathias Wessels), and the 80-ton Three Friends.7


In April 1779 Eagle captured an unnamed brig with a cargo of salt, and sent her into New London, where she was tried on 28 April 1779.8


On 9 May 1779 Eagle was cruising off Point Judith, Rhode Island. She captured six sail of enemy vessels, mostly small except for one which had West India goods.9 A seventh vessel was a re-capture: a vessel bound from Guadeloupe in the French West Indies to Boston, Massachusetts.10 The crews were exchanged, reducing the Eagle’s crew to thirteen11 or fifteen men, with sixteen12 or seventeen13 prisoners aboard. In the evening the prisoners rose on the crew, which surrendered. The British then  killed all of them except two boys,14 or three boys and the doctor.15 “Many of them were mangled in a most savage manner after they had surrendered,” said one account. One of the prizes was re-captured, but it was again taken by the Hancock and Beaver and sent into Stonington, where the others have arrived.16


The British headed out to sea to make for New York. According to other accounts the Eagle was taken into Newport by the prisoners.17 Still other accounts say the Eagle was taken into New York. Here she was blown up near City Island, killing the prize crew who captured her.18 A newspaper account says she was blown up “By means of a boy snapping a pistol among some powder, which communicated to the magazine. It is said that a number of persons were in the vessel at that time, who lost their lives, among them is the infamous Murphy who murdered Capt. Conkling.”19


Eagle was evidently not completely destroyed, for she was tried in the New York Vice Admiralty court and condemned in 1779.20



1 NRAR, 279; Middlebrook, Maritime Connecticut During The Revolution, 73

2 Middlebrook, Maritime Connecticut During The Revolution, 73

3 Hurd, D. Hamilton (comp.), History of New London County, Connecticut, with Biographical Sketches of Its Pioneers and Prominent Men, Philadelphia: J. W. Lewis & Co., 1882, 181-192

4 Middlebrook, Maritime Connecticut During The Revolution, 73

5 The Independent Ledger, and the American Advertiser [Boston] Monday, April 19, 1779, datelined New London, April 1

6 The Providence Gazette; and Country Journal, Saturday, April 3, 1779, datelined New London, March 25

7 Middlebrook, Maritime Connecticut During The Revolution, 73

8 Middlebrook, Maritime Connecticut During The Revolution, 73

9 The Pennsylvania Packet or the General Advertiser [Philadelphia], Tuesday, May 25, 1779, datelined New London, May 1

10 The Providence Gazette; and Country Journal, Saturday, May 15, 1779

11 The Providence Gazette; and Country Journal, Saturday, May 15, 1779

12 The Pennsylvania Packet or the General Advertiser [Philadelphia], Tuesday, May 25, 1779, datelined New London, May 1

13 The Providence Gazette; and Country Journal, Saturday, May 15, 1779

14 The Pennsylvania Packet or the General Advertiser [Philadelphia], Tuesday, May 25, 1779, datelined New London, May 1

15 The Providence Gazette; and Country Journal, Saturday, May 15, 1779

16 The Pennsylvania Packet or the General Advertiser [Philadelphia], Tuesday, May 25, 1779, datelined New London, May 1

17 Allen, Naval History of the Revolution, ii, 415, from the Boston Gazette of 17 May and 31 May 1779, and the Boston Post of 22 May 1779

18 Middlebrook, Maritime Connecticut During The Revolution, 73

19 The Pennsylvania Evening Post [Philadelphia], Tuesday, June 15, 1779, datelined New London, June 3

20 HCA 32/315/5/1-19

Posted 14 May 2013 © awiatsea.com