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Continental Army (New York) Schooner General Mifflin





General Mifflin

(1) Captain Clarke

Schooner

[May] 1776-[January] 1777

Continental Army Schooner
  [New York Squadron]

(2) Captain Timothy White (in Connecticut service)
[February] 1777-[June] 1777
(3) Captain Clarke
[June] 1777-[January] 1778
(4) First Lieutenant John Kerr
[January] 1778-August 1778


Commissioned/First Date:

May 1776

Out of Service/Cause:

25 August 1778/sold out of service


Tonnage:

20


Battery:

Date Reported: 7 August 1778

Number/Caliber  Weight        Broadside

 

Total:

Broadside:

Swivels: four


Crew:


Description:

“a fast sailer and well found . . .”


Officers:


Cruises:

(1) Fire Island Inlet, New York, to sea and return, 19 June 1776, with Continental Army Sloop General Schuyler

(2) Fire Island Inlet, New York, to sea and return, 20 August 1776, with Continental Army Sloop General Schuyler and New York Navy Sloop Montgomery

(3) Fire Island Inlet, New York, to New London, Connecticut, 3 September 1777-3 September 1777, with Continental Army Sloop General Schuyler and New York Navy Sloop Montgomery

(4) New London, Connecticut to New Haven, Connecticut, [June] 1777-[June] 1777

(5) New Haven, Connecticut to sea and return, 9 December 1777-[12] December 1777

(6) New London, Connecticut to New London, Connecticut, [February] 1778-[February] 1778

(7) New London, Connecticut to New London, Connecticut, -2 May 1778


Prizes:

(1) British Transport Ship Crawford (James McLean), 19 June 1776, with Continental Army Sloop General Schuyler

(2) British Sloop Tender [unknown], 19 June 1776, with Continental Army Sloop General Schuyler

(3) Brig Temple, 20 August 1776, off Long Island, with Continental Army Sloop General Schuyler and New York Navy Sloop Montgomery

(4) Sloop Dory (Thomas Nye), 19 February 1778

(5) Sloop Speedwell (James Hoit), [April] 1778

(6) Sloop Betsey (William Robbins), [April] 1778

(7) Sloop Polly and Hannah (David Shadder), [April] 1778

(8) Sloop Katherine (David Rutgard), [April] 1778

(9) Sloop Sea Flower (Isaac Skidmore), [April] 1778

(10) Sloop Industry (Josiah Buffet), [April] 1778


Actions:


Comments:



The Continental Army Schooner General Mifflin was taken up at New York, New York about late April or early May 1776. One Captain Clarke was assigned to command the schooner. The General Mifflin was armed with four swivel guns and measured about 20 tons.1


On 24 May 1776, Major General Israel Putnam, in charge of the New York squadron, was considering a plan that would station the General Mifflin with four whaleboats at Barren Island and Hog Island Inlet, near Rockaway. She is called the Mifflin and a schooner in the plan.2 On 29 May Putnam ordered one man from each regiment aboard the armed schooner Mifflin. Putnam was very displeased that the vessels had not yet taken their stations.3


By June 1776 General Mifflin had joined the New York Navy Sloop Montgomery (Captain William Rogers) and Continental Army Sloop General Schuyler (Captain Charles Pond) at Fire Island Inlet.


British Transport Ship Crawford (James McLean) sailed from Greenock, Scotland with a company of British troops on 3 April 1776. She was captured by Continental Navy Brig Andrea Doria (Captain Nicholas Biddle) on 29 May, and sent into Providence, Rhode Island. On 12 June she was recaptured by HM Frigate Cerberus (Captain John Symons). Symons put a prize crew aboard and sent her to New York, under escort of a 35-ton sloop tender.4 On the 19th the two Army vessels saw the transport and her escort coming along just off the shore. The wind was west and they ran out and seized both, the wind changing to east just as the capture was made. Pond couldn’t get the transport into the Inlet, her draft being too great. She stuck on the bar, but eventually was worked in. Her prisoners, nine soldiers, two women, and the sailors, were sent to New York, arriving on 25 June.5


On 20 August 1776 the General Mifflin was patrolling with the General Schuyler and the Montgomery to the north of Sandy Hook. The trio captured the whaling brig Temple, bound to Nantucket after a series of adventures. She was taken into a harbor on the south side of Long Island. When that place was invaded by the British, she was sent to Providence, Rhode Island by the captors. There the Continental Agent and Commodore Hopkins were consulted, and both declined to libel the prize, about 10 September 1776.6


With the worsening military situation around New York the American vessels evacuated Fire Island Inlet. General Mifflin and her consorts arrived in New London on 3 September from the inlet.7 Here the schooner stayed, Clarke being taken in charge by Continental Agent Nathaniel Shaw, Jr. At a later date she was at New London, and received eight muskets and two wall pieces from Continental Agent Nathaniel Shaw.8


At some point the General Mifflin was loaned to the state of Connecticut. She was placed under the command of Captain Timothy White. Having completed the mission, the General Mifflin was at New London on 29 May 1777. On this date the Connecticut Council of Safety ordered her discharged back to the Continental Agent, taking a receipt for the equipment of the schooner and removing anything belonging to the state.9


She was at New Haven on 24 June 1777, under Shaw's care and management. Captain Clarke had resumed her command. On that date Colonel Jedediah Huntington wrote to Shaw, requesting that he use his “Influence” to persuade Clarke to collect all the whaleboats in the state of Connecticut, and bring them to New Haven. Huntington offered to procure an order from Governor Jonathan Trumbull if it was necessary. Huntington also requested that Shaw get Clarke to bring the General Mifflin to New Haven, to protect the whaleboats. Ostensibly, the cover story was that the boats were to be used to supply a Continental Army camp at White Plains, New York.10


On 30 June Governor Trumbull requested that she and Continental Army Sloop General Schuyler (Lieutenant David Hawley) be sent to New Haven, to patrol off that port. The Continental troops were collecting there and the two Continental Army vessels would be used to reconnoiter off the port and to the west in Long Island Sound. The governor promised to send the Connecticut Navy Sloop Spy (Captain Robert Niles) on the same mission.11


The patrolling and collecting of boats was to mask an intended raid on Long Island by a large force of troops under Brigadier General Samuel Parsons. On 8 December 1777 Colonel John Ely of Connecticut militia, embarked on the General Schuyler, with some of his men.12 On the evening of 9 December Colonel Samuel B. Webb, commanding the center raiding force, boarded the General Schuyler, with several of his soldiers.13 Other soldiers boarded two smaller vessels, and the General Mifflin and the Spy. From aboard the General Schuyler Webb issued his orders. The General Schuyler would lead the way; no vessel was to be out of hailing range ahead.14 Both divisions sailed from Norwalk that evening.15 All together two battalions embarked,16 about 400 soldiers, in three other vessels,17 convoyed by the General Schuyler, General Mifflin and the Spy.18


The night was windy and with a high chop, and quite dark.19 The little party had a hard time in crossing. So bad was the weather that Colonel Meigs’s force never crossed, being given only open boats for transport.20 The General Schuyler parted company with the other vessels,21 “through the Inattention of the Skipper.”22 Never the less, by dawn 10 December General Schuyler23 and the two small sloops were close to Setauket.24 There she met the 14-gun HM Sloop Falcon and was captured. Kerr managed to escape. General Mifflin and the Spy returned safely from the expedition.


Following this expedition, Clarke seemingly left the service, and Lieutenant Kerr, who had escaped from the General Schuyler, took charge of the General Mifflin.


In September 1776, Shaw’s account against the General Mifflin came to *1698. As a partial offset to this expenditure, Shaw had received the government share of prizes taken by the General Mifflin (*106) and the General Schuyler and General Mifflin together (*605). The account, drawn up on 28 February 1778, was Shaw’s main account with the Marine Committee, which indicates that he was treating the General Mifflin as a unit in the Continental Navy.25


On 4 March 1778, John Deshon, on behalf of the Navy Board of the Eastern Department, issued orders to Lieutenant John Kerr. He was instructed to take command of the General Mifflin (referred to only as the Mifflin), pending further directions from the Navy Board of the Eastern Department. Kerr was to place himself under the orders of Captain Dudley Saltonstall (commander of Continental Navy Ship Trumbull). Saltonstall would establish his cruising areas. When the Trumbull was gotten out of the Connecticut River, Kerr was to assist Saltonstall. In particular he was to assist Saltonstall in getting the Trumbull out of the river. Deshon promised that Kerr would have his commission from the Navy Board of the Eastern Department as soon as Deshon returned to Boston, with the same date as the one lost. Supplies for the General Mifflin would come from Nathaniel Shaw.26


Whether Saltonstall ever issued any orders to Kerr is not clear, but Kerr did cruise Long Island Sound with some success. The British sloop Dory (Thomas Nye) was captured on 19 February 1778. She was libeled at New London on 8 April 1778. The trial was to be held on 29 April. It is a matter of some curiosity that Saltonstall libeled three prizes at the same time and place, as commander of the Trumbull. Libels against two un-named two masted boats, commanded by one Joseph Vall, and one Fordham, and against the sloop Industry (Casey) were filed. Also included in the libel was some merchandise seized on 19 February. All of these prizes were for breach of the trade laws.27 Saltonstall’s vessel, the Trumbull, was trapped in the Connecticut River. Perhaps he, or an officer, had accompanied Kerr in a tender to the Trumbull.


On 2 May 1778 Kerr returned to New London from a cruise28 toward the western part of Long Island Sound. At least part of the time he was in company with Connecticut Privateer Schooner Suffolk (Commander Ebenezer Dayton) and Connecticut Privateer Sloop Beaver (Commander Joseph Dodge).29 Kerr brought in with him no less than six prizes captured during the patrol.30 Kerr libeled the sloops Speedwell (James Hoit), Betsey (William Robbins), Polly and Hannah (David Shadder), Katherine (David Rutgard), Sea Flower (Isaac Skidmore) and Industry (Josiah Buffet) on 20 May 1778. Eight whaleboats were libeled by the three captains collectively. The trials were on 10 June 1778.31 All were condemned.32


General Mifflin was advertised for sale at auction on 7 August 1778. She was described as 20 tons, armed with four swivel guns, and as “a fast sailer and well found.” The sale was to take place on 25 August.33



1 The Connecticut Gazette; and the Universal Intelligencer [New London], Friday, August 7, 1778. She was probably armed the same way during her entire career.

2 NDAR, “Major General Israel Putnam to George Washington,” V, 231-232

3 NDAR, “Journal of the New York Provincial Congress,” V, 296 and note

4 NDAR, “George Washington to John Hancock,” V, 642-643 and 643 note;  “Captain Charles Pond to George Washington,” V, 626 and note

5 NDAR, “Captain William Rogers to Jacobus Van Zandt and Thomas Randall,” V, 661 and note

6 NDAR, “Clarke & Nightingale to the President of the New York Convention,” VI, 854-855; “Journal of the New York Committee of Safety,” VI, 987

7 NDAR, “Connecticut Gazette, Friday, September 6, 1776,” VI, 723 and note

8 NDAR, “Memorandum Goods Received from on board the Brig Cabot Elisha Hinman Commander June 27th, 1776.,” V, 769-770 and 770 note. There are several entries added later, the first of which is the mentioned delivery of weapons to the General Mifflin.

9 NDAR, “Journal of the Connecticut Council of Safety,” VIII, 1041

10 NDAR, “Colonel Jedediah Huuntington to Nathaniel Shaw, Jr.,” IX, 164 and note

11 NDAR, “Governor Jonathan Trumbull to Nathaniel Shaw, Jr.,” IX, 190-191 and 191 note

12 NDAR, “Colonel John Ely to Thomas Mumford and Nathaniel Shaw, Jr,,” X, 734

13 NDAR, “Colonel Samuel B. Webb’s Orders,” X, 688; “Providence Gazette, Saturday. December 20, 1777,” X, 761-762 and 762 notes; “Brigadier General Samuel H. Parsons to George Washington,” X, 823-824 and 824 note

14 NDAR, “Colonel Samuel B. Webb’s Orders,” X, 688

15 NDAR, “Brigadier General Samuel H. Parsons to George Washington,” X, 823-824 and 824 note

16 NDAR, “Providence Gazette, Saturday. December 20, 1777,” X, 761-762 and 762 notes

17 NDAR, “Colonel Samuel B. Webb to Major General William Heath,” X, 745 and note

18 NDAR, “Providence Gazette, Saturday. December 20, 1777,” X, 761-762 and 762 notes

19 NDAR, “Colonel Samuel B. Webb to Major General William Heath,” X, 745 and note

20 NDAR, “Brigadier General Samuel H. Parsons to George Washington,” X, 823-824 and 824 note

21 NDAR,  “Colonel Samuel B. Webb to Major General William Heath,” X, 745 and note; “Providence Gazette, Saturday. December 20, 1777,” X, 761-762 and 762 notes

22 NDAR,  “Providence Gazette, Saturday. December 20, 1777,” X, 761-762 and 762 notes

23 NDAR, “Colonel Samuel B. Webb to Major General William Heath,” X, 745 and note

24 NDAR, “Providence Gazette, Saturday. December 20, 1777,” X, 761-762 and 762 notes

25 NDAR, “Nathaniel Shaw, Jr.’s, Accounts with Continental Navy Vessels,” XI, 463-464

26 NDAR, “John Deshon to Lieutenant John Kerr,” XI, 507 and notes

27 The Connecticut Gazette; and the Universal Intelligencer [New London], Friday, April 24, 1778

28 The New-York Gazette and the Weekly Mercury, Monday, May 25, 1778, datelined New London, May 8

29 The Connecticut Gazette; and the Universal Intelligencer [New London], Friday, May 29, 1778

30 The New-York Gazette and the Weekly Mercury, Monday, May 25, 1778, datelined New London, May 8

31 The Connecticut Gazette; and the Universal Intelligencer [New London], Friday, May 29, 1778

32 Middlebrook, History of Maritime Connecticut, I, 144

33 The Connecticut Gazette; and the Universal Intelligencer [New London], Friday, August 7, 1778

Revised 6 August 2014 © awiatsea.com

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