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Continental Army (New York) Sloop General Schuyler





General Schuyler

(1) Captain Charles Pond

Armed Sloop

[5] June 1776-[January 1777]

Continental Army Sloop
  [New York Squadron]

(2) First Lieutenant David Hawley
[April] 1777-[18] November 1777
(3) First Lieutenant John Kerr
19 November 1777-10 December 1777


Commissioned/First Date:

[1] June 1776

Out of Service/Cause:

10 December 1777/captured by HM Sloop Falcon


Tonnage:


Battery:

Date Reported: 28 June 1776

Number/Caliber  Weight        Broadside

6/

Total: 6 cannon/

Broadside: 3 cannon/

Swivels: four


Crew:

(1) 28 June 1776: 42 [total]


Description:


Officers:

(1) First Lieutenant Joseph Davidson, [5] June 1776-[January 1777]; (2) Lieutenant John Jones, November 1777; (3) Master Warson, October 1777


Cruises:

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

(2) Fire Island Inlet, New York, to sea and return, 27 June 1776, with New York Navy Sloop Montgomery

(3) Fire Island Inlet, New York, to sea and return, 28 June 1776, with New York Navy Sloop Montgomery

(4) Fire Island Inlet, New York, to sea and return, 11 August 1776-[12] August 1776, with New York Navy Sloop Montgomery

(5) Fire Island Inlet, New York, to sea and return, [15] August 1776

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

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

(8) New London, Connecticut to Long Island, [October] 1776

(9) Long Island, New York, to New London, Connecticut, [October] 1776

(10) New London, Connecticut to Stratford, Connecticut, [15] May 1777-[15] May 1777

(11) Stratford, Connecticut to Fairfield, Connecticut, [26] May 1777-[28] May 1777

(12) Fairfield, Connecticut to Norwalk, Connecticut, [22] June 1777-[24] June 1777

(13) Norwalk, Connecticut to sea and return, [1] July 1777-[20] July 1777

(14) Norwalk, Connecticut to sea and return, [29] August 1777-[31] August 1777

(15) Norwalk, Connecticut to New London, Connecticut, -14 September 1777

(16) New London, Connecticut to Fairfield, Connecticut, 29 November 1777-29 November 1777, with Connecticut Navy Schooner Spy and Continental Army Schooner General Mifflin

(17) Fairfield, Connecticut to sea, 9 December 1777-10 December 1777, with Connecticut Navy Schooner Spy and Continental Army Schooner General Mifflin


Prizes:

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

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

(3) Schooner Hiram, 27 June 1776, with New York Navy Sloop Montgomery

(4) Brigantine Speedwell (Bunker), 27 June 1776, with New York Navy Sloop Montgomery

(5) Brigantine Pembroke, 27 June 1776, with New York Navy Sloop Montgomery

(6) Sloop Nonesuch (William Hefferman), 27 June 1776, with New York Navy Sloop Montgomery

(7) British Army Transport Sloop Charlotte (Samuel Cox), 28 June 1776, with New York Navy Sloop Montgomery

(8) Sloop Nancy, [15] August 1776

(9) Brigantine Temple (Joshua Morris), 20 August 1776, with Continental Army Sloop General Mifflin and New York Navy Sloop Montgomery

(10) Sloop Charlotte, [October] 1776

(11) British Transport Ship Crawford, [October] 1776

(12) Sloop Princess Mary (Isaac Whipps), 27/28 May 1777

(13) Sloop [Polly], 27 May 1777

(14) Sloop [unknown] (Daniel Rice), 27 May 1777

(15) Schooner [unknown], 27 May 1777

(16) Sloop Sally (Joseph Bunce), 4 June 1777

(17) Sloop [unknown], 23 June 1777

(18) Sloop Peggy (Charles Thomas), 30 July 1777

(19) Sloop Ann (Ezekial Bishop), 30 July 1777

(20) Sloop Fanny, [5] August 1777

(21) Sloop Liberty, [5] August 1777

(22) Sloop Dolphin (Thomas Rogers), August 1777


Actions:


Comments:



In late May 1776, about the 24th, the New York Navy Sloop General Schuyler was stationed at Fire Island Inlet, about half way up the south side of Long Island, with two whaleboats. Her mission was to interdict local Tory trafficking with the British shipping, ensure safe arrival of inbound American munitions vessels, and harass the incoming transports.2 When Captain James Smith resigned command of the General Schuyler on 31 May 1776,3 it would seem that the Continental Army took control of the General Schuyler. Her first commander as a Continental Army sloop was Charles Pond. Pond was a First Lieutenant in the 19th Continental Infantry when he was assigned to the General Schuyler.4 General Schuyler was then stationed at Fire Island Inlet.5


New York Navy Sloop Montgomery (Captain William Rogers) arrived at Fire Island Inlet in early June 1776, joining the two cruisers (General Scuyler and Continental Army Sloop General Mifflin, Captain Clarke). Captain Rogers was not impressed with the inexperienced crew of the General Schuyler (“not a man on board that could put the ship on stays”)6 nor the sloop (“a thing that has not been a league from the land, but been a thumming along shore”).7 Nevertheless, the General Schuyler and General Mifflin did make an outstanding capture on 18 June.


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.8 On the 19th the two Army sloops 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.9


The British frigates were constantly patrolling on the coast. On 23 June General Schuyler and her consorts were anchored in “Jones’ Inlet,” where they were sighted by HM Frigate Cerberus, who noted the Crawford at anchor.10 Another large frigate, Greyhound, was seen passing by the next day.11 Pond was apparently away from the sloop when the next adventure occurred, and First Lieutenant Joseph Davidson assumed command.12


On 24 June HM Frigate Greyhound (Captain Archibald Dickson) was twenty-seven miles east of Sandy Hook. She had collected four prizes en route to Sandy Hook, but all parted on the morning of that day.13 Montgomery went out on patrol with the General Schuyler soon after, and they fell in with Greyhound’s prizes on 27 June.14 Two whaling brigs belonging to Nantucket,15 the Speedwell16 (Bunker)17 and the Pembroke,18 a schooner bound to Massachusetts from the West Indies (the Hiram)19 and a sloop with lumber, outward bound from Rhode Island (the Nonesuch, William Hefferman)20 were all recaptured. Valuable intelligence was recovered from the prisoners.21 All prizes were escorted into Fire Island where the prisoners were sent to headquarters under guard.22 The New York Marine Committee sent William Mercier, on 28 June, to take charge of the prizes. He was to unload the vessels, transporting their cargoes to Huntington by wagon, with the necessary papers for condemnation. The vessels were to be left at Fire Island for the time being, as it was unsafe to bring them around the east end of Long Island.23


On 28 June General Schuyler and Montgomery were back out at sea. This time they fell in with British Army Transport Sloop Charlotte (Samuel Cox),24 a 40-ton vessel,25 which had sailed from Halifax for Sandy Hook with a cargo of entrenching tools26 for the British Army. Aboard was the storekeeper for the British engineering department.27 Charlotte was part of Shuldham and Howe’s invasion convoy and had sailed from Halifax on 10 June.28 She was taken into the inlet, where the tools were unloaded and sent up to the Continental Army.29 The prisoners went up to White Plains.30 Part of Charlotte’s cargo was put on the Schuyler and taken to Milford, Connecticut, where it was libeled on 6 November 1776. The cargo was tried and condemned on 11 December 1776.31 Meanwhile, the Montgomery took the sloop into Providence, Rhode Island, where Charlotte was libeled on 12 September 1776, and tried on 1 October 1776.32 The sloop sold for *501.18.3 in October. The General Schuyler’s men divided *56.0.3 of this sum. The settlement papers indicate that General Schuyler had forty-two men aboard at the time of this capture and mounted six guns and four swivel guns.33


Continental Army Sloop General Schuyler sailed from Fire Island Inlet on 11 August 1776, again in company with the Montgomery. The two dogged the inbound British shipping near the south shore of Long Island, then pounced on a brig in the afternoon. After a fifteen minute fight the brig was captured and taken into Fire Island Inlet. The two sloops put out to sea again.34 [Possibly the Nancy capture]


Sometime about the middle of August, the General Schuyler made another capture. Sloop Nancy35 was chartered by Clarke & Nightingale of Providence, Rhode Island, to be used in fulfilling a Continental munitions contract, and sailed on the Continental account. On her return to the United States she was captured by a British tender, and apparently sent to New York. Before she made port, she was recaptured by the General Schuyler, and taken into Fire Island Inlet on the south side of Long Island. The cargo of gunpowder, firearms, saltpeter, and dry goods was removed and sent to the Continental Army, for whom it had been imported anyway. An additional cargo of molasses was removed by the captors.36


On 20 August the three cruisers (Montgomery, General Schuyler, General Mifflin) caught another prize, but this one was just a thorny problem. Whaling brigantine Temple had cleared out from Nantucket for the whaling grounds on 26 May 1775, but did not sail until 31 October 1775. In the meantime (15 August 1775) the Massachusetts Council of Safety put an embargo on all whaling vessels, unless special permission was granted by the Council. Owner William Rotch obtained the permission, but did not put a copy aboard the Temple. Temple sailed for the coast of Brazil, collected three hundred barrels of whale oil, and headed home. She was captured by the British about [early August], taken into Sandy Hook, detained a few days, then dismissed by Admiral Lord Howe with a pass to proceed to Nantucket. She was taken into Fire Island Inlet and kept there until Long Island was evacuated by the Americans, when she was sent to Providence, Rhode Island to be libeled.37


The General Schuyler, Montgomery, and General Mifflin now were forced to abandon Fire Island Inlet because the war situation had worsened. All prizes had been taken into the inlet, where the cargoes were unloaded and shipped to Huntingdon. When the Americans lost the battle for the island and evacuated to Manhattan, the little squadron sailed for New London, arriving there on 3 September.38 The Charlotte and the Temple were sent to Providence, Rhode Island for condemnation,39 The Nancy was loaded with sea coal and escorted to Milford, Connecticut.40


Nancy’s owner, Captain John Updike, contacted a local man, Isaac Miles, on 17 September, to see what could be done about getting the sloop back. Miles contacted Pond, who told him he could not release her. Pond had applied to Colonel Tupper (commander of the Continental Army New York Squadron) and Tupper had advised to just let the Nancy be for now. Miles suggested that Updike contact Continental Agent Nathaniel Shaw, Jr.41 Shaw took this thorny issue under advisement and contacted Clarke & Nightingale on 25 September. He wanted to buy the coal and inquire about the vessel. On 30 September Clarke & Nightingale appealed to Shaw, as Continental Agent, to sort this matter out with them, rather than waiting for Congress. They had written to Congress, but expected no early reply. As to the coal, it was not for sale, belonging to private citizens in Rhode Island. Clarke & Nightingale proposed that Shaw get the Nancy into New London to settle this affair.42 Nothing was worked out, for libels were filed against the Nancy on 6 November 1776, at New Haven, Connecticut. According to the libel the General Schuyler was the sole captor.43


On 5 September 1776 the General Schuyler was at New London, where Continental Agent Nathaniel Shaw, Jr., took charge of her. At least one sailor was sick or wounded, and subsequently died there.44 Meanwhile, the sloop Charlotte (Samuel Cox), was libeled on 14 September 1776.45 Brigantine Temple was not libeled, both Commodore Hopkins and Continental Agent Daniel Tillinghast doubting she would be condemned.46 Charlotte was libeled 12 September and tried 1 October 1776.47 General Schuyler’s crew shared £56.0.3 from her sale. The prize distribution reveals she was armed with six guns and four swivels, with a crew of forty-two men on 28 June.48


Meanwhile, the General Schuyler had apparently participated in a raid on Long Island led by Colonel Henry Beekman Livingston. The cargoes of the sloop Charlotte and ship Crawford were libeled on 6 November 1776 at New Haven, as prizes of the General Schuyler.49


General Schuyler was at New London in early May 1777. Pond had departed and she was under command of Captain David Hawley.50 Hawley was a returned veteran of the northern campaign, having served as Captain of the Continental Army Schooner Royal Savage. His exact service is unknown, whether he was serving in the Connecticut Navy,51 or as a Captain in the Continental service.52 On 24 November 1777, in a letter to the Marine Committee, Continental Agent Nathaniel Shaw, Jr. reported that Hawley had discovered he would rank “only as a Lt. & being a Capt. On ye Lake” was leaving the vessel. The implication was that Hawley was now being ranked as a Lieutenant in the Continental Navy. On Lake Champlain he had been a Captain in the Continental Army’s squadron. The further implication is that some one had asked the Marine Committee for a determination on this point.53


On 27 May Hawley was in Long Island Sound, out of Stratford, when a sail was seen coming from the mainland and steering west. Hawley sent a whaleboat after her, but the wind changed and night fell, so the whaleboat gave up the chase. While the first chase was continuing, General Schuyler’s crew saw another sail coming out and steering east, which was ignored. After night fell, the second stranger reversed course for Long Island. En route she met the whale boat and asked the men in the boat where they had come from. Hawley’s men answered they had “come from the main bound to Long-Island.” The sailing vessel invited the boat’s crew on board, telling the Americans they were bound for New York. Hawley’s men gladly climbed aboard, took control, and brought her into Fairfield.54 The prize was a sloop commanded by Daniel Rice, and owned in New London.55 The seven man crew was landed as prisoners. The vessel was a coasting vessel, used by the Continental forces, but her master was running a little business on the side, bringing provisions to New York.56 He had loaded provisions at Derby, stating he was going to New London, where her owner lived.57 While this enterprise was under way, General Schuyler intercepted three more vessels en route to New York with wood,58 two from Long Island.59 All were taken into Fairfield.60


One of the other vessels captured was the 50-ton sloop Princess Mary (Isaac Whipps). She was libeled and condemned at Fairfield. Among the other vessels captured was one with a noted local Tory aboard. He was forced to give a parole to obtain his liberty again.61 Sloop Polly may have been one of these prizes.62


On 4 June 1777 the General Schuyler captured the 40-ton sloop Sally (Joseph Bunce). She was en route to Huntington on Long Island.63


Hawley was back out on 23 June, when he captured a 30-ton sloop near Huntington, Long Island, loaded with flour.64 On 30 June the General Schuyler and the General Mifflin were requested to patrol off New Haven by Governor Jonathan Trumbull. Continental troops were gathering there and early warning of British movements was essential.65


Continental Agent Nathaniel Shaw, Jr., reported Hawley was stationed at Norwalk on 24 July 1777, and had captured five sloops and one schooner laden with wood and provisions. Shaw thought Hawley had “Exerted himself to the Utmost in distresing the Enemys Coasting Vessels from Long Island to N York.”66 On 30 July General Schuyler was back at it, taking two wood sloops in the Sound, near Hempstead Harbor, and carrying them to Norwalk. Both were from Long Island.67 These last two were the 25-ton sloop Peggy (Charles Thomas),68 with a cargo of wood for the British Army,69 and the 15-ton sloop Ann (Ezekial Bishop),70 bound to Mamaroneck, New York, with a cargo of provisions. One “Johnson” was assigned as prize master of the Ann.71 Both were libeled on 10 August 1777 in Fairfield County Court,72 and tried on 11 September 1777.73 Both were subsequently condemned.74


Following the capture of the two sloops, and still on the same cruise, the General Schuyler captured the sloop Fanny and schooner Liberty. A little later Hawley encountered and captured the sloop Dolphin (Thomas Rogers), en route to Flushing, New York. She was owned by John Williams of Oyster Bay, Long Island, New York. Lieutenant John Jones was sent over as prize master and he brought her into Norwalk, Connecticut, where Dolphin was libeled and condemned.75


On 13 August 1777 all these prizes were advertised for sale. Fanny, Liberty and Princess Mary were to be sold at Fairfield on 25 August. Then the auction would move to Norwalk, where the sloop Dolphin and sloop Sally would be sold.76


On 14 September 1777 General Schuyler tied up at the wharf for a refit. The crew was paid off, including Pilots John Tinker, James Lampheire, and James Latham. Her sails were stored and a number of hands, costing Shaw £16.5.00 in wages, set about fitting the sloop out.77


On 4 October 1777, James Rice, one of Continental Agent Nathaniel Shaw, Jr.’s business associates, wrote to him from New Haven. Rice had traveled to Fairfield, Connecticut, to receive prize money ordered paid by the court, not quite a £1000. This was the “Continental” share; the other half was paid to Hawley, who acted as agent for the crew. Rice reported there were irregularities concerning the “Schuyler” (General Schuyler). Rice had called on one Lockwood, from whom Hawley was drawing his fresh provisions, in order to pay Lockwood’s bill, expecting it would be a small sum. The bill was over £80, including six barrels of pork at over £9 per barrel, which had been supplied to General Schuyler in the summer. Lockwood told Rice that the sloop’s Master, Warson, had told Lockwood that that was the sale price (the price bid at auction).78


Returning from Fairfield Rice met a Mr. Ives, to pay the rigging bill for the General Schuyler. Since Ives had asked for payment the bill had risen from £115 to over £170 (approved by Hawley). Ives stated that Hawley had promised him flax in payment for the rigging. Rice noted that Ives asked for his money in the summer “Which I Should Have paid him But he had A Mind to purchase ye prize flax” and did not take the money. The flax in question sold at a high price. Ives missed it and now demanded flax, as Hawley purportedly promised him. Rice’s conclusion was that “he & Hawley have put their Heads Together to get What they Can out of ye Continent—“79


Rice also reported that the General Schuyler was needed to the west, for the British tenders were becoming “Troublesome.” He asked Shaw to send the sloop as soon as possible. If any more prizes were captured, he (Rice) could get them condemned much less expensively than in Fairfield County.80


General Schuyler is next heard from on 17 November 1777. Brigadier General Samuel H. Parsons, writing to Shaw from Maroneck, stated that he had Major General Putnam’s order to request that Shaw immediately send General Schuyler and Connecticut Navy Sloop Spy to him “as they are wanted on a Business of the greatest importance before the End of the Week.” Parsons particularly noted that a chemical compound made by Lieutenant John Jones of the General Schuyler, a fire accelerate, was of “absolute necessity to be forwarded immediately.”81


Meanwhile, there was a change of command aboard the General Schuyler. Shaw reported to the Marine Committee on 24 November that he had fitted out the General Schuyler “belonging to the United States” with the advice of Governor Trumbull of Connecticut, under Hawley’s command. Hawley enlisted his crew “for a term of time which has Expir’d” and had brought the sloop into New London, with her stores, and given her up to Shaw. Hawley was leaving the General Schuyler because he had discovered he would only rank as a Lieutenant, rather than as a Captain.82


Much later, on 28 February 1778, Nathaniel Shaw drew up an accounting of his expenditures on the General Schuyler while under Hawley’s command. Shaw treated the sloop as a vessel of the Continental Navy and submitted his account to the Marine Committee on 28 February 1778. The General Schuyler had cost Shaw £2236 under Hawley’s command, with an additional £16 not assigned to Hawley. As a partial offset Shaw had received £880 from prizes taken by the General Schuyler and £605 from prizes captured by the General Schuyler and the General Mifflin together.83


About 18 November 1777 Hawley left and was succeeded by First Lieutenant John Kerr of the Continental Navy.84 Kerr had formerly been a Lieutenant aboard the Continental Navy Brig Cabot. Shaw told Kerr that the Marine Committee would probably give him command of the General Schuyler. Shaw added that he thought it would be useful to have the sloop cruise in Long Island Sound to distress the British coasting trade.85 In reporting to Parsons Shaw stated that Kerr had been “unfortunat, the particulars he can inform you, and immagine that Congress will Commission him to command her as they always make a Point to give those that have been in their employ the preferrence.”86


Kerr had an additional problem: he had, by some accident, lost his commission. Kerr assumed that Shaw was writing to request a new commission and warrants for the officers of the sloop. This weighed on his mind, for when he later arrived at Norwalk he requested the commanding officer there to furnish him a temporary commission.87


General Schuyler was then at the wharf in New London. On 19 November Shaw advanced “Capt” Kerr £15 to cover necessities for the sloop.88 On 23 November Kerr signed the standard inventory of the stores of a warship, which usually followed a change of command. Among the items listed were six carriage guns.89


Kerr received his orders that day, from Shaw “by Order of General Putnam.” He was to board the General Schuyler, then at the wharf in New London, and take the soldiers that were aboard to Fairfield or Norwalk. When he arrived there Kerr was to contact Parsons, or the chief commander there, and follow the orders given by him.90


General Schuyler cleared the wharf on 24 November,91 and sailed at 0500 on 29 November, in company with Connecticut Navy Sloop Spy (Captain Zebediah Smith). The pair arrived at Fairfield early in the evening of the same day. Kerr sent off an express rider to inform Parsons that the warships had arrived. At 0700 on 3 December the two warships weighed anchor and sailed up to Norwalk. Kerr delivered Shaw’s letters to Congress to the commander ashore, requesting they be forwarded, “in Order to have the Commission and Warrants sent Immediatly . . .” The soldiers aboard went ashore and very few remained with the General Schuyler.92


At Norwalk Kerr found that the General Schuyler and the Spy were to be used as an escort force for a large scale raid on Long Island,93 led by Brigadier General Samuel Parsons. The objects of the raid were several: (1) to destroy timber and lumber located in a dump at the east end of the island,94 near Setauket,95  which was to be used for barracks at New York. (2) in addition there was a flotilla of wood collecting vessels from Rhode Island near the same location,96 at Southold,97 which was to be attacked; (3) further military objectives were to attack a regiment stationed eight miles east of Jamaica and (4) generally beat up and destroy public stores found on the island. Colonel Return Jonathan Meigs was to land at Hempstead Harbor and attack the regiment; Colonel Samuel B. Webb was to land near Huntington, to support Meigs, to send aid to the division to the east, and to destroy stores collected in Suffolk County; the eastern division (with Parsons) was to land at Aquebogue, about forty miles from the east end of the island, to destroy the shipping and a timber dump.98


On 8 December Colonel John Ely of Connecticut militia, embarked on the General Schuyler, with some of his men.99 On the evening of 9 December Colonel Samuel B. Webb, commanding the center raiding force, boarded the General Schuyler, with several of his soldiers.100 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.101 Both divisions sailed from Norwalk that evening.102 All together two battalions embarked,103 about 400 soldiers, in three other vessels,104 convoyed by the General Schuyler and the Continental Army Schooner General Mifflin and the Connecticut Navy Schooner Spy.105


The night was windy and with a high chop, and quite dark.106 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.107 The General Schuyler parted company with the other vessels,108 “through the Inattention of the Skipper.”109 Never the less, by dawn 10 December General Schuyler110 and the two small sloops were close to Setauket.111


As daylight broadened the horizon Kerr’s crew discovered a most unwelcome sight: a 14-gun British sloop-of-war was within gunshot of the General Schuyler,112 two miles to windward and crowding on sail to chase.113 She was HM Sloop Falcon, and there was nothing to do but run for it. Falcon outsailed the sloop and Kerr headed for the shore.114 In doing so she struck a reef three miles east of Setauket,115 about 200 yards from the shore,116 at the entrance to Old Man’s Harbor.117 The boat was hoisted out but “before we could get her from the Vessel the Surf ran so amazeing high that she fill’d and Sunk. Webb climbed back aboard the sloop “with much difficulty.”118 Webb was nearly drowned.119 The ship anchored within a half a mile and was firing her broadside,120 keeping an “incessant fire” on the sloop.121 The Americans struck in this “cruel Situation.”122


This meeting was entirely accidental. On the morning of 10 December, HM Sloop Falcon (Commander Harry Harmood) was sailing up the Sound en route to Newport, Rhode Island. At 0530 Falcon sighted a sloop to the north and chased her. At 0630 the sloop bore away for Old Man’s Harbor,123 about seven miles east of Setauket.124 At 0800, trying to get into that place and near the entrance, the sloop ran ashore. Falcon anchored, brought her broadside to bear, and fired four 6-pounders at the hapless sloop, which then surrendered.  Falcon discovered that the General Schuyler was armed with six 4-pounder guns and had no less than seventy-three men aboard, not including the master and four men who managed to escape.125


Just exactly how Kerr escaped is not clear. According to Ensign Sands Niles, “when the Falcon was coming up to the said Sloop the said John Carr bundled up a Number of Papers which the Deponent believes were the Papers of the said Sloop and then made his Escape.” It is possible that Kerr was in the boat and managed to swim ashore when the boat was swamped, along with a few other men.126


Falcon now got the prisoners aboard.127 The next day, at 0900, Falcon got the sloop afloat, manned her with two petty officers and eight men, and sailed at 1300 with the prize,128 for Newport. Falcon and General Schuyler arrived there at 1700 on 12 December.129 From there the sloop and the prisoners were sent to New York, arriving on 23 December. She was libeled on 24 December and condemned at New York on 16 January 1778.130


The two smaller vessels ran into a harbor called Stoney Brook, four miles to the west of Setauket and ran aground. Two hundred  men landed, marched to Setauket and returned the same evening to get their shipping off. Their efforts proved useless and the next day the whole force marched down the island. At 1200 they passed Wading River, about eighteen miles from their landing place.131


Parsons said they were “more Unfortunate than guilty of any criminal Neglect . . .” Meeting Falcon was purely accidental, for no British warships were stationed within miles of the place.132


The eastern division landed successfully and found that most of the wood vessels had sailed: four remained, accompanied by HM Sloops Swan and Harlem. One wood sloop was loaded with timber; the other three were empty. The three empty ones hauled into the bay, under cover of the two sloops-of-war. The loaded sloop was captured and all the timber and boards destroyed, as was a dump of firewood prepared for another wood fleet from Rhode Island.133


Captain John Hart’s company of forty men,134 on 11 December, marched on Southold. They found Captain Ayscough of the Swan and about twenty of his crew in a house at Southold. The British, learning of the American approach, fled for their boats, chased by Hart’s men. Clambering in to the boats the British pushed off just as the Americans got to the shore.135 The British were within twenty yards and Hart called on them to surrender. When they refused the Americans opened fire, sending several well directed volleys at them. Ayscough had his thigh broken, two other officers were badly wounded, eight sailors were killed and about eight wounded. The two sloops-of-war began a constant but ineffective fire, and, after retrieving their men and boats, sailed for Newport.136 Seven Marines and sailors were captured.137


The log of the Swan admits only six wounded and four captured in this incident, including Ayscough. Swan records over fifty shots fired at the Americans ashore. After retrieving her boats at 1600, Swan ran farther out in the harbor, waiting for the wood sloops to come down the bay.138


The troops were soon safely returned to the Connecticut shore, bringing about twenty prisoners with them.139


General Schuyler was taken in to New York, where she was tried and condemned in the Vice Admiralty court. In these records the commander appears as “John Carr.”140


Shaw reported the loss of the General Schuyler to the Marine Committee on 5 January 1778.141 With the loss of the General Schuyler, Nathaniel Shaw drew up his account against that vessel, while under Kerr’s command. Shaw billed the Continental Navy £416 for expenditures during Kerr’s brief command.142



1 NDAR, “Daniel Tillinghast’s Account Against the Prize Sloop Charlotte,” VII, 1169

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

3 NDAR, “Journal of the New York Provincial Congress,” V, 337

4 NDAR, “Captain Charles Pond to George Washington,” V, 626 and note

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

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

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

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

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

10 NDAR, “Journal of H.M.S. Cerberus, Captain John Symons,” V, 729 and note

11 NDAR, “Lieutenant Joseph Davidson to George Washington,” V, 770 and note

12 NDAR, “Lieutenant Joseph Davidson to George Washington,” V, 770 and note

13 NDAR, “Journal of H.M.S. Greyhound, Captain Archibald Dickson,” V, 713 and note

14 NDAR, “Lieutenant Joseph Davidson to George Washington,” V, 770 and note

15 NDAR,  “Journal of H.M.S. Greyhound, Captain Archibald Dickson,” V, 662;  “Journal of H.M.S. Greyhound, Captain Archibald Dickson,” V,  680-681, “Lieutenant Joseph Davidson to George Washington,” V, 770 and note; “Extract of a letter from New York, dated June 28.,” V, 790; “New-York Gazette, Monday, July 1, 1776,” V, 853-855

16 NDAR,  “Journal of H.M.S. Greyhound, Captain Archibald Dickson,” V, 662; “Libels Filed in New Haven Admiralty Court,” VII, 62-63 and 63 note

17 NDAR, “New-York Gazette, Monday, July 1, 1776,” V, 853-855

18 NDAR, “Journal of H.M.S. Greyhound, Captain Archibald Dickson,” V,  680-681; “Libels Filed in New Haven Admiralty Court,” VII, 62-63 and 63 note

19 NDAR, “Captain Charles Pond to George Washington,” V, 626; “Lieutenant Joseph Davidson to George Washington,” V, 770 and note; “Extract of a letter from New York, dated June 28.,” V, 790; “New-York Gazette, Monday, July 1, 1776,” V, 853-855; “Libels Filed in New Haven Admiralty Court,” VII, 62-63 and 63 note

20 NDAR, “Journal of H.M.S. Greyhound, Captain Archibald Dickson,” V, 697 and note; “Lieutenant Joseph Davidson to George Washington,” V, 770 and note; “Extract of a letter from New York, dated June 28.,” V, 790; “New-York Gazette, Monday, July 1, 1776,” V, 853-855; “Libels Filed in New Haven Admiralty Court,” VII, 62-63 and 63 note

21 NDAR, “Lieutenant Joseph Davidson to George Washington,” V, 770 and note; “George Washington to John Hancock,” V, 789

22 NDAR, “Lieutenant Joseph Davidson to George Washington,” V, 770 and note

23 NDAR, “New York Marine Committee to William Mercier,” 789-790; “Connecticut Gazette, Friday, September 6, 1776,” VI, 723

24 NDAR, “Examination of James Auchmuty,” V, 946-947 and 947 note, “Parole of Samuel Cox, Master of the Prize Sloop Charlotte,” V, 947 and note

25 NDAR, “List of All the Vessels Cargoes &C Brought into the Port of Providence and Libeled Tried and condemned in the Maritime Court AD 1776,” VII, 642-647

26 NDAR, “Journal of Lieutenant Colonel Samuel Blanchley Webb,” V, 853, “Examination of James Auchmuty,” V, 946-947 and 947 note, “Parole of Samuel Cox, Master of the Prize Sloop Charlotte,” V, 947 and note

27 NDAR, “Examination of James Auchmuty,” V, 946-947 and 947 note, “Parole of Samuel Cox, Master of the Prize Sloop Charlotte,” V, 947 and note

28 NDAR, “Examination of James Auchmuty,” V, 946-947 and 947 note

29 NDAR, “Clarke & Nightingale to the President of the New York Provincial Congress,” VI, 854-855

30 NDAR, “Examination of James Auchmuty,” V, 946-947 and 947 note, “Parole of Samuel Cox, Master of the Prize Sloop Charlotte,” V, 947 and note

31 The Connecticut Journal [New Haven], Wednesday, November 13, 1776

32 The Providence Gazette; And Country Journal, September 14, 1776

33 NDAR, “Daniel Tillinghast’s Account Against the Prize Sloop Charlotte,” VII, 1169

34 NDAR, “Extract of a letter from New York, August 12.,” VI, 155 and note

35 NDAR, “Libels Filed in New Haven Admiralty Court,” VII, 62-63 and 63 note

36 NDAR, “Clarke & Nightingale to Nathaniel Shaw, Jr.,” VI, 1056-1057

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

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

39 NDAR, “Clarke & Nightingale to the President of the New York Provincial Congress,” VI, 854-855

40 NDAR, “Connecticut Gazette, Friday, September 6, 1776,” VI, 723 and note; “Isaac Mills to Captain John Updike,” VI, 909 and note; “Clarke & Nightingale to Nathaniel Shaw, Jr.,” VI, 1056-1057

41 NDAR, “Isaac Mills to Captain John Updike,” VI, 909 and note

42 NDAR, “Clarke & Nightingale to Nathaniel Shaw, Jr.,” VI, 1056-1057

43 NDAR, “Libels Filed in New Haven Admiralty Court,” VII, 62-63 and 63 note

44 NDAR, “Nathaniel Shaw, Jr.’s Account against the Continental Sloop Schuyler,” VI, 707

45 NDAR, “Libels of Commodore Esek Hopkins and Captains Jabez Whipple, John Warner, and William Rhodes Against Various Prize Vessels,” VI, 820-821

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

47 NDAR, “List of All the Vessels Cargoes &c Brought into the Port of Providence and Libeled Tried and condemned in the Maritime Court AD 1776,” VII, 642-647

48 NDAR, “Daniel Tillinghast’s Account Against the Prize Sloop Charlottet,” VII, 1169

49 NDAR, “Libels Filed in New Haven Admiralty Court,” VII, 62-63 and 63 note

50 NDAR,”Governor Jonathan Trumbull to Captain Seth Harding,” VIII, 978-979; “Libels Filed Against British Sloops Peggy and Ann in Fairfield, Connecticut, County Court,” IX, 730-731

51 NDAR, “Connecticut Journal, Wednesday, June 3 [sic 4], 1777,” IX, 17

52 NDAR, “Nathaniel Shaw, Jr., to the Continental Marine Committee,” IX, 326-327

53 NDAR, “Nathaniel Shaw, Jr. to the Continental Marine Committee,” X, 590-591

54 NDAR, “New-York Packet, Thursday, June 19, 1777,” IX, 5-6

55 The Connecticut Gazette; and the Universal Intelligencer [New London], Friday, June 6, 1777

56 NDAR, “New-York Packet, Thursday, June 19, 1777,” IX, 5-6

57 NDAR, “Connecticut Journal, Wednesday, June 3 [sic 4], 1777,” IX, 17 and note

58 NDAR, “New-York Packet, Thursday, June 19, 1777,” IX, 5-6

59 NDAR,  “Connecticut Journal, Wednesday, June 3 [sic 4], 1777,” IX, 17 and note

60 NDAR, “New-York Packet, Thursday, June 19, 1777,” IX, 5-6

61 Middlebrook, Maritime Connecticut, I, 141.

62 The Connecticut Journal [New Haven], Wednesday, August 13, 1777

63 Middlebrook, Maritime Connecticut, I, 141.

64 NDAR,  “Connecticut Journal, Wednesday, June 25, 1777,” IX, 167

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

66 NDAR, “Nathaniel Shaw, Jr., to the Continental Marine Committee,” IX, 326-327

67 NDAR, “New-York Gazette, Monday, August 4, 1777,” IX, 703-704

68 NDAR, “Libels Filed Against British Sloops Peggy and Ann in Fairfield, Connecticut, County Court,” IX, 730-731

69 Middlebrook, Maritime Connecticut, I, 141.

70 NDAR, “Libels Filed Against British Sloops Peggy and Ann in Fairfield, Connecticut, County Court,” IX, 730-731

71 Middlebrook, Maritime Connecticut, I, 141.

72 NDAR, “Libels Filed Against British Sloops Peggy and Ann in Fairfield, Connecticut, County Court,” IX, 730-731

73 The Connecticut Journal [New Haven], Wednesday, August 13, 1777

74 Middlebrook, Maritime Connecticut, I, 141.

75 Middlebrook, Maritime Connecticut, I, 141.

76 The Connecticut Journal [New Haven], Wednesday, August 13, 1777

77 NDAR, “Nathaniel Shaw, Jr.’s Account Against the Continental Navy Sloop Schuyler,” X, 541 and note; The Connecticut Journal [New Haven], Wednesday, August 20, 1777

78 NDAR, “James Rice to Nathaniel Shaw, Jr.,” X, 35-36 and 36 notes

79 NDAR, “James Rice to Nathaniel Shaw, Jr.,” X, 35-36 and 36 notes

80 NDAR, “James Rice to Nathaniel Shaw, Jr.,” X, 35-36 and 36 notes

81 NDAR, “Brigadier General Samuel H. Parsons to Nathaniel Shaw, Jr.,” X, 518 and note

82 NDAR, “Nathaniel Shaw, Jr. to the Continental Marine Committee,” X, 590-591

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

84 NDAR, “Nathaniel Shaw, Jr.’s Account Against the Continental Navy Sloop Schuyler,” X, 541 and note

85 NDAR, “Nathaniel Shaw, Jr. to the Continental Marine Committee,” X, 590-591

86 NDAR, “Nathaniel Shaw, Jr., to Brigadier General Samuel H. Parsons,” X, 591

87 NDAR, “Lieutenant John Kerr to Nathaniel Shaw, Jr.,” X, 657

88 NDAR, “Nathaniel Shaw, Jr.’s Account Against the Continental Navy Sloop Schuyler,” X, 541 and note

89 NDAR, “Inventory of Continental Navy Sloop Schuyler,” X, 576-579 and 579 note

90 NDAR, “Nathaniel Shaw, Jr., to Lieutenant John Kerr,” X, 576

91 NDAR, “Nathaniel Shaw, Jr.’s Account Against the Continental Navy Sloop Schuyler,” X, 541 and note

92 NDAR, “Lieutenant John Kerr to Nathaniel Shaw, Jr.,” X, 657

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

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

95 NDAR, “Connecticut Gazette, Friday, December 19, 1777,” X, 756 and notes

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

97 NDAR, “Connecticut Gazette, Friday, December 19, 1777,” X, 756 and notes

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

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

100 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

108 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

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

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

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

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

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

114 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

123 NDAR, “Journal of H.M. Sloop Falcon, Commander Harry Harmood,” X, 699 and notes

124 NDAR, “New-York Gazette, Monday, December 15, 1777,” X, 739 and note

125 NDAR, “Journal of H.M. Sloop Falcon, Commander Harry Harmood,” X, 699 and notes

126 NDAR, “Deposition of Ensign Sands Niles,” XI, 63-65 and 65 notes

127 NDAR, “Journal of H.M. Sloop Falcon, Commander Harry Harmood,” X, 699 and notes

128 NDAR, “Journal of H.M. Sloop Falcon, Commander Harry Harmood,” X, 707-708 and 708 note

129 NDAR, “Master’s Journal of H.M.S. Chatham, Captain Toby Caulfield,” X, 712 and note

130 NDAR, “Journal of H.M. Sloop Falcon, Commander Harry Harmood,” X, 699 and notes

131 NDAR,  “Providence Gazette, Saturday. December 20, 1777,” X, 761-762 and 762 notes; “New-York Gazette, Monday, December 15, 1777,” X, 739 and note

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

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

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

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

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

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

138 NDAR, “Journal of H.M. Sloop Swan, Commander James Ayscough,” X, 713 and notes; “Master’s Journal of H.M. Sloop Haerlem, Lieutenant John Knight,” X, 712 and 713 notes

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

140 HCA 32/450/9/1-8

141 NDAR, “Nathaniel Shaw, Jr., to the Continental Marine Committee, XI, 41 and note

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


Revised 6 August 2014 © awiatsea.com

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