Back
to
Navy
Continental Navy Sloop Eagle





Eagle

Lieutenant George House

Armed Sloop

[May] 1780-26 July 1781

Continental Navy Sloop


Commissioned/First Date:

[May] 1780

Out of Service/Cause:

26 April 1781/captured by the British


Tonnage:


Battery:

Date Reported:

Number/Caliber  Weight      Broadside


Total:

Broadside:

Swivels:


Crew:

November 1780: 19 [total]


Description:


Officers:


Cruises:

(1) to Martinique, French West Indies

(2) Martinique, French West Indies to New Bern, North Carolina

(3) New Bern, North Carolina to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

(4) Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to New London, Connecticut, November 1780-7 December 1781

(5) New London, Connecticut to New London, Connecticut, January 1781-January 1781

(6) New London, Connecticut to sea, -26 July 1781


Prizes:

(1) Schooner Penguin (William Pitts), 5 December 1780, off Sandy Hook, New jersey

(2) [unknown] pilot boat, 5 December 1780, off Sandy Hook, New Jersey

(3) Sloop [unknown] (Joseph Hoit), 22 January 1781, off Stratford, Connecticut


Actions:

(1) Action with Hoitís vessel, 22 January 1781


Comments:


According to one source, the sloop Eagle was “commissioned by the Continental Congress in the early part of the year 1780, as a privateer.”1 This statement means that one of the committees of Congress that dealt with the Navy acquired the sloop and placed it under the command of George House, who was an inactive Lieutenant in the Continental Navy. The vessel was armed and, to give House authority to use his weapons, a privateer commission was obtained. The same method of commissioning minor warships had been used by Congress and several of the states. Lieutenant House was residing in New London, Connecticut at the time.2


There is some evidence the sloop was fitted out at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.3 She was used from the spring of 1780 as a dispatch vessel for Congress, and sometimes as a victualler.4


On 21 July 1780 a letter from the Board of Admiralty to Continental Agent Richard Ellis, at New Bern, North Carolina, mentions that the Eagle, with Lieutenant George House as commander, was sailing from Martinique in the French West Indies to some port in the southern part of North Carolina. Ellis is to ship certain goods belonging to the Board of Admiralty aboard the Eagle for transit to Philadelphia.5


The Eagle was at Philadelphia on 14 November 1780. On that date House advertised for the return of a pink sterned batteau, with thirteen stars painted on each side and one painted on the stern. He offered a $100 for the return of the boat return to Eagle.6


Eagle sailed from Philadelphia in late November 1780, with a crew of nineteen men aboard.7 On 5 December 17808 House was off Sandy Hook, New Jersey,9 where he captured the schooner Penguin (William Pitts), bound from Madeira to New York, New York.10 He also captured a pilot boat which had come out to bring in the Penguin. Eagle arrived in New London on 7 December, bringing in the Penguin with her. Eagle was said to be a “small schooner privateer fitted out in Philadelphia.”11


Authorized to cruise in Sound to stop illicit trade Jan 81 [Record of CT Men, 607]


House took the Eagle out on a cruise in January 1781. On 22 January, off Stratford, Connecticut, Eagle fell in with a British sloop commanded by a “notorious” British raider, one Joseph Hoit. A “desperate resistance” followed, before Hoit surrendered. Aboard his vessel were found 100 sheep he had removed from the farms around Stratford. Hoit was removed from the vessel. The Eagle and the prize parted. A storm came up and the prize was lost.12 Eagle arrived in New London on 25 January where Hoit was jailed.13


On 26 April 1781 the Eagle was captured by the British and sent into New York.14 She was tried in the Vice Admiralty Court at New York and condemned. Eagle is described in the court records as an “American ship of war.”15


House was quickly exchanged. He arrived at New London in a cartel on 4 May 1781.16



1 Middlebrook, Maritime Connecticut During The Revolution, II, 74

2 Middlebrook, Maritime Connecticut During The Revolution, II, 74

3 The New Jersey Gazette [Trenton], Wednesday, January 3, 1781, datelined New London, December 12, 1780

4 Middlebrook, Maritime Connecticut During The Revolution, II, 74

5 Middlebrook, Maritime Connecticut During The Revolution, II, 74; NRAR, 152

6 The Pennsylvania Packet or the General Advertiser [Philadelphia], Tuesday, November 14, 1780

7 The New Jersey Gazette [Trenton], Wednesday, January 3, 1781, datelined New London, December 12, 1780

8 Paullin, Oscar, Out-Letters of the Marine Committee and the Board of Admiralty, II, 231-232. House is referred to as Lieutenant House in this letter.

9 The New Jersey Gazette [Trenton], Wednesday, January 3, 1781, datelined New London, December 12, 1780

10 Paullin, Oscar, Out-Letters of the Marine Committee and the Board of Admiralty, II, 231-232. House is referred to as Lieutenant House in this letter.

11 The New Jersey Gazette [Trenton], Wednesday, January 3, 1781, datelined New London, December 12, 1780

12 Middlebrook, Maritime Connecticut During The Revolution, II, 74

13 Thomas’s Massachusetts Spy Or, American Oracle of Liberty [Worcester], Thursday, February 15, 1781, datelined New London, January 30

14 Middlebrook, Maritime Connecticut During The Revolution, II, 74

15 HCA 32/315/2/1-4

16 The New Jersey Gazette [Trenton], Wednesday, May 23, 1781, datelined New London, May 11


Revised 6 August 2014 © awiatsea.com