Back
to
Navy
Continental Navy Brigantine Resistance





Resistance

(1) Captain Samuel Chew

Sloop-of-War [Brig/Sloop]

17 June 1777-4 March 1778

Continental Navy Brigantine

(2) First Lieutenant William Leeds
4 March 1778-[June] 1778
(3) Captain Daniel Waters
[April] 1778-30 May 1778
(4) Captain William Burke
30 May 1778-28 August 1778


Commissioned/First Date:

20 May 1777

Out of Service/Cause:

28 August 1778/captured, burned, by HM Frigate Ariel


Tonnage:

150


Battery:

Date Reported: 26 August 1777

Number/Caliber  Weight        Broadside

14/4-pounder      56 pounds 28 pounds

Total: 14 cannon/56 pounds

Broadside: 7 cannon/28 pounds

Swivels:


Date Reported: 1778

Number/Caliber  Weight        Broadside

10/4-pounder      40 pounds 20 pounds

Total: 10 cannon/40 pounds

Broadside: 5 cannon/20 pounds

Swivels:


Date Reported: 13 February 1778

Number/Caliber  Weight         Broadside

16/

Total: 16 cannon/

Broadside: 8 cannon/

Swivels:


Date Reported: 6 March 1778

Number/Caliber  Weight         Broadside

16/

Total: 16 cannon/

Broadside: 8 cannon/

Swivels:


Crew:

(1) 31 August 1777: 75 [total]
(2) 16 November 1777: 93 [total]


Description:


Officers:

(1) First Lieutenant William Leeds; (2) Second Lieutenant George Champlin, -4 March 1778; (3) Master Jacob Cleveland; (4) First Mate Samuel Cardwell; (5) Second Mate Ebenezar Colefax; (6) Pilot Andrew Newcomb; (7) Midshipman Daniel Brown; (8) Midshipman John Cobbett; (9) Midshipman Patrick Ward; (10) Midshipman David Latham; (11) Midshipman William Hascal; (12) Midshipman Jesse Jacocks; (13) Surgeon Phineas Packhurst; (14) First Lieutenant of Marines Jabez Smith; (15) Second Lieutenant of Marines Elias Swan


Cruises:

(1) New London, Connecticut to Bedford, Massachusetts, [13] September 1777-[16] September 1777

(2) Bedford, Massachusetts to the Demerara River, Netherlands Guinea [Guyana], [15 October] 1777-[December] 1777

(3) Demerara River, Netherlands Guinea [Guyana] to Port Royal, South Carolina, [December] 1777-15 January 1778

(4) Port Royal, South Carolina to St. Pierre, Martinique, -12 February 1778

(5) St. Pierre, Martinique to St. Pierre, Martinique, March 1778-March 1778

(6) St. Pierre, Martinique to Boston, Massachusetts, [1] April 1778-[27] April 1778

(7) Boston, Massachusetts to sea, [20] August 1778-28 August 1778


Prizes:

(1) Ship Mermaid (James Cockran), 16 November 1777 at 13°N, 50°W

(2) British Privateer Sloop [Schooner] [unknown], [January] 1778


Actions:

(1) Action with HM Packet Grenville, 4 March 1778, north of Barbados, British West Indies


Comments:



Continental Navy Brigantine Resistance was purchased on 27 April 1777, when Continental Agent Nathaniel Shaw, Jr. paid £700 to James Swan for her hull, which was then at Stonington, Connecticut.1 The vessel was brought around to New London, Connecticut for her fitting out process. She was being fitted out at New London by 20 May 1777. Shaw was seeking some 4-pounder cannon for her on that date.2 On 27 May Shaw advised the Marine Committee of his purchase of the brigantine, acting on instructions eight months old. The Marine Committee replied on 17 June 1777, and was less than pleased. Not only were the orders old but Shaw had been expressly requested to purchase a prize taken by Hopkins’ squadron. Never the less the Committee agreed to accept the brigantine, ordered her to be fitted out, and named her the Resistance.3 Captain Samuel Chew, who had brought the letter from Shaw to Philadelphia,4 was commissioned the same day and ordered to New London to assume command of the Resistance.5 Chew and John Deshon (a member of the Navy Board of the Eastern District) were to appoint her commissioned and warrant officers.6 Chew was a long time resident of New London, but was a native of Virginia.7 By 6 July 1777 her fitting out was nearly completed. Shaw sent Chew to Boston to procure muskets and a few other articles from Continental Agent John Bradford (or from Continental Agent Daniel Tillinghast at Providence, Rhode Island).8


By 11 July men were being recruited for Resistance’s crew.9 Throughout July Shaw was obtaining various items for the brigantine.10 Meanwhile, Shaw defended his purchase of the brigantine in a letter to the Marine Committee on 24 July. He stated that as good a man as Chew should be used, and that he (Shaw) would have paid for the brigantine if the Marine Committee had not accepted her.11 [see XI, 1147, 1148, 1149, 1150]


By 18 August 1777 Chew was still trying to raise a crew. He applied to Connecticut for permission to enlist men from the forts at New London, which permission was denied.12 On 21 August Shaw requested the loan, or permission to purchase, five hundred pounds of powder from Connecticut for the Resistance, which was preparing to sail.13 Chew was still at New London on 24 August, when he advertised for a deserter.14 On 25 August Second Lieutenant George Champlain drew $455 from Shaw.15


On the 26th, Chew signed a receipt for the brig, Resistance then being fully out fitted and ready to sail. According to the receipt, Resistance was armed with fourteen 4-pounders and twelve swivel guns.16 A muster roll dated 31 August indicated she had a crew of seventy-five men. From the muster roll we learn that William Leeds was aboard as First Lieutenant, George Champlin as Second Lieutenant, Jacob Cleveland as Master, Samuel Cardwell as First Mate, Ebenezar Colefax as Second Mate and Andrew Newcomb as Pilot. Aboard as Midshipmen were Daniel Brown, John Cobbett, Patrick Ward, David Latham, William Hascal, and Jesse Jacocks. Jabez Smith and Elias Swan were listed as Lieutenants of Marines. The remaining Marine contingent consisted of five men. The Surgeon was Phineas Packhurst.17


Apparently Resistance sailed not too long after, for she had joined the Continental Navy Brig Hampden at Bedford, Massachusetts by 18 September 1777.18


According to Shaw’s account against the Resistance, we learn that John Owens was paid £91.04 for a recruiting rendezvous in August 1777; that Resistance was originally armed with ten 4-pounders; and that Shaw’s total bill was in excess of £10000. The majority of the entries end on 3 September, with only a few after that.19 In a summation drawn up on 28 February 1778, Shaw lists his total expenditure for Resistance as £11019.4.3. It was the largest expenditure Shaw listed against any American warship.20


Resistance sailed for the West Indies about mid-October 1777. By mid-November she was in the general area of Barbados, but out to sea to the east of the West Indies islands. Here she captured her first prize.


The 160,21 168,22 or 200-ton23 ship Mermaid (James Cockran) was captured on 16 November 1777 at 13°N, 50°W. Mermaid was bound from Greenock, Scotland to Barbados, British West Indies24 with a cargo of dry goods,25 flour, and beef.26 She mounted ten guns. A prize crew of nine men was put aboard under the command of Midshipman Jesse Jacocks. Mermaid arrived in Boston, Massachusetts on 18 December 1777.27 Jacocks estimated the value of her cargo as £6000-7000 sterling.28 Mermaid was libeled on 25 December29 and had been condemned by 14 January 1778, with the cargo ordered to be sold at auction.30 The vessel had been sold by 16 March 1778.31


The sending of this prize into Boston was not altogether pleasing to Nathaniel Shaw, Jr. Perhaps one of the reasons for his fitting out and pushing forward the Resistance was for Chew to send prizes into New London. A few prizes would help alleviate Shaw’s cash problems. Shaw mentioned Mermaid in a letter to the Marine Committee on 5 January 1778.32 In a second letter concerning his lack of cash, dated 2 February 1778, Shaw noted that Chew had sent no prizes into Connecticut, although Shaw expected he would have. Shaw took credit for Chew’s success, “as the fitting of him out was a Plan of my own . . .”33 The Marine Committee was pleased with this capture. In a letter to the Navy Board of the Eastern Department on 16 January 1778, the committee expressed its “great pleasure” over Chew’s prize.34


Meanwhile there was a surprise in the choice of an agent for the crew of the Resistance. It was generally thought that Nathaniel Shaw would be the choice, and his business partner in Boston, Josiah Waters, proceeded on that assumption. However, Chew and his crew appointed George Olney of Providence, Rhode Island, a fact only learned by Waters after he had advanced money and services to Jacocks. Waters informed Shaw on 20 December 1777, asking for further directions. Waters was prepared to assist in any way possible, either with Shaw, or the crew of the Resistance, or both.35 When Olney came to town Waters proposed to him that the two of them co-operate in the work, a proposal that Olney declined.36 Waters also added an interesting note concerning the sailing qualities of the Resistance: “I am sorry to inform you that the Resistance does not sail as might be wish’d . . .”37


After manning the Mermaid, Chew had eighty-three men left aboard the Resistance. He removed a few necessary items from the Mermaid and then intended to take the brig into the Demerara River, Netherlands Guinea [Guyana] to take aboard fresh water. Jacocks reported he was in “high health & spirits” and intended to return to the same cruising grounds after watering.38


About December 1777 Resistance was laying in the Demerara River fitting out. She subsequently sailed from there and captured, perhaps in January 1778, an armed privateer schooner, which was sailing out of Barbados.39 Another report indicates this prize was a twelve gun sloop.40 This prize was manned and kept with Resistance to serve as a tender.41 This is probably the prize that Resistance escorted into Port Royal, South Carolina on 15 January 1778. After making hasty arrangements for the sale of the prize, Resistance sailed again.42

  

On 10 February 1778 Resistance met the prize ship Waddell (William Scott), captured by the Enterprize (Commander “Je ne Scai quoi”). At the instruction of Chew, First Lieutenant William Leeds boarded the prize and borrowed a few provisions, leaving a memorandum for Continental Agent William Bingham (at Martinique) to pay for them. Bingham paid the bill on 6 March 1778.43 Resistance arrived at St. Pierre, Martinique, about 12 February. [NDAR, IX, 319]


An intelligence report from St. Vincent’s, dated 24 February 1778, notes thar Resistance was at St. Pierre, Martinique on 13 February. She had come in and anchored in the road, flying her American colors, and kept them flying the entire time she remained there. According to this observer she was pierced for eighteen guns, but mounted only sixteen and was “tolerably well manned.” While Resistance was at St. Pierre, a guard of French soldiers brought aboard fourteen British prisoners from their various places of confinement. These prisoners were “cruelly whipped as soon as put on board” because they would not take service with the Americans.44 Resistance did not stay long at Martinique, for she was at sea in early March 1778.


Three days sail north of Barbados, British West Indies, on 4 March 1778,45 Resistance met HM Packet Grenville (Captain Kempthorne)46 bound to Barbados from Falmouth, England.47 Grenville may have been armed with twenty guns.48 Chew wasted no time in bringing the packet to action. Kempthorne suspended his mail out the cabin window, thinking to destroy it if he was threatened with capture,49 and then set about defending his vessel A very “smart engagement”50 followed between the two lightly armed craft. During the action a stray shot hit the Grenville’s mailbag and carried it away.51 Chew, Second Lieutenant George Champlin52 and two other Americans were killed and twelve wounded.53 The British later heard, or claimed to have heard, that thirty men were killed on the Resistance54 and that she was “greatly damaged.”55 Kempthorne, his sailing master, and seven other men were wounded on the Grenville.56 The Resistance finally sheered off from the Grenville and steered for Martinique under command of First Lieutenant William Leeds. Grenville steered for Barbados. On 6 March HM Frigate Ariadne (Captain Thomas Pringle) and HM Sloop Ceres (Commander James R. Dacres) fell in with the Grenville. Kempthorne reported the fight, stating that brig Resistance was armed with sixteen guns.57 Grenville arrived at Barbados on 7 March58 in a “Shatterd Condition.”59


Resistance was at St. Pierre, Martinique on 31 March 1778, preparing to sail for home. The Massachusetts Agents at Martinique, Godfrey and William Hutchinson, took advantage of her departure to forward copies of their correspondence to the Massachusetts Board of War.60 Resistance had an uneventful passage to Boston and had arrived there by 28 April 1778.61


The Marine Committee first assigned Captain Daniel Waters to replace Chew, but he declined command of the brigantine.62 On 30 May Captain William Burke was assigned to the Resistance, replacing Chew.63 The Navy Board of the Eastern District was advised of Burke’s assignment the same day.64 A second letter was sent to the Navy Board regarding Water’s refusal to serve in the Resistance. On 19 June 1778 the Marine Committee wrote to Waters, directing him to consult the Navy Board of the Eastern District and the letter the Marine Committee had dispatched to that board.65


On 24 August 1778 the Marine Committee ordered Captain John Barry (then at Providence, Rhode Island?), commanding the Raleigh, to take Burke and the Resistance under his command and cruise along the Atlantic coast from Delaware Bay to North Carolina. A letter was dispatched to Burke the same day, directing him to cruise from Cape Henlopen to North Carolina with the Raleigh, and to place himself  under Barry’s orders.66 Four days later Barry was advised by the Marine Committee to hold Raleigh and Resistance in readiness to escort vessels being sent to sea by Colonel Jeremiah Wadsworth.67


On 14 September 1778 the Marine Committee requested that the Navy Board of the Eastern District order either the Raleigh and Warren or the Deane and Resistance to cruise on the coast of Virginia, putting in at Hampton each week for orders.68


As regards the Resistance, these orders could not be carried out. When the Navy Board of the Eastern Department learned that D’Estaing’s French fleet was coming to Boston to refit, it sent out Resistance to contact the French. He was to sail to Cape Cod, find the fleet, and render assistance to it in coming up to Boston. Burke missed the French. On 28 August 1778 he found a fleet, but it was British.69 HM Frigate Ariel (Captain Charles Phipps) captured the Resistance without any fight. The brig was stripped and burned.70



1 NDAR, “Accounts of the Continental Navy Brigantine Resistance,” X, 441-447

2 NDAR, “Nathaniel Shaw, Jr., to John Bradford,” VIII, 1003 and note

3 NDAR, “Continental Marine Committee to Nathaniel Shaw, Jr.,” IX, 130

4 NRAR, 48

5 NDAR, “Continental Marine Committee to Captain Samuel Chew,” IX, 130-131

6 NDAR, “Continental Marine Committee to John Deshon,” IX, 131-132

7 Paullin, Navy of the American Revolution, 165

8 NDAR, “Nathaniel Shaw, Jr., to John Bradford, Boston,” IX, 224-225 and 225 note

9 NDAR, “John Corbett to Nathaniel Shaw, Jr.,” IX, 259 and note

10 NDAR, “Minutes of the Massachusetts Board of War,” IX, 276 and note, “Thomas Shaw to Joshua Huntington,” IX, 291

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

12 NDAR,”Journal of the Connecticut Council of Safety,”  IX, 765

13 NDAR, “Thomas Shaw to Governor Jonathan Trumbull,” IX, 773

14 NDAR,”Advertisement for a Deserter from Continental Navy Brigantine Resistance,” IX, 791-792

15 NDAR, “Captain Samuel Chew to Lieutenant George Champlin,” IX, 806

16 NDAR, “Captain Samuel Chew to Nathaniel Shaw, Jr,” IX, 820

17 NDAR, “Muster Roll of Continental Navy Brigantine Resistance, Captain Samuel Chew,” IX, 855-856

18 NDAR, “John Bradford to Leonard Jarvis,” IX, 938 and note

19 NDAR, “Accounts of the Continental Navy Brigantine Resistance,” X, 441-447

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

21 NDAR, “Libels Filed in the Massachusetts Maritime Court of the Middle District,” X, 804 and 805 notes

22 NDAR, “John Bradford to Robert Morris,” XI, 652 and note

23 NDAR, “John Bradford to Robert Morris,” XI, 354-355 and 355 note

24 NDAR, “Josiah Waters to Nathaniel Shaw, Jr.,” X, 754-755 and 755 note

25 NDAR, “Josiah Waters to Nathaniel Shaw, Jr.,” X, 754-755 and 755 note; “Josiah Waters to Nathaniel Shaw, Jr.,” XI, 116 and 117 note

26 NDAR, “Josiah Waters to Nathaniel Shaw, Jr.,” XI, 116 and 117 note

27 NDAR, “Votes and Resolutions of the [Continental] Navy Board of the Eastern Department,” X, 754 and note; “Josiah Waters to Nathaniel Shaw, Jr.,” X, 754-755 and 755 note; “Nathaniel Shaw, Jr., to the Continental Marine Committee,” XI, 41 and note [Mermaid was not captured on 18 December 1777 as is indicated here in the editorial note]; “The Boston-Gazette, and Country Journal, Monday, December 22, 1775,” X, 779 and notes

28 NDAR, “Josiah Waters to Nathaniel Shaw, Jr.,” X, 754-755 and 755 note

29 NDAR, “Libels Filed in the Massachusetts Maritime Court of the Middle District,” X, 804 and 805 notes

30 NDAR, “Josiah Waters to Nathaniel Shaw, Jr.,” XI, 116 and 117 note

31 NDAR, “John Bradford to Robert Morris,” XI, 652 and note

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

33 NDAR, “Nathaniel Shaw, Jr., to Robert Morris,” XI, 63 and note

34 NDAR, “Continental Marine Committee to the Continental Navy Board of the Eastern Department,” XI, 142-143 and 143 notes

35 NDAR, “Josiah Waters to Nathaniel Shaw, Jr.,” X, 760 and notes

36 NDAR, “Josiah Waters to Nathaniel Shaw, Jr.,” X, 812-813

37 NDAR, “Josiah Waters to Nathaniel Shaw, Jr.,” X, 760 and notes

38 NDAR, “Josiah Waters to Nathaniel Shaw, Jr.,” X, 754-755 and 755 note

39 NDAR, “Nathaniel Shaw, Jr., to the Conrinental Marine Committee,” XI, 264-265 and 265 notes. The letter is dated 2 February 1778.

40 NDAR, “John Bradford to Robert Morris,” XI, 279 and note. This letter is dated 4 February 1778.

41 NDAR, “Nathaniel Shaw, Jr., to the Conrinental Marine Committee,” XI, 264-265 and 265 notes; “John Bradford to Robert Morris,” XI, 279 and note.

42 Morgan, Captains to the Northward, 118-119 and 243n8

43 NDAR, “Lieutenant William Leeds to William Bingham,” XI, 319 and notes

44 NDAR, “Memorandum of American Privateers in Martinique & the Conduct of the French towards the Americans,” XI, 423-424 and 424 notes

45 NDAR, “Journal of H.M.S. Ariadne, Captain Thomas Pringle,” XI, 537 and note

46 NDAR, “Governor Valentine Morris to Lord George Germain,” XI, 624 and 625 notes

47 NDAR, “Journal of H.M.S. Ariadne, Captain Thomas Pringle,” XI, 537 and note

48 Allen, Navy of the American Revolution, i, 314; Paullin, Navy of the American Revolution, 165

49 NDAR, “Vice Admiral James Young to Secretary of the Admiralty Philip Stephens,” XI, 634-636 and 636 notes; “Governor Edward Hay to Lord George Germain,” XI, 810-811 and 811 note

50 NDAR, “Governor Edward Hay to Lord George Germain,” XI, 810-811 and 811 note. NDAR, “Governor Thomas Shirley to Lord George Germain,” XI, 623-624 and 624 note: a “very severe engagement.”

51 NDAR, “Journal of H.M.S. Ariadne, Captain Thomas Pringle,” XI, 537 and note; “Vice Admiral James Young to Secretary of the Admiralty Philip Stephens,” XI, 634-636 and 636 notes; “Governor Edward Hay to Lord George Germain,” XI, 810-811 and 811 note

52 Paullin, 165

53 Peckham, Toll of Independence, 118

54 NDAR, “Governor Valentine Morris to Lord George Germain,” XI, 624 and 625 notes; “Governor Edward Hay to Lord George Germain,” XI, 810-811 and 811 note

55 NDAR, “Governor Valentine Morris to Lord George Germain,” XI, 624 and 625 notes

56 NDAR, “Governor Edward Hay to Lord George Germain,” XI, 810-811 and 811 note

57 NDAR, “Journal of H.M.S. Ariadne, Captain Thomas Pringle,” XI, 537 and note

58 NDAR, “Governor Edward Hay to Lord George Germain,” XI, 810-811 and 811 note

59 NDAR, “Vice Admiral James Young to Secretary of the Admiralty Philip Stephens,” XI, 634-636 and 636 notes

60 NDAR, “William and Godfrey Hutchinson to the President of the Massachusetts Board of War,” XI, 854-855

61 NRAR, 71. She had arrived, probably, with the two week period before this date.

62 NRAR, 76

63 NRAR, 71

64 NRAR, 74

65 NRAR, 76

66 NRAR, 81

67 NRAR, 81

68 NRAR, 83

69 Morgan, Captains to the Northward, 121

70  “List of Captures and Recaptures made by the American Squadron, of which Accounts have been received by Rear-Admiral Gambier, between the 23d of May 1778, and the 20th of December following,” in The London Gazette, Tuesday, February 2, to Saturday, February 6, 1779


Revised 6 August 2014 © awiatsea.com

web analytics