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Incidents
Oliver Cromwell Captures Fly





Massachusetts Privateer Brig Oliver Cromwell Captures Sloop Fly
25 October 1777



Massachusetts Privateer Brigantine Oliver Cromwell (Commander William Coles) was cruising in the area of the Canary Islands on 25 October 1777. On that day the Oliver Cromwell sighted and chased the 80-ton sloop Fly1 (William Burden).


When Oliver Cromwell came up, Burden elected to fight, but not for long. A shot carried away Fly’s bowsprit and he surrendered. The Americans informed Burden they were out of Bilboa, and that they had, in the space of fifteen days, captured four prizes. The British noted Oliver Cromwell as being armed with sixteen guns and as having a crew of about ninety men. Coles gave the British Fly’s boat and sent everyone ashore, except three black sailors, which he detained.2


Oliver Cromwell took the sloop in tow for the next several days. On 26 October she sighted the Canary Islands and steered for home.3 Fly was sent off to America, where she was libeled on 1 January 1778.4


Summary Table

Vessel

Tons

Guns

Broadside

Men

Killed

%

Wounded

%

Total

%

Oliver Cromwell

162

16

48

90

0

0%

0

0%

0

0%

Fly

80

Time: [unknown]



1 The Independent Chronicle and the Universal Advertiser [Boston], Thursday, January 22, 1778

2 NDAR, “Extract of a Letter from a Passenger on board the Fly Sloop, William Burden, Commander, dated Teneriffe, Dec. 26,” X, 1152-1153 and 1153 note. For a discussion of the date of the action see Oliver Cromwell.

3 McManemin, Captains of the Privateers, 153

4 NDAR, “Extract of a Letter from a Passenger on board the Fly Sloop, William Burden, Commander, dated Teneriffe, Dec. 26,” X, 1152-1153 and 1153 note.


Posted 7 January 2011 © awiatsea.com