Back
to
Incidents
A Fiasco on Tobago





A Fiasco Raid on Tobago
16 January 1779



In mid-January 1779 the large Connecticut Privateer Ship Governor Trumbull (Commander Henry Billings) was off the British island of Tobago in the West Indies. Billings was planning a raid upon the lightly defended island. On 16 January fifty Americans landed in Man of War Bay. The landing party marched to a house owned by Callow and Henderson. Three white men were made prisoners there and three sick blacks were taken and carried away. Meanwhile, the Americans threw up a small entrenchment at Man of War Bay, and armed it with two cannon and some swivels.1


A modern terrain map of Man O’ War Bay, Tobago.


The landing party proceeded to the sugar works of one Gordon, which they attacked and burned. The Americans lost three men in this skirmish. From there they moved on to the estate of one Guise, which was also laid waste. Of course the alarm was well out by now. Planters Archibald Stewart, Edmund Lincoln and Lieutenant Oswald Clark mustered fifteen militia and marched toward the northeast quarter of the island, to assist the planters there. The British militia came upon the American landing party in their entrenchment and immediately attacked with small arms. Stewart was shot in the head with a swivel gun; Lincoln was hit in the thigh by a cannon ball. The attack fizzled out.2


Lieutenant Clark reorganized his men, dividing them into two parties. A second attack, perhaps on the American flanks, forced them from their entrenchments. They “suddenly retreated on board their Vessel and left the Island.”3 The Americans left behind twenty-six prisoners and two dead men.4 Stewart died of his wound, but Lincoln recovered. The British noted that the American ship had twenty guns and a crew of 115 men.5



1 McManemin, Captains of the Privateers, 5, from the diary of Joseph Senhouse

2 McManemin, Captains of the Privateers, 5, from the diary of Joseph Senhouse

3 McManemin, Captains of the Privateers, 5-6, from the diary of Joseph Senhouse

4 The Connecticut Journal [New Haven], March 3, 1779, datelined New London, February 26

5 McManemin, Captains of the Privateers, 5-6, from the diary of Joseph Senhouse


Posted 15 August 2014 © awiatsea.com

web analytics