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Incidents
Argo and Macaroni Eliminate Two Privateers





Continenntal Army Sloop Argo and Massachusetts Privateer Sloop Macaroni Eliminate Two British Privateers
[5] July 1779



Massachusetts Privateer Sloop Macaroni was commissioned on 15 June 1779 under Commander William Patterson of Salem, Massachusetts. She was listed as being armed with fourteen guns and as having a crew of seventy men.1

In early July 1779 the Macaroni was cruising off Sandy Hook, New Jersey. At the same time the Continental Army Sloop Argo (Captain Silas Talbot) was in the same vicinity. Argo was armed with twelve 6-pounder cannon and had a crew of sixty men aboard.2

Argo’s lookouts sighted a ship coming out of New York Harbor, and Argo closed on her. She was the 1803 or 200-tonDragon (Thomas Bolton),4 bound for Jamaica in the British West Indies in ballast. Dragon was armed with twelve 4-pounders; had been built in New England in 1771, and was owned by J. Buchanan.5 Dragon had about thirty men aboard, although the British later stated the crew was about eighty men.6 Dragon seemed to be eager to engage and the two vessels were soon side by side, exchanging hails. The fight was long and hard: Talbot’s speaking-trumpet was shot out of his hand, the tails of his coat were shorn off, and all the officers and men stationed with him on the quarter-deck were killed or wounded.7 Both vessels were taking heavy damage, Argo in the hull, Dragon in her masts, spars and rigging. When his crew reported to Talbot that Argo was sinking, with water just below the gun deck, he ordered men lowered over the sides to plug the shot holes. Not too long after the Dragon’s mainmast crashed down, bringing the fight to an end.

Abbot, Willis J., American Merchant Ships and Sailors, New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1908. Illustration by Ray Brown, p. 162

 

 
 

Captain Silas Talbot

At some point during the fight the Macaroni had appeared on the scene. As the men of the Argo began repairing the damage, another sail was sighted. She was standing down toward the Argo. This was the 1008 or 200-ton brig Hannah (Thomas Wilkie9 [Wilks]), also bound from New York to Jamaica in ballast. Hannah was American built in 1773, and owned by Dugal & Co.10 She was armed with twelve 12-pounders, two 6-pounders and four howitzers11 (or fourteen 12 and 9-pounders)12 and had a crew of about thirty-seven men aboard. Talbot got Argo underway and stood for the stranger. Macaroni followed Argo towards the Hannah. Another sharp fight followed before the Hannah struck her colors. When the Argo safely convoyed the two prizes into New Bedford, Massachusetts on 7 July13 “all who beheld her were astonished that a vessel of her diminutive size could suffer so much and yet get safely to port.”14 Other commentators noted that “The engagement was long and smart.”15



Summary Table

Vessel

Tons

Guns

Broadside

Men

Killed

%

Wounded

%

Total

%

Argo

100

12

[36]

60

3

5%

13

22%

16

26%

Macaroni

14

[42]

70

0

1

1%

1

1%

American Total:

26

[78]

130

3

2%

14

11%

17

13%

Dragon

200

12

24

30

Hannah

100

14

78

37

British Total:

300

26

102

67

Time: not known [perhaps three hours]
Note: British known to have wounded but claimed none killed. Sixty-seven prisoners taken.



1 Allen, Massachusetts Privateers of the Revolution, 213

2 Allen, Naval History of the American Revolution, ii, 392

3 Lloyds Register of Shipping 1779

4 The Independent Chronicle [Boston], Thursday, August 5, 1779

5 Lloyds Register of Shipping 1779

6 Maclay, History of American Privateers, 106

7 Paine, Ralph D., The Old Merchant Marine: A Chronicle of American Ships and Sailors, New Haven : Yale University Press, 1921, p. 41

8  The Independent Chronicle [Boston], Thursday, August 5, 1779

9 Lloyds Register of Shipping 1779

10 Lloyds Register of Shipping 1779

11 The Providence Gazette and Country Journal, Saturday, July 10, 1779

12 Lloyds Register of Shipping 1779

13 The Providence Gazette and Country Journal, Saturday, July 10, 1779

14 Paine, The Old Merchant Marine,  42

15 The Virginia Gazette [Williamsburg], Saturday, August 7, 1779, datelined Boston, July 12

16 The Independent Ledger [Boston], Wednesday, August 4, 1779

17 The Independent Chronicle [Boston], Thursday, August 5, 1779

18 The Providence Gazette and Country Journal, Saturday, July 10, 1779


Posted 13 February 2017 © awiatsea.com