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General Washington Fights A Ship and A Brig





General Washington Fights A Ship and A Brig
18 October 1780



Pennsylvania Privateer Ship General Washington , was commissioned on 3 August 1779 under Commander Samuel Walker, She was listed as being armed with eighteen guns and as having a crew of sixty2 (or seventy-five)3 men.

The General Washington was returning home from Amsterdam in The Netherlands. On 17 October 1780 the General Washington was at 43°5′N, 42°28′W, standing to the southwest with a light northeast breeze. At 0600 the mast head reported a large fleet to the SSW, standing to the east. An officer aboard the General Washington reported “we gave chase, but having sprung our main-top-mast, were obliged to tack and stand to the north-west, till we lost sight of the fleet . . .” The main-top-mast was repaired and the General Washington continued on her course.4

On 18 October, at 42°47′N, 43°8′W, “a small breeze at the north-east, under an easy sail and smooth water, at eight A.M. the watch almost ahead called out, two sail to windward, bearing down under top-sails: We soon found them to be a ship and brigantine, within about two leagues of us, as they hove too, and as we suppose spoke each other; then made sail and stood to the eastward.-We immediately tack’d ship and gave chase, they making all the sail they could from us; but finding we overhaul’s them, the ship fired a gun to leeward and hove too; the brigantine being the headmost vessel did the same; at half past 11 came up with them within pistol shot, and gave the ship a shot under Continental colours; she soon returned it under an English jack, a warm engagement ensued, and lasted till half past five P.M. when the ship bore away on a careen, and appeared much shattered, and fired signals of distress: We poured a broadside into the brig, upon which she loosed top-gallant sails and followed the ship; we immediately gave chace, but having unfortunately received a 12-pound shot in the head of our main-mast, which brought our main-top-mast by the board, our other masts wounded, and so disabled in our sails and rigging we could not come up with them, gave over the chace, after giving them a severe drubbing. The ship mounted eighteen 12 and 6 pounders, the brigantine mounted 14 sixes. We had six men killed and several wounded. The Captain publicly thanks the officers and men for their spirited behaviour, against an evident superiority. We took the ship and brigantine to have been purposely detached from the fleet to attack us.”5

General Washington arrived at Boston on 27 October 1780.6



Summary Table

Vessel

Tons

Guns

Broadside

Men

Killed

%

Wounded

%

Total

%

General Washington

200

16

48

60

6

10%

[3]

[5%]

9

15%

Ship

18

[68]

Brig

14

42

Time: 6 hours



1 Pennsylvania Archives, Series V, 1:615

2 NRAR, 315

3 Claghorn, Naval Officers of the American Revolution, 324

4 The New-Jersey Gazette, Wednesday, November 29, 1780, datelined Boston, October 30, extract from a letter of an officer aboard the General Washington

5 The New-Jersey Gazette, Wednesday, November 29, 1780, datelined Boston, October 30, extract from a letter of an officer aboard the General Washington

6 The New-Jersey Gazette, Wednesday, November 29, 1780, datelined Boston, October 30, extract from a letter of an officer aboard the General Washington



Posted 27 February 2017 © awiatsea.com