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Loss of the Harlequin





Pennsylvania Privateer Schooner Harlequin Captured
18 September 1782



Pennsylvania Privateer Schooner Harlequin (Commander John Earle) was commissioned on 7 August 1782. She was armed with four guns, and had a crew of sixteen men. Her First Mate was Joseph Bennet.1


Harlequin made a voyage to Havana, Cuba and was returning to Philadelphia in September 1782, with a cargo of sugar and £5000 in gold and silver.2 On 18 September, after a ten day passage from Havana, Harlequin arrived in Delaware Bay, near Bombay Hook. At 1900 she was attacked by three “refugee” galleys3 or whaleboats, near Reedy Island. These were the Kidnapper (Kid or Kidd),  the Ranger (Jones), and another vessel.4 Each galley was armed with a 6-pounder in the bows and ten swivels and cohorns, and their crews totaled thirty men.5 It seems much more likely that each “galley” had about thirty men aboard.  Harlequin mounted four 3-pounders and had a crew of eighteen men aboard.6 A “smart Engagement” followed,7 which lasted two hours, when the Harlequin surrendered, with one killed and five wounded.8


The British had suffered badly in the action. Kidd was wounded, shot through the thigh, and Jones was shot through the body. Two lieutenants and six men were killed, and fourteen or fifteen “badly” wounded. The British sailors, possibly angered over the stiff fight, killed Bennet and wounded Earle in three places with lances, after the surrender. A passenger, one Paschall, was run through the body and cut around the head with cutlasses.9 Some reports mistakenly state that Earle was also killed.10


General area of the action of 18 September 1782.


The prize was sent into New York, New York, where she arrived on 24 September.11 Harlequin was tried in the Vice Admiralty court at New York and condemned.12


Summary Table

 

Tons

Guns

Broadside

Men

Killed

%

Wounded

%

Total

%

Harlequin

4

6

18

1

6%

5

28%

6

33%

Kidnapper

1

6

30

8

9%

17

19%

25

28%

Ranger


1

6

30

unknown galley

1

6

30

Time: 2 hours

Note: One American killed, two wounded, after the surrender: 11% killed, 39% wounded, 50% total, if these are included



1 NRAR, 327; Emmons, 144

2 The New-York Gazette; and The Weekly Mercury, Monday, September 30, 1782

3 The Pennsylvania Packet or the General Advertiser [Philadelphia], Tuesday, September 24, 1782

4 The New-York Gazette; and The Weekly Mercury, Monday, September 30, 1782

5 The Pennsylvania Packet or the General Advertiser [Philadelphia], Tuesday, September 24, 1782

6 The Pennsylvania Packet or the General Advertiser [Philadelphia], Tuesday, September 24, 1782

7 The New-York Gazette; and The Weekly Mercury, Monday, September 30, 1782

8 The Pennsylvania Packet or the General Advertiser [Philadelphia], Tuesday, September 24, 1782

9 The Pennsylvania Packet or the General Advertiser [Philadelphia], Tuesday, September 24, 1782

10 The New-York Gazette; and The Weekly Mercury, Monday, September 30, 1782

11 The New-York Gazette; and The Weekly Mercury, Monday, September 30, 1782

12 HCA 32/348/15/1-27


Posted 25 May 2009 © awiatsea.com