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South Carolina Navy
Schooner
Defence






Defence

(1) Captain Simon Tufts

Schooner

9 November 1775-23 November 1775

South Carolina Navy Schooner

(2) [unknown]

South Carolina Navy Brigantine


(3) Captain Simon Tufts
16 December 1775-[May] 1776
(4) Captain Thomas Pickering
12 October 1776-2 April 1777


Commissioned/First Date:

9 November 1775/October 1775

Out of Service/Cause:

2 April 1777/captured by HM Frigates Roebuck and Perseus


Tonnage:

100


Battery:

Date Reported: 12 November 1775

Number/Caliber  Weight        Broadside

2/9-pounder       18 pounds     9 pounds

6/6-pounder       36 pounds   18 pounds

2/4-pounder         8 pounds     4 pounds

Total: 10 cannon/62 pounds

Broadside: 5 cannon/31 pounds

Swivels:


Date Reported: 15 February 1776

Number/Caliber  Weight        Broadside

12/6-pounder      72 pounds  36 pounds

Total: 12 cannon/72 pounds

Broadside: 6 cannon/36 pounds

Swivels:


Date Reported: 2 April 1777

Number/Caliber  Weight        Broadside

6/6-pounder        36 pounds  18 pounds

8/4-pounder        32 pounds  16 pounds

Total: 14 cannon/68 pounds

Broadside: 7 cannon/34 pounds

Swivels:


Date Reported: 15 May 1777

Number/Caliber  Weight        Broadside

  4/6-pounder      24 pounds  12 pounds

10/4-pounder      40 pounds  20 pounds

Total: 14 cannon/64 pounds

Broadside: 7 cannon/32 pounds

Swivels:


Date Reported: 5 June 1777

Number/Caliber  Weight        Broadside

14/4-pounder      56 pounds  28 pounds

Total: 14 cannon/56 pounds

Broadside: 7 cannon/28 pounds

Swivels:


Date Reported: 13 October 1777

Number/Caliber  Weight        Broadside

16/

Total: 16 cannon/

Broadside: 8 cannon/

Swivels:


Crew:

(1) 12 November 1775: 70 [total]
(2) 2 April 1777: 87 [total]


Description:

60' length on the keel, good sheer, roomy bows, full rigged with a quarterdeck but no head, white bottom, black sides, gun ports painted bright red


Officers:

(1) Acting Marine Captain William Scott, 9 November 1775-; (2) First Lieutenant Kirby Rathel, 25 March 1777-2 April 1777; (3) Second Lieutenant Norton Cole, 25 March 1777-2 April 1777


Cruises:

(1) Charlestown, South Carolina to the Hog Island Channel and return, 11 November 1775-12 November 1775

(2) Charlestown, South Carolina to Beaufort, South Carolina and return, 19 January 1776-9 February 1776, with South Carolina Navy Schooner Hibernia

(3) Charlestown, South Carolina to Môle Saint-Nicolas, Saint-Domingue, 6 November 1776-[December] 1776

(4) Môle Saint-Nicolas, Saint-Domingue to Charlestown, South Carolina, -[5] February 1777

(5) Charlestown, South Carolina to sea, 31 March 1777-2 April 1777


Prizes:

(1) Ship Caesar (Currie), 4 January 1777, at Dry Harbor [Discovery Bay], Jamaica

(2) Schooner Nancy, [4] January 1777, at [Dry Harbor [Discovery Bay], Jamaica]

(3) Sloop Nancy, [4] January 1777, at [Dry Harbor [Discovery Bay], Jamaica]

(4) Sloop Friendship, January 1777


Actions:

(1) Battle of Hog Island Channel, 12 November 1775


Comments:

On 5 September 1775, the South Carolina Provincial Congress voted to equip three schooners for “defence of this harbour,” meaning Charlestown Harbor, and arm them with two 9-pounders each. This was the true beginning of the permanent South Carolina Navy. A Commission To Supervise The Equipping Of Three Schooners For Defense Of The Harbor was appointed to supervise their outfitting. Captain Edward Blake Captain Clement Lempriere, and Captain Benjamin Tucker being selected. The Commission reported on 16 September. The Commission reported that three schooners had been selected: one was to be Williamson’s; another that of Butler (gone at this time to Philadelphia). However, none of these three were apparently used. The vessels authorized eventually became the Hibernia, Hawke, and, probably, the Defence. After this report, the Commission passed out of existence.1


Conjectural reconstruction of South Carolina Schooner Defence. From Coker, Charleston’s Maritime Heritage.

The third schooner authorized was much more substantial The 100-ton3 schooner Defence was, perhaps, one of the three schooners authorized on 5 September 1775.4 The exact date of Defence’s acquisition is unknown, but she was seemingly purchased about October 1775.5 She was first mentioned on 9 November 1775, when Captain William Scott and thirty-five men were ordered aboard to act as Marines, and Defence was ordered to a station at the mouth of Wappoo Creek. Defence was ordered victualled for sea on that day.6 Her commander at that time was Simon Tufts.


Simon Tufts was born in Medford, Massachusetts in 1722/23, the son of Thomas Tufts and Emma Phipps. He was raised in Medford. Tufts married Ruth Jackson in 1747 in Boston, Massachusetts. Ruth apparently died and Tufts moved to Charlestown, South Carolina. He married Rebecca Lloyd there in 1759.7 By 1775 Tufts had resided in Charlestown sixteen years. A merchant sea captain, he was well regarded.


The South Carolinians had become concerned at the increased patrolling of British vessels and small craft in Charlestown Harbor. When the South Carolinians heard a report on 9 November 1775 of the arrival of the schooner St. Lawrence at St. Augustine, they feared that this presaged the strengthening of the British naval presence at Charlestown.  The Council began a flurry of activity.  A Captain and thirty-five men were ordered to report aboard the newly outfitted schooner Defence (Captain Simon Tufts) to act as Marines. A schooner was to be provided to assist the Defence in passing through Wappoo Cut into Wappoo Creek. Tufts was to take station at the mouth of the creek by daylight on 10 November. When there, he was ordered to make his “personal attendance” on the President of the South Carolina Provincial Congress, William Henry Drayton. Defence was to be vicualled for sea. The commanding officer at Fort Johnson was ordered to let no British ships past the fort. Thoughtfully the Congress ordered Captain Thornbrough of HM Sloop Tamar of this decision.8


The Council, examining other ways to secure the road, noted that the passages in Hog Island Channel and in Marsh Channel could be blocked by sinking hulks there. Six decrepit schooners were procured, four for Hog Island Channel, two for Marsh Channel, at a cost of £4500. Captain Edward Blake sank two of the hulks in the Marsh Channel: the other four were designed for the Hog Island Channel.9 Defence was ordered to perform the function of covering the work party.10


The British ships present were HM Sloop Tamar, sixteen guns and a hundred men, and HM Armed Ship Cherokee (Lieutenant John Fergusson), eight guns and sixty men.


At Wappoo Creek, Drayton boarded the Defence to personally supervise the operation.11 At 1400 on 11 November the Defence led the four schooners (under Blake’s command) down Wappoo Creek and approached Hog Creek Channel’s bar.12 Defence sent out a boat to sound the bar of the channel, which was seen by Tamar. At 0430 Tamar opened fire on the boat, firing a total of six shots at the American flotilla.13


Defence in action at Hog Island. Detail from the Battle of Hog Island.

Drayton had anticipated and perhaps desired that the Tamar fired on the Americans. When the Defence reached her anchorage, he ordered her two nine- pounders, which had a longer range than any guns on the British sloop, to open fire on the Tamar.14 Defence fired two shots as she anchored, then as Tamar continued to fire, one more.15 The range was too great for either vessel, and the shot fell short.16

Captain Blake now proceeded to sink three of his hulks in the proper place before the turn of the tide, leaving one only unplaced. The fourth caught the tide, so Defence lay over for the night to finish the job.17

On 12 November, Tamar warped closer with the Cherokee in company and opened fire at 0500 (or 0415) for fifteen minutes, but the Defence had towed out of range.18 According to the Americans the two British vessels fired for three hours on the Defence.19 The firing lasted long enough for the Charlestown militia to man their posts and allow a large crowd of citizens to assemble on the wharves to watch the fight.20 The British were firing too high. Tufts reported later that most of the shot went between his rigging and struck the land. Defence was struck three times: once in the broadside, once in the counter, and one shot cut some rigging. The green hands “displayed the greatest chearfulness, tranquility, and coolness.”21


Battle of Hog Island Channel, seen from behind the British ships. Defence is seen firing on the British, with the hulks sunk on the channel bar behind. Modern painting from Coker, Charleston’s Maritime Heritage.

 

Meanwhile, the hulk had been carried to its destination and scuttled. Tufts withdrew, having performed his mission. Tamar sent a boat’s crew which fired the hulk and towed her to shallow water. Defence fired one shot at the boat, but she was out of reach. At full daylight Tamar fired again, but the Defence towed off to the town, the British ceased fire about 0700. Fort Johnson opened on the British, but the 26-pounders could not be elevated enough to reach. By 0900, the Tamar and the Cherokee were back to anchor. Defence anchored off Charlestown about 0800 to the cheers of the town. The fight was minor but nevertheless, the British and the South Carolinians had exchanged fire between their warships. The colonists acknowledged this incident as the beginning of the real war in South Carolina.22


The 100-ton23 brigantine Defence measured sixty feet in length on the keel. She was built with no head, but had a quarter deck. Her sides were painted black and her bottom white. She had good sheer, a “remarkably narrow” stern and a very round bow. The brigantine was full rigged and “well fitted, with Crosstie Fittings and Waste-Cloths . . .” Defence was pierced for sixteen guns; her gun ports and covers were painted a bright red. Her mainmast was stepped far aft, which made her appear short. Her best point of sailing was large, her worse close-hauled to the wind. In the early part of 1777 she was armed with four 6-pounders and ten 4-pounders.24


The South Carolina Navy had three captains in November 1775, Thomas Smith (Hibernia), Joseph Vesey (Hawke), and Simon Tufts (Defence). When the ship Prosper was added a fourth captain was required. The Provincial Congress appointed Captain Clement Lempriere on 14 November, with his pay was to be the same as the officers on the Defence. Unfortunately, on 22 November, Lempriere declined to serve so Tufts was transferred from the Defence. The pay of the replacement commander of the Defence was fixed at £3 per day. This situation had scarcely settled down when on 14 December, William Henry Drayton offered his services in the Navy, as Captain of the Prosper. Drayton was a very important political personage and his offer was impossible to ignore. After two days of discussion, it was agreed that Tufts would return to the Defence, and that Drayton would command the Prosper, and that all captains would have independent command, with no seniority in force.25


When the British shipping left Charlestown Harbor the Council of Safety took immediate steps to strengthen the defenses of South Carolina. As part of that effort, the Defence was ordered to lift one hundred troops to Sullivan’s Island on 10 January, who were to erect a temporary battery there. Tufts was ordered to remain about Sullivan’s Island to guard the troops.26


A few days later HM Frigate Syren appeared off the bar. On the afternoon of the 13 January, American scouts reported that Syren’s boats were sounding the bar. Although Syren was merely performing a scouting function, the town was roused expecting an attack. Two hundred pounds of powder were issued to South Carolina Navy Ship Prosper, and the South Carolina Navy Brigantine Comet was ordered towed up Ashley River and moored there, her crew going to the Prosper. A general alarm was raised in the town and the militia turned out. The Defence was stationed near Sullivan’s Island, under orders to fire on any boats that approached there. The object of all this excitement, Syren, sailed to the south at 0400 on 14 January.27


When the British had sailed from the harbor, the Council turned its attention to enforcing the Continental Association. There were in Rebellion Road at this time (mid-January) several vessels waiting to sail, among them the St. Michael, and the brigantine Amphitrite. The Spanish vessel St. Michael was ready to sail, and the Council sent down the South Carolina Navy Schooner Hibernia (Captain Thomas Smith), on 17 January, to examine her before putting a pilot aboard. Smith was to look for any persons sought by the Council, or for any escaped slaves. Evidently, the Spanish master was not cooperative or Smith grew suspicious, for he returned to the town without the Spaniard sailing. The next day, the better armed and crewed Defence came down, boarded the St. Michael, and thoroughly searched her. Tufts found one refugee and five slaves hidden aboard the St. Michael and removed them. When the Spanish master pleaded ignorance, the Council allowed him to sail.28


On 19 January, two schooners were seen off the bar. The Council immediately alerted Defence and Hihernia to go out after them and capture them if possible. The Council was particularly afraid the two might seize or board the brigantine Amphitite, and if that were done, the two South Carolina vessels were to capture all three. The two strangers were the British tender Polly and the packet Comet, from Pensacola. The British looked in, and then departed.29


When Defence and Hibernia sailed on 19 January they continued on to George Town. From there the two vessels prowled up and down the coast, checking in at Otter Island on the 23 January, and anchoring in Coosah River early in February, near South Edisto. There they were spotted by HMS Scarborough, en route to Savannah. Scarborough (Captain Andrew Barkley)came to and sent off her pinnance and cutter to examine the strangers at 1130. When the boats got in close enough Defence fired six rounds of grape shot and Barkley recalled the boats at 1200. By 1300 they were back at the frigate and the British departed.30


In fact the Council was worried about the two vessels. On 5 February they chided Tufts for not communicating with them, warned him that major British warships were on the coast, and ordered him to return. Tufts returned to Charlestown on 10 February 1776.31


Under the unified plan of defense for the town and harbor, presented on 22 January, the Defence was to be stationed about Crab Bank in Hog Island Creek, and the Prosper to the westward of, but near, the battery on James Island, guarding Fort Johnson.32


The Council continued to enforce the Association. The ship Port Henderson had been in detention at Charlestown, but was released on 24 February 1776 following a petition by the master, Henry Aitkin. Just as it was about to sail, news came of the new British orders, making all American vessels legal prizes for the British. On 9 March 1776, the Congress ordered Defence to seize the Port Henderson and anchor her under the guns of Fort Johnson. On 23 March, the Congress set up a Commission to evaluate the cargo of the vessel, which was then sold, the Treasury retaining the proceeds.33


South Carolina Navy Brigantine Comet (Captain Turpin) and Defence sailed in the afternoon of 14 March 1776 for the Winyaw River. They were to arrive there on the 17th, and escort two of Alexander Gillon’s trading vessels well out to sea, After performing this chore the two patrolled off the coast. On 22 March, Comet ran down and captured the British tender General Clinton, which was the sloop Hetty, captured three months before. A heavy gale separated the two, Comet arriving in port on the 24th. The prize, and the Defence came into harbor on 29 March.34


Both the Comet and the Defence went to sea late in April or early in May to patrol and cruise. Comet was cruising off the coast to the south when she met the ship St. James on 18 May. St. James had sailed from Jamaica on 27 April with a cargo of rum and sugar, under one Wilson, for Bristol. Comet quickly secured her and headed for Charlestown.35


The Defence returned to Charlestown from her cruise on 20 May 1776. Tufts had only taken one prize, a whaling brigantine owned in New York, which she brought into the harbor with her.36


As Defence was anchoring off Charlestown, unwelcome visitors arrived on the coast. HM Frigate Sphynx (Captain Anthony Hunt) and her tender, HM Schooner Tender Comet37 appeared off Charlestown and anchored off the bar. On 21 May the South Carolina Navy Brigantine Comet (Captain Joseph Turpin) came into sight, accompanied by the St. James (Wilson), a large ship which she had captured. The wind was from the southwest.38 The British saw the pair at 0500, recovered her boats, and chased,39 but were well to leeward and could not catch the Americans before they approached the bar. Unfortunately for the Americans the tide was turning and the prize ship drew too much water to pass the bar. She was run aground40 at 110041  about three miles northeast of Fort Johnston. Meanwhile, Defence had gotten underway, dropping down the harbor, to assist her sister brigantine. Tufts managed to run aground and the falling tide kept Comet from closing up to Defence. The British sent the tender, fully manned, to the grounded prize.42 She had been abandoned and was easily occupied by the British. They captured two of Comet’s sailors and three of the original crew.43 The prize was burned. Defence fired a few “random” shots at the British, which were returned, and the Comet attempted to engage the tender, but the distance was too great for any effect.44


On 2 June 1776 a large British fleet and army arrived off the coast of South Carolina. This was the beginning of the invasion of South Carolina in 1776 that led to the British defeat at Sullivan’s Island. The vessels of the South Carolina Navy seem to have gone into port during this period, with the exception of several galleys. Defence was no doubt at Charlestown. What is known for certain is that she was re-rigged as a brigantine during this period, and that Captain Tufts left the Defence.


The new captain was Thomas Pickering of Piscataway, New Hampshire.


The South Carolina Navy Board, on 12 October 1776, notified Pickering to prepare his brigantine for sea. He was to take “the most effective means, for recovering the Seamen who have deserted from your Vessel as speedily as possible if they are to be found in Town . . .” Pickering was to inform the board of his complement by 15 October.45


The return was duly made. Orders were given by the Navy Board to furnish Pickering with some required sails on 15 October.46 Two days later additional supplies were ordered for the Defence, as she continued to prepare for sea.47 Among the items necessary in preparing for the cruise were new colors. Ann Holmes made these and was eventually paid £37 for her work.48


The Navy Board had discovered in fitting out the Defence, as well as the South Carolina Navy Brig Comet (Captain Edward Allen), that many necessary items were in short supply in Charlestown. The board had learned that many sailors were available in the French West Indies and suggested that the two brigs be sent there to recruit surplus sailors. The brigs were to be furnished with £500 of indigo each, with which the captains could purchase necessary items and use in the recruiting. First Commissioner Edward Blake was sent to the President [Governor] of South Carolina on 28 October to get approval for this plan.49 The governor readily agreed to this plan.


The Navy Board issued sailing orders to Pickering on 2 November 1776. Along with the orders commissions for the various officers were sent, warrants for the warrant officers, and instructions for the lieutenants, master, purser, carpenter, gunner, armorer, boatswain and sailmaker. Pickering was to proceed to sea and steer for St. Augustine, looking for British cruisers and privateers. From there he was to sail for Cap François, Saint-Domingue. At Cap François, Pickering was to enlist sailors, as many as possible, and purchase other items needed for the navy: canvas, cordage, quadrants, paint, oil, compasses, sand glasses, seaman’s slops, shot and grape shot. Pickering was provided with sixteen casks of indigo, worth £7032.10, to pay for these items. The indigo was to be turned over to one Duraseau, or some other chief merchant for sale. Excess funds were to be invested in good muskets. Pickering was allowed to cruise for three months, sending his prizes to Charlestown and treating his prisoners well.50


The South Carolina Navy Board altered Pickering’s orders on 4 November. The board had received intelligence that a ship and a sloop were loading at St. Mary’s River, covered by two small armed vessels from St. Augustine, East Florida. Pickering was ordered to proceed to Sunbury, Georgia, pick up a pilot for the St. Mary’s River, and proceed to “Take or Destroy the Cruizers & bring off the Vessels Loading,” provided they were legal prizes. If there was no pilot boat at Sunbury, Pickering was to send his boat ashore for the pilot. A letter was written at the same time to the Committee of Sunbury informing them of the cause of sending out the Defence and asking for their cooperation.51 On 7 November the board ordered out the South Carolina Navy Brigantine Comet (Captain Edward Allen) to assist the Defence.52


Pickering passed over Charlestown Bar about 1000 on the morning of 6 November 1776, steering for Sunbury. With a “fine Breese” Defence sailed along the shore all night. In the morning of 7 November a sloop was sighted and chased. After an all day chase she was stopped and discovered to be French, bound from Cap François, Saint-Domingue to Charlestown. Pickering sent a report to the South Carolina Navy Board by her master. The wind was “small and off the Land,” said Pickering. He was “much afraid we shall be puzzled to make Sunbury . . .” As Pickering was closing his letter a sail was sighted.53 Pickering evidently found nothing in the St. Mary’s River, nor did he contact the Comet.


Following the fruitless attempt at St. Mary’s River, Defence steered for Saint-Domingue. Defence was at Môle-Saint-Nicolas, Saint-Domingue on 14 December 1776. Pickering reported to the South Carolina Navy Board from there. His report was received on 6 January 1777. Pickering had put in there to refit. The local authorities refused to allow the brig to sail until the work was paid for, or until some local gentleman guaranteed payment. One John Dupuy gave security of £400 for the Defence. Dupuy could not ascertain the exact amount as the “Authentic Accounts are not as yet arrived from Jamaica.” Dupuy informed the South Carolina Navy Board of this transaction on 14 December. The board at once ordered £400 worth of indigo shipped to Dupuy to cover his expenses.54


With the brig repaired, Pickering steered for Jamaica. On 4 January 1777, Defence was off Dry Harbor [Discovery Bay], Jamaica. Here she cut out from her moorings55 the ship56 Caesar (Currie), which was nearly loaded and ready to sail57 with her cargo of rum and sugar.58 Caesar was sent off to Charlestown and successfully got into port. She had arrived by 10 February 1777.59 Caesar was condemned, and prize money was ready to be paid by 2 December 1777.60


Two other vessels, said to be large ships with rum and sugar, were also captured in Dry Harbor.61 Another prize was also captured during this cruise. The three prizes were the sloop Friendship, schooner Nancy and sloop Nancy. All got into port and were condemned.62 All prizes seem to have arrived by the end of February 1777.63


Defence returned from her cruise in early February, arriving at Charlestown. The first thing on Pickering’s to do list when he arrived at Charlestown was to call on the South Carolina Navy Board. He reported to the board on 6 February 1777. The commissioners ordered him to ready the Defence for sea as soon as possible.64


While Defence was preparing for sea, the South Carolina Navy Board used her men for some small errands. On 14 February Pickering was ordered to send an officer and eight men in the boat from the prize ship Caesar to the assistance of a prize taken by the South Carolina Navy Brigantine Comet, which had gotten aground on Charlestown Bar. The men were to take out an anchor and cable. The prize was in “great Distress, having Been on shore on the North Breaker . . .”65 Pickering was ordered to send three or four men to assist in preparing the sloop Beaufort for sea on 24 February. These men were to be fit for the duty and men that could be depended on to return to the Defence after finishing their work.66


The South Carolina Navy Board issued sailing orders to Pickering on 24 March 1777. He was to proceed to sea in the Defence on a three month cruise, with liberty to cruise at any place he wished. Any prizes captured were to be sent into Charlestown or some other inlet in the state. The Defence was given three casks of indigo which Pickering could sell in any foreign port, in case he needed ready money for an unforseen contingency. The orders were signed by First Commissioner Edward Blake.67


The next day, 25 March, First Lieutenant Kirby Rathel and Second Lieutenant Norton Cole were commissioned to the Defence.68  Defence sailed from Charlestown on 31 March, dropping down into Rebellion Road and proceeding to sea.69


On 2 April 1777 Pickering and Defence were about 270 miles southwest of Bermuda,70 at 33°N,69°W.71 Pickering sighted two sail in the distance, but what they were was not clear. One appeared vaguely like a three decked West India ship, and the smaller one looked rather like a cruiser.72 Pickering continued sailing along, under light sail, while he examined the two ships. When the ships continued to approach, Pickering hove to at 1200, to await a closer look.73


The two ships were HM Frigate Roebuck (Captain Andrew Snape Hamond) and HM Frigate Perseus (Captain Charles Phipps). Perseus sighted the Defence first, at 1000, away to the north. Perseus immediately began to chase.74 Roebuck joined in the chase at 1100.75 The weather was breezy and fair76 with an occasional rain shower.77  At 1200 Roebuck could see the chase was a brig lying to.


By now it was clear enough to Pickering that, whatever these ships were, they were not for him. Defence made sail, but it was too late. Around 1300 Roebuck got up alongside the Defence. Twice the Roebuck hailed the brig, “ask’d what Brig that was” and received no answer. The third hail elicited the response that she was “a Cruizer from St. Augustine.” Hamond knew that was not true and fired a volley of small arms into the brig.78 Perseus was also up close and fired “several Volleys of Small Arms and 9 pounders at the Chace . . .”79 Defence was now fairly caught. When Hamond ordered Defence to lower her topsails, Pickered complied. Roebuck’s boat was soon alongside and the task of shifting the prisoners, all eighty-seven of them, began. The British reported she was armed with six 6-pounders and eight 4-pounders.80 Lieutenant John Orde of the Roebuck went aboard as prize master, with twenty men from the Roebuck and seven81 or ten from the Perseus.82


Defence was sent off to New York, New York. Hamond took the opportunity to send dispatches to Admiral Viscount Howe.83 She arrived there at 0700 on 18 April.84 Pickering was taken aboard the Perseus. She was off Cape Henlopen on 9 April. From there Pickering was allowed to write a letter to Congress, announcing his capture.85


Defence was reported to be armed with fourteen 4-pounders by the British. She was valued at New York and taken into British service as HM Brig Hinchinbrook. HM Schooner Hinchinbrook was de-commissioned and her crew transferred to the brig under Lieutenant Ellis, with thirty-four men added to the crew. She was ready to sail for East Florida by 5 June 1777.86


The South Carolina Navy Board knew of her capture by 14 May 1777.87 The Charlestown newspaper got out a supplement, with a full description of the Defence, on the well founded belief that she would return as a British raider.88


Defence was libeled and tried in the Vice Admiralty court at New York on 25 September 1777, when Pickering made a deposition on the case.89


Pickering was not well treated in prison at New York. Although South Carolina had asked Congress to obtain his exchange, and the South Carolina delegates in Congress had promised that they would attempt to do so, he had not been exchanged by 5 August 1777. Governor John Rutledge of South Carolina had “accounts of his having been very ill used” and ordered Captain Lofthouse, a British prisoner, into prison. Rutledge planned to keep him there until Pickering was exchanged, and so informed Governor Tonyn of East Florida.90


On 28 August the South Carolina Navy Board began settling Defence’s accounts. Hezekiah Anthony was paid £996.2.6 for his account on the brig.91


On 13 October 1777 the proposed exchange of Pickering for Captain Paul Flyn was discussed by the Connecticut authorities. Pickering was a native of New Hampshire and that state had requested the assistance of Connecticut. Pickering was said to have been captured in a “privateer of 16 guns belonging to the State of South Carolina.”92 The proposal was formally made on 16 October 1777.93


An announcement appeared in the Charlestown newspaper on 2 December 1777. The prize proceeds for the ship Caesar, sloop Friendship, sloop Nancy and schooner Nancy, were ready to be paid to the crew.94 Since most of the crew were in prison in New York, the announcement was more of a formality than anything else.


On 6 January 1778 the South Carolina Navy Board ordered the payment of £242.13.4 to one Samuel Maverick, with the notation that the money was for “wages due him on board the Brigg Defence.” One wonders whether Maverick had escaped from New York and returned to claim his money.95 Another wage payment (£189), on 27 January, was made to George Bowing, for nine months service on the Defence.96 On 26 February 1778, William Wilkins was paid £75 for making sails and other items for the brig.97  


Pickering and his crew were still in prison in New York in March 1778. President Rawlins Lowndes of South Carolina, in a letter dated 30 March 1778, mentioned to the President of the Continental Congress that he had seen a letter written by one of Defence’s officers “complaining in very affecting terms of their treatment . . .” Lowndes hoped “some means could be devised to obtain the enlargement of Pickering and his Men who suffer rigorously at New York.”98



1 NDAR, “Henry Laurens to William Henry Drayton,” II, 26; “Dr,. Charles Drayton to William Henry Drayton,” II, 126-127

2 Coker, Charleston’s Maritime Heritage, 75

3 NDAR, “Commission of Kirby Rathel as First Lieutenant of the South Carolina Navy Brigantine Defence,” VIII, 200

4 NDAR, “Henry Laurens to William Henry Drayton,” II, 26

5 Coker, Charleston’s Maritime Heritage, 75

6 NDAR, “Journal of the South Carolina Provincial Congress,” II, 962-963; “William Henry Drayton to Captain Edward Thornbrough,” II, 963

7 http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com /~walkersj/solomon.htm, accessed 1/11/08

8 NDAR, “Journal of the South Carolina Provincial Congress,” II, 962-963; “William Henry Drayton to Captain Edward Thornbrough, H.M. Sloop Tamar,” II, 963

9 NDAR, “Journal of the South Carolina Provincial Congress,” II, 1104

10 NDAR, “Journal of the South Carolina Provincial Congress,” II, 1002-1004 and 1004 note

11 Snoden, Yates (ed.), History of South Carolina, The Lewis Publishing Co: Chicago and New York, 1920, I, 326

12 NDAR, “Journal of the South Carolina Provincial Congress,” II, 1002-1004 and 1004 note

13 NDAR, “Journal of H.M. Sloop Tamar, Captain Edward Thornbrough,” II, 1015-1016; “Journal of the South Carolina Provincial Congress,” II, 1002-1004

14 Snoden, History of South Carolina, I, 326

15 NDAR, “Journal of the South Carolina Provincial Congress,” II, 1002-1004 and 1004 note

16 NDAR, “Journal of H.M. Sloop Tamar, Captain Edward Thornbrough,” II, 1015-1016; “Journal of the South Carolina Provincial Congress,” II, 1002-1004

17 NDAR, “Journal of H.M. Sloop Tamar, Captain Edward Thornbrough,” II, 1015-1016; “Journal of the South Carolina Provincial Congress,” II, 1002-1004

18 NDAR, “Journal of H.M. Sloop Tamar, Captain Edward Thornbrough,” II, 1015-1016

19 NDAR, “Journal of the South Carolina Provincial Congress,” II, 1002-1004 and 1004 note

20 Snoden, History of South Carolina, I, 326

21 NDAR, “Journal of the South Carolina Provincial Congress,” II, 1002-1004 and 1004 note

22 NDAR, “William Henry Drayton to the Georgia Council of Safety, Savannah,” II, 1004-1005; NDAR, “Journal of H.M. Sloop Tamar, Captain Edward Thornbrough,” II, 1015-1016; “Journal of the South Carolina Provincial Congress,” II, 1002-1004

23 NDAR, “Commission of Kirby Rathel as First Lieutenant of the South Carolina Navy Brigantine Defence,” VIII, 200

24 NDAR, “Gazette of the State of South-Carolina, Thursday, May 25 [15], 1777,” VIII, 974

25 NDAR, “Journal of the South Carolina Provincial Congress,” II, 1027, 1104, 1113; ibid, III, 104-105, 119, 133-136; “Journal of the South Carolina Council of Sagety,” II, 1225

26 NDAR, “Minutes of the South Carolina Council of Safety,” III, 728-731

27 “Minutes of the South Carolina Council of Safety,” III, 760-762, 776-777, 787-788; “Journal of H.M..S. Syren, Captain Tobias Furneaux,” III, 866-867; “Henry Laurens to John Laurens,” III, 827-828

28 “Minutes of the South Carolina Council of Safety,” III, 839, 850-851

29 NDAR, “South Carolina and American General Gazette, Friday, January 19 to Friday, January 26, 1776,” III, 1002-1003; “Minutes of the South Carolina Council of Safety,” III, 865-866

30 NDAR, “Minutes of the South Carolina Council of Safety,” III, 986-988, 1164-1165; “Journal of H.M.S. Scarborough, Captain Andrew Barkley,” III, 1141-1142

31 NDAR, “Henry Laurens to Simon Tufts,” III, 1140-1141; “Minutes of the South Carolina Council of Safety,” III, 1220

32 NDAR, “Minutes of the South Carolina Council of Safety,” III, 928-930; “Extract of a Letter from Charles-Town, dated Feb. 15,” III, 1310

33 NDAR, “Minutes of the South Carolina Council of Safety,” III, 1092-1093; ibid, IV, 275; “Journal of the South Carolina Provincial Congress,” III, 1294-1295; ibid, IV, 73, 484-485

34 NDAR, “Henry Laurens to Captain Alexander Gillon,” IV, 359; “Henry Laurens to the Georgetown Committee,” IV, 359-360; “South Carolina and American General Gazette, Wednesday, March 27 to Wednesday, April 3, 1776,” IV, 654

35 NDAR, “Journal of the Expedition to Charles Town in the Province of South Carolina in the Months of May, June & July 1776-under the Command of Major General (Henry] Clinton and Commodore Sir Peter Parker-,” 5, 131-132; “South-Garolina and American General Gazette,, Wednesday, May 8 to Wednesday, May 22, 1776,” 5, 210-211; “Journal of H.M.S. Sphynx, Captain Anthony Hunt,” 5, 224; “John Langdon to Captain Robert Cochran, Charleston,” 5, 356; “Commodore Sir Peter Parker to Philip Stephens,” 5, 997-1002; “Extract of a letter From Brigadier General (John] Armstrong to Brigadier General (Robert] Howe, dated Charlestown, South Carolina, May 29, 1776,” 5, 300-301

36 NDAR, “South-Carolina and American General Gazette, Wednesday, May 8 to Wednesday, May 22, 1776,” V, 210-211 and 211 note

37 NDAR, “Journal of H.M.S. Sphynx, Captain Anthony Hunt,” V, 224 and notes

38 NDAR, “South-Carolina and American General Gazette, Wednesday, May 8 to Wednesday, May 22, 1776,” V, 210-211 and 211 note

39 NDAR, “Journal of H.M.S. Sphynx, Captain Anthony Hunt,” V, 224 and notes

40 NDAR, “South-Carolina and American General Gazette, Wednesday, May 8 to Wednesday, May 22, 1776,” V, 210-211 and 211 note

41 NDAR, “Journal of H.M.S. Sphynx, Captain Anthony Hunt,” V, 224 and notes

42 NDAR, “South-Carolina and American General Gazette, Wednesday, May 8 to Wednesday, May 22, 1776,” V, 210-211 and 211 note

43 NDAR, “Journal of H.M.S. Sphynx, Captain Anthony Hunt,” V, 224 and notes

44 NDAR, “South-Carolina and American General Gazette, Wednesday, May 8 to Wednesday, May 22, 1776,” V, 210-211 and 211 note

45 NDAR, “Journal of the South Carolina Navy Board,” VI, 1243

46 NDAR, “Journal of the South Carolina Navy Board,” VI, 1283-1284

47 NDAR, “Journal of the South Carolina Navy Board,” VI, 1313-1315

48 NDAR, “Journal of the South Carolina Navy Board,” VII, 947-948

49 NDAR, “Journal of the South Carolina Navy Board,” VI, 1441-1442

50 NDAR, “Journal of the South Carolina Navy Board,” VII, 81-82

51 NDAR, “Journal of the South Carolina Navy Board,” VII, 43

52 NDAR, “Journal of the South Carolina Navy Board,” VII, 81-82

53 NDAR, “Journal of the South Carolina Navy Board,” VII, 109-110

54 NDAR, “Journal of the South Carolina Navy Board,” VII, 873-874

55 NDAR, “Proceedings of the Jamaica House of Assembly,” XI, 544-548

56 NDAR, “Announcement of a Dividend for the Crew of the Brig of War Defence,” XI, 657

57 NDAR, “Proceedings of the Jamaica House of Assembly,” XI, 544-548

58 NDAR, “Continental Journal, Thursday, March 13, 1777,” VIII, 97-98 and 98 note

59 NDAR, “South-Carolina and American General Gazette, Thursday, February 13, 1777,” VII, 1196-1197 and 1197 note; [“Journal of the South Carolina Navy Board,” VII, 1205-1206

60 NDAR, “Announcement of a Dividend for the Crew of the Brig of War Defence,” XI, 657

61 NDAR, “Continental Journal, Thursday, March 13, 1777,” VIII, 97-98 and 98 note

62 NDAR, “Announcement of a Dividend for the Crew of the Brig of War Defence,” XI, 657

63 NDAR, “Continental Journal, Thursday, March 13, 1777,” VIII, 97-98 and 98 note, where Defence is noted as a sixteen gun vessel; “South-Carolina and American General Gazette, Thursday, February 13, 1777,” VII, 1196-1197 and 1197 note

64 NDAR, “Journal of the South Carolina Navy Board,” VII, 1132-1133

65 NDAR, “Journal of the South Carolina Navy Board,” VII, 1205-1206

66 NDAR, “Journal of the South Carolina Navy Board,” VII, 1310-1314

67 NDAR, “Journal of the South Carolina Navy Board,” VIII, 194-195

68 NDAR, “Commission of Kirby Rathel as First Lieutenant of the South Carolina Navy Brigantine Defence,” VIII, 200

69 NDAR. “Deposition of Captain Thomas Pickering, South Carolina Navy Brigantine Defence,” IX, 963-964; “Gazette of the State of South-Carolina, Thursday, May 25 [15], 1777,” VIII, 974

70 NDAR, “Master’s Log of H.M.S. Roebuck, VIII, 257

71 NDAR. “Deposition of Captain Thomas Pickering, South Carolina Navy Brigantine Defence,” IX, 963-964

72 NDAR, “Autobiography of Captain Andrew Snape Hamond,” VIII, 257 and notes. Hamond: “on our return to my station in the Delaware, I took a Charles Town Privatier by the strategem of disguising the ship so as to be taken for a three decked West India Man . . .”

73 NDAR, “Master’s Log of H.M.S. Roebuck, VIII, 257

74  NDAR, “Journal of H.M.S. Perseus, Captain Charles Phipps,” VIII, 256 and note

75 NDAR, “Master’s Log of H.M.S. Roebuck, VIII, 257

76  NDAR, “Journal of H.M.S. Perseus, Captain Charles Phipps,” VIII, 256 and note

77 NDAR, “Master’s Log of H.M.S. Roebuck, VIII, 257

78 NDAR, “Master’s Log of H.M.S. Roebuck, VIII, 257. Hamond’s Autobiography embellishes this part of the chase: “The Privatier after taking some pains to reconoitre us, actually run up alongside, and was in the attempt to board, when the Marines rose up & pointed their Musquets into him, which made the captain call out lustily for Quarter . . .” NDAR, “Autobiography of Captain Andrew Snape Hamond,” VIII, 257 and notes.

79 NDAR, “Journal of H.M.S. Perseus, Captain Charles Phipps,” VIII, 256 and note

80 NDAR, “Master’s Log of H.M.S. Roebuck, VIII, 257. In NDAR, “Autobiography of Captain Andrew Snape Hamond,” VIII, 257 and notes, Hamond gives her twenty guns and a crew of 115 men, noting she sailed “remarkably well.”

81 NDAR, “Master’s Log of H.M.S. Roebuck, VIII, 257

82 NDAR, “Journal of H.M.S. Perseus, Captain Charles Phipps,” VIII, 256 and note

83 NDAR, “Autobiography of Captain Andrew Snape Hamond, VIII, 257

84 NDAR, “Journal of H.M.S. Eagle, Captain Henry Duncan,” VIII, 366-367 and 367 note. See also NDAR, “New-York Gazette, Monday, April 21, 1777,” VIII, 393-394

85 NDAR, “Gazette of the State of South-Carolina, Thursday, May 25 [15], 1777,” VIII, 974

86 NDAR, “Vice Admiral Richard Lord Howe to Philip Stephens,” IX, 24-29. See also NDAR, “The Gazette of the State of South-Carolina, Tuesday, October 14, 1777,” XI, 167 and note

87 NDAR, “South Carolina Navy Board to John Rutledge,” VIII, 967-968

88 NDAR, “Gazette of the State of South-Carolina, Thursday, May 25 [15], 1777,” VIII, 974

89 NDAR. “Deposition of Captain Thomas Pickering, South Carolina Navy Brigantine Defence,” IX, 963-964

90 NDAR, “Governor John Rutledge to Governor Patrick Tonyn,” IX, 714-715] see [NDAR, “Governor Patrick Tonyn to Governor John Rutledge,” IX, 781-782

91 NDAR, “Journal of the South Carolina Navy Board,” IX, 844

92 NDAR, “Governor Jonathan Trumbull to Thomas Shaw,” XI, 138 and 139n9

93 NDAR, “Thomas Shaw to Joshua Loring,” XI, 182 and 183n5

94 NDAR, “Announcement of a Dividend for the Crew of the Brig of War Defence,” XI, 657

95 NDAR, “Journal of the South Carolina Navy Board,” XI, 49

96 NDAR, “Journal of the South Carolina Navy Board,” XI, 216-217

97 NDAR, “Journal of the South Carolina Navy Board,” XI, 443-444

98 NDAR, “President Rawlins Lowndes of South Carolina to President of Congress,” XI, 837-838 and 838 note12


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