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Virginia Navy Galley
Accomac





Accomac

(1) Captain William Underhill [Undrill]

Patrol Craft

[30 May] 1777-

Virginia Navy Galley

(2) First Lieutenant Ishmael Andrews
-10 February 1779
(3) First Lieutenant John Harris
-[May 1780]


Commissioned/First Date:

30 May 1777

Out of Service/Cause:

[spring] 1781/sold out of service


Tonnage:


Battery:

Date Reported:

Number/Caliber  Weight        Broadside


Total:

Broadside:

Swivels:


Crew:

(1) October 1777: 53 [total]


Description:


Officers:

(1) First Lieutenant Robert Millen [Milliner], 16 October 1777-; (2) Second Lieutenant Ishmael Andrews, 16 October 1777-10 February 1779; (3) [Third] Lieutenant John Harris, October 1777-; (4) Master Jenepher Marshall, October 1777-; (5) First Mate David Murray, October 1777-; (6) Midshipman John Harris, October 1777-; (7) Midshipman Thomas Howard [Haywood], October 1777-; (8) Pilot Robert Webb, October 1777-; (8) Surgeon Scarborough Bloxsom [Bloxsum], October 1777-; (9) Surgeonís Mate William White, October 1777-


Cruises:


Prizes:


Actions:


Comments:

Virginia Navy Galley Accomac and her sister, Diligence, were built on Muddy Creek, near Guilford, Virginia, in Accomack County on the Eastern Shore.1 They were under construction by 30 May 1777, when a quantity of cordage was ordered by the Virginia Navy Board for delivery to the shipyard. Accomac’s launching was planned for 1 July 1777. It is assumed that Captain William Underhill had been appointed as her commander by this date.2 She probably was launched on time, for she was ordered to the Eastern Shore during the British invasion of Pennsylvania, by 30 August 1777, in company with a second galley and other forces.3


On 16 October 1777 Underhill was recommended to the governor by the Virginia Navy Board to command the Accomac.4 Robert Millen was recommended as First Lieutenant5 and Ishmael Andrews as Second Lieutenant at the same time.6


There exists a muster roll for the Accomac, from about this time. According to this muster roll fifty-three men were aboard the Accomac in October 1777. Millen is listed as Milliner. Other officers listed were John Harris (Lieutenant), Jenepher Marshall (Master), David Murray (First Mate), John Harris (Midshipman), Thomas Howard [Hayward] (Midshipman), Robert Webb (Pilot), Scarborough Bloxsum (Surgeon), William White (Surgeon’s Mate).7


The galley and it’s sister, Diligence, were still under construction on the eastern shore on 10 January 1778. On that day one George Stewart was appointed as muster master, pay master, and purchasing commissary for the two galleys, at a salary of £150 per year. He was issued £1000 by the Virginia Navy Board to carry on his work.8 On 22 January the Virginia House of Delegates urged the completion of the two galleys and the stationing of them, one in Matomkin harbor and the other in Chingoteague Inlet, to protect trade.9


John Harris was a Midshipman aboard the Accomac on 26 January 1778.10


James [Robert] Milliner was still aboard the Accomac as First Lieutenant in August 1778.11


About January 1779 the Accomac lying in Chincoteague Inlet under the command of [First] Lieutenant Ishmael Andrews. A British vessel was captured and the master brought aboard. He must have been a golden-tongued rogue. The captive commander managed to have a private conversation with Andrews. He was then returned to his vessel, and was supplied with powder from Accomac’s magazine,12 over the strenuous objections of Second Lieutenant Robert Miliner.13 Thus refreshed, the British sailed to Metompkin Bay and landed a party that plundered Colonel Custis’ estate. The militia, summoned by Captain Levin Walker and George Oldham drove off the raiders. The Americans got into small boats and followed the enemy to Hog Island Inlet, where they got away as night fell and got to sea.14 Andrew’s behavior so disgusted Second Lieutenant Robert Milliner that he resigned from the galley. Andrews was arrested and charged with “forgery and robbery.”15 Andrews was tried by court-martial and sentenced to death, but the Navy Board “on examining find that the atrocities of which he was convicted, were not cognizable by any of the regulations for the government of the Navy of this State, have thought it proper to remit the punishment ordered by the Court Martial have discharged him with ignominy and disgrace from the service, and have turned him over to the civil power for farther trial.”16 Andrews was discharged on 10 February 1779.17 Following Andrews’ dismissal Milliner, after a three week absence returned to the Accomac.18


About July 1779 she was under the command of Lieutenant John Harris, and was sent over with the Virginia Navy Galley Diligence (Lieutenant Richard Parker) to the Eastern Shore by the Board of War. Both were ordered to place themselves under Captain Celey Saunders in Virginia Navy Ship Tempest.19


The Accomac was one of the vessels that the Virginia General Assembly ordered on service to defend the "eastern frontier of this commonwealth" in May 1780.20


Ridding the bay of privateers was a primary concern of the Virginia Navy. In mid summer 1780 it was intended to use the two galleys on the Eastern Shore for this purpose. Bad news soon arrived. In midsummer, the galleys Diligence and Accomac were reported to have been “deserted by officers & men & left open to be plundered of their Guns and Furniture.”21 The crews, having received no rations for four days, apparently deserted the galleys.22 A short time later, James Arbuckle confirmed this and described the deserted galleys: “She is scuttled in several places, so that the water ebbs and flows in her— I am informed also that the Hull is robed of many things vizt: the Irons that supported the net-work and nettings. about half a cable & two others — the other Galley is about thirty miles distant from me, but am informed nothing taken away, but lies in a bad and dangerous situation.23 Orders were issued to Commodore Barron to “arrest the Officers” of the galleys and “to have the men sought for and taken.” Unfortunately, privateer activity in the bay prevented these orders from being executed, and records fail to show whether the malefactors were brought to justice.24 As for the Accomac and Diligence, plans were made to bring them to the western shore to defend Gloucester, but this was never done.25


Meanwhile the local officials salvaged the equipment and stored it in Metompkin courthouse. In July 1781 the equipment was sold at auction to raise money to oppose the British invasion of the state. Useful items sold for about one third of their value, while the hull brought only about five per cent of its original cost.26



1 Middleton, Arthur Pierce, “Ships and Shipbuilding in the Chesapeake Bay and Tributaries,” in Eller, Ernest M. (ed.), Chesapeake Bay in the American Revolution, Centreville, Maryland: Tidewater Publishers, 1981, 111

2 NDAR, “Virginia Navy Board to Captain Charles Thomas, Warwick,” VIII, 1045-1046 and 1046 note. Claghorn, Naval Officers of the American Revolution, says he was commissioned on 30 May 1777.

3 NDAR, “Governor Patrick Henry to Governor Thomas Johnson,” IX, 853

4 NDAR, “ Virginia Navy Board Journal Excerpts October 1-December 31m 1777,” in XI, 1153-1168; Stewart, Virginia’s Navy of the Revolution, 261

5 NDAR, “Vrginia Navy Board Journal Excerpts October 1-December 31m 1777,” in XI, 1153-1168; Stewart, Virginia’s Navy of the Revolution, 225. Stewart, 225, gives his name as James Milner (or Milliner). In Stewart, Virginia’s Navy of the Revolution, 225-226, Stewart says Robert Milner (or Milliner, Miliner) was recommended as Second Lieutenant.

6 NDAR, “ Virginia Navy Board Journal Excerpts October 1-December 31m 1777,” in XI, 1153-1168; Stewart, Virginia’s Navy of the Revolution, 141

7 The entire muster roll is transcribed by Bob Mears, and is at http://www.ghotes.net/misc/ghotes4f.htm, accessed 7 March 2008. This link was pointed out to me by researcher Cheryl Vikaros. In 1831, Scarborough Bloxsum deposed that he served on the Accomac as a Midshipman, from before she was launched until she was ordered dismantled. Information furnished by Cheryl Vikaros in e-mail of 4 March 2008.

8 NDAR, “Journal of the Virginia Navy Board,” XI, 90

9 NDAR, “Journal of the Virginia House of Delegates,” XI, 190-191 and 191 note

10 Stewart, Virginia’s Navy of the Revolution, 198

11 Stewart, Virginia’s Navy of the Revolution, 225

12 Stewart, Virginia’s Navy of the Revolution, 68 and note

13 Stewart, Virginia’s Navy of the Revolution, 225-226. This is a bit odd: the muster roll of October 1777 shows Milliner as First Lieutenant and Andrews as Second Lieutenant.

14 Stewart, Virginia’s Navy of the Revolution, 68 and note

15 Stewart, Virginia’s Navy of the Revolution, 68 and note

16 Stewart, Virginia’s Navy of the Revolution, 69

17 Stewart, Virginia’s Navy of the Revolution, 141

18 Stewart, Virginia’s Navy of the Revolution, 225-226

19 Cross, A Navy for Virginia, 56

20 Paullin, Navy of the American Revolution, 411

21 Cross, A Navy for Virginia, 60

22 Goldenberg, Joseph A. and Stoer, Marion West, “The Virginia State Navy,” in Chesapeake Bay in the American Revolution, 188

23 Cross, A Navy for Virginia, 60

24 Cross, A Navy for Virginia, 60

25 Cross, A Navy for Virginia, 60

26 Goldenberg, Joseph A. and Stoer, Marion West, “The Virginia State Navy,” in Chesapeake Bay in the American Revolution, 188. From the citations here it is clear that this refers to Diligence, but Accomac could not have been much different.



Posted 21 September 2014 © awiatsea.com