New Hampshire Privateer Brig/Ship General Sullivan

General Sullivan

(1) Commander Thomas Dalling

Sloop-of-War [Brig/Sloop]

13 September 1777-27 October 1778

New Hampshire Privateer Brigantine/Ship

(2) Commander Thomas Manning
29 October 1778-19 June 1779

Commissioned/First Date:

13 September 1777

Out of Service/Cause:

19 June 1779/captured by HM Frigate Licorne


Eliphalet Ladd et al, of Exeter, New Hampshire



Date Reported: 13 September 1777

Number/Caliber  Weight        Broadside


Total: 14 cannon/

Broadside: 7 cannon/


Date Reported: 8 January 1778

Number/Caliber  Weight        Broadside

16/6 pounder      96 pounds  48 pounds

Total: 16 cannon/96 pounds

Broadside: 8 cannon/48 pounds


Date Reported: 24 February 1778

Number/Caliber  Weight        Broadside

14/6 pounder      84 pounds  42 pounds

Total: 14 cannon/84 pounds

Broadside: 7 cannon/42 pounds


Date Reported: 16 November 1778

Number/Caliber  Weight        Broadside


Total: 18 cannon/

Broadside: 9 cannon/


Date Reported: 20 June 1779

Number/Caliber  Weight        Broadside

24/6 pounder     144 pounds 72 pounds

Total: 24 cannon/144 pounds

Broadside: 12 cannon/72 pounds



(1) 13 September 1777: 101 [total]
(2) 24 February 1778: 113 [total]
(3) 16 November 1778: 101 [total]
(4) 20 June 1779: 106 [total]



(1) First Lieutenant Nathaniel Giddings, 5 May 1778-October 1778; (2) First Lieutenant Simon Bradstreet [Broadstreet], 29 October 1778-March 1779; (3) Second Lieutenant Simon Bradstreet [Broadstreet], 5 May 1778-29 October 1778; (4) Second Lieutenant Josiah Roberts, 29 October 1778-November 1778; (5) Second Lieutenant John Salter, 19 November 1779; (6) Master Nelson, 29 October 1778-; (7) Captain of Marines Nathaniel McClintock, 19 November 1778-March 1779; (8) [Prize master] Nathaniel Peirce, [November] 1778-[March] 1779


(1) Portsmouth, New Hampshire to Martinique, French West Indies, [20] December 1777-[January] 1778

(2) Martinique, French West Indies to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, [March] 1778-[1] April 1778

(3) Portsmouth, New Hampshire to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, [1 August] 1778-18 October 1778

(4) Portsmouth, New Hampshire to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, [30] December 1778-[1] April 1779

(5) Portsmouth, New Hampshire to sea, [1] June 1779-20 June 1779


(1) [unknown], 1778

(2) [unknown], 1778

(3) Brigantine Caledonia (Robert Brown), September 1778

(4) Brig Greyhound (Clifford Byrne), 7 October 1778, at 40°N, 52°W

(5) Ship Mary (William Morwick), [3] January 1779

(6) Packet Weymouth, 6 January 1779

(7) British Privateer [unknown] Endeavour, 12 January 1779

(8) Brig Union, January 1779

(9) British Privateer [unknown], [February] 1779

(10) Brigantine Two Sisters (Hugh Eavans), June 1779


(1) Action with Isabella, 8 January 1778
(2) Action of the prize with two British privateers, [February] 1779
(3) Action with Licorne, 20 June 1779


New Hampshire Privateer Brigantine General Sullivan was commissioned on 13 September 1777, under Commander Thomas Dalling of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. She was listed as having a battery of fourteen guns and a crew of 100 men.1 Other sources indicate she had eight guns and a crew of fifty men.2 General Sullivan was bonded for $10,000 by Dalling and Eliphalet Ladd and Ephraim Robinson of Exeter.3

On 18 November 1777 the owners of the General Sullivan met and organized themselves as the “Proprietary” of the vessel. The group established rules which the members had to sign, and elected Joshua Wentworth as the chairman of the Proprietary. The members were Joshua Wentworth, Keith Spence, Benjamin Austin, John Taylor Gilman, George Wentworth, Robert Parker, Moses Woodward, Eliphalet Ladd, Nathaniel Folsom, Samuel Barrett, John Barrett, and Thomas Dalling. Folsom was elected clerk. The first order of business was to confirm Dalling as commander of the General Sullivan for her intended voyage.4

On 9 December 1777 the proprietors met again and appointed Robert Parker as agent for “building” the General Sullivan and fitting her out for sea. A committee was appointed to draw up Dalling’s orders for the impending cruise. The following Thursday the Proprietary met again, approved the orders for the cruise, and guaranteed a letter of credit for one Benjamin Bigerrall at Martinique in the French West Indies. The letter was for the use of Dalling when he made that port on his cruise.5

General Sullivan’s first cruise was to the West Indies. On 8 January 1778 Dalling was at sea in the West Indies, where he fell in with the British Privateer Isabella (James Wiseman), outbound from Liverpool, England. Isabella was armed with sixteen guns and had a crew of fifty men aboard. She had sailed on 15 December 1777. What followed was a very sharp fight.

Wiseman reported that he met “ . . . an American brig privateer of 16 guns and fought her for two hours and a half yardarm and yardarm. We gave her the first and last broadsides. I believe she is sunk. . . .”

“Our Ensign halyard being shot away, and the Ensign falling down, the privateer thought I had struck and gave a huzza which was answered by a broadside from us. The Captain hailed me to strike , telling me he would never leave me, which I believe were his last words, for I never saw or heard him afterwards; in short I believe the engagement was hot and I believe fatal to them for we could see them falling out of the tops, and our rigging being cut to pieces, we could not work our ship , and so lost our prize.”6

The British had two killed, Third Mate John Manesty wounded, one sailor mortally wounded, and eight or nine more wounded. As to material damage the Isabella “received 132 shots in our hull and masts, a six-pounder went through our mainmast six foot above deck, and four others higher up, and our main topmast almost shattered to pieces, three shots in our mizen mast, one of them about six foot above deck and numberless in our hull , most of them betwixt wind and water, and all our rigging entirely shot away.” Isabella arrived at St. Vincent in the British West Indies before 20 January, when Wiseman reported to his owners.7

General Sullivan arrived at the French island of Martinique not long after the fight, in a shattered condition. A St. Vincent newspaper reported that “her mainmast was so much wounded that Captain Darling was obliged to get another; the bowsprit carried away, and the hull, rigging, etc., greatly damaged. Captain Darling says he had eleven men killed and twenty-three wounded, many of them very dangerously - and gives Captain Wiseman and the crew great credit for their spirited behaviour and good conduct. He expressed great surprise when he found the Isabella had only fifty men; acknowledged he was obliged to sheer off, and that it was the second drubbing he had got from Liverpool men, and wished not to meet with any more armed vessels belonging to that port.”8

An intelligence memorandum from St. Vincent’s noted that the General Sullivan was at Martinique on 24 February 1778. She was said to have fourteen 6-pounders and 113 men in her crew.9 She was still in that area about the beginning of March 1778.10

About 1 April 1778 General Sullivan returned to Portsmouth. She was said to have taken two prizes on the cruise.11 The Proprietary met on 6 April and appointed George Wentworth and Nathaniel Folsom as agents to strip the General Sullivan and store her materials. Another meeting, on 9 April approved a plan to lengthen the privateer and convert her into a ship. The intent was to mount two more guns on each side of the vessel. The contract was given to Eliphalet Ladd, at a cost of £1250, who was to take the brigantine to Exeter for the work.12 On 23 April the Proprietary ordered Ladd to stop work and transferred the contract to Hackett, Hill and Paul at Newmarket, New Hampshire. The firm was paid £1500 and a barrel of rum for the work.13

A meeting of the proprietors on 5 May 1778 Dalling was confirmed as commander of the ship. Nathaniel Giddings was appointed as First Lieutenant and Simon Bradstreet as Second Lieutenant. The owners ordered Dalling to appoint the rest of the officers and begin recruiting immediately.14 By early July 1778 the conversion was completed.

On 15 July 1778 the owners approved the following orders for Dalling. These were delivered by agents Wentworth and Folsom at Portsmouth on 18 July:

“You are hereby appointed to the command of the private ship of war called the General Sullivan, and being every way and manner equipt for the sea; you are to embrace the first favorable opportunity to sail and proceed on a cruise against the enemies of America. We would recommend that you proceed to the banks of Newfoundland and cruise from thence to the Western Islands for ye space of two months from the time you sail from here. Your taking this route, we apprehend, will throw you in the way of the West India trade, and every part of America where the English have any footing, also from America, bound to Europe. If you should not be able to make up your cruise at ye expiration of that time, and you think it advisable, and practicable, to make a descent upon any harbor of Newfoundland, we advise you to do it.”

“As it’s possible many vessels may be loaded and ready to sail for Europe, as it’s the season of the year usually they sail , should your ship sail equal to your expectations, you may proceed (after the above time) as far to the Eastward as to open the British channel, or on the coast of Ireland.”

“Whatever prizes you take, we think it for the interest of the concerned, that they should be ordered to this port, if possible with safety, otherwise to the nearest port on the continent, giving directions to your prize-master, on his arrival, to dispatch one of his people, (if he can spare one) with intelligence to the agents. If you should fortunately capture any vessel with any valuable goods on board, we think it advisable to take on board your own ship such articles as you can conveniently move with safety.”

“The cruise we have recommended, and the provision made for your ship will, we apprehend, bring about the time of four months, your intended cruise. Should you be under the necessity to send a prize to France, the prize-master must value himself on some gentleman of known integrity for supplies, should he want any, in order to proceed to America, and to obtain leave to pay for the same out of the cargo; and if it’s for the interest of the concerned to dispose of vessel and cargo, in that case we would recommend Mr. Jonathan Williams of Nantes, Mr. Saml. J. H. Delop of Bordeaux and Mr. John Emery of Bilboa, or either of  those gentlemen that may be the nearest to the port he may arrive at, to take vessel and cargo into their hands and dispose of,  for the interest of the concerned.”

“Upon the whole, we leave, notwithstanding what is before said, the management of the cruise to your own prudence and discretion, as it’s impossible to know how circumstances may turn up; not doubting your fidelity and honor, in consulting every measure that may contribute to the interest of the concerned. We earnestly recommend and enjoin you to pay due respect to the laws of nations, not suffering any insult or plunder by your people, when boarding vessels at sea, that is in amity with these States, which is a practice greatly complained of. In full confidence of your abilities and integrity we rest entirely satisfied that nothing but fortune will bo wanting, to make the cruise an object of envy.”15

General Sullivan sailed very soon after the instructions were issued. Perhaps the first prize captured, in September 1778, was the brig Caledonia. A meeting of the proprietors on 13 October 1778 appointed Wentworth and Folsom as agents for the prize, indicating she had recently made port.16 Caledonia was libeled on 14 October, being described as a 70-ton brigantine, commanded by Robert Brown. Her trial was set for 4 November 1779. Caledonia was advertised for sale in the same issue, to be held on 5 November 1779. Her cargo of sugar, rum, tobacco, and cotton was to be sold at the same time.17

Meanwhile, the British brig Greyhound (Clifford Byrne) sailed from St. Johns, Newfoundland with a cargo of fish on 27 September 1778. She was bound for Jamaica in the British West Indies. On 7 October 1778, at 40°N, 52°W the Greyhound was sighted and chased by the General Sullivan. After an eight hour chase the Greyhound was run down. Byrne and six men were removed and a prize master and seven men went aboard the Greyhound, which was ordered off to Portsmouth. On 19 October the Greyhound was ninety miles southwest of Cape Sable when she was re-captured by HM Schooner Tender True Blue, a tender to HM Frigate Rainbow, after a twelve hour chase. She was taken into Halifax and tried and condemned there.18

Printed bond for the General Sullivan, with signatures. Note the “colonies” marked out and the “states” substituted. From Winslow, “Wealth and Honour,” 17.

General Sullivan returned to Portsmouth on the evening of 18 October 1778.19 There was evidently some grumbling about the lack of success of the cruise. The proprietors met on 22 October and directed the agents to fit out the General Sullivan for sea. They also agreed to meet on 27 October to “give Capt. Dalling a hearing, according to his desire.” On 27 October the proprietors met, heard Dalling, and “Voted, This proprietary are not satisfied with the whole of Cap Dalling’s conduct this cruise,” and dismissed Dalling. Two days later they met again and elected Thomas Manning as commander. Simon Bradstreet was selected as First Lieutenant, Josiah Roberts as Second Lieutenant, and one Nelson as sailing master.20 Thomas Manning was commissioned on 16 November 1778. General Sullivan was listed as eighteen guns and a crew of 100 men.21 At a further meeting on 19 November 1778, John Salter was selected as Second Lieutenant if Roberts decided not to go, and Major Nathaniel McClintock was appointed as Captain of Marines.22

On 2 December 1778 Manning was issued sailing orders by the agents for the owners, George Wentworth and Nathaniel Folsom. These are remarkably similar to those given to Dalling, quoted above. Manning was to sail to the east and north to intercept the Halifax and New York traffic. If the weather was severe he could stretch down to the south to intercept the British traffic to Portugal, Spain and other areas. He was instructed to sell prizes in foreign ports to lengthen his cruise to six or eight months.23

General Sullivan sailed about the end of December 1778. Six days out she made her first prize, the ship Mary, armed with eight guns. She was bound from Quebec to New York, New York with a cargo of wheat, oats, bread, and flour.24 The 130-ton ship Mary (William Morwick) was sent into Portsmouth, where she was libeled on 8 January 1779, with her trial set for 26 January. She was advertised for sale, with the sale to be held on 28 January. In the advertisement Mary was said to be 170 tons and armed with eight 4-pounders.25

At a meeting of the proprietors on 11 January it was agreed to sell the bread and flour aboard the Mary to the inhabitants of Portsmouth, with the proprietors to receive an initial distribution.26

Aboard the Mary at the time of her capture was Joseph Smyth, a lieutenant in the King’s Royal Regiment of New York. Smyth had sailed in the Mary from Quebec in November 1778. He reported that he was stripped of everything and treated “with the utmost barbarity in a manner shocking to humanity, and debarred the necessities of life . . .” by the privateer’s crew.27

On 6 January 1779 the General Sullivan captured the Weymouth, a packet vessel. Six days later she captured the British privateer Endeavour, from Glasgow, Scotland. The latter vessel was ransomed by Captain Marwick (of the Mary), and all the vessels then sailed for England.28

Among the members of General Sullivan’s crew was an eighteen year old named John McClintock. He had enlisted as a master’s mate aboard the privateer. About January 1779 the General Sullivan captured the brig Union. Nathaniel Peirce of Portsmouth went aboard as the prize master and McClintock was part of the prize crew. The prize was ordered into Portsmouth. McClintock said “after beating four or five Weeks in northern Latitudes, in the months of January and February in vain attempting to gain some American Port, and suffering incredible hardships by the rigor of the seasons and boisterous winds & Seas, by which the Brig was reduced to a mere Wreck, so that with Difficulty we kept her from foundering by the Pumps going continually were obliged by Distress of weather to bear away for the first Port we could fetch, which was Londonderry in the North of Ireland - That after our Arrival the Brigg was taken from us, and after being put under Guard a short time we were set at Liberty . . .”29

Another prize captured was put under command of First Lieutenant Simon Bradstreet, who is listed here as Samuel Broadstreet. The prize was re-captured and Broadstreet sent to Forton Prison on 26 April 1779.30 This prize was another British privateer. She was manned to cruise in company with the General Sullivan. Captain of Marines Nathaniel McClintock went aboard the prize as second in command. The privateer prize was re-captured by two British privateers in an action in which McClintock was killed by a musket shot.31

The General Sullivan returned to Portsmouth from her cruise in early April 1779, bringing in forty-five prisoners. She was said to have captured two British privateers, the Weymouth, a packet bound from Jamaica to London, and a brig from Ireland with provisions.32

On 5 April 1779 the proprietors met and ordered the General Sullivan prepared for sea at once. Thomas Manning was confirmed in command.33 A recruiting advertisement appeared in the Portsmouth paper on 11 May 1779. According to the advertisement the General Sullivan would sail in about ten days on a cruise expected to last ten weeks.34

General Sullivan was at sea by early June 1779. She captured the 90-ton brigantine Two Sisters (Hugh Eavans), which was sent into Portsmouth. Two Sisters was libeled on 5 July 1779, with her trial set for 21 July.35 She was advertised for sale on 3 August 1779, with the sale to take place the same day. In this advertisement Two Sisters was said to be a 70-ton vessel.36

A report in a Boston newspaper, on 2 August 1779, reported the capture of the eighteen gun General Sullivan, in the West Indies, by a British frigate of thirty-two guns, following a short action. She was said to be taken into St. Johns, Newfoundland.37 This information was correct, even if the details were garbled.

On 19 June 1779 HM Frigate Licorne (Captain Thomas Cadogen) was in sight of the shores of Newfoundland. She had been escorting a convoy bound from which Cadogen had parted in bad weather. Licorne sighted a ship and began chasing. At 1400 on 20 June the British frigate came up with the ship and captured her. She was the General Sullivan, of twenty-four 6-pounders and with 106 men aboard. She was taken in to St. Johns, Newfoundland on 21 June.38

1 NRAR, 314

2 McManemin, Captains of the Privateers, 356

3 NRAR, 314;NDAR, “List of Bonds for New Hampshire Privateers,” XI, 220

4 Bell, Charles H., “The Privateer General Sullivan. Records of the Proprietors.,” in New England Historical and Genealogical Register and Antiquarian Journal, Boston: New England Historic-Genealogic Society, 1869, vol. 23, pp. 47-53, 181-185, 289-292; p. 47-48. Online.

5 Bell, “The Privateer General Sullivan,” 48

6 McManemin, Captains of the Privateers, 357

7 McManemin, Captains of the Privateers, 356-357

8 McManemin, Captains of the Privateers, 357

9 NDAR, “Memorandum of American Privateers in Martinique & the Conduct of the French towards the Americans,” XI, 423-424 and 424 notes

10 NDAR, “The Connecticut Gazette; and the Universal Intelligencer [New London], Friday, March 20, 1778,” XI, 739-740 and 740 notes

11 The Freeman's Journal, or New-Hampshire Gazette [Portsmouth], April 7, 1778

12 Bell, “The Privateer General Sullivan,” 49

13 Bell, “The Privateer General Sullivan,” 50

14 Bell, “The Privateer General Sullivan,” 50

15 Bell, “The Privateer General Sullivan,” 50-51

16 Bell, “The Privateer General Sullivan,” 181-182

17 New Hampshire Gazette, or State Journal and Universal Advertiser [Portsmouth], Tuesday, October 20, 1779

18 AVCR, 36-37

19 Jewell, E. P., “A Curious Relic,” [Log of the Ranger]in The Granite Monthly: A New Hampshire Magazine devoted to History, Biography, Literature and State Progress, volume 5, Concord: John N. McClintock, 1882, pp. 64-68, 100, 129-132, 244, 340, 407; p. 66. Online; New Hampshire Gazette, or State Journal and Universal Advertiser [Portsmouth], Tuesday, October 20, 1779

20 Bell, “The Privateer General Sullivan,” 182

21 Claghorn, Naval Officers of the American Revolution, 194

22 Bell, “The Privateer General Sullivan,” 182

23  Bell, “The Privateer General Sullivan,” 183-185

24 New Hampshire Gazette, or State Journal and Universal Advertiser [Portsmouth], Tuesday, January 12, 1779

25 The New-Hampshire Gazette [Portsmouth], Tuesday, January 19, 1779

26 Bell, “The Privateer General Sullivan,” 290

27 Nelson, William, New Jersey Biographical and Geneaological Notes, Newark: New Jersey Historical Society, 1916, p. 204. Also listed as Collections of the New Jersey Historical Society, volume 9.

28 Nelson, William, New Jersey Biographical and Geneaological Notes, 204.

29 Winslow, “Wealth and Honour”, 41, quoting from McClintock

30 Claghorn, Naval Officers of the American Revolution, 33-34

31 Rogers, Thomas J., A New American Biographical Dictionary : or, Rememberancer of the Departed Heroes, Sages, and Statesmen, of America ; confined exclusively to those who have signalized themselves in either capacity, in the Revolutionary War ; with important alteratons and additions, Easton, Pennsylvania: Thomas J. Rogers, 1824, p. 322. Online.

32 New-Hampshire Gazette, or State Journal and General Advertiser [Portsmouth], Tuesday, April 13, 1779

33 Bell, “The Privateer General Sullivan,” 290

34 New-Hampshire Gazette. or State Journal and General Advertiser [Portsmouth], Tuesday, May 11, 1779

35 New-Hampshire Gazette. or State Journal and General Advertiser [Portsmouth], Tuesday, July 6, 1779

36 New-Hampshire Gazette. or State Journal and General Advertiser [Portsmouth], Tuesday, August 3, 1779

37 The Independent Ledger, and the American Advertiser [Boston], Monday, August 2, 1779

38 Almon, J. (ed.), The Remembrancer, or Impartial Repository of Public Events, London: J. Almon, 1779 [Vol 8], 317-318

Posted 21 September 2014 ©

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