HM Brig

Armd Brig




1776 July 13

1779 Sep 27

Paid off/sold









Marblehead privateer Yankee Hero, taken 6.6.1776 by HMS Milford 28, purchased 15.8.1776 at Newfoundland, condemned and sold at Halifax 29.9.1779 for £450, 10 x 4pdrs. (Winfield)

POSTILLION Schooner 10.  Purchased 1776. Sold 1779 in Newfoundland. (Colledge)

1776 June 06 [extract]

“at 2 [P.M.] saw a Strange sail in the S W in chace of us,   at 3 the Chace haul’d in for the Land,   made sail & gave Chace   ½  past fir’d 4 Shot at the Chace   At 4 fired 4 Shot more at her,   at 5 came alongside the Chace who fir’d several Shot at us on which we came to Action   ½ past 5 the Chace wore and bore away, we then wore and came alongside of her again within Pistol Shot, we then continually firing our Great Guns and Musquets for about a Glass longer when she Struck,   she proved to be an American Armed Brig called the Yankey Hero of 17 Carriage Guns and 12 Swivels & 52 Men.   sent the 1st Lieut to take possession of her,   Recd onbd the Prisoners there was kill’d of the Enemy 4 and 12 Wounded we had one Marine Shot in the Arm,   and made sail and stood to the Soward   at 9 made Sail for Nantasket Road in Company the Prize” (Master’s Log, HMS Milford 28, ADM 52/1865)

“The Public having been only transiently informed of the capture of the Privateer Brig Yankee-Hero, of this Port, of which James Tracy was late commander; as her engagement with the Milford Frigate was a bold action and well conducted, considering her unavoidable situation, you may if you please Mr. Printer give the following narrative of it, chiefly collected from those who were in the engagement.

“Captain James Tracy sailed from Newbury Port the 7th of June in the Yankee-Hero for Boston with 26 men only, including officers; this number was not a quarter of his complement; 1he was provisioned for a six months cruize, and was to take in the remainder of his men at Boston; the afternoon he went out, going around Cape Ann he observed a sail in the Offing, but in his situation did not think of looking after her:  Two boats full manned with their musquets, who had put out after the sail came on board, and informed him that a number of transports had been close in with the Cape that day1- 14 men from the two boats joined him, and sent their boats on shore; he now had 40 hands in the whole (only a third his complement) with these he put away for the sail which bore E.S.E. about 5 leagues distance, the wind then being Westerly; at 6 miles distance they perceived her to be a ship, and soon after from her management to be a ship of war.  As a contest with her must have been very unequal, Capt. Tracy who intended to make a harbor that night, ordered the brig to be put about for shore not then suspecting the ship could come up with him; but he had not tacked 10 minutes before the Westerly wind died away, and the ship taking a fresh southerly breeze came fast in, endeavouring to cut the brig off from the shore:  After some time the ship thus getting in the wake of the brig, the wind again came fresh to the westward upon which the brig hawled to the wind in the best angle for the shore; the ship gave chase, and in an hour came up within half a mile and began to fire her bow chasers which the brig only answered with a swivel, Capt. Tracy reserving his whole fire, until the ship, keeping a constant fire, came up within pistol shot upon his lee quarter, when the brig gave her the best return they could make from their main and quarter deck guns, swivels, and small arms, and after then keeping up a constant fire.  The ship was soon up along side, and with 12 nine pounders of a side, upon one deck, besides forecastle and quarter deck guns, with her marines, overlooking the brig as high as her leading blocks, kept a continual fire, after some time the ship hawled her wind so close, (which obliged the brig to do the same) that Capt Tracy was unable to fight his lee guns, upon this he backed under her stern, but the ship sailed much faster, and worked as quick, had the advantage, and brought her broadside again upon him, which he could not evade; and this manner they lay not a hundred feet from each other, yawing to and fro, for an hour and twenty minutes, the privateers men valiantly maintaining their quarters against such a superior force.  About this time the ships foremost guns beginning to slack fire; Capt. Tracy tacked under her stern, and when clear of the smoak and fire, perceived his rigging to be most shockingly cut, some of his principal sails shot to rags and half his men to appearance dying, and wounded—

“Mr. Main, the first lieut. was among the first wounded, and Mr. Davis one of the Prize Masters fell in the last attack.  In this situation the went to work to refit the rigging and carry the wounded below, the ship then having taken a broad sheer some way off, and none of her guns bearing;  but before they could get their yards to rights, which they zealously tried for in hopes still to get clear of the ship, as they were now nearer in shore, or to part from her under the night she again came up and renewed the attack, which obliged Capt. Tracy to have to recourse to his guns again, though he still kept some hands aloft to his rigging, but before the brig had fired two broadsides, Capt. Tracy received a wound in his right thigh and in a few minutes he could not stand; he laid himself over the arm[s] chest, and barricadoe, determined to keep up the fire, but in a short time from pain and loss of blood, he was unable to command, growing faint, and they helped him below; as soon as he came too, he found his firing had ceased, and his people around him wounded, and having not a Surgeon with them, in most distressed situation, most of them groaning, some expiring -- Struck severely with such a spectacle, Capt. Tracy ordered his people to take him up in a chair upon the quarter deck, and resolved to attack the ship, which was all this time keeping up her fire; but after getting into the air, he was again so faint, that he was for some time unable to speak, and finding no alternative, but they must be taken or sunk, for the sake of the brave men that remained, he ordered them to strike to the ship.  Thus was this action maintained upwards of two hours in a low single deck’d vessel, with not half the metal the ship had, againgst an English Frigate, whose navy had bee the dread of nations, and by a quarter the number of people in the one as the other, yet the victors exulted as though they had overcome a force as much superior as ths was inferior to them.  The brig had four men killed and thirteen wounded including officers, the number in the Milford wounded, is not known though there were some.  The deprivation of these brave officers and men is to be regretted by all friends to this country--With justice to Capt. [John] Bur[r] of the Milford, it must be acknowledged, he treated them with humanity and politeness the officers and men that were wounded; but to the eternal disgrace of Britain, and the present king and parliament, let it be recorded, that in this very action above related, upwards of thirty Americans (prisoners in Milford) were forced at the forfeit of their lives to fight against their countrymen, and he officers and men of Yankee Hero, that were not wounded, are now detained in several of their ships, and may meet with the same cruel fate—an exaction, that even Savages have not been known to require.  It is to the credit of the Hero’s men, that not one would enter upon the ship’s books, although not only urged by every persuasion, but by threats,

“Capt. James Tracey, and Mr. Main his first lieutenant, we hear, are likely to do well of their wounds, though they mend but slowly; they and the other wounded men are at Halifax; twelve of the Hero’s men were kept on board the Milford—Mr. Robert Tracy his second lieutenant, and the rest of the brig’s company, are on board the Renown Commodore [Francis] Banks.” (The Essex Journal, and the New Hampshire Packet, 09 Aug 1776)



Brig 10 g.

George Lumsdaine (15.8.1776) ex-Yanky Hero Privateer




George Lumsdaine



George Lumsdaine

[extracts from lists found in ADM 1/471]


01 Dec 1776 Newfoundland (Lumsdaine), [1777,] Nov 1778 Convoys, Dec 1778 Newfoundland, 01 Dec 1779 Newfoundland (Lumsdaine)

Captain’s Log



Muster Books




1776 July 13

- 1779 Sep 27


1776 July

-1779 Sep







Master’s Log



Pay Books



Not found




1776 July 14

-1779 Sep 27

* Cataloged as “Postilion [sic] (Brigantine)”
Cataloged as “Type: PZ” [Prize?]

#  Cataloged as “Postillion


Officer’s Name

Date of Rank



Lumsdain, George

1776 July 13 2


Lloyd, Howell

1772 Nov 02

M&C: 02 Oct 1778




This was a portion of the late convoy from Greenock for Boston under the escort of HMS Flora 32 comprising 33 transports bearing the 42d Regiment (Royal Highlanders) and two battalions of the double-sized 71st Regiment (Fraser’s Highlanders).  A total of six transports were taken.; two on the Grand Banks by the USS Andrew Doria and four in Massachusetts Bay.  At this time HMS Renown 50 had been left to keep British shipping from inadvertently entering Boston Harbor, evacuated by the British in March 1776.  HMS Milford 28 and HM Brig Hope, Sloop were patrolling Massachusetts Bay for the same purpose.



Commissioned by Montagu, confirmed 19 Nov 1776 by Admiralty (ADM 6/21/234)

Revised 6 August 2014 ©