5 January 2023: We made it! Another year in the wake - and what a year it was.Not gonna dwell on that; let's just hope the new one is an improvement! As your 'umble scribe is in winter quarters in SW Florida, we thought something local - ok, semi-local - would be an appropriate start for 2023. The following from Brevard County, FL "Space Coast Daily.Com".
And as an aside, we finished the year just short of 143,000 readers! Thanks to all of you who continue to check in and support Maritime Maunder!
The USS [ed: "USS" did not come into existence until the 20th century. Alliance properly would be referred to as "United States Frigate."] Alliance defeated the HMS Sybil in the last naval battle of the American Revolution.
Alliance (on right) and Sybil slug it out
On March 10, 1783, the last naval battle of the American Revolution was fought off Cape Canaveral, as Captains John Barry and John Green tried to deliver a shipload of Spanish silver to the Continental Congress.
Barry, captain of Alliance, the Continental Navy’s 36-gun sailing frigate, arrived in Martinique from France in January 1783 and found orders from Robert Morris of the Continental Congress to sail to Havana, Cuba to pick up 72,000 Spanish silver dollars that were to be used to finance the Continental Army.
When Barry arrived in Havana, he discovered that Captain John Green aboard the USS [ed: see above] Duc de Lauzun was already there with the same orders from Morris.
The silver was already loaded on Green’s ship so the captains decided to sail together in case they encountered any enemies along the way. The ships left Havana on March 6 and sailed partway with a Spanish and French fleet that was making its way to Jamaica.
On March 7, the Americans left the fleet and headed north, but ran into British ships including the HMS Alarm and the HMS Sybil – in company with the sloop-of-war HMS Tobago.
Barry and Green then headed back toward the Spanish and French fleet, and as soon as the British ships saw the fleet, they retreated.
|Captain John Barry|
Then, on March 8, Barry and Green sailed to the north again and reached Florida, with Barry constantly slowing his ship because Duc de Lauzun, an armed transport vessel of 20 guns, was much slower.
On the 9th, the two agreed to transfer much of the money to the Alliance because Duc de Lauzun’s slow speed made it vulnerable to the British ships patrolling the area.
On the 10th, Alarm, Sybil and a third British ship, Tobago, found the American ships off the coast of Cape Canaveral.
As the British gave chase, as usual, Duc de Lauzun dragged behind. Captain Barry pulled alongside Green and persuaded him to throw most of the ship’s cannons overboard to lighten the load.
A fourth ship of unknown origin appeared on the horizon, which caused the British ships to hold back, making Barry think it must be French or Spanish.
Barry then maneuvered between Duc de Lauzun and Sybil, which began firing. Alliance took several direct hits, including one in the captain’s quarters which killed one and wounded several others.
Barry commanded his men not to fire, but sailed directly for Sybil. When they were in an extremely close rage, he ordered the men to fire and they unleashed a torrent of cannon fire on Sybil. After a firefight of 40 minutes, Sybil fell quiet and began to sail off.
Nearly 40 had been killed on the ship and another 40 wounded.
Alliance, Duc de Lauzun and the ship from the horizon, which turned out to be the French ship Triton, chased the British ships but lost them in the night.
The rest of the silver was transferred to the faster Alliance and the ships then headed north. Duc de Lauzun was able to travel up the Delaware River to Philadelphia on March 18 and Alliance made it to Newport, Rhode Island on the 20th.
Only a few days later, word arrived that the Treaty of Paris had been signed on February 3, bringing the American Revolutionary War to a close and making this engagement the last naval battle of the Revolution.
As also occurred in the next conflict (the War of 1812), the final battle in the Revolution was fought after the Treaty was signed. Of course, communications from Europe in the 18th Century was dependent on sail and that took time. In the War of 1812, there were actually 2 battles fought after the treaty was signed (24 Dec 1814), one at sea (Constitution vs HMS Levant and Cyan - 20 Feb 1815) and one on land (Battle of New Orleans - 5 Jan 1815).
Happy New Year!
Until next time,