Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Reversals

     Reversals were not uncommon during the Revolutionary War, with captors becoming captives and vice versa.  On 29 May 1776, the American brigantine Andrew Doria, under Captain Nicholas Biddle, overtook the unarmed transports, Oxford and Crawford, conveying Highlander soldier and officers to Halifax, Nova Scotia.  Biddle took the Highland officers onboard the Andrew Doria, along with navigators from the crew of the transports.  Biddle placed a few of his own crewmen on the captured transports.  pilots and any other crewmen with knowledge of navigation. 
     Perceiving five ships on the horizon on 11 June 1776, Biddle feared the approach of a stronger force.  To ensure that some of the vessels evaded the British, Biddle ordered his brigantine and the two prizes to head in different directions. 
     On 14 June 1776, the Andrew Doria reached Newport, Rhode Island with the capture "officers, navigators, and sailors, to the number of forty."  The Highlanders on the Oxford overtook the American crew and directed the ship toward Virginia, hoping to rendezvous with Lord Dunmore (John Murray, 4th Earl of Dunmore).  For more on the Oxford, check here.
     
The Crawford, under the command of Prize Master James Josiah, the First Lieutenant from the Adrew Doria, surrendered on 6 June 1776 to the British frigate Cerberus (Captain John Symonds).  The Continental Army Sloop General Schuyler (Captain Charles Pond) and Continental Army Schooner General Mifflin (Captain Clarke) retook the Crawford on 19 June.    
     On 8 July 1776, Vice Admiral Molyneux Shuldham informed Lord of the Admiralty Philip Stephens “that Four Transports, part of the Flora’s Convoy (two of them the Crawford and Oxford) had been taken in their passage by the Rebels, one of which was retaken by Captain Symons, but after the Troops had been removed out of her into one of the others….”  Please consult 
Vice Admiral Molyneux Shuldham to Philip Stephens, Chatham off Staten Island, 8 July 1776, in Molyneux Shuldham, The Despatches of Molyneux Shuldham, Vice-Admiral of the Blue and Commander-in-Chief of His Britannic Majesty’s Ships in North America, January-July, 1776 (New York: The Royal Naval History Society, 1913), page 273.
     Sadly, American prisoners like Lieutenant Josiah were also removed from the
Crawford before the Americans recaptured the transport.  
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