Narragansett Bay

Other names:
Providence River

Naval action,     Capt. Abraham Whipple*, RI Sloop Katy (or Providence)    vs.    Unk. British commander, Sloop Diana     15 June 1775;  

Where: 41.54106, -71.39285 Narragansett Bay

Maps: [map notes]

  • 41.54106, -71.39285 Narragansett Bay
  • Location arbitrarily selected is that on Narragansett Bay in area of most shallow water around Conanicut Island. Confidence level 3.
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  • "Abraham Whipple", article taken from S.P. Hildreth, Biographical and Historical Memoirs of the Early Settlers of Ohio"Cincinnati: H.W. Derby, 1852; reprint ed.: Bowie, Maryland: Heritage Books, pp. 120-164.
    Moved by the same feelings which produced this declaration 1776, the Legislature, in June, 1775, two days before the battle of Bunker Hill, purchased and armed two sloops, one of twelve, and the other of eight guns, appointing Capt. Whipple to the command of the larger, and Capt. Grimes to the smaller, who was to act under the orders of Whipple. The larger vessel was named the Providence. The object of this armament was to clear the bay of the British tenders to the frigate Rose, under the command of Sir James Wallace, who blockaded the mouths of the harbors and rivers, preventing the getting to sea of numerous vessels, and the entry of such as were coming into port. On the 15th day of June, Whipple sailed with his command, down the bay of Narragansett, and attacked two of the enemy’s tenders, which he disabled, and forced to retire under the guns of the frigate, and took one other a prize; while by the light draught of his own vessels he could keep out of the reach of the man-of-war. By this bold act the bay was cleared of these nuisances, and a large number of homeward-bound vessels entered the port.

  • Rhode Island Historical Chronology"
    1775, June 15. First Naval engagement of the Revolution[sic]; between a colonial sloop commanded by Capt. Abraham Whipple and a tender of the British frigate "Rose", in which the tender was chased on to Conanicut shore and capture.
  • Thomas Williams Bicknell, The History of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Volume 2, The American Historical Society, 1920.
    The intrepid Captain Abraham Whipple, the leader of the "Gaspee" party, again comes to the front in the capture of the English frigate "Rose," Captain Wallace, who was disturbing our Bay commerce. It seems that Wallace had seized a Bay packet which he was using as a tender to the "Rose." Governor Cooke demanded the restoration of the packet, which Wallace contemptuously refused to return to her owners. While the correspondence was going on, an armed sloop engaged the packet and, after sharp firing on both sides, the packet was chased on to Conanicut shore and captured on June 15th. The captor was Captain Abraham Whipple of Providence, who commanded the war sloop and to him is due the honor of firing the first shot upon the ocean, at any part of the British Navy, in the American Revolution, as this was the first naval engagement between two armed vessels. Wallace had learned who it was that led the company that seized the Gaspee and he wrote to Whipple as follows: "You, Abraham Whipple, on the 10th of June, 1772, burned his Majesty's vessel, the "Gaspee," and I will hang you at the yard-arm. James Wallace." Whipple replied with greater brevity and more wit and irony; "To Sir James Wallace, Sir: Always catch a man before you hang him. Abraham Whipple."

  • RevWar75: 6/15/1775, Narragansett Bay, RI sloop Katy vs. British sloop Diana. Source: Clark, William B.; editor. Naval Documents of the American Revolution. Vol.1, pp.685, 695. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1964, 1966, 1968.    

  • RevWar75 RevWar75  
    6/15/1775 Narragansett Bay,   ,   (from Legend:) American victory; Naval action

Related locations:
[Can you provide names of other actions related by proximity or other?]

Confidence level: 3