Database:   Reprisal - Shark  

Reprisal - Shark.

Other names:

What: 27 July 1776. Capt. Lambert Wickes Reprisal vs. Capt. Chapman Shark.

Where: 14.74 -61.35, Reprisal vs. Shark, 27 July 1776

Maps: [map notes]

  • 14.74 -61.35, Reprisal vs. Shark, 27 July 1776
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  • Confidence: 3

  • 14.745 -61.174, Sainte Pierre, Martinique
  • Falling Rain
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  • Confidence: 3


  • Boatner: Not found.

  • "Other Events On The Sea In 1776", A Naval History Of The American Revolution, Ch.5,
    The Reprisal, Captain Lambert Wickes, was ordered June 10 to Martinique, but she did not sail at once; at the end of the month she was still in the Delaware. . . .

    The Reprisal sailed July 3 for the West Indies, taking out as passenger William Bingham, who was to be the American commercial and naval agent at Martinique. The Reprisal convoyed thirteen merchantmen to a safe distance beyond the Delaware capes. During the voyage she took and manned three prizes, which left her very short-handed. As she was approaching the port of St. Pierre, July 27, the British sloop of war Shark, 16, came out of the harbor. Captain Chapman of the Shark says that at half-past five that afternoon a ship was seen coming around the northern point of the bay and was suspected of being an American. At seven the Shark slipped her cables and made sail. Half an hour later the Reprisal tacked. "We wore and stood towards him & haild him twice in French, to which he made no answer; we afterwards haild him in English, he continued to make sail from us & made no reply. At 9 fir'd a shot ahead of him and haild in English, told him we was an English Man of War; he made no answer, but bore down and fired a Broadside into us, which we returned immediately and continued engaging 1/2 an hour, then he back'd his Maintops & dropt astern & afterwards tack'd; 1/4 past 10 we tack'd & stood towards him, at 1/2 past 10 they fired two shot at us from the shore, which occasioned us to bear away; he kept his Wind and anchord in the Bay." (Brit. Adm. Rec., Captain's Logs, No. 895 (log of the Shark.) Wickes says that be replied to both the French and English hail of the Shark and that the latter fired a shot at ten o'clock followed by three others in succession, to which the Reprisal returned four, whereupon the English made sail in order to withdraw from the contest. A French officer on shore thought that the English fire was the more rapid and better delivered.

  • "Josiah Bartlett to William Whipple", Letters of Delegates to Congress: Volume 5 August 16, 1776 - December 31, 1776:
    Capt. Weeks in the Reprisal is returned from Martinico which he left the 26th ulto.; he has brought 4 or 500 muskets, some powder, &c., &c. The affair of the Reprisal and the Shark man of war in the Harbor of St. Piers in Martinico, occasioned the British Admiral Young to send to the French General, informing him that the Capt. of the Shark would have taken the pirate ship commanded by Capt. Weeks if it had not been for the French forts protecting him, and he in the name of his Brittanic Majesty demanded that she should be forthwith seized and delivered up into his hands, or otherwise his protecting not only the trading ships of rebels, but their ships of war would be deemed a breach of the peace between the two nations, and that on his refusal he should immediately send a man of war to acquaint his Britannic Majesty of the circumstances, &c., &c.

  • Snippet from "Thomas Jefferys, Martinico, 1775", Image 4723032 from the David Rumsey Historical Map Collection.

    Sainte Pierre:

    Saint Pierre

  • Snippet from Thomas Jefferys, Composite: West Indies, 1775, image 4723024 from David Rumsey Historical Map Collection at



  • "USS Reprisal (1776)", Wikipedia:
    USS Reprisal, 18, was the first ship of what was to become the United States Navy to be given the name promising hostile action in response to an offence. Originally the merchantman brig Molly, she was purchased by the Marine Committee of the Continental Congress on March 28, 1776, renamed Reprisal, and placed under the command of Captain Lambert Wickes. . . .

    Reprisal cleared the Delaware Capes on July 3. During that month, Captain Wickes captured a number of vessels in the West Indies, and, on July 27, had a sharp encounter with HMS Shark off Martinique, beating her off and escaping into port. She returned to Philadelphia on September 13.

  • "Naval Battles 1776-1800", map. This maps shows the action too far out from St. Pierre.

  • "Sailing Navies: Chronology - 1775 to 1799". "27 July 1776, Continental Navy brig Reprisal, 16, engages the British Shark, 16, off St. Pierre, Martinique"

  • CIA map: Central America and the Caribbean

  • CaribMap. Collection of zoomable scanned Caribbean maps. "Lesser Antilles", Boddington maps of Guadeloupe and Martinique, not found on main menu, regrettably photographed rather than scanned. Serves as an excellent ref for locating scanned images.

  • RevWar75   listing Not found.

    Related sites: Fort Royal

    Confidence level: 2