The South Carolina sailed from Philadelphia and joined with the brig Constance, schooner Seagrove and the ship Hope. These ships hoped that the South Carolina would provide security for a portion of their voyage.
The South Carolina began to have problems. Most of her crew had never been out to sea and now began to have second thoughts. Ironically the Hessian marines remained loyal and were used to put down a brewing mutiny.
The next problem was that the river began to ice over making entrapment possible. On December 20th the frigate sailed out of the mouth of the Delaware Bay and headed into the Atlantic, but when she sailed into the Atlantic the British were waiting for her with three frigates.
The Seagrove headed north hoping that the British would go after the South Carolina. The Diomede peeled off and fired some shots across the Seagrove’s bow. The Seagrove sent boats ahead to tow her into the wind and she was able to escape.
The brig Constance continued due east, but was overtaken by the other two British frigates. The Constance was carrying tobacco. On board the Constance were 50 German and 8 British soldiers who volunteered to serve on the brig. These soldiers had been captured from General Burgoyne’s army at the battle of Saratoga.
The South Carolina and the Hope continued to be chased for 18 hours by the man of war Diomede and the frigates Quebec and Astrea.
During the chase the South Carolina fired her stern guns at the pursuing British ships. The Diomede was finally able to fire on the South Carolina at 3 o’clock in the afternoon of December 20th. During the fight the Hope turned aside and nearly collided with the Diomede.
The South Carolina fired back with her stern guns, but the Diomede fired six broadsides into her. The Royal Navy frigate Quebec was able to fire one broadside. The fight continued for another two hours with the British ships left, right and center, all firing upon the South Carolina. Finally Captain Joyner ordered all of the South Carolina’s guns to be fired and he struck her colors.
The prize ships were taken to New York. The South Carolina was described as "appears to be about Five Years Old, Built in Holland; had on board when taken, 28 No. Thirty-Nine Pounders on the Upper Deck, 10 No. Twelve Pounders on the Quarter Deck, and 2 No. Nine Pounders on the Fore Castle. Her length on the upper deck was one hundred and seventy feet, on the keel one hundred and forty-four feet and one inch; extreme breadth, forty-three feet and three inches. She measured fourteen hundred and thirty tons burden."