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Whitehaven

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Where: 54.533 -3.590 Whitehaven

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Sources:

    Archive Allen, Gardner Weld, A Naval History of the American Revolution, Vol.I, Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, The Riverside Press Cambridge, 1913. Scanned by Google. Ocr'd to make full-text searchable by JR. Pp.343 ff.
    Also, here.
    ((The 22d introduced fair weather, though the three kingdoms as far ae the eye could reach were covered with snow. I now resolved once more to attempt Whitehaven, but the wind became very light, so that the ship could not in proper time ap proach so near as I had intended. At midnight I left the ship with two boats and thirty-one volunteers. When we reached the outer pier the day began to dawn. I would not, however, abandon my enterprise, but despatched one boat under the direction of Mr. Hill and Lieutenant Wallingsford, with the neaesesry combustibles, to set fire to the shipping on the north side of the harbor, while I went with the other party to attempt the south side. I was sucoessful in scaling the walls and spiking up all the cannon in the f h t fort. Finding the sentinels shut up in the guard house, they were secured without Wig hurt. Having fixed sentinels, I now took with me one man only (Mr. Green), and spiked up all the cannon on the southern fort, distant from the other a quarter of s mile. On my return from this business I naturally expected to see the fire of the ship on the north side, as well as to find my own party with everything in readiness to set fire to the shippiug in the south. Instead of this, I found the boat under the direction of Mr. Hill and Mr. Wallingeford returned and the party in some confueion, their light having burnt out at the instant when it became necessary. By the strangest fatality my own party were in the same situation, the candles being all burnt out. The day too came on apace, yet I would by no means retreat while any hopes of success remained. Hiving again placed sentinels, a light was obtained at a house disjoined from the town and fire was kindled in the steerage of a large ship which was surrounded by at least an hundred and fifty others, chiefly from two to four hundred tons burthen and laying side by side aground, unsmunded by the water. There were besides from seventy to an hundred large ships in the north arm of the harbor aground, clear of the water, and divided from the reet only by a &one pier of a ahip's height. I should have kindled fires in other places if the time had permitted. As it did not, our mm was to prevent the one kindled from b e i i easily extinguished. Aftar some search a barrel of tar was found and poured into the h e s , which now amended from all the hatchways. The inhabitante began to appear in thowands and individuale ran hastily towards us. I stood between them and the ship on 6w with a pistol in my hand and ordered them to retire, which they did with precipitation. Tbe flames had already caught the rigging and began to amend the mainmast. The sun was a full hour's march above the horizon and as sleep no longer ruled the world, it was time to retire. We reembarked without opposition, having released a number of prisoners, as our h t e could not aarry them. After all my people had embarked I Btood upon the pier for a considerable time, yet no persons advanced, I saw all the emhenoes around the town covered with the amazed inhabitants. When we had rowed a considerable distance from the shore, the Englii began to run in vast . numbers to their forts. Their disappointment may easily be imagined, when they found at legst thirty heavy cannon, the instruments of their v e v c e , rendered useless. At length, however, they began to fire, having, as I apprehend, either brought down ship guns or used one or two cannon which lay on the beach at the foot of the walls dismounted, and which had not been spiked. They fired with no direction and the shot falling short of the boats, instead of doing us any damage, afforded some diversion, which my people could not help showing by discharging their pistols, &c. in return of the salute. Had it been possible to have landed a few how sooner, my success would have been oomplete. Not a single ship out of more than two hundred could possibly have escaped, and all the world would not have been able to save the town. What was done, however, is sufficient to show that not all their boasted navy can protect their own coasts, and that the scenes of distress :which they have occasioned in America may be soon brought home to their own door." 1

  • RevWar75 RevWar75  
    April 1778 4/22 - 23/1778 Raid on Whitehaven

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