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[commander] in the Premises. This Commission shall continue in Force until the Congress shall issue Orders to the contrary.'"

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Privateers were ill adapted for cruising in squadrons and failed in nearly all attempts at coöperation with regular ships or with each other. There were cases where two or three private ships were able to work together or support each other with good effect, but in larger numbers, when anything like manoeuvring was required, they were incapable of concerted action. On May 21, 1777, a squadron sailed from Boston composed of the Continental frigates Hancock and Boston and nine privateers, for a cruise of twenty-five days. Great preparations were made and it was provided that the commanders were to be on the same footing as the regular officers and their vessels were to be insured by the State. Within six days of their departure the privateers, with one exception, had parted from the frigates and were seen no more. The agreements drawn up between the State authorities and the privateersmen, of which the following is one, will indicate the hopes of benefit to be derived from the arrangement:


Articles of Agreement made and Concluded this Third day of May, in the Year of our Lord One Thousand Seven hundred and Seventy Seven, Between Thomas Cushing, Moses Gill, Benjamin Austin, James Warren, Tristram Dalton, William Cooper and Caleb Davis, Esq'rs, A Committee of the Great and General Court of the State of the Massachusetts Bay, for and in behalf of said State on the one part, And Thomas Davis and John Dyson of Beverly in the State of Massachusetts Bay, Merchants, for themselves and the rest of the Owners of the Brigantine Washington of Fourteen Carriage Guns and Manned with Seventy five Men, and Elias

1. Mass. Historical Society. An earlier, briefer form (Mass. Archives, 166, 72) is here reproduced as an illustration. See frontispiece.

2. Mass. Archives, XL, 129, XLIV, 438. Petition of Capt. Andrew Gardner, of the Schooner Active, for pay for this service, enclosing certificate of Captain John Manley of the frigate Hancock, to the effect that the Active had continued four weeks in company with the frigates.


51 Smith Commander of said Brigantine, a Private Vessel of War now bound on a Cruise of Twenty five days in Company with a Fleet of Continental Ships and other Vessels of War under the Command of Capt. John Manley, of the other part, Witnesseth, That the said Committee for and [on] the behalf of said State Do hereby Covenant with the said Thomas Davis and John Dyson and the said Elias Smith, Commander of the said Brigantine, in manner following, viz.: That they will Insure said Vessel at the full amount of her Costs and Outsetts from all Dangers of the Sea and the King of England's Ships and Vessels of War while under the Command of the said Capt. John Manley; That in Case of Accident during said Cruise, the Officers and Privates of said Brigantine shall be upon the same footing exactly that the Captains Manley and McNeill and their Men are as to pensions and one Month's pay; That the Ammunition expended in time of Action on this Cruise shall be made good by said State; That the Month's pay abovementioned shall be made to the Officers and Mariners of the said Brigantine, upon their producing a Certificate from the Commanding Officer of said Fleet of their having performed their part of this Agreement.

In Consideration whereof the said Thomas Davis and John Dyson for themselves and the rest of the Owners of the said Brigantine and Elias Smith, Do hereby Covenant with the said Committee, That the said Vessel shall Cruise under the Command of the said Capt. John Manly, or the Commanding Officer of the Continental Ships, for the Term of Twenty five Days from the day of Sailing, unless the Commander shall discharge her Sooner; That in Case said Vessel should by Accident be parted from the Fleet, and should take a Prize or Prizes before the Expiration of the time aforesaid, the Prizes so taken shall be equally divided among the whole Fleet, as tho' they had all been in Company. In Witness whereof the Parties aforesaid have hereunto Interchangably set their hands and Seals the day and year first within written.

And it is further Agreed, That if the said Vessel should be obliged to come into Port thro' necessity to refit in Consequence of Damage she may receive within the Twenty five Days, the Com'ttee Agree that the Owners may fit her out again without any Restrictions, And in Case she goes out short handed, she shall have liberty to return to refit and Compleat her Manning and then proceed on her Cruise at the expiration of said Twenty five days; Provided Nevertheless, if the said Brigantine is not ready to Sail

by Thursday next or with the two Continental Ships, this Agree

ment to be void.

Signed Sealed and Deliv'd

in the presence of



JOHN DYSON for self


The special bond given in this case recites that "if the said Elias Smith shall accordingly with the Vessel under his Command proceed upon the Cruise aforesaid and for the Term of Twenty five days from the Fleet's sailing, and shall during this Cruise continue with and strictly Obey the Orders and follow the directions of the said John Manly or the Commanding Officer of the Fleet for the Time being, then this Obligation to be void and of none Effect, otherwise to abide and remain in full force." 2

Twelve privateers accompanied the Penobscot Expedition in 1779 and when the time came to face the enemy they fled like stampeded cattle, but in this case the regulars, being badly led, did no better. These twelve vessels were taken into the service of the State for the occasion, being impressed when necessary. The following is a warrant for this purpose:


COUNCIL CHAMBER, BOSTON, July 2d, 1779. Whereas it appears to this Board That it is absolutely necessary to compleat a sufficient Naval Force for the Penobscot Expedition That the Ship General Putnam, now in this Harbour, should be taken into that Service immediately and the Owners thereof being at a Distance, Therefore Ordered That the Sheriff of the County of Suffolk be and he hereby is impowered and directed to impress the Ship General Putnam with her Tackle and Appurtenances and deliver her... to the Board of War to fit her immediately for a Two Months Cruize, to Sail on an Expedition to Penobscot, to dispossess the Enemy of the United States there, and This shall be your

1. Mass. Archives, 139, 93.

2. Ibid., 95.

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sufficient Warrant hereof; fail not and make due Return of this Warrant with your doings thereon forthwith.

In the Name and behalf of the Council

JOHN AVERY, D. Sec'y.1

JER. POWELL, Presid't.

The privateers made many captures and the newspapers of the day contain long lists of their prizes in their advertisements of the sessions of prize courts. The foundations of many fortunes in the seaport towns of Massachusetts were laid by these enterprising mariners. A very rough estimate based on the newspaper lists would indicate that the number of prizes taken and brought into port during the war by Massachusetts privateers and tried in the courts of the State was not far from twelve hundred. Many others must have been tried in other states and in Europe and the West Indies. The court records that have been preserved are somewhat fragmentary. The report of the trial and condemnation of the Massachusetts brigantine Independence, recaptured from the British, as it appears in the record of the Maritime Court of the Middle District, will show how prize cases were handled:


Middle District Suffolk Ss.

At the maritime Court for the Middle District of the State of the Massachusetts Bay, holden at Boston in the County of Suffolk by the Honourable Nathan Cushing, Esquire, Judge of said Court, on Fryday the twenty seventh Day of June in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and seventy seven.

Be it remembered that on the twentieth Day of March in the same Year of our Lord, Mungo Mackay and Thomas Adams, both of Boston aforesaid, Merchants, in Behalf of William Brown, Commander of the private arm'd Ship called the Boston, the Officers, Marines and Mariners on board the same Ship, the Owners thereof and all concerned therein, came before the said Judge and filed a Libel exhibiting an Information, to wit, that the said Brown and 1. Mass. Archives, 145, 8.

his Company, in said Ship on the high Seas, on the tenth Day of February last, attacked and took and, on the same twentieth Day of March bro't into Boston in said District, the Brigantine called the Independance of about one hundred and twenty Tons Burthen, in Ballast, and commanded by one Harvey. Which Brigantine and Appurtenances, the said Mackay & Adams in their said Bill aver'd, were, at the Time of said Capture, the Property of and belonging to some of the Subjects of the King of Great Britain other than the Inhabitants of Bermuda, New Providence and the Bahama Islands, and was then employed by the Enemies of the united States of America. By Means whereof and by Force of the Laws of this State and the Resolves of the Continental Congress in such Case provided, the same Brigantine, her Cargo and appurtenances (the Proponents further said) are forfeit and to be distributed to and among the Captors and others concerned therein. Praying Advisement in the Premises and that, by a due Course of Proceedings, the same Brigantine and appurtenances may be decreed to be and remain forfeit and distributed as the Law directs.

And the Time and place of Trial having been duely notified, the said Proponants appear. And Richard Derby, junr., esqr., Agent within the said District for the State of Massachusetts-Bay, by William Wetmore, Esqr., his attorney comes into Court and (his Claim having been duely filed) on behalf of said State claimeth the said Brigantine, her Stores, Guns, Arms, Boat and Appurtenances, and saith "that no Condemnation of the said Brigantine, etc., hath been had by the Enemy, and the same Brigantine, etc., before the Capture thereof were and now are the Property of the Government and People of the State aforesaid and not liable to Forfeiture" and prays that the one half of what she, her Stores, Guns, Arms, Boat and Appurtenances may sell for, be restored and paid to him the said Richard, for the Use of the said Government, and People, after deducting the Charges of Trial and Sale from the Proceeds of the said Brigantine, etc.

And after a full Hearing of the Proponants and the Claimant (by their respective Counsel) the Bill aforesaid of the Proponants and the Claim of the said Richard Derby are committed to a Jury duely returned and impannelled and sworn to return a true Verdict thereon according to Law and Evidence. Which Jury are John Coburn, John Woods, Elisha Gardner, Joshua Boylston, John Hooton, David Williams, John Champney, Thomas Parker, William Bosson, Francis Archibald, John Bennet, Benaiah Perkins. Who return their Verdict to the said Judge and upon their Oath say "that the said Brigantine and her Appurtenances, Stores, Guns,

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