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Selections from Augustus Buell,
Paul Jones, Founder of the American Navy, 1900.
Supplement for The Tory Lover by Sarah Orne Jewett
This is a source Jewett used in preparing The Tory Lover.
Introduction: Buell's Inventions Used by Jewett
Subsequent historians have pointed out that much of what is included in the following selections is false or without documentary foundation. Several of the documents, even, are fabrications. Nevertheless, this book seems to have been an important source for Jewett's portrayal of events in The Tory Lover.
Jewett did not have a lot of time to absorb Buell, but it seems clear she used him extensively. Buell's preface is dated June 1900, and a review in Book Buyer 21 (October 1900) 188, indicates that the book was available by then. Jewett's novel began to appear in The Atlantic in November of 1900. She presents certain materials that could have been found only in Buell, since he fabricated them.
The history of Jewett's use of Buell is further complicated by the fact that soon after the appearance of the first installment in The Atlantic (November 1900), Buell wrote to Jewett, opening a correspondence. On 31 October 1900, he furnished her with documents concerning Samuel Wallingford, on whom Jewett based Roger. Knowing full well that Samuel was quite a different person from her fictional character, Jewett created the Roger Wallingford of the novel, a man with strong sympathy for the Tory position, who nevertheless enlists in the American navy in part because Mary Hamilton encourages him, saying that she will not listen to his proposals until he returns from honorable service. Buell's documents purported to prove that Jewett had, in fact, imagined Roger correctly, that Samuel had indeed joined the navy under similar conditions. However, as the notes to Ezra Green's Diary suggest, this almost certainly is untrue, since Wallingford left an infant son upon his death. Clearly he had married some time before his departure on the Ranger. Buell had access to Green, but not necessarily to Wallingford family records, which show that Samuel Wallingford married Lydia Baker in Dover, NH on July 22, 1775 and joined the Revolutionary Army sometime later, the earliest record of his service dated November 5, 1775. Furthermore, their son was born on 19 February 1776, seven months after the wedding. In July of 1777, Samuel Wallingford was a lieutenant of marines, working as an enlistment officer for John Paul Jones.
Here is the text of Jewett's letter to Annie Fields about Buell's "revelation." Though the date is uncertain, it seems clear the letter was written in November 1900.I wish to tell you one thing, dear, that I knew Lieutenant Wallingford was killed, none better, but how could I write about him unless I kept him alive? -- There is something so strange now, that I can hardly believe it myself. I thought about him and his house and the members of the family whom I have known, and made him a Tory and had Mary W. -- challenge him to his duty, all out of my own imagination; and on Saturday I got a package of notes from Mr. Buell in which it is proved that Wallingford was a Tory and his lady love declined to marry him for that reason; at last he took her challenge and went to sea. He confessed to Paul Jones that he had come for a lady's sake and not from his principles. Part of this is told almost in my words of the story, as you shall see. Now how could I have guessed, at his character, and what was likely to happen, and better? Imagination is the only true thing in the world!The selections that follow, then, should not be read as history, but as fiction masquerading as history. They are presented because they are sources of interesting aspects of Jewett's composition of the novel. The reader also should be aware that these are only selections. A closer examination of Buell's whole book may reveal other and more subtle ways in which his portrait of Jones and the events of 1777-8 have influenced Jewett's novel.
Bibliography of Discussion of Buell's career and of Paul Jones.
The portrait of Augustus Buell above comes from The Book Buyer 21 (Oct. 1900) 188.
Anon. Review of Paul Jones, Founder of the American Navy. Book Buyer 21 (Oct. 1900) 188.+
De Koven, Mrs. Reginald. "A Fictitious Paul Jones Masquerading as the Real," New York Times (Sunday 10 June, 1906) and republished as a pamphlet. See also her Life and Letters of John Paul Jones (1913).
Hamilton, Milton. "Augustus Buell: Fraudulent Historian," Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 80 (1956), 478-92.
Morison, S. E. Paul Jones: A Sailor's Biography. Boston: Little, Brown, 1959, pp. 425-8.
Paulin, Charles O. "When Was Our Navy Founded? Criticism of Augustus C. Buell's Paul Jones Founder of the American Navy," U. S. Naval Institute Proceedings 36:1 (March, 1910) 255-261. Paulin notes that his essay circulated for several years in manuscript before its publication.
Seawell, Molly Elliot. "Paul Jones." Book Buyer 21 (January 1901) 557-9.
Note that Book Buyer was published by Charles Scribner and Sons, the publisher of Paul Jones, Founder of the American Navy.
Sarah Orne Jewett’s Use of Augustus Buell’s Paul Jones:This is a list of items that, so far as is known, Augustus Buell invented for the first six chapters of his “life” of John Paul Jones. Those that Jewett incorporated into The Tory Lover are indicated. We have relied upon Evan Thomas, John Paul Jones: Sailor, Hero, Father of the American Navy (2003) for some corrections.
Founder of the American Navy (1900) in The Tory Lover (1901).
Heather Petsche and Terry Heller, Coe College, 2004-6
Beginning page numbers in brackets are from Buell.
[p. 1] John Paul’s oldest brother William is adopted by a Virginia planter, William Jones.
[p. 7] John Paul sails for two years on the slaver King George’s Packet and refuses to go for the third year.
This is partly true, but after serving on the King George, Paul served another voyage on The Two Friends. Jones refers to this second voyage in Jewett, Ch. 2.
[p. 12] John Paul is fluent in French and Spanish.
Thomas indicates that this at best an exaggeration. Jewett gives Jones considerable expertise in French in Ch. 21 and in Spanish in Ch. 23
[p. 15] William Jones dies and gives John Paul his Virginia plantation, on the condition that John Paul take the last name “Jones.” John Paul Jones becomes a planter until the war begins.
[p. 23] Jones owns slaves Cato and Scipio.
[pp. 25-6]* Jones sails the sloop from his plantation to meet and befriend the Duc de Chartres on a French frigate in Hampton Roads off the mouth of the James River in Virginia. From the duke, he obtains the dimensions of his battleship to use for designing American warships.
Jewett has Jones tell Wallingford this story in Ch. 14. She, therefore, apparently accepts the story that Jones was a planter and slave-owner in Virginia.
This suggests one explanation for her altering the text of Chapter 2 between the serialization of the novel in Atlantic Monthly (November 1900) and the first book edition in 1901. In the earlier version of Chapter 2, Jewett has Jones give a detailed account of his experience on a slave ship, to make the case that American slavery is not a Providential offering of Christian salvation to African heathens, as Parson Thompson suggests. Believing that Jones had lately owned slaves, Jewett might have thought the extended anti-slavery speech not quite consistent with the historical Jones’s experience.
Jewett also implies in Ch. 1 that Jones knows a good deal about how Virginia gentlemen live, and she refers to his plentiful good Virginia money in Ch. 21. He might have picked up such knowledge -- though not much money -- in his actual life during his time living in Virginia, but he did not have the inside knowledge of this way of life that Buell invents for him.
[p. 52] Jones’s plantation is burned down by Tories and his slaves sold.
[p. 61] Jones throws the cat-o-nine tails overboard and declares no flogging will be done on the Providence.
Jewett has Jones perform this act on The Ranger in Ch. 12.
[pp. 83-84]* Buell creates a fictional logbook, kept by Second Lieutenant Halls, a log of the Ranger’s passage to France. Hall reports that Jones pushed the crew extremely hard to get to France as soon as possible, spending 20 hours per day on deck. Thomas reports nothing special about the one-month crossing during November of 1777.
Hall’s fictitious logbook also records a song that was composed on board primarily by Midshipman Hill, “Carry the News to Lon-don.” Jewett incorporates this into her account in Ch. 12.
Hall has Jones report that Solomon Hutchings broke his leg (p. 86).
Jewett includes this account in Ch. 13. There is no confirmation of this injury in other sources, such as the Diary of Ezra Green, the ship’s doctor. Sawtelle notes that Solomon Hutchins "came down with smallpox, recovered" (194). Fisher & Fisher list Solomon Hutchins (b. 1760) as a navy sailor from Kittery serving on the Ranger (400).
[p. 91] Jones pays 47 guineas of his own money to make up for the difference between what the crew was paid and what the crew was originally promised
[p. 103] While the Ranger is being refitted in France, Jones journeys to Amsterdam for a month disguised as a Spanish sailor to investigate what’s going on with L’Indien.
Jewett has Jones obtain his “Spanish sailor” disguise in Ch. 23. He wears it in Chapters 39-40.
[pp. 106-8]* Jones returns to Paris and becomes friendly with the Duchesse de Chartres. He tells her: “if fortune should favor me at sea, I will some day lay an English frigate at your feet!”
[p. 112]* Jones’s report of the attack on Whitehaven, which says the results were not great, but that the moral effect was devastating to England.
He also says that one sailor, Jonathan Wells of Portsmouth, was left ashore, told the English he’d switched to their side, and managed to sail back to America on an English ship.
Thomas reports the generally received story that David Freeman, under the name of David Smith, was an actual traitor, who deserted the ship and warned the townspeople (123).
Jewett’s fictionalized version in Ch. 24 turns out to be closer to the truth than Buell’s version.
* indicates the fabrication is identified by S. E. Morison in Paul Jones: A Sailor's Biography. Boston: Little, Brown, 1959, pp. 425-8.
Selections from Buell's Text
FROM CHAPTER II: FOUNDING THE AMERICAN NAVY, pp. 23-7.
[In this section Buell recounts a meeting between Jones, Kersaint, and the Duke de Chartres. Later historians indicate that this all is made up. Not only did Jones never inherit a Virginia plantation and a sloop to go with it, but nothing like this meeting ever took place. However, Buell did not create this narrative out of nothing. For example, The author of a review of John Henry Sherburne's The Life and Character of John Paul Jones in the United States Democratic Review (Feb. 1852, 153-68), mentions Jones settling his brother's estate in Virginia (156). This review also calls Jones the "founder of the American navy" (158), providing Buell with his subtitle. "John Paul Jones," a biographical essay in Harper's New Monthly (July 1855, 145-70), suggests that the Virginia estate may have been substantial (147), as does Molly Elliot Seawell's biographical essay, "Paul Jones," Century 49:6 (April 1895) 873-893. And even so respected an authority as Alfred T. Mahan says that Jones's brother left him "a considerable property" that tempted Jones to abandon sea-faring and live the life of a gentleman; see his "Paul Jones and the Revolution" Scribner's 24 (July/August 1898) 24.]
EARLY in the spring of 1775 Jones went to New York in his sloop, making a leisurely trip and spending some time in the waters and among the islands of the eastern shore, at his favorite sports of gunning and fishing. The crew of his sloop included two of his own stalwart young slaves, Cato and Scipio. He was in New York the 21st of April, 1775, when the news of the battle of Lexington reached there. In his journal he says:The first to apprise me of the news was William Livingston, Esquire, whom I chanced to meet in King William Street, and in a short time it was promulgated through the town by means of leaflets issued from the printing-presses. This caused an immediate change of my plans. I had fully intended to prolong my voyage to Boston by going through the Sounds, being extremely desirous to see that town and make the acquaintance of its people; to which end I had already obtained letters from Mr. Livingston and others introducing me. But now I hastened the completion of my business in New York. I had intended to charter a ship there for a voyage to Tobago and possibly to the old country, but now I abandoned that purpose and on the 24th set sail for home, picking up my moorings on the 27th at the plantation. I at once took steps to put myself in communication with Mr. Hewes and other members of the Continental Congress whom I had the honor to know.
The first Session of the Congress, meeting at Philadelphia,, September 4, 1774, had made no provision whatever for the raising of forces either by land or by sea; which I thought an unwise omission, as it left the first shock to be borne by the individual Colony in which it might occur, and put upon the Congress when it should again assemble the necessity of beginning de novo to create a general military organization in the midst of hostilities. But now this issue could no longer be avoided, and the best must be done that could be.
Under date of April 27, 1775, the day of his arrival home, Jones wrote a letter to Joseph Hewes, sending copies of it to Thomas Jefferson, Robert Morris, and Philip Livingston. The material part of it is as follows:It is, I think, to be taken for granted that there can be no more temporizing. I am too recently from the Mother Country and my knowledge of the temper of the King, his Ministers and their majority in the Commons is too fresh to allow me to believe that anything now is or possibly can be in store except either war to the knife or total submission to complete slavery.
I have long known that it is the fixed purpose of the Tory party in England to provoke these Colonies to some overt act which would justify martial law, dispersion of the legislative bodies by force of arms, taking away the charters of self-government and reduction of all the North American Colonies to the footing of the West India Islands and Canada -- that is, to Crown Colonies under military rule; or, perhaps to turn them over to the mercies of a Chartered Company as in Hindostan, all of which I have seen.
I cannot conceive of submission to complete slavery; therefore only war is in sight. The Congress, therefore, must soon meet again, and when it meets, it must face the necessity of taking those measures which it did not take last fall in its first session, namely, provision for armament by land and by sea.
Such being clearly the position of affairs, I beg you to keep my name in your memory when the Congress shall assemble again, and in any provision that may be taken for a naval force, to call upon me in any capacity which your knowledge of my seafaring experience and your opinion of my qualifications may dictate.
He did not have long to wait. But while waiting, he heard early in May that two French frigates had put in at Hampton Roads. He at once loaded his sloop with delicacies of the season and ran down to the Roads, where he found the two frigates under command of Commodore (or Capitaine de Vaisseau) de Kersaint, senior officer, with "the Sailor Prince of France," Louis Philippe Joseph, Duke de Chartres, second in command.
This was the beginning of an acquaintance which was soon to prove of vast value not only to Paul Jones personally, but to the cause of the infant nation at large. When Jones reached the deck of the frigate La Terpsichore, the young Duke greeted him cordially, and then Jones informed him that his sloop alongside was laden with fresh provisions from his own and neighboring plantations, which he begged His Royal Highness to accept, with the compliments of the season. He made no secret with the young Duke and Commodore Kersaint that his object was to obtain information as to the plan, design, and construction of hull, arrangement of battery, spars, rig, and other technical particulars, for the guidance of the Marine Department of the new American Government, which he assured them would be formed within two months, and which would fight it out with England to the bitter end.
Kersaint was naturally conservative, as he was the senior French officer on the coast and had just heard the news from Lexington, which made the situation delicate for neutrals. But the young Duke de Chartres took an enthusiastic fancy to Jones and allowed him to obtain the most complete data of the new frigate, even to copies of deck plans and sail plan which he caused his carpenter to make. Jones was the guest of the Frenchmen two or three days and invited them to visit his plantation. But the outbreak at Lexington had made it impolitic for them to accept entertainment ashore from persons known to be hostile to King George, and they sailed away, bound for Corunna, Spain.
It is worthy of remark that the American frigate Alliance, built a year later, was constructed almost precisely on the dimensions and general lines of the new French frigate La Terpsichore, and mounted exactly the same battery -- twenty-eight long twelve-pounders on the gun deck and ten long nines above.
FROM CHAPTER IV: IN COMMAND OF THE RANGER, pp. 78-90
[Many of the "facts" and events reported here are untrue. A main way in which Jewett made use of this is in her quotation of the song supposedly written by one of the men and sung on the trip to France -- see the notes for this section. There is no documentary evidence of this song.]
"Of course," pursues Jones, "General Washington kept his word. The result was that in a short time the Committee ordered me to Boston to enlist seamen for a European cruise to the number of one hundred and fifty, and then take them to France in a French merchant-ship called l'Amphitrite, which they chartered for that purpose. But this fell through. The French captain was unwilling to take the risk, because, as he said, 'if the English should get wind of the affair, their cruisers would bring the Amphitrite to, take me and my men out of her, and probably condemn the ship for violation of neutrality' -- France then being at peace with England."
However, just at this moment another and better resource presented itself. A new ship-sloop had just been launched at Portsmouth, N. H., called the Ranger. She was designed to carry a battery of twenty long six-pounders, and her model was for those days exceedingly sharp, with unusual dead-rise and lean lines forward and aft.
Elijah Hall, who was her second lieutenant in her famous cruise, has left an interesting description of the little ship. Mr. Hall was a shipwright as well as naval officer, alike capable in both professions. He was also an historian of most pleasing style, and the little book in which he recorded his Revolutionary experiences makes the reader sorry it was not larger.
On June 14, 1777, Congress passed the following resolution:Resolved, That the Flag of the Thirteen United States of America be Thirteen Stripes, Alternate Red and White; that THE UNION be Thirteen Stars in a Blue Field: Representing a NEW Constellation.
Resolved, That CAPTAIN JOHN PAUL JONES be Appointed to Command the Ship RANGER.
In the perspective of a century and a quarter it seems singular that two acts so widely different in nature and effect should be joined in one resolution. Probably Congress did it simply for convenience and without thought of the historical impression the fact might produce in the distant future. But, little as our Congress may have thought about this unusual combination, its significance was not lost on Paul Jones. He accepted it as a distinction far beyond his wildest dreams. He used to say: "That flag and I are twins; born the same hour from the same womb of destiny. We cannot be parted in life or in death. So long as we can float, we shall float together. If we must sink, we shall go down as one!"
October 2, 1777, Jones reported to the Marine Committee, from Portsmouth, that the Ranger would be ready to sail on the 15th of that month. He reported that his crew was already recruited to the full complement, and described it as "the best crew I have ever seen, and, I believe, the best afloat: nearly all native Americans, and the proportion of able seamen to the total is much beyond the average." He also announced that, while waiting for his final orders, he would make one or two short runs off the coast a day or two at a time, to "shake down his crew, set up his rigging, test the set of his sails, and find out the best trim of the ship."
In due course -- probably eight or ten days -- he received advices that the Congress expected soon to have news of the last importance for transmission to France, and that he should hold himself in readiness to get under way at once on receipt of the despatches. These orders were accompanied by a private note from Robert Morris informing him that the news daily expected would come from the upper valley of the Hudson, that the character of the news would undoubtedly be such as to exert the most profound influence upon the result of the pending war, and that it had been decided to hold the Ranger in readiness to carry the news because the committee believed both the ship and commander best adapted of any in the navy to make a quick and safe voyage to France.
From this it appears that those at the head of our Revolutionary affairs felt sure of the capture or total defeat of Burgoyne's army at least three weeks before his surrender. The scenes throughout the country during the days immediately following the 17th of October, 1777, must have been thrilling. Couriers rode at breakneck speed in every direction on all roads and across fields, shouting to every person they met and at every doorway as they flew past, "Burgoyne has surrendered!" There were no details; the couriers had no time to give them. But the one great fact was enough. The whole patriot country went wild over it. Marvellous stories have been told of the rapidity with which this glad news was spread over the country from New Hampshire to Georgia in those days of simple horseflesh and hard riding. From the field of Stillwater to Portsmouth is one hundred and forty-seven miles as the bird flies, and doubtless was at least one hundred and seventy-five miles by the shortest roads of those days. Yet it is said that the news reached Portsmouth in about thirty hours and was brought by a single courier, who never stopped except to obtain and shift his saddle to a fresh horse as he wore the others out; eating his meals in the saddle and never thinking of rest!
Thus Paul Jones must have known by October 19th the nature of the news he was to carry across the ocean. The despatches, under the seal of Congress, were placed in his hands about midnight, October 31, and the Ranger was under way and clear of the Isles of Shoals before daylight, November 1, 1777; as her log says in the second entry of that date, "going free, course east by south half east, wind west north-west, blowing fresh, the sea cross and choppy, from the old swell of an easterly gale, the two days before."
The last thing Jones did before casting off the shore-boat's painter was to add a postscript to his acknowledgment of the receipt of the despatches and his order, saying: "I will spread this news in France in thirty days." He actually did land at Nantes early in the morning of December 2, 1777, thirty-two days out from Portsmouth. Jones himself has left little record of this remarkable run. In his official report he says that he "encountered a good deal of bad weather, and for the first twelve days out, after clearing George's Banks, had a succession of north-easterlies, from a half to a whole gale, with frequent snow-squalls on the edge of the Grand Banks, and as far to the eastward as the forty-fourth meridian. After that it was mostly clear with wind abeam except three days of baffling south-easterlies after passing the longitude of the Azores."
But Elijah Hall, second lieutenant of the Ranger, has left a more copious record, which, in view of the importance of the little Ranger's mission, as the sequel proved, is worth preserving. Lieutenant Hall says:I had sailed with many captains in all kinds of voyages, but I never had seen a ship crowded as Captain Jones drove the Ranger. The wind held northwesterly and fresh till we had cleared Sable Island and began to draw on to the Banks. Then it came off to the northeast and east northeast with many snow-squalls, and thick of nights. We might even then have made a long reach to leeward and run as far south as 40°, if not indeed easting on that parallel as far as the Azores. This would have eased everything, but would also have added a week's time to the run. Captain Jones therefore held to his northerly course, and stuck grimly to his great circle, drawn between 47° and 50° north. As the wind hung all the time between north northeast and east northeast with but few veerings outside those points, it was always forward of the beam on the true course and often near dead ahead. Imagine then, the situation of the Ranger's crew, with a top-heavy and crank ship under their feet, and a commander who day and night insisted on every rag she could stagger under without laying clear down!Captain Jones in his report to the Marine Committee gives two reasons for selecting the northerly course. He says:
As it was she came close to beam-ends more than once, and on one occasion righted only by letting-fly sheets cut with hatchets. During all this trying work Captain Jones was his own navigating officer, keeping the deck eighteen or twenty hours out of every twenty-four, often serving extra grog to the men with his own hands, and by his example silencing all disposition to grumble. In the worst of it the watch and watch was lap-watched so that the men would be eight hours on to four off; but no one complained. It speaks well alike for commander and crew that not a man was punished or even severely reprimanded during this terrific voyage.The great circle course was the shortest by several days' sail, and even at the advanced stage of the season there was a chance of westerly and northerly winds prevailing as far as 35° west, and thus we might get a good slant. But the main reason was that the northerly course at that season would free us from interruption by the enemy's cruisers which were known to swarm on the southerly course. Aware that the first and greatest object of the voyage was to deliver the highly important dispatches at the earliest moment in France, I wished above all things to avoid being chased out of my course by the enemy's frigates, with the necessary accompanying risk of being captured or destroyed. The purpose was accomplished. Not a sail was sighted after we passed the sixtieth meridian until we had crossed the twentieth, and the first ship we spoke was a Dutch East Indiaman in the Bay of Biscay, two days' run west of Ushant. I informed the Dutch captain of the surrender of Burgoyne and requested him to repeat the intelligence, with my compliments, to any British captain that he might fall in with. I trust your Honorable Committee will approve my conduct in these respects. I have fully reported my conduct and my reasons for it to our Commissioners, Messrs Franklin and Deane, and am authorized by them to inform you that it meets with their hearty approval.The Ranger anchored in the Loire, below Nantes, about twilight, December 2, 1777, and Captain Jones at once proceeded express to Paris, placing the despatches in Dr. Franklin's hands early on the 5th, travelling two hundred and twenty miles in sixty hours, after which he returned to his ship about the middle of the month. The despatches contained full accounts of the military operations immediately leading to the surrender of Burgoyne, with a general description of the situation brought about by it, and its effect upon the fortunes of the war so far as the Americans were concerned. The main text of the military part of the despatches was written by General Washington himself, while the estimate and deductions as to the political effects of the event were written by Thomas Jefferson. The documents as a whole were therefore couched in the calm, lofty tone characteristic of their authors. There was no tendency to exaggerate, no exhibition of vainglory. There was no attempt at embellishment, and but little comment. Larger forces than the army of Burgoyne had often capitulated in European fortresses as the result of sieges. But it was instantly recognized that never before had so considerable a force (at least no British force) surrendered in the open field to an army so slightly superior to it in numbers, and as the result of a series of pitched battles. Remarkable and unprecedented as the event was, the Count de Vergennes said that "the modesty with which General Washington and Mr. Jefferson laid the information of it before the King and his Ministers was, if possible, yet more noteworthy."
My crew are all well, and except a few trifling accidents due to the hard exposure on certain occasions, no one has been on the sick-list. One seaman, Solomon Hutchings, had his leg broken by a spare spar getting adrift, but is doing well. I shall have the honor of calling your attention more particularly to the excellent behavior of all my officers and men in a later report. For the present suffice to say, that, without exception, their conduct left nothing to be desired.
During the last day's run I took two prizes bound from Madeira and Malaga respectively, with wines, dried fruits, etc., for London. I sent one of them to Brest and convoyed the other to Nantes. I enclose estimate of their value; also roster of my crew entitled to share prize-money.
Paul Jones was not the only messenger who "carried the news" of Burgoyne's surrender. He was not even the first to place it in the hands of Dr. Franklin. Jones arrived at Passy -- a village near Paris -- where our commissioners had their quarters -- the morning of December 5, 1777. He found that he had been preceded by John Loring Austin, of Boston, who had delivered an exact copy of the despatches he brought, about twelve hours ahead of him. Austin got his copy early in the morning of October 30th, and sailed from Boston in a fast French merchantman (expressly chartered for the purpose) within four hours.
In connection with the delivery of the despatches announcing Burgoyne's surrender, there is a bit of private history, deeply interesting both as an exhibit of the confusion and distrust prevailing in those days, and as a commentary on the character of Paul Jones. To cut a long story short, and to embody here in a page or two the results of years of research, it may be premised that Dr. Edward Bancroft was accused by Arthur Lee of making use of these despatches in advance of their publication for stock-jobbing purposes not only in Paris but also in London; and these accusations went so far as to imply or insinuate the privity, if not the profit, of Dr. Franklin himself in such transactions.
When these accusations became public, Jones, feeling that his own honor as one of the trusted custodians of the news was at stake, set about investigating the matter in his own way. Dr. Bancroft and Jones were friends, and their friendship lasted until death. But under such an imputation, with the slightest possibility that it might, if not cleared up at once, be used to impeach his own integrity and fidelity, Jones would not rest a moment. He probed the matter to the bottom and satisfied himself that, so far as Bancroft was concerned, the imputations were groundless. On this point Dr. Francis Wharton says, in the first volume of the "Diplomatic Correspondence of the American Revolution:"
Jones was the most dangerous enemy Britain had on the high seas. By his stealth, his amazing fighting qualities and his coolness he not only inflicted great damage by his prizes but he compelled a large naval force to be retained for home defence and trebled the rates of insurance on British merchant ships.... Had Jones suspected Bancroft of perfidy, swift and terrible would have been the vengeance; for in such cases Paul Jones did not stay his hand.
The only mention of the affair the author has been able to find in Jones's correspondence is in a letter to Mr. Livingston, dated Nantes, March 13, 1779 -- more than a year afterward -- in which he emphatically disposes of the story, in favor of Dr. Bancroft's integrity. Dr. Wharton's remark that "in such cases Paul Jones did not stay his hand," means more to close students of his character and career than superficial readers of history are likely to grasp. It means that, while under ordinary circumstances polite and forbearing, even to long-suffering, Jones had at bottom a most ferocious temper, and that the one thing of all things he would not brook from anyone was personal perfidy. Errors of judgment or mistakes in conduct he was quick to overlook or forgive; but for deliberate betrayal he knew but one remedy. He was not in any degree a bully; not even prone to quarrel. But his sense of personal honor was delicately, almost painfully, acute; and anyone who wanted any kind of a fight could always get it instantly by jarring that high-strung chord in his nature.
This sentiment was quite as mandatory to him in dealing with common sailors as with men of his own class. On taking command of the Ranger he found that forty-three men had been enlisted at Portsmouth on terms stated in public handbills, as to advances and "ship-money," which could not be carried out under the regulations of Congress. The total amount involved was $40 apiece for thirty able seamen and $20 apiece for thirteen landsmen and boys; aggregating $1,460. Jones at once addressed a letter to these men, through Lieutenant Hall, who had enlisted them. In this letter he pointed out the conflict between the terms of the handbills and the regulations of Congress, and then said:I would not deceive any man who has entered or may enter to serve under my command.... I consider myself as being under a personal obligation to these brave men who have cheerfully enlisted to serve with me, and I accept their act as proof of their good opinion of me, which I so highly value that I cannot permit it to be dampened in the least degree by misunderstanding or failure to perform engagements. If necessary, or to whatsoever extent it may be necessary, I will personally undertake, after exhausting my proper powers in their behalf under the regulations, to make good at my own risk any remainder. I wish all my men to be happy and contented. The conditions of the handbills will be strictly complied with.According to expense accounts allowed and paid to Jones by Congress in 1782, he expended one hundred and forty-seven guineas out of his own funds in making the terms of the handbills good, that being the difference between the sum promised in the handbills and the advances which the regulations permitted him to make on public account.
FROM CHAPTER V: THE FRENCH ALLIANCE, pp. 98-105.
[This selection concerns spies and spying. Though it has been independently confirmed that John Thornton and Hezekiah Ford, personal secretaries to Commissioner Arthur Lee, were indeed British spies, and that Lee himself was a difficult character, Buell's portrait emphasizes the instant antipathy between Jones and Lee and, also, Jones's immediate suspicions of Thornton and Ford. These aspects of Jones's quick perception of treachery seem to be part of Jewett's portrait as well.
Also, there appears to be no historical foundation for Jones disguising himself and acting as a spy or scout after he joined the American navy, though this becomes an important part of Jewett's account of Jones. One possible supporting source of Jewett's idea could be Buell's unsupported account of Jones's secret mission to Amsterdam to explore recovering L'Indien.]
When Jones left the United States in the Ranger, it was understood, and in fact ordered, by the Marine Committee that he should, on arriving in France, take command of the new ship building at Amsterdam, for which Silas Deane had contracted in 1776. The commissioners -- at least Deane and Franklin -- had made every effort to keep the actual character of this ship a secret from the British Government. The contract for her construction had been signed on behalf of the United States by a Captain Gillon, in the service of the Dutch East India Company, who was employed by the commissioners to supervise her construction. Gillon, however, was himself "supervised" by Charles Frederick Dumas, secret agent of the Colonies in Holland, and the bills were paid through Dumas's banker. This ship, then known as the Indien, was of peculiar construction, and her general plans were those furnished to the Marine Committee by Jones in the fall of 1775 in connection with the new frigates then authorized.
She was frigate-built, but from forty to fifty per cent. more powerful than any regular frigate then afloat; the equal in fact of any forty-four-gun ship on two decks in that period, and not much inferior to most ships of fifty guns.
She had been on the stocks since December, 1776, and when Jones arrived in France the December following, the Indien was nearly ready to launch. However, her guns and ammunition were to be placed on board at l'Orient as soon as she could be brought round there from Amsterdam. But shortly after she was launched the British Minister to the Netherlands denounced her to the States-General as an American ship-of-war in disguise, and demanded that she be detained in Dutch waters for "meditated breach of neutrality." The commissioners were dumb-founded at this exposure of their plans, but could do nothing, as the States-General was then under British influence, and after fruitless efforts to get possession of the ship, they sold her to the King of France for a price nearly sufficient to reimburse them for the outlay already made under the contract. This sale was concluded only ten or twelve days before Jones arrived in France with the Ranger. In the course of his investigation, before referred to, Jones ascertained beyond question that the secrets of the commissioners in regard to the Indien had been betrayed to the British Government by Arthur Lee's private secretary, Thornton; also that he had actually furnished the British Foreign Office with documents from the secret files of the commissioners, unquestionably proving the real character of the ship; documents which the British Minister had laid before the States-General.
After the King had bought the Indien, the situation was no better than before, because it only transferred the question of neutrality from Holland to France. Jones told Dr. Franklin that so long as peace continued between England and France, it would be idle to hope for possession of the Indien, or to obtain any other regular ship-of-war from France; and in view of this fact there was nothing left for him to do but make a cruise on the Ranger as soon as the ship could be fitted out, and the spring opened. Jones also reminded Dr. Franklin that by virtue of the original understanding when he assumed command of the Ranger, he was only to hold that command until he could get a larger ship, and that his first lieutenant, Simpson, considered himself now fully entitled to command the Ranger.
Dr. Franklin settled, or tried to settle, this question by giving Jones written instructions under date of January 16, 1778, to hold command of the Ranger till further orders, and to fit her at once for a cruise in the early spring. Simpson acquiesced in this order, but not cheerfully or with good grace, as the sequel proved. Jones now took the Ranger from Nantes to l'Orient, thoroughly overhauled and refitted her, and on the 13th of February arrived in Brest Roads in the presence of the Grand French Fleet, commanded by the Count d'Orvilliers. The division of the fleet which Jones first spoke was commanded by Rear-Admiral La Motte Piquet, and, wishing to be sure of his ground, Jones sent a boat to that officer with a polite note informing him that the Ranger flew the new American flag, which had never yet been saluted by the guns of any foreign naval power, and asking whether a salute, if offered, would be returned. In response he was informed that the salute due to the senior officer of a republican naval force on the station would be given him; that is, four guns less than for the representative of a royal navy; the basis being that established for the then Republic of the Netherlands. The next day the Ranger sailed through the French fleet, receiving from it the first national salute to the Stars and Stripes by the guns of a foreign fleet.
Most of the numerous writers who have from time to time during the nineteenth century given to the public "lives" or "biographies" of Paul Jones, have led their readers to believe that he was not only identified by name with the origin of the national emblem by virtue of the curious text of the resolution of Congress, June 14, 1777, already referred to, but also that he was the first to hoist it on an American man-of-war; the first to show it upon the ocean; the first to receive and acknowledge a salute to it from a foreign naval power; the first to fight a naval battle under it, and the first to decorate with it a man-of-war of the enemy taken prize in action.
Some of these assertions or intimations are true; others are fanciful. Whatever his numerous biographers may have claimed for him in respect to personal identification with our existing national emblem, Jones himself always considered the bare truth quite enough glory. The truth was, as we have seen, that the American flag, as we know it, and the appointment of Paul Jones to command the Ranger, were embraced in the same resolution of Congress; and that his ship was the first to receive a foreign naval salute to it. It was decreed the 14th of June, 1777. Jones displayed it on the Ranger the 4th of July following, the first anniversary of the Declaration of Independence -- making a trip from Boston to Portsmouth for that especial purpose. But the Ranger was only recently launched at that time, and, though by that act he placed her nominally in commission, she was not ready for sea until early the next October. During that interval other American ships-of-war had gone to sea from various ports, with the new ensign flying. The first battle Jones fought under the Stars and Stripes was in the Ranger, when she conquered the Drake, off Carrickfergus, Ireland, April 23, 1778. But on the 7th of March previous, poor Nick Biddle had gone down -- or up -- or both -- when the Randolph, thirty-two, was destroyed by explosion of her magazine in action with the Yarmouth, sixty-four; and the Stars and Stripes went down -- or up -- with Nick Biddle. However, Jones was the first to compel a regular British man-of-war to strike the Cross of St. George and St. Andrew to the new flag, which occurred when the Drake struck to the Ranger.
We have seen that the French fleet saluted the American flag on the little Ranger, February 13, 1778, in the outer road of Brest. The next day she ran up and anchored in the inner harbor off the mole of the Dockyard. The Ranger did not leave that anchorage until April 9th, when she dropped down into the outer road to sail on her cruise the next day. There were reasons for this delay. One was that the winter of 1777-78 -- and particularly the time from February to April, 1778 -- was extraordinarily severe and tempestuous. Another was that our commissioners at Paris were divided in their councils. Franklin wanted to keep Jones in European waters. Arthur Lee was bent on sending him back to the United States. Silas Deane, though still nominally a member of the commission, was not at this time even consulted by either of his colleagues, and cut no figure in this affair.
Fortunately, Franklin prevailed. However sinister may have been the designs of Arthur Lee -- or, rather, of the British spies and informers whose designs Lee never seemed able to detect -- the clear foresight, the lofty integrity, and the unbending resolution of Benjamin Franklin easily overwhelmed all, and saved for its true destiny the genius of Paul Jones.
The Ranger had lain at Brest Dockyard nearly two months. Of that time about one month was consumed by Jones in a trip to Amsterdam to inspect the Indien. This was done at the instance of Franklin, who had never been able to obtain satisfactory information about her. Jones went to Amsterdam in the assumed character of a Spanish officer desirous of inspecting the ship with a view to purchasing her for the King of Spain. His jet-black hair and eyes, his swarthy complexion, and his Iberian cast of features, together with his command of the Spanish language, made this guise easy for him to sustain. No one in Amsterdam, except Charles Frederick Dumas, our secret agent, knew who he really was. His disguise and the secrecy of his movements were so perfect that for once the vigilance of the British spies, whom Arthur Lee had for "private secretaries," was baffled and outwitted.
The result of this mission was absolute assurance by Jones to Dr. Franklin that it would be preposterous for the commissioners to hope for possession of the Indien then, or anywhere near that time; that all hope of getting control of her so long as England, France, and Holland remained at peace, must be abandoned. Franklin then reluctantly gave up hope, verbally ordered Jones to return to the Ranger, and, as soon as the weather would permit, proceed with her, under his instructions of January 16th previous, to cruise on the British coasts.
Pursuant to these orders, Jones returned to Brest about the middle of March, 1778. He found that during his absence his first lieutenant, Simpson, had stirred up much dissatisfaction among the Ranger's crew; telling them among other things that Jones had been permanently detached from the ship and that he (Simpson) daily expected orders to sail for home. When Jones found this out he called Simpson into his cabin and said to him that he had, apparently, raised an issue which, under the peculiar circumstances, could not be settled in any other way than personally.
"I command this ship, Mr. Simpson," he said, "by virtue of my senior rank, by virtue of the resolution of Congress dated June 14th last, and by virtue of the order of the Commissioners dated January 16th last. But I will urge none of these considerations upon you in your present attitude. So far as you are concerned, I will say only that I command this ship by virtue of the fact that I am personally the best man aboard -- a fact which I shall cheerfully demonstrate to you at your pleasure! And I wish you to signify your pleasure to me here and now!"
It is doubtless fortunate that Lieutenant Simpson chose not to defy fate beyond that point. He assured Jones that his attitude had been misunderstood, and declared that he would serve loyally under his command as heretofore. It is a curious illustration of the character of Jones that as soon as Simpson had yielded in this manner he informed him that he (Jones) was invited to dine ashore that evening with the Commandant of the Brest Dockyard, and directed him (Simpson) to get ready and go ashore with him, assuring him that the French officer would, in the fulness of his hospitality, be glad to receive an additional guest.
This brought about at least a truce between Jones and Simpson that lasted throughout the Ranger's forthcoming cruise. Simpson was a brave man and, for his calibre, a good officer. He was a thoroughbred Yankee sailor but a man of less brain than ambition, and hence easily led astray -- as the sequel soon proved -- by the sinister counsels of Arthur Lee's "private secretaries," Thornton, and Hezekiah Ford.
FROM VOLUME II, CHAPTER I: THE CHEVALIER PAUL JONES, p. 43
[This short selection deals further with Thornton and Ford as spies. The text refers to an unpublished paper by Jones, "Arthur Lee in France." I have not been able to corroborate the existence of this paper.]
Judging from the parts of it that appear in the French Collection, it must have been a terrible indictment. As samples of its general quality we quote two paragraphs. One was a description of the characters and operations of Arthur Lee's "private secretaries," Ford, Thornton, and Stephen Sayre, substantially as set forth in preceding pages of this work. Jones concluded this review as follows:
The perfidy and treachery of these creatures being established beyond question, not only by the evidence of official documents but by their own flight from justice and refuge on the enemy's soil, nothing can remain but the task of estimating the nature of Mr. Lee's relation to them and the motive for his indefatigable protection of them. In making such estimate one of two things must, inevitably, be taken for granted: Either they completely deceived Mr. Lee, or he completely colluded with them. There could not in the nature of things be a point of connection half way. If they deceived him, they did so long after everyone else had detected and denounced them. As to the other alternative, I rest it on the inference. But I will say, what must be clear to all, that Mr. Lee can defend himself from that inference only by pleading weakness of head for the sake of his heart. If they deceived him, he was an ass. If they did not deceive him, he must have been, with them and like them, emissary, spy, and traitor.
He then determined, as a preliminary measure, to publish his paper on "Arthur Lee in France." His object in this was to equalize or neutralize as far as he could the advantage Lee had gained over him by prior arrival in the country. And beyond that was the ulterior object, which might or might not prove incidental, to force the contest beyond the forum of pen and ink. He was, however, induced to suppress that remarkable document, though, as may be inferred from the tenor of a letter written to him by George Washington a few weeks later, Messrs. Morris, Livingston, and the other peacemakers found it necessary to call in the commanding dignity of Washington himself to help restrain the exasperated sailor.
This paper on "Arthur Lee in France," which Jones was induced to refrain from publishing in this country, never appeared in the print of the English language. But Jones preserved it and it was found among his manuscripts after his death. Considerable portions of it appear in the French Collection printed at Paris in 1799....
FROM CHAPTER VI: THE CAPTURE OF THE DRAKE, pp. 109-122
[This chapter is of interest primarily for its descriptions of the events at Whitehaven, the taking of Lord Selkirk's plate, and the capture of the Drake.]
SAILING from Brest April 10th, the Ranger at first shaped her course for the west coast of Ireland, but the second day out a westerly gale impelled Captain Jones to alter his cruising plan to the extent of running up through St. George's Channel into the Irish Sea. On this course he cruised to the northward until he reached the Irish Channel. His original intention had been to make the complete circuit of the British Isles, going up the west coast, thence north-about and down the east coast, and through the Channel back to Brest. This, as he said in his journal of 1782, was "a provisional plan, subject of course to change or modification according to circumstances and events."
Arriving on the Cumberland coast and learning from fishermen decoyed on board that there was a large amount of shipping in the harbor of Whitehaven, with no warship of superior force in the neighborhood to protect it, and wishing also to take advantage of his intimate personal knowledge of that harbor and its approaches, he resolved to make a descent with a view of destroying the ships in port there. Up to that time the British authorities had no suspicion of his presence in the Irish Sea. It was fortunate that head-winds on the 11th and 12th of April deterred him from his projected course up the west coast of Ireland, because Arthur Lee's private secretary, Thornton, had advised the British Admiralty as to the plan of the cruise, and that information was actually in London a day or two before Jones sailed from Brest. Promptly acting upon Thornton's advices, the Admiralty had ordered a thirty-two-gun frigate and two heavy sloops-of-war to the west coast of Ireland. These vessels sailed from Plymouth the day after Jones left Brest, but were compelled to put into Falmouth by the same westerly gale that caused the Ranger to sheer off into the Irish Sea. As soon as the gale abated, the frigate and the two sloops proceeded to their station, where, of course, they could not find Jones.
As the Ranger approached Whitehaven the wind still held to the westward, making her destination a lee-shore, and it was necessary to stand off and on for two or three days. Finally the wind hauled to the eastward, and the Ranger at once beat up toward the town. The wind died out about midnight of April 22d, before the ship had got as near the port as Jones desired, but, having no time to lose, he decided to make the attempt, anyhow. He took command of the expedition in person. It consisted, besides himself, of Third Lieutenant Wallingford, Midshipmen Arthur Green and Charles Hill, and twenty-nine seamen, in two boats.
The surprise was complete. The two small forts at the mouth of the harbor were precipitately abandoned by their garrison of "coast-guards," one being taken by Captain Jones, Midshipman Green, and six men; the other by Midshipman Hill and ten men, while Lieutenant Wallingford with eight men landed above the point, leaving only four men as boat-guard. The long pull from the ship had consumed some time, so that when the three parties reached the tidal basin in which the shipping lay, it was nearly daylight. There had been no real resistance, but a few musket and pistol shots had been fired, and the town, or at least that part of it nearest the harbor, was thoroughly aroused. Besides, it was now full daylight, and the insignificance of Jones's force became evident to the townspeople, who were rallying from all directions. Fires had been kindled aboard several ships in the basin, but they had all gone out or been extinguished except one. The necessity for immediate retreat to the ship was clear to all, and there was no time to lose. The landing-party, small as it was, had become separated into two groups, one commanded by Jones, the other by Wallingford. Jones, thinking that Wallingford's party was more seriously menaced for the moment than his own, attacked and dispersed with his dozen men a force of about one hundred of the local militia who were endeavoring to retake the lower fort or battery, whose guns he had already spiked. Meantime Wallingford and his party had reached their boat, though not without a lively but not fatal skirmish between Midshipman Hill, in command of five or six men who formed the rear-guard of that party, and a considerable number of the townspeople and coast-guards who tried to intercept them. With these unimportant exceptions the whole landing force except one man got safely into the boats and were on board the Ranger again before the sun was an hour high.
Jones says of this enterprise:Its actual results were of little moment, for the intended destruction of shipping was limited to one vessel. But the moral effect of it was very great, as it taught the English that the fancied security of their coasts was a myth, and thereby compelled their Government to take expensive measures for the defence of numerous ports hitherto relying for protection wholly on the vigilance and supposed omnipotence of their navy. It also doubled or more the rates of insurance, which in the long run proved the most grievous damage of all.
The foregoing is an extract from a report in which he requests that special reward be given to the men who formed the landing-party.
As soon as all were safely aboard the hanger, Jones bore up for the north shore of Solway Firth, which was not more than three hours' sail, and made another descent on St. Mary's Isle, the castle of the Earl of Selkirk. The object of this foray has been variously conjectured. Jones himself stated frankly in a letter to Lady Selkirk, written soon afterward, which has been widely published, that his purpose was to carry off the Earl, with a view of holding him as hostage for the better treatment of American prisoners then in England. In a letter to Mr. Hewes he gives that reason and states also that he wished to produce the impression that more than one American ship was on the coast, and believed that two descents in one day at points thirty or forty miles apart would have that effect.
However, the Earl happened to be away from home, and the only result of the foray was the appropriation of several pieces of silver-ware from the castle by some of the landing-party. A vast quantity of ink has been spilled over this transaction. It may have been justifiable as an extreme measure on the part of a weak power to alarm and worry a strong power. But we think the general verdict is that a project to seize the person of a noncombatant nobleman with a view of holding him as a hostage or of coercing him to use his influence with his government for the better treatment of prisoners of war, fairly captured, can hardly be brought within the most liberal definition of civilized warfare. The fact that it had many examples in the conduct of British landing-parties on our own coast is no justification. Two wrongs do not make one right. It is doubtless fortunate for the fame of Paul Jones that he did not find the Earl of Selkirk at home; because, had Jones captured him and taken him to France, the act could not have failed to produce unpleasant complications, and it must certainly have injured Jones's reputation in the higher circles of France at a time when the good opinion of that class of people in that country was indispensable to his future success.
As for the few pieces of plate that were taken, Jones purchased them from the captors at his own expense, and, after considerable trouble and delay, succeeded in restoring them to the Earl, who acknowledged the restitution in a letter from which the following is an extract:Notwithstanding all the precautions you took for the easy and uninterrupted conveyance of the plate, yet it met with considerable delays; first at Calais, then at Dover, then at London; however, it at last arrived at Dumfries....The cost to Jones of buying the plate from the captors and shipping it from Brest to Dumfries was about £140 -- say $700.
I have mentioned it to many people of fashion; and on all occasions, sir, both now and formerly, I have done you the justice to tell that you made an offer of returning the plate very soon after your return to Brest.
During the night of April 23d the Ranger stood across the Irish Channel, and the next day Jones learned from some fishermen whose boats he picked up that the Drake, twenty-gun sloop-of-war, guard-ship at Carrickfergus, was coming out in search of him. He had already looked into Carrickfergus on the 21st, and would have attacked the Drake, then at anchor in the roadstead, but for the contrary wind. Now, as he describes it, "to save trouble, I ran down again, hove to off the mouth of Belfast Lough, and waited for the Drake to work out, which saved me the pains of going in after her." As he hove to, the Drake sent one of her boats out to reconnoitre, and Jones succeeded in decoying the boat aboard the Ranger, making prisoners of the midshipman and five men in her. The Drake had wind and tide both against her, and worked out so slowly that it lacked only an hour of sundown when she got within hail. Jones's official report of the action that followed is included in his general account of the cruise to the commissioners, dated Brest, May 27, 1778. It is terse and formal, occupying only a single paragraph in the general report, and has been doubtless more widely and more often printed than any other report of an action between ships of such comparative unimportance. But, small as the ships were, this action involved the turning of a new page in naval history, and to that fact alone it owes its celebrity. It was the first instance, in modern naval warfare, of the capture of a regular British man-of-war by a ship of inferior force. In that respect it "broke a record" that had been inviolate since the beginning of regular navies, and it announced to mankind the advent of a new sea-power. From that point of view the size and rate of the ships were immaterial. Jones's official report, referred to, is not particularly interesting, and, as most well-read school-boys have it by heart, it is hardly worth while to reproduce its text here.
The real, vivid, masterly description -- the best extant -- is found in a personal letter written by Captain Jones to Joseph Hewes, May 22,1778, about two weeks after his return to Brest. Mr. Hewes was not at that time a member of the Continental Congress, having been compelled by ill-health to retire from public life; to which Jones at the outset of his letter refers with characteristic feeling. He says:...The public misfortune of your retirement from the Committee and from Congress in consequence of failing health, and the resulting fact that you, perhaps, do not now enjoy the readiness of access to official sources of information you formerly did, and the great individual obligation I owe you, make it more than ever my duty to keep you personally advised of my movements.
I need not assure you that this is a welcome duty, much as I deplore the cause of it, for the reason that I know there is no person living to whom news of my success can bring more satisfaction than to yourself. And you are surely entitled to such satisfaction, because you, more than any other person, have labored to place the instruments of success in my hands.
I assume you will have seen, before this can reach you, that on the late afternoon of April 24th past the Ranger, under my command, off Carrickfergus, took H. B. M. sloop-of-war the Drake, twenty guns, one hundred and fifty-seven officers and men, after a hard-fought battle of one hour, four minutes, pure and simple broadsiding at close range. In this connection I may say that at the time of going into action I had one hundred and twenty-six, all hands, at quarters, and eighteen guns. The Drake's battery is sixteen nine-pounders and four four-pounders; the Ranger's fourteen nine-pounders and four sixes.
The result of the action was due entirely to the superior gunnery of my crew. There was no maneuvring worth mention. As soon as the two ships got clear of the land, the Drake being astern and within hail, both standing to the eastward, the wind southerly and light, sea fairly smooth, they hailed us: "What ship is that?" to which we replied: "The American Continental ship Ranger; come on; we are waiting for you." Both ships then were almost together, laying their heads to the north, and going off nearly before the wind, which was no more than enough to make good steering way.
Our broadside was just an instant the first. The enemy's fire was spirited, but, for a King's ship, very ineffective. This I can attribute only to the distress and confusion caused on board of her by the remarkable effect of our fire. The range was close, hardly more than musket shot at any time. Her crew, as I can judge from the prisoners taken, was fully up to the British man-of-war standard. Yet in the hour of cannonading our loss was only two killed and six wounded -- one mortally. The Ranger did not suffer in hull or spars or rigging enough to have prevented her from fighting again the next morning if necessary. But the Drake was almost wrecked, and she lost nineteen killed or died of wounds, including her captain and first lieutenant, and twenty-eight officers and men severely wounded, the only sea officer remaining to strike her flag being her second lieutenant.
The behavior of my men in this engagement more than justifies the representations I have so often made to you of what American sailors would do if given a chance at the enemy in his own waters. We have seen that they fight with courage on our own coast. But no one has ever seen them fight on our coast as they fought here, almost in hail of the enemy's shore. Every shot told, and they gave the Drake three broadsides for two right along, at that.
Of course I had lost no opportunity of training them in great-gun exercise, both at sea and in port. But my supply of ammunition would never admit of actual target practice, so the precision of their fire was simply natural aptitude.
I have never before seen men handle guns as they handled the Ranger's nine-pounders....
As the two ships were going off the wind, which was light, they both rolled considerably and together; that is, when the Ranger went down to port the Drake came up to starboard. Quite early in the action I noticed that my quarter gunners had caught the Drake's period of roll and were timing to fire as their muzzles went down and the enemy's side came up. By this practice they were hulling the Drake prodigiously below the water line, and everywhere below the plank-sheer, though damaging her but little aloft. Being near Quarter-Gunner Owen Starbuck, of Nantucket, at the moment, I asked him why they fired that way, and he replied: "To sink the English b--s, sir!"
I then told Starbuck and the others that it was not my policy to sink the Drake, but that I wished to take her alive instead of destroying her; explaining that it would be much more to our advantage to carry her as a visible prize into a French port. The alert fellows instantly took this hint and began firing as their muzzles rose, by which practice they soon crippled the Drake's spars and rigging, and made her an unmanageable log on the water. I am persuaded that if I had not advised them to this effect, my gunners would have sunk the Drake in an hour! As it was, we had to put spare sails over the side after she struck, to keep her afloat, and careen her as much as we could the next day to plug the holes they had already made between wind and water. While I am telling you about the behavior of my men, I must not forget to mention that at the moment when the Drake's fore and main topsail yards came down on the caps, and she fell off, giving us the chance to luff under her stern and rake her, I was in the forward division, in consequence of Lieutenant Wallingford being killed, and at once started to run aft to the wheel to order the helm down for the manœuvre. But before I got to the mainmast the fore and main topsails were already shivering, because Chief Quartermaster Nathan Sargent, of Portsmouth, N. H., who had the wheel, had already seen our chance and had taken upon himself the important responsibility of luffing ship without orders; thus anticipating my intention, and leaving me nothing to do but order the starboard tacks on board to keep her full and shift the broadside for raking, when, luckily, the enemy, realizing his helpless situation, called for quarter and spared further bloodshed. The unfortunate loss of Lieutenant Wallingford in the action enabled me to advance Mr. Sargent to the post of Acting Master. But I regret to say that since our return here he has found it to his advantage to leave me, being offered command of a large French privateer of twenty-six guns belonging to Monsieur de Chaumont and Monsieur Marcereau, now fitting out at St. Malo. As Mr. Sargent is master of the French language, this command will enable him to better his fortunes, and in view of the sorry hopes of recompense in the Continental service I could not withhold my consent to his going, or to his taking with him eight others of my New Hampshire men, whom he will make officers in his new ship, the Marseille. Our seamen who can speak French are in great request here for officers in privateers.
Doubtless the best idea I can give you of the gunnery of my men will be found in the report and estimate of my most efficient carpenter, Mr. William Hitchburn, of Salem, a shipwright of much experience. I enclose with this a copy of that report as handed by me to the Superintendent of the Dockyard here (Brest) when permission was got to repair the Drake here at the expense of the French. I also send a track chart of the cruise.
Continuing to Mr. Hewes, Jones says:My loss, though small in number, was severe in quality. My third lieutenant, Mr. R. Wallingford, known to you personally, was killed. By his death the service has lost one of its most promising young officers. I held great expectations of Mr. Wallingford. Midshipman Powers and Gunner Falls, both most excellent officers, are severely wounded, Mr. Powers losing his left arm. Of the enlisted men, Quartermaster John Dougall and Nathaniel Wills are dead, and able seamen Mark Staples, David Sargent, and Matthew Starbuck are wounded severely, but now doing well.During the night and next day after this battle the sea remained smooth, with light airs from the southward, which made it possible to effect temporary repairs to the Drake sufficient to get her under way again. Jones now reluctantly gave up his projected cruise around Scotland and down the east coast. Of his original complement of one hundred and thirty-nine, all told, two officers and ten men had been put in prizes taken in St. George's Channel. One man had been left behind in the descent on Whitehaven. Eight had been killed or wounded in the action with the Drake. It had been necessary to put thirty-two officers and men on that prize partly in consequence of her crippled condition and partly to guard the large part of her crew left as prisoners on board of her. This left the Ranger with only eighty-six, all hands; and Jones, of course, saw that the cruise was ended. He therefore, as the twenty-four hours of drifting northwestward had carried the ships clear of the north coast of Ireland, shaped his course to the westward and southward until well clear of the mouth of the English Channel, and then bore up for Brest, where he anchored after dark in the outer roadstead, the 8th of May, with the Drake and the merchant prize taken after the battle.
After the action I returned round the west coast of Ireland in good time, with no noteworthy incident except taking a prize off Malin Head, Ireland. She was bound from the Baltic, northabout, with naval stores, and is a valuable prize. On the whole I was out of port twenty-eight days, took six merchant prizes, of which I destroyed three and the other three are safe in French ports; besides taking and bringing in a regular man-of-war of the enemy, slightly superior in force to my ship.
Trusting that this may find you improved in health and able to resume your important labor for our common cause, I am, etc.
FROM CHAPTER VIII: ON THE BON HOMME RICHARD, pp. 186-8.
[A footnote on flogging and discipline, a probable source of Jewett's assertion that Jones threw over-board the cat-o'-nine-tails soon after the Ranger left Portsmouth.]
Paul Jones was as original in his ideas of shipboard discipline as in his modes of fighting. In both alike he was, in his own conception, the "Prophet, Priest, and King." He had no fixed rules, either of discipline or of battle. He simply accepted every situation as it struck him, and depended on himself every time for the outcome. On this point Henry Gardner says:"I sailed, in my time, with many captains; but with only one Paul Jones. He was the captain of captains. Any other commander I sailed with had some kind of method or fixed rule which he exerted towards all those under him alike. It suited some and others not; but it was the same rule all the time and to everybody. Not so Paul Jones. He always knew every officer or man in his crew as one friend knows another. Those big black eyes of his would look right through a new man at first sight and, maybe, see something behind him! At any rate, he knew every man and always dealt with each according to his notion. I have seen him one hour teaching the French language to his midshipmen and the next hour showing an apprentice how to knot a 'Turk's-head' or make a neat coil-down of a painter. He was in everybody's watch and everybody's mess all the time. In fact, I may say that any ship Paul Jones commanded was full of him, himself, all the time. The men used to get crazy about him when he was with them and talking to them. It was only when his back was turned that anyone could wean them away from him. If you heard peals of laughter from the forecastle, it was likely that he was there spinning funny yarns for Jack off watch. If you heard a roar of merriment at the cabin-table, it was likely that his never-failing wit had overwhelmed the officers' mess.
"He was very strict. I have seen him sternly reprove a young sailor, who approached him, for what he called 'a lubber's walk;' say to him, 'See here, this is the way to walk.' And then, after putting the novice through his paces two or three times, he would say to him: 'Ah, that's better ! You'll be a blue-water sailor before you know it, my boy!' And then he would give the shipmate a guinea out of his own pocket.
"Above all things he hated the cat-o'-nine-tails. In two of his ships -- the Providence and the Ranger -- he threw it overboard the first day out. There was one in the Alfred that he never allowed to be used, and two in the Richard that were never used but twice. He consented to flog the lookout forward when the Richard fouled the Alliance the second day out from l'Orient; and also he allowed old Jack Robinson to persuade him that two foretop-men ought to be whipped for laying from aloft without orders when the squall struck us in the Richard off Leith. But when be consented to this he strictly enjoined upon old Jack that the men must be flogged with their shirts on, which, of course, made a farce of the whole proceeding. He said at this time: 'I have no use for the cat. Whenever a sailor of mine gets vicious beyond my persuasion or control the cheapest thing in the long run is to kill him right away. If you do that the others will understand it. But if you trice him up and flog him, all the other bad fellows in the ship will sympathize with him and hate you.'
"All the men under his command soon learned this trait in his character. One Sunday when we were off the west coast of Ireland, just after we had lost the barge and Mr. Lunt, he addressed the crew on the subject of discipline. He told them that, many years before, when he was a boy in the merchant-service, he had seen a man 'flogged round the fleet' at Port Royal, Jamaica. He said the man died under the lash; and he then made up his mind that Paul Jones and the cat-o'-nine-tails would part company. 'I tell you, my men,' he said 'once for all, that when I become convinced that a sailor of mine must be killed, I will not leave it to be done by boatswain's mates under slow torture of the lash! But I will do it myself -- and so G--- d--- quick that it will make your heads swim!'"
FROM THE APPENDICES: ROSTER OF THE RANGER
[Though this roster is neither complete nor accurate, it seems reasonably so. Most of the crew members that Jewett names also are on Buell's list, but of course, she may have used Buell's list as a source. Other sources, such as Ezra Green's Diary, and later historians have identified people on the Ranger who are not listed here. One may use the notes and bibliography of later historians such as S. E. Morison to locate documentary sources for the crew lists.
It is noteworthy that Cato and Scipio certainly were not Jones's former slaves, since he never owned any slaves, and also that they probably were sailors rather than cabin boys. Morison characterizes them as "two local free Negroes, Cato Carlile and Scipio Africanus" (114)].
Paul Jones, Philadelphia, Captain.
Thomas Simpson, Portsmouth, First Lieutenant.
Elijah Hall, Portsmouth, Second Lieutenant.
Richard Wallingford, Philadelphia, Third Lieutenant.
Nathan Sargent, Portsmouth, Acting Master.
Nelson Green, Portsmouth, surgeon.
(Dr. Green also acted as purser.)
John Calvin Robinson, Philadelphia, boatswain.
Thomas M. Falls, Salem, gunner.
Joseph Powers, Portsmouth, midshipman.
Arthur Green, Portsmouth, midshipman.
James Meserve, Portsmouth, midshipman.
Nathaniel Fanning, Salem, midshipman.
Charles Hill, Barnstable, midshipman.
William Hichburn, Salem, carpenter.
Thomas Lowe, Boston, sailmaker.
[Also: Edmund Meyers and C. Ford Morris, described by Jones in a foot-note to his roster of June, 1778, as "Gentlemen Volunteers."]
PETTY OFFICERS AND ABLE SEAMEN.
Charles Ball, Portsmouth.
Louis Boutelle, Castine.
Reuben Chase, Nantucket.
Robert Moore, New Bedford.
James Marston, Boston.
James Keen, Philadelphia.
Johnny Downes, Portsmouth.
Stephen Folger, Nantucket.
James Ricker, Sag Harbor.
Samuel Locke, Salem.
William Garth, New Bedford.
Samuel Starke, Dover, N. H.
Edward Boynton, Boston.
Anthony Jeremiah, Martha's Vineyard (Narragansett Indian).
Negro cabin boys, formerly slaves of Captain Jones.
This list consists of sixteen officers, two volunteers and one hundred and thirteen enlisted seamen and boys; one hundred and thirty-one all told. But Jones states in a report to Dr. Franklin that, while the Ranger lay in l'Orient harbor before sailing on her cruise to the English coast in the early spring of 1778, he "enlisted eight Frenchmen who can speak or understand our language. They are Pierre Fanchot and Pierre l'Eveque, seamen and good channel pilots, and six others who are marines lent to me by His Excellency the Comte d'Orvilliers, Commander-in-Chief of the Brest Fleet, at the instance of my good friend and the firm advocate of our cause, H. R. H. the young Duke de Chartres, second in command of the Brest Fleet.
"You must know," he adds, "that up to this time I have had no marine guard on board. In a cruise such as is planned, it is necessary to have at least a sergeant's guard of marines. I therefore obtained these six, who are trained French regulars, and I have added to their number eleven of my own men, or rather my boys, making a guard of one sergeant, two corporals, and fourteen private marines. The names of my new French marines are Denis Bouchinet, sergeant; Joseph Galois and Nicolas Forestier, corporals; and Pierre Daniel, Felix Marselle, and Jean Tardif, privates.
"The eleven of my own men whom I have assigned to duty as marines -- with the full consent of each -- are James Roberts, Daniel Jackson, Eben Watson, John Holliday, Samuel Holbrook, Charles Crampton, Thomas Beckett, Samuel Starke, Benjamin Brackett, William Bicknell, and Robert Poore. The complement of my ship, therefore, is now sixteen officers and one hundred and twenty-one seamen and marines; one hundred and thirty-seven, all told."
Buell's Notes for these Selections
So far as our research of the literature or records of that period enables us to judge, Jones was original in his imputation of an ulterior motive to the overt acts of oppression which the Tory party in England inflicted upon the American Colonies during the six or seven years immediately preceding the Revolution. All sorts of reasons for this oppression were ascribed; but Jones seems, in 1775 at least, to have been alone in his perception of a purpose behind them to provoke the Colonies to resistance which could be made the pretext for depriving them of their local self-government, and for reducing them to the status of Crown Colonies, or of charter proprietaries like the domains of the East India Company.
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This young prince, eldest son of the Duke of Orleans and heir-apparent to that title, had been selected in 1774 to succeed the Duke de Bourbon-Penthievre in the office of High Admiral of France. The voyage on which he came to our shores in 1775 was a "cruise of instruction," under the tutorship of Commodore, afterward Admiral, Kersaint, one of the ablest officers in the French Navy. Louis Philippe Joseph was a convivial prince, but able and ambitious, and he was also imbued with the liberal, not to say, republican, sentiment then luxuriantly growing in France. In this respect he was alone in the Royal Family, and it has been said that one reason for assigning him to the navy was the desire to separate him from political connections and literary associations which the King and Queen and the Ministers of State did not approve. He had a few years before married Mary Adelaide de Bourbon-Penthievre, daughter of the High Admiral. She was one of the most beautiful and accomplished women of her time; granddaughter of the Count de Toulouse, High Admiral of France at the beginning of the Eighteenth Century, Commander of the French fleet in the great battle off Malaga in 1704, and regarded as one of the ablest naval commanders in the history of France. The Count de Toulouse was a son of Louis XIV, by Madame de Montespan, and it was said that her great granddaughter, Mary Adelaide, inherited all the beauty and wit of that famous woman.
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"The Ranger," says Mr. Hall, "was out of the ordinary run of her class. She was planned expressly for speed. Her length was six feet more than any twenty-gun ship-sloop of her day, she was flush decked fore and aft except a short, light topgallant forecastle open aft, and a still shorter poop-deck with a long break to shelter the binnacle and housed in only enough to make a captain's cabin and two small staterooms in the transoms. Her sizes were:
Length, extreme -- 116 feet.
Length of keel for tonnage -- 96 feet.
Breadth, extreme -- 28 feet.
Depth in the hold -- 13 feet 6 inches.
Burthen, British measurement -- 308 tons.
"The timber of her floors and planking to the turn of the bilges was well seasoned, but all the rest, including futtocks, knees, and all framing and plank above the bilges as well as deck-beams was of green timber cut as used; but her decks were of seasoned white pine. Her bottom was metaled to the turn of the bilges, thus making the task of careening or heaving her out much less difficult than in un-metaled ships. I believe she was the first American ship to be coppered, and the device was quite new also in the British and French navies. Her spars were a set got out for a 400-ton Indiaman, and of course too long and heavy for a vessel of her class.
When Captain Jones arrived and took the command, I had just stepped the lower masts and was so impressed with their disproportionate height that I was about to cut them down about four feet in the caps. But Captain Jones said it was a pity to cut off such fine masts, and he directed me to fid them about four feet lower than usual in the hounds, which was done. Still she was considerably over-sparred, and we did shorten all the yards and the bowsprit, jibboom and spanker boom somewhat. In addition to this she had been planned to carry twenty six-pounders; but Captain Jones put fourteen long nines in her and only four six-pounders, which further raised her centre of weight and increased her top-heaviness. This, with the extra ballast made necessary, brought her a foot lower in the water than was intended, when fully provisioned, watered, and stored for a long cruise."All these things made her uneasy and somewhat crank in windward work, and though she was weatherly enough, it was not quite safe to carry full sail on her when clawing to windward close-hauled in squally weather. But with the wind anywhere abaft the beam or going free, she could run like a hound, and on those points of sailing could show her heels to anything afloat, great or small. Another fact was that all her guns were cast in America, most of our other ships at that time having guns cast in Europe. In outward appearance she was a perfect beauty, her sheer being as delicate as the lines of a pretty woman's arm, and as she was rather low in the water for her length and her masts raked two or three degrees more than any other ship of the day, she was on the whole the sauciest craft afloat."[ Back ]
Withal their hard work and trying duty, the crew of the Ranger yet found characteristic diversion. Among other things they invented a sailor song suited to the occasion, which became popular in the Revolutionary Navy and was cherished long afterward in the forecastle repertoire. The verses were written by Midshipman Charley Hill, of Barnstable, and whatever may be their faults of prosody they do not lack vigor. They called it:
THE SONG OF THE RANGER. CARRY THE NEWS TO LONDON!
The final stanza will give an idea of the character of the song:
"So, now we had him hard and fast,
Burgoyne laid down his Arms at Last
And that is why we Brave the Blast,
To carry the News to London!
Heigh-ho! Car'r'y'y the News!
Go! Carry the News to London.
Tell Old King George he's undone!
Heigh-ho! Car'r'y'y the News!"
Jones sent a copy of these verses to Joseph Hewes with the quaint comment that, "while the text is rude in some parts and the language in one line not quite polite, yet as a whole the ballad is spirited and reflects credit on its young author, Mr. Hill, the youngest of my midshipmen. Mr. Hill, who is not yet twenty years old, is the son of the late Captain Abner Hill, of Barnstable, with whom I became acquainted years ago in the West India and coast trade. If Abner Hill had lived I am sure he would now be an ornament to our little navy. His son Charles represents him most creditably, and I commend him to the notice of the Honorable Committee."
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It is a singular fact that, identified as the name of the Ranger and the performance of her crew are with one of the most momentous crises in all our national history, no complete roll of the humble heroes who manned her has been preserved in our official archives. The nearest approach to it is a list of seventy-eight names on file in the Department of State, Bureau of Rolls and Library; and these are not in the form of a roll or roster, but are simply signatures to a petition presented by or through one of the private secretaries of Arthur Lee, Hezekiah Ford, of North Carolina, to the American Commissioners in France, from part of the crew while the Ranger lay in Brest Harbor in the spring of 1778, soon after she had captured the Drake. From the reports and letters of Captain Jones, from the Gardner papers, and from other sources of original and contemporary information, it is, fortunately, possible to place upon the pages of history the names of the other fifty-three men who, with the seventy-eight of record in the Department of State, made up the Ranger's crew.
The roster, as given in the Appendix, to which the reader is referred, is that of the officers and crew when the ship arrived in the Loire, bringing the news of the surrender of Burgoyne.
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This man was Jonathan Wells, able seaman, hailing from Portsmouth. He remained too long in a ship that had been set on fire, trying to find a tar-barrel to feed the flames, and was thereby cut off from the rest of the party. However, he was cunning enough to make the English believe that he had deserted, and not long afterward succeeded in shipping on board a British transport bound to America. Soon after arriving in New York he deserted from the British, went to Newport, and after some adventures in privateers, shipped in the Alliance when she went to France, carrying Lafayette, early in 1779. On arriving at l'Orient and finding that Jones was fitting out the Bon Homme Richard, Wells made himself known to the Commodore, who promptly had him transferred to the Richard. Wells gave his name as "David Freeman" in this affair, and the local paper -- the Cumberland Packet of that date published a long article derived from the "information" he gave.
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Captain Mahan ("John Paul Jones in the Revolution;" Scribner's Magazine, July, 1898) intimates that there was a mutiny in the Ranger, fomented by her first lieutenant, Simpson, just before engaging the Drake. Other accounts to that effect have been printed, and Captain Mahan doubtless accepted them. Simpson had been more or less insubordinate ever since the arrival of the Ranger in France. His manoeuvring of the Drake as prize master during the return voyage to Brest indicated an intention to part company with the Ranger if he could. And he was rankly insubordinate after they reached Brest. But in the action itself he seems to have done his duty like a man. Jones makes no mention of mutiny off Carrickfergus; either in his official report to the American Commissioners, dated Brest, May 27, 1778, or in his private letters to Joseph Hewes, Robert Morris, and Franklin. On the contrary, in a severe letter to Simpson himself, which will be found on a subsequent page, he expressly commends that officer's conduct in the action -- and he does it by way of emphasizing criticism on his misconduct elsewhere. In all his papers Jones speaks of the conduct of his crew in the highest terms.
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"REPORT AND ESTIMATE: RESPECTFULLY SUBMITTED....Having fully examined the hull, spars, and rigging of H. B. M.'s late ship the Drake, I estimate that the repairs necessary in order to refit the vessel for commission and sea service will cost about three thousand louis d'ors, French money, or say 2,700 guineas, English.[ Back ]
"She has in her hull below the plank sheer one hundred and seven shot holes, of which thirty-six are at or below the water line. Her upper works, boats, spare spars, and deck fittings generally are completely wrecked, wheel shot away, capstan split and jammed, and spanker boom nearly cut in two. Several butts in her counter and in the bends forward have been started by shot. Five of her nine gun carriages in broadside have been wrecked and the guns dismounted. The after breeching bolts in the starboard bridle port have been carried away, the same shot disabling also her port bow chaser. She has three bad wounds in her foremast, weakening it so much that she has not been able to carry a whole foretopsail since the action; notwithstanding that we fished it as well as we could at sea the day after. Her standing and running rigging is much damaged. She needs new slings, braces, stays, and halliards on the fore and main, a new capstan, a new spanker boom, a new wheel, and very considerable new wood work in cabin and quarters to replace that stove by shot. I estimate that she was struck in hull, spars, and rigging by nearly one hundred and eighty round shots besides many grapeshot. The close range at which the action was fought made these hits very destructive, many of the shot going through and through. The Drake is a new ship, less than three years off the stocks, and is well worth the extensive repairs made necessary by the mauling she got from our ship.
W. HITCHBURN, Carpenter."
The English papers made every effort to minimize the significance of this victory. The captain -- Burden -- of the Drake and the first lieutenant were killed. The next in rank, who surrendered the ship, was wounded and held prisoner more than a year, and he did not undergo the usual court-martial until nearly eighteen months afterward. His testimony was that the Drake's twenty guns were only four-pounders. If that was true, someone must have mounted a new battery on her before she was sold as a prize at Brest; because the voucher for her in the archives of the French Admiralty describes her battery as sixteen nine-pounders and four four-pounders. ("Seize pièces de neuf livres de baue et quatre pièces de quatre.") Professor Laughton, a distinguished and usually reliable English authority on such subjects, accepts the statement of the officer who was court-martialed and argues from it that the Drake was really outclassed by the Ranger in weight of metal. With this summary of the evidence we leave the issue between Professor Laughton and the archives of the French Admiralty.
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Edited by Terry Heller, Coe College.
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