Raid on Charlottetown (1775)

The Raid on Charlottetown of 17–18 November 1775, early in the American Revolutionary War, involved two American privateers of the Marblehead Regiment attacking and pillaging Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, then known as St. John's Island.[4] The raid motivated Nova Scotia Governor Francis Legge to declare martial law.[5] Despite the raid's success, George Washington immediately freed senior colonial officials the privateers had brought back as prisoners to Cambridge, Massachusetts.[6][7][8][9][10]

Raid on Charlottetown (1775)
Part of the American Revolutionary War
Rev. Theophilus Desbrisay (1754-1823).png
Rev. Theophilus Desbrisay, taken prisoner
Date17–18 November 1775
Location
Result Privateer victory
Belligerents
 United States  Great Britain
Commanders and leaders
Nicholson Broughton (Hancock[1][2])
John Selman (Franklin)[3]
Kingdom of Great Britain Phillips Callbeck (POW)
Kingdom of Great BritainThomas Wright (POW)
Kingdom of Great Britain Peter Higgins (POW)
Strength
2 brigs militia

BackgroundEdit

During the American Revolution, rebels and later French privateers frequently attacked Nova Scotia, damaging its maritime economy by raiding coastal communities including Liverpool and Annapolis Royal.[11]

In October 1775, British forces burned Falmouth, now Portland, Maine. To respond, General Washington commandeered two schooners from John Glover's Marblehead Regiment for privateering. Glover recruited his son-in-law Captain Nicholson Broughton in the Hancock ([12]) and Captain John Selman (privateer) in the Franklin.[13] They were ordered to intercept two brigs carrying armaments from England arriving in the St. Lawrence River.[2][14] Instead of following orders into a risky naval battle, the two privateers sought more convenient, easier quarry off Cape Canso, taking five prizes of dubious legality.[15][16] The privateers heard that the British were recruiting at St. John's Island and decided to attack it.[17]

Washington sent Selman with Nicholson Broughton to lead an expedition off Nova Scotia to interrupt two British ships full of armaments bound for Quebec. Broughton commanded the USS Hancock, joined by Captain Selman in the Franklin.[18][19][20][21][22][23] Selman and Broughton gathered intelligence at Canso, Nova Scotia that the two ships en route to Quebec had already gone to Quebec the month earlier. Broughton and Selman wrote Washington that "we are however something comforted in that no Vessel passes this season to Boston, Halifax or to any part of America from Quebec but must pass within gun Shot of us."[24]

Broughton and Selman captured seven British vessels around Canso.[25] On 29 October Broughton captured the schooners Prince William (Capt. William Standley Cr) and Mary (Capt. Thomas Russell). Two days later, Selam and Broughton wrote to Washington, that he captured the sloop Phoebe commanded by Captain James Hawkins. The sloop was owned by Boston loyalist Enoch Rust. Broughton indicated that Rust was “contrary … to the Association of the united American Colonies.” He also described Loyalist Boston as a “Den of Mischievous Violators of the rights of Humanity.” [26] Five days later, on 5 November, Broughton took the sloop Warren owned by Thomas Cochrane of Halifax, Nova Scotia. The Warren was commanded by Captain John Denny, who Broughton described as not being in “a very favorable light respecting their attachment to American Liberties.”[27]

The RaidEdit

Selman and Broughton gathered intelligence that the Governor of St. John Island was recruiting for the war efforts against the Americans and resolved to attack.[28] As a result, Broughton headed for Charlottetown.[29][28]

On 17 November, both captains landed with two parties of six men each. They took two prisoners, Acting Governor Phillips Callbeck and Surveyor General Thomas Wright, for possible exchange for Patriot American prisoners taken at Quebec.[28][30] They ransacked Callbeck's home, emptied his stores, took the colony's silver seal and Governor Patterson's Commission, and also plundered Patterson's House.[25]

Selman and Broughton also searched unsuccessfully for the wives of Callbeck and senior naval commander Captain David Higgins, both daughters of prominent Boston loyalists. Callbeck's wife was the daughter of Nathaniel Coffin Jr., who a few months earlier had ordered the felling of the Liberty Tree on the Boston Common.[31] Higgins wife was the daughter of Job Princes of Boston.[32][33][34]

Before the privateers left, they spiked the cannons at the fort.[28]

AftermathEdit

The privateers took more prisoners at Canso: Captain David Higgins was captured in his schooner Lively on Nov. 23 in the Gut of Canso. On board were the Governor's priest Rev. Theophilus Desbrisay[35][36] and Council member John Russell Spence, who were briefly held but shortly released. Higgins and the two other prisoners were taken to American headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts by way of Winter Harbour, Maine.[37][38][39] (En route they were involved in the Raid on Yarmouth, Nova Scotia (1775).)

Washington, who wanted colonies to rebel freely rather than by intimidation, censored the privateers for imprisoning government officials without permission and freed them.[40] While George Washington censored Selman and Broughton, John Adams (who was on the committee to establish the navy[41]) supported the privateers stating that they may “deserve censure for going counter to [their] orders, but I think in justice to ourselves we ought to seize every [Loyalist] officer in the service of Government wherever they may be found."[33] When Selman was retired years later, the Vice President of the United States Elbridge Gerry favourably re-evaluated his contribution to the war effort and signed his letter, "with much esteem and respect, E. Gerry."[42]

Callback returned and became the Commander for the St. John Volunteers in the Revolutionary War, investing heavily in the island's defences. (The St. John Volunteers were later named Fanning's Corps of Island Saint John's Volunteers and then, in 1799, the Prince Edward Island Fencibles.)[43]

The privateers continued to attack throughout the war and Loyalists were re-routed away from the Island to settle at Louisbourg.[44][45] In August 1777, 2 privateers invaded Saint Peters and killed livestock.[46]

The privateers pillaged the property of Wellwood Waugh and he was forced to move from Charlottetown to Pictou, Nova Scotia, the following year. (In 1777, Waugh was himself implicated in an American privateer raid on Pictou and was forced to move to Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia. He became a prominent inhabitant and Waugh River is named after him.) [47][48][49]

Major Timothy Hierlihy was ordered to be the commander of the defence of Prince Edward Island. (In 1778, Timothy defended the Spanish River coal mines in Cape Breton from American privateers — recapturing two vessels, retrieving loyalist property, killing one of the privateers and sending other prisoners to Halifax.[50] He later established Antigonish, Nova Scotia).[51]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Massachusetts in contention: a chronological survey, 1775-1783". February 12, 1975 – via Internet Archive.
  2. ^ a b Peabody, Robert E. (Robert Ephraim) (February 12, 1909). "The naval career of Captain John Manley of Marblehead". Salem, Mass., Essex Institute – via Internet Archive.
  3. ^ andrea@archive.org. "The Navy of the United States, from the commencement, 1775 to 1853; with a brief history of each vessel's service and fate as appears upon record. To which is added a list of private armed vessels with their services and fate; also a list of the revenue and coast survey vessels, and principal ocean steamers, belonging to citizens of the United States in 1850 : Emmons, George Foster, 1811-1884 : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive". Retrieved 2020-02-12.
  4. ^ https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/268156585.pdf[bare URL PDF]
  5. ^ "American Archives: Containing a Documentary History of the English Colonies in North America, from the King's Message to Parliament of March 7, 1774, to the Declaration of Independence by the United States. Fourth series". February 12, 1843 – via Google Books.
  6. ^ "Naval Documents of the American Revolution, Vol, 3, p. 2" (PDF).
  7. ^ Kerr, Wilfred Brenton (February 9, 2020). "The maritime provinces of British North America and the American Revolution". Sackville, N.B. : Busy East Press – via Internet Archive.
  8. ^ "Marblehead Marauders: The (Unauthorized) Invasion of 1775 – Part Three". Isaac L. Stewart. November 20, 2015.
  9. ^ Naval documents of the American Revolution / editor, William Bell Clark ; with a foreword by President John F. Kennedy and an introd. by Ernest McNeill Eller. ... v.3 1775-1776. HathiTrust. 1964. hdl:2027/mdp.39015074927107. ISBN 9780160724954.
  10. ^ Roads, Samuel (February 12, 1880). "The history and traditions of Marblehead". Boston, Houghton, Osgood – via Internet Archive.
  11. ^ Roger Marsters (2004). Bold Privateers: Terror, Plunder and Profit on Canada's Atlantic Coast" , p. 87-89
  12. ^ Not the Lynch. Numerous historians have addressed this error - see p. 40; p. 688; Naval Chronicles, p. 3; and Naval Chronicles, p. 474
  13. ^ Sanborn, Nathan P. (Nathan Perkins); Marblehead Historical Society (Marblehead, Mass ) (February 12, 1903). "Gen. John Glover and his Marblehead regiment in the revolutionary war : a paper read before the Marblehead historical society, May 14, 1903". [Marblehead, Mass.] : The Society – via Internet Archive.
  14. ^ Emmons, George Foster (February 12, 1853). "The Navy of the United States, from the commencement, 1775 to 1853; with a brief history of each vessel's service and fate as appears upon record. To which is added a list of private armed vessels with their services and fate; also a list of the revenue and coast survey vessels, and principal ocean steamers, belonging to citizens of the United States in 1850". Washington, Gideon – via Internet Archive.
  15. ^ "A calendar of Washington manuscripts in the Library of Congress". Washington : G.P.O. February 12, 1901 – via Internet Archive.
  16. ^ Sanborn, Nathan P. (Nathan Perkins); Marblehead Historical Society (Marblehead, Mass ) (February 12, 1903). "Gen. John Glover and his Marblehead regiment in the revolutionary war : a paper read before the Marblehead historical society, May 14, 1903". [Marblehead, Mass.] : The Society – via Internet Archive.
  17. ^ Upham, William Phineas; Swasey, Charles W. (Charles Warren); Essex Institute, issuing body (February 12, 1863). "A memoir of General John Glover, of Marblehead" – via Internet Archive.
  18. ^ Selman's raid
  19. ^ Find a grave
  20. ^ p. 19
  21. ^ p. 11
  22. ^ The Selman House
  23. ^ Selman House Photo
  24. ^ Letter to Washington 6 November 1775, p. 899
  25. ^ a b Naval documents of the American Revolution / editor, William Bell Clark ; with a foreword by President John F. Kennedy and an introd. by Ernest McNeill Eller. ... v.2. HathiTrust. 1964. hdl:2027/uiug.30112005302416. ISBN 9780160724954.
  26. ^ Naval documents of the American Revolution / editor, William Bell Clark ; with a foreword by President John F. Kennedy and an introd. by Ernest McNeill Eller. ... v.2. HathiTrust. 1964. hdl:2027/uiug.30112005302416. ISBN 9780160724954.
  27. ^ Naval documents of the American Revolution / editor, William Bell Clark ; with a foreword by President John F. Kennedy and an introd. by Ernest McNeill Eller. ... v.2. HathiTrust. 1964. hdl:2027/uiug.30112005302416. ISBN 9780160724954.
  28. ^ a b c d Selman letter. 1813
  29. ^ p. 1322 – Selman's full account
  30. ^ "Memorial of Sir James Montgomery, Baron of the Court of Exchequer of Scotland" dated 1791, enclosed in a letter dated Edinburgh, December 3, 1791, from Sir James Montgomery to Rt. Hon. Henry Dundas. Public Archives of Canada, MG - 23, - 6. See also Letter of Job Prince to James Montgomery, dated December, 1788,
  31. ^ Stark, James Henry (February 12, 1972). The Loyalists of Massachusetts And the Other Side of the American Revolution. Library of Alexandria. ISBN 9781465573919 – via Google Books.
  32. ^ Callbeck to Dartmouth, p. 43
  33. ^ a b "Founders Online: To John Adams from Benjamin Hichborn, 25 November 1775". founders.archives.gov.
  34. ^ "David HIGGINS b. Abt 1745 England d. 27 Apr 1783 Charlottetown, Queens, P.E.I., Canada: Reid-Schroeder Family Tree". reidgen.com.
  35. ^ "Biography – DESBRISAY, THEOPHILUS – Volume VI (1821-1835) – Dictionary of Canadian Biography".
  36. ^ "Bicentenary sketches and early days of the Church in Nova Scotia. With an introd. By the Lord Bishop of Nova Scotia and a chapter on King's College by Rev. Canon Vroom". Halifax Chronicle Printing Co. 1910.
  37. ^ http://ibiblio.org/anrs/docs/E/E3/ndar_v03p01.pdf[bare URL PDF]
  38. ^ Naval Records of the American Revolution, p. 299
  39. ^ "Biography – DESBRISAY, THOMAS – Volume V (1801-1820) – Dictionary of Canadian Biography".
  40. ^ Francis Legge, Governor of Loyalist Nova Scotia 1773-1776, By Viola F. Barnes. The New England Quarterly, Vol. 4, No. 3 (Jul., 1931), p. 435
  41. ^ p. 169
  42. ^ Extracts relating to the origin of the American navy. The New England historic genealogical society. 1890.
  43. ^ The Siege of Malpeque by Earle Lockerby
  44. ^ Privateering and Piracy: the effects of New England Raiding on Nova Scotia, p. 124
  45. ^ "Log book of cruises and captured ships [manuscript]". Boston, Mass. February 12, 1778 – via Internet Archive.
  46. ^ Privateering and piracy; the effects of New England Raiding upon Nova Scotia, p. 125]
  47. ^ Kernaghan, Lois (1987). "Waugh, Wellwood". In Halpenny, Francess G (ed.). Dictionary of Canadian Biography. Vol. VI (1821–1835) (online ed.). University of Toronto Press.
  48. ^ Patterson, George (1877). A History of the County of Pictou, Nova Scotia. Montreal: Dawson brothers. p. 102.
  49. ^ p.79
  50. ^ For Cape Breton incident see Massey to Germain 3 June 1778. PRO CO 217/54, p. 54, 80-81
  51. ^ http://collections.stfx.ca/cdm/ref/collection/texts/id/6060

SourcesEdit

External linksEdit