|Raid on Annapolis Royal|
|Part of the American Revolutionary War|
|United States of America||Kingdom of Great Britain|
|Commanders and leaders|
Capt. [John] Curtis
|Commander Phineas Lovett|
|80 privateers||local militia; 3 soldiers|
|Casualties and losses|
|1 killed (Acadian pilot)||no casualties|
The Raid on Annapolis Royal took place on 29 August 1781 during the American Revolutionary War. The raid involved two American privateers attacking and pillaging Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia to revenge the British destruction of the Penobscot Expedition. One historian described it as "one of the most daring and dramatic raids upon Nova Scotia."
During the American Revolution, Americans regularly attacked Nova Scotia by land and sea. American privateers devastated the maritime economy by raiding many of the coastal communities, The raids intensified after the British victory over the Penobscot Expedition, such as the numerous raids on Liverpool and the Raid on Lunenburg (1782).
On 31 March 1781, the HMS Blonde captured Captain Amos Potter of the American Privateer Resolution (6 guns, 25 men) near Halifax, Nova Scotia, while his crew escaped. Five months later, Potter’s crew sought revenge on the British by sacking Annapolis Royal.
The Resolution was joined by another American Privateer Reprisal (8 guns, 10 swivels, 60 men) under the command of Capt. Curtiss, totalling 80 men. They secured the blockhouse from the 3 soldiers in the town. Over the next hours, the privateers rounded up the militia, under the command of Phineas Lovett, and disarmed and imprisoned them. They spiked the town cannons. The privateers then pillaged the valuables from the whole town, taking silverware, provisions, furniture, bedding, clothing and so forth. They retreated to Goat Island and took prisoner Thomas Williams (father of Sir W.F. Williams), John Ritchie (grandfather of Hon. J.W. Ritchie, solicitor general), a Sergeant and 5-6 others, one of whom they referred to as the "Governor of Annapolis". They later exchanged the Governor for their former commander Captain Potter and returned to Boston the following month.
American privateers remained a threat to Nova Scotian ports for the rest of the war. Capt. William Chair Burnaby was in command of the sloop Merlin at Annapolis Royal. On 1 January 1782, British Captain John Curtis captured an armed schooner in the Bay of Fundy commanded by Captain Hodgkins. The privateer Lively under the command of John Augusta Dunn fell in with armed schooner.
On 8 May 1782, Buckram (8 guns, 40 men) captured the privateer sloop Lively under the command of John Augustus Dunn (8 guns) and the crew escaped. The Buckram rescued Captain Mowatt who was being chased by the American privateer close to Goat Island. Mowat and his crew escaped in the woods. On March 15, 1782, Potter returned from Boston in the Resolution and captured the schooner Two Sisters off Pearl Island, Mahone Bay (formerly Green Island), stole all the provisions on board and released it.
- Brenda Dunn. A History of Port Royal, Annapolis Royal. Nimbus Publishing. 2004. pp. 222-223
- John Dewar Faibisy. Privateering and Piracy: The Effects of New England Raiding Upon Nova Scotia During the American Revolution, 1775-1883. University of Massachusetts. 1972. p. 185
- Benjamin Franklin also engaged France in the war, which meant that many of the privateers were also from France.
- Roger Marsters (2004). Bold Privateers: Terror, Plunder and Profit on Canada's Atlantic Coast" , p. 87-89
- Massachusetts Privateers, p. 257
- Note this website incorrectly indicates this encounter happened in 1779 rather than 1781
- thesis p. 183-184 “the most spectacular of the raids upon Nova Scotia” between 1780-1781, in revenge of the Penobscot Expedition (p. 186)
- Thesis, P. 184
- Massachusetts Privateers, p. 258
- p. 415
- Beamish Murdoch. History of Nova Scotia, Vol. 2, p. 619
- Massachusetts Privateers, p. 258
- Naval Documents of the American Revolution, p.449
- pp. 452-455
- p. 49
- Beamish Murdoch, History of Nova Scotia, Vol. 3, p.2
- Beamish Murdoch. A History of Nova Scotia, Vol. 3, p. 4
- Dr. Pitt Brechin "The Western Chronicle" of Kentville, NS, 4 Mar 1890
- Gardner W. Allen, A NAVAL HISTORY OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION (Boston, 1913), Chapter 17.
- Gwyn, Julian, Ashore and afloat
- Gwyn, Julian (2004), Frigates and Foremasts: The North American Squadron in Nova Scotia. Waters, 1745–1815, UBC Press.
- The history of Kings County, Nova Scotia, heart of the Acadian land.
- Nova Scotia Gazette Oct 2, 1781
- Rev. Wingate Weeks to Headquarters, September 30, 1781: SPG Papers B 25, 3, 247
- Nova Scotia Gazette, September 4, 1781;
- Boston Gazette, September 24, 1781
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