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USS Revenge (1777)
USS Revenge
Name: USS Revenge
Acquired: by purchase, 1777
Fate: Sold, 12 March 1779
General characteristics
Type: Cutter
Complement: 106 officers and enlisted
Armament: • 14 × 6-pounder guns
• 22 × swivels

The second USS Revenge was a Cutter in the Continental Navy and later a privateer.

Revenge was purchased at Dunkirk, France, for Continental service in the spring or summer of 1777 by William Hodge, an agent of the American commissioners to France, Benjamin Franklin and Silas Deane.

The British Ambassador to Paris complained that the ship had been fitted in a French (and supposedly neutral) port; but Hodge circumvented the diplomatic objection by a feigned sale of the cutter to an English subject, Richard Allen. Revenge departed Dunkirk, on 17 July 1777, ostensibly for Bergen, Norway; but, as soon as she was at sea, Captain Gustavus Conyngham, the "Dunkirk Pirate" who had recently preyed upon British shipping in Surprise, took command; hoisted Continental colors; and headed for the North Sea. Four days later Revenge captured a large schooner, the Happy Return; and, on the 23rd, made a prize of the brig Maria. Since British warships were nearby and threatening during both captures, Conyngham burned the prizes. Brig Patty was brought to on the 25th and ransomed. These Continental successes, so close to the shores of England, sent London insurance rates skyrocketing and inhibited British trade.

On the 26th, Revenge stopped Northampton; but that brig was recaptured before she could reach port for condemnation proceedings.

For two months Revenge remained at sea cruising off north-western Europe and the British Isles before she put in at Kinehead on the northwestern coast of Ireland to repair her bowsprit and to replenish her casks of fresh water.

Conyngham, who had been sending his prizes to ports in Spain, now himself headed for the Bay of Biscay, putting in at Ferrol. In the coming months, Revenge made several cruises from Spanish ports and captured many prizes. On one of the cruises, Conyngham transited the Straits of Gibraltar and operated in the Mediterranean Sea; and, on another, he sailed to the Azores and the Canary Islands.

But, word of the cutter's great success reached British ears and the Admiralty ordered English warships to find and destroy her. Moreover, as Revenge's fame spread, British diplomatic pressure was brought to bear on the Spanish court to bar her from Spanish ports. Conyngham quietly refitted the ship in a small Spanish port and sailed for the West Indies on 1 September 1778. Upon reaching Martinique, Revenge had captured 60 British vessels, destroying 33 and sending 27 to port as prizes.

A cruise in the Caribbean added several other ships, including two British privateers, to her score before Revenge arrived at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on 21 February 1779, laden with arms and munitions for the Continental Army in South Carolina. The cutter was sold at public auction by an act of Congress of 12 March 1779.

Soon after the sale to a firm of Philadelphia merchants for service as a privateer, Revenge operated briefly under charter protecting shipping on the Delaware River.

The cutter sailed from the Delaware Capes in April, in quest for prizes. Conyngham was again the Revenge's commander and, now, her part owner. However, luck had changed for the ship. While chasing two privateers off the New York coast, Revenge was taken by British man of war, HMS Galatea on 27 April 1779.

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This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here.

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