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ALFRED

ex Black Prince

Built  about 1774                

Lenght 140

Lenght Deck 118

Length Keel 100

Beam 32

Depth 15

Draft 16

Tonnage 550

These are estimates from Early American Ship by John Fitzhugh Millar

Painting by Harry W Carpenter

. For Larger Picture

From: Dictionary of American Fighting Ships, Vol. A, 1991, Navy Department, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Naval History Division, Washington, D.C.

,Haze Gray and Underway by Andrew Toppan

AFRED-a ship-rigged vessel originally named BLACK PRINCE-was built at Philadelphia in 1774. No record of her builder seems to have survived,  but it is possible that John Wharton may have constructed the ship. John Barry served as the ship's only master during her career as a Philadelphia merchantman. Launched in the autumn of 1774 as relations between the American colonies and the mother country grew increasingly tense, BLACK PRINCE was fitted out quickly so that she could load and sail for Bristol on the last day of 1774. The ship did not return to Philadelphia until 25 April 1775, six days after the battles of Lexington and Concord.Fearing that American commerce would soon be interrupted, her owners were eager to export another cargo to England, so they again raced to load and provision her. BLACK PRINCE sailed on 7 May, this time bound for London. She did not reach that destination until 27 June. The ship left the Thames on 10 August but encountered contrary winds during much of her westward voyage and finally returned to Philadelphia on 4 October.

While the ship had been abroad, much had happened to deepen the American conflict with England. The Battle of Bunker Hill had been fought, the other colonies acting in Congress had pledged to support Massachusetts in its struggle for freedom and George Washington had taken command of the American Army besiegin British-occupied Boston. Moreover, private correspondence which BLACK PRINCE had brought from England to members of the Continental Congress reported that the British Government was sending to America two unarmed brigs heavily laden with unpowder and arms.This inteligence prompted Congress on 13 October to authorize the fitting out of two American warships, of 10 guns each, to attempt to capture these ships and divert their invaluable cargoes to the ill-equipped soldiers of Washington's army. Congress decided, on 30 October, to add two more ships to the navy, one of 20 guns and the other slightly larger but not to exceed 36 guns. ALFRED undoubtedly was the latter ship

As a result, the Naval Committee purchased BLACK PRINCE on 4 November 1775, renamed her ALFRED four days later, and ordered her fitted out as a man-of-war. Her former master John Barry, was placed in charge of her rerigging, Joshua Humphreys was selected to superintend changes strengthening her hull, timbers, and bulwarks as well as opening gunports, and Nathaniel Falconer was made responsible for her ordnance and provisions.

Soon four other vessels joined ALFRED in the Continental Navy: COLUMBUS, CABOT, ANDREW DORIA, and sloop PROVIDENCE. Esek Hopkins, a veteran master of merchantmen from Rhode Island was appointed commodore of the flotilla. ALFRED was placed in commission on 3 December 1775, Capt. Dudley Saltonstall in command, and became Hopkins' flagship.The new fleet dropped down the Delaware River on 4 January 1776; but a cold snap froze the river and the bay, checking its progress at Reedy Island for some six weeks. A thaw released Hopkins' warships from winter's icy rasp in mid-February, and the fleet sortied on 18 February for its first operation. The Marine Committee had ordered Hopkins to sail for Hampton Roads to attack British warships which were harassing American shipping in Virginia waters; then to render similar service at Charleston, S.C.; and, finally, to head for Rhode Island waters. He was given the discretion of disregarding these orders if they proved impossible and planning an operation of his own.However, by the time his ships broke free of the ice, growing British strength in the Chesapeake prompted Hopkins to head for the West Indies. Knowing that the American colonies desperately needed gunpowder, he decided to attack the island of New Providence in the Bahamas to capture a large supply of that commodity as well as a great quantity of other military supplies reportedly stored there. A fortnight after leaving the Delaware capes, on the morning of 3 March Hopkins arrived off Nassau and captured Fort Montague in a bloodless battle in which Continental marines under Capt. Samuel Nicholas joined Hopkins' sailors in merica's first amphibious operation.

That evening, Hopkins issued a proclamation which promised not to harm ". . . the persons or property of the inhabitants of New Providence .." if they did not resist. The following morning, Governor Montfort Browne surrendered Fort Nassau but only after he had spirited away most of the island's gunpowder from New Providence to St. Augustine, Fla.After Hopkins stripped the forts of their guns and all remaining ordnance, ALFRED led the American fleet homeward from Nassau harbor on St. Patrick's Day, 17 March. the same day that British troops were evacuating Boston. On 4 April, during the homeward voyage, Hopkins' ships captured the six-gun British schooner HAWK and the eight-gun bomb brig BOLTON. Shortly after midnight on 6 April, Hopkins encountered the 20-gun HMS GLASGOW. That British frigate-which was carrying dispatches telling of the British withdrawal-put up a fierce and skillful fight which enabled her to escape from her substantially more powerful American opponents. At the outset of the fray, fire from her cannon cut ALFRED's tiller ropes, leaving Hopkins' flagship unable to maneuver or to pursue effectively. The American ships did attempt to chase their fleeing enemy, but after dawn GLASGOW disappeared over the horizon and safely reached Newport, R.I.When ALFRED and her consorts put into New London, Conn., on 8 April, the

Americans were at first welcomed as heroes. However, many of the officers of the American squadron voiced dissatisfaction with Hopkins, and he was later relieved of command.ALFRED was inactive through the summer for a number of reasons, but high on the list of her problems were want of funds and a shortage of men. On 7 August, Capt. John Paul Jones, who had helped to fit her out as a warship and had been her first lieutenant on the cruise to New Providence, was placed in command of the ship. She departed Providence, R. I., on 26 October 1776 in company with HAMPDEN, but that vessel struck a "sunken rock" before they could leave Narragansett Bay and returned to Newport. Her officers and men then shifted to sloop PROVIDENCE accompanying ALFRED to waters off Cape Breton Island which they reached by mid-November. There they took three prizes: on the 11th, the brigantine ACTIVE, bound from Liverpool to Halifax with an assorted cargo, the next day, the armed transport MELLISH, laden with winter uniforms for British troops at Quebec; and, on the 16th, the snow KITTY, bound from Gaspe to Barbados with oil and fish.Because of severe leaks, PROVIDENCE sailed for home soon thereafter and ALFRED continued her cruise alone. On 22 November boats from the ship raided Canso, Nova Scotia, where their crews burned a transport bound for Canada with provisions and a warehouse full of whale oil, besides capturing a small schooner to replace Providence. Two days later, ALFRED captured three colliers off Louisburg, bound from Nova Scotia to New York with coal for the British Army and, on 26 November captured the 10-gun letter-of-marque JOHN of Liverpool. On the homeward voyage, ALFRED was pursued by HMS MILFORD but managed to escape after a four-hour chase. She arrived safely at Boston on 15 December and began a major refit.Captain Elisha Hinman became ALFRED's commanding officer in May 1777, but she did not get underway until 22 August when she sailed for France with RALEIGH to obtain military supplies. En route, they captured four small prizes. They reached L'Orient on 6 October, and on 29 December sailed for America. They proceeded via the coast of Africa, where they took a small sloop, and then headed for the West Indies, hoping to add to their score before turning northward for home.On 9 March 1778, near Barbados, they encountered British warships

ARIADNE and CERES. When the American ships attempted to flee, ALFRED fell behind her faster consort. Shortly after noon the British men-of-war caught up with ALFRED and forced her to surrender after a half an hour's battle. After surrendering, ALFRED was taken to Barbados where she was condemned and sold. She was purchased and taken into the Royal Navy as H.M. armed ship ALFRED (20 guns) and was sold in 1782.

 

Date: Sat, 29 Jul 1995 18:57:40 LCL Reply-To: Marine History Information Exchange Group Sender: Marine History Information Exchange Group From: Jacqueline Hall Subject: John Barry, 'Father of the American Navy' Recently, Mark D. Faram wrote: >I need some help. I'm doing an article on why few remember John Barry >and almost everyone remembers John Paul Jones................................. Mark,

I know of one article on John Barry by Captain Anthony McDermott RN in the 'Mariner's Mirror', Volume 48, Number 1. In a seperate reply to your inquiry, David McDonald says that little is taughtin American schools about him. The same can be said of Irish schools on this side of the Atlantic. For the benefit of subscribers to the list, here is a somewhat potted biography from sources to hand. John Barry was born in 1745 at Ballysampson, Tacumshane, Co. Wexford. This place is only a couple of miles from Carnsore Point, the south-eastern tip of Ireland. The inscription beneath the statue to Barry on Crescent Quay in the town of Wexford describes him as the founder of the American Navy. As early as 1766, at about the age of 20, Barry is recorded as being in commandof the schooner, BARBADOS, engaged in commmercial trade along the east coast of America and in the West Indies. Later still, he is the owner of the sloop BLACK PRINCE, a ship he would present to Congress at the outbreak of the American War of Independence. In this ship he is reputed to have created an 18th century record for a 24 hour run - 237 miles at an average speed of 10 knots. The BLACK PRINCE is said to have been Irish built (?) and she was crewed by Irish smugglers. She was commissioned at Dunkirk for John Nixon of Philadelphia (grandson of a certain Richard Nixon of Wexford who emigrated to the New World in 1686). It was John Nixon, incidentally, who first read the Declar-ation of Independence to the citizens of Philadelphia on July 8th, 1776. The BLACK PRINCE had a sister ship, BLACK PRINCESS, and these two together withthe FEARNOT were authorised by Benjamin Franklin to capture British ships and crews to be used in exchange for rebel American naval personnel being held in the Mill Prison in Plymouth and the Forton Prison in Portsmouth. The BLACK PRINCE was manned by Irish smugglers and took 35 prises. Together the three ships captured 161 British naval prisoners. The BLACK PRINCE was one of the 8 (or was it 6?) ships fitted out by Barry as the first American fleet. She was renamed ALFRED (24 guns). In 1776 Barry captained the LEXINGTON, an old brigantine (formerly the WILD DUCK) in which he captured the rebels first British prize, HMS EDWARD. Next, he commanded the 32 gun EFFINGHAM which he burned later in order to avoid her capture and use by the British after the fall of Philadelphia in 1777. However, he used her boats to conduct a campaign of raids on British transport and supply ships on the Delaware for which he was commended by Congress. General Howe reputedly offered him $100,000 to discontinue these raids but Barry wrote that he 'spurned the eydee of being a treator'. Later that year of 1777, he commanded the 32 gun RALEIGH with orders to break the British blockade of the coast; on being intercepted by two British frigates off Boston, he ran the RALEIGH onto the rocks to avoid her capture. In 1780 he was captain of the 200 ton DELAWARE which was involved in a series of engagements and in the following year, 1781, he took command of the 36 gun ALLIANCE which captured many prises. The best of these were 9 merchantmen taken in August 1782 while they were en route from Jamaica to Britain with cargoes of rum and sugar. When sold off they made 620,000, a welcome boost to the rebel treasury. Barry fought the last engagement of the war in the ALLIANCE on March 10th, 1783. This was against the British frigate, Sibylle, and the action proved to be an indecisive one. After the fall of Yorktown, Barry was chosen to convey Lafayette to France. When 6 frigates were built to protect US merchantmen from Algerian pirates, he was given command of America's first custom built warship, the 44 gun UNITED STATES. On this occasion he was described as 'of all the naval captains that remained, the one who possessed the greatest reputation for experience and skill'. He died on September 13th, 1803 aged 58 years.

 
 
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