Samuel Laboyteaux, Midshipman

Samuel Laboyteaux. Samuel Laboyteaux served as Midshipman aboard the Confederacy. It is highly probable he is Samuel Smith Laboyteaux, second son of Captain John Laboyteaux, (originally La Boitteaux) and Hannah Smith, born on 22 February 1766 in New York City and baptized two days later at the First Presbyterian Church. John and Hannah were married in the Fall of 1762 at Trinity Church in New York City. Of French Huguenot descent, his father was Captain of a company of New York grenadiers prior to his relocation to Philadelphia when New York City was occupied by the British. John Laboyteaux served as Captain of Marines under Captain Woolman Sutton on the Pennsylvania privateer ship Aurora which sailed from Philadelphia headed for St. Eustatius on 25 May 1780, just days after his will was executed in the presence of witnesses Timothy Brundige, William Hinman and John Vandergrift. Philip Freneau in his short book, Some Account of the Capture of the Ship “Aurora,” records that on Friday 26 May 1780, the Aurora was engaged by the British frigate Iris and two brigs. Freneau recounts, “at last a twelve-pound shot came from the frigate and, striking a parcel of oars lashed upon the starboard quarter, broke them all in two, and continuing its destructive course struck Captain Laboyteaux in the right thigh, which it smashed to atoms, tearing part of his belly open at the time with the splinters from the oars; he fell from the quarter deck close to me and for some time seemed very busily engaged in setting his leg to rights. He died about eleven the same night and next day was sewed up in his hammock and sunk.” Captain Laboyteaux’s will was probated just over one month later on 29 June 1780 and names son Samuel Smith Laboyteaux as well his living siblings. “In the name of God, Amen. I, John Laboyteaux, of Philadelphia, being of sound memory, thanks be to God. After all debts are paid, I leave to my wife Hannah the use of all household furniture, while she remains a widow. If she marries, then I leave all to my wife and children, John, Samuel Smith, Peter, Gabriel, William, Hannah, and Mary, and such child as my wife may have. But to my son I leave £50 more than the rest, he being my eldest son. I make my wife and my friends, Thomas Pearsall, of New York, merchant, and Benjamin Helme, of New York, attorney at Law, executors.” Less than seven months after his father’s death on the Aurora, Samuel Smith Laboyteaux would sail on the ill-fated last cruise of the Confederacy. According to the crew list published in Neptune’s Militia: The Frigate: “South Carolina,” 1782-1783, it appears older brother John born in 1764 and younger brother Peter born in 1767 also sailed as Midshipmen within a year of Samuel on the frigate South Carolina. The ship was leased in Europe to Commodore Alexander Gillon of the South Carolina Navy and manned with American officers and European crew, sailing in 1781 and arriving in Havana, Cuba on 12 January 1782. After participating in the recapture of New Providence during April and May, the frigate arrived in Philadelphia on 28 May 1782 where she remained for six months. The South Carolina’s command was assigned to Captain John Joyner of the South Carolina Navy and she was re-manned in Philadelphia with American seaman and Pennsylvania German marines. The frigate sailed from Philadelphia to Europe in November, the two Laboyteaux midshipmen aboard. On 19 December 1782, the South Carolina was engaged and captured by the British man-of-war Diomede and the frigates Quebec and Astrea with the officers and crew sent to New York. The extent of patriotism which ran in the Laboyteaux household is perhaps best illustrated in Captain John and Hannah’s naming of their seventh son George Washington Laboyteaux born on 17 September 1775. A note on his baptismal record of 1 October 1775 reads, “So called after his Excellency George Washington, Esqr., General & Commander in Chief of the Continental Army.” It is wishfully suggested that they are the first known parents in America to name a child after the man who had just four months earlier in June been designated to command the military forces of the Continental Congress meeting in Philadelphia.

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