Alphabetical List of Officers and Men of the Brig Resistance captured August 1778

The Alphabetical List of 48 Officers and Men of the Brig Resistance captured on 28 August 1778 is derived from the musters of the HMS Experiment (ADM 36/7920) and HMS Ariel (ADM 36/7938) transcribed at the National Archives in Kew, England by Joseph and Joshua Ross in February 2014. The list has been edited to offer a complete spelling of the abbreviated Christian name in order to assist internet browsing. The list includes rate or quality if noted in the Muster records. Twenty-three of the men were included on the Experiment’s roll while twenty-five appear on the Ariel’s.

Captain William Burke replaced former commander Samuel Chew who was killed in an engagement with a 20-gun letter-of-marque on 4 March 1778. Burke was ordered in temporary command of the Resistance on 30 May 1778 when Captain Daniel Waters declined the Marine Committee’s assignment. When Waters continued to refuse command, Burke was instructed to place himself and the vessel under the command Captain John Barry in the frigate Raleigh. When the Navy Board learned that the French fleet of Admiral D’Estaing was coming to Boston, the brig Resistance sailed from Boston to meet it. Unfortunately, Captain Burke missed the allied squadron and was intercepted by the enemy fleet of Admiral Howe instead. On 28 August 1778, the 10-gun Continental brigantine Resistance was captured without a fight by the British frigate Ariel under the command of Captain Charles Phipps. Afterward, the brig was stripped and burned.

Of the 48 Officers and Men of the Brig Resistance captured, seventeen men marked with an * asterick were deposited at a Halifax prison on 6 September 1778. Captain Burke alone was entered on a prison ship in New York on 18 September 1778. Twenty-two additional men marked with a + sign were entered on an unnamed prison ship on 11 October 1778. Finally, eight men marked with a # sign were entered into British service on the Ariel, Rainbow or Experiment.

John Blance, Master +
Jacob Bacon, Surgeon *
Jonathan Bale +
James Ballard *
Charles Barrisham *
John Blume +
Richard Bunker +
William Burke, Captain
Moses Case *
William Chiney +
Joseph Cyprus *
Samuel Dermen *
John Freemon *
Jacob Gold *
John Grant +
Robert Gray, AB #
Jeremiah Hunt +
Rufus Huntley +
Jonas Johnson *
Edward Jubbs +
Ebenezer Kelly +
Samuel Leatherby +
John Lydehead +
Daniel McCarthy +
Henry Morgan, AB #
Thomas Morgan, AB #
Jonathan Newman #
Ezekiel Nicholson +
Samuel Paine +
Thomas Parker +
William Peerbuck +
William Pitman +
John Plumber +
John Potter, AB #
David Ralfe *
Abraham Rathbun, Boy *
Fortune Roberts *
Philip Salt *
Peter Short +
Primus Smith *
Thomas Smith #
Asa Stephens *
Hantz Thompson *
Phillip Trush +
James Tucker +
Thomas Wall, AB #
John Williams, Boy #
John Woodward *

Clearly only half to two thirds of the officers and men that comprised the compliment of the brig Resistance are listed. Based on other evidence concerning men not noted in the accompanying list, it is likely the balance were distributed among other unnamed vessels in the British fleet. Based on a resolve granted by the General Court of Massachusetts on 20 February 1781, we know Quartermaster William Pedrick was carried to New York and while a prisoner there “lost all his toes by the frost.” The pension testimony of Isaac Collins (#S-12,527) who is also absent on the list states “that he again entered on board the Continental Brig Resistance of 16 guns, William Burke, commander in the capacity of Masters Mate on 20 June, 1778 and was taken by the British fleet in the South channel, when they were in pursuit of the French fleet from Rhode Island down to Boston, and said Brig was burnt. He with others of the crew were carried to Rhode Island and put in prison where they were detained till about 6th April 1779 , when he was liberated, having been on board said Brig and in prison Nine and half months.”

A plea for money written by Charles Collins to Benjamin Franklin dated at Cherbourg, France on 29 March 1780 outlines the midshipman’s barbarous treatment by the English after the capture of Resistance; his refusal to enter their service and subsequent escape to France from Pembroke Prison in Wales. According to two other letters authored by Midshipman Charles Collins, on or about 14 September 1778 he was put in a Rhode Island prison with nine others. Eight days later, he was removed and put on the 74-gun British frigate Culloden, eventually reaching Milford Haven where “wee was put on Shore In pembrock prison” on 15 December 1778. Collins complains of “having bin plundred of all our Clothes & money by The Sailors on bord the Culloden officers & men without Distincton a Grat part of us having been taken out Halifax & Rhodisland prison against our will whear Some had been Confined upwords of two years when after being promsd to be Set on Shore again In america was broght hear So fair from home Distitute of Evry thing hardly So much Clothes as will Cover our nakedness.” After being imprisoned twelve months and 6 days at Pembroke, Collins “and 20 americans Brok out of preson tuck a Small Sloop 7 mile up the Rever past By Sevrel firgets and tenders and Came Safe to france after Being at Sea 3 days without water or pervisens”. Finally, a letter from Samuel Adams to his friend William Cooper, Esq. dated 30 September 1778 reveals that Cooper’s son Samuel was recently exchanged for the Purser of the British ship Mermaid at New York, was then at Philadelphia and would be returning home to Boston shortly. Ironically, the Mermaid had earlier been a “valuable prize” of the brig Resistance taken late the previous year.

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