Alphabetical List of Officers and Men of the Frigate Raleigh Captured on 28 September 1778

Appointed master of the Raleigh by the Marine Committee on 21 May 1778, Captain John Barry (1745–1803) arrived in Boston to assume command on 24 June to find a court martial underway in the great cabin. He also found the ship without a crew, cannon or supplies. Most of the ship’s cannon had been thrown overboard in the North Atlantic as former Captain Thomas Thompson fled from the British. As the Raleigh lay in port under Thompson, the officers and crew were permitted to leave the ship, looting it’s stores as they departed. Barry writes, “I found the ship had been Robb’d of a great many things.” Barry had enlisted less than half of the ship’s compliment by early August 1778, despite recruiting close to a hundred of the ship’s former crew. Former officers of the Raleigh returning to duty included New Hampshire natives Lieutenants Josiah Shackford and Hopley Yeaton and Captain of Marines George Jerry Osborne. To staff the manpower shortage, the Navy Board again turned to the idled crew of the Continental Ship Trumbull still stranded in the Connecticut River. Lieutenant David Phipps of New Haven was transferred from the idled frigate Trumbull with a “large detachment of seamen”. Other officers included Lieutenant of Marines Jabez Smith and Midshipmen David Porter of Massachusetts, Jesse Jacocks and Matthew Clarkson of Philadephia, Clarkson having been previously acquainted with Barry during his service on the Delaware. Filling out the Raleigh’s compliment of 235 men were “fifty of General Burgoyne’s soldiers” serving as marines. Although the list of officers and crew on board the frigate Raleigh when she sailed from the Piscataqua River on 12 August 1777 and also those on board at L’Orient, France on 22 January 1778 is widely circulated, a crew list for this final and fatal cruise of the Raleigh is not known to be extant.

The Raleigh represented John Barry’s return to sea and on 10 September 1778, the captain received orders to cruise off of North Carolina specifically to intercept and destroy “certain armed Vessels fitted out by the Goodriches.” With the full length whiskered figure of Sir Walter Raleigh gracing the bow of his 32-gun namesake, this “fast sailer” turned for Portsmouth, VA at dawn on Friday 25 September 1778. Barry’s own account describes best what happened soon after the pilot was dismissed just six hours into the cruise, “At noon two sail were sighted at a distance of fifteen miles to the southeast. The Raleigh hauled to the north, and the strange vessels, which were the British fifty-gun ship Experiment and the Unicorn of twenty-two guns, following in pursuit.” The chase continued until dark on the 25th with Barry noting the British ships “to all appearance gained nothing of us the whole day.” The following day, on Saturday 26 September the pursuers were sighted at seven o’clock in the morning. About four in the afternoon the Raleigh having been shadowed astern all day, the captain “lost sight of the said Vessels…Thinking they had quitted Chasing of us as I could not perceive they gained anything the whole time.” On the morning of Sunday 27 September “the ships were not in sight, but reappeared about half-past nine in the forenoon. The wind blew fresh from the west, and the Raleigh, running off at a speed of eleven knots, drew away from her pursuers, but in the afternoon, the wind having diminished again, the Unicorn gained on her.” Barry decided to engage the smaller frigate Unicorn as “I found we were a Match for her.” “Give him a gun” Barry commanded as the ships drew within a quarter mile of each other as the sun began to set.

The published narrative of two of Raleigh’s officers including Captain of Marines George Jerry Osborne details the action to follow, “Our ship being cleared for action and men at their quarters, about five P.M. coursed the headmost ship, to windward athwart her fore foot, on which we hoisted our colours, hauled up the mizzen sail and took in the stay sails; and immediately the enemy hoisted St. George’s ensign. She appearing to be pierced for twenty-eight guns, we gave her a broadside, which she returned; the enemy then tacked and came up under our lee quarter and the second broadside she gave us, to our unspeakable grief, carried away our fore top-mast and mizzen top-gallant-mast. He renewed the action with fresh vigor and we, notwithstanding our misfortune, having in a great measure lost command of our ship, were determined for victory.” With no defenses and while the crew feverishly worked to clear the deck of wreckage while under fire, the Unicorn’s unrelenting broadsides inflicted most of Raleigh’s twenty-five casualties. The Raleigh’s officers’ account continues, “He then shot ahead of us and bore away to leeward. By this time we had our ship cleared of the wreck. The enemy plied his broadsides briskly, which we returned as brisk; we perceiving that his intentions were to thwart us, we bore away to prevent his raking us, and if possible, to lay him aboard, which he doubtless perceived and having the full command of his ship, prevented us by sheering off and dropping astern, keeping his station on our weather quarter. Night coming on we perceived the sternmost ship (Experiment) gaining on us very fast, and being much disabled in our sails, masts and rigging and having no possible view of escaping, Capt. Barry thought it most prudent, with the advice of his officers, to wear ship and stand for the shore, if possible to prevent the ship’s falling into the enemy’s hands by running her on shore. The engagement continuing very warm, about twelve midnight saw the land bearing N.N.E. two points under our bow. The enemy, after an engagement of seven hours, thought proper to sheer off and wait for his consort, they showing and answering false fires to each other.” The Experiment soon came up and joined in the fire, and the British tried to cut off the Raleigh from the shore. “Encouraged by our brave commander, we were determined not to strike. After receiving three broadsides from the large ship and the fire of the frigate on our lee quarter, our ship struck the shore, which the large ship perceiving poured in two broadsides, which was returned by us; she then hove in stays, our guns being loaded gave us a good opportunity of raking her, which we did with our whole broadside and after that she bore away and raked us likewise, and both kept up a heavy fire on each quarter, in order to make us strike to them, which we never did. After continuing their fire some time they ceased and came to anchor about a mile distant.”

What Captain Barry did not know was the Experiment was under the command of Sir James Wallace, the same enemy who had engaged him in the Delaware six months earlier. Wallace and the Unicorn’s Captain John Ford were apprised of the identity of the Raleigh’s commander and were determined for victory. The British perspective of the engagement is detailed in the Experiment’s log. At quarter before six P.M. on the 27th, the “Unicorn came to close Action with the Chace, the first Broadside carried away the Enemys foretopmast and Main top-gallant Mast, at 7 a violent fireing on board both Ships, 1/2 past 9 the fireing ceased 1/2 an Hour, on which we fired several Signal Guns & was answered by the Unicorn with Lights & false Fires bearing N 1/2 E 3 miles, at 10 the Unicorn still in Action, at 11 spoke her & found the chace close by her, soon after got alongside the Chace, she gave us a Broadside & we riturned it, she then run upon the Shore, we being close to the Rocks, tacked & Anchored about 1/2 a Gun Shott from her, as did the Unicorn in 20 fathoms Water.”

Responding to dire circumstances enveloping the Raleigh, Captain Barry advised First Lieutenant Phipps of his plans to “run her ashore and burn her.” The engagement continued to rage after midnight into the early morning hours of Monday 28 September, providing no opportunity for the Americans to escape. Finally, as the first hand accounts describe, the Raleigh’s pierced main topsail drove the ship aground as the four stern guns continued a defensive cannonade. To Barry’s “great Grief” the Raleigh had been grounded on a rocky island near Penobscot Bay. Although named as Fox Island in certain pension records and called Seal Island by the British, it is now surmised to be Wooden Ball Island. Its identity is still not known with certainty as not one of the Raleigh’s experienced mariners recognized the location. Immediately Barry proceeded to land his crew, intending to destroy his ship. Barry writes, “As soon as the firing was over I thought it most prudent to get the Boats out in order to save what Men I could, it then being between one and two O’Clock Monday A.M. And not a Man on Board knew what Island we were on or how far it was from the Main.” Within two hours, all surviving crew were silently evacuated from the ship to the island, leaving fifteen presumed dead behind. When it became clear that he wouldn’t be able to retrieve the Raleigh’s cannon to defend the island, Barry divided his men into four groups. Twenty-three of the crew would return to the ship under the command of the Sailing Master with Midshipman Jesse Jacocks and scuttle her by lighting fires before escaping in one of the three longboats. Twenty-four men would attempt escape to the mainland under the command of two senior officers in each of the other two remaining boats. Captain Barry and Captain of Marines Osborne would command one with Lieutenants Shackford and Yeaton commanding the other. First Lieutenant David Phipps with Marine Lieutenant Jabez Smith and the remaining men including most of the midshipmen and warrant officers would stay on the island awaiting rescue. Either through negligence or treachery the combustibles prepared for firing the ship were not ignited. Barry was convinced that Midshipman Jacocks, who did not return with the Sailing Master’s escape boat, foiled Barry’s plan to scuttle the ship. Others suggest an impressed English seaman was responsible and struck the Continental colors when the British fired on the ship in the morning.

The Experiment’s log records, “at 5 A.M. the Enemy still on shore on a small barren Island called Seal Island, the Rebel Colours still hoisted, at 7 weighed and Anchored near her, fired several Guns & hoisted out all our Boats, Manned & Armed, sent a Boat ahead with a Flag of Truce to offer them Quarters, on discovering which she hawled down her Colours, her first Lieutenant and One Hundred & thirty-three Men were got ashore on the Island, but surrendered on a Summons by Truce.” Thirteen of the crew of the Raleigh escaped detection on the island to be reunited with Barry. The British soon took possession of the frigate and made prisoners of those of her crew who remained behind. The Raleigh lost twenty-five killed and wounded while the Unicorn saw ten killed and many wounded with severe damage to her hull and rigging. Leaving the wounded in the care of the ship’s surgeon on the mainland, Captain Barry with the balance of his escaped crew rowed their way back to Boston where they arrived two weeks later on Wednesday 7 October 1778. Captain of Marines Osborne and another officer suspected to be Thomas Vaughan would recount the naval battle in the Boston paper for news hungry readers. Captain Barry finishes his accounting of the engagement, “about 11 O’Clock A.M. About 140 of our Men were taken Prisoners and about 3 P.M. They got the Ship off… The reason I could not tell how many of our Men were made Prisoners was because there was no return of the kill’d on Board.” At high tide on 28 September, the British refloated the Raleigh and after repairs took her into the Royal Navy as the HBMS Raleigh. Despite the loss of the Raleigh, Captain John Barry’s reputation was not impugned as he was “Honestly acquitted” by a court of inquiry.

The Alphabetical List of 143 Officers and Men of the Frigate Raleigh captured on 28 September 1778 is derived from the roll of the HMS Experiment 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 and includes rate or quality if known in parenthesis. An asterisk has been added if the individual was entered on the ship’s book of the Experiment on 29 September 1778. All others were delivered to the prison ship Jersey in New York on 13 October 1778 from whence they were exchanged or distributed to other prison ships.

John Abrahams

Christopher Allen

Robert Ashley *

John Avery * (AB)

Nicholas Bailey or Bayley * (AB)

Matura Baleyou

Richard Barnes

Isaac Bayard

Joseph Bennett * (AB)

Clement Blompe *

John Blompe * (AB)

Thomas Bolton

Ishmael Bowers *

Jonathan Bradlock * (AB)

Josiah Bullock * (AB)

Josiah Bushby * (Boatswain’s Mate)

Joseph Butler *

William Butler * (AB)

Robert Caldwell

Duncan M. Cannon *

Michael Carew

Remmey Carrol *

William Carson * (AB)

William Carter * (AB)

James Castle

John Chace

James Clark

Matthew Clarkson (Midshipman)

Josiah Cockquet

Robert Cockran or Cochran (Cooper)

Christopher John Coit

Nicholas Coleby

Edward Coony

Basil Cooper

John Cooper (2) * (AB)

Thomas Crook

John Daggett

Thomas Davis

Thomas Day

Moses Day

John Demain

James Dennison

William Divers

Robert Dobson

John Dufour *

Hugh Duncan

Richard Eaves

Francis Edwards

William Elliott

John Emmett or Emmott * (AB)

William Fee or Tee * (AB)

Elisha Fimsher

Aaron Fish

Thomas Fitch

Michael Flanegan * (AB)

James Forrant

Joseph Fox

Andrew Gardner

Peter Genowish *

Robert Gillis * (AB)

Arnold Glitton

William Gooch

John Grant *

Pierre Guy

Jonathan Haden

William Hallott

Thomas Hampton

William Hart

Andrew Hay * (AB)

Joseph Hitchburn

Charles Hooper *

Jesse Jeacocks (Midshipman)

Edward Jebeau or Debeau

William Jeffery

Emmanuel Joseph

Joseph Kent

John Kerr

John Knapp

Lewis Lambert

David Latham

John Lee

William Linn

Robert Lucas

Samuel Mann

John Mason

James McNamara * (AB)

Milliphont McNamara * (AB)

Charles McNiel or McNeil

Mina Miles

John Mitchell * (AB)

William Morgan

Justin Morgan

Benjamin Morris

William Musgrove

John Mutch

Ceasar Newell * (AB)

Stephen Newell

Samuel Newell

Prince Nichols *

Andrew Peterson

Thomas Phillips *

David Phipps (1st Lieutenant)

David Pickin

David Porter (Midshipman)

Pierce Power

William Richards * (AB)

John Richardson * (AB)

Francis Riley

John Ross

Andrew Rotch

Nathaniel Row

Michael or Richard Ryan

John Andrew Saphir

Joshua Skinner

John Skinner

Andrew Smith

Jabez Smith (Lieutenant of Marines)

John Smith (3) * (AB)

Theodore Soper

Joshua Staples

Joseph Stevens

Joel Stevens

Richard Stevenson

Robert Stevenson

William Strickland

Elijah Swift

Adam Thaxter

William Thornton

Edward Thornton

James Tindall or Tindal * (AB)

James Todd *

Samuel Trass

Daniel Wanton *

Patrick Ward

Sampson White

Joseph Whitmore

Abraham Wickwive *

Henry Williams

Samuel Wise

Joseph Wise

Hugh Wolworth

John Woods

John Wright

In examining the above list one quickly observes the relatively large number of captured sailors who joined the Experiment either by compulsion or for wages. However, it must be remembered that filling out the Raleigh’s original compliment of 235 men were “fifty of General Burgoyne’s soldiers” serving as marines. It is also worth noting Captain Barry’s accusation that Midshipman Jesse Jeacocks was a traitor is not consistent with his exchange soon after confinement on the Jersey prison ship on 13 October 1778 and immediate posting on the frigate Confederacy two weeks later supervising the rigging of the ship as ranking midshipman. He was later posted as Masters 1st Mate when the Confederacy put to sea. Pension records add some of the human drama which unfolded with the capture of these unfortunate men. While Joshua Newhall [S.36,189] does not appear on the above list of captives, it is likely he is either the Samuel or Stephen Newell who are as 1st Lieutenant David Phipps testifies to their imprisonment together afterward in the pension record. Newhall was detained for three months before he was liberated with “no discharge and no pay.” Seaman Giles Chester [W.17,611] was confined on the prison ship Jersey for about five months after his capture on the Raleigh while marine Aaron Fish [S.10,673] was put on board the Good Hope prison ship where he remained confined prior to his exchange in late December 1778. The pension record of marine Edmund Pratt [R.8436] recounts that early in the morning of his capture, Barry and the boats rowed in sight of those stranded on the island with the intent to take them off, however at that moment, a British party came up and took them prisoner. Pratt recalls, “Captain Barry seeing this and knowing that he could render us no service, waved his hat to us, as we supposed, in token that he wished us a better fate and retired.” The pension record of Edmund Pratt further recounts that after the engagement, Experiment, Unicorn & Raleigh kept a “good distance” off the coast in order to avoid American vessels and that they experienced a storm which contributed to a delay in their passage which took three or four weeks. When arrived at New York, Pratt testified that he remained confined on the Experiment for “about a fortnight” before being conveyed on board the “well known prison ship Prince of Wales then lying near Pawles Hook.” Pratt said he suffered there with “about 500 other prisoners” until exchanged and returned to Saybrook, CT in late December 1778 in a feeble state of health. Like Joshua Newhall, Edmund Pratt’s name does not appear on the Experiment’s books; however no other name is similar by comparison. If Pratt indeed used an alias and the rejected pension testimony can be believed, he names a number of the Raleigh’s inferior officers including Sailing Master Stephen Porter, Hosmer, Purser John Carr, Surgeon (James) Geagen, Surgeon’s Mate (Nathan) Dorsey, Surgeon’s Mate John Plumb and Boatswain Celio Parker. Following is a list of Officers and Men known to have been among those not captured or died in the engagement:

John Barry (Captain)

Josiah Shackford (2nd Lieutenant)

Hopley Yeaton (3rd Lieutenant)

James Geagen (Surgeon &/or Chaplain)

Nathan Dorsey (Surgeon’s Mate or Surgeon)

George Jerry Osborne (Captain of Marines)

Unnamed (Sailing Master)

Thomas Vaughan (Suspected)

Frederick Calkins (Masters Mate) [W.5056]

James Cassell (Seaman) [S.30,314]

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