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Action of 1781-05-28

22nd May 1781
Part of : The American War of Independence (1775/04/19 - 1784/01/14)
Previous action : Actif v Nonsuch 14.5.1781
Next action : Attack on Commendah 28.5.1781


United States of America

Ship NameCommanderNotes
Alliance (36) 1778-1785
American 36 Gun
5th Rate Frigate
John BarryAmerican
Naval Sailor
Service 1745-1803

Great Britain

Ship NameCommanderNotes
Atalanta (14) 1775-1781
British 14 Gun
Unrated Sloop
Sampson EdwardsBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1774-1794
6 killed, 18 wounded Captured
Trepassey (14) 1779-1781
British 14 Gun
Unrated Sloop
James SmythBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1778-1781
17 killed and wounded Captured

Notes on Action

On May 27th, the British brigs Atalanta, 16, Commander Sampson Edwards, and Trepassey, 14, Commander James Smyth, saw and chased a strange vessel in the North Atlantic. As they closed with her, however, ascertaining that she was of great size, they hauled their wind, and made off, chased in turn. The stranger came up with them on the 28th about noon, when they discovered that she was the American frigate Alliance, 36 Capton John Barry. The wind had fallen to a dead calm; the brig had no chance of escape; they therefore turned, and with sweeps headed for the enemy. The Trepassey, endeavouring to , up a favourable position on the Alliance's quarter, unfortunately overshot the mark and came up on her broadside. Atalanta gallantly stood in to the rescue, between the American and the British brig, but the Trepassey was so shattered that she could not get away. The American captain early in action was struck by a grape shot on the shoulder; Commander Smyth of the Trepassey was killed. Lieutenants in each took up the command. The Alliance, with a freshening breeze, was able to use her heavy battery to the greatest advantage, and a half hours after the first shot the Trepassey struck with a loss of seventeen The Atalanta had been in action an hour longer than her consort, and she still held out, but in the end struck with a loss of twenty-four. On board her Lieutenant Samuel Arden lost an arm, but with heroic courage, as soon as the amputation had been performed, he returned to his quarters. All the ships were badly cut up in masts and rigging. If evidence given at the court-martial can be believed, the Alliance carried twenty-eight 12's and eight 9's

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