Action off Sandy Hook

15th August 1781
Part of : The American War of Independence (1775/04/19 - 1784/01/14)
Previous action : Action of 1781-07-31 31.7.1781
Next action : Battle of the Chesapeake 5.9.1781


Great Britain

British ship
Ship NameCommanderNotes
Swallow (14) Thomas Wells (1759-1811) Sunk

United States of America

American privateers
Ship NameCommanderNotes
Hancock (18) Peter Richards
Sampson (18) David Brooks
Randolph (16) Augustus Peck
Young Cromwell (16) William Reed

Notes on Action

Description of the actionW027

On 15 August 17817 Swallow was nearing the entrance to New York Harbor, being about thirty-six miles from Sandy Hook, New Jersey. She had with her the brig Venus, a prize recaptured during her voyage. Some of Wells’s crew would have been aboard the Venus, perhaps ten or so, as her prize crew. Four American privateers appeared from the haze and began chasing Swallow. These got between Swallow and the land, cutting her off from the shore. Wells ran north, not liking the odds of four to one too much.

The Americans had been cruising about the waters off the entrance to New York for some time, interrupting British trade and taking prizes. Sampson had had a previous fight with Swallow. The action that resulted was more of a long range chase.

As Wells ran north he passed by New York. The shore of Long Island lay ahead, which was friendly territory for the British. At the entrance to the Great South Bay, at the end of Fire Island, Wells ran the Swallow ashore. Venus also went ashore. Both were under continual fire from the four privateers. The vessels were evacuated and the British escaped ashore. Although the Americans tried to get the two brigs afloat they could not. Both were burned by the Americans on 16 August.


W027American War of Independence at SeaKen Kellow, Web Site

Previous comments on this pageno comments to display
Make a comment about this page

Recent comments to other pages

Date postedByPage
Saturday 18th of January 2020 19:42CyBritish Other Vessels hoy 'Unity' (1693) (4)
Saturday 18th of January 2020 17:44Charles DaceBritish Other Vessels hoy 'Unity' (1693) (4)
Thursday 16th of January 2020 10:01CyRené Joseph Bouvet de Précourt (1715-1782)
Thursday 16th of January 2020 09:29Admiral HawkeRené Joseph Bouvet de Précourt (1715-1782)
Wednesday 15th of January 2020 08:54cyThomas Goldesborough (d.1828)