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Capture of the Raleigh

27th September 1778
Part of : The American War of Independence (1775/04/19 - 1784/01/14)
Previous action : Occupation of Saint-Pierre and Miquelon 14.9.1778
Next action : Action of 1778-10-20 20.10.1778


Great Britain

Ship NameCommanderNotes
Experiment (50) 1774-1779
British 50 Gun
4th Rate Ship of the Line
Sir James WallaceBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1746-1799
Unicorn (20) 1776-1780
British 20 Gun
6th Rate Ship
John FordBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1753-1795
10 killed, many wounded

United States of America

Ship NameCommanderNotes
Raleigh (32) 1776-1778
American 32 Gun
5th Rate Frigate
John BarryAmerican
Naval Sailor
Service 1745-1803
Captured 25 killed and wounded

Notes on Action

On September 26th, the British ships Experiment, 50, Captain Sir James Wallace, and Unicorn, 20, Commander Matthew Squire, cruising off Boston, made out a large sail, and gave chase. The vessel thus discovered was the American 32-gun frigate Raleigh, Captain John Barry. The weather was thick, and by changing her course the American hoped that she had avoided the British ships; but in the course of the morning of the 27th, they again hove in sight. The Raleigh was a fast sailer, and was leaving them behind, when suddenly the wind dropped, enabling her enemies to come up. The Unicorn attacked first. Her fire brought down the Raleigh's fore-topmast and mizen-topmast, but the British ship was compelled by damage to her own rigging to haul off and refit. Meantime, the Experiment came up and opened on the Raleigh. Captain Barry, thus situated, determined to run his ship on some low-lying islands, which were in sight, and to abandon her. The first he was able to do, but before all his crew had got away, the Experiment's boats boarded the Raleigh and captured her with one hundred and thirty-six officers and men. She was got off without much difficulty and added to the British Navy. The presence of the Experiment, though she took but small part in the fighting, was doubtless the determining feature in the action.

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