<<>> <<>> <<>>
The Boston Gazette of 4 November 1776, contains the following news item:
"We hear from the eastward, that on Friday the 20th of September last, a number of persons belonging to the private armed schooner HANNAH AND MOLLY, Agreen Crabtree, master, went into the port of Liverpool, in Nova-Scotia government, and crossed by land 'till they came within call of a large ship of 500 tons, mounting 4 carriage guns, 4 cohorns, and 3 swivells, the leader of the party hailed the ship and desired them to send the boat on shore; accordingly the mate came with the boat: The privateers-men got into her, went on board the ship and took her. -- They brought the guns to bear upon a brig loaded for England, and ordered the master of the brig to come along side of the ship, with the brig -- They then stripped the ship of everything valuable, and put the effects on board the brig, and let the ship go on shore, and came off with the brig. The same crew also, at the same time took two schooners and a sloop; the schooners and sloop have arrived, but the brig has not yet arrived in port the 6th of October, so that we fear she is retaken. The captain of the privateer was so careful as to put all the guns and cannon with a quantity of powder on board his own privateer, so they have arrived safe. The schooners and sloop had nails, fish, and a number of valuable artivles on board."
A noteworthy exploit that was much spoken of at the time. It has also been retold most recently in XX's "The Revolution Downeast". But, the account given in the newspaper is somewhat garbled.
The attack actually took place a week later, on 27 September, 1776. And it took place not in Liverpool harbor, but in that of Port Medway, six miles up the coast, though then a part of Liverpool township. And interesting details and clarifications can be found in the Diary of Simeon Perkins (Nova Scotia Historical Society< ****). Perkins was a merchant of Liverpool,and a Justice of the Peace and Judge of the Court of Common Pleas. He kept a detailed diary from 17** to 17**. For the sake of clarity in the following descriptions, the vessels refered to are as follows:
1. sloop PEGGY, Bartlett Bradford, master
2. brig BELLA, - Smith, master
3. ship -?-, - Austin, master
4. schooner BETSEY, Robert Foster, master (taken 27 Oct.)
5. schooner BRITANNIA, Jonathan Baker, master (taken off Yarmouth on 20 Sept., one of the two schooners mentioned in the Boston Gazette account, but not actually taken at Liverpool/Port Medway)
From Diary of Simeon Perkins:
"Fri, 27th, -- Pleasant morning. Mr. Foster sails for Halifax. Mr. Stevenson, and Mr. Hawkins are passengers. When they had got about abreast of Bear Island, they were met by an American privateer and carried off. But in the afternoon the privateer and her prize returned into the harbour, and anchored ar Black Point, and sent two men on shore to call on the Rev. Mr. Cheever to go on board to dress Mr. Foster's wounds which he received in one arm and the opposite shoulder, before he brought to. Mr. Cheever returned in ye beginning of the evening, when the schooners were both under sail, and went out. Mr. Cheever says that Mr. Foster's arm is badly wounded, the bone shattered, etc.
"Capt. Bartlett Bradford comes by land from Portmetway and reports that his sloop that was loading with hay in that harbor, for me, and the Freemans, was taken yesterday by the same privateer, with all the hay but about four tons they allowed Capt. Ford to take out. They released him and all his crew. One of them entered [ie joined the privateers, jjh]. And that they took Capt. Smith's brig, loaded with timber for England, released all his hands, but kept him and carried him off in the brig. They also plundered a ship in the same harbor, loading with timber. Took her sails, guns, stores, etc., but none of her men. Mr. Foster was allowed to go in his own vessel, but Mr. Stevenson and Hawkins were put on board the privateer.
"I consulted the Magistrates, and principle people, and concluded to sent an express to Halifax. With this intelligence. We agreed with Thomas Pierce for L5 for himself and boat to find another hand to go to-morrow morning. I ordered an officer, Lieut. John West, and 2 sergeants, and 12 privates on duty, to prevent any surprise in the night, which was done. Nothing further happened."
"Sunday, Sept 29th ... This evening the late mate of the brigantine BELLA, Capt. Smith, taken at Portmetway, applied to me for subsistance for 4 of the brig's people, viz:- John Chandler, James Halle, Thomas Brown, and James Amesbury, which I sent to Mr. Dexter's for victuals and lodgins, and promised payment.
"Monday, 14th ... Capt. Cole arrived from Halifax. Brings news that the brig BELLA, Capt. Smith, is retaken, and carried in there."
Perkins earlier notes that both BELLA, and the unnamed ship (Capt. Austin) had arrived at Port Medway on August 15. Later in October he remarks that Robert Foster was returned to Halifax aboard a cartel (prisoner-exchange) brig from Boston commanded by Josiah Godfrey.
Haliburton describes Port Medway: "which is remarkable both for its navigable capacity, and its consequence as a fishing station. The entrance is marked by a high hill on the western and a low ragged island on the southern side, and varies in depth from five to fourteen fathoms."
In "The Neutral Yankee of Nova Scotia", J. B. Brebner writes of Liverpool (p. 334f): "The town was divided, [American] deserters and escaped prisoners were harbored, and on either side of them Port Medway and Port Mouton were almost continuously at the service of the Americans." (Nova Scotia was inhabited largely by fairly settlers from New England, and loyalties everywhere were deeply divided).
((More to come))
go to: Agreen Crabtree Page :