In 1782, when the sixteen-gun sloop-of-war HMS Albany was determined to be at the finish of her usefulness, no one appeared really stunned or sad about it, least of all her commander. The vessel had survived six steady years of war-time service in His Majesty’s Royal Navy, in addition to a prior life as a merchant vessel. She had accomplished patrol obligation, convoy obligation, seized ships and smugglers, and battled warships from Massachusetts. Now she was thought-about previous and decrepit. Her captain had long been annoyed together with his command of her and typically referred to her as that “wretched” ship, however that was due more to frustration together with his lack of advancement than the vessel’s general fitness. Her finish was ignominious, a decrepit prisoner-of-war transport vessel shipwrecked on partially submerged rocks during a fierce New England storm in December 1782. The occasion was barely famous or remarked upon, fitting maybe since all through her service life, Albany and her commander had ceaselessly been short-changed the credit score or honor as a result of them. The vessel’s historical past and service, nevertheless, truly deserves more glory and laurels than her end suggests.
The origins of Albany will not be quite clear. One supply states she began as the American sloop Howe, constructed and launched in New York. The New England Chronicle in September 12, 1776, reported the vessel as the former Rittenhouse from Philadelphia. Molyneux Shuldham, vice admiral of the blue and commander-in-chief of His Britannic Majesty’s Ships in North America from January to July 1776, referred to Albany as the former Britannia. Ship captain Hector McNeill, later of the Continental Navy, owned a number of vessels including a sloop named Brittania. It’s attainable Albany had been his ship, which he provided on the market in 1776. Having plied New England waters, Brittania had possible grow to be familiar to Royal Navy Capt. Henry Mowatt.
Henry Mowatt (some sources spell it Mowat) had been on the American station as surveyor and naval officer since 1758 and in all probability knew more about the Maine coast than anyone else in the service. He had over a decade of hydrographic surveying experience aboard the Canceaux, at which era he additionally chased and captured smugglers. However in the fall of 1775, his identify turned synonymous with the satan. On October 18, he commanded a small British naval pressure that arrived off Falmouth, present-day Portland, Maine. Mowatt carried orders to bombard the town, which he proceeded to do, after alerting the townspeople and giving them time to go away their houses. The next burning of Falmouth made him a hated man along the New England coast. It additionally appears to have stymied his career development. In January 1776, he sailed back to Portsmouth, England for his previous survey ship Canceaux to be refitted. It was in England, whereas awaiting command of a frigate or something better, that Mowatt really helpful for purchase into the navy a ship at present in Boston that might be re-named Albany.
The Lord Commissioners wrote to Vice Admiral Shuldham that Mowatt
hath represented to us that there is at Boston a Merchant ship referred to as the Brittania which has been surveyed by your order, in dimensions so far as he can recollect . . . judged able to carrying sixteen six Pounder with Swivels . . . You’re hereby required and directed, so soon after the receipt hereof as attainable, to purchase the stated Ship upon the most advantageous phrases you possibly can for His Majesty, and to name her by the identify of the Albany accordingly; directing the Naval Officer at Boston to pay for the purchase of her.
In the meantime, events dictated otherwise. In March, Boston had been evacuated of 9,000 British troopers and greater than 1,000 Loyalists. That they had boarded 120 ships in Boston Harbor on St. Patrick’s Day morning, in what has since turn out to be the public vacation generally known as Evacuation Day. After being out-maneuvered by George Washington’s weapons installed atop Dorchester Heights, the British had determined to vacate the city. The big flotilla set sail for Nova Scotia. It was Washington’s first army victory as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army. The vessel Mowatt had really helpful for buy was probably used in this large evacuation and then afterwards sat in the harbor at Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Sketch of Albany from Harry Gatwick, Historic Shipwrecks of Penobscot Bay (Charleston: History Press, 2013)
Though he needed to stay in England to await a greater command, Mowatt was ordered again to America. He and a party of Loyalists left London on April 4, 1776 and by the end of the month, Canceaux cleared Yarmouth on its means again to America. After his arrival in Halifax, Mowatt took command that June of the newly bought Albany. He had not expected to command the vessel and was dissatisfied in the posting. The experienced officer thought-about her sea-worthy and had advised her buy, but thought-about the vessel to be in poor shape. He had hoped for one thing better. Together with her buy and fee, HMS Albany turned part of the giant naval armada Lord North’s ministry put into the waters of North America to quell the growing rebel. Her new residence station was Halifax and the naval yard shortly transformed her to a Royal Navy vessel armed with sixteen cannon.
Albany was 100 ft lengthy, twenty-six ft in beam, and about 230 tons. She had a picket hull, plenty of sail and carried a 125-man crew. But her draft was shallow and her officer lodging thought-about poor. Mowatt thought her capable of service but a “wretched” ship. The vessel turned a part of the Nova Scotia station, sent out to guard British delivery and capture rebel vessels.
On November 18, 1776, Albany dispatched certainly one of her boats to take a sloop named Providence, loaded with lime and twine wood. The rebel vessel had tried to enter a harbor often known as Herring Gut, close to present-day Port Clyde, Maine. When Albany’s boat approached, the crew deserted the ship. No papers have been found by the searchers from Albany.
Throughout 1777, the sloop patrolled the sea lanes of New England and the Canadian Maritimes, doing convoy obligation and seizing insurgent vessels. Mowatt grew more and more dissatisfied together with his place on the periphery of the conflict. After six months aboard Albany, he took temporary command of HMS Milford and then HMS Scarborough. In these ships he fought some daring sea battles, together with a number of engagements towards American captain John Paul Jones. In Might 1777, when ordered to return to Albany, he felt his capabilities as a captain had been insulted. One brilliant spot was the arrival of his surrogate son, Robert Percy. In Might, the younger man transferred to Mowat’s command aboard Albany and continued to serve his patron throughout the whole Revolutionary Warfare period.
Possible on account of the destruction of Falmouth, Mowatt’s career languished and for the next five years he remained commander of Albany. Much to his frustration, the sloop principally guarded Canadian waters from insurgent fishermen. Even his commendable service in defense of Fort George in Castine, Maine, towards the Penobscot Expedition in 1779 could not dispel the cloud over his lack of development.
When the British decided to occupy a big a part of downeast Maine late in the conflict, the Albany and Mowatt, together with his intimate information of the coast, have been thought-about essential to the objective. One source states Albany was referred to as to New York at the beginning of 1779 to call Mowatt as commander of the naval part of the pressure. This didn’t materialize and Mowatt and Albany have been ordered again to Halifax with a load of powder to replenish the garrison there. At Halifax, Sir George Collier ordered Mowatt and Albany to the Bay of Fundy and then himself soon departed for New York. Mowatt countered, in a letter from Bay of Fundy, stating Albany was not enough a category of ship to steer the invasion drive. However the letter garnered no response and orders arrived for Albany to report back to Halifax. There, Mowatt arrived as the invasion pressure readied to depart. Capt. Andrew Barclay of the frigate Blonde happened to be in Halifax and Mowatt urged Vice Admiral James Gabbier to have Blonde at the very least accompany Mowatt’s small drive. The admiral agreed, but Mowatt nonetheless had to lead the invasion pressure from aboard the “wretched” Albany.
The drive sailed for Penobscot in early June. Albany, accompanied by the sloops North and Nautilus, convoyed four armed troop transports to the Bagaduce peninsula, present-day Castine, Maine, in the coronary heart of Penobscot Bay. One transport was London, commanded by Henry Mowatt’s brother David. The frigate Blonde sailed nearby, at one level scaring off a pesky rebel group of ships.
They arrived on June 17, 1779 and landed 750 men underneath command of Brig. Gen. Francis McLean. In addition to development engineers and artillerymen, McLean brought 450 Argyle Highlanders from 74th Foot regiment and 200 males from 82nd Foot, a drive totaling roughly 700 males. A website was chosen on the middle high floor of the peninsula, one which gave commanding views of the harbor and approaches.
Development immediately began on a large fort, referred to as Fort George in honor of their sovereign. To Mowatt’s frustration, the Blonde quickly departed, which left solely Albany and sloops North and Nautilus to defend the new submit. Mowatt commanded Albany whereas Jerrard Selby led the sixteen-gun North and Lt. Thomas Farnham commanded the sixteen-gun Nautilus. Long conversant in New Englanders, Henry Mowatt knew they might quickly mount a counter-attack.
In late July, just earlier than People attacked the Bagaduce publish, Mowatt and Albany captured the sloop Sally in Penobscot Bay. They found her with no one on board however loaded with cordwood. Richard Pomroy of Albany described Sally as a typical plantation-built sloop with a square stern, no head and an all-black bottom and sides. He had sailed on her in Casco Bay seven years earlier, at which era she had belonged to a John Grey.
The anticipated American counter-attack arrived in the form of eighteen warships and twenty-four transports, principally from Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Led by Commodore Dudley Saltonstall, the ships landed armed forces beneath command of Gen. Solomon Lovell to dislodge the British from Fort George. Paul Revere was in charge of the artillery. Delays, miscommunication and squabbles soon overtook the American forces which allowed Mowatt time to expertly place Albany, Nautilus and North in defense of the small harbor and strategy to Fort George. He “sprung” the three sloops, a nautical term to align vessels end to end across the mouth of Castine’s harbor. The tactic was sound; any approaching American ships faced a 3 ship broadside of cannon hearth. Mowatt additionally allowed use of a few of his sloops’ cannon for shore batteries and seconded as many sailors as attainable to assist with the fort’s defenses.
When the British first arrived at Penobscot, that they had arranged for Thomas Goldthwaite, former commander of close by Fort Pownal then dwelling in its ruins together with his household, to return to Castine. This will have been a chance to hunt British safety at Fort George. Earlier than the arrival of enemy forces, Goldthwaite and his household, including son-in-law Francis Archibald, have been quartered aboard Albany, on board which Goldthwaite’s son Henry had taken refuge on July 23. On July 25 the enemy arrival pressured the Goldthwaite household to be moved off the ship to a home and barn removed from shore, which turned a army hospital and social middle for a lot of who tended to congregate there in evenings.
“Attack of the rebels upon Fort Penobscot in the province of New England in which their fleet was totally destroyed and their Army dispersed the 14th Augst. 1779.” The Albany, North, and Nautilus might be seen in the bay defending the fort at middle, and their subsequent actions towards Sir George Collier’s squadron at the label “Penobscot River.” (Norman B. Leventhal Map & Schooling Middle, Boston Public Library)
With a aid squadron, Admiral Sir George Collier, struggling a lot from a fever he was confined to a chair on his quarter-deck, arrived off Penobscot on night of August 13. His fleet consisted of the thirty-two-gun Blonde with Capt. Andrew Barkley, twenty-eight-gun Virginia underneath Capt. John Orde, twenty-eight-gun Greyhound with Capt. Archibald Dickson, twenty-gun Camilla with Capt. John Collins, and twenty-gun Galatea beneath Capt. John Howorth. The fourteen-gun sloop Otter underneath Capt. Creyk and Collier’s own flag ship, sixty-four-gun Raisonnable, completed the formidable pressure.
The subsequent day, Collier arranged his forces in a crescent to do battle. The American fleet, which had re-embarked its land forces throughout the night time, as an alternative fled upriver. When Saltonstall and his warships sped previous the American transports, it meant everybody had to shift for themselves. The rout which followed noticed no escape. Most American vessels have been grounded and burned by their own crews, with just one vessel captured by the British. The remaining have been destroyed in what historians have referred to as the worst American naval defeat up to Pearl Harbor.
With arrival of Collier’s fleet and American retreat, the Albany, North, and Nautilus shortly joined in pursuit of the rebels. Henry, considered one of Goldthwaite’s sons, aided the British aboard Albany of their chase. He participated till wounded by a musket ball. Henry had problem recovering from his wound and ultimately sailed for England on December 24, 1781. Mowatt and his flotilla had accomplished greater than their share to save lots of the japanese provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland, in addition to the quite a few Loyalists who now flocked there. Amongst the latter was Mowatt’s brother David of Kittery.
After this beautiful defeat of Massachusetts forces, Henry Mowatt did not obtain any correct recognition for his essential position in defense of Fort George. He acknowledged the battle had been America’s worst blow acquired throughout the struggle. As an alternative of getting the honor of taking the official siege account again to London, Collier snubbed him, with a doubtful claim Mowatt and his ship couldn’t be spared. He then ordered Mowatt and Albany upriver to search for cannon from the wrecks. Collier sent word of his victory to London by one other vessel. Mowatt wrote, “services of the three sloops of war during the siege were totally omitted and their captains not even named.” For the remainder of his career, Mowatt was commonly blocked, sidelined, or bypassed in most profession developments; typically junior officers noticed promotion over him. At one point he wrote, “his feelings as a man, his spirit and honor as an officer and his duty to the service, injured and degraded, in his rank compelled him to consider resignation from the service.”
On October 27, 1779 there was a complete photo voltaic eclipse, essential enough that suspension of conflict was organized with Henry Mowatt aboard Albany. A scientific group from Harvard, organized by Rev. Samuel Williams and led by science professor Fortescue Vernon, needed to journey with six college students to Lengthy Island, present-day Isleboro, and arrange an statement publish. Depart for the observers was granted, however with a clear order to haven’t any communication with any inhabitants, and to depart on the 28th, the day after the eclipse.
Being thus retarded and embarrassed by army orders, and allowed no time after the eclipse to make any observations, it turned necessary to arrange our apparatus and start our observations with none further lack of time; in the course of which we acquired each type of assistance from Capt. Henry Mowatt, of the Albany, which it was in his energy to provide.
It was the 48th eclipse in Saros collection 120, the complete period was two minutes and it made a tremendous spectacle for observers in its 138km vast path. At the moment, a granite marker sits on website of their observations.
The winter of 1779-80 was so chilly and brutal, there was widespread hunger. Mowatt, much towards the evil caricature of the devil who had burned Falmouth, arranged food and shelter for needy households. In early February 1780, the schooner Good Intent and her grasp Willmot Wass was captured in Penobscot Bay by Albany. The vessel was later condemned.
In Might 1780, Henry Mowatt was aboard Albany in the Bagaduce River. There he offered orders for a Loyalist regiment, the King’s American Rangers. The drive was underneath command of James Ryder Mowatt (it isn’t clear if he was a family connection or not).
You’re hereby impowered and directed to take by Pressure of Arms, all Vessels and Craft which will fall in your power, belonging to the Topics of the Kings of France and Spain, as additionally those belonging to the Rebells of America, and you’re to order all Captains to this Port or to another place in Nova Scotia.
On Might 23, the thirty-ton schooner Sukey and her grasp and owner named Proud was captured about one league eastward off Frenchman’s Island, near mouth of the Damariscotta river. Capt. James Ryder Mowatt of the King’s American Rangers captured her while in control of two boats belonging to Albany. He put two of the prisoners ashore and sent the vessel to Fort George at Castine and then on to Windsor, Nova Scotia.
James Mowatt’s ranger drive continued to function all through Penobscot Bay in search of vengeance on those that selected to not take the loyalty oath. Henry Mowatt’s brother David appears to have also served in this group, and each he and James Ryder have been apparently taken prisoner that June. Though they tried an escape, they have been recaptured near the Isle of Shoals.
On July 5 the sloop Patty, loaded with wood and bark, was captured off Sheepscot River by the Mermaid, tender to Albany. The vessel, owned by David Rudd, was out of Townsend, present-day Boothbay Harbor. As Mermaid approached, Patty’s crew escaped in boats. She was carried into Fort George. Later in October, working along side Blonde, Nautilus, North, and brig Hope, Henry Mowatt and Albany captured two sloops, Mercury and Fortune. The next March, Albany’s tender Mermaid captured the schooner Nancy. Her master was George Leach and the armed vessel had six swivel guns mounted on carriages. She was sent eastward to Halifax.
Sooner or later in the following years, Albany was involved in the capture of the schooner Ranger and re-capture off Cape Sable of sloop William and Barbara loaded with wine and salt. On June 24, 1782, Halifax courts adjudicated several vessels Albany had captured, seized or pressured into port. They included sloops Hannah, Sally, and Tryal. There was also schooner Swallow and schooner Paco Bob. Another vessel taken by Albany had no identify. It was a shallop that had been captured and plundered by the People. She was carried into Castine.
Henry Mowatt remained senior naval officer in Penobscot aboard the “wretched” Albany. Advancement and higher postings eluded him all through the conflict’s ultimate years. It was a bitter capsule for him to swallow as he saw youthful, much less experienced officers promoted above him. By July 1782, he apparently had had enough. That yr, Albany had been relegated to patrol obligation. In July, a survey board declared her unfit for any further Royal Navy service. And not using a good friend in high places and with no official recognition for his almost twenty-seven years of lively service, Mowatt asked Admiral Robert Digby for permission to return to England. He was ready to resign his commission. Permission to return was granted in the fall of 1782.
It’s unclear whether or not Mowatt was nonetheless aboard Albany right now. It is recognized he was in Halifax in August 1782 when he penned a letter to Rev. Jacob Bailey in Annapolis about educating his younger son. Albany’s grasp’s logs in the British National Archives finish on June 8, 1782. Mowatt might have had nothing more to do with the vessel after she was declared unfit for service that July. But with prisoner of conflict exchanges between British and People growing in numbers and frequency, Albany still had a job to perform. On October 2, 1782, the vessel was loaded with 232 American prisoners of conflict at Halifax and sailed to Boston for repatriation. One supply states Mowatt was not in charge of her by then, however another states he and his ward Robert Percy served aboard Albany from June 1776 to October 25, 1782, so it’s attainable Mowatt made this voyage as her captain. He doubtless didn’t assume a lot of this service as commander of a prisoner transport service. Regardless, by late October 1782, Mowatt was significantly re-thinking his naval career and able to go residence to England.
Henry Mowatt’s tomb, St. John’s Episcopal Church graveyard in Hampton, Virginia. (Photograph courtesy of David Bishop)
As soon as again in England, he didn’t resign but as an alternative was finally promoted to captain. His next command was twenty-eight-gun captured French merchant ship La Sophie, but two years later she too was ordered to be bought. Henry Mowatt served in the Royal Navy for forty-four years, thirty of them spent on the North American station principally in New England waters. He and his brother David had several skilled and personal ties with Maine, particularly in Castine throughout its occupation and after. On April 14, 1798 aboard HMS Assistance off the Virginia coast at age sixty-four, Henry Mowatt fell lifeless from apoplexy. He is buried in St. John’s Episcopal Church graveyard in Hampton, Virginia.
The Albany delivered the prisoners of conflict to Boston in October 1782. She might have made more trips between Halifax, Castine, and Boston with prisoners in November or December. In December 1782, she was in Boston getting ready to depart for Castine and then Halifax. Albany headed toward Castine and Fort George in Penobscot Bay the place she wrecked on the Northern Triangles.The vessel by this time had a crew of fewer than sixty males.
The Northern Triangles are an in depth collection of rocks and ledges at southern entrance to Penobscot Bay, southwest of Vinal Haven just north of and within reach of Little Inexperienced and Giant Inexperienced Islands. Situated midway between Tennants’ Harbor and Matinicus Island, the triangles are a true ship hazard at low tide in Two Bush Channel.
The HMS Albany was wrecked on December 28, 1782 in a winter storm. She grounded on the rocks with such drive that her destiny was sealed. Many crew deserted ship, moving into her two boats, a pinnace and a cutter. The pinnace reached Ash Point near Owls Head. There, a few of the males chartered another boat and returned to Albany to take off the remainder of the crew. They ultimately returned to Castine.
NOAA Chart 13305 with the Northern Triangles highlighted in purple. The Albany’s wreck is situated right here. (Writer)
The cutter had problem from the begin and quickly acquired lost in poor visibility and freezing sleet. They started to row in the direction of Castine, however circumstances have been horrible. Three aboard the cutter froze to demise. The remaining males ended up on a seashore on Matinicus Island. One supply states islanders referred to the seashore lengthy afterwards as Lifeless Man’s Seashore. Island residents took care of the survivors and buried the lifeless there. One story is that one sailor cried with shame and said he had been a part of a raiding social gathering from Albany which had earlier landed on Matinicus and killed a few of the islanders’ cattle.
Though some sources recommend that the vessel had been stripped of cannons before serving as a transport, individuals reported seeing cannon that had gone down by means of the ship’s hull, among the rocks. One source reported that the keeper of Goose Rocks Lighthouse in Fox Islands Thoroughfare typically made visits to the wreck, which was seen at low tide. Reportedly, he was capable of see its guns during calm seas. An area Maine diver says that depth of what’s left of the wreck at low or slack tide is about forty ft.
An area Thomaston boy named Joshua Thorndike is claimed to have been a part of a privateer crew out of Falmouth throughout the struggle. Sooner or later, they have been captured by Mowatt and Thorndike remained a prisoner aboard Albany for over 9 months. When he discovered of the ship’s wreck, he and some buddies sailed out to the website and salvaged as much as they might. Thorndike referred to as it a detested craft. Capt. Henry Mowatt would possible have agreed, although he would have used the phrase “wretched.”The Despatches of Molyneux Shuldham, Vice Admiral of the Blue and Commander-in-Chief of His Britannic Majesty’s Ships in North America, January-July, 1776 (New York: Naval Historic Society, 1913), 6: 787; The New England Chronicle, September 12, 1776; Gardner Weld Allen, “Captain Hector McNeill of the Continental Navy,”Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, 1922, 5. See additionally J. J. School, Ships of the Royal Navy (Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute Press, 1987), 26. “Henry Mowatt” Mowatt Genealogy – Individual Sheet, mowattfamilyhistory.ca/ps03/ps03_497.htm, accessed Might 31, 2016; Harry Gratwick, Captain Henry Mowatt: The Maritime Marauder of Revolutionary Maine (Stroud, UK: The History Press, 2015), 95; and “George Jackson to Vice Admiral Shuldham, February 29, 1776”, Despatches of Molyneux Shuldham, 6: 105. “Lords Commissioners, Admiralty, to Vice Admiral Molyneux Shuldham, April 4, 1776”, William James Morgan, ed, Naval Paperwork of the American Revolution (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Authorities Printing Workplace, 1969), 4: 1015-16.