USS Pickering (1798)

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USS Pickering
USRC Pickering, later renamed USS Pickering
Name: USS Pickering
Laid down: 1798
Commissioned: 22 August 1798
Fate: Lost at sea, September 1800-possibly in a gale
General characteristics
Type: Topsail schooner
Displacement: 187 long tons (190 t)
Length: 77 ft (23 m)
Beam: 20 ft (6.1 m)
Draft: 9 ft (2.7 m)
Propulsion: Sails
Complement: 70 officers and enlisted
Armament: 14 × 4-pounder guns

USS Pickering was a topsail schooner in the United States Navy during the Quasi-War with France. She was named for Timothy Pickering, then the Secretary of State.

USRC Pickering was built at Newburyport, Massachusetts in 1798 for the Revenue Cutter Service, Captain Jonathan Chapman, USRCS in command. Taken into the Navy in July at the outbreak of the Quasi-War, she departed Boston on her first cruise 22 August.

Service history[edit]

In 1799 and the early part of 1800, she was with Commodore Barry's squadron in the West Indies. Lieutenant Edward Preble commanded Pickering from January through June 1799, when he was promoted to captain and left to command the frigate Essex.

Pickering was permanently transferred to the Navy on 20 May and redesignated as USS Pickering. Master Commandant Benjamin Hillar, USN, assumed command in June. It was under Hillar's command that Pickering fought a notable engagement with the French privateer L'Egypte Conquise on October 18, 1799. The Frenchman was well fitted out and manned to capture Pickering. Against her fourteen 9-pounders, four 6-pounders, and crew of 250, the cutter had only fourteen 4-pounders and seventy men. But after a nine-hour battle, the larger ship surrendered. Pickering continued to cruise in the West Indies, and before her return to the United States she captured four French privateers, including the Voltigeuse, Atalanta, L'Active and Fly and recaptured the American ship Portland.

She departed Boston 10 June 1800. Ordered to join the squadron of Commodore Thomas Truxton on the Guadeloupe Station, West Indies, she sailed from Newcastle, Delaware on 20 August, but was never heard from again. She is supposed to have been lost with all hands in a gale that September although this is not proven. This supposed storm is also speculated to have taken the USS Insurgent as well. The exact cause of her disappearance remains a mystery.


This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here.