Battle off Liverpool, Nova Scotia (1778)

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Battle off Liverpool, Nova Scotia (1778)
Part of the American Revolutionary War
Colonel of the Militia Simeon Perkins
Date24 April 1778
Result British victory
 Kingdom of France  Kingdom of Great Britain
Commanders and leaders
Kingdom of France Captain Jean Heraud (Herreaud)[1] Kingdom of Great Britain Captain John Milligan
Casualties and losses
"several" killed, wounded, drowned 3 killed

The Battle off Liverpool took place on 24 April 1778 during the American Revolutionary War. The raid involved the British vessel HMS Blonde and the French 24-gun frigate Duc de Choiseul.[2][3]


During the American Revolution, Americans regularly attacked Nova Scotia by land and sea. American privateers devastated the maritime economy by raiding many of the coastal communities,[4] such as the numerous raids on Liverpool and on Annapolis Royal.[5]

Liverpool's struggle for identity during the revolutionary war has been the subject of considerable study by historians.[6][7] The town was at first sympathetic to the cause of the American Revolution, with outlying outports like Port Medway and Port Mouton almost continuously visited by American privateers,[8] but after repeated attacks by American privateers on local shipping interests and one direct attack on the town itself, Liverpool citizens turned against the rebellion. The defence of the town and the outfitting of privateers was led by Colonel Simeon Perkins. Captain William Duddingston of HMS Senegal was stationed at Liverpool.[9]

Just off Liverpool, on 26 August 1776, HMS Liverpool (28 guns) captured Warren (ex Hawk), which subsequently served as a tender for HMS Milford and ran aground in a storm near Portsmouth, New Hampshire at the end of December 1776.[10]

The Battle off Port Medway took place on 27 September 1776 during the American Revolutionary War. The American privateer Hannah and Molly (8 guns, 14 men), under the command of Captain Agreen Crabtree, captured five Nova Scotia vessels.[11][12][13]


On April 24, 1778, the Royal Navy warship HMS Blonde under the command of Captain John Milligan ran aground the French ship Duc de Choiseul (named after Étienne François, duc de Choiseul) under the command of Captain Jean Heraud in Liverpool Harbour. There was an exchange of cannon fire lasting over three hours. A number of the French crew were killed, drowned and wounded. The 100 remaining French crew were taken prisoner. The arms that were on the wrecked ship continued to attract American privateers over the following month.

Consequently, on May 1, American privateers raided Liverpool, ravaging and pillaging a number of the houses and stores, including the store of Simeon Perkins, a significant town leader. Three weeks later, on May 21, the same privateers returned and tried to tow the wreck of Duc de Choiseul out to sea. Perkins mustered ten men at the shore. Cannon fire was exchanged by the British militia and the American privateers. The privateers continued to fire at the town for almost an hour. Perkins marched his men along the shore, closer to the privateers. One of the militia was wounded in the ensuing exchanges. The privateers stayed off shore for a number of days. Perkins kept a sergeant and six men on guard duty twenty four hours a day until the privateers left the area.[14]


After suffering three years of similar sporadic raids, the people of Liverpool, on June 2, 1779 built a battery for the artillery and on October 31 launched their own privateer vessel named Lucy to bring battle to their adversaries.[8] As well, Perkins wrote a successful appeal to the authorities in Halifax, and on December 13, 1778 Captain John Howard's company of the King's Orange Rangers arrived aboard the transport Hannah. The company consisted of Howard, 2 lieutenants, 1 ensign, 3 sergeants, 2 or 3 corporals, 48 privates, and several camp followers, both women and children.[15]

On 22 June 1778, American privateers captured a small schooner of Major Studholm that was en route from St. John to Annapolis. Captured were one Sergeant and eight soldiers from the Royal Fencible American Regiment and the Royal Nova Scotia Volunteer Regiment.[16]

Another privateer raid on Liverpool occurred on September 13, 1780. Two American privateers, Surprize under Captain Benjamin Cole, and Delight, under Captain Lane, unloaded nearly 70 men at Ballast Cove shortly after midnight.[17][18] By 4am they had captured the fort and taken Howard, two other officers, and all but six of the KOR garrison as prisoners.[19] Perkins called out the militia, engineered the capture of Cole, and negotiated with Lane for the recovery of the fort and the release of the prisoners. Within a few hours "every thing [was] restored to its former Situation without any Blood Shed." Liverpool was not bothered by privateers for the remainder of the war.[20][21]

American privateers remained a threat to Nova Scotian ports for the rest of the war. For example, after a failed attempt to raid Chester, Nova Scotia, American privateers struck again in the Raid on Lunenburg in 1782.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Perkins (and subsequently numerous publications) mistake the commander of the ship with the owner of the ship Jean Peltier-Dudoyer from Nates. The name of the owner is also corrupted as a "Captain Pattier"
  2. ^ "Wreck of the Duc de Choiseul". Retrieved 25 April 2019.
  3. ^ Crawford, Michael J., ed. (2013). "Naval Documents of the American Revolution". Naval History & Heritage Command. pp. 179–180.
  4. ^ Benjamin Franklin also engaged France in the war, which meant that many of the privateers were also from France.
  5. ^ Marsters, Roger (2004). Bold Privateers: Terror, Plunder and Profit on Canada's Atlantic Coast. pp. 87–89.
  6. ^ Brebner, John (1937). The Neutral Yankees of Nova Scotia. New York: Columbia Press.
  7. ^ They Planted Well. Fredericton, New Brunswick: Acadiensis Press. 1987.
  8. ^ a b Brebner. Neutral Yankees. 334-335
  9. ^ "Naval Documents of the American Revolution" (PDF). Washington D.C.: Government Printing Office. 1969. p. 449.
  10. ^ Silverstone, Paul. "The Sailing Navy 1775–1854". New York: Routledge. p. 14. ISBN 0-415-97872-6.
  11. ^ Boston Gazette, November 4, 1776; New Hampshire Gazette, November 26, 1776.
  12. ^ Kidder, Frederic (1867). Military Operations in Eastern Maine and Nova Scotia During the Revolution. Albany, New York: Joel Munsell. p. 241.
  13. ^ Porter, Joseph W., ed. (1894). "Captain Agreen Crabtree of Sullivan, ME". The Maine Historical Magazine. Vol. VIII. Bangor, Maine: Cras. H. Glass & Co. p. 230.
  14. ^ Simeon Perkins' Diary entries
  15. ^ "King's Orange Rangers", John G. Leefe, Liverpool 1996, p 14
  16. ^ Kidder, p. 244
  17. ^ Benjamin Cole (1751–1804) - born Eastham, Barnstable, Massachusetts, d. Liverpool, Nova Scotia
  18. ^ "Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors of the Revolutionary War: A Compilation from the Archives". Boston: Office of the Secretary of State Massachusetts. 1897. p. 756.
  19. ^ "King's Orange Rangers", John G. Leefe, Liverpool 1996, pp 24-26
  20. ^ "PERKINS, SIMEON". Dictionary of Canadian Biography.
  21. ^ * Fergusson, C. Bruce (1983). "Perkins, Simeon". In Halpenny, Francess G (ed.). Dictionary of Canadian Biography. V (1801–1820) (online ed.). University of Toronto Press.

Further reading[edit]

  • de Langlais, Tugdual (2015). L'armateur préféré de Beaumarchais Jean Peltier Dudoyer, de Nantes à l'Isle de France (in French). Éd. Coiffard. ISBN 9782919339280. pp. 93-95.